Buying a car - left hand or right hand drive

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ShazzaandPete
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Buying a car - left hand or right hand drive

Post by ShazzaandPete » Wed 09 Aug 2017 15:11

We have decided to bite the bullet and buy a car after using bikes and public transport for over a year in France. We are going to buy in the UK but I'm wondering whether any right-hand drive drivers have had problems here - I am a left-hander and it is more natural to drive a right-hand drive but I've been told to get a left-hand drive as the RH drive is dangerous. Any experiences or advice please?
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Post by neil mitchell » Wed 09 Aug 2017 15:28

Hi. I have brought two RHD cars from the UK to France over the past 10 years. They both been properly imported and on French plates, CT, insurance etc and I have never had any problems at all. The reason for it is that a used car is so much cheaper and better in UK. Just make sure that all of the paperwork is in place (which is easy enough) and avoid any car which you wouldn't normally find in France (like a used Japanese import).

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Post by Lanark Lass » Wed 09 Aug 2017 15:51

A right hand drive car has certain advantages in the P.O. where many country roads have deep ditches at the side - if you are nearer you can see them.Same goes when driving roads such as the Col de Banyuls. If you are on the "cliff edge" side you know how much space you have when meeting a vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. I can see the advantage of a left hand drive if you do a lot of motorway driving but otherwise I think rhd is best.

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LHD or RHD

Post by ShazzaandPete » Wed 09 Aug 2017 16:04

Thanks for those replies...my thinking about spatial perception near the edge of the road was the same. I think the friend who advised against RHD is a motorway man which may explain it.
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Re: Buying a car - left hand or right hand drive

Post by martyn94 » Wed 09 Aug 2017 17:20

ShazzaandPete wrote:We have decided to bite the bullet and buy a car after using bikes and public transport for over a year in France. We are going to buy in the UK but I'm wondering whether any right-hand drive drivers have had problems here - I am a left-hander and it is more natural to drive a right-hand drive but I've been told to get a left-hand drive as the RH drive is dangerous. Any experiences or advice please?
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Why is it more natural to drive an RHD car if you are left-handed? You are doing the relatively minor thing, changing gear, with your master hand, and the important thing, going in the right direction, with the weaker hand. Of course you can do it either way with ten minutes practice.

I have driven for decades in France, off and on, in RHD cars. And survived it. But I wouldn't hesitate for 30 seconds over buying LHD if I were buying a car explicitly to drive here (any more than I did last time I bought one).

Realistically, you might drive up the col de Banyuls for an hour a year, and the road is going to be exactly the same as it was last time: your RHD car would put you a bit closer to the ditch (or the drop) but so what? If you don't know how wide your car is, and haven't learnt how to drive accordingly, you've no business being there.

For 99% of the time, the danger will be coming towards you, on the LHS, at high speed and erratically: do you want to see those dangers well or not so well?

Even apart from mundane considerations like trying to sell it in France once you're finished with it.

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Post by Webdoc » Wed 09 Aug 2017 17:50

Perhaps there's a good reason for buying in the UK and taking it to France but I believe there's a lot of hoops to jump through getting it re-registered in France.

18 months ago we bought a new Renault Captur in Perpignan (great little car) and, broadly speaking, the price was the same number in euros in France as pounds in the UK (i.e. cheaper in France).

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Post by neil mitchell » Wed 09 Aug 2017 18:09

It is true that for new cars the difference in price is small but for used cars it is much bigger. The reason is that the French do not subscribe to the absurd notion that a car loses 20% of it's value the second that it I first registered. That passes on down the line until the £1000 car in UK will probably still be Eur3000 in France. Even taking into account he cost of immatriculation, the saving is substantial. The paperwork looks complicated but really isn't and if you do it the French way, that is make sure hat you have everything ready and do I in the right order, you should be ok.

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Post by martyn94 » Wed 09 Aug 2017 20:10

neil mitchell wrote:It is true that for new cars the difference in price is small but for used cars it is much bigger. The reason is that the French do not subscribe to the absurd notion that a car loses 20% of it's value the second that it I first registered. That passes on down the line until the £1000 car in UK will probably still be Eur3000 in France. Even taking into account he cost of immatriculation, the saving is substantial. The paperwork looks complicated but really isn't and if you do it the French way, that is make sure hat you have everything ready and do I in the right order, you should be ok.
This all fine and large. But how complicated does the OP want to make his life to save the square root of nothing but with a lot of paperasse? He hasn't been here long, apparently, but he must have noticed that 100% of French-registered drivers have LHD cars. That may just be perversity on their part, but just maybe there's some logic to it.

And even if there is no logic at all to it, your new neighbours might love you better if you don't try to be clever.

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Post by Kate » Wed 09 Aug 2017 20:32

I had my RHD car in France for many years, from my university days in Strasbourg. Every time I needed a new car I stuck to RHD, thinking I would struggle with RHD.

In fact, when I finally made the change, I realised how much safer and more comfortable I was driving. Don't rule it out.

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Post by jethro » Wed 09 Aug 2017 21:27

The Japanese never put salt on their roads, so their cars, even the oldest, remain rust-free. They also, because public transport is excellent, use their cars only at weekends and on holidays. Also, a draconian law compels owners of older vehicles, no matter how well-maintained, to either pay a huge fee or get rid of their cars for export. Although most Japanese cars are RHD, there is a decent percentage of LHD models available. The prices, even after factoring in shipping costs and insurance are laughably low compared to France. The paperwork, however, once the vehicle arrives in France is of massive complexity and the regulations vague and unevenly applied. I am still researching the market and plucking up courage, so cannot give a personal account of the process. Here is a link to one of the many sites which exist to export used cars from Japan to the rest of the world.
https://www.beforward.jp/stocklist/clie ... sortkey=n/

There are plenty of European cars among them.It's easily the cheapest way to buy a second-hand Mercedes .
an' the wun' cried Mary.

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Post by martyn94 » Fri 11 Aug 2017 12:20

jethro wrote:
There are plenty of European cars among them.It's easily the cheapest way to buy a second-hand Mercedes .
But why would you want to do endless research, and go through paperasse hell, to do something so boring? I've long lived in the parts of depressed rural France where old Mercs go to die. At best you seem like an idiot, driving a motorised garage bill. At worst, you look like you want to inaugurate the thousand year Reich, but can't afford it.

I've long had a debate with myself whether Mercs or Audis or BMWs are driven worst. I think Merc drivers are marginally less aggressive, but make up for it with added senility. I think that Audis take the prize, on the whole: Merc and BMW drivers can only drive like psychopaths when their cars are black, but Audi drivers can use either white or black, by some unwritten law.

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Post by Allan » Fri 11 Aug 2017 16:46

It strikes me as a fairly absurd concept to buy a RHD car in a country where every other car is LHD.

It is true that second hand cars are cheaper in the UK but once you factor in the cost of going there to buy one, bringing it to France, converting the headlamps and the cost and hassle of registering the car in France then the difference rapidly evaporates.

Add to that when you want to change it you will find that RHD cars are practically unsaleable in France and if you took it back to the UK to sell then you would have to re-register it and have the cost of taking it back there.

True, you are nearer the edge of the road but frankly, if you are incapable of judging the width of a car then you probably shouldn't be driving at all.

With a RHD car you will have hassle every time you enter a car park or go through an autoroute toll. Furthermore every overtaking manoeuvre will be more dangerous than in a LHD car.

Many of us have brought RHD cars that we already owned here when moving from the UK but to consciously set out to buy one from scratch seems just plain daft.

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rhd v lhd

Post by Florence » Fri 11 Aug 2017 17:35

You may also need to factor in having the wheels tracked. Personally I think a lhd is a safer bet.

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Post by martyn94 » Fri 11 Aug 2017 17:48

I think most of us here would agree with Allan. But when threads have wandered about like this one has, I often forget what the original poster actually asked.

They are Australian (RHD), and living here (LHD) but want to buy a car in the UK (RHD). What can that possibly be about, unless they have reasons that they haven't bothered to share with us? I'm a Brit and intermittently proud of it, but I would no longer think to buy a car there, whatever side the steering wheel was.

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Post by Helen » Fri 11 Aug 2017 19:56

As you have the option of choosing, I'd say definitely go for LHD - for safety (primarily better visibility) and for ease - tolls, car parks, etc

Have to say, I don't quite understand your reference to being left-handed. Does that mean you prefer changing gear with your dominant hand? I'm not sure it really makes much difference, does it?

If you haven't driven a LHD drive very much, it can feel daunting at first - but, honestly, you'll soon get used to it.

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Post by jethro » Fri 11 Aug 2017 20:13

For those of us who can read French, this forum has an interesting account of what you have to do to get a cheap car from Japan.

https://www.japancar.fr/forum/Sujet-Tut ... e-au-Japon
an' the wun' cried Mary.

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Post by martyn94 » Fri 11 Aug 2017 20:28

jethro wrote:For thos of us who can read French, this forum has an interesting account of what you have to do to get a cheap car from Japa
https://www.japancar.fr/forums/Sujet-do ... oiture-au-
I can read French, but still didn't find it very interesting. But then I don't find secondhand cars as interesting as you evidently do.[/img]

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Post by Gus Morris » Sat 12 Aug 2017 17:08

Have sent a PM with some relevant comments.

Gus

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Post by martyn94 » Sat 12 Aug 2017 19:01

Gus Morris wrote:Have sent a PM with some relevant comments.

Gus
Oh come on Gus, don't be shy. Most of us will probably want to buy another car some time, if we are spared.

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Post by Allan » Sat 12 Aug 2017 19:44

jethro wrote:For those of us who can read French, this forum has an interesting account of what you have to do to get a cheap car from Japan.

https://www.japancar.fr/forum/Sujet-Tut ... e-au-Japon
Funny, yesterday the link showed the word 'banned' next to the guy who wrote the post, today the link doesn't exist.

Probably not a good example of whatever point you were trying to make.

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Post by martyn94 » Sat 12 Aug 2017 21:37

Allan wrote:
jethro wrote:For those of us who can read French, this forum has an interesting account of what you have to do to get a cheap car from Japan.

https://www.japancar.fr/forum/Sujet-Tut ... e-au-Japon
Funny, yesterday the link showed the word 'banned' next to the guy who wrote the post, today the link doesn't exist.

Probably not a good example of whatever point you were trying to make.
The poster was shown as banned for me, but the post was still there. It seems to be a guide to buying secondhand "boy racer" type cars from Japan, which have mostly never been marketed here. I fear that it really was a good example of the point that jethro was trying to make, but not much use to a boring old git like me.

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Post by ShazzaandPete » Sun 13 Aug 2017 10:37

Thank you to those who took time to share their thoughts. I regret that my post instigated some rather unfortunate comments between you, I don't understand why it gave rise to more personal and to be honest, not very pleasant tones in a couple of instances. It was merely a simple question because being left-handed, it is more natural to have the gear-stick on my left. I take all comments on board and for me I think the clincher is the over-taking hazard which puts the LHD in front. Just for the record, I have been driving for 48 years and have not put anyone in hospital yet, nor have I been injured in a vehicle accident. I have driven different rental cars here, all LHD and I'm sure I will be at home in a car that I am not changing regularly. Thanks again for your shared wisdom, I think maybe I will have to consider carefully before asking anything else on this forum if the stock response from certain posters is sarcasm. As to why buy in the UK, it's because many ex-pats have advised us to, and being pensioners we can't afford to pay through the nose or buy new....does that mean that we shouldn't be here either? Welcome to the ex-pat community in southern France!
We are an Australian couple who moved permanently to France a year ago... still finding our way with bureaucracy and businesses​. We want more community involvement and need French lessons to improve communications. Also need IT help!

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Post by Allan » Sun 13 Aug 2017 11:11

ShazzaandPete wrote:Thank you to those who took time to share their thoughts. I regret that my post instigated some rather unfortunate comments between you, I don't understand why it gave rise to more personal and to be honest, not very pleasant tones in a couple of instances. It was merely a simple question because being left-handed, it is more natural to have the gear-stick on my left. I take all comments on board and for me I think the clincher is the over-taking hazard which puts the LHD in front. Just for the record, I have been driving for 48 years and have not put anyone in hospital yet, nor have I been injured in a vehicle accident. I have driven different rental cars here, all LHD and I'm sure I will be at home in a car that I am not changing regularly. Thanks again for your shared wisdom, I think maybe I will have to consider carefully before asking anything else on this forum if the stock response from certain posters is sarcasm. As to why buy in the UK, it's because many ex-pats have advised us to, and being pensioners we can't afford to pay through the nose or buy new....does that mean that we shouldn't be here either? Welcome to the ex-pat community in southern France!
Like many others on here, I am disappointed and a bit surprised that you feel that way. I have read back over the thread and it seems to me that the advantages and disadvantages of RHD v LHD have been pretty well expressed and I certainly don't perceive any excessive sarcasm.

I cannot of course comment on anything that anyone has sent you in a PM.
There seems to be a number of individuals lately who are critical of the forum and of other members, I don't understand their motives but I chose to ignore the poisonous PMs that I have received.

This is however a forum, not a question and answer session and threads often go away from the original topic. Nevertheless, I have been a member of this forum for 11 years and have found it a valuable resource.

Needless to say, if any of my posts have offended your sensibilities then I am sorry but I have seen no points raised in this thread that wouldn't be made in a discussion in a local pub.

Your profile says that you need help with IT and language, I suggest you post your problems and I am sure there will be many of us willing to help.

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Post by ShazzaandPete » Sun 13 Aug 2017 11:22

Thanks for that. I guess my sensibilities arise from the fact that I am a 66 yr old female who doesn't engage in chats with the blokes in pubs. I am now in the know about this forum.
We are an Australian couple who moved permanently to France a year ago... still finding our way with bureaucracy and businesses​. We want more community involvement and need French lessons to improve communications. Also need IT help!

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Post by martyn94 » Sun 13 Aug 2017 14:51

[quote="] As to why buy in the UK, it's because many ex-pats have advised us to, and being pensioners we can't afford to pay through the nose or buy new....does that mean that we shouldn't be here either? Welcome to the ex-pat community in southern France![/quote]

Pot,kettle,black, so far as sarcasm goes.But I wouldn't dream of leaving the forum in a huff on account of that.

I have re-read the thread with some care, and I cannot see any offensive degree of sarcasm towards you: we were trying to help you towards a well-judged decision, by our lights, and one which ultimately you seem to have agreed with.

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Post by martyn94 » Sun 13 Aug 2017 15:18

ShazzaandPete wrote:I am now in the know about this forum.
Do you realise how much moral high ground you give up by saying this? You are moderately old, but younger than many of us; you are a woman, but so are many of us, but in any event so what, when we are talking about LHD/RHD cars ? And you are evidently quick to take your bat home, which may or may not be our loss, but might well prove to be inconvenient to you, over the years.

All that said, do stick around: we mostly do just try to be helpful.

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Post by martyn94 » Mon 14 Aug 2017 12:54

Incidentally, I think the thing to worry about, if your muscle memory was trained in the UK or Australia, is simply driving on the wrong side of the road, whether you are in an LHD or RHD car, and whether right- or left-handed. Normally the road markings, and the behaviour of other cars, give you adequate visual cues to drive on the right. But every now then, you pull out of (eg) a petrol station onto a road with no special markings, and no cars in sight, and fall into old habits.

Or at least I have, about once every ten years, and never (so far) for long enough to crash. But it's chastening if/when it happens. That said, I'm not sure what you do about it, beyond having a vigilant passenger (or a much fancier car than I am ever likely to have, with a lane control system).

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Buying a car

Post by polremy » Mon 14 Aug 2017 15:52

When we first started driving through France for our holidays we trained our children.
Every time we set off, from a petrol station, a lunch break or a hotel in the morning, they all had to shout in unison "drive on the right!"
Very annoying but it worked and probably saved embarrassment or worse quite a few times.

Gales

Post by Gales » Thu 20 Sep 2018 20:19

I agree with Helen. LHD is better and safer option here

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Post by jethro » Fri 21 Sep 2018 20:08

If you type LHD into the search field on UK eBay, you will find many fine vehicles cheaper than you will find in France, mostly.
an' the wun' cried Mary.

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