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Driving south of the boarder

I’m driving my 2005 Toyota Tundra SR5, with a 4.7L V8 to Mexico and thru Central America for at least a year, the truck has 87,000 miles on it and runs great. I can change my oil and rotate tires, what should I bring with me on my journey i.e. tools and extra parts?

Toyota’s are pretty good for this because parts are available almost everywhere…Speaking from experience, start off with the best TIRES you can afford. New belts and radiator hoses. A spare set of wipers. Two extra oil, air and fuel filters in case you need them and can’t find them. A small but serviceable 12V compressor to inflate tires and a tire plugging kit. Get used to using straight 30 or 40 oil. Your U.S. auto insurance is no good in Latin America, including Mexico. You can buy car insurance at the border or (for Mexico) online. Try REAL HARD to learn as much Spanish as you can…This is very important…Gasoline is sold by the liter. So many Pesos per liter. Never sit in your car while refueling. Get out and watch what’s going on. Be sure the pump was zeroed before starting…Credit cards (Visa / Master) can be used at banks, hotels and tourist town restaurants. Look for signs that say “cambio” to change money. KNOW what the local exchange rate is. You will be paying CASH for most of your purchases. FORGET “travelers checks”. Banks and big supermarkets will have ATM’s that will (hopefully) dispense cash on your credit or debit card. Tell your card issuer you are going so they don’t get excited when they see the foreign transactions…Don’t travel at night, period. Hint. Stop around 4 or 5 for an early supper. Ask your waiter waitress to recommend an inexpensive but clean hotel for the night…They may just say: “Sure, come with me, I will take you there…”

Have a GREAT adventure!!

I have driven several different vehicles and one BMW motorcycle back and forth between the US and El Salvador, and Caddyman’s advice was excellent - right on the mark. I never carried any spare parts with me, but I suppose I have been lucky. I would assume that you could get any part for an SR5 in Mexico or any Central American country, unless it happened that your model was not sold with a V8 down there (which is possible).

If you speak Spanish well, have someone explain to you how to navigate those traffic circles with stoplights all the way around. I have never figured them out and I always get honked at for stopping at a red light that is directly in front of me, but is not actually for me (apparently). It must depend on which lane you are in. I should stand on the sidewalk and watch until I figure it out.

When you cross into Mexico, ask for a 6 month (180 day) tourist permit and a 6 month temporary import permit for your car. Buy some Mexican liability insurance at least…If you get in an accident without it, you are going to jail…This process is repeated at every border crossing, coming and going…Traveling south of the border may be more expensive than you realized…Gasoline is expensive and toll roads (the major 4-lane highways) cost more than the gasoline needed to travel on them. The two-lane roads are free, but can be choked with trucks, who avoid the toll roads…