Suzuki Grand Vitara for South American trip?

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#1 Sat, 09/08/2012 - 12:24

Suzuki Grand Vitara for South American trip?

Hi everyone,

My girlfriend and I are considering a 1 year break from our lives in Paris. The general idea is to purchase a car, most likely in Chile based on other travelers' advice, and around South America (or part of it).

From what I have read, 4x4 seems to be a good idea. We don't inted to offroad for the sake of it, but we like the idea of being able to reach potentially remote areas where no paved road goes. Unlike most overlanders, we expect to be staying in budget hostels / hotels most of the time, so fitting the vehicle is not an issue for us.

Ideally, we would go for a Toyota Land Cruiser. Now, price is a big issue, particularly in Chile where second hand prices are quite high... So we are looking for cheaper options. One of them would be a Suzuki Grand Vitara.

Is it a good car for such a trip? I understand that outside Chile, suzuki cars are not that common so I am a little concerned with spare parts availability in case we run into trouble... What do you think? Also, does embarking on such a trip without any knowledge of car repair sound like suicide to you?

Thanks for your advice and comments.


Sat, 09/08/2012 - 15:16

Another option for you

Plan B

We , SamericaXplorer, especialize on exp/imp of overland vehicles and motoriders along the Americas and Europe. We also export to Chile and other S.A. countries vehicles for noumeros clients mainly in Chile.
An idea or plan B is to buy a car in the U.S. and register on your name, title and tag registration, You could stop by in Miami on your way to S.A, and refit the car for your needs, camping, parts quipment etc... This i s the cheapest country in the world in terms of vehicles and equipement cost.
We can ship your car to Cartagena from Miami, for around $1,500 and then you continue your adventure thorught out S America. We manage well the port of Cartagena.
Later you can sell the car in Patagonia (free zone for used cars 10 yrs old ) or Bolivia, Paraguay (2008 and up). We are more than pleased to assist you on everything.

The problem in buying a vehicle in Chile is , first the cost, 15 days to register your car, high insurance cost and problems selling the car in neighbor countries.
Buying a car in Florida, is simple and you don't need to be present to do anything , considering your travel schedule. Everything cna be done with a power of attorney, teh buying , the regostraton and the shipping.

I am not trying to push on anything, It is another option and we are familiar on doing this kind of operations from Miami.

Any question please let me know

Gaston E.
[email protected]

Sat, 09/08/2012 - 20:53

Not sure about parts availability, but...

Some would argue that a second-generation Suzuki Grand Vitara 4wd is a great idea.  Check out #5 on this list.  Maybe you should comment on that link and ask them for specific advice, they will be more than helpful.

4X4 is nice, but the most important factor is a decent ground clearance.  Landcruiser's are also very nice and obviously a popular choice, but that's mostly for people who want to sleep in or on top of their vehicle AND carry a bunch of gear.  Depending on budget, you would be paying slightly more for something slightly older with more wear and tear.  


A trip like this with no mechanical aptitude is completely feasible, you just may get to meet some local mechanics along the way.  As long as you find the cleanest, most mechanically sound, well taken care of vehicle and don't skimp on should be fine.  Get all your preventative maintenance done before hitting the road, carry some basic tools for patching burst hoses, spare belts, etc.  Maybe pick up a spare fuel filter too.  Of course you can always have parts sent to you if you're desperate and Newton's law kicks in.

Sun, 09/09/2012 - 13:33

Thanks Ruined Adventure, very

Thanks Ruined Adventure, very useful! I am going to follow your suggestion and post a comment on that link.

Samericaexplorer, this is one option I have considered. However, it seems to me that it would not be the best option as i would not be maximizing my time in south america and reselling a us plate car in SA does not seem that straitforward, which would mean i might need to reship it back to the US and sell it there...

I have a very basic question (sorry i am totally uneducated in theses matters). Does any sort of malfunction require a specific Suzuki spare part, or can some problems be solved using standard components?

Also, my understanding is that recent car models have a lot of electronics built in, so local mechanics in SA might not be ablr to repair them. For which years should i aim in order to have a car that local mechaics can easily diagnose?

Thanks again!

Sun, 09/09/2012 - 17:05

You may be able to get better

You may be able to get better answers if you asked that question on a Suzuki Grand Vitara related forum.  Typically the enthusiasts know the ins and outs of the vehicle in question.  Bonus points if you can find a forum for Suzuki Grand Vitara owners in South America (or just Suzuki owners)...they could point you to local mechanics that know their way around a Suzuki.

I would also check Suzuki's international website to see what locations they have listed, maybe even contact them and ask about parts/service in the countries you want to visit.  Tell them what you're doing and they may be really happy to help.  

Of course if you need a mechanic while you're down there, you could always ask around on here and I'm sure someone could point you to someone trustworthy.  You shouldn't have problems finding good mechanics that work on newer vehicles with electronics in bigger cities.  It gets harder outside of the big cities, but keep in mind that the big NGO's, corporations, mining outfits, etc. all need to get their fancy vehicles worked on now and then too.

As long as you're strict with scheduled preventative maintenance on a newer vehicle like that, you shouldn't have any problems sneak up on you...knock on wood.