Buying New Tires in Mexico: an adventure

toyota
sienna

#1

This is a long posting. I am not sure it will fit in one bite. If you do not like to read long postings, you are in charge of your life. Hit BACK and move on, spare us the whiny-whiny.

That 2009 Sienna I bought in Mexico had all four tires, but they were not new. I drove it to the border and back, a total of around 1700 miles. My son-in-law examined the car and told me it needed new brake pads, as described on another thread. And, the rear tires were 5/32 and the front ones were 3/32.

Well, that was October so they got another 1000 miles, perhaps, driving around. They still have visible tread, but nothing to write home about.

I looked around. It had Cooper CS4 tires, and the cousin said they are only good for a year or two. I found a dealer 45 minutes north in the country, not even in a town. I investigated in Tehuacan. Tires like Pirelli and Michelin cost about $180 each.

I asked our cousin if the single tire I bought in October was a good tire. It was a Euzkadi tire. That sounded like something from China or Korea. It was well under $90.

I went to the dealer in the country. He said he would try to get me four of the Euzkadi tires. Two days later he called me; they were in. So, I drove over there, about 45 minutes, and about 20 miles.

I expected what I had seen in other tire places. Simple tools; a bubble balancer, some kind of demounter, and not much more. And, the city businesses who could balance a tire mostly sold $180 tires.

He had a real tire place. It had a ‘two post car lift’ by LAUNCH company. He placed the arms very carefully. He did not use the two jack points, so I looked under there, and he has those two arms very carefully under a major frame rail, I guess I’d call it.

I note he raised it with the tires only an inch or two above the floor. The lift seemed to use cables, not a hydraulic system. I told him that I’d sure like to have something like that at my house. He laughed and said he spent the money only for work reasons.

When he got the wheel off, he went into another room. The demounting/mounting machine was an excellent Beissbarth servomat MS43. I’m not sure but I think it had its own compressor, but it could have been connected to a main system out of my sight.

He told me he could balance them for 50 pesos, about $2.50 USD per wheel.The balancer was a COATS 875. He let the tire spin slowly a few seconds, then snapped on a weight. I asked him how he knew exactly where to put the weight. I told him I was a technical person and was at times offensively curious about machines I knew nothing about. He laughed and showed me how when he spun the wheel by hand, a couple lights on the control panel for the balancer would change at exactly the correct point for the weight. After putting on the weight, he ran it again. One tire needed a second weight a short distance apart, and it apparently indicates that as well.

I told him it was very frustrating that they would call it balanced with the bubble system, and I had to drive it back to Texas at 50 mph to get it properly balanced. He said this balance should be good to 200 kph (over 120 mph.) I told him I didn’t think my Sienna would run quite that fast.

I told him I wanted to tighten the lug nuts, because the gorillas usually put them on so tight I can’t get them off. He was very cooperative and carefully adjusted his power wrench so he said I should be able to loosen them. I went around and loosened each lug nut, the tightened them to suit me, just as I have done for over 50 years. I believe if I had trusted him, he would have had them tightened very close to what I want.

Those four tires at 22 pesos per dollar cost me about $335 USD.

There was a paper on the tires, stating they were made by Continental Tires in San Luis Potosi.

I did some research when i got home. Euzkadi is a Mexican company. Euzkadi is a geographic location in Spain, as well as this tire company. The company history shows it has a number of companies making their tires since the Thirties. I wonder if this company is a way to let the Mexican elite in on part of the take of tires made by foreign companies. There are questions you do not ask, publicly.

I asked him how those expensive Michelin and Pirelli tires compared to Euzkadi. He held up his thumb close to his next finger and said they are this much better then Euzkadi, but they charge twice as much.

Those tires are 235 60 R17, with 102H after the size. That means it is weight limited at over 1800 pounds each, and rated to over 120 mph.

The Cooper CS4 tires the car had on it, simply say M+S after the size. I want to study them some more and see what their speed rating is, if it’s there. The old car, the 2002, had Yokohama Avid, I think it was, and I felt they were not strong enough. When I drove this with the new tires, they seem to be a bit stiffer so they will probably do well for me.

I wonder if stiffer tires will be bad on the suspension on these rough roads. But, the speed limit for most of my driving is 38 mph. Some of the online information said stiffer tires can help braking and emergency handling, but may wear faster.

The dealer said he sold his Toyota dual cabin pickup full of tires each week. I snooped and it looked like he had 20 to 25 tires on that pickup. So, I do not think with the cost of living what it is here, he is suffering from poverty. And, this is along the highway out in the country.

I was very pleased with my experience. He is what I am used to among the Mexican people who can make a living in Mexico (as opposed to those who cannot make a living.) Unbelievably polite and friendly once they realize you respect them. I asked a lot of questions and he did not even so much as frown once.

Oh, warranty. No mention anywhere of warranty on tires. This makes sense due to the extreme amount of road hazards in the highways. In the past, I averaged one ruined tire a year.


#2

There are good mechanics, bright people, competent manufacturers and quality outcomes possible everywhere. There are also the opposite everywhere, but it is much easier to find the rip offs, because they are better at convincing you to use them than they are at doing their jobs.

That’s one characteristic of Costco I respect. They do not put much effort into selling you anything. If you want it, they will sell it, but it’s up to you.


#3

Cliff Notes version of original post for this thread:

I got new tires.


#4

Cliff notes on your posting: I am not interested in what happens in Mexico.

I was well aware when I wrote this that most are not interested. But, I realized a few might be. And, if only one person was, it was worth my time posting.


#5

That was an excellent write-up, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it

When I have some more time, I’ll try to read up on those machines you mentioned


#6

Thanks very much for the interesting account. It makes me a bit more appreciative of government interference in the marketplace in the form of tire standards and also hungry, parasitic trial lawyers at the ready to sue on behalf of an injured client who bought a tire that failed that resulted in personal injury or worse. For these reasons I feel free here in the US to choose any brand of tire at any price with the manufacturing location, traction rating, speed rating and tread life of my choice.

What is a smart guy like you doing in Mexico?


#7

Interesting. I never really thought of buying tires in Mexico as being different than anywhere else. I just figured you go to Sam’s Club or Walmart and buy them. After all, when I was there I went to a Walmart and saw VW body parts for sale on the shelf.

I have a friend who took a break from teaching freshman English at a state college here to teach conversational English to the workers at the Pepsi, Xerox, and Nissan factories in Aguascalientes back in the late 90’s. Around the same time, I had grown tired of my lovely 1970 Coupe DeVille and put it for sale. He jumped at the chance to bring a piece of Americana to Ags. He drove the car from Seattle without any issues.

Over the next few years he met a local girl, fell in love, you know the story. I travelled down to be the best man at his wedding, and brought along several hard to find items as a wedding present. I found myself explaining to customs why I had ball joints, valve cover gaskets, control arm bushings, and various other car parts in my luggage. When I arrived I was amazed at the paint, body work, and upholstery had had done for a fraction of the cost in the states. The quality and workmanship was amazing. Those people really took pride in what they did.

My friend has since returned stateside with his bride and resumed his university career, but somewhere, in some uncle’s backyard, is that old Cadillac.


#8

Hey @irlandes need a neighbor? Retiring soon, if it is good enough for you good enough for me. Enlighten me and I can bring my own car.


#9

Count me in as one who is very interested in keeping a car going abroad. We lived 5 years in Malaysia and drove a locally manufactured car, a Waja made by Proton.

It was based on an older model Mitsubishi Lancer, but all locally made.

Some components were poorly made like the Century brand battery which lasted exactly one year. The window winding motors burned out quickly as well. The spark plugs were the old style and needed to be replaced every 10,000 miles or so.

For foreign cars like Mercedes or Volvo there was a lively aftermarket in copy cat parts made of varying quality.

My neighbor drove an older S Class Mercedes which had been completely refurbished with local labor, including new upholstery. Another co-worker had a refurbished square box 70s Volvo.

High import duties and low labor costs made all this possible.

I was impressed with the local skills which equalled any customizing skills you see on US TV programs.


#10

You live in Mexico and are a cheap buyer for sure and you have never heard of these tires from a huge supplier? If you go 70k on them, for sure let us know. There is a reason they are 1/2 price.


#11

@db Thanks for the kind words.

As indicated in my OP, you don’t go 70K on any tire in Mexico. They are sooner rather than later destroyed by road hazards. Most years I have wiped out one tire; one year I wiped out two. And, that is in less than 10,000 miles a year in Mexico.

I had heard of Euzkadi tires. A lot of people drive them. I had no idea it was a 100% Mexican company. I usually bought my Yokohama tires in the USA, they were not cheap at all, and the warranty was voided the instant I crossed the border.

A niece told me some years ago that you could get all the upholstery inside an old Beetle, including the seats, renewed for $300 USD.

Not in my neighborhood. Gotta’ find your own personal paradise and there are plenty of places like this one. I recommend most newbies start in Guadalajara, since it and its neighbors Ajijic and Chapala suit more North Americans than any other place. Then, after you become acclimated to the culture, find a small town. Though you need not actively find a small town. A small town girl who has moved to Guad, will find you, trust me on this. Happens all the time.

If you are not married to a Mexican woman already, you are better off in a city until a girl finds you.

You can only bring your own car except certain years from the USA until you get permanent residence as I have done. PR is the Mexican equivalent of the US ‘green card’ which is more pink now. If you get PR bite the bullet and buy a Mexican car. Your imported one is subject to being wrecked anyway.

As long as you are Temporary, you can being your car, but it is constant hassle, including going back to renew the plates and keeping up the US insurance at least to minimum liability.

Over the next few years he met a local girl, fell in love,

Of course he did. But, as I said elsewhere, she found him, and he doesn’t suspect a thing. The Mexican girls know their business very well.

You can find tires, new ones, for sale all over Mexico, even in small towns in the country. The problem is getting them mounted and balanced properly. In some cases, they don’t balance them at all; in others they use the old bubble system which isn’t much better. That is why this shop in the country with its modern machines so appealed to me.

You make a darned good point there. Most people do like the government agencies to take care of them.

I am trying to tell myself that you don’t really mean to imply that smart people would not want to live in Mexico. Let me see, there is Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world. And, Jessie Ventura who was smart enough to become governor of a state.

Like Jessie, I am married (in my case 41+ years) to a Mexican woman. And, our reason for living in Mexico is almost exactly the same. Not suitable for discussion on a car forum.


#12

I just spent a few minutes online, looking at that wheel balancer and tire mounting machine

Interestingly enough, I could only find a German website for Beissbarth. Apparently, the company has been owned by Bosch since 2007. And the machine you mentioned was their entry level machine. I checked out the specs, and it is just fine for passenger cars and perhaps light trucks. I suspect that shop doesn’t do large truck tires, at least not with that machine

I couldn’t find the exact Coats 785 wheel balancer you mentioned, but I found a 775 model, which appears to be a fairly standard issue machine, but for low volume, according to the manufacturer. The 785 model you saw is probably similiar, but not for the US market . . . ?

It sounds like that shop is well-equipped to mount tires and balance them, in a proper and professional model

Considering that tires don’t last long in your environment, and with no warranties, you seem to have made a very reasonable choice, as far as tires go

:thumbsup:


#13

I enjoyed reading your tale. I appreciate a service man that does the right thing, and it sounds like you found an excellent one.


#14

Quote from Irlandes: "You make a darned good point there. Most people do like the government agencies to take care of them.

I am trying to tell myself that you don’t really mean to imply that smart people would not want to live in Mexico. Let me see, there is Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world. And, Jessie Ventura who was smart enough to become governor of a state." Unquote

Thanks for the reply. Not knowing anything about Mexican consumer protection laws or the effectiveness of enforcement if they have them, I would be wary of buying tires in Mexico. It seems possible too, that some brands might not salable here in the US and further, could name brands be of secondary quality? If I am misguided, please enlighten me if you want.

Regarding Carlos Sims and Jesse Ventura, I will speculate that they live in houses with armed guard protection and exterior walls tall enough to keep the neighbors out!


#15

@Wha_Who wrote: “Regarding Carlos Sims and Jesse Ventura, I will speculate that they live in houses with armed guard protection and exterior walls tall enough to keep the neighbors out!”

How is that different than here in the US? Plenty of personal and property violence here, too.

It seems like the need to balance tires is not so big a deal to the people who drive locally on roads that can destroy one or two tires a year. They probably go pretty slowly most of the time. Even here in the US lots of people in cities drive cars only very short distances, on local streets mostly, to shop and visit family, etc. Balanced tires certainly are a good thing, but at 30 mph on a pot-holed street, maybe not so critical to daily driving.


#16

@Wha_Who
It is common in Mexico to have windows made with bars across them. That seems as if there must be tremendous amounts of crime. I think that’s backwards. There should be more houses in the US with bars across them. We were burgled twice in McAllen, and our neighbors back in the Snow Zone were hit at times.

I can’t imagine Jessie needing guards, but what do I know???

Our house here in a rather peaceful village has a yard surrounded with a 6 foot chain link fence, though it was intended more to keep in my wife’s pet chickens. We do pull the car inside that fence at night.

I don’t know how to compare brand name tires here with those in the USA. In the USA, you take it for granted you can buy a 70,000 mile tire and it will probably go more or less that distance. I will say in October, I drove the 2009 Sienna to the border and back with no problems, and those were Cooper CS4 tires with little tread left.

As I walk on the local streets and roads, if I see nails, I pick them up. A few years ago, on a currently paved street that was still dirt at the time, I spotted a nail and picked it up. Before I got out of there, I had picked up two complete handfuls of nails in a small area. I cannot say for sure it was vandalism, but I also can’t say it wasn’t.

Since the street to my driveway has been completely paved, I have had little tire damage. This may be coincidence, no way to tell.

@OldcarsRbest
Thank you. Yes, I was very pleased to find that operation as it is.

@db4690
He had no tires larger than pickup size in his load of tires, so what you say is logical. Thanks for the data on the machines. I had not yet got around to looking for them. Next time I go, and I hope it’s not soon, I will ask him about truck tires. But, they use very large jacks for them, and I did not see anything like that. There is a truck tire repair place not far from my village and they get tractor/trailer combos with flat tires, and the trailer has 20 ton rocks on it. This is a quarry town. They do not use floor jacks on them. Hee, hee. They often use old screw type jacks, like my dad had in the 40’s.


#17

Now you got me interested talking about Jessie. I ran into him one morning when he was governor and I said “good morning Governor” and held the door open for him. He just said “hi howareya” and on his way. Still I was impressed with how concerned he was about me. Actually I liked him and was a decent governor because he hired good people. You just have to give him a pass on some of his personal qualities and don’t ever go to his barber.


#18

My first destroyed of the New Euzkadi tires was yesterday, july 30. I was with my "grand-daughter’ and her family, on a one hour drive to visit her kinfolk. It was a paved road, but I saw no road debris. Just pot holes.

As we started to go down a hill, the car suddenly got more noisy. I asked the young man riding shotgun if it didn’t sound more noisy than normal. He agreed.

So, we pulled over when I got a chance. There was a full two inch cut all through the sidewall some distance up from the tread. I have not had a very large number of destroyed tires, sufficient to let me know what might have caused it.

I do wonder if it is possible an ordinary pot hole in asphalt paving could, if hit exactly wrong, induce a sharp cut in a tire sidewall. The man I was visiting, a great-uncle to my ‘grand-daughter’, said it looked as if it were cut with something metal, but he only owns a burro and a horse. I don’t even think he has ever driven.

Any thoughts, anyone?

I am glad I kept the old worn tires, so I can have a spare while I order a new Euzkadi.


#19

There are a few scenarios where an ordinary pothole can induce damage to a tire - enough for it to lose air. Without a photo, it’s hard to say what actually happened - and the fact that you drove on it a while probably means the evidence of the exact cause will be obscured by the runflat damage.


#20

Never heard of Euzkadi tires . . . ?