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Really good English speaking mechanic

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  • davidrushton
    I, like most other Gringos, have suffered greatly at the hands of crooks and incompetent mechanics in Costa Rica. For me it was worse. I live 2.5 hours from
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 27, 2014
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      I, like most other Gringos, have suffered greatly at the hands of crooks and incompetent mechanics in Costa Rica. For me it was worse. I live 2.5 hours from San Jose, so I have had to stay over many nights for car repairs and then found they still had no idea how to repair a car. I gave up on the town where I live a long time ago and I finally tried a mechanic named Allen in Santa Ana. Well Santa Ana is actually more like 3 hours from my home but "darned well worth it." I have now used Allen and his Costa Rican partner on two occasions and I find it is well worth the trip. First of all Allen is a whiz at diagnosing the problem by phone and then proving he was right once you get to him.He actually had the parts ready when I arrived and started work after only 30 minutes to let the engine cool off. The whole procedure took only about two hours in one case and that included him rebuilding my starter motor rather than charging me for a new one and waiting an hour or two for delivery. Meanwhile I had a great lunch. Allen is an American veteran mechanic with more knowledge than most I have known. His partner has many years experience in car repair here, and together they, with a few staff, are an unbeatable combination. Their prices are lower than the others and they will have my business from now on even though it is a 6 hour round trip to get to them.Quality like this is worth a six hour drive. For most of you it will be no more than an hour away, if that. So try them when you next need a mechanic. Allen's number is 8502 6305.








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    • bibbity1
      Thanks for the recommendation. It s great to know. You said the prices are low, but that can often be subjective here in good ole CR. Could you give an
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 30, 2014
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        Thanks for the recommendation. It's great to know. You said the prices are low, but that can often be subjective here in good ole CR. Could you give an example? maybe how much he charged for the job of rebuilding the starter? Thanks again.








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      • David Rushton
        From: laurissa108@yahoo.com [CostaRicaLiving] ... Yes: He charged $100 to rebuild and replace. I think a New starter anywhere else would probably cost close
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 30, 2014
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          From: "laurissa108@... [CostaRicaLiving]" 

          > Could you give an example? maybe how much he charged for the job of rebuilding the starter? 


          Yes: He charged $100 to rebuild and replace. I think a New starter anywhere else would probably cost close to $100 plus labor. I could be wrong, but it seems to me anything new starts at about $100.

          Regards

          David




        • Rosidey
           Good ole Costa Rica??????   Rosidey Monge [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 1, 2014
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             Good ole Costa Rica??????




             



            Rosidey Monge


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          • Doug Henry
            If you live in the area of Tibas, then COOLD TEC. The owner s name is Orlando Leiva. His shop is located going north out of SJO on the road to Limon, at the
            Message 5 of 7 , Jul 2, 2014
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              If you live in the area of Tibas, then COOLD TEC. The owner's name is
              Orlando Leiva. His shop is located going north out of SJO on the road to
              Limon, at the first exit past the gas station, take that exit (also the same
              exit to get to Price Mart) then turn left and go back over the route 32.
              His shop is on the right on the corner at the traffic light immediately
              after crossing the bridge. He has a real garage with multiple real lifts,
              real test equipment, real tools, and real mechanics. He speaks English and
              stands behind his work. His prices are well more than fair. The number at
              the garage is 2297-8181. I have been using this shop personally for 4 years
              and he has done minor And major work on several of my vehicles as well as
              the vehicles of my Tico friends.





              Doug Henry,


              Leave absolutely nothing to chance!






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            • bibbity1
              Mechanic info and prices I agree that there is nothing better than a mechanic you can trust, and they are worth extra money. For Santa Ana prices $100 for a
              Message 6 of 7 , Jul 2, 2014
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                Mechanic info and prices

                I agree that there is nothing better than a mechanic you can trust, and they are worth extra money. For Santa Ana prices $100 for a starter rebuild does sound good both for location and English. However, if one does not need English there are much better prices to be had. Of course it goes without saying that one of us is always present and watches the entire repair anytime we get work done here. We learned that lesson when I used one of the many highly recommended iphone repair people and they stole my modem out of the phone and told us that the modem doesn't work. That made for the no- backrooms-ever policy. If we can't see it being fixed, it doesn't get fixed.


                But I digress, I was talking about better car repair prices, as far as what's available (Spanish speaking). All the mechanics mentioned are at actual shops. For example we've had an alternator rebuilt and a used part put in; this took about a half an hour and cost $70 total including the part. Both we and the tico friend who took there thought this was high. We got the gringo-ish price. But the car was stranded in Alajuela and so we used what was nearby.


                Then we had our radiator redone. This time I called around and priced things in advance. The problem was that the radiator had a crack in the top piece. There is a top plastic part and a bottom plastic part that run the length of the entire radiator. The rest of the radiator was metal. The plastic parts are said to have a life of about 5 years, and the top one had a crack in it. We thought plastic parts on a system that gets really hot seems pretty much like planned obsolescence, so we wanted a metal part. Radiadores San Ramon (near the Hielo Fabrica) wanted c50 mil for the plastic install and c70 mil to install a refurbished metal part. This sounded off to us, so we kept looking. Eventually we found two shops who specialized in metal radiator repair and parts. They actually fabricate new metal parts, and they had much better prices. A nica friend recommended the first Radiadores Acuna http://radiadoresacuna.com/index.php (Once we found them on the net we also saw http://www.radiadorescr.com/ which seemed similar). Radiadores Acuna quoted us 40 mil colones. At both shops that was for the new metal radiator top, install, flush/ clean-out, fresh coolant and a year guarantee. This seemed like a great price, but we never managed to make it to San Jose. Then we discovered the second shop, a place in Palmares. I called and was quoted a price of 39 mil colones. When I got there they told me it would be c45,000, but when I told them I had been quoted $39,000 they said no problem. They were nice people. We dropped off the car this time, something we never do, but I was on crutches hungry, and miserable, and there was no nearby place to eat, so I threw caution to the wind spent the day in Palmares while the work was done. The job was from 9am-4:00 pm. I think they may have fabricated the part on the spot. They did great work. There is a huge billboard advertising Radiadores MR on the Pan American Hwy. As you head to Palmares from San Ramon the billboard is on the left. 2452 0505. The website ishttp://www.radiadoresmr.com/ Direccion: De la terminal de buses Carbachez 200 sur, 100 este y 25 sur, Palmares, Alajuela, Costa Rica


                Next we got a thermostat put in to a different vehicle, our Chevy van. The thermostat in this vehicle is buried. The actual work took about 1.5 hours (all work time- husband stood by as he did the work), we brought our own thermostat (cost 9500 colones [and is a hard to find Chevy part] at Auto Parts San Ramon on a corner about 300 meters south of the southeast corner of el Parque Central). The repair shop charged $20 for the labor which was high, but he also speaks English. Shop was Carmans in Plamares. 2453 6632. Not everyone speaks English there. Guys name was Adrian or something very close to that. Important note on thermostats: THEY ARE NEEDED EVEN IN CR. Many people say they are not needed in CR but they affect how clean your car burns, and therefor RETIVE.


                Having your own parts can make a big difference in price, and is also common here. Of course speaking Spanish well is paramount to getting the best prices. Even if the person can speak English, we still speak Spanish. We do this partly out of respect, and partly because it indirectly establishes our ability to go elsewhere. This, as well as not being in a hurry, are key factors in establishing a fair rate for work. If you already know what the problem is and can investigate price via telephone this is even better. I mentioned that the alternator price we got was quite high. This is was because our car was stranded, and we need service right away. If you are stranded or if say you need something done right away it will always cost more, maybe double. If it is not urgent, and you act as if waiting time is not important you will be able to get a lower price and often still get it done on the spot or same day. Another aspect of the personal component of negotiation is your curtesy level-- and this is CR curtesy level-- meaning the first thing out of your mouth should be "Como le va?" at the very least, followed by minor small talk followed by your inquiry. Of course we always establish price before any work is done, as starting work without an exact price is disastrous for almost any service car or else wise..


                Another thing we had done was an air conditioner re-charge. Our re-charge was from zero. This was for a vey small 4x4 In order to establish price up front they need to know how much freon they will need to add. This meant the guy had to hook up his apparatus to measure the tank pressure to before he could give us a solid quote. Given that we had no charge, and went to full the charge was c25,000 colones. I don't know if that is a good or bad price. We did not shop around or investigate, we only stopped at one shop. We didn't have anything else done to the A/C system, just the charge. It was super hot in Puntarenas and we were near melting. We had a hot drive along the coast ahead of us, and if we were going to do it we needed it on the spot. Since we did not have time for anything more than the charge--ie we could not have the time needed for an them to go over the system and check it for leaks --we were not given a guarantee. The guy warned us before hand that there was some risk that there might be a system leak in which case we'd loose the freon as we drove, so he had no idea how long it might last. It seems there was no leak and it worked like a charm and is still cold months later. Friotec 2661-1019 if you are one block south of Banco CR facing BCR and you take a right and then travel about one to three blocks it is on the right hand side.


                I hope these are useful.


                Larissa


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              • Michael Steiner
                Add my two cents here on what I ve found: Generally speaking if your thinking about buying a car, consider buying a new one.  Always get the car inspected
                Message 7 of 7 , Jul 3, 2014
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                  Add my two cents here on what I've found:


                  Generally speaking if your thinking about buying a car, consider
                  buying a new one.  Always get the car
                  inspected before buying and have someone check the gas readings. 


                  Be careful who fixes your car. Its generally much much better to use a specialist for most repairs such as the clutch, transmission, motor.   The general repairman (or where it says "rapido") will tell you he can do it, but my experience is that they often don't do it correctly.  In terms of prices, be careful because there are a lot of ticos who will see $$ in their eyes when they see you a gringo pull in.  Never leave your car with someone with general instructions to fix it (unless your very rich and don't care) without getting prices before hand.  Generally speaking I have found the mechanics in Desamparados to charge
                  much less than in other areas, such as La Sabana, Santa Ana, or Escazu.  I brought my car one
                  day to a mechanic in La Sabana where I work prior to the RTV, and he
                  wanted around $ 600.  I had it done in Desamparados for less than $ 200 and all the work was fine and the car past the RTV.


                  For a radiator, if it's for a Hyundai you can get a new one installed for c 75000 at Autos Coreanos going up the main road toward toward Desamparados from the San Sabastian rotunda, about 600 m from the rotunda, make a left. If you want to have one rebuilt with the metal part added to the top, Rosales Radiadores is pretty good, about 300 m from the rotunda on the main road on the left, I had this done about 2.5 years ago and I think they charged about 35000 or so.  There is also a guy who installs catalytic converters, mufflers, and pipe repairs there on the right of the main road fairly inexpensive.  If you need an electrical repair, the Best by far I have used is Jimenez who repaired a problem with the air selector switch for only $ 10 after others had quoted my $ 60.00 just to start.  Jimenez is located about 200m from Guacamaya on the left along the road that goes from Guacamaya to Walmart.  There is no sign in front of the store, so ask someone.
                  Another great experience I had was in fixing my air conditioning. I had it done at Aire Sur I believe in San Rafael Abajo, take the road from the Walmart up toward Aserri, and ask.  They pressure tested the system for free using a gas, found the leak, and fixed it plus put new refridgerant for a very good price.  Highly recommended for air conditioning repairs.  Brake pads, you should buy the pads and then bring them to a general mechanic who should charge about $ 10- $ 15 to install.


                  I just had the top of the motor overhauled, the cabezota.  They take it out and send it to someone who will check it and make appropriate repairs.  The motor was burning oil a little but after this it is now completely fixed.  This can be done for about 100000-200000 depending on what is needed. Also if you have a Hyundai, they sell used the capazatos, or entire motors and transmissions at Guacamaya for reasonable prices.


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