OK, can’t prove it, but in the several years I’ve owned my Cadillac in Costa Rica it has overheated only twice. And both times during a Riteve inspection. The last one, only a couple of days ago.

It all started with we all know and experience the gas emissions test. The car was fine in all other aspects, but my fault for a re-inspection, should have changed the air filter and oil prior to the testing. However,I am convinced that it really wouldn’t have a difference.

This model of Cadillac does not have a tachometer read out in the dash. Given the year of entry into the country, it requires a high and low gas emissions testing and some Riteve personnel are stickler that the engine must be running at 2.500 rpm for the high test. It’s not enough to hear the engine running, they insist that it must be hooked up to an external tach, which they have handy, just for that purpose.

At the Alajuelita station they have two types of external tachs – an older gadget that connects to the battery and magnetized lead and newer, one lead by the spark plugs. Either one works well, if you know how to use them.

So, here we are. Rev up the engine while the techie tries to find a reading. I can see from the scrambled read out and his prodding the magnet lead all over the place that I am in trouble. One of the flash read outs was over 5000 rpm while then ending was sitting idle.

Well, as it did a couple of years ago, the expansion tank starts to steam, water pouring out of the release valve. No engine overheating light, car running smoothly.

Of course at this point, the test cannot continue. The gas emissions readings are all off the chart. Way off. Ok, cool the engine down, refill the radiator an do the test.

No, sorry, you must do a re-inspection, meaning pay the fee again. What? I have been sitting here for almost an hour, waiting to cool this f*%$#%&g thing down and…  see the other guy please.

The other guy hands me the incomplete test and instructions to make another appointment.

Good thing about December, there really is no need for an appointment. The Riteve stations are “solo”, a Spanish term for nobody there.

After some heavy discussions with blank faces, I was able to make my way up the chain of command to the line supervisor, by the way is the highest authority to you and I, as the station manager is totally unavailable to the public.

Finally, Eduardo Mora and I came to an understanding, hook it up, if it passes you pay, if not, make an appointment for another day.

I had no problem the car would pass. Deal.

This time several guys, with flashlights in hand, looking this way and that way, they connected the tach the way it should. Readings were good. Don Eduardo personally and manually held the throttle to the revving point. Passed with room to spare, the final readings well below the maximums.

“Ok, now pay”, Eduardo instructed me, for if I wanted the sticker I needed to go to the office, pay the re-inspection fee and they can do the test “officially” this time.

Since the station is empty at 5pm Monday, the car, hooked up to the machines, sat on the line while I went to pay. Got my sticker.

So, where am I going with this.

I am convinced that Riteve, who has been denied increases in fees, fails a certain number of vehicles and the gas emissions is one of the areas that cannot be proved one way or the other. The machine readouts are what they are, and how does one prove that they are not working properly, the filters cleaners, they are calibrated?

All it takes is one or two machines to fail regularly, add ill trained staff and you have  a recipe for additional income. By Riteve’s own admissions, almost 40% of first inspections result in fails.

I can’t prove any of this, but I can write about it. And so can you. Use the comments section below to send in your comments, stories, etc or email me at editor@qcostarica.com.


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