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Tips for Buying a Car in Phuket

Tips for Buying a Car in Phuket

by Jeremie Schatz,
2 June 2022

Among the inconveniences of life in Phuket, the lack of public transportation has to be one of the most frustrating. In Bangkok for example, it’s not an overstatement to say that life for many revolves around the BTS above-ground train. It provides direct access to the busiest arteries of the city without traffic, has consistent and predictable fares, and is on schedule for the most part. A light rail system in Phuket has been under discussion for years, but for now and the foreseeable future, it’s hard to get by without your own personal transport.

While motorbikes are the most popular form of personal transport on the island, their practicality is limited and many opt to buy a car. A car provides much greater safety, shields you from the heat and rain, and can do a much better job of carrying people and cargo than a motorbike sidecar – although you do see those carrying out some herculean feats. 

The process of buying a car can be tricky anywhere, and Phuket is no exception. If you decide to purchase a new vehicle, the process is somewhat more straightforward as you don’t have to worry about all of the details associated with buying a second hand car. One thing to keep in mind when buying a new car, is that as a foreigner you must either purchase outright with cash or have a well-established company that can qualify for financing from a bank or car dealership. While it may be possible to negotiate the price of a new car from a dealer in your home country, in most cases the prices are fixed from the factory in Thailand and the best you can do is try and negotiate on things like the down payment (if financing),insurance, and add-ons to the trim package. They make more money from you and often get commission from financing so don’t think carrying in a bag of cash is going to help you. 

Toyota Next Used Car | Cr: www.buycar24.com

Buying a second-hand car in Phuket comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. Probably one of the safest options is to buy from a manufacturers’ selection of used cars like Toyota Sure. These vehicles are carefully inspected before accepted as trade-ins, cleaned up, necessary repairs are carried out, and there is usually some kind of warranty offered. The downside is of course you’ll pay a little more. To search for vehicles for sale by private parties, a few good online resources are Facebook marketplace or the number of groups set up specifically for second hand cars, bahtsold.com, one2car.com, rod.kaidee.com, and many more.

The many second-hand dealers obtain vehicles in several ways including trade-ins, buying from individuals, and from auto auctions. One benefit in going this route is you can ask them to search out a specific car for you. You may also be able to find one that is willing to offer financing to foreigners if necessary (I wouldn’t expect a very good interest rate though). Buying from a used car dealer or from a private party adds another level of risk. There is the possibility that the vehicle could have been an accident or flood, or repainted with poor quality materials. Dealers have limited ability to evaluate vehicles purchased from auctions so they may not be knowingly trying to pawn off a damaged vehicle on you. For greater peace of mind, you can always ask for permission to bring the vehicle to the manufacturer’s service center and request a pre-purchase inspection.

There are several auto auctions open to the public as well, but this route isn’t the most practical especially if you are not car savvy. The auctions sell off hundreds of cars per week and good deals can be had. Typically you pay an entrance which is refundable if you don’t make a purchase. There is plenty of competition so you better be on your game. 

Happy hunting!