Revision Tecnica (Vehicle Inspection)


While giving our friend, Andres, and his son, Irie, a ride into Jaco one day in early December, Andres causally informed us that the annual insurance payment for all vehicles is due at the end of the year. This is how we figure things out. Somewhere in conversation something comes up that we need to do and then it’s an adventure figuring out how and where. He also informed us that before we can get the insurance ($200 annual payment) we had to have our vehicle pass an annual inspection.


Unfortunately for us this was not going to be an easy task. Since we were in California most of October, we missed out on the mobile Revision Tecnica (auto inspection) that came to Jaco for inspections in our area. This meant we would have to go to the Revision Tecnica in San Jose. This was the least of our problems. Before we could have the Rodeo inspected (and pass) we needed to get our backup light switch in working order. We naively bought the car not realizing that the lights didn’t work. We had already taken it to a mechanic to have it fix, but they concluded that it needed a new reverse switch (“Bulbo” in Spanish), which they said they would get and give us a call when they had it. The call never came. So during our trip to CA, Kurt picked up the switch at one of the handy auto parts stores.


After arriving back in Costa Rica early November, Kurt took the new switch back to the mechanic, who informed Kurt when he returned hours later for the Rodeo, that it was not the correct part and that he would order a new one and would call when he had it. Again, no call came.


Now with this new information from Andres and an added time crunch, we had to make this happen and fast. With Andres help, we called an auto parts and repair shop (Lachner & Saenz or L&S) in San Jose. Over the phone they confirm that they had the correct switch and could replace it in their repair shop. Luckily, we were already heading to San Jose the very next day for an endocrinologist appointment for Kurt, an orthodontist appointment for Jennaka, and an appointment with our Residency Lawyer. It was going to be a busy day, but getting that switch was of utmost importance as time was a tickin’.


To make sure we had time for all of our appointments and the replacement of the switch, we left home at 5 a.m. for the 2+ hour mountainous drive to the city. We had been told that L&S opened at 7 a.m. and we wanted to be first in line. Unfortunately when we arrived we discovered that, yes, the repair shop opens at 7 a.m., but the parts store does not open until 8 a.m. And in our case we would need the part before we could get the repair. So we waited.


Upon the opening of the parts store and finding an employee that spoke some English, we were informed that the switch that we had called about was not at this location and that they would have it sent over from their other store, which could take the better part of the day. Knowing that the rest of our day was spoken for, we arranged to have the part shipped on the bus to Jaco (this is the main transportation source for deliveries from the city to the coast) and we would get it in a few days.


Days later to our pleasure, the part arrived on the bus to Jaco, but as soon as Kurt opened the package to inspect it, he sadly discovered that it was the same part that he had purchased in the US. The only difference was that the one from the States was originally from Japan and the Costa Rican version was from Italy.


Determined to make it work and wishful that the first mechanic just didn’t know what he was doing; Kurt drove in search of another mechanic. He had heard that there was a good one south of us in the town of Parrita, so with both switches in tow, he went in search of this new mechanic.  He easily found the location of the mechanic (which isn’t always an easy task), but quickly deducted that he would not find help here when he saw the place boarded up with a Se Vende (For Sale) sign.


On his way out of Parrita Kurt noticed a small dingy auto repair shop along the road. Figuring it couldn’t hurt; he pulled in to see if here is where he would find his salvation. This mechanic, unfortunately, confirmed what we had already been told, but he was able to remove the broken switch, replacing it with a bolt, so we could hopefully use it to match it with a new correct switch.


Back to the city and to L&S we went. Up again at 5 a.m., we went in search of finally having closure with these backup lights (Notice that I am keeping this PG rated!). Sure enough, with the old switch in hand they were able to match the part, which they had at this location and could install it that morning (Hallelujah!). Within an hour we were cheering at the sight of our bright, sparkling backup lights. Total cost for labor and part: $50. Feelings of relief: Priceless.


With that finally off our list it was now onto the Revision Tecnica for the inspection. Of course finding these places are easier said than done. With no road or street signs, no building numbers, many times no lane markers, so you aren’t really sure if there are two lanes or three, and cars everywhere who immediately start honking when the light turns green, makes for a very stressful situation. And location directions such as “500 meters before the gas station” are extremely challenging to find.


After only having to back track about 4 miles we finally found the Revision Tecnica. We didn’t have an appointment, which was required, but thought we’d give the “dumb gringo gig” a try. Worse case scenario we would have to drive back to the city again, which of course we wanted to try and avoid at all cost.  Well our “we didn’t know” routine was not working, so we surrendered and decided to head home. We would just have to return again when we had an appointment. While taking our turn using the restroom for the long trip ahead of us, an employee (Christian) of Revision Tecnica approached us asking in English if he could help us. We pleaded our ignorance and then to our surprise and joy he asked to see our vehicle.


Kurt walked Christian out to the parking lot where he did a quick exterior run down of the Rodeo, while Kurt turned on and off the lights and turn signals. After his rough inspection he informed Kurt that the driver’s side front wheel fender mud flare was missing (who knew it would be a requirement?), along with a few lug nuts from the wheels and the license plate lights were not working. “Get those fixed, then come back in the afternoon and find me” he told Kurt.


So… it was back on those crazy roads to L&S, again, for these repairs. Luckily we arrived back at L&S at 11:30 a.m. (everything closes from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch) and this time we left our vehicle as they said it wouldn’t be ready until 5 p.m. We hailed a taxi and went to a mall to kill 5 hours by doing some Christmas shopping.


After a long, tiring day of shopping (malls here are just like US malls), we grabbed a taxi back to L&S where we learned that all was repaired except for the wheel fender mud flare, which they unfortunately did not carry this item. Luckily, with the kindness and patience of one of L&S employees, Victor, who spoke a little English, we found a shop on the other side of the city that would possibly have the part. We were told to call in the morning as the shop was due to close in one hour, at 6 p.m. Well, we definitely have learned that making appointments over the phone is very difficult with our little Spanish, so with dusk falling upon us and the 5 o’clock traffic exploding everywhere we decided to take the chance and find the shop before they closed.


Truthfully, I do not know how we did it or how Kurt and I are still married after that experience, but we were able to find the place in time and get the part ordered for an 11 a.m. installment the next day. Exhausted, cranky, and hungry we drove back through the madness to a hotel that we knew exactly how to find. It was a little out of the way, but no more unfamiliar, unmarked, “I have no idea where to go” intersections for us that day. To food and bed we went. And even though we came unprepared for an overnighter, we were happy to be off the roads and have this day behind us.


The next morning after getting the car washed (we thought it wouldn’t hurt and maybe help) and the without-a-hitch (Yippee) installment of the fender mud flares (they actually replaced all four with new ones), we maneuvered ourselves back through the traffic to the Revision Tecnica. We were a day late of when Christian said to return, but were hopeful that he hadn’t noticed. Luckily, Kurt was able to locate Christian and he was more than helpful in getting the procedure started for us.


As we sat in the Rodeo, the inspection was a series of tests where a technician checked turn signals, brakes, brake lights, emissions, windows functionality, windshield wipers, suspension, fluid levels, headlight positioning, and other things that we really didn’t what they were looking at. Truthfully, I doubt that he even took note of our new fender mud flares as several vehicles waiting in line next to us didn’t have any.


The good news is that our Rodeo passed!! We were granted the little yellow sticker for our front windshield and the necessary paperwork to purchase our annual auto insurance. We also gained more knowledge of the city that continues to hold all that we need. So maybe the next time when something comes up in conversation, we will be a little more prepared for the next adventure.


Pura Vida