Buying a car in the Dominican Republic is just as easy as in any other country, and Puerto Plata is no exception. There are various choices, first you need to determine whether you want to buy a brand new, or second hand vehicle.

Then consider where you want to take it, because a sedan will limit your mobility when you begin to explore the countryside. A SUV 4x4 will make your life far more fun and will take you everywhere.



Buying a brand new car is super easy, just head to the dealership, sign the papers and take the keys. If you want to make the most of your investment do it in this order:

  • What type of car do you want? do you need a lot of cargo space? 4x4 capabilities? high gas mileage? SUV vs sedan?
  • Are you loyal to certain brands? The brand you choose must have good parts and service support in your area or you'll be stuck with long waits when you need servicing. Make the list of the ones within this criteria.
  • Recalls, Pros and Cons: once you choose the brand, model and year, go online and see its pros and cons, if there were any recalls and its performance and safety report. This will save you from buying a lemon. Sites where you can check reviews for any given brands are:
  • Dealerships: official dealerships do not need recommendations, as those are old, established companies everyone knows about. If the car has been recently imported it will have a temporary license plate, and the import documentation in good order.
  • Warranty: Be sure to get a solid, clear warranty in writing, which most brands will offer; specially for engine and transmission. If you can afford to buy brand new and trade it after 3-5 years, you will rarely see a mechanic except for regular servicing.

For used cars, you will need a bit more homework:

  • Plan Piloto Stolen Vehicles Dept. Certification (stating the car is clean)
  • CarFax record (imported cars)
  • Dominican DGII Tax record
  • Insurance Record
  • Mechanical/Electrical Inspection Report

Always make sure the vehicle title is in the name of the person selling to you, otherwise get a lawyer to research the status of the vehicle before committing to buy or making any payments. Do not take promises from an owner by telephone, always do it the proper way by having a lawyer draft a sales contract and the actual owner signing it, then have it notarized.

Second hand cars require an inspection, and around 75% of used cars in the DR market are in far better condition if they are of recent import from the USA or Canada (due to road conditions and care standards). An inspection can help determine if a local owner truly cared for the vehicle in the proper way.

Note: Cars imported from the colder parts of North America might show more rust, due to road salt used during winter, hence rusting metal. Try to get used cars from areas where roads are not salted, an inspection shows the telltale signs quite easily.

  1. Vehicle History: The first inspection we recommend is CarFax, to view any accidents the car might have been involved in. Get the VIN number from the car and run it online at
  2. The Exhaust Fumes: Second in the inspection list is the exhaust color. Is it white, blue, dark? the end of the exhaust pipe can be poked with a finger (avoid when hot) to tell if excess soot is present. Blue, Gray, or Black are the worst case scenarios, read this article for full details.
  3. Too Rusty: Body rust inside the car, the engine, the door hinges and other important areas can tell a story of poor care; unless the price reflects the condition and your budget, look elsewhere.
  4. Coolant Reservoir: The cooling system can tell if the car has gasket or coolant issues, so be sure to open the reservoir (when cold, not hot) and check for dirt build up or sludge with a finger. A bad case of sludge might mean serious trouble for the radiator and hoses in the short term, and you must stay away from that vehicle.
  5. Under the Hood: The engine should be the main inspection point; With the car turned off, pop the hood and visually inspect the engine for: fluid leaks, corrosion and cracked hoses and belts. Check the oil and transmission dipsticks for discolouration — oil should be light brown, transmission fluid should be pink or red.
  6. Tire Condition: The tire tread should be worn evenly and all four should match. Uneven tread or extra wear on a few of the tires often means poor alignment, which can be a symptom of steering, suspension or frame issues.
  7. Body Paint Mismatch: open the doors, hood, and trunk or hatchback to check for changes in the paint that might suggest collision repairs. Look for new bolts or warping that could indicate a recent accident. 
  8. Electrical System: bring the car to a trusted source (can be a dealer) to run a test on the OBD comm port and check for electrical issues. It is worth the expense, or you could end up with a long term headache.
  9. Inspection Center: Always use your preferred service center when inspecting a car, never the one recommended by the seller. Seller rebuttals to these inspection points above should not be a reason for you to lose your money, always trust your own mechanic or service center.

Car insurance, coverage and rates always depend on the vehicle price, year and location where it is being driven (see the insurance information section). While most people will get more coverage against collision or theft, you should consider extending it for third party damages, which can be more expensive if you cause someone severe damages, or death.

The newer the car, the higher the insurance rate will be, depending on what type of coverage you want. Walk away coverage is the best, with about 90% of the car value covered, and any legal expenses.

Our favorite agencies for car insurance in Puerto Plata? Mapfre, Reservas, Monumental, Universal. Visit the insurance page for more information.

You can quote your car insurance online:

Gas or Diesel? this is an interesting question. Diesel engines are considered more Eco-friendly than standard gas ones, and very popular in Europe. Diesel engines also have fewer components than gas engines, which means your car has fewer potential parts that could malfunction.

Most diesel engines require fewer repair and maintenance services than gas engines, which represents an overall economic saving. Diesel engines can last far more than gas ones, though the upfront cost of buying a diesel engine car makes financial sense in the long run (if you keep the car long enough).

These articles are a must read if you are considering a diesel engine car:

Diesel vs Gasoline - Car & Driver.

Differences Vs. Diesel or Gas - Sweeney Chevrolet

Diesel Vs Gas Engines -UTI

Electric Vehicles, or EVs, have taken over the auto market for the past several years, for many good reasons. Less noise, cleaner air, tax incentives and savings play a role for its success. Still, paying a average of US$10,000 more for a car has kept many from transitioning into the EV market.

The main three considerations before buying an EV are these:

  • Savings and efficiency
  • Availability of charging stations
  • Service centers
  • Long term costs

As technology advances, the cost of producing EVs is going down, and now more charging stations can be found in Puerto Plata, and even in smaller towns as Sosua and Cabarete. Not long ago, an online search for electric vehicles would show 1-5 choices, and today we can find hundreds of models available in the country (

Among the brands we find:






Should you choose electric? the cost of replacing the batteries is still super high in the current models, and range is limited if you plan to spend a lot of time in the highway driving far distances. if you don't mind the cost and prefer zero emissions, less noise and far less maintenance, go ahead and make the move to electric.

Electric Vs Gas Cars - NRDC



Almost all of the auto dealers in the Dominican Republic are listed in online portals, also independent sellers. Remember that if you are buying second hand cars from individuals or agencies with less than 5 years in the market, make sure you get legal support, and do the proper inspections. The top sites to find cars online in the Dominican Republic are:


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