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ULSD and driving in Mexico

My wife and I are planning a trip to Mexico this winter and plan to drive our new 2012 Ford-F350 with the 6.7l diesel engine and our truck camper. Information on-line is contradictory about availability of ULSD and also about what impact using the “regular” diesel will have on my truck. I don’t want to damage my truck or invalidate my warranty but we bought this truck thinking we wold take trips to Mexico with a camper (stupid!!!). Please advise whether we can do anything to reduce the chance for damage.

My personal opinion is it’s not wise to go to Mexico at all. There are a lot of problems in the border areas, and you have to pass through them. Nothing quite like a big American HD pickup with a big camper glued to the back of it to say “American! Come and get me!”

There are a couple on here who spend time down there, I think 1 lives there permanently. He may (most likely) have a different viewpoint. I know there are safer places, but you have to get there, which (to me) is where the problem lies.

Good luck.

I’m inclined to agree that traveling there might not be a good idea. I used to live in southern TX just a few miles from the Mexican border when I was much younger and there was a crime problem even way back when.

Not saying all areas are bad but based on past history and current news reports I would be extremely hesitant about traveling there even if armed to the teeth.


Most of Mexico Should have changed over to ULSD some time ago… That is not to say that all fueling locations have switched.

To answer your question you should know why we use the ULSD. The ULSD was formulated to reduce particulate emissions from the exhaust as required by the EPA. In addition to the ULSD, diesel vehicles were also equipped with a Diesel Exhaust Filter (DPF).

This filter captured the black soot normally spewing from the tailpipes of pre 2008 diesel vehicles. Take a look sometime at the tailpipe of your new diesel, you will see it is clean as a whistle, no black soot coating. Right now you are saying get to the point already… I am sure you have seen your instrument cluster indicate exhaust cleaning. Just like an air filter, the Exhaust filter will become clogged over time, roughly every 100-300 miles (Sometimes more). Replacement of a filter every 300 miles would never be acceptible, so instead of having to replace the filter, the vehicle will perform the Exhaust regeneration procedure… It is simply period where the Exhaust is superheated above 600 to 1200 degrees, to oxidize (Burn) the particulate matter away in the DPF. (Basically a rolling selfcleaning oven)

When the particulates are burned away they will always leave an unburnable ash left over (Granted in a much more reduced volume) As the regerations accumulate over time, so does the amount of unburnable ash left within the DPF… Obviously there will come a time when the DPF becomes so loaded with ash that the exhaust becomes a excessive restriction and will need to be purged or replaced…The expected life span for a DPF is 100K-150K miles (Approx)…

So you asked what would happen if you used LSD as opposed to the ULSD??? Very simply, the particulate output would increase drastically (Very drastically) This increase would cause the DPF to load up very rapidly… End result, much more frequent exhaust cleanings/regenerations… More regens equals more ash, more ash means the life of the DPF will be reduced… Keep in mind that the selfcleaning regeneration heat is a byproduct of using diesel fuel… The more exhaust cleanings are performed, the more diesel fuel is used, fuel economy will drop as a result. Theses truck will handle such cases for a short time, so if you get a tank or two of LSD, the truck will survive, just do not make a ongoing habit of it.

Exhaust regenerations will have an adverse affect on the diesel engine oil… Every regeneration will result in a small amount of diesel fuel getting into the engine oil… Continous regenerations could easy overload the engine oil and result in poor lubrication and eventual engine damage. Do not panic, new trucks do have an oil life monitor that takes into account the number of regenerations and will display to you when it is time to change the oil… The older trucks did not, and had many cases where the oil was fuel saturated combined with the fact that the customers were always late for their oil changes equaled some truck down time. When the truck tells you to change the oil… Change it…Real simple

What is more critical for these trucks is keeping the water and rust out of the fuel system.If the water in fuel light illuminates, pull over and drain the water separator. If you see a shady looking fueling station that looks like it it rarely visited, keep on moving. A fueling location used by tractor trailers prefered, with the continued heavy truck traffic, the fuel in the storage tanks is being circulated (Less chance for it to grow micro-organisms)

Another important note, bring some spare Diesel Exhaust fluid (DEF) with you. Never pour the DEF down the into the fuel tank… The fuel pump and injectors don’t take kindly to that. Depending on the weight of your trailer and how fast your rolling, the DEF Consumption is usually 1 gal DEF to 700-1200 miles. IF you run out of DEF this truck will limit your speed… Trying to roll thru Mexico at 50 mph may not be an experience that you will want. Other than that, drive safe, you’ll be fine.

I would go sailing off the coast of Somalia before I would attempt to do what you are planning. Educate yourself about the rampant crime in Mexico before you attempt this trip.

If you are a native Mexican, then you know better than I do. If not, please take care and do not end up on CNN.

jgree142 Thanks for the most helpful information. We may still decide not to go, but it is good to know that if we do go, we won’t destroy our new engine.

Pemex diesel has been ULS 15 PPM since 2009…

The low sulfur automotive diesel grade (first introduced as Diesel Sin) replaced the earlier standard diesel of 5000 ppm (0.5%) sulfur.

The regulation sets automotive diesel fuel sulfur levels at 500 ppm with a scheduled reduction to 15 ppm. The following is the phase-in schedule for ultra-low sulfur (15 ppm) on-road diesel:

* February 2007—Northern frontier region that borders the USA,
* February 2009—Metropolitan regions of Guadalajara, Monterrey and the Valle de México,
* September 2009—Nationwide.

As far as safety, the drug war effects mainly drug gangs, not Gringo tourists…I have lived in Mexico for 7 months a year for 15 years without any problems…You just need to use a little common sense…A vehicle like you describe may attract unwanted attention if you stray off the major tourist routes…is your camper a trailer or a slide-in camper or a frame-mounted camper? Different areas have different rules about “temporary vehicle import permits” the document that allows you to bring a vehicle into Mexico…Baja and Sonora are pretty liberal but anything pulling a trailer or bringing in Quad or motorcycle will need to post a bond, refundable when you return the “stuff” back to the U.S…Learn the rules and avoid a nasty surprise at the Border…

You’ve Done This Before ? Especially With A Valuable Vehicle, I’d Check With My Insurance Agent. My Major Insurance Company Doesn’t Give Much Coverage There.


Read this stuff and decide if your Mexican trip is safe enough.

We took a trip to Cozumel last summer and had a great time. There was a newspaper article just before our trip about travel to Mexico. It said to make sure you know where the safe areas are and stick to them. If you go looking for trouble, you will find it and it may well be more than you can handle.

The trouble is that he has to drive in the border area in order to get anywhere safe, and the border is currently under a specific hazardous travel warning.

This is where the criminals are tough enough that they are murdering cops with impunity. Not a place I’d want to cruise through in an obviously foreign vehicle.

I live around 11 months a year in rural Puebla. About 5 weeks ago, I came back to McAllen on my annual family visit. Most of the problems allegedly occur after you leave Hwy 57 and turn east to Reynosa.

We go and come by the new Anzalduas bridge, just west of Reynosa, lined up south of the Bryan exit on Freeway 83, west of Mission.

The car jackings tend to involve late model white SUV’s.

Right now, the main routes are HEAVILY patrolled. Federal Police in blue military type uniforms, and driving in convoys of military type vehicles with large machine guns locked and loaded. Xray and gamma ray machines for all suspect vehicles. A number of inspection stations strictly for anti-violence.

We try to come through the Monterrey area around noon, take the new Monterrey-Saltillo cuota when we encounter it, move directly to the Periferico, signs say Laredo cuota, just keep on going.

When we get to the one Pemex on the long cuota, we stop at the entrance and look things over. Try not to use the restrooms at toll booths, except at the east end of the Saltillo-Monterrey toll section, and the Pemex I mentioned.

This was the most relaxing trip yet in 5 years.

The standard advice we give (on Mexico travel forums) is if you are worried, do not go, because you will not have a good time. Tourist traffic through the Monterrey area is down, but they are still there.

I am a believer in BE PREPARED. My wife and I put our documents and enough money to get to the border also hidden on our person. Just in case. Usually, what you prepare for does not happen.

There have been only a very small number of foreigners killed. One was the man on the Falcon Lake last fall. He resembled a “spy” and it was told the man who killed him was found dead a few days later, assassinated by his own drug gang for stupidity.

The other one was a missionary woman whose husband tried to out-run a druggie roadblock, and the thugs fired into the back of her car.

All others were either Mexicans who were naturalized US citizens, and/or involved in the drug business.

For me, there is no real option of not going. So we are prepared to give up our 2002 Sienna, which is happily left unwashed for the trip.

Statistically, odds of being even robbed in Tamaulipas are very small if you stay on the main roads, from Reynosa to Hwy 57. Odds are probably less of being killed than in many parts of the USA.

Repeat: if you are nervous about your safety, DON’T GO. Not because it’s that dangerous, but common sense says if you are nervous you will not enjoy yourself. Fly in to your choice of tourist places instead of driving.

I relaize this is an oold topic and the scaremongers hijacked it. I drive in mexico for 6 months a year for the last 10 years and never had any issues. As for ULSD it is still not avaialble. Hopefully when competition comesin in 2016 that may change. I run RV caravans and as long as people keep the truck under load they have no issues at least in the 3000 mile loops we do. DEF is now availble at all Autozones in Mexico. Mor einfo on this at

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I did not see any hijack by scare mongers. I live in Mexico most of the time, and when I go back I go to our mobile home in McAllen. Many of the locals there will not cross the border for anything. It is based on the local news, which is not always repeated nation wide.

For example, in March we drove out 2002 Sienna back because with permanent residence, I can’t drive that car here any more. Then, we had our daughter drive us to the border with Reynosa and crossed on foot to get a bus back home.

We hailed a taxi across the bridge. I told him we wanted to go to the bus station. As we drove, I asked him if things were quiet in Reynosa. He laughed and said, well, we had a shoot out this morning with a cartel.

The bus had Internet and as we drove toward Monterrey, the news reported there were some deaths in the shoot-out but did not specify which side lost men.

That is not scare mongering. That is the reality along the border. It can be dangerous there. We go back and forth with a realistic view of what MIGHT happen and are prepared for it. If we get stopped and have to give up our car, we will.

The opposite of scare mongering is to ignore reality.

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I realize this is an old thread but if someone is traveling to Mexico I urge them to check if their automobile insurance is valid there, as well as your health insurance.

They do not mess around giving out freebies like we do here in 'Murica

I was wrong. 2013 wasn’t the oldest post re-dredged. 2011 is. Yeah don’t forget that Medicare and most health insurance policies do not cover outside the US. Blue Cross does but many times you need to pay the fee yourself and then get reimbursed. A clinic visit in Russia was 500 Euros, cash.

We camped at the Crooked Tree campground some years back and crossed the border. Used the taxi service for a dime I think. Bought a pack of cigarettes for 19 cents. The beggars though were really depressing but otherwise not a problem. I understand though things have really deteriorated due to drugs.

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