Buying a car in St. Kitts
Purchasing a vehicle in St. Kitts is not easy, but with armed with some basic knowledge, some hard work and searching will get you a... somewhat ok car.
|Photo credit: retromo|
You should also read the Ross University page about vehicles and driving.
Budget and Price Ranges
There are 4 major price ranges:
- $3,000-$5,000 USD: Average "island car" - More than 10 years old, many "island quirks"
- $5,000-$7,000 USD: Average "island SUV" - More than 10 years old, many "island quirks"
- $7,000-$10,000 USD: Good vehicle - Still more than 10 years old, but only a few minor quirks
- over $10,000 USD: In this price range, you start to find newer vehicles that might pass for a reasonable used car in the United States
Car or SUV?
The next major decision is to get a car vs. getting an SUV. This is a tough choice with several trade offs.
- Are cheaper by about $2,000 USD
- Often need less maintenance since they are lighter -- fewer brake/suspension problems
- Usually have smaller engines and are more fuel efficient
- Have higher ground clearance for potholes, speed bumps, etc.
- Fit more people / stuff for beach and hiking trips
- Usually have more powerful engines for getting up hills
What to look for
- Mileage: Irrelevant except on cars newer than 10 years old. Components have been replaced so many times that mileage is no longer a good indicator of wear and tear.
- Check engine light: Again, mostly irrelevant. Sensors are often cut/pulled to disable the warning light. If it's on, it's probably something minor.
- Quirks: Any car less than $10,000 will have some "island quirks." Common ones include A/C not working, locks/windows/doors/electronics not working.
- Mechanical: If you can, have someone who knows the mechanics of cars to have a look. Check for things like oil/coolant leaks.
- Test drive: Check the suspension, brakes, and engine starting/smoothness.
Once you purchase your island car, it is critically important to do regular maintenance. The roads, humidity, sand, and salt air all take a huge toll on these machines. Make sure to check your oil and coolant levels religiously. Get your oil changed regularly. If something seems off, have it checked out immediately. Take care of your island car and it will take care of you :-)
You probably won't find your "perfect car" in St. Kitts, but with some effort, you can find something reasonable that will get you from A to B with minimal troubles, and over time you will grow accustomed to all of its little "island quirks."
Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I have a Suzuki Samarai for sale, but this is meant to be a completely unbiased guide for new arrivals (and perhaps even St. Kitts veterans).
If you liked this article, you might also like my post about the pros and cons of living in St. Kitts.