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Everything You Need to Know About Driving in Mexico

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When it comes to visiting somewhere, there are many ways to get around. Traveling through a country takes a lot of research, and has plenty of uncertainties, but that's why we're here to help! In our opinion, the best way to get around Mexico is by car, Here is everything you need to know about driving in Mexico.

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Driving in Mexico: Renting Your Car

First things first- is getting your ride! When it comes to traveling around Mexico, renting a car is super helpful, especially if you plan on visiting some true hidden gems and spots off the beaten path.

Booking your Rental

When it comes to booking it is important to do your research. It's not only important to look on websites to compare prices, but really the best way is to actually call each place for true prices and conditions.

Which City to Rent From

When driving in Mexico, it is important to know which city to rent from, as prices can vary greatly. For example, Tulum and Cancun are just one hour apart, but Tulum is much more expensive than Cancun, so if you plan on doing a longer rental, this can make a huge difference.

Picking a Company

When comparing online, prices can seem to be pretty similar. However, the prices that you find online, are hardly ever the prices that you will actually end up paying. Due to this, the best thing to do is call several companies in the area, and then inquire about all the details.

rental car companies

The main questions you will want answered are as follows:

How much will it cost?

This may seem obvious, but some companies include insurance, and some do not. Some have taxes included, and some do not. So make sure you ask for what the total price will be at the end of EVERYTHING.

Is insurance included?

Like we mentioned above, the insurance is CRUCIAL. It is important to ask if all of the insurance is included, or if just basic insurance is included, and how much it would be to get more coverage. Have these questions ready so you can compare.

In which areas does the insurance include?

We found that some companies will only insure you for certain areas of the country. If you plan on leaving the state, or going a few states away, it is very important to know if you will still be covered.

There are companies that will have you covered completely, and some that will not. So make sure you specify where you will be driving in Mexico and make sure the insurance reaches all of the areas that you will be traveling.

Can you add a driver?

Most of us when we travel have at least one other person that we are traveling with. If you are traveling long distances, chances are you will both want to drive.

Some companies will allow you to put both names on the contract, and some will charge you for having an extra driver, some for a small charge, and some for almost double! Make sure you double check beforehand.

Can the driver use a credit card in someone else's name?

This may sound like a strange request, but for example we were making the reservation in Fede's name, and trying to pay with Danni's card.

Being that both of us were there, it didn't seem like a big deal to us, but the car rental company completely refused to even let Fede drive at all. For some companies it's no big deal, and some it is.

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Driving in Mexico

Great! Now you have your car. Driving in Mexico may be very different than your home country (or maybe not), but here are some of the things that we learned while driving through the whole country.

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Mexico LOVES Speed Bumps!

We seriously have never seen so many speed bumps in our life. You could be on a highway, and all of the sudden BAM a speed bump.

Not only are they everywhere, but a lot of times they are not even painted, and sometimes not even a sign in sight. The most important thing is to make sure that if you see any businesses in sight at all, slow down!

Oh, and they LOVE tolls!

Expect to spend a good amount of money on tolls while driving in Mexico. Sometimes we even spent up to 1,000 pesos in just one day! (about $50 USD). Some tolls can be paid with card, but the majority are cash only, so make sure to carry plenty of cash on you while on the road.

We also had an interesting situation happen at one toll booth, where a bunch of high school students overthrew the booth, and were asking for "donations for school supplies" because the government stopped their funding. We were asked to give 50 pesos, but since we didn't give the money right away, a herd of them actually stood in front of the car, making sure we couldn't pass!

This was only one time, but the important thing is to just be prepared for anything. We also found that a lot of people would come up to your window trying to sell things. They are completely harmless, so if you don't want to buy anything, just tell them "No gracias" and eventually they will move onto the next car.

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People Love to "Offer their Services" for Tips

Don't be surprised if you stop at a traffic light and find someone coming to clean your windshield. It became quite annoying, but we made sure we told them as soon as they were approaching that we weren't interested, or didn't have any cash on us.

Not only will people come up to clean your windows, but it is pretty common to find people hanging around in cities who will either "guide you to park" for tips, or "watch your car". Whatever the case, they will expect you to give some money. If you want to give a tip you can, but you are by no means obligated.

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Some Gas Stations Water Down their Gas

Make sure you are careful where you get your fuel from. It happened to us a couple of times, where both our scooter and our rental car had the engine randomly fail.

Both companies we spoke with were very calm, and explained it was probably the gas. Apparently in Mexico it is pretty common, so it is definitely something to be careful of.

If this happens, make sure you call the rental company so they can walk you through how to filter the bad gas out, so that your vehicle can start working again.

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Ride Right, Pass Left

For a lot of countries, this is common practice, but while driving in Mexico, it seems that pretty much every area follows this rule. 

This is great because people are pretty considerate, and will even move further to the right if it is only one lane, so that you can pass them (although sometimes trucks ignore this.) This helps the flow of traffic, so make sure you follow.

The one thing to keep in mind though, is that due to this you will find plenty of oncoming cars crossing into your lane, potentially getting you in a head on collision if you're not careful. We have to say though, that the drivers for the most part were very smart in working together to make sure everyone can get where they want more quickly.


When it comes to driving in Mexico, it is important to know about the Parking. When it comes to parking, each place can be different. There were plenty of times where we saw people parked in areas that seemed to be "off limits" and others that had no signs, but where we had gotten a ticket. A good rule of thumb is to first see if the area is safe. 

Parking Garages

We found that even if it was a tiny bit more expensive, parking garages were the safest and easiest way to park when it comes to big cities. This way you will have someone watching your car, and it is protected from people outside.

Parking on the Streets

If there are no parking garages, or they are full, you will need to park on the street. Try to park in front of big businesses that have cameras. and make sure that there are no visible valuables in the car.

Always try parking in busier areas, as this is where cars are safest. When you have a spot, just make sure that you are allowed to park there. Just because you see someone else parked in the same area, doesn't mean that it is allowed. Check for signs, and ask people in the area if parking is allowed, so that you are sure you won't get a ticket.

Always try parking in busier areas, as this is where cars are safest. When you have a spot, just make sure that you are allowed to park there. Just because you see someone else parked in the same area, doesn't mean that it is allowed. Check for signs, and ask people in the area if parking is allowed, so that you are sure you won't get a ticket.

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One thing that we found to be very common while driving in Mexico, was the random local hanging around to "help you park", to wash your car, or to simply "watch your car for you". These people expect tips. If you are in an area that does not have a lot of people around during the day, than giving a small tip for this is completely understandable.

If you are in a busy area, and there is someone that is coming up and expecting money or tells you that they "work there", don't feel pressured to give them money. In this case, your car will be fine, and there is no need for a stranger to be asking for money.

Taking Care of a Parking Ticket

Even if you think you are parked in a good spot, you may not be, and sometimes it happens to the best of us. When we were in Mexico City, we ended up getting a ticket. It is a little different here, because instead of just getting a ticket, they will put a contraption around you tire, so that until you pay, you will not be able to move your car.

If this happens, you will simply need to call the number on the ticket. You can pay online, or pay cash in a local shop (that will be provided on the ticket). Once the ticket is paid, you will need to call the number and let them know that it is paid. When this happened to us, they were there within 15 minutes, took off the contraption, and we were on our way.

Driving in Mexico: If Something Goes Wrong

This definitely isn't our favorite thing to talk about, but it is very important to know what to do in case something goes wrong.

On our trip while driving in Mexico, we had the pleasure of getting a flat tire, losing a rim, getting parking tickets, getting searched by the police, and having our car broken into.

Don't let this dissuade you from renting a car, as we definitely had worse luck than most! We're here to help so that you have the smoothest ride possible, and so that these things don't happen to you. However, if something bad does happen, here are a few ways to make the situation better.

Dealing With the Police

Did you know that the police in Mexico are the second most corrupt in the whole world?! Don't let this make you worried though. As long as you know how to handle these kinds of situations, than this can actually be a good thing! 

When driving in Mexico or in another country other than your own, its not uncommon to make mistakes, as every country has different laws. We got pulled over a few times, and even got randomly checked at the toll booths.

Hide Your Cash

This may sound sketchy, but the main motive of a police officer in Mexico is to get paid off. They don't make any money off of writing you a ticket, so they will actually try to shake you down for cash. This way they'll make money by not writing the ticket, and "let you go". The more money you have, the more they will try to get!

Hide all cash, or just save a tiny bit. You will need to show them that you are short on cash. Without fail, they will continue to insist that you need to have more money. They will say that if you don't, they will need to either take your license, or take you to the station.

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Stay Strong

No matter how much an officer scares you, just be confident and stay strong during the matter. Make sure you are apologetic, and let them know that what you did was wrong. Explain that whatever you did was an accident, and that it won't happen again.

At this point, you will probably have to go back and forth about ten times, until they will eventually give up.

pulled over driving in mexico

Getting pulled over as a foreigner is very common and frequent in Mexico.

Chances are that the police will realize that it was an honest mistake, and won't take you to the station. If you want to just get rid of them, try to give them 100 pesos, as it can save you the time and aggravation of the situation.

If Something Happens to Your Car

Sometimes we can do everything right, and things still happen! If something small happens like a flat tire, a little scratch, etc., the best thing to do is just get it fixed! If you tell the rental company you will probably get charged much more.

Finding a Repair Shop

Unlike many countries, Mexico is interesting because you can actually bargain for almost anything!

There are some cities that actually have entire streets full of people fixing glass, windows, and tires. Look on google maps and try to see if you find an area like this. Once you get there, ask around for prices, and then bargain to make them lower.


For small scratches, we actually just went to a paint shop. They told us spray paint would be best. It costed us 60 pesos ($3 USD), and with just a few coats, it did the trick! This saved us a lot of money.


 If you get a flat tire, the first thing to do is see if it can be patched up. This is much cheaper, but can only happen if the hole is on the top area, not the middle. 

If the tire can't be repaired you will need to buy a new one. Make sure that you check different shops, because some will have the same exact tire for half the price! Ours costed us about $40 USD.

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Driving in Mexico: Specific Areas to Keep in Mind

When it comes to driving in Mexico, we found some areas of the country to be much different than others. Here are a few things that we learned about specific regions through the country.

Driving in Chiapas

Chiapas was seriously one of the most unique places that we encountered while driving in Mexico, and definitely one of the most frustrating. The roads are extremely windy, and full of speed bumps, making the drive from one place to another feel like FOREVER.

There are also plenty of towns that don't have gas stations at all, but instead have small booths where someone will manually pour gas in your car. This is a lot more expensive, as they are bringing the gas from far away cities. So we suggest filling up your car at any point that you pass a large gas station, or are passing through a larger city.

gas in Chiapas

In many areas of Chiapas there are not mainstream gas stations.

Driving in Mexico City

When it comes to CDMX, we really didn't like having the car. The center is really hard to find parking, and sometimes it is a little unclear about where exactly you can park. Because of this we got a ticket, and they put a contraption around our tire. This way,  we couldn't move until they came to take it off (which they won't do until you pay first).


We highly suggest parking in parking garages while in the city, as it is much safer, and you won't risk parking in a place where you're not allowed.


Driving in Mexico City was a little confusing. There are so many highways that will just fork randomly! You have to pay VERY close attention when driving because of this. Make sure that the passenger is in charge of the GPS and that you stay in the middle lane, as sometimes you will need to get over very fast.

Another thing that we found, is that some of the highways are only accessible with a special pass. The GPS many times brought us to these, and of course, we couldn't pass. Not to worry though, the highway is usually just to get you to the same place a little faster and with less traffic.


We were told by friends of ours that there is a special permission that you need to get for driving in Mexico City. If you are pulled over and don't have this special piece of paper, you can get fined. We were unable to find where to get the paper, and were lucky enough not to get pulled over. However, we definitely recommend looking into it.

Driving in Queretaro

Driving in this state can be pretty tricky Just like driving in Mexico City, there are so many forks in the road! The problem is that unlike Mexico City, if you miss a turn or take a wrong turn in Queretaro, it could end up costing you A LOT of time. There was one time that we took a wrong turn and it added a whole 45 minutes to our journey!

We suggest that the passenger is in charge of the GPS. Have them pay very close attention, looking in advance. and double checking, so that this doesn't happen to you.

Are you looking for the best things to do in Queretaro, Mexico? Then welcome! This city has both great historical spots and natural landscapes. Also, the best part, is that its location allows its visitors to experience a lot inside and outside the city.From massive rocks, to old aqueducts, and from

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Driving in Michoacan

This area is known as one of the most dangerous for driving in Mexico. Michoacan is beautiful and definitely worth visiting! However, it is very important to be extra safe here. 

We were told by many people that once it is dark out, it is best to stay off the roads completely. For parking, make sure you park in a garage, or somewhere that has cameras. Most importantly, make sure that you keep NOTHING of value in your car!

Driving in Puerto Vallarta

Our friend from The Discovery Nut wrote a great article about all you need to know for specifically renting a car in Puerto Vallarta. Want to know more? Simply read the article below.

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There is a lot to know when driving through a country that is not your own. Although there is a ton of information here, don't let this make you worried about driving in Mexico! Overall, we think that renting a car is extremely beneficial, especially if you want to visit really cool places off the beaten path.

Moral of the story, do your research, be careful, and be prepared for anything! Driving in Mexico may seem tricky, but it really was a great experience for us, and is something we definitely recommend! Any questions? Let us know in the comments!

Want to learn more about Mexico? We have over 40 Mexico travel guides for you to read. You can also check out our story highlight on our Instagram to see our personal road trip journey through Mexico.

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