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Taking car to Nicaragua

My husband and I are moving to Nicaragua for his job. We are planning to take our 2008 4WD Toyota 4Runner with us. Other than a general service, what maintenance should we have done before we leave? Thanks!

If you are close to a periodic maintenance time or mileage specified in your owner’s manual, get it done early. And don’t wait until the day before you leave, even competent mechanics can occasionally install a belt too loose or forget to tighten a bolt. A problem requiring a little work or shipping a part might be uncovered. Change the oil. Check the tire pressure and make sure the tires are good – including the spare. If you don’t have a full size spare and there is room for one, consider getting one. Check the internet for dealers, mechanics and the general presence of RAV4s in Niceragua. If there aren’t any, think twice about the wisdom of taking the vehicle. In my limited experience, third world mechanics are very good, but a strange vehicle with difficult to obtain parts isn’t going to bring out their best.

Find out what papers you need. Make sure that you have them. Make sure they have proper signatures and dates and that numbers match the vehicle.

I believe that it is paved road all the way, and not all that far. Ordinarily it’d be a perfectly safe trip – especially if you speak enough Spanish to get by. But there is an apparently serious conflict going in Mexico between the government and drug gangs. You might want to check US state department travel advisories before leaving and – if possible – en route.

That should be good enough. You said overseas - does that mean you’re shipping it instead of driving it down? If so, give it a good wash and wax before it gets loaded, and then wash it as soon as it gets off the boat. Even sealed containers can get salt spray in them.

If you’re going to be taking it off of paved roads (as in, into the jungle) you might wish to pick up a 2nd spare tire and a winch for it at minimum. It’s beautiful there, but you really don’t want to be stuck in it involuntarily :wink:

Agree with previous comments; you are taking a very capable vehicle which is used in all mannner of climate and road conditions around the world.

Since 4Runners in Nicaragua may not have the same emission controls, I would take some parts with me that are special to North American specs.

Otherwise you should be able to get service for this vehicle for all the normal parts.

Contact the US State Department and the Nicaraguan embassy to see if they have any recommendations for taking your truck to Nicaragua. When talking to the Nicaraguan embassy, see if they recommend an international driving permit.

Don’t even THINK about driving it…If you ship it, make sure your paperwork is in order…Importing a vehicle into a Central American country can be VERY expensive.

Even if hubby’s company is paying for it, make sure they do it correctly or it can turn into a nightmare…Now,…Are you ready for some culture shock??

I recommend going to an ex-pat forum for Nicaragua.

Don’t drive as you will have a large bull eye painted on your vehicle with North American plates.

Happy moving and adventure.

Agree; a mechanical breakdown in Mexico resulting in having to leave the car there for repairs can land you in jail when you come back to reclaim it. The charge will be “smuggling” a used car into Mexico. This has happened to several Americans and Canadians.

Ship it by boat and let your company worry about the details, if that’s possible.