Published on September 24th, 2023 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Are You Driving A Kereta Manja Right Now
Are you working for your Kereta Manja or working for a better life
This is a question you should be asking yourself the next time you look at buying a new car as you do not want to end up with a Kereta Manja after the factory warranty ends.
Some history first. In the 1980’s almost all new cars were very reliable. Simple to maintain and easy on the pocket.
Then in mid-1990’s electronics started creeping into luxury cars and some mid-range cars. Prices rose and after sales costs also started rising. By the early 2000’s safety features, complicated gearboxes, ‘dual powertrains’, cabin connectivity and more were being added to new cars and this further increased prices and also increased problems and after sales issues.
In the last decade, the years before the electric car revolution, complicated drivetrains and smart phone car cabins pushed prices up and with that we started getting emails and calls from disgruntled owners almost daily.
After sales could not cope and there were no more ‘REPAIRS’, instead only ‘REPLACE’ the problematic part was offered (large fancy screens like in the picture below are failing in many new cars today).
Prices of parts were getting ‘SKY HIGH’ and car owners had to take loans and credit cards were max’d out to get cars back on the road …….. briefly only …… before another expensive issue arrived.
Malaysians, like the rest of the developing countries in ASEAN have a big love of cars. It starts from a young age and when teens reach the age to get a driving license, there is no hesitation in visiting the driving school and paying for classes (well its mostly the parents who do the paying).
The process since Covid-19 takes anywhere between 4 to 10 months depending on where the driving school is and how popular it is.
Then right after the driving license is in hand, the next project is the right car. Most of the time it is a hand me down from the parents or older sibling.
For parents with more disposal income, it’s a brand new compact car from either Proton or Perodua. For some others it is low prices used car that ends up being a ‘kereta manja’, which means it is a problematic car or a car that needs a lot of tender loving care (translated this means regular time at the workshop and out of pocket expense).
We had a kereta manja as a first car. Low budget purchase, rust bucket, but it taught us how to scavenge for used car parts at the car junkyard and work with mechanics to get the car on the road as much as possible.
It also meant having to keep more money for the cars upkeep which left us with less money for ‘hanging’ out with friends and cruising for ‘babes’.
Well, today, decades later, we still have one, maybe two kereta manja in our garage and we consider this as modern classics and this is why we keep them.
Meanwhile, there are many others who ‘work for their cars’ and just do not want to let go of their ‘temperamental’ cars.
However, as mechanics start raising their prices to keep up with rising living costs and prices of spare parts (new and also used) also start moving up (almost 30 percent post Covid-19), kereta manja owners will be pushed into a corner to sell their treasured car or eat and drink less.