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Buying a Car in Argentina: Part I

We are now the proud new owners of a Chery Tiggo! And yes, I am the first of my friends anyone I know to own a Chinese-made car.

chery tiggo buenos aires 300x224 Buying a Car in Argentina: Part IHow did we made the decision to buy a Chinese car, you ask? To get to the answer requires a deeper understanding of the Argentine car market. Well ok, not really… it just comes down to one thing – cars in Argentina are ridiculously expensive.

In keeping with Argentina’s protectionist policies, high taxes are levied on all imports, including cars. This leaves, as the most affordable choices, cars that are manufactured in Argentina (not many) and cars that are manufactured in Mercosur countries (usually Brazil).

Since we wanted a SUV with 4×4 so that we could make snowboard trips to Bariloche, our choices were already limited. As we started looking, we quickly realized that our options were going to be even more limited based on price. My top choice, the Toyota Hilux SW4, is a mind-blowing AR $210,800 (U$S 52,945). That was out. Then we started to look at other options, and comparing them to the US:

Toyota RAV4 – Argentina Price: U$S 42,600 / US Price: U$S 24,235
Hyundai Santa Fe – Argentina Price: U$S 44,000 / US Price: U$S 25,490
Jeep Grand Cherokee – Argentina Price: U$S 73,784 / US Price: U$S 32,995

We quickly realized most of the imported cars did not make sense for us, which pretty much left us with two options:

  1. The Ford Ecosport (U$S 27,665): manufactured in Brazil, and incredibly popular here), or
  2. The newly introduced Chery Tiggo (U$S 26,400): made in China and relatively cheap even with the import charges

Of course, these prices are still absurd considering what you could get for this kind of money in the States, but like I said, you do not have a lot of options. (We even considered bringing a car from the US, but found out that there would be 80% tax levied on the assessed value of the car.)

chery tiggo argentina 300x224 Buying a Car in Argentina: Part IWe took a look at both cars, and while they had similar specs, we really liked the Chery Tiggo over the Ford Ecosport. We looked for some reviews of the Tiggo online and were only able to find one complete review from New Zealand. It gave the car poor reviews for its cheap plastic interior (which is pretty much the same as the Ecosport) but really praised its engine and road performance. I liked the way it drove and handled the city streets, so when Chery was able to lower the price a bit and give us a better trade-in value on our Toyota Corolla we were sold.

Unfortunately, the sales and trade-in process was anything but smooth. This was due to a combination of horrible customer service (we’ll never do business with Zen Automotores again) as well as governmental bureaucracy.  Look for Part II of this post (coming soon) to find out more about the many headaches involved in this process…

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The Argentine DMW

registro 300x243 The Argentine DMWI’m happy to report that the Buenos Aires Registro del AutoMotor (the Argentine version of the DMV) is pretty much the same as its American counterpart – slow and inefficient. On the positive side, the Argentine DMV in Olivos had shorter lines than the NYC one. On the negative side, nothing is computerized and we had to go three times to get what we needed.

The first time that we went, I guess it was really not their fault that we had to come back.  We went just after Buenos Aires had been hit with a major hail storm, and the roof of the DMV offices had been completely destroyed.  The workers were sitting outside the office drinking their maté and told us no one could go inside. I asked if there was a different office, but as nothing here is completely computerized, we needed the actual papers of the car, which only existed inside this office’s filing shelves. They assured us that all the records were still safe and under plastic covers (reassuring) and that we should come back in a few weeks when the new roof was completed.

When we returned, the new roof was finished and the lines were not that bad. We were here to obtain a “Cédula de identificación para autorizado a conducir (Cédula azul),” or more simply “blue card.” This card basically shows that I am allowed to drive Laura’s car when she is not with me. (The car owner has a “Cédula verde”  or “green card,” that they carry which shows they are the owner.)  These cards are required whenever you are driving someone else’s vehicle and were intended to allow police to more easily find people driving stolen cars.  We had to present my DNI and all the papers of the car including the title as well as Laura’s DNI.  They looked over the paperwork and then went to the back to pull her car’s file.

I thought this process would take forever because you could see rows and rows of shelves with green folders for each car. The files looked completely disorganized and like they were basically ready to fall off the shelves, but surprisingly, the woman returned within a couple of minutes with her file. We paid the $95 peso fee and she told us to return the next day to pick up the card.  When we returned the following day, we walked in and walked out with the card within 10 minutes. Not too bad…

In addition to this card, you need an international driving permit to drive in Buenos Aires. I picked up mine at AAA while I was in the States though it is possible to obtain one in Buenos Aires as well. (you must get one in your home country)

Look for a future post with some of my observations on driving in Buenos Aires.  All I can say for now is, driving here is an experience.

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Sold the Car!!!

The Toyota Solara sold on Friday, and while it went for over a $1000 less that it was posted for and about $500 less than wanted, it is yet another thing to check off the list.  This one didn’t go easy either – it seems like everything that could go wrong did!

  1. Hit a double-parked car and ripped the passenger-side mirror off on the way to take the car to the buyer’s mechanic for an inspection. $220 later that was fixed.
  2. Replaced the registration sticker, but forgot about the expired inspection sticker. This meant a $65 ticket plus a $25 inspection to take care of that.
  3. The garage that fixed the mirror lost one set of keys.  The buyer was expecting two sets of keys, so now those will have to be replaced for him since the garage is claiming they have no idea where the keys are and I must have taken them. (Which would be really odd since they would have had no way to move the car!)
  4. Spent an extra $40 to list the car on eBay where it didn’t sell. Then sold it to the original buyer from Craigslist who offered a lower price than wanted.
  5. Gave the buyer the original title to take to the DMV. Unfortunately, I had ordered a replacement title because the (same) garage had lost that too but then found it. So, thinking I had the original title, I threw out the replacement which was a bad call since the original was no longer valid. The buyer found that out when he couldn’t register the car at the DMV. Ughh… $42 later I have a replacement title being sent via overnight delivery.

I think that pretty much sums it up. Right now, I’m just very glad the car is sold and I’m hoping once the new title arrives, everything will be done with this chapter of the move.

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