Cars, cars, cars

I WAS 50 years old before I bought a new car. It was a 1995 Ford Ranger pickup, so not really a car but a pickup.

Before then I’d always purchased used vehicles and darn few of them too. Not a car guy.

Shortly after marrying my first wife in 1965,  I inherited a 1956 Plymouth Savoy from my granny. About three years later, I bought a VW Beetle convertible, used. Now that was fun. But I left it behind when we split in 1971, and I continued sans car.

I had bicycles and motorcycles.

My second wife had a 1975 Toyota when we met in 1976, so that was what we used until about 1985 when we bought another Toyota, used. Later, we bought a third Toyota, used. That was our ride when she dumped me in 1995.

Her current car is a Prius. She votes Democrat.

And that was when I purchased my first-ever new car, er, pickup, which I drove until I moved to Mexico five years later. I sold it in 2000. Most people who move to Mexico bring their cars  — and as much gear as they can manage, foolishly — but the pickup would not fit into either of my suitcases.

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2014 Nissan March

It was after moving to Mexico in 2000 that I shifted into high gear and began buying new cars. I have purchased four in the past 17 years. All from dealerships, all paid in full, in cash. The last was in late 2013 when we bought my child bride’s 2014 Nissan March, a model that isn’t sold in the United States.

I bought new cars, in direct opposition to the fact that it’s smarter to purchase relatively new used cars, because I did not trust used cars in Mexico. I have since altered my tune, and were I to buy another car it would be a “pre-owned” from a dealership. I still wouldn’t buy one directly from a local.

2000 Chevy Popular (Pop)

My first car here (2000) was a Chevy Pop, very much akin to a Geo Metro from the turn of the century. It was a real honey, and we kept it till we bought the Nissan March in 2013. We sold it to a nephew, so it’s still in the family.

The Pop had become my wife’s gym car. It had no AC, no airbags, not even a radio. It had squat aside from reliability. We once drove it from here to Atlanta, barreling down the U.S. interstates with the windows wide open in springtime.

2004 Chevrolet Meriva

But the Pop ceased to be our main car in 2004 when we bought a Chevrolet Meriva, another vehicle that’s not sold in the United States. It was sold in other parts of the world as an Opel or Vauxhall. It too was a gem, but it had no airbags, was a stick shift, no cruise control, not so basic as the Pop, but eventually I wanted something more suited to an old coot.

So we bought a 2009 Honda CR-V with automatic transmission — the first automatic of my life — A-C, of course, cruise control and airbags front and side. Mexicans drive like lunatics, so airbags are not optional equipment.

The Honda got its 170,000-kilometer service yesterday, and the mechanic informed me that the front shocks needed to be replaced. We’ll do that next week. The cost — parts and labor — will be 7,300 pesos, which is a bit over 400 bucks.

2009 Honda CR-V

It’s the first repair of any consequence I’ve had to do with the Honda, which is a pretty good car.

Maybe we’ll buy another car one day, depending on how long I keep breathing, but if we do it’ll be a late-model used one from a dealership. I’m thinking Nissan.

Or maybe a motorcycle.

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(Note: Until recently, Gringos living in Mexico could tool around in cars with long-expired U.S. plates, and Mexico looked the other way. But a few years ago, rules were changed, and you’re not supposed to do that anymore. Most don’t.)

(Another note: I was surprised to learn recently that Renaults and Peugeots are not sold in the United States. They’re popular down here, especially Renaults.)

9 thoughts on “Cars, cars, cars

  1. I drove my 2000 Durango down here in 2002 and am still driving it. My first new car since the late ’70s, and it was my company car!! Just got some Mexican plates on it but don’t know how legal I am. “They” will hassle me as I drive to town, but they can only hassle so much. Not much of a car person if I have to pay for the car!

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    1. Peggy: Having become a citizen in 2005 and since all my cars were purchased here, coming with Mexican plates, I haven’t really paid much attention to the legal issues facing cars the Gringos drive down here. I always get a chuckle reading online forums where the Gringos are frequently talking about the hoops they must jump through on driving across the border one way or the other. Permits, etc.

      It did rather irritate me for years that Mexico permitted Gringos to drive around down here with expired U.S. plates. I’m glad that’s ended. As I understand it, and I may be wrong, it was ended when the visa options changed. It was connected somehow. Sure happy I don’t have to mess with visas anymore.


  2. We keep a ’96 Nissan Pathfinder running. It’s the “farm” truck for hauling yard implements and supplies. An in-town vehicle. It has made several trips south of the border and back in its earlier years.


    1. Carole: Nissan makes good cars. As mentioned, if I ever get another, I imagine it will be Nissan. One reason I like it is that the dealership in the capital city is very sharp. Can’t see that as much about the Honda dealership, and I darn well can’t say it about the Chevy dealer where we bought the Meriva.


  3. Felipe,

    Do you have anymore sage advice about buying a used car in Mexico? Mi esposa and I will be arriving in Mexico without the benefit of a car. After getting properly settled I’d like to buy a Mexican-plated vehicle. You mentioned you would buy a used car from a dealership. Do they have a ‘certified pre-owned’ classification down there like they do NOB?



    1. Troy: First, let me congratulate you on your not bringing a car down here and having to do all manner of rigamarole to make it legal. As for whether the dealerships here have that classification, I do not know. Never asked. But were I to buy another car here, I definitely would do it at a dealership, and I would have no qualms about it either.


  4. The problem with buying low-mileage used cars from dealerships is this. They look lovely because they are young. But someone who planned to keep a car only 2-3 years will likely not have cared one whit about the maintenance. Just take a look at youtube for horrifying (HORRIFYING!) videos of off-lease vehicles that have never had the oil changed. They become completely clogged with sludge inside.

    So if you must buy such a vehicle, have a competent mechanic that is independent of the dealer check it out, and make it clear you want him to look for evidence of long oil change intervals.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where we have become something of a mini-sludge expert. Don’t ask.


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