Long visit to Australia: shipping over a 4WD vehicle vs. hiring one

Submitted: Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 01:42
ThreadID: 96996 Views:3479 Replies:7 FollowUps:12
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I'm in the USA and expect to retire in early 2014. I'd like to make an extended visit to Australia (up to 6 months) that year. In 2008 I spent four weeks travelling the Outback in a Britz Bushcamper, and loved it so much I can't wait to return for a longer visit. =)

However, hiring a capable vehicle for months can be expensive! Leading me to wonder if it might be cost effective to temporarily bring over the 4WD vehicle I already own.

Obvious disadvantages:
It's set up to drive on the right side of the road, not the left;
The engine runs on gasoline (petrol), which is unavailable in some remote places;
This trip would put a LOT of wear and tear on the vehicle;
Since it's a model (Nissan Xterra, not to be confused with the X-Trail) not sold there, in case of breakdown getting certain parts could be difficult.

Any thoughts? What other factors should I weigh? Have you (or anyone you know) ever shipped a vehicle overseas for an extended visit? What were your experiences with the process? And of course, how much did it cost? Round-trip shipping might be so expensive that hiring locally would still make sense in the end. Especially considering the disadvantages I listed.
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Reply By: graham B9 - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 03:23

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 03:23

Shoot me an email (carlsp1000@gmail.com) or give me a call on this cell number 1201-749-0231.

I am an Australian living in New Jersey and have just spent the 2 years travelling around the Australian outback. My wife and I moved back to the US 6 months ago.

I can help you with what you are looking at doing.

AnswerID: 491347

Follow Up By: graham B9 - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 03:26

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 03:26
That cell number is American but you would recognise the area code anyway. I see your vehcile is "California"!!!!!!!
FollowupID: 766818

Reply By: Denis H - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 07:02

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 07:02
Using your current USA vehicle - Registration and insurance maybe your problem.

Statement from Wikipediia: All LHD vehicles must be converted to RHD if under 30 years old, except in Western Australia where they are only required to be 15 years old for registration.

Come on down and buy a vehicle in Australia for your trip. RHD will be easier keeping out of the way with a road train passing :-)
AnswerID: 491350

Follow Up By: Member - John and Lynne - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 08:01

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 08:01
If you buy a good secondhand vehicle when you arrive you will probably sell it for what you paid for it when you leave. This might be more expensive up front than hiring or shipping but much cheaper in the end. These days you can do most of the research on line before you come so it should not take too long to find a vehicle. People on this forum could give plenty of advice about suitable vehicles and good prices.You certainly don't want insurance or service/parts issues outback. Lynne
FollowupID: 766821

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 08:15

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 08:15
Temporarily bringing your car to Australia...

Temporary import rules

Interestingly, you aren't allowed to alter the car.
FollowupID: 766822

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 09:59

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 09:59
Further to what John and Lynne suggest:

Australia has about the same land area as the USA, but only 1/10 the population. Most of that population lives in a fringe along the east coast. Most of Australia is very thinly populated.

Depends on where you want to explore, but most of us on this forum would recommend experiencing the less populated areas. Australians contemplating extended travel in these places think about the advantages of adopting the vehicles that are commonly found there. This is partly because the locals know what's suitable, but there's another important reason - spare parts, experience and expertise required for the commonly used vehicles are more likely to be found than for an unusual vehicle.

I strongly agree with John and Lynne's suggestion. Assuming that you do want to spend time in remote or semi-remote areas, I'd look at buying a solid used 4WD, Toyota Landcruiser would be the most common, probably followed by Nissan, and expect to sell it at a small loss when you leave Australia. It is a big initial outlay, but if cared for will cost far less in the long term than renting.

Suggest that, quite apart from compliance issues, bringing a nonstandard, unsupported vehicle into Australia, where there's no spares inventory could have an unhappy ending!

If you do decide to buy, as suggested, make use of the experience pool here.

Oh..!! And enjoy your trip to Australia! It's a good place and you'll find the locals friendly!


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

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FollowupID: 766826

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 10:43

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 10:43
From the document above, it appears that to obtain a temporary import document you need to leave a cash security equal to the value of your car. Add to this the shipping costs...they must be in the thousands for a container...it might be easier to buy a second hand car here, drive it around then sell it in much the same way as the back packers do with the old Falcons. You can afford to take a hit to the value of the shipping costs when you resell and still be even. Cheers
FollowupID: 766828

Follow Up By: garrycol - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 10:50

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 10:50
If only being brought into Aust for short periods with no intention of the vehicle remaining then there are few obstacles (don't be confused with the rules for permanent importation) - though there will be a huge bond to ensure the vehicle does actually leave. You would need to ensure your US registration covers the full trip etc. LHD is not an issue.

However I agree with the others - for about the cost of shipping and returning your vehicle to the US you could buy an older Aust 4wd in good condition and use it. Even if you did not sell it on departure you would not loose much against the cost of shipping your own vehicle here and back - and forget this Toyota-Nissan crap (they are very ordinary vehicles) you could get a nice comfortable diesel discovery or defender and travel in style. :-)

FollowupID: 766829

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 10:56

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 10:56
Garry, you forgot the more important reason, the blinkers will be on the right side of the steering column :-) Can't have them driving around putting the wipers on every time they turn a corner...
FollowupID: 766830

Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 11:30

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 11:30
My blinkers are on the left and wipers on the right.
FollowupID: 766871

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 12:39

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 12:39
Sorry, I meant right as in correct. I'm not sure if the Jap cars in the US keep the blinkers on the right or switch them to the American/Euro left side.
FollowupID: 766875

Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 13:02

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 13:02
You would think that the ADRs would stipulate what side stalks etc had to be so that all cars sold in Aust were the same - when I drive a Japper :-( I am always putting on the wipers when turning.

FollowupID: 766877

Reply By: Member - Bucky - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 08:12

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 08:12
Candice S.

Get a Patrol, Or a LandCruiser. Either is as tough as.
Diesel is simply a matter of choice, as I would buy a Petrol/LPG Partol, if the vehicle was in good condition.
You can get Pertol (Gas, as you call it) virtually anywhere in Oz,

Click here for prices

That link will give you an Idea of prices, even though they are always overprised by the owners, or car yards, it's still a good guide.

Consider any Nissan, even 20 years old, as they are good vehicles. Keep lower Kms' in mind when looking. Anything under 200,000 and there should be no real dramas.

Do your homework properly, and if I can help, in any way just email me.
My address is in my profile


AnswerID: 491355

Reply By: Crackles - Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 16:15

Saturday, Jul 21, 2012 at 16:15
You could speak to a 4 wheel drive workshop like Autocraft in Geelong who could buy then setup a vehicle to your requirements & arrange the sale at the end. Would have to be far cheaper than hiring for 6 months & it would have everything you need to be self sufficient. I know they were seriously considering setting up Landcruisers in the US for Aussies to drive over there.
Cheers Craig.............
AnswerID: 491372

Reply By: Candace S. - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 11:04

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 11:04
Thank you for all the replies!

As for the shipping option, I did get a quote from one shipping company. One way charge from San Diego, Calif. to Sydney is US$1845. That's for shipping the vehicle in a shared container. However, there are other unspecified "destination fees". Also, the return trip would cost about 10% more.

Judging by the responses here (and a phone conversation with one of the people who replied!), sounds like buying would be the way to go.

I had to laugh at the mention of the turn signal and wiper levers being reversed. Seems like I frequently accidentally activated the wipers when first learning to drive on the left side of the road. =)

Good thing I'm starting my planning early...looks like I have a lot of research to do!
AnswerID: 491405

Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 11:28

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012 at 11:28
With respect to stalks - doesn't matter if LHD or RHD - most cars in Aust are Japanese sourced so have wipers on the left and indicators on the right but cars like Landrovers have lights/indicators on the left and wipers on the right.
FollowupID: 766870

Reply By: Candace S. - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 13:01

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 13:01
Interesting about the wipers/blinkers. I was living in Japan at the time of my last (only) trip to Australia. So I learned to drive on the left there, and of course the Honda I had was set up with the blinkers on the right.

"Japanese" cars (including ones like mine, a Japanese nameplate but the vehicle was built in the States!) in the US are set up with the wipers on the right and blinkers on the left.
AnswerID: 491490

Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 19:18

Monday, Jul 23, 2012 at 19:18
Hi Candace,

About five years ago we met a couple from Germany in a camp ground. We became friends and we keep in touch. They bought a troopy, set it up the way they wanted it and come to Oz every year for usually four weeks or so, once they were here for six months. They leave the troopy with friends, first in Melbourne, now in Brisbane. No doubt their car-sitters take if for a run every now and then. They have just spent time in the Cape.

If there is any chance you may come again, consider leaving the vehicle with someone you trust and come back, again and again! Just think, one outlay on the vehicle, equipment, annual registration, etc. and you have a holiday home in Australia.

Have fun, whatever you do.

AnswerID: 491511

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