Preparing For a Road Trip to Mexico

Preparing Your Vehicle For a Mexico Road Trip

Preparing for a road trip to Mexico is much more than what you’re going to pack.  Your vehicle needs prep work, too.  Prepping 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 that require some particular attention.

For regular South of the border travelers, 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.

7 Simple Preparation Tips For Your Vehicle

1. Make sure your car, RV, or motorcycle is in excellent functioning order

If you suspect that anything is awry, take it to a Honda auto repair shop. 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, 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.

A little maintanence and preparation goes a long way on long trips.

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.  This can be done for free at many chain auto parts stores throughout the USA and Canada.5. If you are close to an oil change, get it before your trip

Also if you are close to the recommended time to replace brake pads, brake fluid, transmission fluid, or coolant, do it.  Finding the correct filters, gaskets, or brake pads may delay you by a couple of days. It’s best to get it done before your journey.

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

Almost everything is covered for cars by the general checklist above. The big thing to be mindful of is if you have exotic tires. Exotic 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 South of the Border.

Specifically for RVs

RVs 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 as Mexicans don’t usually own RVs.

Specifically for Motorcycles

Make sure your chain and sprockets, if your bike uses them, are 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 the 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, it’s probably best to buy the 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 late model vehicle is not a problem. 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.  This fools wisdom has left countless Gringos stuck and vulnerable on the roadside.

20 Comments. Leave new

  • Sandee Carnes
    March 13, 2018 6:10 pm

    It’s frustrating to arrive at the border only to find out that there’s no way to cross into Mexico because you didn’t buy Mexico insurance.

  • Farrah Gauthier
    March 20, 2018 5:46 pm

    Lots of planning are necessary before driving to Mexico, and the top in your list should be getting Mexico insurance.

  • Catharine Longoria
    May 24, 2018 7:44 pm

    All drivers going to Mexico are required to have Mexican insurance. However, if a driver drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol, his insurance becomes invalid.

  • This is true. All Mexico insurance companies have the same restriction.

  • Adan Shifflett
    June 3, 2018 6:57 pm

    Knowing exactly what to bring and what to leave is vital in planning for a happy travel. Equally important is having the right Mexican insurance coverage.

  • Lots of fun and limitless activities! Mexico is a great and awesome city. Who doesn’t want to spend days of travel vacation there?

  • Each traveler needs Mexican auto insurance. Yes, it’s necessary. The law requires that Mexico outsiders must be covered and financially responsible.

  • Mexican auto insurance is a law requirement in Mexico. It isn’t an optional thing. Without it, no one, in anyway, can cross the border.

  • Hailey Mccorvey
    December 16, 2019 5:06 pm

    Basically, my driving trip includes organizing my stuff step by step. Planning things out and dividing tasks can get rid of any anxiety.

  • Valentine Somerville
    July 15, 2020 5:59 pm

    GPS gives comprehensive directions seen in a larger screen, although it depends on the type of car you choose to buy. Get Mexico insurance and take off.

  • Jerrie Digangi
    September 9, 2020 6:09 pm

    Driving is full of fun. Mexico is one of the best destinations in the world. Travel safe with quality Mexican car insurance coverage.

  • Laraine Venable
    September 10, 2020 6:02 pm

    Summer in Mexico is most favorable compared to other countries. This is the reason why more tourists go there every summertime.

  • After making a successful plan, it’s now my opportunity to go off the usual traveling trail and start discovering the genuine nature of Mexico. It’s an amazing and wonderful experience.

  • If you decide to buy a property in Mexico but the location is not so familiar to you, chances are you might have regrets later. It matters to find one you really know and like.

  • Jolynn Deal
    May 22, 2022 6:50 pm

    Tianges are very popular in Mexico. It’s actually an open air public market normally held during market days in a city or town. I personally had an experience buying from one of these traditional markets and it’s a different kind of encounter.

  • Carlotta Mccabe
    June 7, 2022 6:42 pm

    Money is important when traveling to Mexico. Have a ready cash or bring your ATM card to instantly withdraw money. Credit cards are not always the best option to use when traveling.

  • Shanel Ramsay
    July 7, 2022 6:21 pm

    It’s no secret that foods in Mexico can sometimes be unfriendly to the taste buds of tourists. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt if you bring a few anti-acid stuffs.

  • Kathryne Chapa
    August 4, 2022 6:41 pm

    Off road driving requires strength, endurance, and firm willpower to reach the place you want. From beginning to end, range of obstacles need to be tackled, and this is dangerous.

  • Lynetta Asbury
    September 7, 2022 6:18 pm

    Our family has been to Rocky Point several times and still found this destination never unsafe. It means, it’s worth staying and visiting Rocky Point through the years.

  • Preparing my car is similar with preparing myself, too. I see, it’s a long trip reaching Mexico and if I feel drowsy while driving, I may get into trouble.

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