Vehicles in Thailand
Buying a vehicle
Second-hand cars are very expensive in comparison to Europe. Maintenance is often neglected which means that the technical condition of the vehicle can be in a sorry state. The purchase of a new vehicle is therefore recommended wherever it is financially possible.
Imported vehicles are very expensive due to the high import customs charges. These types of vehicles are extremely unpopular in Thailand due to expensive
maintenance and spare parts. This means that the resale price for the vehicle is very low. This rule does not apply to luxury because the clientele does usually react sensitively to prices. The most economical choice with reference to the purchase price, maintenance costs and the resale value is vehicles which are manufactured in Thailand. This applies to Japanese manufacturers such as Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mitsubishi which produce their vehicles in Thailand. However,
please note that these manufacturers also import some exclusive models. Obviously this has an immediate effect on the price. Even some top-class German manufacturers such as Mercedes and BMW let vehicles be assembled in Thailand.
The one-off consumer tax which is payable upon purchase is dependent upon the respective vehicle class. Utility vehicles are subject to less tax and this tax has the
subsequent effect upon the purchase price. This is certain to be the reason for the very large proportion of pickups on the streets in Thailand.
A foreigner can purchase a vehicle in his own name with a non-immigrant visa and a residency permit. Many automobile traders do not know about this rule and some even argue emphatically about whether this is the case or not.
Just like in Europe, the trader deals with the registration of the vehicle in Thailand. The vehicle initially has a red number plate. It can take several weeks before the vehicle is issued with the final number plate with black writing. This explains the large number of vehicles with a red number plate on the streets in Thailand.
The amount of applicable vehicle tax reduces with the age of the vehicle. The
owners of very old vehicles only pay very minimal amounts of vehicle tax. Payment can be made to the road and traffic authority or an authorised vehicle service provider. Checks are made whether the obligatory vehicle insurance has been paid to the official broker. As soon as the vehicle is 6 years old, the road and traffic authority checks the condition of the vehicle. The respective testing company, similar to an MOT, is affiliated with the authority. However, this test is very superficial.
The tax disc should be attached to the windscreen so that it is well visible. The insurance disc which was formerly required no longer applies.
Vehicle insurance and vehicle tax is connected to the vehicle which means that the insurance and tax is passed onto the new owner when the vehicle is sold.
Vehicle insurance category [more]
There are now more environmentally-friendly and more affordable fuel alternatives available in Thailand.
Gasohol, a petrol-ethanol mixture, is available for petrol engines or conversion to gas is also possible.
Gasohol is offered as E10, E20 and E85. The numbers after the E determine the proportion of ethanol.
More information is available at Wikipedia:
LPG and NGV are available as gas options. Because NGV cannot offer an extensive supply network at the moment and results in very expensive conversion costs, it is seldom taken into consideration. LPG is the same fluid gas which is also used in household gas bottles for cooking.
More information on LPG is available at Wikipedia:
LPG fuel stations are available in almost all large towns. In case of an emergency, there is always the possibility of changing over to petrol fuel while the engine is running.
The conversion to gas costs approx. 20 000 Baht. The price for LPG gas is
currently (September 2008) 11 Baht/kg. This gas is heavily subsidised by the government at present. However, the government is currently making efforts to put a stop to the subsidies. This would then result in a massive price increase. If this does occur, the price of gas should still be significantly lower than petrol. However, the disadvantages of gas fuel must also be considered. The gas containers take up a lot of space, the engine power is reduced and the conversion
costs are certainly not cheap. Due to the dangers involved with gas, it is obvious that conversions should only be carried out by authorised serious garages. The conversion must be recorded in the vehicle's documents and results in temporary tax relief.
The conversion is a more sensible decision for people who drive lots of miles than occasional drivers who only use the car once a week to go shopping.
Biodiesel, which is mainly made from palm oil, is available for diesel engines. More information is available at Wikipedia:
In order to avoid any possible engine damages, your garage should be consulted to determine whether your vehicle can tolerate gasohol or biodiesel fuel.
Vehicle repairs and maintenance
Repairs are very reasonably priced due to the low wages paid in Thailand. This also applies to replacement parts for models of vehicles which are manufactured in Thailand.
The contract workshops for vehicle manufacturers have a very high level of quality. The members of staff are well trained, the working environment is clean and tidy and you can assume that only original replacement parts are used.
You will frequently come across so-called “free” vehicle workshops which offer an even cheaper service. However, there is a high level of uncertainty about the skills of the mechanic because you cannot evaluate his level of training. Repairs on vehicle certainly do not have to be exclusively carried out by trained vehicle fitters in Thailand. There are bound to be very good mechanics in these workshops but
amateurs certainly won't be able to evaluate this objectively. Additional safety risks are caused by the fact that original replacement parts are often not used.
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