Don’t Buy A Used Car in Costa Rica

Actual Costa Rica Used Car Salesman

Don’t buy a used car in Costa Rica. Buy one in the U.S., have it totally rebuilt and shipped to you. Pay the high shipping charges, the high import duties and you will STILL be ahead of the game when it comes to car ownership in Costa Rica.

We have purchased two used cars in the 16 months we have lived here. One from a small rock lot, the other from an 30 year veteran used car lot in Grecia, the used car capitol of Costa Rica.

I would be better off buying from a kansas city Buy Here Pay Here Dealership 

The first car needed $3000 worth of repairs on a $10,000 USD initial cost of the car. We paid the repair bill and traded the car in on a later model which costs $20,000 USD thinking we would get some relief from always pissing away money on repairs.

Wrong,  stale coffee breath!

The $20,000 car is in the shop getting a righteous rear wheelectomy. Brake pads, wheel bearing, and probably more. The mechanic can’t even get the friggin’ hub off to see what is making the grinding noise. It’s gonna set us back $500 by the time he gets done piddling around.

AND it may be Tuesday before we get the car back!

If it wasn’t for our good friends, Pat and John loaning us their car, we would be cabbing it around. Not bad when it is Nancy and I, but Joanne and Velma are here visiting and they have a flight out Saturday. Joni took them to San Jose today so Velma could get the last of her dental work finished.

I’m calling it: Do Not Buy A Used Car In Costa Rica.

 

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Comments

Don’t Buy A Used Car in Costa Rica — 6 Comments

  1. Sorry for your misfortune. I bought 2 year old Daihatsu Terrios, four years ago. Aside from putting on 2 sets of tires and two new battery, the car has never given me one lick of trouble. I can not and will not recommend bringing a car unless it is something you have owned back home for several years, you are intimate with it’s history and you can easily get it repaired here.

  2. Andy: well yeah, 2 years old is “new.” Right?
    As far as knowing the car? A CarFax will handle that, plus if you have it rebuilt in U.S. it’s in “like new” condition.
    Sure ’nuff, if their ain’t parts here, no sense messing with importing it!
    Thanks for commenting!

    • Sorry your experiences have been bad. Have you bought used cars in the US too? I think you might have the same problem if you did without proper guidance.

      In buying a used car anywhere, take it to a trusted mechanic and pay for a total inspection of the car. Money well spent.. You know the real and potential problems before you buy.

      My current car I bought from the US Embassy in a auction. My mechanic checked it out before I bought it. I knew the problems and deducted them from my bid price and still bought for less.

      Yes, Costa Rican cars have more road abuse and stop and go driving generally. But the problems are no different than the US and need to be checked out before you buy..

      I have imported the car that I bought new in the US and the auction car… No noticeable difference except that it is easier to get parts and service on a Nissan than a Jeep.

      Good luck…

      • Nope, never bought a used car before I moved to Costa Rica. You are right sir!
        You did bring up another point: the trusted mechanic. How do you find one of those without having a car that needs a lot of mechanical work?
        Yeah, the problems here are substantially different than the US because at least in the US there are some consumer protection laws, eg: no rolling back odometers, no rebuilding totally smashed up cars without disclosure.
        Also there is Carfax and the like in the U.S. No such animal here.

        • I understand the delimna.. To find a trusted, reliable mechanic… the first thing that I would do is get references on one in the area that I live from a fairly reliable source like the Costa Rica Living Group on Yahoo, for example. After I found a reliable mechanic, I would find out what brand of car he likes to work on and buy one of those… Usually the most popular in Costa Rica are the Asian imports.. the rice burners…

          Find the mechanic, then find the car.. A reliable mechanic who will not gouge you is important. New parts, I usually haul from the US in my luggage if practical and have never had a problem with immigration and customs. I have also had parts shipped here from a wholesaler and the taxes were quite reasonable. Most mechanics will find good quality used parts to use in the cars that they service.

          You are right. This is not the US and “let the buyer beware” should be emblazoned on the flag when it comes to cars. Even though we have those laws in the US of A, there is no assurance that everyone will follow them and many do not..

          Many of the cars from the New Orleans hurricane went to Central America. When I drove my Jeep here, I met a guy who was driving two totaled cars to Costa Rica. One had the front end smashed, the other had the rear end smashed.. With a little work, you could have one really good car with a lot of repair parts… That was the plan… If done correctly, probably a very good car…

          Good luck… The Embassy sells cars periodically on Rematico .. They are usually well maintained.. My experience was excellent there.

          • Thanks for your thoughts.
            I live here so schlepping parts from the U.S. isn’t an option when you only have one car and it’s broke.
            I have asked long time residents of the area for mechanic recommendations. I have three that I chose from because they all have different specialities.
            It all comes back to the car! No shade tree mechanic like you find here can know all the shady things that can be accomplished by a used car dealer here: eg: first car we bought had a radiator for a 4 cylinder on a 6 cylinder car. Mechanic didn’t catch it.
            Second car has a wheel bearing that is so seized it’s taken three days to pull it.
            How about the seatbelt floor mount that had stripped threads?
            No mechanic can spot those kind of problems. None.
            Regarding the hurricane cars… when will the urban legend about Sandy cars coming to CR begin? Shall we start it here?
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