My Toyota Vitz has a 1300cc engine. In eight to 10 days, I use fuel worth Shs100,000. I use it to cover a distance of 50 kilometers from Ssisa village at Kitende on Entebbe Road where I stay to my workplace at Seventh Street Industrial Area each day I drive to and from work. This is approximately using three to four litres of fuel, including the return journey. It is a very fuel efficient, economical and summarised car you will ever drive. It is summarised in a sense that it is a small five seater car but has capacity to carry five passengers, including the driver, just like any other saloon vehicle.
As far as its service and maintenance is concerned, when I am driving, I listen to the sound the car makes. By the time I go to the garage for service, I already know what is wrong with the car so that I am not cheated. In most cases when you are ignorant about car mechanics, mechanics use it as advantage to cheat you simply because you do not know what is wrong. Even if it is something small, they will not feel ashamed to charge you Shs200,000 yet it could have cost Shs50,000.
For the eight months I’ve owned the car, the most costly spare part I have had to replace was the driving shaft. It cost me Shs250,000. But on a normal day when I am to do general service, I spend approximately Shs87,000. This involves extracting old engine oil for new oil of three and a half litres, air and oil filters and other parts. I replace the brake pads once in three months when I drive out of town.
Before I bought the car, I spent Shs17,000 daily using public transport. The three litres of fuel I use daily in the car cannot add up to what I spent on transport means. My costs basically went down. I manage to keep on the road with this car but also save some money.
My dream was always to buy a Jeep wrangler. But then, in 2013, the Shs14m I had could not even give me any ground to bargain for a Jeep Wrangler. I had to settle for a Toyota Vitz.
Since then, the car has been obedient to me. There has been no day it has ever spent a night in the garage because mechanics are fixing something complicated. I take it to the garage in the morning and I pick it during the day or on my way home.
The beauty about this car is that it is easy to park. Sometime back when I went to Gayaza to visit a cousin at school, I found the gateman guiding other parents how to park their big cars. When he saw me in my car, he guided me to park in a spot where other motorists could not park. I left other parents fidgeting to park their cars and laughed off.
My brothers named the car a shopping basket because I spend more money when I go to hang out than the amount I spend on fuel in a month. In just a month, I spend Shs135,000 on fuel because it has a smaller engine size of 900cc. I spend less on fuel because I drive from home to office and back home. When I am to hang out, I do so on my way home.
General service for the car costs me between Shs60,000 when I go to the garage before the recommended date of service as indicated on the service manual and approximately Shs120,000 when I take long to go to the garage. It has an average ground clearance and this makes driving on rough roads easy.
Robina Mbabazi (Bina Baibe)
In two to three weeks, I spend Shs150,000 on fuel. When I drive to different places to run different errands, I spend the same amount in two weeks. On average, I spend Shs300,000 on fuel a month. What is interesting about this car is that with Shs5,000, I can refuel and get back on the road. Shs5,000 can give me one and a half litres of fuel.
The small size of the car allows me manoeuvre through spaces where big sport utility vehicles, pick-ups and vans cannot fit. I have also been at the receiving end of insults from other road users especially commuter taxi drivers and motorcyclists who degrade my car to the size of a tin but I don’t mind them. A Toyota Vitz is not a car people respect. The insults hurt and I sometimes feel offended but what strengthens me is the fact that it takes me from one place to another and that it is registered in my name.
The car has never spent a night in the garage because a mechanic has failed to get a spare part. Its spare parts are readily available and they are not costly. I get them from downtown at Kisekka Market and other places. On average, I spend approximately Shs80,000 to have the car fully serviced. This will involve changing crucial car fluids such as engine oil, air and oil filters and other parts. I replace brake pads twice a year because I use the car mostly for town errands. I have never driven out of Kampala. The furthest I have driven it to is Entebbe.
If you are the kind of motorist who wants to keep driving as you save for any project, a Toyota Vitz gives you such room without incurring exorbitant fuel and service costs.