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I want to by a good used SUV no older than 2015, low milage, great condition, no accidents,

marthausztan@comcast.net. Liberia, Guanacaste 

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If you really want something that will meet all those criteria, consider buying a vehicle in the U.S. and having it shipped here. Unlike vehicles here, U.S. vehicles have safety and recall records, they meet U.S. safety and emission standards, and the mileage will be accurate. None of those apply to a vehicle bought here which may be a flood car, something that has been totaled in the U.S., or which has had the odometer turned back many thousands of miles.

The cost to import a car to Costa Rica is the same whether a used car dealer or you import it.

 

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On 8/25/2018 at 3:35 PM, MarthaU said:

  I want to by a good used SUV no older than 2015, low milage, great condition, no accidents, . . .

Hi Martha,

There's a expat gringo who has an auto service & repair buisness who also does vehicle sales and re-sales, mostly from other US gringos.  

His business is Auto Shop Santa Ana and his name is Allen Dickinson.  He might have just what you need as his inventory is always changing.

Here is the contact info for you:

AUTO SHOP SANTA ANA
Allen, 8502-6305 (English)
Joaquin, 8815-7668 (Spanish)
Email = < allendickinson70 @ yahoo.com >

I have no financial or other interest in this business but have met Allen and he is afriendly, honest fellow.

OK — HTH

Paul M.

==

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I have not heard of anyone that brings cars in from Japan? Why?

Although I realize right hand drive cars are prohibited in Costa Rica, there are many European left hand drive cars in Japan. The used car market is huge there, and many of these cars are brought to Canada (15 years or older) and the USA (25 years or older). The benefit of these cars - low mileage, and rust free. Some of the undercarriages of 15 year old cars look new. I don't think Costa Rica has an age limit, in fact, they seem to want only newer cars imported based on their import tax rates. I will probably buy a used Mercedes E320 wagon from Japan as my car to have in Canada on my next trip up there. Velocity Cars in Burnaby BC has many Japanese cars, but is a retailer. You can bring your own car in for less money.

From my research, one of the more honest importers is Brave Auto International. They import/ship worldwide. And no, I have no connection to this company.  I'm just aware of them because of my interest of bringing a car into Canada.

Because I would have to finance, bringing a car from Japan to Costa Rica is not possible for me. But for others. . .

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Well, there are those who bring new vehicles directly from Japan and Korea. Each vehicle brand (Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, and more) has a sole importer of their cars to Costa Rica. That's true for European brands, too. Mercedes, Maserati, Porsche, Ferrari, etc are all available here. (Can you imagine the annual marchamo on a quarter million dollar Ferrari?) And you can buy brands here (Renault, Peugeot, Mahindra, Great Wall and Tiger Trucks) that are not available in the U.S. (Whether any of those is a good idea is another matter.) The same import duties apply whether the vehicles come from Asia, Europe or North America. 

I've been told by a couple of reliable sources that cars imported to Costa Rica from Asia weigh 200 to 300 pounds less than their brandmate U.S. models. Since they look the same inside and out, one wonders what's missing. Friends bought a new Kia sedan here in Costa Rica in 2012. It looked exactly like the U.S. version, but while the U.S. model had six or seven air bags, the Costa Rican one had two. For me, that's a strong argument in favor of bringing a vehicle from the States.

 

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2 hours ago, David C. Murray said:

I've been told by a couple of reliable sources that cars imported to Costa Rica from Asia weigh 200 to 300 pounds less than their brandmate U.S. models. Since they look the same inside and out, one wonders what's missing. Friends bought a new Kia sedan here in Costa Rica in 2012. It looked exactly like the U.S. version, but while the U.S. model had six or seven air bags, the Costa Rican one had two. For me, that's a strong argument in favor of bringing a vehicle from the States.

Great example, David.  And for Martha, who is considering importing an SUV from the US:

It has long been known that certain automobile brands/models from the US are different from those same brands/models marketed in LatinAmerica.  These latter are built for the the LAmer market and are different than those for the US.

This is not necessarily a good or a bad thing, but whoever is considering importing a car from the US to CR should at least take into consideration the possibility that the local versions of the parts may not be compatable with the US model and whether the US parts can be readily/easily gotten  in timely fashion.  Obtaining those parts can take a considerable amount of time to arrive and there have been reported instances where the wrong part was sent and then re-ordering the part is necessary.

Meanwhile that US model car may be undrivable for an extended period of time while awaiting the needed part or parts.

OK — HTH

Paul M.

==

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I forgot about all the car lots along the Autopista selling Korean vans. . .

My big concern purchasing a car from the USA - flood cars. Insurance write-offs tend to make their way down to Latin America. However, bringing your own car down is quite different. I did that - drove my Hyundai from Vancouver to San Jose. Would not advice anyone to do that though.

Once in Heredia I got behind a Hyundai Santa Fe purchased from the same dealership I bought my car from in Calgary Alberta. Such a small world. . .

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Flood cars, cars that have been totaled, and other nightmares are a real risk. And they're readily available here. CarFax can answer some of those questions and I wouldn't buy a used car of North American origin here in Costa Rica without checking it (CarFax, that is, as well as the car). For that you'll need the car's Vehicle Identification Number. CarFax can also tell you if the odometer has been turned back which is a common practice here. That VIN should match on all the body parts like fenders, doors, etc, too. If they do not, it's likely the car was in an accident and seriously damaged.

It is for this reason that, if time were not an issue, I'd shop the much larger market in the U.S. for a used car, check it via CarFax, and import it through one of the local importers (Mike Rappaport or Charlie Zeller) who know all the local ropes. The cost to import a vehicle is the same regardless who imports it. The only difference is that if you buy a used car here, you'll be paying the importer's overhead costs and profit. He's doing this to feed his kids.

 

As for obtaining parts, it's increasingly a nightmare. Again, the key is the Vehicle Identification Number. With many brands assembled in a number of countries, it's important to know if your (say) Toyota was assembled in the U.S. or in Japan or maybe elsewhere. Its assembly point will dictate exactly which part(s) you may need. While power train components may be universal for a given make, model and year, things like suspension and brake parts, alternators and air conditioning system components, etc may be locally sourced in the country where the vehicle was assembled and may very well not be interchangeable across all versions of the same vehicle. This is a common problem even in the U.S. where we bought a 1992 Toyota Camry that had been assembled in Japan. It needed different McPherson struts than those installed on U.S.-assembled cars.

 

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A few questions on this topic:

Are the prices I see listed on encuentra24.com before the 13% sales tax? (I assume so since the prices seem awfully reasonable given what I know about car prices in CR). Can anyone offer an estimate for the final price after all taxes and fees? Listed price plus 15%? plus 18%? (Yes, I know some haggling would be recommended to bring that price down).

Can cars in CR that don't originate in the US be verified through Car Fax or is that only a  resource for American originated cars? If so, is there any alternative means  to check its history? 

Thanks.

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The cars I've bought were from private parties and I never paid any sales tax.    🙄  I expect you would need to contact some dealers to find out if the advertised price includes sales tax.  Almost all items sold in Costa Rica have the sales tax included in the advertised price.  I think this might be a law and you must state that the advertised price does not include the tax.... but I'm not sure about that. 

As for "other fees" - you will have to pay a lawyer to do the title transfer at the registry and pay the fee to do the transfer.  A dealer will have someone they work with or even someone on site possibly.   The new title is then mailed to you - or - if you are close by, you can just pick it up from the lawyer.  (From the Registry, the new title will go to the lawyer, not you.) 

I bought a used car from a private party about a year ago and the lawyer fee was 70,000 colones and the Registry fee was 80,000 colones.  That's all the fees that I know of - assuming the car has the RTV and Marchamo up to date (which it should). 

As for importing from the US:  I'd much rather buy a car I can drive, see, feel, hear and I have no problem taking it to a good Costa Rican mechanic to ensure it's in good shape and hasn't been flooded or wrecked.  But yes, it can't  hurt to check CarFax to see if it was imported from the US and what the history was.

 

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There is no sales tax on cars. You do have to pay a transfer fee when the ownership is changed in the registro nacional -- the amount is a fixed percentage based on the Hacienda value of the vehicle, not the sales price. You also have to pay the notario.

You can determine whether or not a car was imported quite easily from the license plate number -- if the number is high and the vehicle is old, it is imported -- or from the Registro nacional's website. You can also pull up information on the owner and see when they bought the vehicle. On the Cosevi website you can lookup the accident and infraction history of the car in Costa Rica.

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Thanks induna and eleanor2. But if I won't have to pay a whopping sales tax for the cars listed on encuentra24.com then I'm a little puzzled at the prices I see there. To take one example. I see late model Toyota CRVs listed there for mostly in the $19,000 to $26,000 range - which is the same prices I see for those SUVs on Car Max in the US. I expected them to be nearly double the US price given the import duties levied. What am I missing?

[I should mention that after going back and forth several times on this, I have finally decided to sell my 2013 Ford Escape and buy a car locally when I arrive rather than ship my car there. Yes, I know that some are firmly in the other camp on this question but I didn't want the additional hassle of importing a car and having it made CR roadworthy.]

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Encuentra 24 Is filled with dealer ads, many of which post low-ball prices. Many of the dealer cars are US imports that have been damaged or have salvage titles. My free advice, for what it's worth, is to by a car that was originally sold new in CR, and have a good, trusted mechanic look it over thoroughly. A car sold new here will have a complete record and guaranteed dealer support, especially if it is a Toyota. Parts should always be available locally. Ironically, many Costa Ricans think it is better to buy a US car because the roads are better. I think that many don't know about road salt. In any case, take your time, know what you want/need, and have a good mechanic check it out. I also recommend using your own notario for the transfer, since they are responsible for verifying the car's data, legal status, fines, liens, etc. The seller's notario may not be working in your interest. This is probably not necessary, but I grew up in the North East and I never trust a car salesperson.

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18 hours ago, sweikert925 said:

. . . I didn't want the additional hassle of importing a car and having it made CR roadworthy.]

Sweat it not. If you use one of the recommended importers, they will take care of all the details and deliver the car to you ready and legal to drive. That's their business.

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