Sunday 18 April 2021

[BLOG] Preventive Maintenance and Planning in Costa Rica

Preventative maintenance and planning are terms which do not translate into the Spanish language and the social customs of Costa Rica, or Latin America as a whole.

Driving in Costa Rica is no easy feat ...mainly due to lack or absence of road and vehicle maintenance.
Driving in Costa Rica is no easy feat …mainly due to lack or absence of road and vehicle maintenance.

General maintenance of a motor vehicle, such as oil changes and tune-ups, is just not done on a regularly scheduled basis by Costa Ricans.

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My advice to clients when purchasing a used vehicle is not to buy one previously owned by a Costa Rican. Apart from the fact that the mileage shown on the odometer is probably incorrect (lower than actual miles), in all likelihood, the wear and tear on the vehicle is far greater than a similar vehicle that has been owned by a foreigner (Canadian, American, or European).

This mindset of Costa Ricans manifests itself in many other facets of Costa Rican Society, with a general lack of foresight for problem solving in advance. Problems with infrastructure, such as bridge and highway maintenance, is only addressed after there has been a serious problem occur, usually involving loss of human life.

The suspension bridge falling into the Tarcoles River some years ago under the weight of a fully loaded school bus is a good example of this lack of preventative maintenance. I believe it was five people that died in the plunge into the River, a river that is reputed to be the most polluted river in all of Central America.

I had driven across the same bridge several times prior to the accident and had always commented to my wife, that as a result of the obvious observable lack of maintenance, that I believed the bridge would fall at any moment and I’m not an Engineer.

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An example of some current road re-construction occurring close to where I live in Ciudad Colon, west of San Jose, does provide me with some hope for a more preventative approach being taken in the future. A small hill is being removed from a narrow roadway, where previously and because of the hill, it was not possible to see on-coming traffic travelling in either direction until the last second.

I travel the road daily and have experienced a number of “close- calls” in the past. I have not heard of an accident occurring as a result of this problem which has given rise to this road re-construction project. This project somewhat amazes me given my experience with the history of Costa Ricans dealing with such matters to-date.

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We strive for accuracy in its reports. But if you see something that doesn’t look right, send us an email. The Q reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it’s accuracy.

Richard Philps
Attorney Richard (Rick) Philps is a Canadian citizen, naturalized as a citizen of Costa Rica. Rick practiced law in Victoria, B.C., Canada as a member of the Law Society of British Columbia, for fourteen years, prior to moving to Costa Rica in 1998. Rick then earned his Bachelor of Laws and Licensing Degrees (Civil Law), with Honours, and a Post-Graduate Degree in Notary and Registry Law, from the Metropolitana Castro Carazo and Escuela Libre de Derecho Universities, in San Jose. Rick is a member of the Costa Rica College of Lawyers, and practices law in Costa Rica in the areas of real estate and development, corporate, commercial, contract, immigration, and banking. To contact Attorney Rick Philps about hiring him as your Costa Rican Attorney; Email:, Website:

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