On the first leg of our trip we had 20,000km of trouble-free driving, but after we picked the truck up from storage in Costa Rica we realized that some of the rubber components needed to be replaced. This is likely due to its year-long hibernation, but also because these parts may be 25 years and 340,000km old. The rear pinion seal started to leak immediately after picking it up. A week later one of the CV boots split as we made our way into Panama. It was actually perfect timing as we knew we had a really good option available for having the work done at a legitimate shop.
After a couple of quick messages to Rui at Procars Panama (who we had been following on Instagram) we knew this would be the perfect place to stop. Our fellow overlanders Tim (On The Panamericana) and Rui Mendes (De Polo a Polo Expedition) stopped here before us, so we were happy to have a recommendation from some other travelers. As a rule, we ususally make sure nobody touches the truck except for us, but we didn’t hesitate to have the mechanics at Procars do the work for us this time. Having professional Venezuelan mechanics work on the truck beats fixing the truck in a campsite without the proper tools. Plus, they didn’t have a problem with me looking over their shoulders and micromanaging throughout the day.
It was easy to track down parts for the truck since there are plenty of these old rigs in Panama. That meant that buying and replacing the CV boots and pinion seal finished up quickly, in only a couple of hours. Since we had some extra time it was easy to pop in a new set of front brake pads while the truck was on the lift. It was awesome to have the chance to do a full on inspection of the truck and hit all of the grease points as well. If you need a spot in Panama to get work done on your vehicle, this is the place! Procars is also the perfect shop to go for off road lights, bumpers, wheels, tires, winches, fridges, etc… so we are quite lucky that I (Richard) didn’t blow our budget on fun parts for the truck. “Bumpers and lights are safety items,” wasn’t a convincing enough argument…
The entire crew at Procars / Cruiserheads Panama were amazing. They fed us breakfast and coffee in the morning and let us interrupt them all day long with questions. We ended up spending the following four days with one or more of the crew and made our Panama City experience an extremely positive one that we’ll never forget. You’ll read all about that in the next blog post and see some of it in the video below.
Rui and Cesar, thank you so much for inviting us in as if we were part of your family.