EER138: Buying a Car in Mexico & Driving Around Mexico with Kids

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Buying a car in Mexico: it’s one of the best ways to see the country and can be an immensely rewarding way to travel. This week’s guest has a lot of experience buying a car in Mexico, and she shares her experience here. Aimee and her husband sold everything and left to drive around Mexico with their two daughters, two dogs, and a cat. This is their story. There are lots of twists and turns, so listen in and learn from their mistakes!

EER138: Buying a Car in Mexico

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Buying a Car in Mexico

Buying a car in Mexico and then driving around Mexico with two kids, two dogs, and one cat. That’s what Aimee Lynch and her husband Jason did. In fact, they’ve bought three cars in Mexico, and they’re still driving around Mexico right now. Today we talk about their adventurous road trip and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Jason and Aimee are from Iowa, far from any ocean. Then they decided to give Mexico a try and moved to Cozumel, right on the Caribbean Sea. At first, they lived without a car in Mexico. Instead, they lived out of their suitcases. But eventually, the kids wanted to try going to a local school and taxis or walking wasn’t a realistic option. That’s when they decided to buy a car in Mexico for the first time.

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IN THIS EPISODE

  • 02:36 Intro
  • 03:11 Why Mexico? Why drive around Mexico?
  • 7:01 Cars in Mexico
  • 09:05 Mobile Mechanics
  • 11:24 Re-Registering the Truck
  • 15:07 Playa del Carmen, the Jeep & Pets
  • 18:31 Leaving Playa del Carmen for Driving Around Mexico
  • 27:51 San Miguel de Allende & Oaxaca
  • 31:50 Car Insurance
  • 35:08 Health Insurance
  • 38:58 Car Maintenance
  • 41:22 Tips for Driving in Mexico
  • 44:57 Destinations
  • 46:53 The Size of Mexico

Paperwork: Buying a Car in Mexico

Their first car was a beat-up old Blazer. It did the job and was all they needed to get around Cozumel with the kids. They were surprised to discover that paperwork for buying a car in Mexico was surprisingly simple. In fact, all the owner had to do was sign a paper saying that they give the car to you. Simple, right?

Wrong.

Soon they found out that buying a car in Mexico is a little more complicated than that. When they went to re-register the truck, they hired a lawyer to help with the paperwork. There they discovered that since they didn’t have the original title, they technically couldn’t drive the car or sell it. Nor could they replace the original title.

As Aimee says in the podcast they chose an unusual solution: they gave the car to a local Mexican friend. They were planning to leave Cozumel for the mainland and in her words, they had got their money out of the Blazer, so it was time to move on.

Buying a Car in Playa del Carmen

Cozumel was a great place to start with their limited Spanish. However, Aimee says that if they wanted to truly immerse themselves in Spanish, they would have to head to the mainland.

The Lynch family then moved to Playa del Carmen, where they bought a Jeep Cherokee. They loved the Jeep, but eventually, they decided to drive around the country. The Jeep was not big enough for their family, their pets and all of their stuff.

It was time to buy a car in Mexico once more.

Using the same Lawyer from Cozumel, they went to a local used car dealer and left with a Chevy Suburban. After some complications with the lawyer, they decided to deal directly with the dealership. The dealer told them to go ahead and proceed with their traveling plans, so Aimee’s family left Playa del Carmen on a huge Mexico road trip.

They drove from Playa del Carmen to Merida, and then out of the Yucatan Peninsula and up to Mexico City, Puebla, San Miguel de Allende and beyond. Then it was on to Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca before they decided that they wanted to slow down and possibly return to Cozumel for a while.

Use a Lawyer When You Buy a Car in Mexico

All along the way, they waited to hear that their paperwork was finished. Eventually, the car dealership told them that it couldn’t be done and that they wanted to buy the car back from them…at a cheaper price. More details in the podcast.

This is when Aimee and Jason realized that the lawyer was probably right. If you’re going to buy a car in Mexico, she says, hire a lawyer and listen to them.

Fortunately, they were able to work it out. They stood up to the dealership, who backed down and “suddenly became very nice,” once they said that they would hire a lawyer again to help.

Flying in, Buying a Car in Mexico & Driving the Country

There’s much more to the story of the Lynch’s experience buying a car in Mexico. Make sure to listen to the podcast for the details. We discuss the paperwork you need to buy a car in Mexico and dealing with police at checkpoints. We talk about driving tips, and car insurance (spoiler alert: if you buy a car in Mexico, make sure to buy car insurance, too). Aimee talks about additional benefits of Mexican car insurance that you might not think of.

Car Maintenance: Buying a Car in Mexico

Buying a car in Mexico is quite cheap compared to the United States. So is car maintenance, although the methods might be different from what you’re accustomed to. Aimee tells stories of mobile mechanics who bring the garage to you, and of unorthodox ways of getting a car started.

Mexico Road Trip Destinations

Once you buy a car in Mexico, where do you want to go? Aimee has some suggestions. She says that having a car in Playa del Carmen was great because it helps give you access to all the amazing cenotes nearby.

We can agree that the Yucatan Peninsula is a great place to drive in Mexico. If we were to buy a car in Mexico and stay long-term, places like Merida and Tulum would be a great place to start. The roads are flat, straight and open.

That was not the case for the road from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido, on the Pacific coast, she says. Google Maps said it would take six hours, but it took them 10. Full of sharp left-and-right switchbacks, they drove carsick at 20 miles an hour for what seemed like an eternity.

Take our advice: go to Puerto Escondido — it’s fantastic — but fly in.

She also talked about driving in San Miguel de Allende, but more as a warning. They loved driving in Central Mexico, and San Miguel de Allende is a beautiful town. That said, the streets are quite narrow. We would agree. We love exploring San Miguel de Allende with kids, but driving on it’s hilly, narrow cobblestone streets would be a headache. It reminds us of Toledo in Spain, actually).

Conclusion: Buying a Car in Mexico

Aimee and I discuss lots more than buying a car in Mexico, so listen in. If you want to buy a car in Mexico, she’s the right person to talk to and it open to questions from listeners.

ABOUT

  • Names: Aimee and Jason Lynch, their two daughters, two dogs and one cat
  • Hold passports from: USA
  • Type of travel: Overland travel
  • A few places they’ve been: All over Mexico — Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Merida, Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, Jalisco, San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala and more.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help you buy a car in Mexico or drive around Mexico with your family. Are you buying a car in Mexico? Did this post help? 

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