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Rent a Car in Argentina

Useful tips & information

Argentina is a very large country and if you want to go on a road trip or explore it independently and flexibly, renting a car is a great option.

This page gives some useful tips, advice and hints on renting a car in Argentina, driving safely and saving money in the process.

You can drive from Ruta 40 into Fitz Roy and the village of El Chaltén in Patagonia, Argentina:

Cerro Fitz Roy and the highway into Chaltén, Patagonia, Argentina
Cerro Fitz Roy and the highway into El Chaltén, Santa Cruz. Nestor Galina

Avice on travel to Argentina

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Argentina Car Rental & Driving safely

Argentina is a country with amazing scenery, from the jungles at Iguazú Falls, to the lakes and glaciers in Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego) or southern Patagonia (Perito Moreno Glacier)

Renting a car to drive will give you more freedom and independence than conventional tours, in this page we provide helpful information on driving safely and renting your car in Argentina.

Rent your Car in Argentina

Should you Rent a Car?

Distances in Argentina are great: Ruta 40 is over 5,000 km long. From Buenos Aires to Mendoza is a 1,000 km drive. Salta to Mendoza is 1,250 km, and From Bariloche to El Calafate is 1,430 km.

Driving of course gives you a "feel" of the country, its openness, its vast empty spaces, unique scenery and above all freedom.

The main reason to rent a car is to gain flexibility, manage your own schedule, visit places beyond the usual tours and excursions.

We rented a car in El Calafate to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier some years ago to do it in one morning and catch our afternoon flight. A regular bus tour would have taken the whole day.

If you would rather be taken to places and not have to bother driving, then don't rent a car, take a regular excursion.

Define your Rental Needs

You can fly to the interior and rent your car there, it is quicker and flights are much cheaper nowadays with good low cost flights.

Long distance buses are also cheap and you can go anywhere in the country by bus.

You may have decided to do a one way trip: fly from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, pick up a rented car and drive from Bariloche to El Calafate; drop it off there and fly back to Buenos Aires.

Or, do a round trip, starting in Bariloche and ending there.

The cost is different, even if you have driven the same car for the same amount of days, dropping it off at a different location has a very high charge.

Picking up your car at an airport in comparison to a city location pick-up also has a higher fee.

The example below was taken from Avis, we took a 21 day rental, with unlimited mileage for two different types of car and compared the prices for different pick up and drop off locations, the date December 2019. The prices in Argentine pesos were converted to U.S. Dollars (USD) at the official exchange rate of June 14, 2019.

The small car is a 3-door VW Up, manual transmission, 4 passengers and 2 bags in the trunk. The large car is a Toyota Corolla, automatic transmission, 5 bags, 5 passengers.

Round Trip option

car rental advert

City pick-up and City drop-off in Bariloche

  • USD 1,209 VW Up
  • USD 2,638 Toyota Corolla

Airport pick-up and Airport drop-off in Bariloche

  • USD 1,365 VW Up
  • USD 3,032 Toyota Corolla

The airport fee is USD 177 for the VW Up and USD 395 for the Corolla. Plus taxes (21% VAT and

One Way Option

Pick-up in Bariloche Airport, drop-off at El Calafate Airport

  • USD 2,331 VW Up
  • USD 3,999 Toyota Corolla

As you can see the Return fee from El Calafate to Bariloche is steep: for either car it is USD 967.

When you Rent you car...

Compare prices and define exactly the car you need, its transmission, and the total cost.

Use the Booking tool


Distance or Unlimited mileage

Check if the car rental agency offers unlimited kilometers or if there is a cap. Many place a maximum limit of 200 km per day, exceeding this daily limit will mean extra charges.

Restrictions on where you can drive

I rented a car in Esquel, Chubut province which I was only allowed to drive within that province, Río Negro and Neuquén province. If I wanted to drive into Santa Cruz province I had to rent an SUV or a pick-up truck. Gravel roads were off limits too.

Driving into Chile may also be restricted. Check with the car rental agency before booking, if you plan to drive across the border.

Manual or Automatic Transmission

Most cars in Argentina have a manual transmission, but you can rent automatic transmission (AT) cars. These are usually high end vehicles and cost more (see the example given further up).

If you absolutely need an AT car double check before making your reservation.

What type of car?

With cars size does matter. Choose a car that can fit you, your party and your luggage. The trunk should be large (Don't carry anything of value in visible parts of your car, it can entice thieves). Bigger cars have more leg space and fit more pieces of luggage -they also use mor fuel.

Driver's license

If you have a valid license from your country, you can rent a car in Argentina. You will have to show your passport with a valid entry visa to do so.

You will not need an international driver's license.

When to Rent?

If you plan to visit Argentina during high season or if you will pick up the car at a popular destination, you should rent your car in advance. Otherwise you risk finding none available when you arrive.

Once you have rented the car

When you pick it up, check the unit for dents, scratches, chipped windshield, cuts in the tires. Take photographs of the car as proof, it may avoid long discussions when you return it.

Take full insurance, it will avoid headaches in the case things go wrong. Windshield insurance, if available is worth it. A stone flung by a truck against my windshield in South Africa dented it and made a small crack. Fortunately I had windshield insurance and did not have to pay a cent.

Fill the tank up every time you can, gas stations are far apart in the countryside and sometimes may run out of fuel (during peak season).

Driving in Argentina


Side of the Road

Traffic in Argentina is Right Handed, like in Canada, the U.S. and all the rest of the Americas except Guyana and Surinam.

The driver sits on the left side of the car.

The rules that you know apply in Argentina, but are not usually respected by your fellow drivers:

Drivers in Argentina can be chaotic, aggressive and unpredictable:

Common transgressions that you may experience when driving in Argentina

For certain you will encounter one or more of these situations when you drive in Argentina, so be prepared and drive defensively.

  • Cars driving along the shoulder in a traffic jam
  • Motorcycles weaving through the cars and driving between lanes at high speed
  • Old 1960s to 1990s cars without lights
  • Overtaking on curves and bridges of single lane highways.
  • Lane changes without enough space and without using the turn signal
  • Right of way ignored (nobody yields to the car coming from the right)
  • Cars meging into a roundabout never yield to those driving in it
  • Trucks going slowly on the fast lane
  • Speed limits that are ignored
  • "Stop" ("Pare") signs that are ignored, the same with "Yield" ("Ceda el paso") signs
  • Pedestrians jaywalking, specially in urban areas.

A typical traffic violation: cars driving along the shoulder to overtake traffic driving along the legal lanes

Cars driving on the shoulder of the road in Argentina
Cars driving on the shoulder. La Nacion

Two rules are usually obeyed because the highway police will give you a ticket if you don't obey them:

  • Buckle up at all times, front seat and rear seat passengers and driver.
  • Keep the low lights lit at all times, day and night on expressways and highways.

Children under 12 must sit in the back seat and children aged 5 to 12 need a booster seat.

Don't drink and drive, some towns in the interior have zero tolerance laws, in general it is 0.5 g ⁄ l for cars and 0.2 g ⁄ l for motorcycles.

Minimum driving age is 18 years. Some Rental agencies may require a minimum age of 21 years.

Do not use a mobile phone and drive, it is prohibited. Hands free is allowed.

Is it safe to drive in Argentina?

Considering what we mentioned further up, the best option is to adopt a Defensive Driving attitude.

Large cities (Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Rosario) have more reckless drivers, motorcycles and distracted pedestrians than the smaller towns of the interior.

The country is large, and towns are far apart so driving in the interior is less stressful.

The flat Pampa region has more heavy traffic (most cargo is moved by trucks in Argentina) and the roads are mostly two lanes: one going, one coming. So be careful when you overtake.

Mountain roads do not usually have a third lane on the left for slow traffic, making it difficult to overtake slow moving trucks on uphill gradients.

The double central yellow line means "no overtaking", if it is a yellow line on your side and a dashed white one on the other, you can't overtake but those coming against you can.

Overtaking on curves and bridges is dangerous and forbidden, but reckless drivers will do it just the same:

Another typical traffic violation: cars overtaking on a curve and ignoring the double yellow lines

Cars overtaking on a curve in Argentina
Extremely dangerous behaviour: Overtaking on a curve.

Look out for pot holes and the dirt or gravel shoulders which may be offset by 4 inches from the road surface.

Wildlife in Patagonia (guanaco and ñandu -the South American rhea, a distant relative of the African ostriches) can and will cross the highways. Loose cattle, horses, cows and goats can also be an issue in the Western provinces.

A herd of sheep on the Ruta 40 in Chubut province, Patagonia in June 2019:

Sheep on the Ruta 40 highway in Argentina
Sheep all over the road, on Ruta 40 in Patagonia. Tiempo Sur

Two final tips

Tolls: Carry cash to pay tolls

Do not leave your valuables in the car. Keep them in the safe at the hotel or on you. Don't leave anything visible inside the car, jackets, purses, backpacks should be placed in the trunk, out of sight. Theft and burglary is common. Park your car in a safe place each night.


You can also visit:


Road Trip Journeys
Liniers 440, B1602 Florida Buenos Aires, Argentina

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Ruta 40 (Argentina) Online Travel Guide: Information on accommodation, sights, attractions and destinations. Itineraries, tours and resources for planning your Route 40 Road Trip.

Updated on V.12