The Great Car Hunt

Once we signed a contract for a house, our next step to getting settled in Queretaro was to get a car.  As part of our expat relocation contract, Chris got a corporate rental for a month but I was dependent on Uber and the hotel shuttle if I needed to run errands while he was at work.  Needless to say, I was a little eager to get a car.

The search was easy, or it started that way.  We wanted to find a slightly used Toyota Camry that was still under warranty.  Chris scoured the online ads and found one at our local Toyota dealership.  We headed over to the car lot, test drove the car, and decided to start the negotiation process. Since the business manager wasn’t there, we would wait until Monday to talk cost and then possibly buy the car.  All we had to do was transfer money from the US to Mexico so we would be set.  I couldn’t believe that this process was so easy!

One thing they didn’t tell us about transferring money from the US to Mexico is it is a lengthy process.  There is a limited amount we could can transfer at once, so it took us about 10 days to get the money into our Citibanamex account. 

Come the following Monday, Chris and the Spanish speaking car dealer started negotiating via text.  The dealer wouldn’t come down on price but he did promise to fix a couple scratches on the upholstery and extend the warranty so the car would be protected the entire time in Mexico.  We were set and ready to go.  I was FINALLY going to get my car on Wednesday!!!

Then it came time to sign the paperwork.  I wrote the check for the car, scoured the Spanish paperwork, and realized that the contract we were signing was the original deal the car salesman offered.  I asked the salesman about the warranty extension.  He said he had to get a manager. 30 minutes later, the manager told us (in Spanish) it was illegal for them to extend the warranty.

Chris looked like he was going to explode.  He wanted an explanation in English.  So they managed to find the only salesperson who spoke English and he explained the situation.  Our original salesman couldn’t look us in the eye.  Due to the lack of trust, the deal was off.  We were back to square one.  I wanted to cry.

We resumed our car hunt the Saturday after my birthday getaway to Playa del Carmen. 

I knew Nissans have a reputation for lasting a long time, so I found a great deal on a Maxima at the local dealer.  We headed to the dealership, test drove the car, and started negotiations with this dealer.  After agreeing on a price it was time to sign the paperwork, pay the dealer, and pick up my car on Wednesday.
I was so excited to finally find my own wheels. 
Fortunately, all of the bank transfers were processed quickly and it was time to pick up my new car!!  We pulled up to the dealership, and my car was nowhere in sight.  I could not BELIEVE this was happening again!  I was so tired of the hassle. 

Our salesman greeted us with a smile and walked us into a show room where there were three cars were covered in sheets, game show style. 

Guess what's under the sheet...

“Um, where’s my car?” I asked.

“It’s under there!!” he announced in his gameshow like voice.

Oh…this was going to be an experience…

“First!”, he bellowed, “I need to give you your warranty information and you have more papers to sign!”  Fantastic.  Thirty minutes of rapid fire Spanish later, we were set and ready to go. 

This was SO much more fun than picking up a car in the US.
“It’s time for the big reveal!” the salesman said.  He then proceeded to drag out one of the largest speakers I have seen and blared some mariachi.  “Go ahead!  Uncover your car!”

If I would have known I would have my debut as a game show hostess, I would have had my hair styled.
Then I pulled off the sheet and received a thundering round of applause from every salesperson in the showroom.  The dealer had detailed the car and scattered all kinds of candy on the dashboard.  I felt like I had just won a game show! I was no longer carless!! 

Here are some things to know about buying a car in Mexico:

  • It is really tough to negotiate prices with dealers. You may be able to negotiate for bells and whistles, but don’t expect to see a major change in car prices.
  • You will need lots of paperwork.  Make sure to have your residence card, passport, bank information, and a copy of a water, gas, or power bill. 
  • There is a 15 day window to get a license plate.  You will need all of the paperwork mentioned above plus the factura (receipt) to get your plates.  The plates cost us about $2200 pesos.  ($120 US)
  • You won’t get a title.  Your factura will serve as your title.
  • If you don’t speak fluent Spanish, have a native speaker go with you during the negotiation and paperwork signing process.  I studied Spanish for about 12 years, and struggled with parts of this process because I didn’t know the business nuances, legal requirements, and vocabulary.  We resorted to using Google Translate many times.

Have wheels...must travel!!


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