Buying a used car in Thailand

We break down the cost of used cars in Thailand 

If you have already watched ‘8 Miles from Home Episode 4’ or read our experience of buying a used car in Thailand. Then you’ll already have an idea that it was not as straight forwardly easy to buy a car as it was renting our house.

We sold our 2001 Fiat Seicento Sporting in England for £400 a few days before we left. Naively hoping that once we‘d arrived in Chiang Mai we’d find it fairly easy to pick up a used car for the same money.

buying used car in thailand

Naive being the key word in that former sentence, because we soon discovered our budget for a car was much smaller than we needed and we’d have to triple it at least.

We had 4 weeks to sort out a set of wheels because we didn’t fancy cruising around on a moped with our dog Eden hanging out of a basket. So we started searching online at,,,,, &

We found some cars out of our price range and others for around the £1000 mark or 50,000 Baht, but many of them were absolute rotters.  The ones that weren’t, had sold before we even picked up the phone.  

buying used car in thailandThis car was in awful condition and up for sale for 38,000 baht (£770/$1,200) 

We exhausted the online selection of cars in Chiang Mai within a week and it became increasingly difficult to buy locally advertised cars over the phone because we couldn’t yet speak Thai.

Eventually we came across a British Expat on the Thai-Visa Forums ( who was living in Bangkok and had a selection of 70’s classic cars for sale. His name was Mark Murphy and he had a wealth of information to share about the ins and outs of buying a used car in Thailand.

Being new to the country we felt a lot safer dealing with him, mainly because there were no communication problems. Plus he had been living in Thailand for 6 years and spoke fluent Thai which was another selling point.

We chose to buy a  Ford Escort Mk1 that had been fitted with a Nissan A-14 engine which is a very common motor to repair in Thailand. That way should we run into any mechanical problems the Thai mechanics would be able to get spare parts without importing them.
The car cost 70,000 baht which equalled around £1450.
In the UK the same car in poorer condition would’ve cost slightly more than that so we felt comforted that we hadn’t overspent. Especially when a 1998 Vauxhall / Opel Corsa would set you back around £2000-£2500 pounds in Thailand and not have any of visual or classic appeal.

buying used car in thailand

Because the car was 40 years old it had no A/C system which we felt was a necessity. So we asked Mark to get his local Thai mechanics to fit the air conditioning pump and controls for us. This cost an additional 15000 Baht (£312).

Needless to say cars are very expensive to buy in Thailand and I wouldn’t recommend thinking that you will find anything worthwhile for less than £1500.
Used cars can be found in a variety of conditions as they would in any country. However, during our search I’ve never seen cars in such bad condition being sold for so much.
Vehicles that you would have to pay to scrap in the UK will sell for around £800 here.

Also it helps to find out if the vehicle is already taxed and insured when you purchase it. Compulsory insurance & tax on the vehicle is still valid between owners so you won’t ‘have’ to renew anything unless you are buying a vehicle outside of your province or state. If you are, then you are required to change the number plates of the vehicle at the DLT (Department of Land Transport) when you register the car in your name which means re-taxing the vehicle and adjusting your insurance papers.

buying used car in thailand

Compulsory Tax cost us around 600 Baht and Compulsory Third Party Only insurance was around 600 baht also.  

If you are an expat looking for an older used car, don’t speak Thai and want to keep your costs down without being taken for a ride, I would highly recommend contacting Mark Murphy from Bangkok to see what vehicles he has in his possession. You can email him at
He was very friendly, honest and helpful to us and made the process much easier to deal with. Plus he ran through all the paperwork and procedures for registering a car in your name in Thailand, which can get a little confusing because the forms are mostly written in Thai.

Never buy a used car without a Blue Book (Log book).  

buying used car in thailand

The seller should always provide this document along with a signed photocopy of their ID card and 2-3 white paper transfer documents from the DLT that are written in Thai, have the details of the car and transfer of sale filled out and signed.

Make sure you have their phone number and contact details, should the paperwork be incorrectly completed you will need them to send the correct documents to you.

In an ideal situation it is best to buy a car in your province and visit the DLT together with the seller to ensure that all the documents and details are transferred accurately.

Have you had any experiences buying a car in Thailand? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. 

View Chiang Mai DLT, Department of Land Transport in a larger map

Jmayel El-Haj – 8 Miles from Home

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