Santiago - Post Report Question and Answers

What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

We bought locally. We went with an SUV with high clearance as we knew we wanted access to the mountains, and we are very glad we did. It can be a challenge to park in some parking lots though, as spots are often much more tightly packed in than in the U.S. Downtown a smaller car would probably be better. We bought a Toyota and parts are easily found. There are dealerships for Subaru, Honda, and many other makes as well. - Dec 2020

An SUV would be nice. A patient SUV driver is of the essence. - Jun 2019

I've seen almost every type of vehicle here. Toyotas are the majority on the road but honestly there's a dealership for everything, Jeep, Ford, Chevy, high-end and economy. Unless you plan to go to places off the beaten track a car is fine and you don't need an SUV. Parts are mas o menos, because there's difficulty for everyone to get parts needs as they aren't always readily available like in other places. It is easy to find service for your vehicle. You can't bring a car in that is more than 5 years old so a lot of people bring in new vehicles. Unless you're going to drive like a granny or rarely drive, I recommend buying a used vehicle in country because at some point your vehicle will get scratches and scrapes. As of late there have been portonazos (carjackings at the house gate) around the city, so be aware of your surroundings and know if people are watching you or your family. The more high-end and expensive the car, the more desirable to steal. - Feb 2016

Any car should be fine but check the importation restrictions which are strict. - Nov 2014

Chile is super strict about car imports and it's near impossible to get a driver's license, but it does happen, and it's relatively safe driving, even if aggressive. There are stories about people having their tires shot out and then being robbed by a supposedly good samaritan who stips to "help," and there are stories of purses being grabbed from front seats at stop lights. Leave nothing in your car when you park it. - Oct 2014

There are about 10 cars on the list of commonly-stolen cars (one of them is the RAV4). In general, 4-wheel drive is not necessary. - Sep 2011

Any vehicle type will work down here. Be aware of the import restriction, however: the vehicle cannot be older than 18 months. Most newcomers will purchase vehicles from expats who are departing post, and others purchase their vehicles in the U.S. and export them to Chile. - Jul 2010

Chile only permits vehicles less than two years old to be imported into the country. The roads seem to be good quality. Although some people complain about the drivers here, they're the same as in D.C. - Jul 2009

Small cars are probably best. Gas is expensive (due to taxes) and the roads are excellent. - Apr 2009

You can get by w/ a regular sedan, but if you want to travel with more ease over the many potholes or do some driving on the back country roads, it might be a good idea to fork over the extra bucks to purchase a 4 wheel drive SUV. Be sure to have a car alarm and/or steering wheel lock. Parts are readily avaliable here for most Japanese cars, Peugots, and Fords. Tires are affordable. - Sep 2008

Anything will do for here. We have a small Toyota and it's perfect for most things. With the high cost of gas (about US$6+) a gallon we're happy with a small fuel efficient car. - Jul 2008

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