Buying a car in the US or Chile?

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#1 Mon, 08/19/2013 - 05:35

Buying a car in the US or Chile?

Hi folks,

we (French & German) are planning a longer trip to Central and South America next year in June and are strongly considering to buy a car and do it overland (instead of travelling by public transport). We have done that in Australia and big parts of Europe and found it a much more enjoyable way of travelling for us.

We thought that our best option would be to buy a car in California and drive South. Now, in terms of possibility, I only seem to find contradicting information. Lots of people say it is impossible to buy a car in California since you need to be a resident. Others have obviously done it but nobody mentions on how they dealt with the issue of a residential address in California.

- We don't have relatives or friends in the US, so how are the chances to use a temporary adress in California (such as a hostel) for the registration of the car? We did that in Australia but apparently, their registration laws are not as strict as in the US...

- Is US insurance for your car compulsory when you leave for Central America (where you pay extra insurance anyway since the US insurance doesn't cover those countries) or can you cancel it and just drive with the insurance of the country you are currently in?

- Is it a better option to buy a car in Chile (or anywhere else in South America). If yes, buy from a fellow traveller or a local? How do you transfer the registration of the car from afar if it has a North American or European number plate?

- And lastly, this might be a stupid question for some and I apologise to anyone who feels offended but we have never been to Central and South America, so: Is it less safe to drive a car with a North American/European number plate there and basically expose yourself straight away as a "gringo"?

Thanks for any advice! It'll be greatly appreciated!

Michaela