WheelsCR.com – Info on Getting and Using a Vehicle

WheelsCR.com Information on Vehicles in Costa RicaWelcome to our site!  Here you will find useful information about cars, trucks, motorcycles and ATVs in Costa Rica. Nothing on oxcarts is planned, but you never know…

Buying a Used Car in Costa Rica – If you would like to purchase a used vehicle in Costa Rica, we can help you make the process as hassle-free as possible.  This page offers the details of the service we provide for a very reasonable fee.

Buying a New Car in Costa Rica – If you are interested in buying a new car or truck, we can also assist you. Although the dealers are more transparent in Costa Rica than in the US, the procedure has more pitfalls than you might expect, we can help streamline the process.  If you want to pick up your car upon arrival, then you definitely can use a liaison like us.

Makes and Models – this section offers articles on different brands and models available in Costa Rica.  The features, pros and cons of different vehicles. We also discuss whether parts are available and whether they can be repaired by most mechanics or not.

Costa Rica Automotive Info – this section offers articles on many aspects: tips on buying a car, discussing advantages of diesel vs. gasoline engines, tips on passing the RTV inspection, handling a traffic stop, changes to the traffic law, tips on buying accessories, and much more.

If you have suggestions or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us with our form.

The Best Experience Ever

The new Tucson is larger, our clients chose the Prestige version.

The new Tucson is larger than the iX, and gets a new look, our clients chose the Prestige version.

If you’re looking to buy a New or Used car in Costa Rica then you may have already read a lot of distressing articles about the perils of their car buying process. And, if you have been searching the web, then you also know that a lot of information you’re looking for seems non-existent.

However, if during your search you discovered a website called “Your Costa Rica Car Site”, or www.wheelscr.com – then your car-buying concerns are over. The Wheelscr.com “PASS” Service, owned and managed by Russ Martin has made it almost as easy as buying a car in the US, except for the financing, it’s just best to pay cash. Read More

Easy and Extremely Helpful

An excellent value with outstanding safety ratings.

An excellent value with outstanding safety ratings.

Working with Russ can be summed  up in a few words: Fantastic, Easy, Extremely Helpful! I found wheelscr.com in a search a little over a month before I made the move to Costa Rica. I immediately sent him an email to inquire about his services. The reason I did this is because of all the information he provided on his website.

My family and I have made several trips to Costa Rica and new that one of our biggest challenges was going to by a car. It is not the same as it is in the United States, which should go without  saying. We felt it was  best to have someone on our side.

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What Car to Buy and Dealer Procedures

The cars you should consider will vary completely according to your tastes, budget and car usage. In general:

  • Fuel is expensive in Costa Rica, any time you can go diesel or a smaller engine it will pay off in the long run.
  • If you live in a rural area keep in mind the roads, not all new cars have a suspension that will handle gravel and potholes well. Many new cars now feature low profile tires, which will come off more easily in these situations as well.
  • Many dealers have branches outside of San Jose, if you buy in San Jose but are traveling or end up moving to another area it could be to your advantage to know that warranty service is provided in other areas.
  • Unless you plan on keeping the car indefinitely, the popularity of the brand is important.  Vehicles such as Renault or Jeep may be excellent in their home countries and good quality, but here in the local market they are not popular.  If you suddenly need to sell for any reason you will find that the car has depreciated significantly.

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New Vehicles Advantages

Depending on your specific budget, and which car you would like to purchase, you may wish to consider a new vehicle from one of the local dealers, which has advantages:

  • You are getting a brand new vehicle under warranty (3 years and 100,000 kilometers is normal)
  • You don’t worry about the car’s precedence, previous maintenance or other issues.
  • You don’t worry about problems that aren’t apparent at the time of purchase but could crop up later.
  • Many vehicles offered new here are created specifically for the Costa Rican market and terrain, these can have advantages since many factors have been taken into account.  For example, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson SUV has a different engine and transmission than the same SUV offered in the US. Certain engines Hyundai doesn’t offer here, because the performance would deteriorate over time due to the fuel quality offered by RECOPE.
  • Because of tax structure, depreciation isn’t as much of an issue as in the US, where driving a car off the lot reduces it’s value by 20%. New cars here pay 20% less import duty than used cars, so it’s almost a wash. Meaning that as the new car’s value depreciates over the years, the used cars imported here will be paying more taxes – so the new car maintains its market value.

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Getting a Brand New Car in Costa Rica

The top of the line Kia SUV

The Kia Mohave SUV

Since 2006, we here at WheelsCR.com have helped our clients purchase reliable used cars from reputable dealers in Costa Rica.  If you’re reading this, you probably know that vehicles are a major investment here.  The import duties run from 30% for new cars, to 85% for cars that are more than 6 years old. No vehicles are manufactured here, so transportation and customs brokerage fees are always an additional cost.

In 2015 we had 3 clients that purchased brand new vehicles at dealerships with our assistance. While you might think that it should be fairly easy to walk into a dealership and pay cash for a new car, it isn’t necessarily the case.

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You Only Live Once!

Toyota Tercel, a global classic.

Toyota Tercel, a global classic.

My plan was to volunteer in Costa Rica this year and I found a need to have a car. Buying a car here is a challenge. My Spanish isn’t great, I don’t know the city of San Jose and there are plenty of terms I am unfamiliar with. Also, most everybody here says you need to have a lawyer in the process and then there may be insurance.

What I needed was cheap reliable transportation. My budget was $3,500 and most people told me that was too cheap to get a car. I did a little research and found that there are plenty of old Toyotas here and some have been well cared for and some haven’t.

I looked online and found a place called “WheelsCR” I spent the better part of 6 weeks asking Russell questions. He answered every question and all the info he gave matched with what other people told me. Still, almost all car deals are cash and what I was faced with was flying to Costa Rica with $4,000 cash in my pocket, hopping into the car of a stranger, traveling around a city I was unfamiliar with and meeting complete strangers.

I decided, “what the heck you only live once” and so I fly to Costa Rica with 40 one hundred dollar bills in my pocket. The flight was 1 hour late getting into the airport but there to meet me was Kattia , Russell’s wife. There was a 1992 Toyota Tercel at the airport. I drove it and then we went to look at other cars. We went all around the city and saw several other cars all in my price range. At last we came upon a 1992 Toyota Tercel in immaculate condition. There was an alarm and a stereo , the air conditioning worked and and the car looked like a jewel. All for $3,300!

The question became “how do you buy the car?” Kattia called a lawyer and we drove the car to his office at 6:00 p.m. That night. The transaction was completed and then Kattia had me follow her to the place I was staying. (I had no idea how to get there) She told me the insurance agent would be there the next day at 11:00 a.m. He was there at 10:45.

My friends in Costa Rica find all of this unbelievable because things simply don’t happen that fast down here.

I ended up with a car under budget and was navigated through a complex process with ease.

I have bought many cars in my life and this was the best experience I have ever had. If you are new to Costa Rica or have been here a while I can not recommend WheelsCR enough. The service was outstanding.

Pura Vida,


PASS Goes Green: It’s Electric!

Environmentally friendly, and beyond!

Environmentally friendly, and beyond!

In October of 2014 we purchased a 2011 Mitsubishi i-Miev plug-in in electric vehicle. This allows to offer our PASS service in an environmentally friendly way. And not just in an abstract sense, the car does the following for the environment:

  • Zero Emissions while Operating: as opposed to a hybrid that burns fuel, the all electric i-Miev has only an electric engine.
  • Zero Emissions while Charging: we charge the vehicle at night, using the CNFL’s 3 tier rate plan, we use the lowest nocturnal rate. While 95% of all electricity generated in Costa Rica is from renewable sources, the bunker fuel generators that ICE uses are the most expensive source of energy. So they are only used when hydro reservoirs are low and during peak consumption hours.
  • Zero Noise Pollution: The engine operates silently, so the only noise the vehicle generates is from the tires and the radio.
  • Reduce: Of the 3Rs for waste management (reuse, recycle, reduce), reduction may be the most important – using less to begin with. An electric motor has fewer moving parts than any internal combustion engine, in fact it only has one. Parts that commonly wear out on a traditional car don’t even exist in the i-Miev : oil, filters, spark plugs, emissions control pieces, pumps, to name a few.

Since purchasing the i-Miev, we have performed nearly all of the PASS services using this vehicle. The only case where we can’t use it is if there are more than 3 clients coming along. Another case would be if we were looking for a very special vehicle, and we would have to drive much farther than usual.

The vehicle performs admirably for us, and we are very happy with the purchase. For anyone living in an area with good roads, the i-Miev is an excellent option and we would be pleased to provide any information on electric vehicles in Costa Rica to anyone who is curious.

If you have a question regarding this, please use our Comment or Question form.
If you would like to purchase a new or used, electric or hybrid vehicle, please send your inquiry via our PASS form

2 x 1 Happy Hour !

There's a first time for everything, one client, two cars!

There’s a first time for everything, one client, two cars!

Hi Russ!

This service was just amazing! Just having moved to Costa Rica a week ago, we would never have been able to find and purchase the two cars we needed on our own. We found them both in one day, The only driving we had to do was test driving, and driving them home. Russ even had us follow him back to our hotel, to make sure we made it safely.

His patience, knowledge, guidance and understanding of the process, made it, virtually, stress free!

Now we can drive our own cars back to our new home in Uvita.

Thank You,

Marcy and John

Nice Guys Finish First?

On 04/08/2014 07:25 PM, Lyle Anderson wrote:
Seldom does one meet an individual, sight unseen, only to discover that the person not only provides a most valuable service, but becomes a friend in the process!

We have been living in Costa Rica for three years.  We have refrained from buying a car (1) because of the intracasies of the process, (2) because of the issues trying to get to sellers (logistics) and (3) because of our own lack of understanding about just how the car buying process works down here.
So, we contacted Russ.  When we arrived in country this time, Russ picked us up at our hotel, hustled us around San Jose (worth the price if for no other reason), showed us cars that met our criteria and assisted us with the final negotiations.  All, while being attentive to our anxieties and accurate with the information he provided.
In just 36 hours we had found a car, negotiated a deal and consummated the deal, including all legal fees and insurance.  We drove the car to our home in Ojochal on day 2.
Result:  We are very pleased with our purchase and look forward to staying in contact with Russ in the future.
Lyle and Mona Anderson

A Classic Land Cruiser by the Lake

Hi Russ,

On site for the new restaurant

On site for the new restaurant

We wanted to let you know we have arrived safely back to El Castillo. It was such a plus to have you on board. We truly could not have done it without you. Let alone completing our purchase within just a few hours. We will be recommending your services to anyone needing to purchase a vehicle in CR.

Here’s a pic of the awesome tank in front of Nepenthe B&B here in El Castillo. The restaurant build site is just beside. Hope you two can come for a dinner on us when we open later this year.

Thanks again,

Ryan and Rebecca