Benefits of belonging to a car club

Apart from local networking, car groups provide opportunities for international networking.   Photo/courtesy

What you need to know:

While some people do not consider joining a car club a productive thing to get involved into, belonging to one comes with numerous benefits and exciting opportunities.

Emmanuel Ssemwanga is a member of the Volkswagen (VW) Club. When he travels to Kenya, he is hosted at a friend’s home. The friend is also a member of the Kenyan Volkswagen Club. 

“Apart from local networking, car groups provide opportunities for international networking. I do not spend on hotel bills while I am in Kenya or Rwanda because I have made friends who are part of VW clubs in the respective countries. This helps me to cut costs,” Ssemwanga says.

Max Opitre, a member of the Vintage and Classic Cars Uganda group that has 157 members says sometimes, you need to share information with members in car groups, especially those who previously ordered for spare parts online.

Sourcing for vintage car parts, Opitre adds, is not an easy task since they are rare.

“Different people have different ideas and experiences. For instance, if you are restoring a Peugeot 504 1975 model or any other vintage car and you are stuck on where to source parts from, there are people in the group who have restored such and many more cars and are willing to share contacts or recommend spare parts dealers to make your work easy,” Opitre says.

Sharing experiences

Sourcing for vintage car spare parts such as carburetors and other parts that are rudimentary, according to Opitre, is as challenging as sourcing for their mechanics. Most mechanics understand the technology of not-so-old cars but will find a challenge in repairing vintage cars.

“Different vintage car owners face different mechanical problems and deal with different mechanics. The challenging bit is when you may not know which mechanic to go to because mechanics have areas of specialty. The only way out of such a challenge is for someone you know recommending one they have used before,” Opitre adds.

Car deals

Every Saturday, Opitre says, is market day not only for vintage spare parts but also vintage cars, where members post cars they have for sale. There are scenarios where group members need particular cars but do not know where to find them and as such, the market day comes in handy.

Ssemwanga, who is also a member of the Vintage and Classic Cars Uganda, says being part of a car group is like pooling knowledge together from different people. For instance, some members in the group who acquired vintage cars were forced to replace the six character (the big number plates) with the seven character number plates. It was a concern in the group because these vehicles lost their historical value.

“When we came together as a group, we discussed the matter and agreed to petition the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and other concerned ministries about the matter,” Ssemwanga says. Referrals

Jayson Matsiko, a member of the German Car Group that has more than 240 members, says being part of a group comes with social and mechanical advantages. The group, he says, has members that work and relate with different mechanical fields of German brands such as mechanics, car accessories and spare part dealers.

“It gives you a chance of contacting different people, especially parts dealers. When you have a need, you will easily find someone who has what you need at the right cost. Even if you do not have money at that particular time, you can get parts on credit because you are known to the dealer. There are mechanics on the group who are recommended depending on the mechanical problem you have with your car,” Matsiko explains.

German brands range from BMW, Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes Benz. Different mechanics specialise in different areas pertaining to these cars and models. For example, not all Mercedes Benz mechanics understand how to service a BMW.

“We also have mechanics on the group who understand where to get genuine spare parts. Many times most car owners are convinced by spare parts dealers and find that what they bought did not serve the intended purpose. It could be the part but when it is fake yet some of these parts are expensive. In such a situation, a knowledgeable mechanic comes in to help because there is open communication of needs and challenges in the group,” Matsiko explains.

The German Car Group also comprises car brokers who are trustworthy. There are also dealers of cars and parts in Europe and Dubai and make sourcing for spare parts and cars at international level easy and fast as long as you know what you need.

Ronnie William Kyazze, a member of the Land Rover Uganda Club, says a fully paid member is able to buy car parts and lubricants from selected dealers or suppliers at discount prices.

“When you become part of the club, you get benefits through suppliers, companies and organisations at discounted rates. Some companies give freebies depending on the day. Land Rover brands are prescribed certain lubricants that are expensive to the ordinary motorist but come at a reduced cost through partnerships,” Kyazze says. 

Publicity

Car club members also benefit from tonnes of publications and advices offered by clubs. And because most clubs only specialise on certain fields, brands, makes and models, members are assured that the advice they get are suited for their very needs.

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