For sale in Panama or share a container from Panama to the States or Vancouver Canada

Many people purchase vehicles especially for their drive down the Panamerican Highway.  Read more about how to purchase a vehicle in a foreign country, and what types of vehicles you might want to look for. 

Purchasing Vehicles

General Vehicle Selection Tips

Before you buy any vehicle, particularly in the USA, do your homework! Many vehicles, which  a) are a common daily sight on American roads, and  b) have a good reputation for reliability, will NOT be found ANYWHERE in South America!! NOWHERE! That means you won't get basic parts either!  Until Panama you can find some older US vehicles as they import used vehicles from the US.

For countries further south I won't mention US national brands because not many of them are being exported. US models from  "World ''market leaders''", like newer NISSAN and HONDA SUVs and pick-ups are also US-versions only, even almost every Toyota 4WD from the US is different in all its technology to what's being driven in South America. Your best bet to drive South America might be an old Volkswagen (pre 1990 or so), a Toyota 4-Runner, old Toyota HiLux pick-up (if you can find one), Subaru Legacy, or the standard Suzuki Vitara (despite its small engine - sold some places as Chevrolet). I saw along the way more Porsche Cayennes than any common US vehicle.

We bought a Ford F250 with the 7.3 liter Diesel for our trip = such a common and well respected vehicle in the States. I searched, and searched a little more, before committing to the truck, found videos and docos from Latin America with them in the picture, hence I thought we should be right... WRONG! You see quite a few Ford F250 (or more often F150), but most come either with the 5.4 liter gas engine (no 7.5 l either), or with a 3.9 liter CUMMINS Diesel engine (see http://www.ford.com.br or http://www.ford.com.ve/Camiones/F350/Introduccion). In both versions almost everything else is different, too: brakes, axles, gear box or transmission, the list goes on... In the end I guess with a Dodge RAM pick-up (thanks to its Cummins Diesel technology) we would have been better off!  (this section by dare2go)

Purchasing a vehicle in California

Roadtrippers Zooey and Rianne flew to the United States and purchased a vehicle in California before driving south.  This seemed to be a fairly painless process.  Many used vehicle listings are available on Craigslist, which has separate listings for many different cities in California.  You can easily look at the vehicle's history and estimated value by entering the vehicle's information at Kelly Blue Book.  After finding a vehicle, it may be useful to look at the California Department of Motor Vehicle's buying and selling] website.  You will need to transfer the ownership within 10 days from the date of purchase. You will need to do and/or have the following:

  • Make an appointment (for faster service) to visit a DMV office with the following documents
  •  A properly endorsed title, also known as a pink slip, with the previous owner's signature on line one. If the vehicle is or was financed, line two of the title will also require a releasing signature.  The vehicle mileage should also be disclosed on the title.
  • A document proving the vehicle passed California's smog check test. Smog certifications are good for 90 days from the date of the inspection.
  • You will also need to pay any tranfer fees and taxes.  
  • You will have to fill out a Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability in order to transfer the vehicle into your ownership.
  • You will also need insurance in order to receive your valid registration.  If you care to renew your registration after a year and the car will not be in California, you can fill out a Certificate of Planned Non-Operation stating that the car will not be driven in California.  As you won't likely don't want to pay insurance for the car in California as the car won't actually be there, you need to fill out this form as the DMV will cancel your registration if you don't have proof of insurance.  

Selling a vehicle in Paraguay

We went to Cidade de Este (Paraguay) but decided to get a hotel on the Brasil side of the border because it is much safer. The first day we decided to go over on foot and take photos of our car to the potential purchasers and if they were interested then we would bring the car over. This worked not bad, but we did have to pay the motos guys to tour us around to the dealerships. If I was to do this again I would just drive across with the car. We didn´t have much luck at the beginning because everyone was saying that it was going to cost $1500 - $2000US to get the proper paperwork and plates for Paraguay. Also, they don´t have any Honda CRV´s in Paraguay. If you want to sell your car there you are much better getting a Toyota, there are everywhere! We found two dealers that were interested in the car and agreed upon a price of $2500US and went back to get the car the same day. They said that everything would be done that day, however, at the end of the day it was not. We went back to Brasil and then back again the next day to finalize the paperwork but this was also taking a long time, and the guy thought that it might take one more day. We decided to go to the aduana office at the border and enquire as to what this process was going to take to be completed. They looked at the registration of the car and said that in Paraguay you could not legalize a car that was more then 10 years old!! When we returned to the dealership and explained this to the owner, he offered to pay us $1500US for the scrap value, and we could take the ownership and plates home. We took the money and headed back to Brasil. We are not exactly sure what happened with this whole business transaction, either the guy was telling the truth or got the car for $1000 less but we do know that if you are going to do business in Cidade de Este you are going to have to endure some shady business practices. For us at the end of the day we were happy with the outcome, we sold the car and arrived back in Brasil alive. As we always say to each other the trip was not about selling the car and making money, the car was a means to an end and at the end we were able to get a little money to help buy another car when we get back home. If i was to do it again, i would check more of the scrap yards in Brasil, because people say you can get $1000US for a decent car and you won´t waste your money, sanity or energy going to Paraguay!

--Submitted by Alex

Selling a Vehicle in Chile

There is an importer at the Free Port here who can legally purchase vehicles from other countries or arrange for buyers.  For more information, contact Alejandro Perez. He lives in Punta Arenas, Chile and his email is alejandrorancho@hotmail.com

-- From Liz and Raul

edit: you can actually sell any "special purpose vehicle" legally anywhere in Chile, the important thing is the "special purpose". Lucky for us "Motorhomes" fall (together with crane trucks, ambulances, fire engines, etc.) under this category. You will not be able to sell your US-bought station wagon, SUV, or the likes, except in the two free trade zones (Iquique & Punta Arenas), prices there are low due to cheap imports coming in by the ship loads. There is a market for camper vehicles with strong demand (depending season) in Chile!
We sold our slide-in camper on a Ford F250 to a Chilean police man. I advertised the vehicle [in Spanish] on several online pages, among them vivastreet.cl. Before that we visited a dealer at Rancagua, km99 Ruta 5 Sur, Kunstmann of http://rodantes.cl/, but he is buying newer camper models.

Camper Convenience

We are travelling the Pan-American in a small van, which we converted to have storage and a bed. The problem with this set up is there is a relatively small air space which heats up quickly from two people and a dog inside. We can open the windows, but then mosquitos get in. Furthermore, we have no living space to cook, hide from rain, or write our blog.

If we were to do the trip again, we would buy an older diesel 4wd and put a camper on it, giving us the convenience of a fridge, netted windows, a table and a place to cook. With this set-up we would have saved a considerable amount of money from hotel and restaurant costs. With this in mind, the camper will probably put you over height and cost more to ship across the Darien Gap. (This section by Cam and Summer). For more info on how to find the right camper for your trip see here.

Right-Hand Drives

If you are considering driving a right-hand drive vehicle, there are some things to keep in mind.  We chose a right-hand drive from Japan because we could get a 4WD Diesel Mitsubishi L400 Delica van, which is easy to find parts for.

  • There are a lot of slow vehicles on the road that you need to pass, and therefore you need a partner to tell you when its safe, as the driver will see too late.
  • El Salvador did not want to let our right hand drive into their country and after much pleading, we were given just a 24-hour transit permit.
  • Headlights are designed to point slightly off the road, if your right hand drive hasn't been upgraded, they will point into traffic and you will constantly get flashed by people thinking you have your brights on.
  • You can apparently get it converted to a left hand drive in Chile for ~$500 (this section Cam and Summer)
  • Bolivia will not let right-hand-drive vehicles into the country at all.
 
Fri, 03/18/2011 - 00:11

Right Hand Drives

Bolivia won't let rhd vehicles in, either!

Thu, 04/28/2011 - 10:42

WRANGLER

Yes...  Not exactly an overland vehicle, but I will do it on an Unlimited Rubicon and an Extreme Off road Trailer behind.

Sun, 10/09/2011 - 13:42

Right hand drive Toyota Hilux Surf

I am driving to Costa Rica from Canada with a right hand drive vehicle. I was wondering if anyone has driven thru central america lately with a right hand drive vehicle? Thanks

Tue, 11/15/2011 - 19:20 (Reply to #3)

RH Drive Car.

I've just picked up this thread so it might be too late to share some info, however... We shipped our right hand drive car to Mexico from the UK back in July and have so far made it down to Peru, through all of Central America (bar El Salvador) and then shipped it from Panama to Colombia. We have many stories but no problems to report with border crossings, the roads, driving etc. etc. but let us know how you're getting on or if you need any friendly advice... Dan.

Sun, 10/09/2011 - 20:11

Right drive vehicle

Hi Charlie,

 

Please do your homework searching info on all the countries you plan to cross. For what I remenber there are some where you cannot even cross the border with a right hand drive. I don't remember witch ones but Dare2go mentioned Bolivia, it is not on your path but above you see that in El Salvador they are also not allowed.

In the end I think it will depend on how much you are willing to bribe the guys at the border.

Cheers,

 

Renato

www.americas2011.com

www.facebook.com/americas2011

Mon, 10/10/2011 - 07:56

more info on right-hand drives

See our article on purchasing a vehicle for more info on right-hand drive vehicles in Latin America.

Several our roadtrippers have done it - try contacting Neil or Dare2Go

Thu, 06/28/2012 - 16:50

RHD for El Salvador

We had a nice tour of ES (May 2012, 3 weeks) with our Mitsu Delica.

Thanks to Jose Mario, manager of the ES Landrover Club.  He sent a request for a special permit to the government on our behalf and in 4 weeks we received the letter of approval.  Jose Mario and his pals were great guys, keen on prompting tourism in ES and were willing to escort us around.  We were remiss to not try a 4x4 adventure with them...

club.landrover@yahoo.com

http://www.landroverelsalvador.org/
 

 

Wed, 11/13/2013 - 22:20

purchasing vehicles

 Canada and  i believe USA doesn't have  regular mechanical inspection mandatory like  Europe so vehicle condition depends very much of the owner. 99 % of the campers and trucks campers or pickup campers or vans are very shiny( costs around 150$ to make a polish and make it look like new) but very difficult to be aware of the transmission, engine life left and more. every model and manufacturer has their own issues, and the repairs can be very expensive if neglected.  the big ideea is to buy one in a condition capable to drive the americas and to stay within a budget. Future vehicle reliability when buying used is a matter of the previous owner maintainance and care.

 first try to buy from  people who didn't abuse them . mileage is important also has to prove good maintenance. is good to take it inspected( compression and more).also if was own by a construction companie, transport compagnie, etc pickup could be very tired by too much work. it doesn't matter gas or diesel( better fuel mileage but more expensive( engines and engine repairs),  automatic( can be also very reliable) or manual transmissions it  has to be in very good working order.

so before buying take it to be inspected at another garage.Also what i learned is when having diesel engine problems take it to a diesel shop, transmission problems, take it to a transmission repair center, etc .Inspect before leaving, as you drive many miles it could only get worse. trust me after going down on Moky Dugway, a rubber hose brake from my Sprinter blew. kept me stranded one week in Monument Valley waiting for parts which were 600 miles away in the USA.

 a good well cared non abused vehicle could give months of trouble free inexpensive enjoyment.a abused tired vehicle, could give months of expensive pain
I change all oils to syntetics ( engine, transmission, transfer case, differentials). better on gas, less friction,less heat, less wear.

these are only my personal buying tips, I'm not an expert, only  from my previous experiences 

have fun

incognito

 

Mon, 07/07/2014 - 20:27

Need a small caravan

Hi, all you there.

I'm looking to buy a small but full loaded caravan by the first half of August in Ecuador / Colombia / Perú.

Enjoy traveling.

J. R.

 

Fri, 10/17/2014 - 15:14

For Sale 2003 Land Rover Discovery Expedition

Ready for the next big adventure.

Outside: Equipped with roof top Tepui tent, solar shower, fresh water drinking canisters pressurized. FrontRunner rack system equipped with Yakima Frontloader bike rack including spare duel fuel tanks and aluminum storage box. Recent tires and rims including complete new suspension system (oldmanemu) all of the above was purchased October last year.

Inside: storage system including 12v refrigerator. Motor was replaced five years ago with a 2004 engine carfax reported 36k at replacement. Current millage 120k. Most recent work, new radiator and while on expedition in Costa Rica new headliner. Registration through November 2015

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/pen/cto/4719533049.html

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:58

Selling a car from Chile in Colombia

Hi! 

We bought a car in Chili with Chilean plates and are travelling through South-America. We want to sell our car in Colombia but we don't know if it is legally possible to sell a car with Chilean plates in Colombia and how do we do this with the papers etc? 

Anybody with experience in this? 

 

thank you in advance!

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 09:22

Caveat Emptor - BUYER BEWARE

Worth repeating

Caveat Emptor - Buyer beware

Because there is a steady, but thankfully small stream of people getting into trouble with their new purchase, I'm going to play Devils Advocate and post this on every "For Sale" section on this and every other forum I can find.
Directed primarily at the Americas situation, I imagine it will also be applicable all over the world.

Be very aware that buying a foreign-registered car from a foreigner in any country and/or state other than that of original registration is potentially a very bad move unless you fully understand the situation and fully understand the risks.

Yes, lots of people do it and I know it can be done, but there are cases where people have been stopped at the border and other cases where people have had their vehicles confiscated for irregular ownership transfer even after several successful border crossings.

Things to watch for -

Expired registration

Non-current roadworthy or smog certification

Fake License plates

License plates with year tags missing or incorrect

Fake documents

Supposed original Documents that have been laminated

Bill of sale drawn up 'legally" in the foreign country

Not possible to obtain legal ownership in your name back in the country of origin.

Your nationality different to the owners or the vehicle home country

Multiple blank PODERS offered or poder without all required stamps or your name missing

Any vague excuses for discrepancies in paperwork or situation

Any seller that makes assurances such as "She'll be right" or "No worries" or I've checked it all out and ..."

Any vehicle without a valid Temporary Import Permit or equivalent document

Any suggestion that valid Liability Insurance isn't available to cover you, the new driver.

Owner wanting full payment before it has crossed the first border

Current owner not contactable.

Vehicle not in legal roadworthy condition

Vehicle without all "extras" required in that country

As I said, it can be done but as the title states - if it goes wrong, it is your problem. If you find any or these items apply to your planned purchase then make sure they can be answered and fixed before you hand over any money. At the very least insist on retaining a substantial part of the purchase price until you get over the first border and into the next country with all paperwork and registrations in your name. If the current owner is 100% genuine then he will be more than happy to share the risks. If not, then now is the time to walk away.

Thu, 06/11/2015 - 09:34

Re Right Hand Drive vehicles in certain countries

Yes, a very few reports of problems in some countries, but the majority of RHD travellers don't report any problems at all.

Partly a problem of incidents from years ago being requoted as current issues.

Suggested it is due to border officials not making the distinction between vehicles being permanently imported - definitely not allowed in some countries - and vehicles essentially in transit coming in on a Temporary Vehicle import Permit which is or should be covered by international conventions and is not illegal.

A previous RHD vehicle had been into most central and S Americal countries, in some cases several times, and had zero problems.

 

Your experience may vary!

Mon, 06/15/2015 - 16:07

FOR SALE - Campervan - In Mexico

FOR SALE - Chev Campervan Ready to roll into the Next Adventure!!  Nothing to do, get in and Drive Away!

naomi.lee.stylist@gmail.com

52 9541 119 685 - Mexico 

WhatsApp - same number

$4300 Negotiable

Chev Campervan

Year: '89

V8 Motor 5, 7L - 350 Chev Motor

Licence Plates: California

Electric Windows

Air Condioning (works well!)

Cruise Control

New Battery

Second Battery w converter 12V - 2 Socket 120V + 1

USB - 2 sockets 12V extra + 1 USB - Sony Car Stereo w/ USB access, SD card & Micro SD, Front Aux Radio, & Front & Rear Speakers

INTERIOR LIKE A MOTOR HOME! (Beautifull Fitout Done!) 

- Comfortable Double Bed for 2 People

- Standing Room - includes Tall Peope! lol

- Fan Ventilator

- Plenty of Storage

- Pantry

FULL EQUIPPED KITCHEN

- Gas Cooker- W/ Gas Cylinder 20LB

- Sink w/ tap & electical Water Pump 12V

- 20L Drinking WAter

- Pans, pots, kettle, plates, cups & cutlery

OTHER

- Eco Toilet

- Camping Table with 2 Chairs custom made

- Ice Chest

 

This Campervan is Ready to roll away ready to start a new adventure!

Currently in Sunny Coastal - Puerto Escondido, Mexico (Oaxaca State)

Price: $4300 US - negotiable

 

PS - We have had no issues with the van in our travels from Border Crossing to Mechanical with the Van,  Through Central America from Costa Rica - Mexico

 

Sun, 06/28/2015 - 17:29

Vehicle confiscation in Argentina

Lots of wishful thinking evident in many adverts for vehicles for sale below the Mexican border.  See a recent post regarding a new purchase of a Californian-registered vehicle in Mexico.  He tried to get it registered in his name in CA but received a notification from the CA DMV that his new papers did not constitute valid operating documents. Add to that a TIP in the previous owners name, the high probability of not being able to purchase valid Mexican Liability insurance, and he is in a spot of bother.

 

Anyway, back to the comment title.

I have copies of the official notification of confiscation of a US-registered vehicle at an Argentinian border post. Reason given was that the vehicle WAS purchased in Argentina in contravention of the rules.  New owner had crossed several borders without problems using the original owners Title, a PODER giving the new 'owner" permission to drive it anywhere AND a locally notarised Bill of Sale drawn up by the same lawyer as drew up the PODER.

 

Trouble is that bill of sale had a date on it that was between the official date of entry by the previous owner and the date the new owner first took it out of Argentina.  Proof positive of an illegal sale.

Given that much of the "sure-fire" advice on selling a vehicle to another foreigner in a foreign country is just plain wrong or dangerous, prospective purchars are warned that regardless of so-called expert advice, it is very difficult and very time consuming to sell a vehicle in a way that satisfies the law of those foreign countries. Not impossible but difficult enough that noone bothers even trying so that leads to work-arounds that mostly work - which is obvious given the number of successful sales, but the dangers are always there and I have first-hand confirmation regarding two confiscations and one very large fine resulting from unsuccessful purchases in Argentina.

In the rush to fulfill your dream, please don't disregard the usual sensible precaustions that you would almost certainly take if you were buying a car from someone in your home town. Down here you are on your own.

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 06:55

buy in Chile, sell in USA

Any experience in this, or interest in buying a Chilean car in the US?

I believe selling a car bought in Chile could be done for two purposes:

  1. buyer will use this the car in the US
  2. buyer will use the car to drive to Chile, and have a car that is easier to sell, and will make a more popular first impression than US plates might make.

I believe the first option is rather dificult, with having to import the car and such. Can anyboy confirm the latter is doable; e.g. transferring the ownership of a Chilean car while not being in Chile?

Thanks a lot Reinout

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 15:49

Sale t2 westfalia in uruguay o argentina urgent

We put in saleour lovely camper. It is a mexican kombi t2 westfalia fron 1975, in perfect conditions, ready to goback to the roads.
We have travelled across all latin america and we have contact information of many vw clubs which have helped us along the travel.
It is fit to live in it. It has 6 seats, a big bed and a smaller one on the roof. Kitchen and water tank.
We can give it in montevideo or buenos aireson the first daysof march.
Contact information: whatssaps +5493876008103