Which car/truck should you drive to Mexico?
The short answer is – the one you already own. We’ve insured people driving everything from Audis to Volkswagens. You can have any car repairs done in Mexico. No matter what the problem, Mexican mechanics can repair it and get you back on the road. It is just easier and faster when your vehicle make and model are also made in Mexico. Sometimes when a part is not available, a local machine shop can custom-make your part.
My Personal Experience with Car Repair in Mexico
I learned this from experience. My venerable VW Westfalia broke down in a small town in Zacatecas state. I limped into a small mechanic shop. A faulty fuel pump was the culprit. It had a hole in the casing and gas ran out. In the States, any shop would have trashed it and ordered a new one.
No te preocupes, said the maestro. Mexican mechanics are called maestros (masters of their crafts).
We trundled off to a nondescript shop on a side street with a faded sign proclaiming it to be the Bomba del Oro (the pump of gold). The chief bombardier looked at the defunct fuel pump and said he could repair it – come back in an hour. The resurrected pump chugged along for several months. The adventure cost me $65 & half a day.
What If You Break Down on the Road?
If you’re insured with Mexico Insurance Services and have more than a liability policy, you have Mexican Roadside Assistance coverage. While breaking down on the highway is no picnic, with this coverage it will be like little ants came to visit, not like a thunderstorm drenched everyone. With a toll-free phone call, you can get a tow truck from a reputable company to take you to get your vehicle repaired in Mexico.
You may have heard of the Green Angels (Angeles Verdes). They are tourism department employees who drive up and down the major highways drive distinctive green panel trucks searching for stranded tourists, Mexican and foreign.
They are a wonderful service, but their funding keeps decreasing. So do their numbers. You could wait hours for one to come help you. I have. That’s why the Roadside Assistance service is such a valuable feature of the policies you get from MexInsurance.com®.
Whatever you drive, repair in Mexico is possible. But I don’t want to get all rose-colored glasses on you. You may have to wait for a part if your vehicle brand and model aren’t made in Mexico. Once I had a newish Ford Escape. It needed a new radiator. That model is not made in Mexico. A mechanic in the small town of Isla Aguada, CAMP went to the dealer in Villahermosa. They ordered a part from Houston. Three days later it was in Isla. It was the wrong radiator. But Chango (the monkey) made it fit and work. I had a larger radiator that worked quite well for the next few years. When I sold the car it was still working. So not all “field-fixes” are temporary.
If you are the sort of person who prefers playing it safe to praying you’ll find a pump of gold or a Chango at the end or your automotive rainbow, here are some facts.
Most any part can be shipped from the USA and the duty is not that onerous – generally ranging from 16% to 25%.
Mexico is the second-largest automobile manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere, behind the USA.
Dealerships & Chains
For quality work go to a dealership. Yes, they charge more than shade tree mechanics, but they will most likely do repairs right. That means no Bombas de Oro for them. If a part is not up to specs, they won’t install it. They are also more likely to take longer. Just like back home, there are good dealers and bad ones, so don’t leave your common sense at the door. We know a customer from North Carolina who saves all his Honda work until he gets back to the dealer in Saltillo. The cost is half what he’d pay at home and he enjoys a few days in Saltillo. You might find a favorite dealer too.
In-between are Goodyear and Firestone. They are usually quick and if not real busy will often bump tourists to the front of the line. Prices are a little less than dealers. They will try to get the right part first. If they cannot, some owners/operators will fix you up with a locally machined part. Others will wait for apart from the States.
If you are the do-it-yourself type, there are AutoZones and other parts chains throughout Mexico. There are BMW, Alfa Romeo, and Mercedes Benz dealers in large cities. Auto parts (autopartes) stores are called Refaccionarias.
Missed It By That Much
Sometimes a specific model is made in Mexico but not in the USA. Since engines are often similar, you still have a chance, though not a guarantee, that parts for yours will be available. Parts for all makes and models are made throughout Mexico.
Who’s Made Where?
- Alfa Romeo
- Although Alfas are not made in Mexico, you’ll be surprised to find dealerships in half a dozen major cities besides Mexico City.
- I wouldn’t take a “Z” series or any that is low-slung.
- The Audi Q5 is made in San José Chiapa, PUEBLA
- BMW opened a billion-dollar plant in 2019 to produce the 3 series. It’s in San Luis PotosÍ, SLP.
- General Motors
- GMC Sierra 5-door crew cabs made in Sialo, Guanajuato.
- FMC – Fiat-Chrysler
- Fiat Chrysler makes heavy-duty trucks in Ramos Arizpe near Saltillo, COAHUILA and various auto parts at six other plants in Mexico. The Dodge Ram 1500 was made here until a few years ago, so parts are still available.
- Dodge Journey and Chrysler PT44 Cruiser made in Toluca, MEX. Production began in 1968. Even if the models are discontinued, parts will be abundant.
- The Fiat 500 made in Toluca
- The Honda Fit made in Celaya, GTO
- The HR-V made in the same place.
- The CR-V made in El Salto. JALISCO
- Hyundai moved some production to Mexico in 2017 and manufactures the Rio near Monterrey, NL.
- The Kia Forte made at a factory NE of Monterrey, NL, near Pesqueria since 2014.
- The Mazda 3 made in Salamanca, GTO. Honda’s had a plant there since 2014.
- Mercedes Benz
- Mercedes has four factories turning out semi-trucks and one plant in Aguascalientes. AGS to produce Class A and GLB sedans. The Aguascalientes plant only opened in 2018.
- Toyota Tacoma is still made in Baja California and Guanajuato, GTO.
- Volkswagen Jetta has been made in Puebla, PUE since 1993.
- The last Beetle rolled off the line in 2003.
Dealerships for cars not made in Mexico
Hundai, Mazda, Peugeot, Renault, Volvo all have dealers in Mexico so many parts are on hand.
So, no matter what you drive, you’ll find Mexico ready for you. If you have more than one car, choose one that is with brand manufacturing in Mexico for the ease of service. But if you don’t have that luxury, don’t worry. Many of our customers have been driving to Mexico for decades – back when there were few cars Hecho en México. They did just fine, as will you.