Buying a Car or Truck in Thailand

Here’s what I learned over the past few days about buying a car – truck in Thailand.

  • Almost all the trucks interiors will be trashed if 5 years or more old – and most of the car interiors too.
  • Some odometers stop at 99,999 while others give the hundreds of thousands dial as well.
  • There are a hell of a lot of tsunami / flood cars on the market. You can find them by looking for pitted aluminum rims – and mud up under the car – get under it and look. You can see either mud there – or, where it was. Carpets will be new – or an attempt at cleaning made. If the car was really underwater you’ll notice the entire upholstery is trashed.
  • Most places ask for 19,000 to 30,000 THB down. The rest can be financed.
  • Someone over 60 cannot co-sign on your loan – unless you have 2 people to co-sign.
  • Someone over 70 cannot ever co-sign.
  • Thailand car – truck financing rates are 2-5%. The lower the rate – the newer the car.
  • Honda Jazz makes a 1.2 liter engine. We damn near bought a Jazz like this without even asking the liters. I thought they were ALL 1.5+ liters from Honda by now. My bad.
  • 1.5 liter engines are the average. 1.6 liter and larger starts to define the upper class (in cars – not trucks, obviously).
  • There are a couple of searchable databases for Thailand cars with prices listed online to give you an idea what a car should cost. There are few cars with Kilometers listed. Google “thailand cars”.
  • Thais are not pushy sales people. Even at their worst they are only 10% the pitbull as those in America.
  • The ratio of trucks to cars in Isaan seems to be 3:1 to 4:1.
  • Trucks with king cab – the space in the back with a bench for people or stuff – don’t have seatbelts in the back. If you want to keep those you love safe – you’ll either have to install them, or choose a truck with 4 doors and full seats with seatbelts.
  • Most cars don’t have airbags in them. A 2003 Honda Jazz had dual airbags. A 2006 Toyota Vios didn’t. None of the other cars we looked at had airbags – that I remember, but I wasn’t always looking for them.
  • Prices on the lot are flexible. On average we got the dealer to drop the price by 20,000 to 30,000 THB. Anyone getting way more than that? Any idea how much profit is built into these cars?
  • Most cars and trucks are acquired at Thailand vehicle auctions because owners couldn’t pay the monthly fee and had it repossessed or turned it in voluntarily.
  • Toyotas and Hondas 15-20 years old are running in Thailand – with 300,000+ kilometers and some of them are running WELL.
  • One car dealer showed me his amortization rate chart for 3.75% interest that was really for 6-7%.
  • If you own land / a house – it’s very easy to get a car loan using it as collateral.
  • There are a lot of LPG cars out there. LPG means Liquid Petroleum Gasoline – I think. It’s a retrofit to a regular gas engine that is under some pressure to keep the gas a liquid, otherwise it’s a gas. It kills 10% of the engines power to convert to LPG. It costs an average of 1.3 THB per km to drive it versus 4 THB per km to drive a regular 91/95 gasoline engine. Thus why most taxis use it.
  • There are FEW LPG filling stations around. Not enough anyway.

I drove a car for the first time in 6 years the other day – it was a stick-shift. It went way better than I expected considering I’m driving on the left side of the road in a right drivers-seat car, using my right hand for turn signals – left hand for windshield wipers, and side-mirrors that are in a different configuration. What really got me was about 3km into the ride when I realized I had a rearview mirror up and to my LEFT. I hadn’t seen it because it wasn’t adjusted for my sight-level at all and didn’t catch my attention until then.

Buying a car is really an experience in Thailand. Some places won’t let you test-drive the cars. Some give wildly inflated prices – thinking they just hit the Lotto because a farang showed up at their business. Some bring out glasses of ice-water and chairs.

That’s all I can think of at the moment about buying a car or truck in Thailand. I hope this helps someone!

Author: Vern

I’m an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at ThailandeBooks.com. There are many photographs of Thailand here – feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page).

All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.