Alex has been saving up for months now and looks set to finally purchase a brand new car. It hasn’t been easy considering the sacrifices he had to make just to save N3million in a year.
Even after all the sacrifices and diligence, he still needs to get another N2million from his bank to complete the money. It hasn’t always been like this for Alex who over the years had relied on “tokunbo” cars for his daily commute.

Being a conservative guy, he never thought buying a new car was worth the fuss when he could simply get a car for half the price. Now that his status is changing, he feels the time has come to step up even though deep down his conviction tells him buying a new car probably isn’t worth it. He believes if not for the hype, he probably will just stick to his Tokunbo vehicles. “Brand new vehicles are not worth him” he says.

Expensive to maintain

Contrary to most opinions, Alex believes brand new cars are quite expensive to maintain. He recalled a friend telling him how he spent over N400, 000 just to fix a windscreen that was shattered. For most brand new cars, replacing parts can be very expensive leaving car owners with no choice but to pay. Four sets of shock absorbers can range between N100, 000 to N300, 000 for some cars. Contrast that to “Tokunbo” cars which are fairly cheaper to maintain.

Limited market for spare parts

Alex, follows up his claim of parts being expensive by alluding that our spare part market shops do not cater adequately for new cars compared to tokunbo vehicles. For example, parts for a made in 2014 car is harder to find compared to an older model of the car. This boxes inadvertently forces car owners into buying from the car sellers at a rate that can’t be appropriately negotiated.

Limited choice of service providers

Buying new cars also limits you to using one or two service provider. Typically, car owners are forced to this for reasons such as warranty benefits, free service, car parts, vehicle maintenance, specialty etc. This is different with tokunbo cars as you are inherently not bound to any service provider.

Warranties don’t go far enough

Brand new cars typically come with Warranties that last one year or 100,00km whichever comes first. Whilst that is the norm, he feels these are mostly just words backed up with little action. The other day a friend noticed the AC of his brand new car stopped working just 6 months after he purchased it. The car company fixed the AC free of charge only for the fault to develop again. They fixed it the second time and told him he had exhausted his warranties. When he discovered another factory fault he had no option but to pay from his pocket. There is also the issue of vehicle recalls that we get in the news, he believes it hardly applies to Nigeria.


Alex opines that more than 80% of new cars are comprehensively insured. However, buying a tokunbo vehicle more likely than not will require a third party insurance. Comprehensive Insurance in Nigeria typically cost about 5% of the value if the car and is a cost that you are likely keep bearing till the end of the life of the vehicle.

Theft and Security

New vehicles are flashy and would probably attract the attention of thieves more than it will if it were tokunbo vehicles. As such, car owners who buy brand new cars are inclined towards installing vehicle tracking software’s and other security measures that can provide them with a level of comfort for their cars. Whilst this is also obtainable with second hand vehicles, it is predominant with brand new cars.


A common misconception is that brand new cars are very durable and last much longer than second hand vehicles. However, some also believe that is not the case as older vehicles are built with stronger parts which make them eventually outlast newer vehicles. His tokunbo car for example, still looks better than his brother’s brand new car.

Resell value

Alex also believes, Tokunbo vehicles have a better resell value than brand new cars. He remembers a colleague who found it difficult to sell a car he had used for 4 years even though he bought it brand new. He kept getting ridiculous bids for his car making him eventually give it out for free. However, if it were a Tokunbo car, he would have sold it easily and at a fairer price.


Most brand new cars sold in Nigeria are either assembled in Nigeria or in South Africa. For that reason, the cars come in specifications that are limited to the continent and will lack some of the features we find it Europe on in the US. Take an example of his cousin who bought a brand new car in Nigeria and a friend of Alex who waited a year to buy the same car as Tokunbo. The brand new car lacked features such as Bluetooth, sophisticated sound system, GPS technology, Dashboard with Screens and other 21st century technology that are compulsory in Western assembled vehicles.

Despite Alex’s doubts, he is still bent on buying the brand new cars for a change. It is all about status and nothing more.