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chucdoti

Feb 23, 2012, 3:25 PM

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Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Hello to all!! I have been hanging out gathering information from all the expert expats in this forum. This site is a wealth of information and I want to thank all who add to these discussions because everyones input is so valuable!!

I plan to travel Mexico in about 3 - 4 years. I am shopping various vehicles in the US (I live in Tennessee) to replace my 10 year old car. I am curious if a hybrid is an good option to bring with me to Mexico. I would love to purchase something cheap to drive but also very serviceable there.

Thanks for your opinions!!



RickS


Feb 23, 2012, 4:11 PM

Post #2 of 39 (14197 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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One hell of a lot could change in 3-4 years, but.....

The Toyota Prius is currently sold in Mexico. Some cities could have the ability to service them but I would check first whether the warranty on a US-sold Prius would be honored in Mexico. I am driving a Toyta Camry Hybrid here now as a tourist.... taking a chance doing so because it cannot be serviced if a problem in the Hybrid portion arose. I have $1500 insurance coverage to 'tow' it back to the States should something happen. There it would be covered by the Toyota warranty.

I am not familiar with any other Hybrids that may be sold or serviced in Mexico but I bet the list is small.


joaquinx


Feb 23, 2012, 4:52 PM

Post #3 of 39 (14186 views)

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Re: [RickS] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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And you have to think of replacement parts which might not be available in Mexico. Parts would have to be shipped from the US or Canada. Knowing Mexican car dealers, you would be responsible for ordering and prepaying for the part(s). If you were nearing the expiration date of the temporary import and the part wasn't going to arrive until after that date, you'll be dancing with the Aduana.
_______
My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.


chucdoti

Feb 23, 2012, 5:26 PM

Post #4 of 39 (14175 views)

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Re: [RickS] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Oh wow! The Prius is one that I am planning to test drive and also the Camry Hybrid. You are correct about lots can change in a few years. There are so many new models coming out I just don't want to overlook the fact that Mexico and the rest of Latin America may not embrace the newest of tech.

I probably should have mentioned, when I begin my travels into Mexico I plan to meander down the Pacific coastline around to the Yucatan stopping whenever for a non-determined amount of time until I get the urge to move on. I also want to go farther down south to Costa Rica at some point too. I will not be in any hurry to go NOB for any reason unless I become majorly ill and need my medicare coverage. I hope to be a permanent Expat!


RickS


Feb 23, 2012, 6:33 PM

Post #5 of 39 (14160 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Keep in mind that one must get a car permit to drive a US plated car into Mexico. Unless you already have an FM3 (old name) visa or plan to get one after you cross the border, your car permit is temporary..... 180 days to be exact. Assuming you would only have a tourist visa, FMM, you would need to cross some border (Belize would work) and re-establish your visa and car permit if you were thinking about staying more than 6 months.

Personally I would lean towards some other vehicle than a Prius or a Camry for driving around these parts permanently... neither have enough ground clearance nor suspension to deal effectively with the many topes (traffic calming devices if you aren't familiar with the name) and cobblestone streets that are everywhere. I say this after having driven 2 different Prius and one Camry Hybrid down here. I have also driven a Honda CR-V and a Toyota RAV4 here and those are much more suited to the road infrastructure. Neither, of course, will approach the gas mileage that one gets driving a Hybrid, but.....


chucdoti

Feb 24, 2012, 8:02 AM

Post #6 of 39 (14105 views)

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Re: [RickS] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Humm.. I was really hoping to steer clear of SUVs because of the mpgs are so much lower and it's size would only be useful when I'm moving from one place to the other over any pleasure driving. You mentioned the ground clearance of the sedans, have you actually scraped or run into a situation that you could not drive an area because they sit too low or is it more a preference? I currently drive a sport coupe that many of my friends complain they feel like they have to "climb out of" and they are "sitting on the ground". I've accustomed to watching for speed bumps and driveway entrances where I would scrape.


Does sound like the hybrid idea needs to be shelved at this time and wait to see how they increase in Latin America.


joaquinx


Feb 24, 2012, 8:14 AM

Post #7 of 39 (14101 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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You don't need a SUV or a pickup truck to travel the roads of Mexico. Any sedan will do. Typical ones here are: any VW, Nissan, Toyota, Ford, Chevy, Dodge. I have seen many SUVs, but the above mentioned cars are what Mexicans drive. In my twelve years here, I have only run into one tope that scraped the bottom of my old VW Golf. I did see a Ferrari stuck on one - sad. I live on a cobble stone street (actually slabs of lava rock) and I, as well as all the traffic on this street, drive slowly.
_______
My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.


chinagringo


Feb 24, 2012, 8:19 AM

Post #8 of 39 (14098 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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I am guessing that you probably haven't driven much, if any, in Mexico. Watching for topes aka speedbumps can be a full time job depending on where one is driving and you have probably never seen so many configurations in your life. One could reasonably expect to see signage or at the very least have them highlighted with paint - wrong on both counts! To give an example, one day we were driving the back roads of Michoacan in the vicinity of Lake Patzcuaro. The entire trip was a bit over 250 miles and I know we crossed between 500 and 1000 topes that day. In fact, I seriously considered getting one of those clicker counters to mount on my steering wheel to keep track of the number we found each day on future trips.

Vehicle clearance may be one of the prime considerations when choosing a vehicle. MPG is a relative issue and a couple MPG's either way are not that big a deal. You will spend far more on vehicle repairs by making the wrong choice!
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



chucdoti

Feb 24, 2012, 9:42 AM

Post #9 of 39 (14081 views)

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Re: Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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in reply to: joaquinx
... I did see a Ferrari stuck on one - sad. I live on a cobble stone street (actually slabs of lava rock) and I, as well as all the traffic on this street, drive slowly.
---------------------------------------------
Well, I'll not be in a Ferrari for sure! I'll be trying to live as cheaply as possible. I was thinking any sedan might do.



in reply to: chinagringo
I am guessing that you probably haven't driven much, if any, in Mexico. Watching for topes aka speedbumps can be a full time job depending on where one is driving and you have probably never seen so many configurations in your life. One could reasonably expect to see signage or at the very least have them highlighted with paint - wrong on both counts! To give an example, one day we were driving the back roads of Michoacan in the vicinity of Lake Patzcuaro. The entire trip was a bit over 250 miles and I know we crossed between 500 and 1000 topes that day. In fact, I seriously considered getting one of those clicker counters to mount on my steering wheel to keep track of the number we found each day on future trips.
Vehicle clearance may be one of the prime considerations when choosing a vehicle. MPG is a relative issue and a couple MPG's either way are not that big a deal. You will spend far more on vehicle repairs by making the wrong choice!
----------------------------------------------
You are correct. I've actually only been to Mexico once by plane and the wonderful (I mean this in a good way) ADO buses. Went to Playa del Carmen and fell in love with Mexico! Wow! Dang! So many topes i know I will hate that but oh well that's just part of driving there.


Guess I was just wanting to get a feel for the hybrid market and where it stands currently. I definitely don't want to own something I can't get repaired there. But as said in an earlier post, allot of things can happen in a few more years before I can begin my travels.


RickS


Feb 24, 2012, 12:19 PM

Post #10 of 39 (14060 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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By mentioning a Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 I did not mean to suggest that one had to have an SUV to drive in Mexico (and I don't really think of either of those as SUVs.... more a crossover). And joanquinx is surely right that one does not have to have an SUV or a truck to drive in Mexico! Many Mexicans drive sedans.

I've probably driven 10,000 miles in Mexico in the last 8 years and I have done it all in either a '99 Camry, a CR-V, a Prius or two and now a newer Camry Hybrid. While many of those miles were on toll roads (cuotas), a significant amount was on either free roads (libre) or backroads including gravel. Also, mucho cobblestone or slab streets. I survived.... and even that is too harsh a word. But, as chinagringo mentioned, one has to be ever alert for topes. Many/most are marked but that only gives one a false sense of control. It's the ones out in the countryside that are not only not marked but basically have no reason for being where they are. I've hit two of them at 50+ mph over time and I thought the first one, in a CR-V, had probably ruined a tire/rim if not taken my front suspension out. But nada, all was OK.

You asked if I have ever bottomed out on a tope or curb and the answer is yes..... many times. Never in the CR-V, several times in the '99 Camry and the Prius and I almost high-centered the Camry Hybrid pulling into a commercial driveway that was mysteriously hiding a very high curb. But scraping a tope or a curb is not an end-all event! And I've not found myself desiring to go on a particular road (or trail) that I did not take because of the car I was driving. But when in the CR-V or RAV4 one doesn't even have to think about the situation.

If I were going to live here permanently I would not choose anything BUT a small SUV. But as is obvious I've done a bit of driving in lower slung cars and I've not destroyed one yet. Lived to tell about it. Will probably do it more before my demise. It was not clear from your first post whether you planned on being in Mexico for quite a while or not. If you choose to purchase a hybrid, 'tho, I would check on whether the warranty would be valid in Mexico and I would also acquire a towing insurance policy that would pay for, or come close to paying for a flatbed 'tow' back to the border. That's what I do and then I don't worry obsessively about it.

YMMV


(This post was edited by RickS on Feb 24, 2012, 1:28 PM)


chinagringo


Feb 24, 2012, 12:47 PM

Post #11 of 39 (14051 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Rick makes some very valid points on either the CRV or RAV4. If we were to move to Mexico, one of those would probably be our choice too!

We residents of the US have been brainwashed on MPG and cost per gallon. When we were still driving to Mexico and back from New Mexico, we drove a Ford Windstar or as my better half thinks of it - an extra large shopping cart. During the appox. 1300 mile drive from our home to Guadalajara, I would often set the cruise control between 90 and 100 when driving the cuotas (toll roads). Granted I would have a tune up done right before a trip but we still averaged 26 - 27mpg with the two of us and minimal luggage on the way down. We not only benefited from the higher clearance but also the better field of vision from sitting up higher. Last trip, we rented a small Toyota Yaris and I felt like we were in a pop can on wheels. My driving comfort level was greatly reduced because I simply couldn't see as well and it was a real thrill when I hit a tope at speed.

We all have different comfort zones but we happen to like the freedom a little larger vehicle offers when we happen to find a bulky item we wish to purchase and don't have to think about how we are going to get it back home. Each time one has to arrange transport because their vehicle is too small really adds to the cost of driving a small politically and socially correct small economical vehicle.
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



chucdoti

Feb 24, 2012, 2:10 PM

Post #12 of 39 (14033 views)

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Re: Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Thanks everyone, this kind of discussion was exactly what I was looking for right now. From what I can tell at this time, hybrids are something to check back on in the future because of serviceability and warranties, etc.

A small SUV is something I will add to my test drive list. As one poster had a great point, a couple mpgs either way will not make much of a difference over what works best.

I have a few years to plan my vagabond lifestyle. No need to sweat it too much at this point!


Moisheh

Feb 25, 2012, 5:56 AM

Post #13 of 39 (14006 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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As mentioned above this discussion may be moot. Under today's import rules your car is not eligible for permanent importation. It has to go back to the border every 6 months. I can offer some information on Toyota warranties and service in Mexico. Toyota Mexico does not normally accept your foreign warranty. The service manager at our Mexican Toyota dealer did give me some minor warranty. Cost me a nice sea bass! Servicing newer vehicles can be a problem. As little as 7 year ago Toyota dealers used an in house diagnostic device to read your codes, etc. Things have changed. Like all the other mfrs. there is a podium mounted special device. They plug into your car and can still read codes but this device can also analyze components and update software. via Toyota's mainframe. Canadian and USA ECM data is not the same as Mexican and they do not have that info on the mainframe. Mostly to do with emission systems. My wife's Rav4 requires an update to the ECM to stop the check engine light from being on. Cannot have this done in Mexico.

Moisheh


chucdoti

Feb 25, 2012, 7:37 AM

Post #14 of 39 (13987 views)

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Re: [Moisheh] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Thanks moisheh for adding info! I am aware the vehicle had to go back to the border every 6 months like I will until I decide if I want to settle in Mexico, but on that thought does the vehicle need to return to the border off entry or just to a border like I will? I don't know if I have ever seen that question asked.

Never thought about the dealers not having all the updates for non-Mexican vehicles. Makes sense though. I bet there aren't any dealers here in Tennessee that have Mexican data on their mainframes either! Ha!

So I'm wondering now how many permanent expats in Mexico drive US cars? Or is it just better to purchase a car in the country you settle into?


RickS


Feb 25, 2012, 9:43 AM

Post #15 of 39 (13968 views)

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Re: [chucdoti] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Moisheh stated: "Under today's import rules your car is not eligible for permanent importation. It has to go back to the border every 6 months."

But the key word is 'permanent'. And the requirement to go back to (any) border only applies if one has an FMM (tourist) visa. MANY US plated vehicles reside in Mexico 'temporarily' for years and years without going back to a border every 6 months..... legally. They are holders of an FM-3 (old name). The rules are that the car with a temporary import permit (TIP) is legal as long as the holder's visa is legal.... even if the car originally came across the border using an FMM (old FM-T). There are even ways to keep the plates/registration up-to-date (another discussion; see South Dakota Registration) but even that is not necessary.

As to your question about whether one must go back to the "border of entry or just to a border", the answer is the latter.... any border crossing including the border of Belize. If one was in on an FMM and found themselves in the far Yucatan Peninsula when their 6 months tour was nearing an end, one could just skip down to Chetumal in the state of Quintana Roo, cross the border into Belize and exit turning in the FMM and TIP to the Mexican authorities. Then re-enter Mexico getting a new FMM and TIP (actually I've just learned that the state of QR is considered a 'Frontier area' and as such one does not even need a TIP to drive there... but of course one would need a TIP if they decided to drive out of the state, which most would be doing.

You also asked, "how many permanent expats in Mexico drive US cars?" Of course no one know just 'how many' but I can tell you that there are many depending on where one is looking. In the Lake Chapala area one seemingly sees as many US plated cars as not (not quite true!). Now some of those are tourists (snowbirds) but when one sees the plethora of South Dakota plates there one can be sure that they are 'permanent' residents.


(This post was edited by RickS on Feb 25, 2012, 9:55 AM)


Rolly


Feb 25, 2012, 11:36 AM

Post #16 of 39 (13952 views)

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Re: [RickS] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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"...the state of QR is considered a 'Frontier area' and as such one does not even need a TIP..."
This is widely believed, but it is not true.
Adriana, the moderator, at Yucatan Expatriate Services forum checked into this. She reported:
"...staff of Banjercito confirmed to us today that Quintana Roo does request temporary import permits for their foreign-plated vehicles..."

Rolly Pirate


RickS


Feb 25, 2012, 1:43 PM

Post #17 of 39 (13935 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Well, Rolly, I know better than to quote someone else's opinion on things like this unless it's substantiated somehow. My bad!

I was remembering a discussion less than a month ago wherein 'playaboy' seemingly gave conclusive evidence that this was the case http://www.mexconnect.com/...20the%20link;#174050
and 'friends told him so'.


chinagringo


Feb 25, 2012, 2:09 PM

Post #18 of 39 (13932 views)

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Re: [RickS] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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"There are even ways to keep the plates/registration up-to-date (another discussion; see South Dakota Registration) but even that is not necessary."

I believe that while Rick is correct when relating to past practices but as of late some Mexican States such as Jalisco & Michoacan have changed enforcement efforts. Firstly, the various police agencies often are not up to date on the "letter of the law" regarding TIP expiration dates being extended by various visas. Secondly, because of the "chocolates problem", more foreign plated vehicles with expired plates are being pulled over as an excuse to check documentation.
Regards,
Neil
Albuquerque, NM



Rolly


Feb 25, 2012, 2:12 PM

Post #19 of 39 (13931 views)

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Re: [RickS] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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The Aduana website that Playboy listed deals only with merchandise, not vehicles.
Nor does it say that QR is a free zone,
As for what his friends told him...their story doesn't agree with what Banjercito was quoted as saying,

Rolly Pirate


arbon

Feb 25, 2012, 4:52 PM

Post #20 of 39 (13907 views)

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Re: [RickS] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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 "any border crossing including the border of Belize. If one was in on an FMM and found themselves in the far Yucatan Peninsula when their 6 months tour was nearing an end, one could just skip down to Chetumal in the state of Quintana Roo, cross the border into Belize and exit turning in the FMM and TIP to the Mexican authorities. "

¿Is there not a "Free Zone"/ "no mans land" between near Chetumal, Mexico and Belize?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Rolly


Feb 25, 2012, 5:34 PM

Post #21 of 39 (13899 views)

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Re: [arbon] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Yes, there is the usual 20km zone. The point is that the whole state of QR is not a free zone.

Rolly Pirate


sfmacaws


Feb 25, 2012, 11:37 PM

Post #22 of 39 (13876 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Interesting to get the official word on that. I've heard that about QRoo for many years, I have friends who say they can't take their car out of the state because it wouldn't be legal. On the other hand, I have QRoo plates on one car and you will get stopped quickly if you let the plates expire. I thought it odd that they would not enforce that for foreign cars. When I'm over there in my jeep with expired Calif plates, I've had them ask to see my visa at checkpoints.

The 'free zone' at the border of Belize and Mexico is actually in Belize, not Mexico. It is a sort of duty free area with casinos and shops. It is possible to leave Mexico and not enter Belize, many people do that to renew their tourist visa or car sticker. However, that border is very corrupt and most people have to pay at least a small bribe to just turn around and return.


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán




chucdoti

Feb 26, 2012, 7:39 AM

Post #23 of 39 (13853 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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The 'free zone' at the border of Belize and Mexico is actually in Belize, not Mexico. It is a sort of duty free area with casinos and shops. It is possible to leave Mexico and not enter Belize, many people do that to renew their tourist visa or car sticker. However, that border is very corrupt and most people have to pay at least a small bribe to just turn around and return.

Small bribe? I just thought that is how the wheels roll smoother :) All this information is great to file away for the future - of course until it changes again! I probably will find myself in the QR area since I want to explore that area. So being able to take a trip to Belize and visit and take care of some business at the same time will be a great plus! I hear Belize is also a beautiful place!
Rolly I love your website with all the information you have and share with everyone! Thanks! Can't wait to explore!!


joaquinx


Feb 26, 2012, 8:33 AM

Post #24 of 39 (13839 views)

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Re: [sfmacaws] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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. . . I have friends who say they can't take their car out of the state because it wouldn't be legal.


This deserves a more detail explanation. If the car has US plates, one might ask, "How did the car get into QR?" Is it like Hotel California where you can check in but can not check out? If it was a QR car with QR plates, why do I see cars with QR plates here in Veracruz?
_______
My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane.


YucaLandia


Feb 26, 2012, 8:48 AM

Post #25 of 39 (13832 views)

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Re: [joaquinx] Hybrid Vehicle question - Newbie here

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Re out of state vehicles driving on their home plates: It can cost $20,000 - $30,000 pesos (or more) to shift the registration of a Mexican can from one state to a different state. I suspect people tend to find it easier to just re-register the vehicle in the original state vs. paying the big one-time fee.

Re the policy on driving foreign plated cars in Q.Roo without a Temporary Import Permit:
There are plenty of people who report bringing cars into Q. Roo from Belize with no Temporary Import Permit, and they also report driving the vehicles for years - including routine police stops - with no hassles. It might be good to hear an official report from Q.Roo govt. officials - especially since the YES (Yucatan Expatriate Services) people and website are located in Merida, Yucatan - not Q. Roo - and their YES website has a large number of incorrect legal advice in various articles. e.g. Their legal web advice on employee law is very flawed in many areas - along with significant errors on immigration issues, et al.

The YES people claim that their opinions are based on lawyers opinions, but when that advice is contrary to published law and accepted law, and contrary to actual legal practice, then is it worth trusting and using? YES advice is also generally very Merida, Yucatan based: where they have good contacts inside the Merida INM office and work-well with Yucatecan pecadillos. This means that the things they get to work in Merida may not apply to other places in Mexico.

Continuing on trying to improve the quality YES's advice, several very knowledgeable and experienced Mexconnect old-timers from across Mexico have dialogued extensively with YES personnel - offering multiple written examples of the YES legal errors and incorrect opinions & advice - and sending them written corrections, yet, even on simple stuff like paying aguinaldos, the corrections have been ignored.

YES helps a lot of expats get FM3s and FM2s, etc, so, I do not mean to trash all of YES's efforts and advice, but I would really hesitate using them as a legal reference or legal resource - especially on non-Yucatecan, non-Merida issues.
-
Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com

(This post was edited by YucaLandia on Feb 26, 2012, 8:56 AM)
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