Why Buy A New Car Here?

The favorable exchange rate makes it a killer deal
BY: ALEJANDRA SARACHAGA

It’s simple to buy a brand new car at a dealership here in Mexico. Just do a drive by to see your choices. They’re all near San Jose, clustered south and north. Many foreigners don’t know how easy it is until they’re told. So, we’re telling you.

At the Buick/GMC dealership, we were told 80% of their clients are American and Canadian. Maybe we’re more able to afford a new car? Maybe because all of this dealership’s cars are large? Maybe because they advertise in the Gringo Gazette?

Paying cash is problematic, due to the strict money laundering laws in this country. Same laws look askance at checks. Best to wire from your bank in the USA or Canada. Some dealers will take credit cards, but not all. Or if you want financing, that is very possible. You may be surprised by the questions they ask, and by the questions they don’t ask. The Buick/GMC dealership cuts off loan applications at age 62. Yes, that’s legal. Most banks will not loan for mortgages after 70, either.

One of the advantages of owning a car with Mexican plates is that anyone can drive it; your wife, your Mexican employees or friends, anyone. Because if you bring your American or Canadian car down here, the only one who can drive it is you, otherwise the Mexican police can take it from whoever is driving. And we mean take. Goodbye forever if a Mexican national is caught behind a foreign plated car. You think the police wouldn’t just love to cruise around in a sparkly new Buick?

The reason for this law is too many Mexicans who have access to the U.S. were driving American cars down here and not paying the taxes on them. The Mexican government wants to protect their auto industry, which is booming right now. And that Buick? These days they might (or might not) be assembled here but parts are from all over the world. Still, a smuggled in car is a big loss for the Mexican coffers.

Back to buying a car. First of all, you will have to identify yourself as a resident of Mexico; it can be that you are retired and you live permanently here, or that you have business registered here, or you spent here some periods of time during the year. To prove that, you need your resident card from Immigration, which is pretty easy to get these days. Immigration has really calmed down from the old days

Further proof of residence you will need is a utility bill. Telephone bill seems to be the easiest, you just need an address for that and you can get your proof on the spot.

Buying a car here is not a lot of hassle because the car dealer will provide you with a “gestor.” That is a person who does all the paper work with the Mexican authorities for you. Even the Mexican driver’s license. For their services they charge about 30 bucks. Well worth it, and it is legal to use them.

There will be a registration tax (tenencia) charged annually, with the cost varying depending on the vehicle’s purchase price and age, but for sure it will be way less than the fees on a new car in most of the United States. It is important to keep all receipts for this tax, as they will be needed when selling the car.

Instead of driving your American or Canadian car to Cabo, spending time and money in gas and other expenses, just think about all the money you can save by having a new car here upon your arrival (if you are planning to stay here for good).

Here in Mexico a very nice Buick/GMC car or truck can go from $25,000 to $66,000 US and you can be sure that you will always find parts and factory trained service personnel, a big plus for having a car that has a local dealership. Yes, traditional warranties apply.

The exchange rate is really the biggest factor in the cost of cars for foreigners. Four years ago, our answer would have been very different than it is today, but back then the exchange rate was roughly 10 or 11 pesos per US dollar. Now it’s about 18 pesos to the dollar, and that spread is free money to the car buyer.

Why would you buy a car in the States or Canada when you can save all that money and have a car anyone can drive?