CAR CLINIC: Out of range - Daily Nation

You can’t run a Range Rover on Sh206,000 a month. Simple!

Tuesday September 26 2017

I’m not sure a disposable income $2,000

I’m not sure a disposable income $2,000 (206,000) a month is comfortable enough to run a Range Rover on. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Great work you do in your articles.

I earn $3,500 (Sh360,500) at the United Nations. Less my bills and other expenses, I am left with roughly $2,000 (Sh206,000). Kindly advise which eye-catching SUV I can maintain within that amount or less? I’d love the Range Rover Vogue TDV6 or a sport version of the same engine but I’ve read in some forums that owning one is disastrous. Is it possible to maintain one with this amount? I drive 30 kilometres daily. Kindly advise on any alternative if that is not possible.


Hello Okumu,
Please refrain from publicly divulging your wages. It’s only decent.

That being said, I’m not sure a disposable income $2,000 (206,000) a month is comfortable enough to run a Range Rover on. Sure, it is a comfortable place to be — especially in this economically grim election year — but certain cars have certain price tags to intentionally box out the aspirational middle class, of which you are one.

Now, on paper, your salary should cover any eventuality that arises from ownership of that motor vehicle, but life does not happen “on paper”, which is why there are certain unofficial “guidelines” on how much to spend on a motor vehicle.

Smart money advisers insist one should not spend much more than 10 per cent of one’s annual income on a car, but that is just ridiculous because this means that with your healthy pay packet of $42,000 (Sh4,326,000) a year, you are limited to a first-generation Toyota Premio or a Subaru Legacy BH5 like mine, yet I earn waaaay less than you do. No, can’t do. The “compromise” is one fifth of the annual income, which lands you in something newer, but still used. And you are still in Range Rover territory, even for ageing overused examples. Range Rovers might depreciate worryingly, yes, but they are not exactly free of charge either.

I could play the part of the brutally honest

I could play the part of the brutally honest Agony Uncle and tell you to out your dream on ice until you go through two or three salary increments. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

If you are a dedicated and hardened petrolhead, then you are allowed up to half of your annual salary on motor vehicle expenditure. Close but no cigar. $21,000 (Sh2,163,000) might eventually get you into a used Range Rover if you search hard enough, but this is the kind of Range Rover that will quickly suck up the remaining half of your salary that you didn’t spend on purchase; and no, we are not talking of the disposable part. I mean your entire salary.

That being said, how badly do you want a Range Rover? I could play the part of the brutally honest Agony Uncle and tell you to out your dream on ice until you go through two or three salary increments; or I could be the devil on your shoulder and scream “YOLO, b---!” in your ear and exhort you to go for it; there is no time like the present. At the end of the day it’s your call, but really... just do the math yourself.


Hi Baraza,

I follow your articles faithfully not just for their informative nature, but also the slightly better-than-most sense of humour. My car has two problems, unless you say it’s the same problem; I am counting on your professional knowledge here. I have a 1999 Toyota Premio (I must say Nyoka 7A), which is misbehaving.

1) A few weeks ago, after taking it for routine service, I noticed that it’s producing a popping sound from the exhaust every time I accelerate or when going uphill. My mechanic has not been able to diagnose the problem. He suggested changing rings, saying they might be leaking oil to the air intake manifold. But considering he changed these during a previous visit, I am not sure it will solve the problem. My google diagnosis suggests checking the plugs (please note that my problem started after I put new ones), wiring to the plugs, something to do with catalyst (no idea) or vacuum something.

2) I noticed that when I am doing 80kph on either a descent or on flat ground at less than 2000rpm, whenever I step on the accelerator, the car jerks repeatedly, as happens when you shift gears prematurely. When I release the gas pedal and step on it to increase the revs above this, the jerking seems to disappear. My mechanic isn’t helping on this one.


This seems like a pretty open-and-shut case of a misfire. Check your ignition* system first (plugs, leads, charging system, etc.) then check your fuel system (pump, filter, pressure regulator, etc). Somewhere in the middle of all this is the culprit, either the electrical system is not firing properly or the fuel delivery system is not working as it should.

*Watch out for arcing, or electrical shorts. These cause jerking under power as well.

There is a third diagnosis: Bad throttle position sensor.

The vehicle has fuel injection (7A engine) but you have not indicated that this hesitation problem started out small and gradually got worse. This means the severity of the problem has remained constant.

A probable cause is a throttle position sensor that needs replacement.

Fuel injected engines have a throttle position sensor, a device which measures how far the driver has pushed the accelerator pedal then feeds its data to the engine’s management system, which in turn makes calculations based on that data input; calculations whose results are then used to determine precisely how much fuel the injectors should squirt into the engine at that instant.

Therefore, a faulty TPS will affect the injection cycles into the engine, often resulting in hesitant or jerky acceleration.


Dear Baraza,

I have been shopping around looking for an affordable Subaru Impreza. I would like to know how it performs. I work in Community and live in South B. Is it a reliable car although people keep telling me it has issues?  You can also recommend other cars in that range.

Eva Murage

Hi Eva,

The Impreza is just fine, go for it.


Dear Baraza,
Could you kindly review the Mobius Beast; is it as hardy as advertised?

Pauline Vata

Hi Pauline,

I would if I could but I can’t so I won’t. There is a story behind that sound bite.

I might occasionally carp about my editors, but every now and then one of them does me a solid such as getting me a seat on a plane to the US to drive a Nissan GTR. That worked out beautifully. They also try to get me into culturally significant cars such as the Farmer’s Folly — the Mobius — but that fell flat on its face. The Mobius guys said no, we don’t want that fool anywhere near our stuff. Keep him away from us.

And so I kept way, for the most part. But we live in a country with a fledgling automotive industry and no homegrown product to call our own ever since the excellently developed but undeservedly shunned Isuzu Uhuru bowed out of the market in the early ’90s, surrounded by neighbours who just so happen to have their own fledgling industries.

One builds military vehicles, the other is single-mindedly pursuing hybrid-electric locomotion. What do we have? We have a “solution” for “rural farmers”. My ears perked up and I could not stay away any longer. Sorry, editor, but I will have to ask these gentlemen to step outside. This may get bloody.

A car for Africa developed in Africa, they said. This was said indirectly, because information from the company is leached piecemeal by overzealous social media representatives who might or might not be legitimately attached to the project. Nobody officially conscripted to the Mobius Automotive Concern will say anything to us.

The chatter is always the same: be patriotic. Build Kenya, buy Kenyan. Roads are bad we need clearance. Buy clearance. The roads are Kenyan, we need to build better. But for now pony up for a Mobius and put your homeland on the map. In the same breath they will remind us that the Mobius has sold out. Make up your minds, people.

That is what it is: an idea. This rudimentary

That is what it is: an idea. This rudimentary ox-less ox-cart should have remained an idea, never to be manifested unless and until more thought was put into it. PHOTO| SALATON NJAU

The marketing was either ironic or sarcastic. The Mobius was meant to be a curiosity, not a tool. You cannot describe a vehicle as “rugged” when it is limited to front-wheel drive and its development process involves a 2,500km stint around the slopes of Mt Kenya. Most development prototypes do more than 3 million kilometres before being shipped back home for further analysis. Not the Mobius.
They built it, sold it, never waited for feedback and quickly shifted our attention to the car’s successor, an artist’s impression of what a facelifted Mobius should look like.

The vehicle doesn’t exist yet; it is still vapourware clouding the narrow imaginations of misguided nationalists.

I have already delved before into the irrelevance and inappropriateness of a Mobius as a motor vehicle — African or otherwise — so I won’t repeat myself. The original car was designed without any imagination whatsoever. Its unnecessary replacement, on the other hand, looks like the handiwork of an engineer who went on a Hangover-style bender and woke up to recall only what his project was about but could not remember the details, if his project was to make a lovechild knockoff of a Range Rover and a Ford Bronco.

The idea of a Mobius could be an interesting one if its brief wasn’t so unfortunate and borderline racist.

That is what it is: an idea. This rudimentary ox-less ox-cart should have remained an idea, never to be manifested unless and until more thought was put into it.

How long are we going to keep talking about “Kenyan roads” or “African conditions”? Which roads are these that demand a shoddily engineered pretend-SUV with absolutely zero creature comforts that costs more than more comfortable vehicles that run better and last longer? I live along the Southern Bypass, a gem of a thoroughfare if there ever was one; a properly-marked and mirror-smooth civil engineering marvel that can comfortably accommodate a 300km/h Lamborghini if you have the testicular fortitude to reach 300km/h but more importantly, if you have a Lamborghini to start with.

Why would I want a Mobius when for the same money I can get a lightly used and nearly new Impreza WRX? And the claim of it being a farmer’s runabout doesn’t wash either: for the kind of outlay needed to put a Mobius in your rural driveway, one can avail oneself of a Landcruiser Prado J90 in fairly good shape; and I know which I’d rather have. The Toyota of course, with windows, and stereo, and air-conditioning, and four-wheel drive, and an engine that will last until the Apocalypse.

So now there is a successor. It will “move the game forward”, but only if it graduates from passable computer imagery into real, hard road-going metal, and even then, I don’t harbour high hopes for that horse. The whole thing smacks of a scam to either siphon well-meaning but poorly directed donor funding, or satisfy an ego wrongly hell-bent on the obsolete and frankly wrong philosophy of The White Man’s Burden.

So, the Mobius? It is an exercise in social engineering and a cautionary tale on how far an oily tongue can lead a country down the garden path. There are a lot more details that can go into this story but those will stray perilously close to slander, so it is best to leave it here.

More beers, please, waiter...