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  1. #1
    Virginie Guest

    Default Buying a car in South America


    We are three Belgians who are leaving to South America in January 2006 for a four month road trip. The idea was to fly into Rio, rent a car there and do a loop through Uruguay,Argentina,Chile,Bolivia,Peru and back to Rio. Unfortunately we only found out yesterday that it will be impossible to cross so many borders with a rental car.

    We are still landing in Rio and are considering buying a car/van there. Does anyone know if this is possible and how much we can expect to pay? More importantly, does anyone know if the cars for sale are reliable?
    If it is less risky to buy them in Uruguay or Argentina, we can always reach those countries by bus.

    Thanks for helping us out here. All advice is welcome!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Québec, Montreal, Arizona, California, France


    Hi Virginie!

    Unfortunately, I don't have any answer for you since I've never been in South America, but I suggest you read SportscarDriver's post about driving in Brazil. Maybe he can help you out when he gets back on the forum.



  3. Default Border problems

    I'm not a seasoned S.A. traveler either, but I have read Road Fever -- a great (and very funny) book about a trans-American road trip from Tierra del Fuego to the Bering Straits.

    In it, the author has a recurrent theme that involves serious problems with border crossings in South and Central America. I suggest you contact the consulates of the countries you plan to enter and find out what will be required, as I think this is a very complicated process (especially since you will be transiting more than one border, which will probably make the officials uneasy). At least this is the sense I got from the above-mentioned book.

    You will also find that you will be subject to the whims of the locals -- you cannot count on the information you get in advance to be the actual requirement at the point and time of the crossing. But the consulates are still the place to start, I think.

    Sounds like a great adventure -- so good luck! Bob

  4. Default

    buy the car in argentina. gas here is cheap. Ive just finished driving California to ushuaia, yesterday. we have a thirty year old vw. you can get a car in buenas aires. probably about 10,000 pesos(3,000-4000 dollars for a good enough car, (good shocks if you want to dirtroad it, last week we drove patagonia and there was no services all dirt/rock for 500+kilometers.get one with basic engine,
    we will be there in two weeks if you want to buy ours. but the title switch would probably be to much of a pain. Its imprtant to have the official title in your name. but email me if you have some more specific questions

  5. Default Dispatches from the Road!

    Borders are fairly easy in most countries, we have crossed 13 borders thats 2+ offices per side. Road Fever was written a while ago and the coruption environment is not as prevelent. smaller border crossings are always easier than the main Panamericana. the borders are very official. we payed no bribes, often only spending 40min a side. we crossed tierra del fuego yesterday which has the crossing of magellian strait, argentina to chile, then chile back to argentina.the process is pull up to office, get passport stamped. walk to next line with your title in your name, then they give you a temporary "import papers" then you go to customs and they ask you if you have vegtables of fruit, you throw that stuff away. the agent, if he can be bothered peaks his head in the car. and you drive off. Make sure to get your insurance in the big cities, becuase it would be a bumber to have to drive back 100miles. often the border crossing is a little building with nothing else around. and the most important thing is remember to smile. argeninta requires insurance. we payed 30 a month, chile the required basic hospital insurance is 15 a year. and peru its about 35 a year
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-22-2005 at 12:39 PM. Reason: Added a link

  6. Default

    Great information -- thanks for contributing. Knowing what others have encountered in "unknown" situations always helps to lower the stress levels a bit. Bob

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    Wow, VWKombi, I would love to hear more about your trip sometimes. I bet you could write a book about your adventures.

  8. Default

    Book will be coming out after we get back....... one excitement was having our penguin fight off a rober in peru

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula


    Cool! I hope you will announce it here when it's published.

  10. #10

    Default Rent, bus it and enjoy.

    I can not comment on the other countries as I have not traveled to them, so my advice is limited only to Brazil.

    Firstly, cross each boarder via Coach Bus, then rent a vehicle to get to where you have to go. Buying a car, getting registration (if you can obtain that) insuring the car, maintenance, dealing with the bureaucracy……etc can take up all your four months 

    Rent a car in Rio and buy the extra insurance coverage. Renting is easy and you are provided with a reliable vehicle, allowing you all to enjoy more of your vacation. If you have the luxury of having a GPS unit, then buy the software for Brazil and the other countries you are visiting, because road signage is not the best once you get of the major highways and into towns especially in small towns. Ask the rental agency about driving the vehicle out of province and check to see if they have an agency in the town you are traveling too.

    Driving at night can be dangerous and I would not recommend it unless you know how to get to your destination with out assistance. If you need to ask for directions (at night) asks cab drivers or the Police, but don’t ask anyone on the street, or go into a store or shop and ask for directions.
    Another option is to hire a taxi for the day. I hired a cab in Rio for $75 CDN dollars for the day and did not have to worry about getting lost and was taken to all the tourist sights in comfort.

    When I was there (Rio) back in October 2005 I paid $800 (Canadian dollars) including fuel for a one week rental for a Chevrolet Corsa 4dr (hatchback is cheaper approx $500 CDN.) This can of course be really expensive for a four month tour, so I can see your option on purchasing a vehicle. If your going to buy any vehicle, a motorcycle is obviously the cheapest, but of course by no means the safest! But a lot of fun.

    The safest, most comfortable, reliable and cheapest way of transportation is by bus. For example; Rio to Sao Paulo it is a 7hr bus ride in executive class (seat recline into a bed) with a small meal included. All for $60 (CDN dollars). Get on a midnight bus, and you’ll be in Sao Paulo the next morning with accommodations already taken care of (the bus you are in). Then rent a car to explore the largest city in South America.

    What ever route you take, have a pair of driving gloves and shoes ready and enjoy your travels in beautiful Brazil. Don’t forget to provide us with an update on your trip.
    Last edited by Sportscar driver; 01-03-2006 at 12:08 AM.

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