We are frequently asked about the costs to run a vehicle here in Ecuador. Of course, the specifics will depend on the type of vehicle you purchase and where you have it serviced – just like in any other country. To give you an idea, here are our vehicle costs:
Costs to Own and Run a Vehicle in Ecuador
These are actual costs, but its important to note that your costs will vary. Repair costs can never be accurately estimated – so we haven’t included them. If you take your car to a local mechanic instead of the dealer, you’ll not only pay much less for the labor – they also know great ways to save on parts.
Fuel Costs in Ecuador
Our truck is old, its a 1994 Isuzu (Chevrolet) Trooper. The 3.2L V6 engine is anything but good on gas. But because of the cost of fuel in Ecuador, it doesn’t really matter. At just USD$1.48 per gallon, its hard to worry to much about the cost. We spend roughly $80 per month driving approximately 1200km.
Fuels Costs: $80 per month
SOAT: Ecuador’s Mandatory Car Insurance
There is a mandatory insurance in Ecuador, called SOAT. It is obligatory insurance that covers medical expenses in case of an emergency. It really is an exceptional system, providing free medicare in case of automobile accidents. For our truck, it costs $63.45 per year. Smaller vehicles are less. As I understand it, those injured in a car accident are taken to the nearest medicare center and the program pays for the costs – regardless of if it is a public hospital or a high end private one.
SOAT Costs: $63.45 per year
Car Matriculation (Registration) in Ecuador
The annual matriculation costs $66.79 for a large vehicle. The government has implemented a new green tax for all vehicles with engine sizes over 1.5L. It increases incrementally, this year costing just $46.92 and increasing to more than $100 in five years. The green tax depends on the year of the vehicle and the size of the engine. All engines over 1.5L are included in this green tax.
There is a provincial tax (Taso solidario) that costs $12 for the year. I believe that this is per passenger vehicle, regardless of size. This can be paid at the Transit Commission. Cuencaire, is the entity that does vehicle inspections (including emission controls). There is a fee for the inspection, but no charge to return once the problems are fixed. I had to purchase new fuel injectors to make our truck pass. Passenger vehicles are ranked differently than commerical vehicles.
Matriculation Total: $114.31 ($113.71 plus $0.60 bank fee).
Cost of an Ecuador Oil Change
Oil is not subsidized like gasoline. Our truck takes about 1.5 gallons of oil in an oil change. This costs about $35 plus $3.50 for the filter. Our mechanic charges $3 labour to change the oil. Here they recommend oil changes every 3000 kilometers, especially with older vehicles. We get an oil change roughly every 2-3 months.
Annual Oil Change Totals: $207.50 ($41.50 x 5 times per year)
Auto Accident Insurance
Although not common for older vehicles, we found and purchased auto insurance for our truck. Despite its age, it is worth about $10,000 here. In the US, I found an equivalent vehicle online for $1800. Something notable about vehicles in Ecuador is the care that the owners take of them. The truck has been especially well cared for.
We had to look hard to find a company that would insure our truck – but eventually we did. It includes zero deductible 3rd party insurance, full replacement value (with zero deductible) in case of theft, and full replacement value in case of accident.
There is a $10.40 add-on that gives unlimited (country wide) roadside assistance. That is an annual cost and has no additional cost. Last year I added it on a whim – not sure if it would even work. Just a few months after, the seal on the clutch went – leaving us stranded on the side of the road. I called the number, gave them my plate number and they dispatched a grúa (tow truck). The driver didn’t request any papers – and towed us to our mechanic. No cost – I only needed to sign that the service was performed. Did I mention the cost is just $10.40 per year? Insurance is paid annually (not monthly).
Insurance Annual Costs: $575.40 ($565 plus $10.40 roadside assistance)
Parking Costs in Ecuador
There are numerous pay parking lots in the center. Costs range from $0.60 to $1.00 per hour. There are parking attendants to help you park safely and to watch your car. We use these lots every week and have never had any trouble. We spend on average about $10 per month. In Cuenca, the shopping centers still offer free parking – while in Quito you have to pay.
Outside of the City Center, there are tons of places to park for free. Just be sure that the signs allow it. If you ignore the signs, you can expect a $10 fine.
By the way, if you don’t pay the fine, you won’t be able to matriculate your car – which means you won’t be able to leave the city. Car papers are seldom (if ever) checked for matriculation inside the city – but once you get on an inter-provincial highway police checks are frequent. A friend of ours drives a very old, very well used Fiat and he just hasn’t gotten around to matriculating it for the past few years. So he drives within Cuenca frequently – but takes the bus when we wants to visit a town outside of city limits.
Parking costs: $10 per month
Annual Costs of Running a Vehicle in Ecuador
Fuel: $960 ($80/month x 12 months) (driving approx 1200km)
Oil Changes: $207.50
Auto Insurance: $575.40
Parking costs: $120 (approx $10 per month)
Annual Vehicle Expenses: $2040.66 ($170.06/mo)
Don’t forget: these cost don’t include repairs or maintenance. We haven’t had to do much to our truck. A new Bosch battery cost $115. Fuel injectors cost $120 each plus installation. The clutch seal (including labor) cost $30.
What do you think? Reasonable? High or low?