Which Costa Rican Car Company Is Best?

Renting a Car in Costa Rica? Which company should you choose?

There are so many rent-a-car companies to choose from in Costa Rica – from the large international firms to the smaller national agencies. Reviews on the internet invariably either damn or sing the praises of each company to the extent of being almost useless. So how do you choose the best place to hire a car for your trip?

Many tourists that rent vehicles in Costa Rica complain that they have been ripped off when they realize the extra cost of insurance they are obliged to pay or that they have been charged a dollar rate that reflected the currency rate and not the quoted rate. Understanding the insurance laws and charges that bind the Costa Rican car rental companies may help you to ask the right questions when you are reserving your vehicle and avoid a nasty shock upon arrival. If a company is not upfront about its additional costs; you may wish to consider whether it is a company that you choose to take your business to.

I have worked within the tourism industry in Costa Rica for the last six years and have lived here since 2000. I am familiar with the feelings that many visitors to the country experience when dealing with rent-a-car companies. These can range from delight to discomfort to outright fury; sometimes due to the inefficiency, or even dishonesty of the rental agency, but also due to the renter’s lack of understanding of the legally binding restrictions within which Costa Rican car rental firms must work. I hope that while this article won’t guarantee you trouble-free vehicle rental; it might make you a more knowledgeable customer.

Insurance needs, additional costs in rental and surcharges are considered in more detail below:

Insurance:

Basic insurance is mandatory. Costa Rican law is very clear on this and your rental car company cannot allow you to leave with their car without having agreed to pay it. Expect to pay somewhere between $9 and $20 per day on top of your car rental rate. An honest, car rental agency will make this very clear in their pricing. If it is not clear whether the insurance is included in the rental cost; ask for clarification and be aware of other potentially unstated costs.

Check whether your insurance policy covers you to drive in Costa Rica. Some policies include Collision Damage Waivers and will cover Central America. If you are covered, bring proof (in writing) for your vehicle rental company. If not, consider whether you would be safer to pay the extra cost of this additional coverage. This part is not mandatory.

Zero liability is offered by rent-a-car companies. You may wish to consider whether you would feel more at ease knowing that you would not be liable for any costs should something occur while you are renting their vehicle. You are not obliged to buy this supplemental insurance.

Additional Fees:

Many car rental companies will charge additional fees for a child/baby seat, an additional driver, luggage racks or cooler. You can expect to pay up to $8 daily for each of these extras. Although by shopping around, you can find companies that will offer some or all for a lower price, or even free.

With Costa Rican roads being notoriously poorly signposted and the whole country operating on an address system based on landmarks rather than road names or numbers, a GPS is essential for many car renters. You will usually pay between $8 and $15 a day for this service. It is fairly common practice to allow renters to use one of their cell phones for the duration, but if you wish to use it for your own calls; you’ll obviously be charged.

Surcharges:

Some rental car companies incorporate taxes and additional fees into their rental cost; others don’t. Make sure you know what you will be charged for on top of your rental fee. Airport fees can be charged at 13% of your rental cost which is a sizable fee to pay in addition to an agreed rental charge. You may also be charged a license plate charge, environmental fee and/or any other charge that the rental car company has to meet (or pocket).

Prices for the rental will be given in US dollars, but as the local currency is colones, you should understand that exchange rates change daily and what you are charged on your credit card on the day of payment may vary slightly from what you were quoted.

Criteria for Rating Car Rental Companies:

For this article, three (3) main points were considered for each company:

1) Value: Is the rental rate competitive?

2) Efficiency: How fast do they respond to the needs of the client?

3) Transparency: How clear is the information provided by the company?

You may have your own criteria, but based on complaints from previous customers on community websites like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, etc., the requirements of those clients seemed mainly based around these three basic areas.

The companies surveyed below are a mix of local and international firms. Each company was researched based on a week’s rental of a Daihutsu Bego with mandatory insurance.

Dollar Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– Extras are at average prices.

Efficiency

– They have 3 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within 24 hours.

Transparency

– The prices for rental vehicles are displayed on site but a side box contains a ‘Daily RA’ with dollar amount. This is the mandatory insurance.

– Reservation price is listed as ‘Base rate’ and doesn’t include insurance.

– Dollar has received mixed reviews in sites such as Trip Advisor.

– A toll-free number is available.

Vamos Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– Only GPS and cell phone use are charged. All other extras such as child seats are free.

Efficiency

– They have 3 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

– The website clearly states prices and insurance.

– Toll-free number and live chat are provided.

Wild Rider:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– Additional driver is free.

Efficiency

– Email inquiry returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

– Prices are displayed very clearly onsite and include insurance.

– The company has almost 100% positive reviews, but with a fleet of only 30 vehicles and one central office; it may be difficult to help clients who are in difficulty outside the capital.

– They cannot provide a vehicle for the Liberia airport, just San Jose.

Budget:

Value

– $400+ USD.

– Extra charges for baby seat, additional driver etc.

Efficiency

– The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

– No prices displayed with vehicles information.

– Budget has received mixed reviews.

– Surprisingly for a large company, it provides no live chat or toll-free number for clients in the USA.

Service Car Rental:

Value

– $400+ USD including mandatory insurance and taxes.

– Extras such as additional driver and child seat are charged, but at cheaper rates than most companies.

Efficiency

– The company has 5 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

– Their rates are clearly shown on site.

– Service has received mainly positive reviews.

National Car Rental:

Value

– $400+ USD.

– Extras are priced a little above average.

Efficiency

– They have 23 office locations, although some are Alamo.

Transparency

– Price estimates online do not include insurance or additional charges; however, they are displayed in the full quotation.

– They have received mixed reviews.

– Both live chat and a toll-free number are provided.

Economy Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $200+ USD, but it seems possible to reserve a vehicle without inclusion of any insurance.

– Extras are average in price.

Efficiency

– They have 12 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within an hour, but email inquiring about insurance was not returned.

Transparency

– Website does not make mandatory insurance clear.

– Economy has numerous negative reviews.

– Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Hertz Costa Rica:

Value

– $400+ USD, but actual rental price is not made clear.

– Extras are pricey.

Efficiency

– 6 offices nationwide.

– No contact email.

– Telephone numbers are available for different offices around the country.

Transparency

– Very confusing quotation system. Two rates are offered for a vehicle and chosen dates. The cheaper option does not include mandatory insurance and it is in very small print under the final quotation price. The more expensive option includes non-mandatory insurance along with mandatory.

– Mixed reviews.

– Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Adobe Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $400+ USD.

– Extras are at low prices.

Efficiency

– The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

– Online estimate includes insurance.

– Adobe has received mixed reviews.

– A toll-free number is provided.

Tricolor Car Rental:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– No charge for pick-up or airport fees.

– Extras aren’t listed or provided in quotation email, although cell phone price is given.

Efficiency

– 3 offices nationwide.

– Email returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

– Website is not very user friendly.

– Reviews are mixed.

– Toll-free number is provided.

Finalizing the Three Criteria:

Economy, at first, appear to be the cheapest company to rent from, but unfortunately this is due to their failure to declare all costs incurred by the renter, rather than a genuine, good deal. For real value, Dollar, Vamos, Wild Rider and Tricolor come out on top for competitive pricing for the basic rental fee, plus mandatory insurance. Vamos is noticed for being the only firm that does not charge for extras such as a child seat or surcharges. Adobe and Service have low cost extras, whereas Hertz has the most expensive rates for extras. Wild Rider does not charge for an additional driver.

Only Economy failed to respond to email inquiry. All other companies responded quickly and with clear answers to inquiries. Wild Rider, as the smallest firm, cannot offer nationwide service, but reviews suggest that they have met customer needs to date. All other companies can offer services from offices in locations outside of the capital city — increasing their ability to serve clients effectively.

Adobe, Wild Rider, Vamos and Service have websites that clearly show rental prices and insurance. Economy and Hertz somehow seems to be deliberately misleading on their websites. The other companies’ websites provide the required information – even if it can take some time in hunting it down.

Conclusion:

This brief survey would suggest that Vamos, Service, Tricolor and Wild Rider would be the best companies to begin your rental research, whereas Economy would be best to avoid.

Now you know as much as I do! The information here is supposed to be your starting point and not the end point. Hopefully, you will know the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a rental vehicle to ensure that your dream vacation begins smoothly without any nasty shocks, like hefty extra charges when you land. Enjoy the drive!

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Uses Of Automotive Equipment And Tools

Automotive equipment and tools are a very important part of the automobile industry. They can range from simple hand held devices to large structures that can even lift a heavy truck. The uses of these equipments in the world of automobiles cannot be undermined. For carrying out repairs, for changing a tire, for lubricating, for servicing, for charging up the battery, and for cleaning the vehicles, these equipments are very important.

Here Is A Brief Note On Some Of The Uses Of These Equipments.

Automobile Equipment Usage

* Automotive Lifts: Hydraulic lifts are very common in the industry and are used in showrooms, repair shops, and automobile factories. They generally come in the form of a platform fixed on a zigzag leg that can be raised or lowered as required. Heavy vehicles can be raised by the use of this equipment. These are how cars reach the first or second floor of a showroom or how the repairs to the lower part of vehicles are carried out in a mechanic’s shop. These lifts can be of different types like motorcycle lifts, runway lifts, drive on lifts, in-ground lifts, etc.

* Lubrication Equipments: As the name suggests, these are used to lubricate parts of the vehicle. There is a long list of lubrication equipments available and each is used for different lubrication purposes. Oil and grease reels, grease guns, oil drains, and oil and grease pumps are all examples of such commonly used equipment. Blacrank is a good brand when it comes to these equipments. Blacrank oil pumps are indisputable masters of the group.

* Compressors: Air compressors are used to do various works on automobiles. Generally, air compressors give additional pressure to drive in screws and give more power to tools like wrenches and nail guns. These are also used to remove dirt from the vehicle.

* Service Equipments: A vehicle needs to be serviced from time to time to ensure its proper running. This is where service equipments come in. These are battery chargers, fuel transfer device, brake fluid exchangers, coolant service equipment, tire changers, etc.

* Reels: These come in different shapes and sizes and are an important member of any automotive equipment list. Reels could be air reels, exhaust hose reels, grease reels, etc. Reels help to keep the pipes and hoses in place and also to extend its life. They can be easily reeled out to the required size and stored by reeling back.

* Jacks: Jacks are important not only in the shop but also for every vehicle owner. They enable the person to lift up the vehicle for the purpose of changing tires or doing some emergency repairs on the vehicle.

The list of automotive equipment is quite long and their uses quite large. Companies who sell such equipments also deal in car parts, thus making the store a one stop place for all things related to automobiles. Nowadays, there are thousands of online stores selling these equipments making them more accessible to all in need.

Top 5 Reasons Why Your Car Overheats

Are you having trouble with your car overheating? It can be a frustrating problem to deal with and diagnose. This article will go over some of the most common reasons why cars and trucks overheat.

One of the most common reasons for a vehicle overheating is a stuck thermostat. It can stick or freeze in the closed position blocking the flow of coolant to your engine. The easiest way to check if your thermostat is not open is to feel the upper radiator hose. Once the engine warms up it should become warm. If it does not get hot the thermostat is probably not opening.

A second common cause of overheating is a leak in your vehicle’s cooling system. If your vehicle is losing coolant there will not be enough left in the vehicle to keep it cool. This is easy to diagnose as the radiator will be low on fluid and there will probably be a pool of coolant on the floor of your garage. Look for leaks in the most common places like around hoses and around the welds of your radiator. If you can not find the leak you might need to take it to a shop to have the cooling system pressure tested.

The third cause is a faulty water pump. The water pump is a vital part of your cooling system since it is responsible for circulating coolant through your engine. With a faulty water pump your vehicle will not run for more than a few minutes without overheating.

The fourth cause of overheating is a bad cooling fan. There are two types of fans, electric and mechanical. The electric fan should come on automatically once the vehicle reaches operating temperature or when the A/C is turned on. If it doesn’t you should have it replaced. The mechanical fan will run all of the time but has a clutch which makes it turn faster when the engine heats up. With the car turned off the fan should not turn too easily especially when the vehicle is warm. You can also check for signs of leakage from the fan clutch. If you see any problems have it replaced.

The fifth cause of overheating I will talk about is a clogged radiator. Over time the radiator can accumulate deposits of rust and debris. This is especially true if radiator fluid has not been flushed on a regular basis. If you suspect a clogged radiator you should take it to a shop to have it professionally cleaned.

Those are some of the most common cause for vehicle overheating. Vehicle overheating can cause a great deal of damage to your vehicle. If you are experiencing trouble be sure to fix your vehicle or take it to a quality mechanic as soon as possible.

Driving Data Analytics in the Automotive Industry

It’s interesting to see that the amount of companies using data is increasing. It’s also pretty cool to see some of the new and innovative ways that companies are doing so, especially with data analytics playing a big role in achieving new levels of success.

The automotive industry has been trying their hands at using data and they’re doing it well. The amount of data that can be gathered from cars is quite ridiculous, especially when you take into account that a lot of data is simply stored in the key which is then plugged in at the garage to view it.

Cars have been kitted inside and out with data. Yes, I bet that’s not one you’ve heard about as it’s not quite cream leather interiors or mud resistant trims. Data is so much better. It’s behind vehicle safety and quality and contributes to the driving experience.

Did you know, the average hybrid vehicle generates up to 25 gigabytes of data in just one hour? Car manufacturers and garages have been capturing telematics for many years however it’s becoming much more sophisticated. Using analytics and data has enabled technology to alert drivers of any hazards on the road, or if the conditions are particularly dangerous. Anti-locking systems, traction control and so much more have been created with the help of data.

IBM reported that Volvo, through using predictive analytics, repair instructions and identifying replacement parts before a vehicle arrives for a service has benefit from a reduction in diagnostic times by up to 70% and repair times of over 20%.

Furthermore, with recent years having cars being recalled, some companies like BMW are using data analytics to record errors reported by customers to identify any potential weakness in new models that could cause problems and then eliminating them before they even go into production. Now if this isn’t major cost savings, increased efficiency and keeping a good reputation then I don’t know what is.

Connected vehicles are becoming more popular. Services and experience can be constantly updated once the car has left the factory. They can have important updates and interactions without having to return and this has proven extremely useful through the connecting capability. Ford, for example have focused on more “consumer-based, more real-time interaction, real-time services, real-time experiences, contextualized experiences” rather than the storage capabilities of the cloud.

It’s not just information about faults that manufacturers use data for. Financial predictions means cars are priced according to the market and behind the prices are more realistic pricing plans and financial support. It goes without saying that car companies will use their contact data for marketing purposes and targeting their communications to ensure their messages stay relevant. They’ve proved that data can go far beyond the use of marketing and with the likes of BMW and Volvo showing that data is having a rather positive impact on business, it will be interesting to see where and how the market takes its usage of data.