Portuguese in Brazil

Cars and Driving

A white car driving on the road alongside a gas station

Renting a car is a common practice. There are signs in the airport and special vehicles transport customers to the agency. In order to rent, a driver needs at least 1 or 2 years of driving experience, a credit card or cash (in which case, the renter has to leave his/her documents with the rental agency), and insurance.

Although it is easy to rent a car in Brazil, gas is expensive and driving can be hazardous for those not familiar with the norms. Traffic tends to be heavy. At night, drivers tend not to stop for red lights, so it is important to be especially careful at intersections. Sometimes individuals who do stop are in danger of being robbed or kidnapped, so the tendency is to just slide through the intersection. Doors should be kept locked at all times.

Parking the car involves paying someone to watch it in a lot, or pre-purchasing a block of parking passes from someone on the street. When exiting the car, one should remove all detatchable electronic equipment. One is advised never to leave personal belongings in a car. Locks for the steering wheel and brakes are common protection against car robbery.

The roads are equipped with directional signs. In the south of Brazil these signs will be in Portuguese followed by a sign with a Spanish translation. Speed limits may vary. The driver should observe the speed limit because the roads are equipped with hidden speed detectors. If a car is exceeding the speed limit, the machine will take a picture of the plate. The ticket will be sent by mail. Police also stop people for speeding, and will want to see a driver's license, an ID, and the car's registration. Drivers without these documents risk having the car confiscated.

Cars run on diesel, gas or alcohol. Mixing these fuels can ruin the car, so be sure to establish what kind of fuel a particular car takes at the time of rental.


  • "Renting a Car"
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  • "Buying Gas"
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  • "A Traffic Light"
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  • "A Speed Bump"
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  • "An Intersection with Traffic Lights"
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