To make things a bit clearer about this story turned life lesson, let’s rewind to 2010. After loads of planning and saving, my wife and I had finally found our shortcut to get back into Brazil and live happily ever after…
The plan was the following: we would land in São Paulo, stay with some friends and purchase a relatively good priced car to drive us around. We would then drive down to Florianópolis (the land of milk and honey) to give birth to our sweet Brazilian girl – aka: anchor baby.
Everything went pretty much according to plan and we purchased a spacious Ford Mondeo – a car that would later prove to stick with me through thick and thin.
Everything went well and when selling it, something unexpected happened…
Why Did we Buy and Not Rent?
Before telling you about the “turn of unexpected events”, let me quickly tell you why we chose to rent instead of buying a car.
In my calculations, we would stay for around 6 months, go abroad for a bit and then come back quickly. So if we were to rent a car, it would cost us like R$6–7000+ (reais), and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that you could quickly purchase a used car for around that, sell it and recoup the money.
And that’s exactly what the plan was. I spent just under 2 weeks finding our car and you should have seen the bureaucracy and sleazy dealerships that presented themselves!
Everything from a lying Bahian that would have cheated me into buying an illegally modified alcohol car, to test driving a car with a broken transmission in a favela – it was just something with the exhaust pipes according to him.
Our Break Happening
Our break finally happened when we found a used Ford Mondeo from a very honest man in Campinas. The guy had lived in the USA for 6 years and was a really great individual, he had totally taken care of the car and everything was in top shape.
So after getting everything transferred and put into my friend’s name (we couldn’t yet because we had yet to apply for residence), we were off to Florianópolis!
Our child was born a Brazilian and our big break had happened, we were good to go and ready to spend a few months abroad. So what was the best solution? Sell the car, come back and buy a new one when it was time.
The First Sale of Many
And so we apparently sold the car to some good friends that were really in need of one. It really was a win-win situation, they had gotten their big break with a decent job and I was happy to further be flexible and bless them with a nice car.
It was in perfect shape without a scratch, everything functioning flawlessly.
We agreed with these friends to let them purchase the car over 10 months, packed our bags and left (for the time being).
Meanwhile, the first payment came and went – nothing. And then it was time for the second payment – nothing again.
This went on and on for months until I had enough of unfaithfulness to our agreement. All the while trying to be understanding and compassionate of their situation, it was time to send my Brazilian friend over to this family’s house (who are friends of ours btw!) and take the car from their possession.
Not a great situation to be in but that’s life sometimes.
This kind friend of mine then inspected the car to find out that it had been pretty beat up: a mirror was broken off, the AC wasn’t working, the interior torn up etc It was a bit of a mess!
And so, with his help, we put it for sale again.
The Second Sale
My buddy knew a friend that was in need of a car for his business and our car fit the bill.
After a few reparations (at our cost of course), he took possession of the car and began paying monthly payments.
The first payment came through ok, even the second, the third and also the fourth but then they stopped all together…
Not this again!
Meanwhile, my friend back in São Paulo is getting all sorts of speeding tickets and parking fines sent to his address because the title had yet to be transferred.
He was rightfully irritated and fed up about the situation, as was I!
So this guy stopped paying for the car and it’s time to enter the previous scenario again…
I get the car back from him and realize that he has “yet” to pay any yearly road taxes, fines or anything.
The good news is that I got the car back, the bad news is that the motor needs redoing as well as a bunch of other stuff and road taxes etc.
And then the clutch went out.
But that’s not all, he then has the courage to ask for all the money he paid back as I took the car from him. Ummm…what?
So as I’m sitting with a bill around r$7,000 to fix the car, I can’t help but think “why didn’t we just rent something in the first place??”
The Big Lesson and Your Takeaway
There are two main things that this whole crazy situation taught me:
- If you’re only coming for a few months or more, for the love of everything rent a car!
- If you’re looking at selling a car in Brazil, only accept cash up front even if you have to give a 10–20% discount to make it happen, do it as it could cost you tons of hassle in the long run (this has happened to countless of my friends).
- Having a car put in your name and transferring ownership is a highly bureaucratic process (and expensive), so make sure you are aware of this before purchasing.
- Fines follow the owner of the car: so any traffic infractions, back taxes or problems in general will directly effect the owner of the car unless otherwise proven. To prove it that it wasn’t you, it’s pretty bureaucratic in itself.
So this car is still in my possession after all this time and it appears that it has all the elements of a marriage:
- She’s high maintenance
- She stays by my side through thick and thin
- She breaks down and I get her up on her “feet” again
- We travel together
- She carries my burdens
I hope my wife isn’t jealous…
In all honesty, it’s a really good car and it would almost be a shame to sell it after putting all these repairs in – I just got it working well again!
I hope that you can learn from this crazy mess of my car experience – oh, and did I mention that this is the second car this has happened with? Geez, you’d think I had already learned my lesson the first time… Maybe that will be another story for later.
Learning from my mistakes one at a time and until next time.
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