The Real Cost of Owning a Car in Mexico

The Real Cost of Owning a Car in Mexico

For many people, owning a car in Mexico is a great way to get around the country. When you have a car, your daily routines will be much more convenient than taking public transportation.

In addition to that, it allows you to travel freely.

Still, if you are planning to buy a car here, it’s a good idea to know in advance the average cost of owning a car in Mexico.

In case you already own one, you should still want to take into account how much it costs to maintain your car.

In this article, we are going to break down all the costs of owning a car in Mexico. We will dive into taxes, gas prices, servicing costs, car insurance, and random costs. Let’s dive in.

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Key Takeaways

  • On average, the cost of owning a car in Mexico is around 22,390 MXN to 61,000 MXN per year.
  • Depending on your state, you may be subject to three main taxes: license plate, tenencia, and emissions verification tax.
  • Car maintenance costs about 6,000 MXN to 15,000 MXN a year.
  • Gas prices are around 1 MXN – 1.5 MXN per kilometer on average.
  • Costs fluctuate depending on the model of your car, mileage, and how much you want to take care of your car.

Taxes on Your Car in Mexico

There are various types of car taxes in Mexico, including:

  • License plate
  • Ownership tax (Tenencia)
  • Emissions verification tax

Let’s take a look at each type individually.

License Plate

In Mexico, tax on your car is paid upon purchase if you buy it via a dealership.

Besides, everyone who owns a car pays taxes through license plates. It is mandatory for private use vehicles to have up-to-date plates.

street in CDMX.
There are three types of car tax you may need to pay every year in Mexico.

The cost for these plates, and how often you will need to renew them, varies from state to state. It is therefore important that you check locally for the price and schedule.

A license plate change typically costs around 2,500 MXN to 5,000 MXN per year.

Tenencia (ownership tax)

Some Mexican states charge a tenencia tax, which is an ownership tax. It is paid yearly.

This is a separate tax, apart from the license plate tax.

The states where you have to pay this tax are:

  • Baja California
  • Ciudad de México
  • Colima
  • Estado de México
  • Guanajuato
  • Guerrero
  • Hidalgo
  • Nayarit
  • Nuevo Léon
  • Oaxaca
  • Querétaro
  • Tabasco
  • Tamaulipas
  • Tlaxcala
  • Veracruz

The amount of tenencia tax that you must pay is calculated on a percentage (usually 1.5% – 3%) of the original purchase price of the vehicle, keeping in mind a relief for depreciation.

Mexico uses the “blue book”, in which you can check the current market value of your car. Besides, the price is calculated through the make and year of the vehicle.

  • Example: If you bought a car for 250,000 MXN, you may pay a tax of 3,750 MXN (1.5%).

Emissions Verification Tax

Might you reside in or near Mexico City, your vehicle will probably be subject to regular emissions testing when it is over a certain age.

The age range of the vehicle and the restrictions can change, so please ask this at the local testing site before taking your car.

Mexico City has a program called Hoy No Circula – Today (your car) Does Not Circulate. This is to reduce the levels of pollution. Even if you want to travel through the city, the car needs to have an emissions verification.

The price of this verification is around 800 MXN and needs to be done yearly.

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If you own an electric or solar-powered car, you are exempt from this emissions verification.

These factors determine whether a car is restricted entrance into the city on certain days:

  • Environmental contingencies that arise when the air quality is bad
  • The level of emissions that your car generates

When you present your car at a vehicle testing service, you will get a sticker on the car that has a code on it, which determines your level of emission.

Last but not least, the number that is on your vehicle’s license plate tells you whether or not you may enter the city on certain days.

Car insurance

Most, if not all, states in Mexico require that your vehicle is insured if you want to purchase license plates under your name.

The cost of the insurance depends on the brand and make of the car, as well as the location where the car is circulating and the main driver that uses it.

Costs go anywhere between 5,000 MXN and 20,000 MXN per year, depending on the brand, make, year, and location of the car.

If you wish to purchase insurance for your Mexican car, you can go to online auto insurance platforms, directly to insurance companies, or to warehouses such as Liverpool, where they can assist you in the purchase of insurance.

Servicing Cost

It is crucial to have a well-maintained car in any part of the world; Mexico is no exception.

Keep your car in good mechanical shape, and it will give you more kilometers to enjoy!

You can choose to take your car to a branded dealership or take it to a small independent mechanic.

Oaxaca buildings and roadside
Many expats pay around 6,000 MXN to 15,000 MXN per year to maintain their cars.

Servicing your car at the official dealership is going to be more expensive than independent garages. However, the quality is often better. In addition to that, having a service record at a dealership improves the value or marketability of the car if you decide to sell it.

Besides, you will get a guarantee over the replaced parts for a certain amount of time.

We will look into both options for this article.

The Cost of Servicing Your Car at the Official Dealership

The most popular car brands in Mexico are Nissan, Chevrolet, Mazda, Kia, Toyota, Ford, and Volkswagen. Luxury brands include Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, amongst others.

In any random city, you can find the official dealership of these brands.

If you just bought a new car at a dealership, it’s a great idea to service your car at the official dealership.

That way, you will hold onto your warranty.

On average, the cost of servicing a vehicle at the dealership ranges between 6,000 MXN and 15,000 MXN per year.

During an annual car servicing, a general servicing will be done such as changing fluids.

Depending on the type of car, its age, and mileages, you might also need to purchase new suspension, brakes, or other mechanical parts.

Keep in mind that dealerships of the same brand may offer different prices and packages in the same city, as they are often run independently.

So, definitely shop around and do a price comparison before sending your car to a dealership for service!


The Cost of Servicing Your Car at an Independent Garage

You may have noticed that in each village and city, there is an enormous number of local independent garages to choose from.

While these garages are able to provide services for most car brands, you can’t just visit any of them.

It is highly recommended to find a workshop recommended by someone you know, as some shops are known for delivering poor-quality work.

An advantage of this option is that it will save you money, especially when driving an older vehicle.

An average service at an independent workshop will cost anywhere between 1,500 MXN and 4,500 MXN, depending on your needs.

But, keep in mind that warranties might not always be honored. Some people go to a couple of independent workshops when their vehicle presents a mechanical problem, to get multiple quotes and options to solve the problem.

With this information, they either choose one of the independent workshops to get it fixed or opt for a dealership.

Gas Prices

As of June 2024, gas prices in Mexico range anywhere between 22.49 and 25.99 MXN per liter.

On average, if you would drive 3,000 kilometers per month, this would cost you around 4,000 MXN. It’s going to be lower or higher depending on traffic, the model of your car, and your driving habit.

gas station in Mexico
Gas prices in Mexico range anywhere between 22.49 and 25.99 MXN per liter on average.

Prices have gone up since the Mexican gasoline market was deregulated in November 2017. Before that, the price was regulated by the Mexican government.

This is one of the reasons that more and more people opt for hybrid or electric cars, as distances in Mexico are long and gasoline prices will only go up.

Other Random Costs to Keep in Mind

If you own a car in Mexico, there are some random costs to keep in mind that might add to your bill when making use of the car.

Think of toll road fees, car wash, and perhaps parking fees (and fines!).

Parking Your Car

Most villages and cities have free parking space available somewhere. But in bigger cities and popular areas, or dense city centers, you might be obliged to park in a monitored car park. This is more secure, but will cost money.

Usually, the cost ranges anywhere between 10 MXN and 50 MXN per hour, or more.

There are parking lots that offer an unlimited time during the same day, for a fixed price.

You may also find yourself living nearby supermarkets or shopping malls that charge for parking.

Some of these offer the first hour for free or provide a discount if you purchase or consume at the place.

Car Wash

Another random cost that might be added to the average cost of owning a car in Mexico is the cost of a car wash.

You will find a lot of car wash centers in villages and cities. They can be washed by machines or by hand.

Car wash centers offer packages, from basic wash services to full interior cleaning and polish and wax. A package can range anywhere between 100 MXN and 1,000 MXN.

There are also car cleaners at work in some parking lots. They wash the exterior of your car while you are doing the shopping. The cost depends on the size of your vehicle – usually, they charge between 50 MXN and 150 MXN.

Most car washes in Mexico have a little cafeteria where you can have a snack while your car is being washed.

Speeding and Parking Tickets

While some people tend to think that anything is allowed when driving in Mexico, this is not the case.

The law is enforced by local police, and if you do not obey, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to pay a fine.

Often paid fines are speeding and parking fines.

When it comes to speeding, most of the time you need to be caught in action to receive a fine.

Some bigger cities, such as Mexico City, are installing speed cameras and you will receive a fine at your address later on. If you are caught in action by a police officer, you will either get a fine that you pay later or you will have to pay on the spot.

A speeding ticket can cost anywhere between 250 MXN up to 5,000 MXN, or more.

Parking fines work a bit differently.

Depending on how severe the parking fine is, you will either get a ticket stamped on your windshield, have one or both license plates removed (you get them back once you pay the fine), or have a clamp to immobilize your car until you pay the fine.

A parking ticket can cost anywhere between 150 MXN and 1,000 MXN, up to 4,000 MXN if you have to get your license plate(s) back.

This all depends on the state or city in which the event occurred, and even on the specific place.


Toll Road

If you travel long distances or between cities, you might have the option to choose between free federal highways and toll roads (autopistas de cuota).

Toll roads often ensure a more speedy and safer journey than the free federal highways.

toll road in Mexico
On average, you pay around 25 MXN to 150 MXN when taking a toll road in Mexico. However, if it’s long, like between Cancun and Merica, the cost can be as high as 600 MXN.

Keep in mind that toll road fees have been going up recently. An example of what such a toll road costs is the toll road between Cancun and Merida – around 600 MXN one-way.

This website indicates how much you are likely to pay from A to B.

Cost Summary

To summarize, we created a small overview of mandatory taxes and costs of owning a car in Mexico, per year. These include average prices of: taxes, tenencia, emissions verification, car insurance, and servicing your car.

 Min. priceMax. price
Taxes  2,500 MXN  5,000 MXN
Tenencia  3,750 MXN  6,000 MXN
Emissions verification     800 MXN     800 MXN
Car insurance  5,000 MXN20,000 MXN
Car maintenance  1,500 MXN15,000 MXN
Car park*  1,040 MXN  5,200 MXN
Car wash (optional)**     600 MXN  1,800 MXN
Toll***  7,200 MXN  7,200 MXN
Total22,390 MXN61,000 MXN

* an estimated cost of parking a car twice a week.

** an estimated car wash for 1-2 times per month.

*** an average cost of driving on a toll road 1 time per month.

Now, onto you

Now that you know more about the mandatory taxes and costs, and costs to keep in mind to run your vehicle in Mexico, you can decide whether or not the purchase of a vehicle is worth it. Or you can just rent one when you have to travel.

Remember that owning a vehicle in Mexico might seem a bit of a hassle to begin with, but that it also provides many benefits and freedom!

Avatar photo
Debbie Vorachen is a Cultural Anthropologist and Content&Copywriter. She was born and raised in the Netherlands and has been living in Mexico for 8 years now. Debbie love to write and her other passions are yoga and meditation. She is currently based in Mérida, Yucatán.

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