A full guide for renting a car in Mexico

Renting a car in México is the perfect way to explore the country! There are also numerous benefits associated with it. You are no longer dependent on public transport or a tour operator. Drive wherever and whenever you want with your own rental car!

However, going abroad can be a bit scary, especially in Mexico. There are many horror stories about shady landlords, broken cars and expensive bills afterwards. With a little research and luck, you’ll find the perfect car hire in Mexico.

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There are areas where it is more convenient to rent a car, or a scooter and other areas where public transport is much better. We tell you the areas where we rent a car and we tell you our experience, in case it can help you.

In Mexico City you don’t need to rent a car, as Uber works great. It is efficient, fast and very economical. The price difference with traditional taxis is impressive. Also if you are in Puebla, Queretaro, San Miguel de Allende we do not recommend renting a car since you can move easily with Taxi or Uber.

Other places and states outside the big cities in Mexico we do recommend renting a car since the distances between places is large. 

If you want to visit the coast of Oaxaca, Merida and Quintana Roo, Rent a car! You will be able to follow the route you want with total freedom and be able to visit all the places and beaches independently at your own pace.

Can I drive in Mexico with U.S license?

Yes, If you have a valid driver’s license for any U.S. state, you can legally drive across the border to Mexico

A valid driver’s license and a credit card that’s all that you need. You don’t even have to apply for an international driving license from the municipality, your European or U.S driving license is just as good.

How can I find the perfect car rental in Mexico?

Look for reviews and experiences from other travelers. What do other customers say about this company? What are the general experiences you find on Facebook or Google Maps? Admittedly, online reviews aren’t always rosy and can sometimes give you goosebumps! Fear not, but look at the recurring complaints and see if this company would work for you. Service often really varies from office to office. Find the balance between price and quality yourself.

What kind of car would you like to rent? There are still many manual cars for rent in Mexico, so if you want an automatic, you’ll have to look for it. 

Does the car run on petrol or diesel? And would you like to pick up the car at the airport or rather in a city? Note that car rentals at the airport cost a little more.

What´s the price of renting a car in Mexico?

I certainly don’t want to scare you, but as you may have heard, car rental prices vary widely. If you search in Google “cheap car rental Mexico” then you will surely see very good offers. 

We recommend you to ask for the total price tax included and make it clear that you are not going to pay more than the stipulated at the beginning. 

In order to find out the actual total price, it can be helpful to contact the company beforehand by phone or email. But a good tip is to just double the amount you see online. This way you get more or less the actual price.

What are examples of additional taxes?

A lot is added to the “rent”. For example, there is often an extra tax for young drivers (18-24 years old). Are you traveling as a couple and would you like to take turns driving? Then you have to pay a tax for the additional driver. And of course, car insurance is the biggest additional expense.

How does car insurance work in Mexico?

This is perhaps the hardest part. It’s quite a sandwich, but I’ll briefly list the most important insurances.

  • TLP Insurance

When renting a car in Mexico, car insurance is mandatory. This is called TLP or “private liability insurance”. It covers you in the event of accidents with other vehicles. This insurance is required by law if you want to rent a car in Mexico.

  • LWD insurance

In addition to this insurance, it is often charged LWD (“Loss Damage Waiver”). This is an additional insurance that protects you against theft or damage. This insurance is not required by law, but is often required by the landlords themselves. Check carefully whether your credit card or travel insurance already covers this part – otherwise you will pay twice.

And then there are many other non-mandatory insurances, such as roadside assistance. Read them carefully and see which apply to you.

Rental agreement

With every car rental also includes a rental agreement. And it is definitely worth reading the contract carefully. Unfortunately, that contract is often as thick as a phone book, but it’s the fine print that really counts. Even if this is given to you in Spanish, please ask specifically for an English version. This is important because here you will find out all the terms and the additional taxes and fees that will be imposed on you. It is important to know your rights, which insurances are compulsory and which are not, and what to do in an emergency.

Some examples to look out for: Do I have to return the tank empty or full at the end of the trip? Can I cross national borders? Is there a maximum number of kilometers or can I drive without restrictions? What should I do in the event of an accident or a flat tyre?

Take photos or video of the car

renting a car in mexico

Is everything in jars and you signed the contract? Hooray! time to enjoy. The last precaution you can take before getting in is to thoroughly inspect, film and photograph the car.

Forgiveness? Yes, that sounds a bit paranoid, but this really is a must. My car rental company in Mexico suggested it – a good sign! By filming the car inside and out, as well as the petrol and oil meters, you can prove the original condition of the car. There are stories of rental companies charging their customers for old scratches and defects. So play it safe and provide evidence. This way you can prove your innocence if necessary.

Fill up gas in Mexico

When you fill up in Mexico, you will be served on demand. An employee stands at the pump and fills up your car for you. You say how many liters you need or how many pesos you want to spend, or you ask for a full tank (“lleno”) You are, of course, expected to tip these people, and 10 pesos is common.

Also look closely at the pump to see if it is actually at 0. Try paying with cash, which is generally safer than a card.

When and where to drive safely?

Mexico uses a special transportation system of free, or “free roads,” and toll paid. If you can, it is recommended to use the toll paid road. These are generally considered to be safer and of better quality.

We recommend you to drive during the day!

We hope that the post has helped you to plan your trip. If you have any questions, suggestions or contributions, you can leave us a comment and we will gladly help you in any way we can.


Thank you very much for reading us,

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