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Buying a car in Hawaii can be an expensive endeavor due to the isolated nature of the islands. However, with some insider knowledge, you may be able to find a good deal on your next set of wheels.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Cars do tend to be more expensive in Hawaii compared to other states due to added shipping costs and higher demand. However, there are still ways to find affordable options if you know where to look.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the various factors that contribute to higher car prices in Hawaii.

We’ll examine the extra costs associated with shipping vehicles to the islands, breakdown pricing differences between Neighbor Islands and Oahu, and explore used car prices versus purchasing new.

We’ll also provide tips to help you secure the best possible deal whether buying or leasing.

Additional Shipping Costs to Hawaii

Car shipping

When it comes to buying a car in Hawaii, one important factor to consider is the additional shipping costs.

Due to its isolated location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, importing vehicles to Hawaii can be more expensive compared to other states in the U.S.

Cost of Shipping Cars to Hawaii

The cost of shipping a car to Hawaii can vary depending on several factors. One of the main factors that influences the cost is the distance between the mainland and the Hawaiian Islands.

Shipping a car from the West Coast is generally cheaper compared to shipping from the East Coast.

Additionally, the size and weight of the vehicle can also affect the shipping costs. Larger and heavier vehicles may require a higher shipping fee.

It’s important to note that shipping costs are not only limited to the transportation itself. Other expenses such as insurance, customs fees, and taxes also contribute to the overall cost.

These additional expenses can significantly increase the price of purchasing a car in Hawaii.

According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the average cost of shipping a car to Hawaii from the West Coast ranges from $1,000 to $1,500. However, shipping from the East Coast can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500.

Lack of Local Manufacturing

Another reason why cars may be more expensive in Hawaii is the lack of local manufacturing.

Unlike mainland states that have automobile manufacturing plants, Hawaii relies solely on imported vehicles.

This means that cars need to be shipped from the mainland or other countries, which adds to the overall cost.

Without local manufacturing, the supply of vehicles in Hawaii is limited, which can drive up the prices.

Dealerships have to factor in the additional shipping costs, taxes, and other expenses when setting the prices for cars in Hawaii.

A lack of local manufacturing also means that car buyers in Hawaii may have fewer options when it comes to choosing a vehicle.

It is important to do thorough research and consider all the additional costs before making a purchase.

Higher Demand and Limited Inventory

One of the main reasons why cars are more expensive in Hawaii is due to the higher demand and limited inventory.

As a popular tourist destination, Hawaii attracts millions of visitors each year. This influx of tourists creates a high demand for rental cars, which in turn drives up the prices of both rental cars and cars for sale in the local market.

Only One Major Port for Car Imports

Hawaii’s geographical location also contributes to the higher prices of cars. The state has only one major port, which means that importing cars can be more expensive and time-consuming.

The cost of shipping cars to Hawaii is significantly higher compared to other states, and these costs are often passed on to consumers.

Additionally, the limited capacity of the port can result in delays in receiving new car shipments, further reducing the available inventory and driving up prices.

High Number of Tourists Renting Cars

Another factor that affects the cost of cars in Hawaii is the high number of tourists who rent cars during their visit.

Many visitors prefer to explore the islands at their own pace, and renting a car is often the most convenient option.

The high demand for rental cars leads to increased prices, as rental companies need to keep up with the demand and cover their operating costs.

These higher rental prices can also impact the prices of cars for sale, as rental companies often sell their older fleet to make room for new vehicles.

According to Hawaii Car Rentals, the average price for a rental car in Hawaii can be up to 50% higher compared to other popular tourist destinations in the United States.

This significant price difference highlights the impact of high demand on the cost of cars in Hawaii.

Price Differences Between Oahu and Neighbor Islands


If you are considering buying a car in Hawaii, it is important to be aware of the price differences between the different islands.

Maui, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hawaii, has its own unique car market.

Due to the high demand and limited supply, car prices in Maui tend to be slightly higher compared to Oahu.

While the exact price difference can vary depending on the make, model, and condition of the car, on average, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars more for a car in Maui compared to Oahu.

This is mainly due to the costs associated with shipping cars to the island and the expenses involved in maintaining a car dealership in a smaller market.

However, it is worth noting that despite the higher prices, there are still opportunities to find great deals on used cars in Maui.

It is always a good idea to do thorough research, compare prices from different dealerships, and consider buying from private sellers to potentially save some money.

Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii, also known as Hawaii Island, has its own unique car market as well.

The price differences between the Big Island and Oahu are relatively similar to those of Maui.

However, due to its larger size and population, the Big Island usually offers a wider selection of cars to choose from.

While the average car prices on the Big Island may be slightly higher compared to Oahu, there are still opportunities to find good deals.

Shopping around, considering both private sellers and dealerships, and being patient can help you find a car that fits your budget and needs.


Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle, is known for its stunning landscapes and laid-back atmosphere.

When it comes to car prices, Kauai is generally on par with or slightly higher than Oahu.

However, similar to the other neighbor islands, the price difference is not significant enough to discourage potential buyers.

It is important to keep in mind that car prices can vary depending on the specific make, model, and condition of the vehicle.

Additionally, factors such as supply and demand, dealership overhead costs, and market competition can also influence car prices on the different islands.

When considering buying a car in Hawaii, it is always a good idea to research the local market, consult with local car dealerships, and explore online resources for pricing information.

Websites like and can provide useful insights and help you make an informed decision.

Used Car Prices vs. New

Used cars

When it comes to purchasing a car, one of the main considerations for buyers is whether to buy a new or used vehicle.

In Hawaii, this decision becomes even more crucial due to the unique factors that can affect car prices.

Let’s take a closer look at how used car prices compare to new ones in the Aloha State.

Depreciation Rates

One advantage of buying a used car in Hawaii is the lower depreciation rates compared to new cars.

Depreciation is the decrease in value that occurs over time as a car is driven and ages.

According to Kelley Blue Book, new cars can lose up to 20% of their value in the first year alone. This means that if you buy a brand-new car and decide to sell it after just one year, you could potentially lose a significant amount of money.

On the other hand, used cars have already experienced the initial depreciation, allowing you to get more value for your money.

Availability of Used Cars

Another factor to consider is the availability of used cars in Hawaii.

Due to its isolated location, the state has a limited supply of used vehicles compared to mainland states.

This scarcity can drive up prices, making used cars in Hawaii more expensive compared to other areas.

Additionally, the high demand for reliable transportation in the state further contributes to the higher prices.

However, it’s important to note that the availability and pricing of used cars can vary depending on the specific make, model, and condition.

It’s always a good idea to shop around and compare prices from different dealerships and private sellers to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Tips for Finding the Best Deal

Consider Buying on Another Island

When it comes to purchasing a car in Hawaii, one option to consider is buying on another island.

While it may seem inconvenient at first, it can actually save you a significant amount of money. This is because certain islands, such as Oahu, tend to have higher living costs, which can translate into higher car prices.

By exploring other islands like Maui or the Big Island, you may find better deals and lower prices.

Don’t limit yourself to just one island; cast a wider net to increase your chances of finding a great deal.

Broaden Your Online Search

Searching for cars online is a convenient and efficient way to find the best deals.

However, don’t limit your search to just one or two websites. Broaden your online search by checking various platforms and websites.

Consider using popular car marketplaces likeĀ to compare prices and get a sense of the market.

Additionally, check local dealership websites as they may have exclusive online deals.

By casting a wider net, you increase your chances of finding a car at a more affordable price.

Negotiate Aggressively

When it comes to negotiating the price of a car, don’t be afraid to be assertive. Car prices are not set in stone, and there is often room for negotiation.

Research the market value of the car you are interested in and come prepared with this information.

Be confident and willing to walk away if the price isn’t right. Dealerships want to make sales, so they may be open to lowering the price if they sense you are a serious buyer.

Remember, negotiation is a skill, and with practice, you can potentially save a significant amount of money.

Consider Leasing

Leasing car

If you’re not set on owning a car long-term, leasing can be a viable option. Leasing allows you to drive a new car for a fixed period while only paying for the depreciation and use of the vehicle.

This can be a cost-effective choice, particularly if you don’t plan on driving long distances or if you prefer to have a new car every few years.

However, it’s essential to carefully read and understand the terms of the lease agreement before signing.

Consider your lifestyle and driving habits to determine if leasing is the right choice for you.

By considering these tips, you can increase your chances of finding the best deal on a car in Hawaii.

Remember to explore options on different islands, broaden your online search, negotiate aggressively, and consider leasing if it aligns with your needs.

With a little research and some negotiation skills, you can find a great deal and drive off with a smile on your face and some extra money in your pocket.


While buying a car in the Hawaiian Islands is undoubtedly more expensive, there are still ways to secure an affordable ride.

Being flexible on color and model, looking at used inventory online, and negotiating aggressively can help lower costs.

For the best deal, consider purchasing on a Neighbor Island or even on the mainland if possible.

With proper preparation and insight into Hawaii’s unique car market, you can find the perfect set of wheels for island cruising without breaking the bank.

Just be sure to factor in all additional fees and shipping costs, and don’t be afraid to expand your search outside of just local dealerships.

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