The issues of second hand cars in Samoa

Dear Editor,

Re: Timely warning for vehicles in Samoa 

Engine size, front or rear wheel drive, body type, etc. cannot be generalised as suitable or not for Samoa. 

The needs of a farmer living in the hills are somewhat different from those living in town.

From what I see of used imports, there seems to be too many people movers and very small cars and not enough pickups, but this is a simple issue of supply, with what we see being a representation of what’s available out of Japan.

The way cars are driven here does not make them last longer. Putting around at very low speeds actually wears out the care more than at the speeds they did back where they came from. Engines pulling from low revs in high gears, not only use more fuel but also increase load on the engines and wear them out sooner.

Suspension is made to operate through a range of maybe 6 to 8 inches, soaking up bumps and irregularities in the road, but most cars here take on these at such slow speeds that the suspension does all its work over a 2 to 4 inch range, effectively doubling the wear over this range. This is why most Samoan cars have worn out shock absorbers after a couple of years.

Just about everyone here has a car service horror story, so even when you try to keep your car going well, the less than professional services may be developing a false sense of security.

As someone trying to introduce new SUZUKI Motorcycles into the Samoan market, I can attest that the majority of locals and expats looking for wheels just want something cheap, which means used, along with all the issues that comes with this choice.

FYI, my 14 scooters did over 220,000 Km in 2016 and never once had a mechanical breakdown. There was a little crash damage, Tyres got flats and did wear out, batteries did go flat or die and the occasional switch would corrode inside because of our weather, but never once did a scooter fail because of a mechanical issue.

How can this be? Start with a NEW vehicle, from a quality manufacturer like SUZUKI and then stick to a service interval, fixing potential problems before they happen.

Buy used and it is “Caveat Emptor”, buyer beware.


Kevin Hartin

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