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Old 28 Aug 2004
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: thailand
Posts: 1
buying a pick up truck or similar in mexico and driving down

morning folks,ive been living in Asia for the past 2 1/2 years,some of it working but mainly alot of the time was spent chilling and just being the self and for sure ive had a fantastic time but now ive decided that i want to go on a bit of an adventure before again having to find work..
so im wanting to buy a pick up truck,a cowboy hat and find me a dog and go for a drive down the coast of mexico..
starting in the north and working my way down...
so im just wanting to know how realistic am i being in wanting to do this ..???
ive never done an overland trip before unless you count being up on the himalaya roads on the back of a bike for three cold days and nights a trip,well it could be i guess..!!
so ive a few questions that need answering if you can help..
where would be the best place to buy the kind of vehicle im after..??
i would love to do it on a bike but for practical reasons and having to carry my teaching books with me,unfortunatly i cant,so a pick up truck or similar is my other option..
would it be easier on the paperwork if i bought the vehicle in mexico rather than having to do all the importation documents from the states into mexico..??
do they have like they do in australia and have auction places where travlling people sell their vehicle at the end of their journey..??
and are these at border areas or do i have to go deeper into mexico or buy it u.s.a. state side..??
is there plenty of mechanics along the route,or a call out rescue and recovery association i can join...??
is it safe enough that if i have to sleep in the back of the truck some nights,then i could..??
im aware that i have to have a driving license,a tourist card and the registration documents for the vehicle but is there anything else that i will need..???
ive roughly got 500 to 700 english pounds to spend on a vehicle,is this enough to get me a reliable motor..???
and just any other info or websites you can give me for the help and advise i need would be much appreciated....
many thanks
TJ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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Old 2 Sep 2004
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Danbury CT USA
Posts: 103
A lot of these questions are opinion questions based on personal experience, as opposed to factual questions. So I will give my opinions knowing that someone else may disagree.

$900 to $1250 U.S. is in no way enough money to confidently buy a pick-up truck that you can count on for such a trip. I would say minimum $4000, and then you better know what you have to look for or have someone knowledgeable helping you.

As a rule, mechanics in rural Mexico want to help, and some can do "make it work (at least for a while)" repairs with minimal parts and supplies. But they do not have the knowledge, tools, and supplies to diagnose, let alone make professional repairs on late model computer-controlled cars and trucks. OEM dealers are a different story, but they are few and far apart, generally in the bigger cities.

I would not want to take such a trip in anything but a nearly new truck ($8000+)without a decent knowledge of vehicle engineering and mechanics. At the very least, I would suggest taking a basic car care course and then also pay a knowledgeable mechanic to spend a day or so teaching you some basic maintenance/repairs on your specific vehicle.

If you have spent some time in rural Thailand, you probably understand why I am advising caution, education, and preparation.

There are two coasts in Mexico, you didn't say which one you are thinking of driving down.

If you have a U.S. drivers license, I would suggest buying and registering your vehicle in the U.S. Getting the temporary import sticker from Mexican Customs to drive into Mexico is no big deal. You will have to have the vehicle title though, and that can take a few weeks to get from your motor vehicle office in some states.

If you use some common sense care in where you park overnight, it should be reasonably safe to sleep in your truck.

Good luck with your plans. I do not mean to scare you about the vehicle and mechanics, but I believe that life is a preparation game and you are better off doing the preparations for your trip, including saving up enough $ first and studying what you need to know, before embarking.

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Old 3 Sep 2004
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Posts: 164
Yes I agree, buy a truck in San Diego California or better in National City or Chula Vista but dont buy it from the used car shops, they sell trash, buy a county newspaper specialized in used cars (you find them in grocery stores).
But it will cost you more than 3,000 for shure.
Dont buy a mitsubishi, mazda, etc. Make it simple, ford, dodge, nissan, something you can get spare parts in mexico easy.
If you want to travel thru beautiful beachs, try Baja California, it is a long drive but you will love it.
Then in La paz you can take the Ferry to Mazatlan but it will cost you something like 150 or 200 US dlls. to take it with the truck.
Then you can go all the way south coasting. Be carefull in the state of Michoacan by night. By no means drive thru Mexico City, it is weird and dangerous and cops are nasty.
You will love Mexico, if you drive thru Guadalajara I can share , food, talk and camping space.
But I think for shure you will need to save some more money for the trip. Or do it in a motorcycle and camp all the way with a budget of arround 40 or 50 dlls a day

Life is the process of making known the unknown. MOROcycler
THE Motorcycle JOURNEY is making known the unknown.
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Old 9 Sep 2004
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: London
Posts: 20
Hi TJ,

My wife and I tried buying a vehicle in Mexico at the beginning of 2003 - even with a friend who spoke fluent spanish, it's almost impossible!! After 3 days we gave up, caught the bus back to Laredo, Texas and within 6 hours of arriving in Texas, we drove off with our 'new' van.

There are thousands of used vehicles for sale in Laredo, we ended up buying a 20 year old Ford Econoline van for US$1800, which served us fantastically all the way down to Costa Rica.

Only consider buying cheap if you know your way around the mechanics...if you're not very knowledgable about the inner workings, I would suggest spending a bit more initially on the purchase.

If you decide to purchase in the States, you will need to get a post box address in the States in order to register the vehicle in your name (Western Union sorted us out within 15 minutes). The rest of the process is really straight forward...the onlyu pain is that you'll have to wait for 3 weeks for your paperwork to come through (we did some sightseeing and camped on the beach on Padre island while we waited).

If you want any other info, feel free to drop me an email.

Go For IT

Chris D
1973 Unimog 416 Camper Conversion
Chris D
Land Rover 130 with Trojan Back
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