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Buying Your Dream Kayak Vehicle in Chile
One of the most often questions asked is, “how hard is it to buy a vehicle?” This article is designed to offer trip saving tips, a step by step how to buy guide, what to do and not do, and horror stories of past kayak nomads.
So your crew has decided to do the extended kayak tour of Chile this year. Your biggest challenge becomes transportation. “Oh… we’ll just buy a beater vehicle and it’ll be awesome!” Your vehicle will ultimately make or break your kayak adventure.
Below is a Facebook thread that arrived Nov 30, 2011 after Colorado crew Chris Baer, Casey Tango and Gordon Klco spent their first week buying a van, breaking down 3 times, returning the van to the dealer at a loss of over $US3,000, renting another vehicle, and losing a week of their trip.
- Gordon Klco
- hey david,
we have had a brutal start to this trip. the van we bought is a piece of shit and we have been broken down for the last week. monday we are headed to santiago again for the 3rd time to get rid of the van and start over with a rental. we should be coming back to the claro after that….hopefully mid week. Also, i was wondering if it was possible to stay at your place for some of the time we are down south. We would just want to tent camp and use the bathroom/kitchen/maybe one boat locker if possible. do you think that is an option? let me know what your thoughts are. looking forward to seeing you!
November 27, 2011
- Gordon… bummer to hear about your start. Welcome to Chile… hope you have a couple of good stories. Yeah… I’ll do what I can to get you guys up and running and ask of you guys to post some blogs for the hostel.
November 27, 2011
- Awesome! We can defintely get you some content. I have some good stories to tell…and great lessons learned. I will see you soon!
The Colorado crew ended up renting a 4 door pickup truck for about $US60/day. That is super cheap and hard to find.
Read Gordon Kclo’s, “Chilean Misadventure Part I.”
Step 1- Research vehicles online and get a sense of what you want.
Google: Chile autos, rental cars Chile… Use a Spanish translator to get more results.
Check out ChileAutos.cl for online classified autos.
Things to Research
- Gas or diesel? At 900 pesos/liter that’s about $US7/gal. Diesel is cheaper and will be an easier to sell vehicle. But costs more to buy the auto.
- Buy common models. Finding parts for rare vehicles is costly and timely. Some common brands are Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Kia, and Hyundai.
- Racks- Use to you would bring rain gutter rack mounts/straps. Now rain gutters are rare. You may have to pay a shop to build a rack.
- Remember straps. Or you can buy ropes.
Step 2- Get a RUT number first thing.
A Chilean RUT number is a temporary social security number you must have before purchasing a vehicle. It’s an easy process that costs about $US20 and a couple of hours time. You should do this on the day you arrive to Chile.
Step 3- Have a reliable mechanic check your vehicle.
In 2005 I found the perfect diesel 12 seat van to buy for Huge Experiences group. At $12,000 I opted to pay a Chilean friend’s mechanic to check it out. Alex discovered that the motor was bad and would break down in no time. Alex told the mechanic and the mechanic offered Alex $1,000 to, “help me sell to this gringo.” The small mechanic investment saved thousands of dollars and weeks of stress.
If you plan on riding ripio (gravel) roads best to make sure you have off road treads and do not head out with bald tires. Also make sure you have a jack and good spare, as you will use them on a long trip. If you do get a flat most towns have a Vulcanizadora (tire repair). Number one things that fail on Chilean vehicles are terminales and rotulas (tie rods and ball joints) so check them well when buying used. In old days four wheel drive was needed for lots of runs but today most runs are accessible without 4 wheel. – Kurt Casey
Step 4- Revisiones Tecnicas and Permiso de Circulacion
Annually, vehicles need a Permiso de Circulacion from the Revisiones Tecnicas stating its road worthy, passes emissions test… Check that your vehicle is up to date. If your auto does not then you’ll have to spend a half-day getting it checked at the Registro Civil and they may give you a list of expensive checkpoints. Revisiones Tecnicas… you’ll also need to go by this office to get another stamp.
Step 5- Tax and Santiago Toll Checks
Is your vehicle clear of taxes and Santiago toll fees? Toll fees can accumulate in Santiago and like taxes they follow the vehicle. This is an easy to check process for any Chilean. It’d bum you out if you went to sell your vehicle and found out it owed over $1,000 in tolls and taxes.
Step 6- Paying and Getting Your Padron (owner’s card) Registration at Registro Civil
This is the paying and transferring of title and registration to your name. Go with the owner to a Notario (notary’s are in most towns) to legally sign and process the trade. Padron and Registration papers will be applied for with intent of transfer to your name and address.
Leaving the Country: You cannot leave the country without title or notarized permission from the owner. Since, titles can take months to arrive in the mail it is a good forethought to get the notarized permission at point of sale.
If buying and selling to or from foreigners you can make your deal in foreign currency and even do payments outside of country. It is not mandatory to pay in Chilean pesos as long as buyer and seller agree. This is important because it can be very long and slow process to open a bank account in country so wiring in foreign currency and switching into pesos can be a problem. -Kurt Casey
Step 7- Buy Auto Insurance
As soon as you purchase the vehicle go purchase insurance. Insurance is cheaper than in the US. Make sure and get a tow policy, which could save you hundreds if you break down. Pucon Kayak Hostel uses Falabella. Falabella is a large department store usually in malls. You can drive your vehicle with papers to Falabella and purchase on the spot. You can also buy insurance on-line.
More Helpful Tips
- “Theft! There is petty crime in Chile so think about that when buying a vehicle. Do not leave stuff in back of trucks unattended. Also many a window has been broken and cameras, computers, money, etc stolen.” –Kurt Casey
- Consider renting. Due to challenges and time involved in finding and buying a vehicle it might be best to rent. The big companies are expensive but options exist for renting from private boaters (like Robbie Dastin), Pucon Kayak Hostel, or even hiring a vehicle with a driver. Then you never have to walk, hitch or bike a shuttle. –Kurt Casey
- Hire a Chilean to help you through the process. Pucon Kayak Hostel annually upgrades autos and always hires out to help with the paperwork and mechanical checkpoints. PKH pays $US100/day for the service.
- Consider a shuttle service. Pucon Kayak Hostel began offering shuttles to guests due to the demand for kayaker transportation.
- Kurt Casey- Thank you for proofing and providing points for this blog.
- PeruWhitewater.com – Peru guidebook made by Kurt Casey.
- RiversofChile.com – Chile guidebook made by Kurt Casey.
- AllChile.net forum- you can find any question about Chile travel here.
- Buying Used Car in Chile Forum Thread
- ChileAutos.cl Research vehicles and get a good idea of costs, year, make… There are others if you begin surfing.
By David Hughes