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Buying ? Renting a Car in Chile / Argentina

Travel Forums Central/South America & The Caribbean Buying ? Renting a Car in Chile / Argentina

1. Posted by byrdman (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y

Hi, Two friends and i are going on a two month road trip around southern argentina and chile starting / finishing in santiago. We are currently trying to decide whether to buy and sell a car or just rent one...

It seems rent is around $3000 US for 7 weeks, maybe a bit cheaper on the ground.

Does anyone know of any cheap rental agencies in santiago or have any to recommend, Or does anyone know of a way to buy a good car without shellin out heaps of cash up front.. Hire purchase etc..

Or any other advice or info on the subject from you wise people.

Thanks so much


2. Posted by Sensie (Budding Member 2 posts) 10y

Hi Al

We are two danish people doing the same thing as you guys in november-january... I've tried to do alot of "research" about this, but it seems like it's a bad idea to try to buy a car. First of all you might not be allowed to buy one when you're not from the country, and if you do it should be hard to get all the paperwork done - it can take several weeks.
I have also read that if you buy one you might not be allowed to cross borders.. (I don't know if this is true...)
Other than that foreigners just don't do this because of the bad road conditions many places, there are no places to park unless you travel between expensive hotels where they have parking lots. Then theft is another thing - no matter what, people see that you are not from the country and see that you have a car, and you might return to it without wheels on it and so on...
But, I have also read about some people that has done this thing...most of them have shipped their car to the country or driven it from north america...
About renting a vehicle - first of all it's very expensive and you are not allowed to cross borders with a rental car either, but then you could cross by buss and then rent a new car...
All packpackers/travellers use to take the buss everywhere - it's cheap and they drive all the time, and it should be some pretty good busses...
well, this is just what i've found out, but please let me know if you find out some more - 'cause I really want to get a van/car and have the freedom to drive around..if it's possible...
when are you planning on doing your trip?? and where are you guys from by the way..?

- Sensi

3. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 10y

Sensi, you're right. And, since Patagonia is a rather demanding region for a vehicle, rates for renting one will be astronomical, if you can pull it off at all because of the paperworks to exclude the company's liability in case of an accident. I went south with an argentine friend in 2003, and we got wrecked several times, even though her 4x4 was in pretty good shape.

If you guys have really set your minds on the ruta 40, the best thing is to pay and take the tourist bus from El Calafate to Punta Arenas. It's a tour, not a common bus ticket; it includes food, photo stops and all that, but depending on the weather I think it can be worth it.


4. Posted by zorton (Budding Member 4 posts) 10y

It´s possible to cross border with rented cars between Argentina and Chile. I´ve done it. No extra cost for that. The rent company gives you a signed authorisation for the rented days and that´s all. I took a Fiat Uno at Bariloche (San Carlos) ad cross thorough Andes to Chile by the Ruta de los Lagos (Lakes route). I did it alone, and paied around 150 € for a week, with no distance limitation. So I travel across 3000 km with that car without any problem. You just have to pay attention to some details. always have your gas tank full, evenmore in Chile. There are no gas stations outside towns, so it´s usual to drive 300 kms without the possibility of buying gas. I do not recommend to drive at night or just before the day fall. In case of breakdown, nobody will stop to help. You don´t have any travel assistance for yourcar, remember this. Border control closes at 9.00pm. No possibility of trespassing after this. No lights on roads, and poor indications. Not always easy to know real distences between points. the roads are in good conditions, highway to south of chile is really good. You don´t need to make any hotel reservation. I travelled thorough both countries and just asked for a bed when arriving into any town or village. It´s the cheapest way to sleep in both countries. People always have a nice bedroom to offer to you.

Concerning the route 40: I tried to rent a car again (with the same guys). My inttention was to go from bariloche to Calafate and after that to Ushuaia with a rented car. But it´s too expensive with a rented car. The best solution is bus or plane (of course). Rental companies don´t like to rent cars for this. As they don´t have conection with other car rental, it´s not possible to deliver your car in other destinations, as you can do in Europe and US. Think that if you rent a car to go thorough the route 40, you will have to do it back again, that will take you some other days. If your time is limited, don´t do the trip back. It´s cheaper to go to another destination. I went for 1 month and I felt like if my time were really limited. Buying a car could be a solution. But I would be very careful on which car to buy in Argentina. car Average is 15 years. And they are expensive.

5. Posted by crisgamont (Budding Member 19 posts) 10y

as the others said almost everyone moves on buses.
in addition there are new alternatives with new lines that includes bilingual guides, and try to reach secondary roads mainly, and developed a circiut with a hop on hop off system so you can arrenge your schedule. One of them is patacam, they have a new website, where you can contact them.

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