Addis Ababa - 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?

A white Toyota SUV. Easy re-sale value, and easy to get parts or repaint if necessary. - Aug 2022

In Addis, people typically drive smaller cars. All cars are manual as there are lots of hills. Bring something that you don’t mind getting dinged up. If you plan on spending anytime in the countryside, I recommend an all terrain vehicle. I spend a lot of time our country so I drive a Toyota Land Cruiser and it is definitely worth it. Rough terrain in the country side. - Jul 2022

Just bring something you wouldn't mind getting dinged up. The drivers here are horrendously bad, in my opinion. They cannot stay in their lanes. They will stop in the middle of the road to chat on their cell phones or talk to pedestrians. They usually don't use turn signals. They will cut you off in traffic, run red lights, drive the wrong way on one-way roads, and generally pay no attention to what they are doing. Groups of children/teenagers will surround your car to beg for money, or to steal your car's side mirrors. People walk in the street all the time - not just to cross the street, but to actually walk IN the street, with or against traffic. Bicycles and small motorcycles zip in between cars. This place is an absolute nightmare to drive in, and a lot of Americans no longer even try to do so. - Jun 2021

SUV which is banged up. We were side-swiped while in Addis and our driver hit a parked car. We had a drivecam which helped keep our driver honest (I reviewed it after I saw the dent in the car - the driver's story didn't match the videos). - Feb 2021

Small AWD such as a Toyota RAV4 as the height is useful. Many expats have Landcruisers and the like but these are extremely difficult to park given the limited amount of space in the city. Bring spare tires, air filters, etc in your shipment if you have space. Parts are extremely expensive and the service centres often don't hold stock, which means your car can wait months for a repair while the part is shipped in. - Aug 2020

Nothing you are super attached to. Statistically, more people get in a least a fender bender. Driving here is a major stressed. Toyota for availability of parts, but you should put extra parts in your HHE - Mar 2020

SUV. In my opinion, the drivers here are horrible. and have little respect for you on the road. Traffic is bad, and if you get in an accident it can take hours to resolve. Plus, it seems they know how to work the system, so be prepared to plead you case. Smaller cars are ignored and they drive as if you aren't even there. Most roads in the city are paved, but they are in disrepair. Always lock your doors as begging seems to be rampant throughout the city. They will test your doors, and if unlocked will take what ever they can get. Have side mirrors riveted in place, kids steal them at red lights. We order most parts through Amazon or rock auto. Our Embassy mechanics can work on the cars after hours on Friday. - Feb 2020

SUV of some sort. You'll see that when you have problems with your car, the mechanics don't really know how to fix it or will fix it temporarily. Don't bring anything that can't get scratched, bumped, mirrors torn off of or can't handle a lot of rain. - Feb 2019

Buying a car locally is very, very expensive. We didn't drive one, we biked and used the small busses and sometimes a taxi (which are annoying because they don't use a meter and they overcharge expats, plus you have to negotiate the fare, which I hate). - Oct 2018

An SUV with clearance. Buying locally is expensive but if it has been in country for many years than it will sell faster as the value-added tax (VAT) is reduced each year for locals. - Aug 2018

Toyota high clearance vehicle due to pot holes, lots of water during rainy season. The carjacking risk is low, but side mirror theft and burglary can happen. Within three years, I have heard of three friends side mirrors being stolen. I have heard that local criminal groups will then try to sell the mirrors back to you.

Do not leave anything visible in the car. Your child's school backpack can be a target of burglary. Recent years, even Toyota parts may be hard to get due to local businesses' lack of hard cash. - Jul 2018

A four-wheel drive. The roads here a terrible, and in rainy season they become even worse. Parts are hard to get so bring whatever you need from the U.S. - Jan 2018

Bring something with a high clearance for the potholes and rainy-season floods. Something you won't worry about getting banged up a bit - the driving here is INSANE and everyone ends up with scratches and dents or worse. There is a Toyota dealership in town that can source parts and fix you up if needed. With other makes you basically have to mail-order parts and hope the embassy motor pool or a general mechanic can do the job. My car has 4-wheel drive; I rarely use it, but a couple of times I've been glad to have it. On the bright side, due to Ethiopia's unique vehicle import tax regime, depreciation basically doesn't exist and you'll be able to sell your car at the end of the tour without losing a penny. - Sep 2017

Something that you don't really care about if it gets dinged, scratched or worse. Also, the roads are mostly terrible and during rainy season? Terrible-er. They will do damage to your car. People drive here as if they haven't ever been in a car before and I've heard that most people just pay off whatever ministry is running this, just to get the license. It shows. The volume of cars/trucks on the streets is overwhelming. Also, the cars/trucks are in terrible shape. Also, people do NOT obey traffic laws and I'm pretty sure said laws are considered optional by local drivers. I've been to Mexico City, Delhi, Casablanca, Luanda and other traffic-clogged cities. This is, by far, THE WORST. And driving? This is the most stressful place I have ever driven (I used to think driving in NYC or DC or Morocco was tricky; forget it...this place takes the cake). Oh - and the gas quality? Terrible. Luckily you can pick up some sort of treatment at the embassy but we brought our own oil. Recommend doing so if you care about your car. - Aug 2016

A crossover, mini-SUV would be recommended. There are plenty who get by with sedans, but the quality of the streets, even in-town, is quite poor. Many residential streets are unpaved and become swamps in rainy season. Even the best commuter arteries are littered with enormous potholes and erratically placed and unmarked speed bumps. Definitely would not recommend a sports car here. Standard parts seem available (oil/oil filters), others (tires, air filters, car parts) not so much. All VERY expensive. - Aug 2016

SUVs are popular--But it doesn't have to massive. Roads don't tend to flood, but constant road construction and low quality to begin with result in some bumpy rides, especially if you want to get out of the city into the surrounding areas. Each family is only allowed one duty free vehicle, so most families have drivers. - Feb 2016

Four wheel drive is preferable to do out of town driving although quite a few folks get by with sedans or minivans. High clearance is key and bring spare parts. Mechanics can make anything run but not necessarily make it run right. - May 2014

A vehicle with some clearance and height so you can see pedestrians and survive bus collisions is advisable. However, folks who just stay in town survive just fine with sedans. Roads to other cities are gradually becoming better, so in theory, if you do your research, you could drive a sedan to some locations. - Jan 2014

SUV. You want high clearance AND four wheel drive here. In some cases it's better driving OFF the road than on it. A majority of the SUVs here are Toyotas, though nearly every brand is represented. - Nov 2013

Toyota SUVs.....that's it. - Jun 2012

My favorite is a small SUV (e.g. Rav4.) Toyotas are the easiest to service. Other asian makes are also generally viable. For serious up-country work, go with a Toyota Land Cruiser Series 70, diesel, white. - Aug 2010

A four-wheel-drive SUV is best. If you don't leave Addis, you can get around in a sedan, but even in Addis the roads are ugly. You don't need a huge SUV, although many people drive Land Cruiser- or 4Runner-sized cars. Toyota is the most popular. - Jun 2010

If you want to drive around the city and never leave it, bring a sedan. If you want to leave the city at all, you'd better bring a Sport Utility Vehicle. Toyotas are the most popular here although Nissans, Suzukis, Fords, and others are here as well. - Mar 2008

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