Mexico: A Look at Buying a New Car

Source: Q-Roo Paul

My first piece of advice for anyone who is thinking about becoming a permanent expat in Mexico is leave your foreign plated car behind and buy one in Mexico.

I have explained my reasoning in several previous articles, but just in case you missed all of them, you can check out Moving to Mexico: The One Thing that Many People Wish They Had Done Differently

This article is for those folks who followed the advice and are now looking to buy a new car in Mexico.

Car Shopping

Many soon-to-be expats start looking at possible new cars online before they move down. This is a great way to narrow down the options but it’s important that you’re looking at the manufacturer’s Mexican site because the available models and equipment options vary from country to country.

Here are a few of them to get you started:

Chevrolet Méxicohttp://www.chevrolet.com.mx/

Ford México: https://www.ford.mx/

Honda México: https://www.honda.mx/

Hyundai México: https://www.hyundai.com.mx/

Nissan México: https://www.nissan.com.mx/

Seat México: http://www.seat.mx/

Price

One thing that I love about the prices in Mexico is that by law, the displayed price must be the total amount to be paid to obtain the item, including all taxes, fees and commissions. This will make it easier for you to calculate the cost of a particular vehicle as you look through the sites above.

Some car manufacturers will list two different prices: one for credit (crédito) and one for cash (al contado).

Registering a vehicle in Mexico is not considered part of the purchase and the responsibility of doing it falls on the buyer. That means that those fees are not included in the displayed prices.

The Art of Negotiation

In the U.S., very few prices are negotiable but the price of a new car is definitely the exception to the rule. Some people love the negotiation process, while others absolutely loathe it. If you’re in the latter group, you’ll be happy to hear that new car prices are generally non-negotiable in Mexico. In other words, the price is the price.

There are always exceptions, such as negotiating a lower price for a model that was used as a demo. You can also ask them to throw in some free floor mats or services as an incentive not to go to another dealership.

Visa Considerations

I’m not talking about your credit card either — I’m referring to your immigration status.

Generally speaking, a non-citizen cannot register a vehicle unless they have either a temporary or permanent resident visa. This is a source of frustration for many Americans and Canadians that enter the country with just a tourist visa.

I used the term “generally speaking” above because the rules are not consistently enforced across the country. There will always be certain dealerships and government offices that forget to ask about immigration status.

Let’s Wrap This Up

If you do decide to buy a new car and you don’t speak Spanish, you might want to ask one of your bilingual friends to go with you to verify what you’re actually signing. You don’t want to end up buying an entire fleet of minivans by mistake.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

25 Comments on "Mexico: A Look at Buying a New Car"

  1. Everyone’s experience is different. I was out of a rental and in a new car w/in two weeks of my arrival in Cancun. The insurance for rentals is ridiculous as everyone knows so the sooner I could ditch the rental the better. Residency was not an issue. There was negotiation. I used my credit card to get around the wiring of money and the exchange rate ripoff. Registration, license and insurance were all taken care of. The salesman even picked me up at the car rental when I returned it the same day I drove away in the new car. The salesman went above and beyond. I can offer a reference if interested.

    • Sounds like you lucked out all around! You should have played the lottery that week…lol.

    • Ana Higginbotom | January 9, 2018 at 9:10 pm |

      Where did you do that?

      • Hello Ana. I did that at the Mazda dealership in Cancun. The salesman was Fernando. His english was sufficient to get the job done. Normally I dread the car buying experience but surprisingly this time it was’t all that bad. Good luck.

  2. Do you thinks cars are made as well here in Mexico. By the same standards? I feel safer in my American purchased Subaru.

    • Safety standards do vary by country but a lot of it has to do with the equipment package that you choose: dual airbags, side impact airbags etc.

  3. As usual your post is so helpful. What do expats do that need a car but are waiting on a resident visa? AND -sorry another question-do the car dealers do repairs, oil changes and such or is this something one would need to find a reliable mechanic elsewhere? Thanks! Jan Green

    • The ones without a resident card should ask some expats in their immediate area if things “vary” there. That is the best advice 🙂

      The dealerships can handle all the services. Make sure you get them done by the predetermined mileage amounts, or you risk voiding the warranty.

  4. Vicky Boddie | January 9, 2018 at 9:49 am |

    One thing to note: Be sure to keep your factura or you will not be able to sell the car later.

  5. Thanks so much for your posts. We are considering moving to Mexico and I find all of your info very helpfull.

  6. Roberta Strand | January 9, 2018 at 11:07 am |

    We bought our new Rav 4 for the Toyota dealership in Puerto Vallarta (whom I highly recommend) with just a tourist visa, but this was a couple of years ago. No more. We have bought two more cars since then in Lake Chapala and NO ONE will sell you a car without a temporary or resident visa. Dealerships do do repairs, oil changes, etc., many times for free. With every car I have bought here I have not paid for or driven the car off the lot until the dealership registers it in my name and they have complied.

  7. I am planning to move to Mexico soon and have done allot of research on this. My comments are not based on actual experience, only what I have read. The point of your article, as usual, is spot on – 100% true. It seems like bringing your car into Mexico could create a bunch of problems for you down the line. However, my research indicates that you don’t get as much car for the money in Mexico as you do in the USA. It is not always the case that a car in Mexico will have all the safety feature as one in the USA will have, such as airbags. There are other features to be mindful of, like the type of sound system you will get, the type or heating or even air conditioning. But, as far as I can tell, you are absolutely correct – say goodbye to your USA car when you cross the border.

  8. Ana Higginbotom | January 9, 2018 at 8:18 pm |

    Hi Paul!

    At this point you could be the person who can help me. I wired money to Nissan Cancun ( Bonampak) on December 28th and they got my money. I sent them all the wire transfer support but they keep telling me that the numbers do not match their numbers. I do not know what to do. My US bank already gave me everything that they have. The dealership does not want to give me the car, neither the money. Do you know another case like mine? Did they lose their money? Where can I get some help?

    • No, I’ve never heard of another case like this one. I’m not clear which numbers don’t match exactly. Bank transfers of this type are pretty straightforward.

      If you can’t work it out with the dealership, you can always contact PROFECO for assistance. That is the government agency that handles consumer rights.

      • The wire transfer confirmation numbers from BoA and the ones from HSBC in Mexico. They know that it is my money; they got it 9 days ago, but they say that I cannot prove it without the same transfer number. So, my bank says that, it is everything they have. :-(.

        Today I called my bank and I let them know that I want my money back. So, they told me that they will try to get it back. If they cannot do it, I will go to PROFECO.

        Thanks Paul!

        • So sorry to hear that, Ana. That is an unusual situation and I hope that they can get it all worked out out quickly.

  9. I have been following your posts for awhile now and have found them helpful. My husband and I have recently moved to Baja and Baja is different in many respects. For example, you CAN bring foreign plated cars to Baja, as long as you keep the registration current. There is no import fee or 10 year rule as long as you keep the car registered in another country. Many people use South Dakota to register their cars because it is easy, inexpensive and do not require any inspections to renew.

    • Yes, Baja is different and I mention that in articles about bringing a foreign plated car down. Although, they do crack down on Mexican citizens doing it to get around import laws. They call those “chocolate cars”.

  10. *do should be does

  11. Kathy Perkins | January 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm |

    Appreciate your first hand experience/knowledge of several topics. We’re temporary residents in Baja and are driving our California plated cars until we become permanent in 2 more years. A note to Donna above, while Baja is different, you can only drive a non-Mexican plated car in Baja if you are here on a 180 day visa or during the period of time you are renewing a temp residency card. Once you become a permanent resident, legally you are no longer able to drive a car without Mexican plates.

  12. Okay. So I’ll re-think my earlier plan, which was to drive my stateside car around during the term of my resident temporal, and then purchase again, once permanent. I now lean toward ditching my stateside car north of the border and using Uber to get around in Mx while I shop for the right Mexican-made vehicle. That means I need to have a short list of SUVs that are 1) relatively inexpensive to run, 2) reliable/easily repaired, 3) up to snuff safety-wise since I hear that there are disparities in safety features between vehicles made for U.S. vs. Mexican sales.

    I think in terms of Honda CRV, Chevy Tracker… Any other suggestions on Makes and Models from some of you InTheKnow car folk out there? No interest in auto sex appeal or turbo powers by the way… 🙂

    And another thought: I read somewhere that one cannot expect to seamlessly repatriate stateside (if it becomes necessary for some reason) with a Mexican-manufactured auto. If I’m recalling correctly, it had to do with some probably prohibitive costs of installing additional nuts and bolts to bring a car into U.S. emissions and/or safety standards. Anyone have intel about that?

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