About Brazil (BR)
The largest country in South America and fifth largest in the world, Brazil’s (BR) staggering size, diversity of languages, culture, topography, and regional variations make it impossible to describe in such a brief space. In the fewest terms possible, Brazil is more like half a dozen countries sharing a national flag, with some differences so vast, they hardly seem related, or even belong under the same umbrella of a single name. From state to state, you’ll find a distinct set of characteristics that define each region worthy of its own individual country designation. But there are a handful of things that immediately come to mind in the context of Brazil, the country: the Amazon rainforest, football (soccer), Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, and the cosmopolitan urban jungle of São Paulo. And of course, the beaches found up and down the Atlantic coast from Fortaleza in the northeast to Puerto Allegro in the south. All in all, you’d need several lifetimes to experience and exhaust everything Brazil has to offer.
With over 1.5 million kilometers of roads, by far the best way of getting around is to rent a car in Brazil — it’s not even close to a question. The major routes in the east and south — particularly along the coast — are in the best condition, while inland highways to the capital city of Brasilia in the State of Goias are in so-so shape. Otherwise, the majority of rural routes are a combination of paved surfaces and gravel and dirt roads, and generally only suitable for all-wheel drive vehicles. Theoretically, road infrastructure and traffic conditions in Brazil are supposed to mirror that of North American transportation; in practice, all bets are off. The road network around the city centers of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are typically the biggest parking lots in South America. Meanwhile, carjackings, holdups and robberies in broad daylight are an ongoing concern, animals are all over the roads, pedestrians scatter about the streets like marbles dropped from a table top — that said driving in Brazil with the right precautions and an alertness can be fun, for sure - and there’s really no other option for travelers who want to explore this incredible country with flexibility.
Choosing your car
Cheap car rentals in Brazil are supplied by Hertz, Sixt, Enterprise, Alamo, Avis, Europcar, and Thrifty. Select your perfect car hire from minicars, economy hatchbacks, fullsize 4-door sedans, premium and luxury vehicles, estate wagons, 7-12 seater minivans, and SUVs.
Tips and advice
Keep your doors locked and windows sealed at all times, and do not drive at night in Brazil unless on major highways with moving traffic.
Be extremely cautious and defensive when encountering large trucks on the highways, many of which are carrying cargo that might as well be secured with masking tape. If you do get stuck behind a semi-trailer, keep a very safe distance, and overtake at the next available opportunity.
Brazilian drivers use their headlights and turn indicators to communicate with other drivers. An oncoming car flashing its headlights usually means “speed trap” ahead. On two-lane highways, a left-turn signal from a driver in front of you means “it’s not safe to pass me just yet”. A right flashing signal means “I’m going to slow down and pull over to the shoulder”.
Generally speaking, wherever there’s paid, secure parking, that’s where you should park your car rental in Brazil. Do not park on the street in major cities.
Lookout for massive potholes on rural routes, and be advised that tires and wheels are generally not covered by the Collision Damage Waiver.
Third-party liability insurance is necessary to rent a car in Brazil.