Car insurance and other car expenses

Dear All,

I will be relocating to  Bahrain next month and I am wondering whether I should buy a car (and run it to the ground, as was advised by another long time expat in Bahrain) or lease a car. Even if I buy, I'm tempted to go for an affordable and relatively old car, because I just can't fathom taking a loan in a country that could jail you and prevent you from leaving for failing to pay off the balance.

Big factors of course will be insurance and cost.

First, insurance:

- what kind of insurance did you find and take for vehicle (full coverage, limited coverage, civil responsibility, etc...)

- what document did you need to get it?

- did certain exclusion surprise you?

-  how much does it cost you per year/month?

- does it cover you in Saudi Arabia?

- did you ever use it, and how did it compare to your experience back home?

Second, registration:

- where did you need to go and what document did you need?

- how much did it cost you?

- how often do you renew?

Third, car repair:

-  have you had any experience dealing with garages and mechanics over there?

- in practice, how have the leasing services treated you if your leased car broke down, and how fast did the replacement come?

Fourth, any other advice: what kind of cars and brands to prefer (ie wide availability of parts and mechanics at cheap or reasonable costs), brands to avoid, sellers or leaser to avoid, where to find good deals for sales or  leases, hidden costs, etc...

Thank you very much in advance.

- HL

Look, it really depends on how long are you going to be here.

If you are here, 4-5 years, it may be better to buy vs. lease as it's going to be cheaper and then you will have an asset to dispose off for cash when you leave.

If you buy, you NEED to have insurance before the car can be registered. The costs vary depending on the age and value of the car but comprehensive should set you back around 1-2% of the car value as premium on an annual basis depending on what deal you get.  Usually a painless process but you do need the dealer to send car documents to insurance company and have to provide your CPR etc.

If you buy a new car or even a used one from a dealer, then the dealer will take care of the registration for you. You need to renew it every year and the process is different for a new or old car.  For a new one, you can get it registered for a couple of years in one go and for renewal, there is no inspection.  Just got to the post office with new insurance, pay the fees and you get the sticker via return mail.  For an old car, you need to take it to the traffic office and follow a process - details should be on this forum.

For mechanics and garages; if it is a new car, then the dealer service package will take of that.  These are usually good and professional.  I always buy new so no experience with mechanics other than dealer.

Generally in the middle east, rule of thumb, if you want resale value is to go for Japanese cars.  Highest resale is in cars like Toyota Land Cruiser and Toyota Prado. Lowest resale is for American cars excluding Jeep Grand Cherokee.  German cars are mid range when it comes to resale.  Avoid Jaguars and Land rovers like the plague - very tough to sell.

For leasing services, quality varies from lease to lease really.  Good to horrible.  Like anywhere else in the world I suppose.

Hi X-tang,

Thanks a lot for your insights!
Unless a big opportunity open up in Bahrain, I will only be there for 2 to 3 years. Do you think it isn't long enough?

One big reason is that cars on lease in my budget (200bd and less) are really so-so.
I already drive bigger, more comfortable, but older. I am also a bit weary of being in a small anemic car in Bahraini or Saudi traffic. A little bigger would be nice and (feel) more secure.

Do you know if it takes a while to be set up with insurance and registration?

I appreciate your brand advice, I see that things don't change too much between continents actually.

Finally, if buying wasn't the way, did you have a particularly good experience with a leaser, and if so, which one?

Thank you very much again!

- HL

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