|Windshield replacement in Africa|
One of the reasons in favor of Toyota is certainly a very dense network of workshops worldwide. But even here, the supply of spare parts on the road can be a bit of a challenge. Drivers of other brands have to painstakingly gather their own supply of spare parts.
Even on our Trans-Africa trip, I was astonished to discover that spare parts supply is not that easy, even for Toyota. Already in Mauritania we had to change the windshield in 2012. Toyota in Nouakchott offered us a delivery time of 60 days by ship and 45 days by plane.
The black market had saved us, within 3.5 hours a new windshield was organized and installed, but of course not completely original. The black market worked of course only because it is a vehicle model that is used locally.
Also on the current Panamericana I heard these ominous 60 days delivery time in Argentina, Chile and Bolivia, when it was among other things about the replacement of a leaking air conditioning supply line.
What is it about these delivery times and how can one get around this long wait?
On my travels of 68`000 miles of international overland travel I had to buy some spare parts and met other travelers with repairs. So I could gain some experience about the procurement of spare parts, repairs and about the slowness of ordering spare parts.
When the needed spare parts are not available in the country, there are usually these options:
- Repair of parts instead of replacements
- Reconstruction of parts
- Import/customs clearance through your car brand
If your car brand does not have a local agent, a local mechanic, this option is not available. That's why car brands like Toyota have their advantage, because they can be found in most countries. It only helps if you drive a model that is not too old, which was also sold in the local market.
Before your world trip, get a mechanic of your make/model at home. Someone who knows your car in detail, including the additional modifications. Who can help you analyze and fix problems, and who is able to order and ship spare parts internationally.
Using your mechanic at home as a kind of jumphost for shipping spare parts also gives you the opportunity to customize the declaration of value for the spare parts, add the option to use "used spare parts" and so on. This can save a lot of money depending on the country.
In my experience, you can use TNT/DHL/UPS/Fedex and should be able to ship the parts within 8 days with the (international express 2 business day option). In the 2nd world it takes a few days for the tax office to clear.
A well maintained vehicle is usually able to go even 30`000 miles without repairs if you do all the usual maintenance like oil changes, fluids etc while driving.
Smashed or broken windshields or side/rear windows are fairly common. And sometimes there are major repairs like transmission, suspension, engine and the like.
In case of a major breakdown, I recommend getting the car repaired in a bigger city or in the capital, as the mechanics there are better trained and the aftermarket is better equipped and the knowledge for repairs is better.
Also, the tax offices in capital cities work faster than if you try to get your packages in smaller cities.
A capital city also offers more visitation opportunities until the repair is complete.
The added tax by importing spare parts by yourself - can be very high. Depending on the country it is worth to wait till you car brand can import it for you - if locally available.
If something major is broken, you can always pack your car in a container and ship it home. Like this travellers did solve their issues, after a serious breakdown in the US. They show us that you sometimes have to be flexible in the way you are living your dream!
In my much older article in German language you find a collection of travellers with bigger repairs, and can get an idea about spares, tax and repairs.
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