Car Rental Cuba | Driving in Cuba

Driving in Cuba

Summer Driving in Cuba

Car Rental Cuba receives many reports annually of problems in summer Driving in Cuba, here are a few of them.

It’s easy to lose your car keys in sand on the beach or at the pool, one client in Varadero even took the remote control for a swim and then find that car doors won’t open. Also, salt in sea water can ruin electric circuits and render keys useless. Most rental cars will have an alternative method of entry if the remote key fails – check the handbook – but it’s better to keep keys safe and dry in the first place.


Punctures in high temperatures while Driving in Cuba will aggravate any existing damage to the rubber. Under inflation adds to the problem causing friction and more heat which can prove too much for weak spots, causing punctures and blow-outs. Check tire condition regularly and pressures, adjusting for extra load if appropriate. These routine checks can save you hours later and help you keep Driving in Cuba without hassles.


While Driving in Cuba high temperatures in Cuba can aggravate cooling system problems too. Low coolant level, leaking hoses and broken electric cooling fans can all result in overheating and expensive damage. All Car rental Cuba cars are checked before leaving the rental office but, if you see the needle rising pullover especially in cities and allow the car to cool down. It’s a perfect time for a quick drink or stretch your legs.

Car Rental Cuba | SUV 4×4

Car Rental Cuba

Car Rental Cuba SUV 4×4 – In this category you have the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sportage and the Suzuki Gran Vitara. If you are planning to go off of Cuba´s main roads such as some of the dirt roads, badly surfaced minor roads or wider beach areas on the island then this type of vehicle is for you. You must however remember that true off-road in rough terrain is forbidden with your rental car. Car Rental Cuba thinks that you definitely welcome the size and higher driving position afforded by 4-wheel drive vehicle, especially in traffic or when on the watch out for cyclists in the city of Havana. This type of hire car offers better control in such environments, also because the undercarriage is further from the ground these cars are perfect for negotiating Cuba’s torrential rains where water incursion on major streets and highways can be quite severe. Most 4×4 vehicles available from Car Rental Cuba allow you to carry several passengers, up to 7 seats in most vehicles so are perfect for larger families or groups of travelers to Cuba.

For the best 4×4 SUV models choose REX from the suppliers above to book you car in Cuba. CubaCAR and Havanautos also offer SUV 4×4 models but they tend not to be the European manufactured cars available from REX who also offer automatic SUV 4×4 cars in Cuba

Car Rental Cuba | Economic Category

Kia Picanto Havanautos

Economic car rental in Cuba is by far the cheapest option. The cars available are in good condition overall and many are almost new. The recent acquisition of Chinese cars has all but been replaced by better Korean models from Hyundai and Kia available from Havanautos. The 2012 Hyundai Atos and Kia Picanto cars available from CubaCAR seem to be the largest while, the venerable Peugeot 206 offered by Via Car Rental, while a little larger, seem to be getting quite old. However, we´ve been surprised a few times when a brand new 206 Peugeot has been provided, probably from the initial stock that Via bought. Recent rentals done by us have almost always garnered the Kia Picanto shown. Some recent rentals from Havana Airport have also received the Geely CK which, while Chinese (problematic) is quite a lot larger than the other economic cars.

Car Rental Cuba | Medium Category


Hyundai Accent Cuba Car rental

Medium cars in Cuba are generally big enough for a comfortable drive around the island. Slightly larger than the economic category cars they offer a true 5 seats and enough space for luggage. All cars in Cuba are now air-conditioned since 2005 therefore; there is no risk of you getting a car without this today. All new cars offer either CD or MP3 plugs since 2012 therefore suffering Cuban radio is no longer an obligation. Probably the cheapest cars in medium category in Cuba are from Havanautos although, Via has some late 307 Peugeot cars which are still in great condition and are cheaper than the aforementioned. When collecting your car you can ask to see the cars available and sometimes choose a specific one. A smile usually helps.

Driving from Havana to Santiago de Cuba

Havanautos car rental

We decided to rent using Havanautos from this website. The car was delivered on time however there were cigarette ends in the ashtray which we had to empty. Above this the car was clean and in good conditions. We chose a medium car and ended up receiving the Hyundai Accent from Havanautos. Although we were told that GPS was banned in Cuba we had no problem getting this through the airport. As soon as we turned it on outside Jose Marti Airport it showed 759.41 KM to Santiago de Cuba. It seemed rather daunting as we´d heard so much about Cuba´s roads…


“Havanautos rented us the Hyundai Accent”


However, the trip went well and the car was perfect. We ended up repairing one puncture ourselves and when we returned the car at Antonio Maceo Airport we told them about this but they simply smiled. We hoped they would ask for receipt and refund but hey, “es Cuba”

A couple of things to watch out for:

  • Cattle on the roads
  • People asking for money every time you park the car (presumably to watch it)
  • Fuel costs (quite high we thought)
  • Radio – Take CDs with you or an MP3 player because Cuban radio is real bad

Overall we like our stay in Cuba and Havanautos seemed as efficient as any international car rental company. No nasty surprises and efficient service overall.

If we returned to Cuba we´d probably take the medium high car as the Hyundai Sonata we saw looked very comfortable.

Car Rental Cuba | Advice


Car Rental Cuba Advice

Car Rental Cuba wants to advise that, when comes to tires, inflation is always a good thing especially in Cuban Heat & Humidity, proper tire inflation, that is.

The amount of air required to properly inflate a tire depends on the size and type of tire, the vehicle application (size and weight), vehicle loading (normal or extra loading), and driving conditions. A tire that is properly inflated will provide safe driving, maximum traction, good handling and optimum tire life.

Increasing tire inflation pressure beyond the recommended amount will reduce rolling resistance, thereby improving fuel economy. But the trade-off is a harsher ride and increased risk of tire damage when encountering bumps. Excessive tire pressure may distort the tread to the point where it bulges like a donut, reducing contact with the road and increasing wear in the center of the tread. Under no circumstances should a tire ever be inflated beyond the maximum rating as indicated on the sidewall.


Without a doubt, under-inflation is a more common and serious problem in Cuba as heat builds up quickly. Reducing inflation pressure increases a tire’s rolling resistance and hurts fuel economy. Furthermore, an under-inflated tire flexes more, which leads to increased heat and uneven tread wear. As a rule of thumb, tire life decreases 10 percent for every 10 percent it is under-inflated. Tires may also separate from the carcass in Cuba´s heat and cause a high speed blow-out.

Under-inflation also makes a tire run very hot as the rubber creates friction on itself. Increased flexing of the sidewall increases the temperature of the tire, which in turn increases the risk of a tire failure and blowout. A low tire can cause other problems as well. The amount of air in each tire affects weight distribution between the wheels and if you are carrying luggage to and from your Cuban airport. An under-inflated tire does not carry it is full share of the load. This, in turn, affects chassis loading, traction, steering, alignment and braking. It may also cause a noticeable steering pull when driving or braking.

An under-inflated tire can also break traction more easily than one which is properly inflated, which can cause skidding during braking or hard cornering, or

wheel spin when accelerating. If you are renting a car in Cuba it is recommended you take a tiny $2 air pressure gauge with you to regularly check your rental cars tires. This will also make a nice gift for a Cuban friend when you leave the island.


How much air is the right amount to use? It depends on the application, the vehicle, the size of the tires and how much weight is on the tires. The simple

answer is to follow the recommended inflation pressures specified by the vehicle, all Cuban rental cars have the tire inflation decal (sticker) on the driver’s door post. The tire inflation specifications are generally also listed in the cars glove box or on a decal in the glove box or door jamb. For many passenger Cuban rental cars, SUV´s and Minivans the recommended OE tire pressure may range from 28 up to 34 psi. Adding 2 or 3 psi more is fine in Cuba´s immense heat and will further reduce rolling resistance and heat. Recommended pressures for front and rear may also vary, and higher pressures may be recommended for towing or hauling loads.

Keep in mind that recommended inflation pressure are for COLD tires. This means tires that have not been driven on for several hours (ideally overnight). It also means tires that are at a normal outside temperature of about 70 degrees F (21 Celsius).To accurately inflate a tire, you have to compensate for changes in temperature.

For every 10 degrees F change in ambient temperature, tire pressure will change a little more than half a pound. A tire that contains 32 psi of air at 70 degrees F will have a little over 35 psi at 100 degrees F – even if the vehicle has not been driven. Take a quick drive down the Cuban Ocho Via (free way) and heat up the tires even more, and the pressure may read 38 to 40 psi.

Altitude will also affect tire pressure. For every 1,000 feet in elevation, such as the Sierra Maestra Mountains or around Santiago de Cuba above sea level, atmospheric pressure decreases about a half a pound. As a result, tire pressure goes up an equal amount. A tire gauge that reads accurately at sea level will read about 2 psi too high at an elevation of 2,000 feet.


Tire life decreases 10 percent for every 10 percent it is under-inflated. A tire that normally requires 32 psi of air and would normally go about 80,000 miles will lose about 8,000 miles of expected tread life at 29 psi (assuming the vehicle is properly aligned). The same tire under-inflated to 26 lbs. will lose about 16,000 miles of tread life. If under-inflated to 22 lbs., tire life will decrease by at least 24,000 miles. Tires and alloy rims typically leak a little air over time, and with radials it is hard to visually check if a tire is low or not. That is why inflation pressure should be checked once a month. Yet few motorists do, and consequently, over 50 percent of all vehicles have one or more tires that are under- or overinflated.

Use an accurate tire pressure gauge. Gauges are often out of calibration (especially cheap ones). The trouble is you don’t know if the gauge is accurate or not. Even if you own two tire pressure gauges and they both give you the exact same pressure reading, there is no guarantee they are accurate (though the odds are favorable that two gauges that read the same are probably accurately calibrated). The most accurate tire pressure gauges are the hand-held gauges that are self-calibrating. The LEAST accurate are the dial type gauges found on most tire inflation machines at gas stations. Take your own gauge to Cuba and save a little time and the small pen type variety are accurate enough for your Cuba Car Rental Needs

Car Rental Cuba | Van


Car Rental Cuba

Car Rental Cuba Vans are huge vehicles that can carry 9 people. Though there aren’t many of them available in Cuba, larger families appreciate their design and size as a practical car for moving 9 people with luggage around Cuba.

The Expert Tepee offered by Car Rental Cuba is based on the Expert line from Peugeot. There is also the equally impressive Hyundai H1 Van available in Cuba. Both are huge in a way that they can never be; if space is your thing then VANs for rental in Cuba has few peers.

The vans available from Car Rental Cuba offer decent performance and a good ride but you’ll never forget that you’re driving large vehicle although longer trips out on the “ocho via” (Cuba’s highway) will be handled easily due to the high driving position and great interior space. Our opinion is it’s worth considering if you’ll make regular use of all that space and you want to save on the fuel costs associated with renting two vehicles to carry 9 people in Cuba. These VANS are vast inside, with three rows of seats and space for a huge amount of luggage, even if all the seats are occupied. If they aren’t – and you remove the last three for more luggage space, there’s also a mass of legroom (and headroom, of course!) and few passengers will find anything to complain about. The VANs from Car Rental Cuba drive very well on Cuban Roads and soak up the potholes and irregularities well, helped by their long wheelbase.

The top speed is 99mph, which takes some achieving in Cuba anyway but progress can be maintained without too much effort.

If you need to more 9 people around in Cuba, whether it be a field trip from Havana to Santiago or a tour of the island by car, the Vans are supreme allies for moving tons of luggage and people comfortably.

Car Rental Cuba | Minivan

Car Rental Cuba

Car Rental Cuba Minivans come in one size and are ideal for small families because full-size minivans are larger with 7 seats. We offer models like the  Hyundai Trajet or Volkswagen Sharan Minivan from REX. The Minivans offered in Cuba are some of the safest vehicles on the road, certain models go a few steps further with features like knee airbags. Key items on Car Rental Cuba´s minivan vehicles include versatile seat configurations, rear air-conditioning, storage containers, larger luggage space for up to 4 full size suitcases and hand luggage and so on. Luxuries like automatic climate control, iPod interfaces are quite commonplace on Car Rental Cuba minivans but are not guaranteed on all models. The minivan’s second-row seat, as each model generally offers some sort of unique configuration or feature for seating all 7 passengers. Some seats rotate to face the third row, some stow into the floor, some have built-in footstools, some feature removable center positions and some slide laterally to accommodate three-abreast child seats in the rear. Child seats are only available from REX however. All minivans now feature a third row that folds neatly into the floor or to the sides of the trunk area if you have lots of suitcases for example upon arrival. These can then be lowered for when you are driving around Cuba. Car Rental Cuba Minivans seat seven in comfort and are designed to allow parents to move about easily to tend to young children. Minivans available in Cuba are cavernous; they can seat and accommodate luggage for 7 people with ease. We think that a minivan is superior to an SUV in its ability to haul passengers and cargo. The cabins are cavernous, though the versatility of its second row comes into play here as well.

Car Rental Cuba | Medium High Category

Audi A4 Car Rental Cuba

Car Rental Cuba offers Medium High Category cars in Cuba sometimes called full size in other markets. These include cars like the Audi A4 (see above), Kia Optima, Hyundai Sonata, etc. You should hire Medium High Category with Car Rental if you prefer a large vehicle with extra space and legroom. These Cuban rental cars hold five people, so are perfect for larger individual adults or big families. Fitting your luggage in when arriving at a Cuba airport should be easy too. Medium High Category hire cars are often semi luxury vehicles compared to the lower categories available in Cuba and generally include CD players and/or MP3 socket. Cars like this are the perfect choice for longer journeys like if you´re driving around Cuba or intend to visit places like Varadero, Santiago de Cuba or the Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria, where the comfort and space they offer make the trip very pleasurable. From the above booking suppliers REX offers higher category cars whereas CubaCAR and Havanautos offer Korean or Japanese variants of the same size


CubaCAR Transtur Office Terminal de Cruceros Habana

The Transtur Car rental offices of REX, Havanautos and CubaCAR are at TERMINAL DE CRUCEROS, AVENIDA DEL PUERTO, HABANA VIEJA, in HAVANA CRUISE TERMINAL we offer both pick up and drop off at this location and our opening hours are 9 AM TO 5 PM. You can also visit this office for any technical difficulties with your car or call our 24 hour number on your contract and we will come out to your location in HAVANA CRUISE TERMINAL rapidly. As we do not keep many rental cars at this location we highly recommend booking in advance at our link below. We Accept same day Cuba Car Rental bookings or, for any time in the future using any major credit card from any nation. The closest fuel station to this combined Havanautos & CubaCAR office in HAVANA CRUISE TERMINAL is called Cupet and is 200 meters from our office. If you wish to pick up at TERMINAL DE CRUCEROS, AVENIDA DEL PUERTO, HABANA VIEJA and drop off in another location, please indicate this while booking at the following link. At this office we offer maps and basic maintenance services so if your Car Rented from Transtur is due for a service or check as shown on your car rental contract then you can bring it here. To Book a rental car in HAVANA CRUISE TERMINAL Cuba then simply click below

Transtur Cuba Booking

For printable larger version of HAVANA CRUISE TERMINAL map of Transtur Rent A Car office – click the map