Preparing Your Vehicle For a Mexico Road Trip
How to Enhance Your Mexico Visit with Mexican Insurance Store reviews and rate information
Story By Jim Foreman
Preparing your vehicle for a long road trip in Mexico is typically quite similar to preparing it for a trip within the USA or Canada.
Though there are many similarities, there are also some different realities in Mexico that require some particular attention.
For regular travelers to Mexico most of this information is well known, but for new travelers or those visiting overland for the first time, the information presented can mean the difference between a great trip and a miserable one.
General Preparation For Your Vehicle
1. Make sure your car, RV, or motorcycle is in excellent functioning order. On the road, potentially in the middle of nowhere isn’t a smart place to have a timing belt break. Unless you’re particularly mechanically inclined, it may be worth the visit to your dealership to have them run a full safety check and have a technician thoroughly look over your particular vehicle. A factory service tech is preferred as they are keenly familiar with typical problems on all models and can check those out. Taking it to a dealership will also check for any factory recalls, campaigns, and advisories free of charge to you.
2. Make sure your tires have lots of tread and not close to the wear bar. Roads in Mexico will grind down your tires much faster than typical US-based roads. If you are driving a vehicle more exotic to Mexico, it may take some time to get a replacement tire or set of tires.
3. Have a basic toolkit for your vehicle. Specifically include sockets, wrenches, Allen keys, and any other specialty tools your car may likely need, for a repair. No need to go overkill and tow a Snap-On tool chest. A simple, compact toolkit will work fine. Make sure it’s SAE or Metric based on the brand of your car.
4. If your battery is over two years old, get it load tested and possibly replaced. They don’t last forever and getting stuck with a dead one is entirely preventable.
5. If you are close to an oil change, get it. Also if you are close to the recommended time to replace brake pads, brake fluid, transmission fluid, or coolant, do it.
6. Get your shocks and suspension evaluated. This essential element is something few consider. Proper suspension can mean the difference between confidently traveling a narrow mountain road and white-knuckling the steering wheel the entire time. If your vehicle is over four years old or has over 70,000 miles, get your suspension checked by a reliable technician. It’s relatively inexpensive to replace or rebuild shocks. The difference can be night and day. The car, RV or motorcycle will feel like it was when brand new.
7. Carry a T-handle tire plug kit and a 12v air compressor. The Slime brand repair kit with the rope-like plugs work very well. Typically, avoid the canisters with the sealant. It makes replacing the tire a mess and will likely incur an additional charge and lots of scorn from the shop. If you’ve never used a tire plug kit, ask a tire shop or your dealership if you can try it on a worn tire mounted on a rim. Usually, a tech will be delighted to instruct you on how to do it.
The key is to make sure your car is in top shape and can handle the additional stresses of high heat, altitude, heavy load, and occasional rough roads. Additionally, if something small happens, it’s best to know how to do simple repairs like check oil levels, fill coolant reservoirs, check tire pressure, and change a tire. On some cars, checking oil, coolant levels, and tire pressure is as simple as doing a systems check on your dash.
Specifically For Cars
Most everything is covered for cars by the general checklist. The big thing to be mindful of is if you have exotic tires. This means anything for a luxury car or specialty rims. If you do, and your tires usually take a day or two to get in the USA, you may want to carry a spare, if you have the room. Tire punctures are somewhat common. If you drive a Honda, Nissan or Toyota, Ford or Chevy with standard tires, you’ll have no problems finding new tires in Mexico.
Specifically for RVs
RV’s can be a bit tricky. There are a lot of parts that work independently to provide a comfortable and enjoyable experience. If you transport potable water, make sure you top off in the US.
Give your RV an end to end shakedown to make sure all is functioning as it should. Not only does this re-familiarize you with all of the functions of the RV, but it also will help confirm everything is working correctly and within specifications.
If you have an iffy part, buy its replacement in the US and carry it. RV parts are typically hard to get in Mexico as Mexicans don’t usually own RVs.
Specifically for Motorcycles
Make sure your chain and sprockets, if your bike uses them, is not worn.
Since Motorcycle tires wear much faster than car and truck tires, make sure they are at 80% tread or better. Mexican roads eat up moto tires. Expect half they typical life you get out of them in the USA.
Big bikes are quite rare in Mexico, and if you are in need of a part along the way, it may be several weeks before you will get it.
If you’re going to need an oil change along your journey, to enhance your trip it’s probably best to buy a proper oil filter for your bike ahead of time. Good motorcycle oil is available in moto shops. Perhaps not your favorite brand, but it’s good, nonetheless.
Taking your own late model vehicle is not a problem in Mexico. Mexicans own new and very nice cars, trucks and motorcycles. Don’t choose a rickety or worn out vehicle with the false assumption it will make you less noticeable.
If you do have problems along the way, you’ll be glad you researched and chose Mexican Insurance Store. All of their policies include roadside assistance and will help you in your time of need.