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What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?
We have a Toyota 4Runner and love it here. The longest road in the country is about 40 miles (on this island), so it's not like we're burning through too much fuel. You can manage here without 4WD, but it's nice to have something a bit bigger to explore the hills and hidden beaches. - Dec 27, 2017
I would recommend bringing a car with high clearance such as an SUV and a brand like Toyota where spare parts are readily available especially if you are planning on going down roads less traveled. The roads in town are slowly improving (i.e. getting rid of old cobblestone roads to paved ones), but they can still be tough on your suspension and tires. The roads outside the city though to other places such as Tarrafal or Cidade Velha are excellent (except in the short rainy season where there are lots of repairs being made).
Some people we know have had minor collisions and all have had a relatively easy time getting their vehicles repaired.
We've had little issues with people stealing minor things like windshield wipers so bring extras of those. I haven't heard of anyone being carjacked here
If you want to leave Praia and explore the rest of the island then bring an SUV. On the few days that it does rain, the streets flood so you will need the extra clearance. We brought a older 4runner and it has worked out well. It is much better if you can bring a diesel vehicle. Diesel is 20% cheaper per liter. Gas here is very expensive. US$6.50 per gallon. There are no car jackings but bandits will break your windows if you leave anything valuable on the seats. Bring all parts you will need. All car parts are at least twice as much here as in the states. - May 18, 2014
Without question, I would bring an SUV. Within Praia, the side roads are cobblestone and are not always well maintained. Plus, when traveling around the island it is great to have the clearance and flexibility of four-wheel drive. Diplomats can ship cars in with no duty fees, but otherwise taxes are extremely high on imported cars. Toyotas, Volkswagens, Suzukis, Mercedes and Peugeots are most common, and some even have dealerships here. We have a Jeep, and we brought our own air filters, windshield wipers, motor oil, etc., with us. Parts for cars are hard to find AND very expensive, so I would bring extra batteries, tires, etc., if you are worried about your car. - Feb 2, 2011
Four wheel drive is not necessary but nice during the rains and for excursions out of the city. Diesel is better than gasoline. And definitely something you don't mind getting dinged up and scratched. There are no import restrictions for diplomats. For everyone else, you'll pay a huge customs fee to import a car. However you can buy a car here for a pretty reasonable price. - Sep 8, 2012
One you don't mind getting banged up. It's mostly cobblestone roads and I don't think there are any traffic rules. People drive how they feel. It's not uncommon for locals to just stop the car because their cell phone rang. Crazy. - May 23, 2012
Off road, SUVs are recommended because of the poor road quality. But be aware that some roads in the rural areas are super narrow, even though there's two-way traffic. - Sep 19, 2009
In Praia almost anything will do. However, if you plan on traveling outside of town, something with a higher clearance is advisable. - Feb 6, 2008