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!

Buying a Truck in Thailand

I hate to generalize – but, what I’ve learned over some years now is that Thais don’t take care of their stuff. Overall. Most Thais I guess I would even say. They don’t seem to have an appreciation for keeping their own stuff in good condition. Worse, they don’t take care of other people’s things. I don’t lend anything out anymore. Nothing. Not even ping-pong balls. Not paddles, badminton racquets, vehicles – none of it – it all goes immediately to hell when I do.

I keep my stuff nice. I hate to see it abused because I myself don’t even abuse it.

Anyway – this is about buying a truck in Thailand.

I have looked at about 35 trucks in the last few days. I have found exactly 2 that didn’t have the interior either destroyed – or looking like a troupe of 6 year olds drove the thing for 3 years.

Anybody have the same experience?

Another thing is – nearly all the trucks I looked at were from these roadside truck places that sell used vehicles. Nearly all of them had been wrecked. Some of them really badly… and fixed up.

I’m starting to wonder if we’ll find a decent truck to buy. We may just hang on to find a foreigner that wants to sell their truck.

Do you have a Toyota Higo Vigo or whatever the hell they’re called – and want to sell it? We’d like the 2 door with King Cab type. Interior – not grey. Up to 120,000 km OK.

Isaan Thailand Automobile Vehicle Sales 1996 – 2007

Reasons to buy a truck over a car in Isaan…

1. Trucks are cheaper when they're 2nd hand.

2. Trucks can move people from place to place, especially students at Rajabhat and Polytechnic.

3. Trucks will save you from renting at the 999 short time room.

4. Trucks can beep at cars that are in the way, and at all other vehicles that are smaller. So, buy a BIG truck if you can.

5. Drivers of trucks can ignore more rules of the road than drivers of cars.

6. Your inlaws will like a truck better and after all, when you leave Thailand by plane or loss of life they'll be driving it anyway.

7. The bed of a small or large truck can hold 27 villagers for long trips to Bangkok.  Saves money on busfares don't you think?

8. The bed of a truck can hold 94,000 rambutan, 56,000 oranges, 270 durian (or 7 big ones), or 94 million lumyai when selling fruit on the street from your parked truck.

9. Trucks don't need oil changes!  (at least that's the common belief).

10. When you hit a soi dog going 140 kilometers plus per hour you will experience a mild jolt, and nothing to really get concerned over since every truck, car and bus hits one every 2 months on average if you are a frequent long-distance driver.  In a car you might have some undercarriage damage.