Origin of the PASS Service
This service originated from 2 directions. Initially, we were developing a web site for used car dealers, which would allow them to post their inventory to sell on line. Occasionally inquiries would come through in English, and we would answer these questions ourselves.
At about the same time, Kattia’s family sold a beach lot near Puntarenas to a couple from Canada. In assisting the new owners through the relocation process, we saw how difficult it was for foreigners to purchase a vehicle.
In 2006, we began offering the PASS service as the English language section of the used car dealers site. Over time it has expanded enough to warrant a full-fledged web site of its own, which led to the development of WheelsCR.com
Russ Martin moved to Costa Rica in 1994, while Kattia Wiessel is Costa Rican. Both have started and operated businesses in Costa Rica over the past 2 decades, bringing a wealth of experience to WheelsCR.com .
A graduate of the University of North Texas, Russ came to Costa Rica to learn Spanish and to start a business, meeting Kattia in the process. After moving here permanently, he worked at the Tico Times in the late 1990s, as a display advertising account executive. Seeing that the future was now, from there he branched out into the World Wide Web, becoming a web developer and marketing specialist.
Kattia has worked in family businesses from an early age, eventually taking over the full administration of their restaurant, La Cuenca. Looking to expand her horizons, Kattia took a sales manager’s position with ADT Security when this company expanded to Costa Rica in 2001. In recent years she has taken on construction management and sales of custom homes she builds. All of this experience allows Kattia to handle the great variety of problems and situations that come up in the process of buying a car in an efficient and professional way.
Our Standard Operating Procedure
Based on our experience, we have a strong preference for helping clients purchase their vehicle at a used car importer / dealer. We currently have a pool of 50 to 60 dealers that we have an established relationship with. We have visited their lots and driven their vehicles, and in most cases have had clients that have purchased a vehicle there. We know that they stand behind their cars in case of any issue. They are generally family owned or sole proprietor businesses too. In addition, the the cars are just arriving to Costa Rica and have not been exposed to the road conditions here, so are generally in better shape. Finally, the search is more efficient with places that we know.
If you would like to look at cars from private owners, that is not a problem for us. The prices are lower and we attempt to pre-qualify the vehicle to avoid patently bad vehicles. However, the fact is that with private sellers you will see a higher percentage of vehicles that are “not ready for prime time” and the seller is not required by law to give the 30 guarantee on motor and transmission.
Our Philosophy and Vision
We are proud to say that we have a very high satisfaction index and success rate. Our focus is to take a necessary process that is not very pleasant and make it go as smoothly as possible. For most folks buying a used car is a stressful experience, even back home. Add in the language and cultural barriers expats encounter, as well as the fact of being in unfamiliar territory (either Costa Rica as a whole or particularly San José); then you can imagine the difficulties a lot of foreigners have encountered in buying a vehicle.
We are able to take this process and streamline it greatly. In most cases our clients test drive 5 to 6 vehicles in the first part of the day and are able to make a decision by early afternoon. Once the vehicle has been located, the sales and registration documentation, as well as payment for the vehicle, must be handled. Having someone who really knows the drill can not only make everything go smoothly, but gives you a great deal of confidence that you are doing things the right way.