Tips for Driving in Mexico

Last Updated: October 22, 2012 by
Categories: Mexico

South into MexicoBy Theresa Russell,

We have driven in Mexico several times and found it easy and very convenient for exploring some of the attractions outside of the main cities. While bus service is very good in Mexico, we couldn’t use it to get to some of the areas that we wanted to explore. Here are a few recommendations for driving a rental vehicle in Mexico:

-Find good maps and assume that there will be errors on them. We bought several different maps before heading to Mexico and noted that there was always a nonexistent road shown or an existing road that wasn’t shown. Be flexible.

-Check with your insurance company and credit card company to see what they will cover. Usually Mexican Liability Insurance is not covered and many rental car companies will not rent you a car until your show proof of that coverage.

-Avoid driving at night. There are multiple hazards on the road including wandering livestock, debris and pedestrians. The roads are narrow without shoulders and aren’t well-lit making it easy to miss hazards. Some Mexican drivers believe that driving without their lights on saves their batteries, so watch out.

-Pay attention to topes. They come in a variety of flavors – sometimes they are simply a rope stretched across the way, other times they are raised pavement and occasionally they are a ditch completely across the road. You usually find them as you approach small villages, but they can be on the main highways as well.

-We found that the stop sign was often just a suggestion and the same for a red light.

-Don’t take a left turn signal literally. It can mean that it is okay to pass or that the person is really making a left hand turn, that they are going to pass or they simply forgot to turn off their signal. When in doubt, stay behind the car with the turn signal. In some instances, to make a left-hand turn, you need to pull over to the right and then go straight across onto the road that was the crossroad.

-Pemex is the national oil company of Mexico. Be sure that you watch to be sure that the pump is set to 0.00 and keep an eye on it while filling up. Don’t be distracted by the gas man. Some of the Pemex stations only accept cash. Be sure that you get the correct change. If you are in remote areas, be sure to fill up when you see a station.

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