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Driving in Mexico etc...

 
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diderot



Joined: 13 Nov 2003
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 7:33 am    Post subject: Driving in Mexico etc... Reply with quote

Okay so I have been teaching in Japan for a while noe and I know that I will be leaving for south or central america at the end of my contract.

I am thinking mexico is the place for me but i dont have my heart set on it yet.

One of my main concerns is that ill be able to drive wherever i go. Not driving is one of the things i dislike most about living in japan. So my question is will I be able to drive my car from the States and use it in mexico? What about farther south? Is it possible to drive safely from texas to say.. Argentina? Is this crazy? Why? Please forgive my ignorance as I am just begining to reasearch the area.

I will probably get a celta either before or after my move, so are there any obvious things I should be aware of?

Of course, should anyone like to offer any other advice such as recomendations on a country, I would love to hear them.

Ill be thankful for any information!
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guera



Joined: 25 Aug 2004
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, I agree it can be a convenience to have a car in Mexico. However it is not a necessity as the bus system is very good.

You can bring your car in on your FMT tourist visa for 6 mos. You will need your registration, title and credit card. Supposedly, you need a letter from your bank if you have a lien on your car, stating that you are permitted to bring it into Mexico. I did have a lien, although my car was Canadian plated and this might have thrown the officials off. For the 3 times that I brought it across, I never was asked for this letter.

Do not attempt to drive in Mexico without Mexican insurance which you can buy near the border or over the internet. It is cheap and you could be thrown in the slammer if you get in an accident without it in mexico. You will pay a small fee ( I can't remember how much ). You can't let anyone else drive your car unless you are in it or they are related. I am not an expert on this but this is what I remember.

Don't drive on those lonely highways at night and stick to the tollroads.

Tolls are expensive and almost all PEMEX stations only accept cash.

I have only driven as far south as Guadalajara. My understanding is that you can only drive to Panama as you can't drive across the Darien Gap.

I don't know what the rules are for passing into Guatemala with a car,
but I met a couple who drove there and were shot at (YIKES ! )


Good luck !!! Have FUN!
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moonraven



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 3094

PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mexico is part of North America, not Central America--hence the infamous Mexico-shafting North American Free Trade Agreement.

You can bring a car easily from the US, but I would suggest that it be a car that is popular here, otherwise getting parts for it or finding mechanics who know how to work on it will be highly problematic. I brought a 1965 VW Beetle from the US in 1994, as had been renting Beetles here in Mexico during the previous 2 years I was going back and forth between Mexico and the US doing research.

I had Mexican car insurance for a year. After that I didn't bother with it. It is very unusual here in the case of an accident to actually go through all the hoops to assign responsibility and make a claim. Folks just check to see if damage is serious, if anyone was hurt, and then they leave the scene. If someone comes out with more damage he/she usually will receive some cash from the other party on the spot, and that's it. Of course there are exceptions, but nobody wants to get the transito cops involved because they will want money, the process may take hours or days, and probably the insurance company you paid your premium to will not pay up anyway. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but that's the way things work here.

As for driving at night--no problem if it's your normal stomping grounds--but if that is a rural area, be aware that cows and other critters frequent the roads at night. Night driving should be avoided on secondary highways that have a lot of truck movement at night, because they frequently drive without lights, and in a one-to-one combat your little car will come out the loser.

You can't drive to South America, but you can put your car on a boat in Panama and meet up with it in a South American port.
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guera



Joined: 25 Aug 2004
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wink Some Canadians claim to be the shaftees Laughing -also rumour has it that the U.S forgot that Canada was part of North America as the U.S initially wanted a trade agreement with Mexico and were later informed that perhaps Canada should be included as they too were part of NA (TEEHEE)

Good tips from Moonraven.

Transito is to be avoided - but sometimes it's not possible, and exceptions do occur. My Mexican boyfriend has had his car impounded for a year and a half !!! This of course resulted after an accident because the two parties could not come to an agreement.

Don't ask me why or how as the bureaucratic entanglements are sooooo complicated that my eyes glaze over whenever he talks to me about it !!

I would have given up the fight ages ago.. I guess that - if I were the one in the accident - I might've wanted the first round battle with the insurance company rather than the Mexican bureaucrats !!!
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diderot



Joined: 13 Nov 2003
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 7:29 am    Post subject: I see... Reply with quote

Wow, thanks for the info everybody.

Guera, you said it isnt a necessity to have a car in Mexico, but that is what they said about Japan too. Forgive me my scepticism, but can you tell me more? And did you meal loan or lien. I will probably still have a loan. Ill look into mexican insurance. Is PEMEX a gas station or something else?

Moonraven, I didnt realize these things were so rigidly defined. Now I know. Thanks. What kinds of cars a popular? I have a 99 ford escort 2 door. Any idea what it might cost me too ship my car from panama to say, columbia? Guess. I dare you!

Maybe, I should just buy a heap when I get where I am going. Any comments?
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Ben Round de Bloc



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 1946

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

moonraven wrote:
It is very unusual here in the case of an accident to actually go through all the hoops to assign responsibility and make a claim. Folks just check to see if damage is serious, if anyone was hurt, and then they leave the scene. If someone comes out with more damage he/she usually will receive some cash from the other party on the spot, and that's it. Of course there are exceptions, but nobody wants to get the transito cops involved because they will want money, the process may take hours or days, and probably the insurance company you paid your premium to will not pay up anyway. Sorry if that sounds cynical, but that's the way things work here.


The part about getting auto insurance to pay for a claim may be generally true for Mexico, but I wouldn't recommend driving without auto insurance if you get to the part of the country where I live: La República de Yucatán. Here if you are involved in an accident, first, it will most likely be assumed that it was your fault. Such is the case when a foreign driver is involved in an accident. Second, it is next to impossible for an accident to occur in this city without the police showing up within minutes. It is amazing how they do that! If the other driver is insured and you aren't, one of two things will happen: 1) your car will be impounded, and you may or may not be taken into custody, or 2) you will pay a lot of money on the spot to the other driver and to the police, even if the damage to the other vehicle was only a tiny scratch (which may have already been there before the accident.) If you're not in the habit of carrying lots of cash with you, it could be a problem.
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moonraven



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 3094

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Diderot:

A car really isn't necessary. I sold mine 4 and a half years ago, and I really do not miss it except on those few occasions when I am moving from one part of the country to another and have to wrestle my suitcases in 2 or 3 bus terminals.

I have no idea what it will cost you to ship your car from Panama--I was simply advising you that it was an option.

I would not bring a Ford Escort. In most parts of the country you won't be able to get parts for it. Of the big 3 from Detroit, Ford is almost invisible in most of Mexico. If you must have a car, bring a Nissan--they are everywhere in Mexico, and are also produced here--I think the model is or was called Sentra in the US.
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MELEE



Joined: 22 Jan 2003
Posts: 2583
Location: The Mexican Hinterland

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Diderot,

If you missed your car in Japan, simply because you like driving, you may miss your car in Mexico (and other parts of Latin America too), but having lived in both places, a car is not necessary in either place. You can get just about everywhere in the country without a car, and owning a car presents a whole bunch of new hassels. But it also gives you a different take on the country.

I recommend that you get to know the place a little bit first, before you're in its traffic. The traffic here moves in a way completly different from my own part of the US--but I felt the same way when I went to North Carolina!!

I'm with moonraven, it is very important that you don't just drive any car into the country for an extended period of time, unless you are an expert mechanic and will be pulling a trailer full of all possible spare parts. Volkswagens and Nissans are two of the biggest sellers here and each company has Mexican plants that make cars. So just because they are popular doesn't mean you should bring one you bought in the US. A coworker had a US Jetta here several years ago, there are plenty of Jettas around but he had a very hard time getting parts because the Jetta he bought in the US was made in Germany and didn't take the same parts as the Jettas made here. For about two years I've been toying with the idea of bringing a car down from the US and I asked many people what they would recommend. The most popular response was anything made by JEEP. Jeeps are not all that common, but they are sought after (in case you want to try to sell it--another complicated proposition), parts are readily avialable, and all the JEEPs in Mexico were built in the US so the parts are the same. If a JEEP is out of the question, the next bet is Chevy for similar reasons--except maybe the sought after one Wink . Followed by NISSAN, but again, check the make, for example the Frontiers sold in the US are made in Mexico, but the Sentras are not.

In the end, I decided to buy a car locally, mostly because I suddenly had a more urgent need for a car Razz and because I realized that I have no plans of returning the car to the US and therefore I would just be chancing additional headaches later on.

Oh, when I was in high school, a friend and I had a dream of driving to Pategonia, we researched it enough to come to the conculsion that we would need a vehicle much more rugged than a 99 2-door escort! Laughing

If I get time later today, I'll tell you about my experience being the passenger in a gringo-mexican car accident--it just might restore your faith in transito!
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moonraven



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 3094

PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JEEPS are, yes, very sought after here in Mexico--especially by Judiciales, who think nothing of pulling over a fairly new Cherokee, maybe flashing a credential but certainly a 9 mm pistol in the owner's face, and taking the vehicle. (This is an updated version of the old "I don't have to show you any stinking badges" from TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE.) For that reason I suggest not bringing a JEEP--especially not a red or black Cherokee.
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diderot



Joined: 13 Nov 2003
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 1:21 am    Post subject: hmm... Reply with quote

Food for thought indeed.

Thanks for all the info, everbody. Looks like my escort is going to have to sit for a while longer.
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Flo



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2004 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live in a rather large city in Mexico. Though there are buses, I am so happy that I have my car here with me. I did not take toll roads to get to my destination, and the regular roads were acceptable. I would not advise bringing a low-rider car, however, as the speed bumps will kill it in a matter of days. You will need pesos to buy gas at PEMEX, but you can get cash at an ATM after you cross the border.

As for Mexican liability insurance, I purchased an entire year for all of mexico for about $140. There are cheaper policies, but they only cover the northern states.

From what I know, there is no way to drive from Panama to Colombia. You have to have the car shipped by boat. A friend of mine just read a book that describes the journey of a couple of guys who drove from Argentina to Alaska (sorry but I don´t remember the name of the book).

As for getting parts for your car, there are Ford dealerships that can get parts for you in Mexico. In South America there are also factories (such as Chevrolet, Volvo, and Mercedes) in various countries that can get parts for you.

I lived in South America and would not recommend taking a car there (depending on the country of course). The driving conditions are terrible, it is expensive to pay for both gasoline and toll roads, and it is dangerous. People steal all kinds of cars regardless of their condition or value. Gas in some places is around $4 a gallon.

If you have any more specific questions, please PM me.
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richtx1



Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 115
Location: Ciudad de México

PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 10:53 pm    Post subject: Henry Ford is rolling over in his grave! Reply with quote

Quote:
Ford is almost invisible in most of Mexico


Having lived on calle Henry Ford for a time, I'd point out that Fords have been available in Mexico since 1923. What the person was talking about is beyond me... Escort parts are certainly available, and... Mexican mechanics being almost as brilliant as Cuban mechanics, they can make a non-standard part work in the unlikely event that they can't find an official Escort part. But that's true with any mechanic. I drove an old Saab in Missouri with a few Rolls-Royce parts.
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Flo



Joined: 29 Mar 2004
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2004 11:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Richtx1 - Thanks for clarifying the obvious misinformation. There are clearly thousands of escorts and other Ford models driving around (and breaking down) on Mexican roads everyday. I happen to have one of them Laughing and live right down the street from a Ford dealership. Happy travels.
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