When renting a vehicle in Costa Rica - be it a car, 4wd, 4x4, 4 wheel drive, SUV - whatEVER - PROTECT YOURSELF and BE PREPARED for what MIGHT HAPPEN (and it REALLY HELPS to know how to speak Spanish WELL!!).
Below are some hints to help you avoid POTENTIAL challenges be it while you're away or even worse - after you've left:
From the get-go I tell the car rental agency employee that in the PAST I have had a problem with a less than honorable car rental agency so I'm really cautious and need to protect myself so I'm going to take pictures and videos. If they don't allow you to do that - RUN FOR THE HILLS!!!!!!!!
#1 - IDEALLY have 2-3 or more of you there - one that walks around the car WITH the car rental agencies employee - INSPECTING (more like dissecting) the vehicle REALLY CLOSELY.
The second person is Take CLOSE-UP PHOTOS of EVERY dent, chip, ding, of the condition of the tires (few seem to inspect the tires - literally - MOVE the car so you can see if there are ALREADY any nails in the tire, balled or starting to get worn spots, etc. as once you're on the road, some Car Rental Agencies feel tires are YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. Even if they do cover it, if nothing else, the time you're going to waste on waiting for them to come out and fix the problem
#2 - Actually, I think this is MORE IMPORTANT - take a VIDEO WITH the car rental agency employee IN the video!!!
Start with doing it when you're going over the contract and ASK QUESTIONS for clarity - like what ALL is/is not included [like if YOU decide to go "off road" - like you need to do OFTEN when going to some beach areas - and something happens to the car - like a tire blows, a chip in the windshield, broken rod because you went over a puddle not realizing it was a 3' hole or worse - an open man hole that someone stole the cover off of - or whatever - things like that are OFTEN NOT covered - EVEN if you purchased full coverage as they feel you've driven the car recklessly which is NOT covered]).
Then inspect the car - again - with the employee IN the video - while you both point out EVERY LITTLE spot and ding (literally - put your finger on it and do a closeup of it so it's CLEAR - as at least in Costa Rica, MANY TIMES people get charged for things that were already there. ESPECIALLY make sure to video tape the tires (which is a good reminder as it's not unusual for them to be baled and YOU get charged for them bursting!).
make sure you take a video WITH the car rental agency's employee IN the video pointing out EVERY LITTLE spot and ding as at least in Costa Rica, MANY TIMES people get charged for things that were already there. and ESPECIALLY make sure to video tape the tires (which is a good reminder as it's not unusual for them to be baled and YOU get charged for them bursting!)