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Expats come to the Riviera Maya all the time, and we often get asked what they should do with their car. Should they buy a new car? What is the difference in price for buying cars in Mexico vs. the United States? Should they drive down from the states or start over? 

If you are thinking about moving to Mexico, what you decide to do with your car can be a big factor in the move itself. Driving down through Mexico can present its own challenges. On the other hand, it provides more advantages with respect to flying. Last, which is more economically strategic? That last question is what we see today.

Buying a Car in Mexico | Guide

US Dollar vs Mexican Peso

The exchange rate is the biggest factor in the cost of cars for expats.  Ten years ago, our advice would have been very different from what it is today. Back then, the exchange rate was roughly 10-11 pesos per US Dollar.  As we rewrite this article in December 2020, the exchange rate is roughly 20 pesos per each dollar. Ten years ago, you could expect to pay roughly 20% more for a car here in Mexico than you would pay for the same car in the United States. 

With last decade’s evolution, that is no longer the case and it is now much more advantageous for expats to use their US Dollars (exchanged to pesos) and buy in Mexico. 

Car Prices in Mexico vs the US

Vehicle Cost in Mexico
(US dollars)
Cost in the US
Nissan Versa 2022 $14,580 $15,380
KIA Forte Sedan 2022 $21,224 $24,425
Toyota Corolla 2022 Full details and comparison of 8 popular vehicles downloading the free guide below.

Here is a chart that gives you an idea of the difference in prices in a few popular models.  As you can see, both the Nissan Versa and the KIA Forte are considerably cheaper in Mexico, one being $1,200 dollars cheaper and the other $3,200. (The complete table, with prices in pesos and dollars).

In Mexico, as in the US, , there can be some regional variations in the prices. Nevertheless, these are the official prices listed in their respective websites. 

precios carros promedio

As you can see, the current exchange rate offers foreign buyers a distinct advantage in terms of how far they can stretch their money. 

This is key for retirees looking for a lower cost of living.  But even if you aren’t a retiree on a budget, getting a car for $2-$3K less than you can at home is never a bad thing. 

Apart from that, take into account that importing your own car from the US/Canada is extremely difficult and costly, you definitely should consider buying here. Did you know you cannot import a car less than 10 years old and more than 10 years old into Mexico?

Buying a Car in Mexico | Guide

Contents of the guide:

1. Walkthrough: how to buy a car in Mexico.
2. Do I need a Mexican driver’s license?
3. Basic vocabulary in Spanish and English.
4. Comparison: Car prices in Mexico vs. the United States.
5. Price comparison in charts.
6. Requirements to buy a car.
7. Registering your new car.

What you need to know before buying a car as a foreigner

When you want to buy a car in Mexico there are things you need to take into account that are not only the legal documents. It’s a matter of being smart, asking the right questions, and getting to know the car-selling culture of the place. 

For instance, could you ask for a loan to buy a car in Mexico? In the US, that might be an obvious yes, but here it is not the most usual practice. Banks are reluctant on doing so, because cars often change hands, it is more difficult for them to follow a debt like that. Thus: cash or transfer. On the spot on the same day you buy it. 

Other questions we answer in our guide:

  • What do I need to check in a used car before I buy it?
  • How do I pay for my car without losing a lot on money in comissions and bad exchange rates?
  • Where do locals buy cars in Mexico?
  • Can I own a car if I am a foreigner? (Yes, but it needs explanation)

So, is buying a car in Mexico cheaper?

Yes! Prices are generally cheaper in Mexico, both for new and used cars. Our guide gives you advice and a detailed list of car models and their price comparisons between the two countries. Moreover, if you know local tips on how to buy the vehicle, you can get even more value for less price.

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