Renting a vehicle in Costa Rica

Old Jan 14th, 2003, 10:10 AM
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Renting a vehicle in Costa Rica

I will be be in Costa Rica for 10 days in February - San Jose to Montezuma to Manuel Antonio and back to San Jose. I would like to rent a car and was wondering if I would need to rent a 4WD or if I could get away with renting a compact car (to save $). I wouldn't mind taking buses, but worry that I will not have the freedom to explore? Or that taking cabs everywhere may be expensive?
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 11:47 AM
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We have been to CR twice, and both times rented a Toyota RAV4-type 4WD vehicle. Both times we were glad that we did, mostly because of the higher ground clearance, as opposed to the better traction. Depending on where you go, you may run across some ugly roads where you will be happy to have a higher-clearance 4WD. If you go into Monteverde, Arenal, or any of the other volcanoes, I think it is worth the xtra cost. If you are definitely going to stick to highways, then it would be fine to get a compact car.

Some advice: Go over the rental car with a very fine-tooth comb before you sign off on it. Identify every single scratch and ding with the rental agent, because many are notorious for charging big money for tiny scratches that you didn't even see when you rented the car.
Be patient on narrow twisty roads, unlike most of the crazy Ticos who will pass you on a blind corner at night, in the fog.

We think that driving is the only way to go - have a great time!
Old Jan 14th, 2003, 07:22 PM
David Cook
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We have rented cars in CR twice and have gotten by without FWD; the roads are narrow and potted but if you take it easy, its not a problem. Do a Google search for CR rental cars and you should get several hits to compare prices. I have had pretty good luck with Budget and Dollar. ALF is certainly correct about checking out the vehicle carefully beforehand. Look for evidence of forced locks at the trunk and doors. Many tourists like yourselves rent cars in CR without problems so go forit! Good Luck!
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 10:02 AM
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We went to Costa Rica in April 2001, and rented a car. Drove from San Jose to Arenal area. It's a long drive, with long winding roads, but we had a Toyota Tercel. It was fine. Not much pep to the car, but did the job ok. To save on 1 day of rental car, we stayed at a nearby place to San Jose the first day, and the rental car agency delivered the rental car to the hotel the next day free of charge.
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 11:35 AM
David Lohnes
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We have been to CR eight times, renting on six of those trips.

For your destinations a 2 WD will be OK.
When you get the car, check it thoroughly, including that it has a spare tire!
Old Jan 15th, 2003, 03:32 PM
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We were just in CR in November, and I agree with above posters....for where you're going, a 2WD will be fine. We got a small car and paid around $500.00 for 2 1/2 weeks rental.

Have fun!
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 06:11 PM
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I agree, a compact car was fine for us, though our rental agreement was only for PAVED roads. I suppose if we had broken down on a dirt road we would have been in some trouble!
Old Jan 19th, 2003, 06:52 AM
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We are travelling to CR next week and are planning to rent a car as well, although most of the agencies I called had the "no off pavement driving policy."
This applied to a 4WD as well. We had hoped to drive to Monteverde from Arenal and back to Tamarindo. Budget was the only one I found so far that would allow that.
We still want to rent as we also enjoy the freedom of having our own car.
Old Jan 19th, 2003, 12:40 PM
David Cook
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It seems a little strange to rent a 4WD vehicle then specify "no-0ff-road"! At any rate, the road between Monte and Arenal, while un-paved when we did it several years ago, was pretty good and seemed do-able on any but the most extreme circumstances, like pouring rain. Good luck...
Old Jan 20th, 2003, 03:09 PM
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NO QUESTION GET A 4X4! APART FROM THE PAN AMERICAN HWY THE ROADS HAVE POTHOLES AS BIG AS THE CAR. I tore off an oilpan and bent a tie rod end on a trip 2 years ago. The tougher the vehicle the better!
Old Jan 20th, 2003, 05:57 PM
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One more driving caution - pay really good attention to the speed signs. Costa Rica's finest lurk behind trees outside towns and catch speeders who exceed the speed limit by a handful of miles. When you see a speed sign, don't exceed it unless you want to make a contribution to the station house!
Carol L
Old Jan 20th, 2003, 06:02 PM
David Cook
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Carol is right, and they are now equipped with radar in some cases so keep it cool! Actually, you are usually so busy dodging potholes, you don't have time to speed. At any rate, if you do get caught, they are happy to take your contribution in cash on the spot!
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