Important advice for purchasing a vehicle in Costa Rica to avoid headaches down the road

vin_sample_largeThe VIN or vehicle identification is very important when purchasing a used automobile in Costa Rica. In Spanish the VIN is called Número de Identificación de Vehículo.

Understanding what the VIN is and how it works can help ensure that you know about a vehicle’s history. The Vin is composed of 17 numbers and letters. If your car was manufactured after 1980 you can find out all of the information about it wherever you are in the world.

The VIN can either be found on your car’s door, someplace on the car’s hood or near the lower part of the windshield.

The first step in deciphering the VIN number is to know that it is divided into four basic parts. With the first three numbers or letters you can determine in what country the car was made, the company who manufactured it (Ford, VW, etc.) and the type of vehicle (sedan, sports car, etc.). For example, a “1” means the car was manufactured in the United States, a “W” indicates it was made in Germany, “3” Mexico, “J” Japan and “L” China.

The next five numbers contain a description of the vehicle (number of doors, type of transmission and much more). The next number in the VIN is used to verify the previous eight digits. The rest of the numbers indicate the year, where the vehicle was made and the car’s serial number.

The VIN is really like an open book which contains a vehicle’s history. Knowing about a its history can help you avoid buying a previously damaged car or a vehicle with other issues.

Last month I wrote about a company that can inspect your car and check its total history by using the VIN and other means. can compile a complete history of your car in Costa Rica or if it was imported from the States. They can find out how many previous owners the vehicle has had, if it has been in an accident or damaged, any legal problems and the real millage. In addition, they can inspect the vehicle to find out about its mechanical condition. They even have special gadget called a micrometer that can detect if the car has the original factory paint or if body work has been done. The cost of this service is only $100 which is cheap when one considers the problems and headaches that can be can avoided by not buying a “lemon.”

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