Buying a car in Brazil (Post #2)

Selecting the car and where to buy it?

Before getting to Rio we had the reference of previous drives in South America, specially, the experience of João Leitão (see his travel blog here) and we envisioned buying a similar used car.

The criteria we defined for the car

Fuel: Gasoline given that it is the most common fuel in all South America and easier to find petrol stations on the southern regions

Brand: Volskswagen, Fiat or Chevrolet since our research indicated that these were the 3 most used brands in South America and in case of car trouble in more remote areas we would have a better chance of finding replacement parts

Budget: Between 8.000 and 10.000 euro all-in as this would be lower than what we expected to spend in plane and/or bus tickets and/or rent a car for 6 months for 2

Power: Enough that could overcome more steep terrain (mountains, etc.)

Dimensions: Baggage space to carry our 2 large bags, computers and supplies. High enough that we could use it on unpaved roads without risking the bottom of the car hitting the pavement.

Others: Air Conditioned so we could drive comfortably even during the hottest days

How we did it

To select the car we would buy we used several sources of information: Recommendations from Marcos (Ana’s cousin living in Rio); online using Webmotors and icarros; and our own research of local dealerships.

Recommendations from Marcos

Us with Marcos (on the right) family

Marcos was very helpful in discussing all the issues with selecting the right car and the right place. As we learned (and common sense dictates), it is very recommendable to buy a car from a known dealer/person. First he got us in contact with a friend that knew about a potential deal for a Fiat Idea Adventure.

Fiat Idea Adventure

This car being a mix between a normal car and a 4x4 was more than we had envisioned for the trip. However, after checking it we learned that it had a gas tank that occupied almost all the trunk. Turns out this modification is quite common in Rio since Petrol is typically less expensive than Gasoline or Etanol. However, for our trip we needed the space for our bags and removing the gas tank would increase the risk of having problems with the car further on the trip.

After scrapping this option, Marcos got us in contact with a local dealer in Jacaré-Paguá (around Rio) where we checked many other options including a Yellow Fiat Idea Adventure and a Fiat Punto.

Yellow Fiat Idea Adventure

The first one was already sold (it seems common to have sold cars in exhibition…) and we thought the second was too low for the roads we planned to travel.


Our online research was very extensive and we found many many cars that fit our criteria. We visited 3 dealerships in Barra da Tijuca (30 min taxi drive from Copacabana) However, every time we contacted and visited the dealerships most of the cars were already sold or not very well conserved. It was time to try our last option!

Own research

In the end, the car we chose was in a dealership we found while researching online in Portugal! Real Veículos was at walking distance from our Airbnb, had a car that fit all our criteria (and actually had a few nice extras), the dealership seemed quite neat and salesman (Sr. João) was descendent from Portuguese which helped to create empathy and a higher sense of security.

The car we chose

The Car we chose

Our choice ended up with a 2013 Volskwagen Fox Highline 1.6 Flex (meaning it can take both Petrol and/or Etanol) with around 27.000 Kms. The price was 37.500 Reais (slightly above our low budget with the Real at 4.21 per Euro) which would leave space for all the remaining expenses.

And we where ready to start the process of actually getting the car registered in our name which we will cover in our next post! As usual, stay tuned for the following posts on our "Buying a car in Brasil" adventure!


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