All You Need To Know When Buying an Used Car in Costa Rica

Follow these guidelines and avoid losing your money or worse

Every used vehicle to be sold in our country must have an implied warranty that indicates that it is suitable for normal driving use, this means that the vehicle must be free of major mechanical failures, be reasonably safe and of average quality with similar vehicles available for sale.

Although there is no comparison between acquiring a new vehicle with respect to buying a used one, the budget issue is a great detail. However, a vehicle that had one or more owners before bears the consequences of continuous use which are inevitable both in the frame and the powertrain. Therefore, when choosing between several options you have to be aware that there is no such thing as a used vehicle in perfect condition, so the task is to find the model with the least amount of imperfections.

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There are some elements that we must keep in mind before buying a used vehicle:

1- Test drive

This way we determine a better idea of engine performance, gearbox, steering, brakes, and suspension.

2- Appearance

The upholstery and interior components must be carefully checked, in addition to any repairs done to the exterior of the car.

3- Leaks

The engine must be visually examined. Dirty and rusty parts can be solid evidence that there will be problems later. Any leakage of liquids in a car is a sign that it needs repairs. A black liquid may indicate an oil leak, while a green one may relate to an antifreeze leak and a pink liquid indicates a transmission leak.

 4- Search Reviews

Today it is possible to investigate through the Internet on the car to buy, from the attributes to the disadvantages or possible defects. You can even know the background of a specific vehicle.

5- Investigate the price

This way we can see if what we are going to pay for the vehicle is fair. Although the condition and the kilometers traveled will affect the price, a good estimate of the sale price can be obtained. It is important to keep in mind that a very low price with respect to what is established in the market may be indicative of a scam, so it is necessary to carefully review everything related to the vehicle.

6- Professional inspection

The soundest advice is to have the opinion of a specialized mechanic to carefully review the vehicle you intend to buy. Because of his experience, it is easier to determine a fault and even have a clearer view of the monetary value of the car.

7- Certified used cars

Acquiring a certified used car can be a good decision since it offers the buyer an extra level of quality assurance.

8- Say no to the express purchase

To avoid regrets, it is important to make that decision to buy a used vehicle very carefully and do everything necessary for the thorough review and thus be able to determine the viability of the purchase of the car.

9- Examine the legal status of the vehicle

You must enter the Property Registry Page, this will let you know if it is legally registered or if it is not a product of cloning, a type of fraud in the sale of used cars, in addition to make sure that it does not have an embargo, infractions, encumbrances and also to verify that the person who is selling it is the valid owner or with a legal authorization to carry out the transaction.

10- Background of the car

A report of the background of the vehicle can help to find problems with the property papers, the history of the owners, the service points and previous accidents.

Now that we have reviewed some recommendations that are very important at the time of the acquisition of used vehicles, but it would also be of great interest to know when the vehicle that we have bought has been or not considered for scrap.

A study carried out by the Costa Rican Association of Vehicle Importers (AIVEMA) indicates that between October 2018 and May 2019, more than 15,000 used vehicles were registered in the National Registry and 2000 of them were registered as total or partial loss destined for scrap in the United States, but not in our country. These scrap cars or with total losses have suffered damages in their structure exceeding 75% or that the cost of repair has not been viable due to economic aspects, they are mostly discarded due to safety aspects.

It is important that, as indicated in the recommendations given above, buyers who have doubts about the history of the vehicle they intend to acquire or already have in their possession, can consult several pages on the Internet to know if the car is within that category. Among these pages is or There is also the link: to find out the status of used vehicles imported from the United States.

The way to verify if the vehicle you have purchased has been declared scrap or total loss is the following:

  1. Identify the VIN number, the code consists of 17 characters in the vehicle documentation or on the chassis.
  2. Consult the code through
  3. Check the car history that will arrive at your email and verify it on the website.
  4. In case your notification indicates TOTAL LOSS, immediately contact the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MEIC), as it may be a scam.

According to the information provided by the authorities of AIVEMA, the page can be accessed prior to cancellation by credit card or debit card of the service, after which you can proceed to make sure the status of the vehicle that is intended to be acquired. This institution issues a report that is certified by the authorities of the Department of Transportation of the United States, where it details the damages that the specific imported vehicle presents and if it has alterations. Even in some cases, it is possible to appreciate photographs of the damaged vehicle through its VIN number.

On different occasions, AIVEMA has denounced the illegal entry of used vehicles, declared total loss in the United States, even though there is a current law in our country that prohibits such a procedure. People must take into account that the repair of a car unit subjected to such damages will never be reliable since there may be the fatigue of parts or structural weaknesses that are not visible and endangers the life of the people who use the vehicle.

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SOURCEEdixon Colmenares
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