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Buying a pickup in Puerto Rico

I live in California and drive a boring, reliable Toyota Corolla. I have really enjoyed not having to do much maintenance on my car. Now things are changing and I’m moving to Puerto Rico. It doesn’t make sense to ship a $4k Corolla across the country/sea and then also pay import tax. Plus I’ve heard the cars usually get dinged in the long voyage.

Now I want to mix it up and get a pickup – the roads are undermaintained and I want to explore the off-roady bits with confidence. Something I can use to haul my bike/surfboard/other stuff. Maybe an SUV would make more sense so I can lock things up but I can’t shake the idea of having a 4x4 pickup. Will frame rot be a problem in PR? The markup for importing a car to the island is pretty astounding. A 4x4 with access cab, v6, automatic is priced around $27k in California. In Puerto Rico it’s $35k, a difference of $8k. Pretty crazy!

I may try the game of shopping for a used car but my Spanish is not so good (yet!) and I want to know that a used truck won’t have problems down the line. Seems like Tacomas aren’t as bullet-proof as the 2005 Corollas?

Pretty much any island is going to be crazy expensive for everything except whatever produce is grown locally. Everything else has to be shipped in. The good news is that you won’t have much for energy bills unless you’re totally heat intolerant. :wink:

Lots of people in PR speak English. It’s a US territory, for one, and it sees a lot of tourism from the mainland. I don’t think you’ll have language barrier troubles buying a car there - just be sure you know what pricing looks like because you don’t want to get a foreigner markup.

Is that $8k difference what you would pay to buy a truck in California and then ship it there, or is it what you’d pay to buy the truck there? If it’s the latter, you might look at what it would cost you to buy here and ship.

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Why would you limit yourself to a 4 speed manual transmission? 5 or 6 speed is the norm today. Also, AWD is more common than 4WD and better for most driving situations.

I’m in a large Tacoma group. I will ask about frame rot in PR specifically and reply back if the membership has any insight.

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My experience in PR is that a lot of folks are not comfortable with English. If I was to do a private party sale I bet I would be exposed to a foreigner tax!

As for the $8k difference, that’s the official Toyota pricing in the US vs the official Toyota pricing in PR (both from their websites). The difference in cost is a) shipping, b) PR import tax.

Ah, I didn’t make the distinction. I assumed 4WD meant AWD. I see now that one is all time active and the other is smarter. I want the smarter one :sunglasses:

However, on pickup trucks, it is much more likely that the OP will find 4WD, rather than AWD.

[quote=“xrlange, post:6, topic:103530”]
I assumed 4WD meant AWD. I see now that one is all time active and the other is smarter. I want the smarter one [/quote]

With a pickup truck, you will probably have to settle for 4WD.

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Use the internet and see what is available in the used market from dealers in PR for the type of truck you want. I’d suggest an SUV for security’s sake. Security can be a concern in many places in PR. It will also tell you which vehicles sell well and are easily serviced in PR. Once you know what the dealers charge, that will drive your negotiations with private sellers. Same as the US.

It will also allow you to determine the same vehicle’s cost in the US so you can add shipping and any import duties into PR. Its less trouble, I’d guess to buy in PR but if someone else is footing the shipping and import duty bill… that changes everything.

This can also help you get a better idea if it is worth shipping a car you know over there or not. I would assume it is not, but without research, i wouldn’t know for sure.

Another follow-on to @Mustangman’s comment. If you decide to buy a used truck from a private party, get a prepurchase inspection. This is especially useful for older vehicles, and maybe not so much for one a couple of years old. $100 spent before you buy can find unseen problems that can cost you a lot after you buy. I didn’t include the dealer because you are more likely to find a two year old truck than a seven year old truck on their lot.

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You might enjoy this read.

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I expect you can get to most places you want to go in PR with a Corolla. That’s what I’d do, just buy another Corolla when I got to PR. If later you discover there are places you want to explore that require 4WD, you can deal with that then.

Let me ask you a question. You say you live in California and own a Corolla? Remember, California has one of the most famous 4WD roads in America, the Rubicon Trail. Did you ever want to buy a 4WD truck in California so you could go for a ride on that?

Puerto Rico is recognized as being part of the customs territory of the United States and all shipments between Puerto Rico and the US are not subject to import duties.

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Spending money to ship a low value vehicle that far sounds silly. Making entertainment plans before you have been someplace for a while sounds silly. You might find other activities that you like better. Just because a vehicle there sounds more expensive than where you are might mean resale is higher also so that could be a wash. The place is a island so you might want a scooter.

I’ve been to Puerto Rico many times now. I really enjoy the out of the way beaches and those all seem to require dirt roads. I wouldn’t necessarily call a truck “entertainment”, but I want something I can use to haul larger items. Given the expense, the truck is starting to look like more work than its worth! I’ll have plenty of time to figure out the automobile situation when I get there in October.

Concur, that’s the best plan.

No help from the Tacoma groups I’m afraid. I’ve done a lot of coverage of the (used) Toyota frame rot and leaf spring recall issue. From what I have learned from owners, the issues are easily detected by any mechanic and the frame rot issue is pretty easy to see if the truck is on a lift. I’ve been to PR once and I loved the place the people and the fact that is a Carribean “country” that is part of the US. Jealous.

Puerto Rico just declared bankruptcy, and I’m sure that will lead to a number of problems from a government services and tax standpoint. Maybe you shouldn’t be jealous.


Moving to PR is no small decision.

I agree. Moving anywhere far from your current home is a big decision.