Kingston - Post Report Question and Answers

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?

High wheelbase due to MANY, repeat MANY potholes. Roads are in poor condition. Jamaicans drive on the left, so RHD vehicles might be easier. Many are available within the diplomatic community. If you bring a Japanese-built car, you will not likely have problems obtaining parts or service. - May 2022

Car with higher-ground clearance, as roads quickly get bad with potholes, general repair. There are steep hills if you are adventurous. Probably a four-wheel drive. We have two-wheel drive and it's okay but four wheel gives piece of mind when heading to the hills. - May 2022

Many people order cars from Japan when they get here. It is a right-hand drive post. You definitely have to have a car here. Streets have a lot of potholes. Most people drive Japanese made cars because that is what the locals drive. It think it might be difficult to have US cars serviced here. I'm not sure though. - Jan 2020

Bring something with clearance. Roads are terrible in Kingston, as well as in the south and east parts of the island. The roads get better on the North Coast, near high tourist areas. Taxi drivers (forever distracted and stopping) and coaster - bus drivers (the Mad Maxes of public transportation) drive recklessly and seem proud to do so. Needless to say, driving on the island can be very stressful. It's a left - hand drive country and Embassy colleagues are split between right - hand and left - hand personal vehicles. - Aug 2018

Ask folks on the ground what kind of cars are popular. I see a lot of Honda CRVs and Toyotas; buying one of those will make resale and maintenance easier and cheaper. High clearance can be useful, although most Jamaican drivers get by without. 4WD can also come in handy, but it's not a must. Know that the road conditions are not fantastic. - Jun 2018

Most people have some type of small SUV due to the poor road conditions. Lots of potholes! - Mar 2017

All cars seem to do well but many of us have been in car accidents. Ship extra tires as well. The bad roads will lead to your car getting ruined in a short amount of time. - Apr 2016

The Jamaican government restricts what vehicles can be imported. As of late 2014, SUVs had to be 5 years old or newer and other vehicles 6 years old or newer to be imported onto the island. Most people opted for mid to regular size SUVs that have a high ground clearance. The roads in Jamaica, especially outside of Kingston, are riddled with potholes and other obstacles that you want to avoid. - Dec 2014

Most people have medium sized SUVs. Driving is on the left side of the road. You can use LHD or RHD. Beware of taxi drivers and motorcycles. - Oct 2014

Most Embassy employees drive SUV's. A 4x4 is good if you want to get off the beaten path and go up into the mountains. - Mar 2014

Bring something with a high ground clearance, the pot-holes here are legendary, especially outside of Kingston. We've never really used our 4-wheel drive, but I'm glad we have it nonetheless. - Dec 2013

4-wheel drive is advisable but not necessary. Only cars less than 3-years old can be imported into Jamaica. Bring extra fluids, replacement parts, etc. as they can be expensive here. - Aug 2011

You don't want to bring a car that rides low to the ground. There are potholes inside of potholes here. And you'll also want to bring spare tires, emphasis on the plural! - Sep 2010

Any type is okay. But nothing that rides really low, due to a lot of pot holes in the roads. - Jul 2010

Bring a big car with good wheels. The roads are bad here, and there is not much service. - May 2010

Any vehicle that can withstand enormous and frequent potholes will be fine. Seriously. Also, small SUVs work well because of the extra height necessary during rainy season. Do not bring a large SUV, as you will never find a parking spot big enough to fit your vehicle, and the roads also tend to be very narrow. Toyota and BMW are very popular here. Import duty fees are extremely expensive, approximately 100% (yes, 100%) of the value of the vehicle. Most mechanics here are good. - Nov 2009

A vehicle that can take rugged terrain, the roads can be very bad. Also something that is set up higher, when it rains it floods! There are some local restrictions on how big a car can be. Embassy personall sell their vehicles alot when they leave. - Jan 2009

Bring any car, but the terrain is rough, there is many pot holes in the roads and not much good service here. - Jan 2009

SUVs are best for the Jamaican roads. We learned that after it rained for 15 days straight our first 6 months here. Do not bring an automobile, just get an SUV here, it will be easier for parts and repairs. Getting a new car could take 4-6weeks or longer, be warned. - May 2008

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