When I get on a project, it literally consumes me. Such is the case in researching what car I want to replace my sold Terios.

Buying a car in Panama is not as easy as it is in the US. There you can check Consumer Reports or other reviews and then go to the potential dealers of the cars in your final list and drive them the see which one suits your desires best.

In Panama your selection is dependent on what is available in Panama and what can be serviced. I have found that one of the best ways to research cars is to use YouTube. After selecting the type and make of cars you are interested in, there are a ton of reviews on YouTube.

It is easier if you see a car being demonstrated. In my case, I am looking for a small car that is not too small. I am looking for one that will spend 75 percent of the time fitting into a parking place in David. Parking and driving in David has become more of a problem over the 10+ years I have lived here. Taking a pickup or SUV downtown is not fun.

I looking for something in the hatchback category. The Terios was great because you could fold down the back seats and carry a lawnmower if you had to. Hatchbacks may not hold quite as much, but the ability to fold down the back seat is still something I want. Continue reading

Car Shopping Observations

As you may have noticed, the Terios post has been taken down and it will be picked up Monday when the title is transferred to the new owner.

I haven’t spent anytime looking at new cars since 2004, when I bought the Terios. I had a car picked out, prior to the Terios sale, but that deal fell through.

Thursday, Natalie and I went to almost all of the dealers in David to get an idea about what was available. I am going to give you some of my observations from that exercise.

First, I made three trips to Grupo Siliba, over the last week, because I thought the Kia Soul was the car I wanted to buy. The first two visits were ordinary, just looking and I did pick up a Kia Soul brochure. Continue reading

Good As New

I took the Terios by Franklin Rangel’s body shop to get it repaired. It is now as good as new. The cost was $45. I highly recommend Franklin. He was recommended by a friend and has been a very good find.

Here is a GOOGLE MAP to his location.

There won’t be any sign, but you will see other work going on. Ask for Franklin and tell him that Chiriquí Chatter recommended him.


Auto – DK in David


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The Terios was in need of tires and after checking prices at Auto Centro, I bought a set of four Federal Himalaya SUV tires in Auto-DK. Auto-DK is a new service center on the InterAmerican Highway a little east of Cochez. It has been open about 4 months. HERE is a google map.

The location is a limited service center and handles alignments, balancing, Oil and filter changes, etc.


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The tires, that they carry, are Michelin, KUMHO, Dunlap, Federal, Jinyu and TRI-ACE. I got the Federal, which is a Taiwanese tire. I like the tire better than the Toyo tire I looked at Auto Centro and I think I saved close to 30% including installation and balancing.

As a side note, Panamanian tire service centers typically balance only the front tires. I asked for all four tires to be balanced, because I didn’t want unbalanced tire on the front when I rotated the tires.

I am super pleased with the tires. I talked to the manager of the store and he said they also have a store at the Frontera and the David prices are the same as the store in the Frontera.

This morning I needed to get the oil and filter changed in the Terios. I went back to Auto-DK to get it done as well because there was no waiting. Where I normally go, I couldn’t get it done today.

If you go there, you will most likely see Querube Serrano, who handles all service billing. Tell her that you heard about her and Auto-DK at Chiriquí Chatter. Querube was too shy to have her photo taken. Pity!


Getting Ready To Roll?

I was driving by the new Puma station on the InterAmerican Highway by Super Baru and noticed Jim “Jet” Neilson’s Jet Car.

You may remember that Jim was going to make a run in front of Chiriquí Mall back in 2010.

That run never happened when the finalization of the contract never happened. Jim is still in negotiations for a Panama run, but has not made any announcements or statements as to where, when or what might occur.

Jim was there today, putting a coat of wax on the car. If I remember correctly, he said he was waiting on an engine replacement for this car and has two more cars in Australia. I think he said one was being brought to Panama.

I mentioned to him that it also appeared he needed to change the rear tires. He said the tires were purposefully filed down for higher traction and used tires off an F14 which are 24 ply.

He said he has a European tour planned and another planned run in Dubai. You might say Jim is living in the fast lane. After looking on the inside, I said it looked like it would be a little scary to make a run. He said it was, but that gave him job security.

He said it had room for a second person in the cockpit, but I did not volunteer to go for a ride.

The most risky thing I do these days is taking a shower when I am out of gas to heat the water.


Following are today’s photos.

Stay tuned. If I get final information on a run in Panama, I will post it. In the meantime, if you are close to David, you might want to stop and take a look at the car.

Motores Japoneses

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P1030361I stopped by Motores Japoneses yesterday in Plaza Felipe Rodriguez specifically to look at a new line of cars that they are carrying.

Motores Japoneses is the selling arm of Suzuki in Panama. A few months ago they started selling the Great Wall and JAC products from China.

I spent the last few days researching the Great Wall on the Internet. This is a company that is on the move and they are putting money into their products to make them a world product.

While Motores Japoneses sells the vehicles, Felipe Rodiguez does the service in David and provides the showroom.

P1030366My focus on this visit was to take a look at the Chinese products, but I did take this photo of a new Suzuki that had just come in. Motores Japoneses carries a large selection of the Suzuki models.




Following are photos of the Great Wall pickup. The pickup has an Isuzu motor.


Here are some photos of the Great Wall Haval H5 SUV.


The Haval H5 uses a Mitsubishi Diesel engine. I was pretty impressed with the interior. It has an all leather and all the bells and whistles. The radio even had bluetooth to connect with your phone.

Here is a photo of the JAC car. The interior was also impressive on this car.


Here is the Great Wall Panama dealer website.

Here is the Panama JAC website.

Here is a review of the H5 in 2012. While it doesn’t get an outstanding review, it does get a respectable review.

The Chinese seem to be where the Japanese were 40 years ago and the Koreans were 20 years ago. The Chinese have proven they can build quality products,

I have seen Chinese cars and pickups being driven in David before, but this is the first time I have seen them in an actual dealership.



If you drop in, tell Alexander that you learned about him on Chiriquí Chatter.

A Small Amount of Time At the David Fair

I bet you thought I would never get around to posting the time I spent at the David Fair last March 15th, 2013.

I really wasn’t certain if I would make it to the fair this year or not. I almost cooked last year and I told myself I would never go to the fair before 5pm the next time if I went.

While I was still wondering what I would do this year, I received an Invitation to attend an inaugural event for Petroautos. It was going to be at 7pm and have food catered by Cuatro. Sounded like a plan to me.

We arrived around 6:15 and entered the fair. Since the event wasn’t scheduled until 7PM, I had time to spend walking around and taking photos.


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I was passing the Toyota exhibit and it looked like they were going to uncover a car, I assumed it was a new model. Maybe I would have time to drop by later. I did have time to take a couple photos of some lovely Toyota ladies. Continue reading

AutoStar – David

I have meant to post this for several months and am just now getting to it.

DSC00797AutoStar is the dealer servicing Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Dodge Ram, Chrysler and Jeep. They have dealerships in David, Chitre, and Panama City. Formally Most of these brands were under Grupo-Q.

Mazda, who was also under Grupo-Q, is supposed to now be with Grupo Silaba, which is the Kia dealer.

A Chiriquí Chatter reader had notified me of their location on Ave. Miguel Brenes, not far from the light on the InterAmerican Highway on the left East side of the road.

Here are a couple photos inside the showroom.


I spoke with the Manager and his card follows. If you stop in, tell him you learned about them on Chiriquí Chatter. The company website can be found HERE.


A Good Mechanic

I have had a recent problem with the Daihatsu Terios that I usually drive. In the last month it decided to start discharging the battery. I charged it once and when it was down a week later, I knew I had a problem.

A friend recently recommended a young mechanic that lives in Algarrobos. I was told that he was good, that he was very reliable and that he was very honest. I know from past experience it is easy to get over charged when you don’t know exactly what problem you have.

Remembering the recent recommendation, I called him and asked if he could look at the car.

He has a day job, but works at his house during his off hours. He came by and looked at the car. He listed one or two things it might be, but would need a little time to diagnose it.

I left it with him at his house. Last Thursday he called and said he had corrected the problem, but that I had two belts that were cracked and needed replacing. On a nine year old car that wasn’t surprising. Continue reading

Taller Salvador Re-Visited

Yesterday, I went to Taller Salvador to have some tailpipe repair done. The little Terios I drive started sounding like a semi on Wednesday. Part of the exhaust system had separated from the muffler and the end of the tailpipe behind the muffler had started to decompose.

This requited removing two different pieces of the tail pipe and forming two new pieces.

There was two other vehicles ahead of me when I arrived. I sat down and had a long conversation with a local taxi driver (Joel). This is one of the benefits of learning at least a little conversational Spanish. You can converse with more locals.

Joel was a very interesting person. He had been driving a taxi in David for the last 9 years, but he said in April, he was quitting and moving to Panama City to work as a truck driver for the new subway construction.

He said that the life of a Taxi driver in David had gotten too tough. Too many taxis. I agree. You drive down town and there are 5 taxis for every non-taxi, it seems to me.

By the way, I asked him the normal fee from the airport to a hotel and he said it is $3.00/person, so if your airport taxi is asking for more, he is giving himself a tip.

Joel did brag on Taller Salvador. He said there are at least three shops that do this sort of work in David, but he said Salvador is the best. We talked for at least an hour. and I had a great time.

While I was waiting, I also met two individuals from the Lost and Found Lodge. Who know, maybe I will up their way and take some photos one of these days.

I didn’t take any photos this time of the work being done, but you can see some of my photos when I was at Salvador’s in 2009. Based on the old photos, I got a lot more tailpipe for $22 in 2009. This time I got two sections of about 18 inched each for $22. Actual time to fix the car after he started was less than 30 minutes.

DSC00694I did get a photo showing that this is a real mechanic’s workshop. Obviously they are overworked because they haven’t had time to get a 2013 calendar. Continue reading