To become a happy owner of the car in Mexico you must go through four steps: finding a proper car, checking if it is really a proper car, getting money to buy this car, registering the car. And each of those steps can be a fight – especially if you are a foreigner.
Wow a proper car looks like, depends of course on your needs. For our trip from Mexico to Panama the most important things were: that the car is in ok condition and hopefully we will not have too much problems in some strange time and place on the way (like we had during our first trip, around the Black Sea) and that it’s big enough to sleep in it. That the owner has all the documents was also a big deal (since we want to cross a few borders with it). The price was not so crazy important, because we want to sell the car at the end, in Panama.
Finding a car in Cancun (Mexico)
Ok, so you arrive to a new country and where to buy a car? We started to talk with friends, friends of friends, couch surfing users, taxi drivers, people in the shops. There were few places we checked in first days but mostly with almost new and looking very new cars. This is not what we need: to be visible from the first second. All of the people were sending us to the Sunday big car market, on the parking place of the stadium in Cancun (at the intersection of Kabah and Coba Avenues). And that’s how we got our first sun bath: walking in between dozens of cars.
Factbox: Buying a car in Mexico
If you consider buying a car in Mexico, you have to check that:
1. The car is not stolen (Online Portal for checking > )
2. That the tarjeta de circulation is still valid for the time you will be in Mexico.
3. That all the taxes are payed.
4. That the owner has the original bill of the car.
Make a contract with the owner. Take the keys, a copy of his ID, the original bill(s), the tarjeta de circulacion.
Maybe Update: Go with the owner to a notary to confirm with a officially looking stamp:
1. the contract and
2. make a certificate of authority (span: el poder), saying you can drive/sell the car in Central America.
You will not be able (without the FM3) to register or insurance the car in Mexico as a foreigner.
Remember: Mexican ATMs don’t give you much money per day. We found out the trick that after getting the money from the cash machine you will be asked if you want to do another action. Like this you can withdrawal again. Important: also read this post about how to withdrawal money with your credit card abroad without extra costs. We lost a lot of money but not knowing this little tricks.
There are no photos from the market because we were too busy with watching cars, our kids (and not getting robbed at the same time) to take pictures. I liked the most some old shabby jeeps, but Tom was afraid about repairing them in every next village we want to drive through. All in all, we are responsible parents and the most important is that the car is safe.
Checking the car
Since we are not car experts (I mean Tom is not an expert, I can basically talk about colours of the cars), we were very happy to find Alejandro, who helped us with choosing, test drives, asking proper questions, checking online if the car is stolen or not, looking on this and that. Thanks to him we didn’t buy cars which looked very fine but had some serious problems. And the end the red Dodge Caravan (or Chrysler Voyager, I don’t know the difference / 3.8l, V6, 220hp) was the best of all. We could of course come back to the market next time and look for a perfect car but that would mean at least one more week in Cancun. The owner of our Dodge was a good, honest guy.
Getting the money for the car
About games with withdrawing cash for buying a car I already told you in the previous post. The funny part is still to store the cash somewhere (for example in Mila’s car seat), to bargain a bit, to count the money twenty times.
Bying the car
To buy a car in Mexico you just need to have money. Signe a contract with the previous owner finally take from him the keys (plus: the original bill of the car, a copy of his passport, the tarjeta de circulacion). But to register a car in Mexico officially on your name – you need unfortunately more. The “Tarjeta de circulacion” is kind of passport of the car, which is made on the name of the owner. If you want to insurance the car, you need to have such a tarjeta. But having insurance in not obligatory in Mexico. So you can easily use the car with a tarjeta on the previous owner’s name (if it’s still valid). Getting fastly (it takes around 2 months) tarjeta on your name is almost impossible (ok, possible, for 1500 dollars), because for it you need to have so called FM3 form (which means you are in some way in Mexico: living, employed, etc).
We were thinking that going to notary to have a nice red stamp on our contract with a guy we bought a car from can maybe help us in the future but hurricane Rina changed our plans: nobody was working and we decided to risk. Let’s see, more news in this topic after crossing the first border.
So we have a car. After last year experience we already knew how we want to adapt it into our new home. Visiting some Home Depot shop, getting wooden boards (to be put on the closed seats, to make a big surface to become a bed), some boxes, packing everything and… starting finally!
But after saying goodbye to all new Cancunian friends, after doing big food shopping, after tanking, we drove for… 20 km and ended up in the first car workshop! Fortunately was nothing serious, fast, in the shadow, friendly and cheap. And then we arrived to San Angel, Maya village with 800 inhabitants. Our first harbor.
Our first book is out!
We have published our first book (for now just in Polish:) about our Central America Trip.
See, read and order here »