Motoring moment

Chrysler 300 officially here

One prediction (or wishful thinking) from a year ago has come true and there was a Chrysler 300 sitting in the DT Dobie showroom on Sunday. The car which has won numerous awards, and featured in every other rap video since it was introduced, can now be bought by Kenyan motorists (w/right hand drive steering) at a price of 5 – 6 million shillings ($85,000 after our prohibitive taxes are added up) [Chrysler site prices them at $25 to $36,000]

Unfortunately it shares the DT Dobie showroom with its corporate sister – the world beating Mercedes Benz E-class which is just about every other Kenyan’s dream car. Also, as with most American cars, the engine size does not make its fuel consumption pocket friendly at our petrol prices (~$4.3/gallon) even though Chrysler states that the 300’s consumption is better than that of a Subaru Legacy GT (common on Kenyan roads).

Is coolant necessary?
Over the weekend I had to top up a car radiator and found myself having to choose between water and coolant. In my experience coolant (aka anti freeze) is designed primarily for winter weather driving where water (in sub-zero temperatures) will freeze and damage engine systems.

Yet, most cars are imported to Kenya from winter countries (arriving with coolant already in the radiator system) – and while Kenyan drivers have always used water in in their car engines (petrol & diesel), many vehicle owners insist on using coolant since that is what the car is accustomed to.

But is it really necessary? Coolant is sold at petrol stations at prices ranging from 250 shilling to 500 shillings ($7). This is as much as what many drivers pay for fuel at the station. I have always used water, and while have occasionally bought coolant, I have never noticed any difference.

In searching the web, the best answer I could find, implied some benefit to some cars from using coolant instead of water.

Many cars overheat because dirty water is poured in to the radiator (usualy by petrol stations attendant). If car owners were careful about ensuring that onlu clean water is used, they can save some money instead of buying unnecessary coolant.

bullet proof cars
There was a story in the Sunday Nation about a company (Radar Danminar) that would soon be selling bullet-proof Toyota land cruisers for 19 million shillings ($270,000) . Alternately they could make your current car bulletproof in a few weeks time for 10 million shillings.

The article rightly points out armored cars are not the answer/will not prevent car jacking of motorists as their cost is too high and you can only arm huge, powerful cars like Land cruisers, Mercs, or BMW’s, and not smaller 1600cc Toyotas that most Kenyans drive.

14 thoughts on “Motoring moment

  1. coldtusker

    Quality coolants have rust inhibitors whereas water (esp with other debris) can accelerate rusting.

    What about distilled water?
    Ask the official car dealer who may have access to resources tackling this question.

    $85,000 fully loaded?

    Is is a 300 or 300C?

  2. propaganda

    The advantages of coolants are relatively minor, but important in some instances. As Coldtusker points out, they inhibit corrosion but unless you’re keeping a car for years it’s not a big problem.

    The best reason I have found for coolant is that it has a higher boiling point and evaporates or overheats less easily. This is good if your car is overheating due to an electrical problem, but useless if you have a leak.

    One caveat: Cars are imported with long life coolant, but most petrol stations hawk some basic green crap. So my advice would be save the coolant for the E Class or the car before that and only get primo vino.

  3. Ruheni

    I live in a “winter” country and fill up my car with water untill winter downs where I mix water and coolant. over 60% of the folks here do the same. If I were in Kenya I would only use clean water. Why pay for what I can get free.

  4. Mitzy

    I thought the H3 was already in Kenya? As for the bullet proof vehicles, I’m seeing how the thugs stealing millions from banks and armored cars as the ones that will afford to buy them.
    Is Radar Danminar getting into personal body armor too? I see items like Kevlar Vests as the next big thing alongside the bullet proof vehicles.

  5. Phil

    I love the 300c. i live and work in NYC, US ,a Friend just bought a brand new 300 C wITH THE Hemi V8 engine for $35 000 (probably not available in Kenya yet)
    it,s a work of art
    I cant believe you guys pay $85 000 For a 300 C, some body needs to do something about it, Amounts to extortion by KG, IT,S Outright outrageous.

  6. Anonymous

    You can see the Hummer at General Motors Nairobi although it is a white left hand car. They have to wait for SA to produce the right hand ones (SA have the license to produce most of the RH Hummers).Those cars are not good looking at all (My opinion). I hear they have several orders so… It’s amazing that a developing country like ours with a slum that can be seen from the moon can have such pricey cars on the road!
    Coolant is important for cars because of rust inhibiton properties and the high boiling temperatures. Coolant generally is water and the chemical. So the one sold in petrol stations can either be conc. coolant or a diluted one. The concetrated type is more expensive. It’s better to have it on your car unless you don’t mind changing the radiator or some pipes..
    Petrol stations live off selling these additional things. I once went to a petrol station after doing a minor service (changed the engine oil), the made me buy oil. And did the same a week after!

  7. bankelele

    coldtusker: car dealers know less than car owners on this

    – am not sure which it is, but 5 – 6m is the price range. see this post on taxes impact on car prices

    Riba Capital: a real show stopper. Now let’s see who drives out with it

    Propaganda & Ig-know-rant: I agree with you, but that’s not a full endorsement (reason enough) for coolant if a car is well maintained.

    Ruheni: It’s a winter product primarily though I’d like to know what drivers in the Mid-East use to cope with really high temperatures

    Pesa tu & Mitzy: Not looking forward to the H3. I saw a chevy blazer last week and the car was obscenely huge and unable to fit on the road lanes. It will be tough to drive a H3 on our roads.

    Danminar seems to be more a land mine company than body armor

    Phil: Taxes double up the price of most cars.

  8. toiyoi

    300C cost
    Surely $36 to $85 is not justified. Some may disagree, but how comes kenyans get screwed in almost everything? Last time i was in Nairobi, and saw these non-brand Microwaves being sold at over $100, and one could get brand names in wal- mart @ $25. How can this be justified?

    Amoring vehicles
    -this is the wrong path solution for the security problem. Does one need an extra $250K to be safe? Is it really so hard to crack on these thugs? Michuki strikes me as one with bull-dog tenacity. If only he could apply it where needed.

    -while they wont shoot through to you, if they want you bad, they can simply kidnap you before you get in!

  9. jke

    I am with CT & propaganda on this one – a coolant helps to prevent corrosion. But my take on this is that other parts brake before the cooler explodes due to corrosion so the weakest part in the cooling system isn’t the cooler but maybe some old pipes, connectors or gaskets that will release the pressure. Hence it makes sense to use clean water in Kenya instead of expensive coolant.

    And once the heat exchanger under the dashboard clogs up, the whole interior of your car is filled with vapourated coolant. I had this on my old 1989 VW Golf one day and it took me two days to exchange it and clean everything.

    As for those expensive cars: do they also sell those hiphop rims in Kenya? 🙂

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