General Info Page

If you are driving into Mexico, Central, or South America, you may want to get a four wheel drive, or more importantly, a car with extra clearance. This doesn't mean you have to have a 4x4 or a jacked up truck. We have profiled lots of roadtrippers driving the americas in everything from a 1990 VW Golf to an antique Land Rover. Check out who is driving what!  Or read more about purchasing a vehicle for your trip. 

Vehicle Ownership

One thing you need to be aware of is that many countries will not allow you to enter unless you own your car outright. If you don't, a letter of agreement will be needed from any lien holders listed on your title (select a country listed to the left for specific requirements for each country). This means that if you have a leased car or a car loan, you will not be the only person listed on the title and you will need to get a letter from that company acknowledging you can take the car out of the country.  Many companies will not allow their cars to be taken beyond Mexico or Canada if the car is leased or loaned (see complete lists of documents you will need).

Vehicle Insurance

Insurance in Mexico

Most insurance plans in the US and Canada will not cover you in Mexico.  The Mexican government does not recognize any insurers outside the country.  This means that you will need to get Mexican insurance through a Mexican company before entering the country.  Many people use Sanborns Mexican Insurance, which can be obtained at the border or ahead of time online. Baja Bound Mexico Insurance is another option to buy and print your policy online.

Insurance in Central and South America

Most insurance plans in the US and Canada will not cover you in Central and South America. Sanborns will also provide insurance for Central America and South America that can be renewed for extended travel.  Comparable insurance can be obtained through Geico, however, any policy purchased through Geico cannot be renewed once you have left the US.  These insurance options exclude the countries of Belize, Costa_Rica, Nicaragua, and Colombia.  Basic car insurance for Belize and Nicaragua can be purchased when you arrive at their borders. Additional insurance for Nicaragua (recommended highly since the basic insurance only covers damage to property or other people) can be purchased in Managua from Aseguradora Mundial Nicaragua.  SOAT in Colombia covers only 3rd party, not total loss or damages.  There is no way (right now) to get more insurance coverage for your vehicle in Colombia, so there is some increased risk.  

Insurance Contacts 

Insurer Contact Information
Insurance Consultants Internationa
1155 Larry Mahan "H"
El Paso, TX 79925
Phone: 1-800-434-3966/ (915) 591-8279
Fax: (915) 592-1293
Baja Bound Insurance Services, Inc.
750 11th Avenue, Suite 101
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: 1-888-552-2252 / (619)702-4292
Fax: (888)265-7834
Mexico Insurance
Sanborn's Insurance
Tina Burberg
1945 Expressway 77 (Executive Inn)
Brownsville,TX 78521
Phone: 1-800-258-1656/ (956) 546-6644
Fax: (956) 504-2919
Aseguradora Mundial Nicaragua
Edificio Invercasa, 1er Piso.
Managua, Nicaragua
(505)276-8890 They do have employees who speak excellent English.
Aseguradora Mundial Website
Instituto Nacional de Seguros (Costa Rica)
Phone: 2287-6000 (In Costa Rica)
Instituto Nacional de Seguros
Insurance Company of Belize, Limited ICB Website
SOAT Colombia
email address:
Previsora Website
Office locations
Cartagena office location: Pasaje de la Moneda Avda, Escallon No 8-59, Cartagena
(just outside the old city)
Suramericana de Seguros

At the Nicaragua border, you will need to buy basic coverage. The coverage is as follows (2008):

Death or damages caused to one person. Up to US $ 5,000.00
Death or damages caused to one or more persons. US $ 10,000.00
Material damages caused to third parties. US $ 5,000.00

If you feel that you require more insurance you will have to head to Managua to contact Aseguradora Mundial Nicaragua where you can work out a better plan for your vehicle. Their address is Edificio Invercasa, 1er Piso. Managua, Nicaragua Managua lacks any street signs, so you will have to ask locals for directions to the Edificio Invercasa. Call them at (505)276-8890 if you have any questions, and they do have employees who speak excellent English.

Roads and Driving

The road conditions vary widely depending on the country, see the Roads and Driving page for detailed information on driving tips and what to expect.

Vehicle Modifications

Here are some ideas on how to add a little more security or comfort to your car.

Locking Gas Cap

If your car doesn´t already come with a locking gas cap, you may want to purchase one.

Spare Tire

If your car doesn´t have a full sized spare, you may want to purchase one.  Another item you may want to consider (along with the full sized spare) is a canned tire inflator.  On many roads, there are few places to pull off the road to change a tire. A canned tire inflator will allow you to get to a safe place for changing a tire. In addition to this you might also want to have a puncture repair kit and even a small air compressor - jack up the car so the tire just barley comes off the ground, repair a flat or slow leak, air the tire up and go on your way without having to change it.

If you plan to drive with an average american RV you will be likely using so-called "Light Truck Tires" with a load range D or even E. These tires (in a size similar to LT 245/85 R16) are almost impossible to buy anywhere between Guatemala and Chile! We found some after a long search, for around twice the US price, in Panama. Costa Rica has large a Bridgestone factory, but they only produce up to 6-ply tires (load range C), in Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru we couldn't find any! Further south it's easier: Pirelli produces this size/load range in Brazil, and there are imports available, so you'll find them. The cheapest deals are in the northern and southern free trade zones of Chile (I paid ~$95 per tire in Punta Arenas). Better leave home with good tires if you're riding on "light truck tires". (added by dare2go)

Front and Rear License Plates

If your car doesn´t already come with both plates and you can't request another you may want to fabricate a bumper sticker (read more about the Peruvian missing license plate scam). Some countries in South America expect vehicles to have both plates and you could avoid trouble by mocking one up. A quick and easy way to do this is to take a quality photo of your original then visit a print shop to get it printed out at the correct dimensions onto exterior grade self adhesive vinyl.

Tamper Proof License Plates

Sometimes crooked police have been known to unscrew license plates and hold them at the local station until whatever 'infraction' has been paid for.  It's advisable to install your license plate with tamper proof screws, you can do this cheaply yourself by drilling out the heads of normal screws after your plate is secured. Another option is to display your license plate behind the rear window.

Spare Parts

You may want to bring spare air, oil and gas filters for your car in case you cannot find any that fit your car on your trip. You should also have spare belts and extra fuses with you. ''edit dare2go'': If your car has any electronics (most models released after 1990 will have some) take the most vital sensors for your model!

Tinted Windows

Tinted windows will keep a your car cooler – they also make it a little harder to see the camera on your back seat. You can get your windows tinted at many places for around $20-40 USD once you enter Mexico and throughout Latin America. *A word of caution if you are going to Peru - you are supposed to have a special permit to have tinted windows there. My car had 'mirror' type tint, so you couldn't see into it. This is not allowed in Peru. Normally you won't have a problem, but it they are looking for an excuse to get money or fine you, they might use this.

Kill Switch

Adding a kill switch is a safety feature that bypasses the ignition which, when turned off, won't allow the car the start even with the key. It is a fairly simple procedure and another small thing that gives a bit more peace of mind when driving the Americas. A mechanic should be able to help you install the switch.


You may want to purchase a small Jerrycan – gas stations at regular intervals are not guaranteed.

Fire Extinguisher and Safety Triangles

A common bribe tactic especially in Nicaragua is for the police to ask to see these items, it's unclear whether they are compulsory but having them deprives the cops of an easy bribe, they are also sensible things to have with you. You should also have two safety triangles, one to put in front of the vehicle and one for behind. See Scams for more info.


In the event you break down you can't call AAA to come to the rescue. It's very rare to see a tow truck unless you're on the toll roads. With a tow-strap you can solicit the help of a passer by to tow you to safety and not have to hope that they have one with them. 

Vehicle Manual in Spanish

It's not a bad idea to hunt down a copy of your vehicle's manual in Spanish – this will definitely help the local mechanics.

White Sheet

Yes, it sounds crazy but apparently it's on the books in Argnetina that you should carry a white sheet in your car, apparently to wrap bodies.  While this scenario seems unlikely, if you have some kind of white sheet in your car it's yet another thing the crooked cop will not be able to catch you for.  


Keeping your car unwashed can make it look less appealing for thieves and stand out less on the road.  Throwing some mud over the license plate can help disguise your foreign plates. 

However, others may disagree.   If you're traveling along the coast and camping on beaches, you will experience far more rust. It's important to wash off any salt residue especially on the undercarriage. You'll also get a lot of comments from the locals about having a dirty car. You'll notice that the vast majority of them take an immense amount of pride in their vehicles and keep them clean even if they're falling apart. Also, having a dirty car may just point out that you're on a long haul and not from around there making you a target. Trying to hide your plates with mud may also be a futile effort since anybody walking by will still easily be able to tell you have foreign plates, unless you completely cover them with mud, which will mean a lot more hassles at checkpoints. They'll probably even make you clean it off before they allow you to go on your way. 

Tue, 05/24/2011 - 20:56

Tire Size


Dare2Go mentioned the difficulty of finding 245 85R16 tires in D or E rating.  Can anyone advise on a more common alternative for tire selection?  We are going with BFG All-Terrains and we're considering that size or 235's.    

Fri, 06/24/2011 - 17:13

E rated tires 265/75R16

We had a lot of trouble getting 265/75R16 E rated tires.

D rating would have been no trouble

We were told on a number times in Argentina that NOONE had them.

Eventually got them at the GM dealer in Santiago Chile

Had to drive there from mendoza Ar just for the tires.

Rob Blackwell

Fri, 06/24/2011 - 17:19

If you are entering Colombia

If you are entering Colombia from the south that is from Ecuador via Ipiales
you will need to get insurance. This cannot be obtained at the border post
Instead you get it in the town of Ipiales at the following place.
The lady told us if we emailed her she would arrange
to be open even over the weekend.

						Olga Lucia Mejia
						Calle 12 No. 6-25 Local 03
						Edificio Santa Clara
						Tel  	7255852	
						Cel  	317 538 5539

Rob Blackwell

Fri, 12/30/2011 - 18:19

Front License Plate in Nicaragua

We brought a fake front license plate because Arizona doesn't issue a real one. The border police made us remove it before we could cross into Nicaragua. They said it was illegal to drive with a copy and we'd run into trouble later. They also said that Nicaragua and the other CA countries had an agreement with the US to allow cars with only one license plate, and anyone who said you needed 2 plates was lying. Didn't have any problems at any of the police stops in Nicaragua, so I'd recommend removing your front copy (at least temporarily).

Sat, 12/31/2011 - 09:34

front license plate

We only encountered police in South America (mainly Peru if I remember correctly) who said we needed a front license plate - I don't think we got that much in Central America.  

Thu, 03/28/2013 - 20:08


Many thieves will target dirty cars as being abandoned or obviously owned by a tourist. I noticed this throughout Central America. Washing one's car is also a synonym that you are keeping an eye on it, that you check it out often.

For polarization, it's hit or miss. Some may argue that it hides contents inside, but thieves may break your glass just to check what is inside your auto. I personally abstain from polarization and pay a little more for secure parking. Worth all the peace of mind in the world!

Thu, 08/20/2015 - 08:52

Mexican Auto Insurance

Not only does most U.S. Insurance coverage not cover Mexico, but the mexican government requires auto insurance as soon as you cross the border. In addition to all the other mexican auto insurance companies already mentioned, I recommend MexPro. They're based in the U.S. but have served Mexico for more than 15 years

Fri, 11/27/2015 - 10:16

Issues with Insurance Contacts

I think there a few issues with the insurance contacts:

  • For Insurance Consultants International, the website and email address are incorrect. The correct website is:
  • The phone number for Aseguradora Mundial Nicaragua, does not work, at least while in Nicaragua.
Fri, 06/03/2016 - 13:21

Mitsubishi Montero Sport 4x4 for sale Santiago Mid August

Selling 2007 Mitsubishi Montero Sport in Santiago in mid to late August 2016.  Has built in bed kit, tinted windows and inner curtains for privacy to sleep anywhere!  2007 with 194,351 kilometers.  Has metal roof rack with three gas cans, two spare tires, and water jug.  Comes with foam mattress,pillows and blankets, stove and pots and pans, silverware.  Has excellent stereo with USB or auxillary plug and CD player.  Moon/sun roof, and charging possibilities for two devices from battery.  Two camping chairs and storage bins, solar shower, fishing rod, saw and screwdrivers, wrenches, bungee cords, ratchet straps, and windshield solar shade.

Mon, 11/14/2016 - 11:16 (Reply to #9)

I assume you sold this?

We are arriving Santiago early Feb, and are looking for a vehicle like yours.

Assuming you sold yours, do you know anyone else trying to sell a vehicle who is not on this site?

Thanks, Tom


Mon, 11/14/2016 - 11:16 (Reply to #10)

I assume you sold this?

We are arriving Santiago early Feb, and are looking for a vehicle like yours.

Assuming you sold yours, do you know anyone else trying to sell a vehicle who is not on this site?

Thanks, Tom


Tue, 04/25/2017 - 08:17


Jeez, this helped me to choose vehicle for my trip to Mexico. I have position of reviewer of essay-writing and similar services on Master Paper Writers review so I don't have much time to spend on insurance issues.  Your tips saved some time for me!


Fri, 05/12/2017 - 03:18
kaylee (not verified)

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Thu, 08/17/2017 - 21:08

Four-wheel drive

I am new here and am considering doing the Pan-American trip Argentina next year. I live in the US and debating what type of vehicle I should get. Is a four-wheel drive vehicle a neccesity for the trip?

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 03:59

Combi for sale

Hi can you tell me if your vehicle is still for sale and if it would be possible to send us some pictures or where we can view them. We are in brasil at the moment and new to this site. Thanks leigh 

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 04:01

Combi for sale

Hi can you tell me if your vehicle is still for sale and if it would be possible to send us some pictures or where we can view them. We are in brasil at the moment and new to this site. Email us please at Thanks leigh 

Tue, 10/03/2017 - 03:36

My opinion

I am new here and I don't know anyone here I need a car so please tell me your car is also on sale. so please contact me at



Mon, 01/29/2018 - 07:02

Perfect 4WD for rent, at the

Perfect 4WD for rent, at the beginning of March in Chile,

Thu, 04/26/2018 - 10:42

Schoolbus for sale in Argentina (full size)

We offer an american schoolbus, which we converted during 3 weeks into a fully equipped
mobile home by hand. At the moment we are travelling along the so called „Panamerican
Highway“. During June, we plan to arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina, the most southern tip
of Southamerica. This is were we plan to sell our Bus.
We converted the Bus in Anchorage, Alaska. It took us approximately 1100 hours of
labour time. We spent 18.000 US$ for the conversion and 4.900 US$ for the Bus itself. We
installed a water cycle for the bathroom and the kitchen, that is supplied by a 400 Liter
(105 Gallons) water tank underneath the bus. The electricity is powered by 3 deep-cycle
batteries, which themselves are connected to and charged by the alternator.
Until the end of 2016 the bus functioned as an ordinary schoolbus. It was running
without any trouble and was maintained regularly. Since we bought the bus, we did not
experience problems either. Additionally, we had a motor- and transmissionoilchange
performed. We changed the front tires and had all the barrings and joints greased.
Underneath the bus, you can find a spare tire ( we did not need it so far).
The display for the oil pressure does not work properly and may be replaced. The shocks
are leaking, but still serve our needs. Some mechanics adviced us to replace our front leave
springs, but when asking at another workshop they did not have any further concerns
about them. After more than 15.000 Kilometers (…) of driving, the bus is running
immaculate. We repaired one of the slack adjusters, which is working again without any
trouble. In case of any further problems with the slack adjuster, we have already bought a
spare part.
Concerning the technical condition, there are no flaws. Engine and transmission are
working fine. Prior to selling the bus, we will refurbish the interior.

We would like to sell the bus in June in Ushuaia,
Argentina. If you feel like travelling with the
schoolbus, do not hesitate to contact us.
We are looking forward to your offer!

The front area: Kitchen & Sofa
In the front area, there is kitchen with a sink, refrigrator, flowing water and, of
course cooking facilities.
On the opposite side of the kitchen you can find a sofa with a bookshelf.
The dining area
Our dining area consists of four benches from the original
schoolbus- interior, that fit eight people.
The sleeping area
For the sleeping area, we constructed bunk beds. Next to each bed,
there is a 12 Volts socket. Like the dining area, the sleeping area
can fit eight people, as well as all your baggage.
The bathroom
We constructed a wall, that divides the bathroom from the living
area. In bathroom, you will find a self- composting „Natureshead“
toilet, a small shower, another sink and big shelf for all your clothes.

Manufacturer: Thomas Built Buses
Year of construction: 2001
Mileage: approximately 370 000 Kilometers (230.000 miles)
in Ushuaia
Engine: Caterpillar 6-Cylinder 240 horsepowers (runs
usually more than 1.000.000 Kilometers (620.000 miles))
Transmission: Allison 5-Shift-Automatic
Weight: 14 Tons
Length: 11,75 Meters
Width: 2,45 Meters
Equipment: Tools, spare parts, spare tire, 3,5 Horsepowers-
generator, 3 brand new deep-cycle batteries, 5 camping
chairs, soundsystem (two towers, amplifier, equalizer),
refrigerator, cooking facilities

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 08:36


HONDA 4x4 WANTS YOU FOR U$ 6.850.-


Honda CR-V, 4 stroke DOHC, year of construction 2004 (American model); Automatic gasoline engine, 101,200 Miles, Motor 2.4lt., 4 cylinder
Fully leather trimed, Bluetooth-Audiosystem, Air conditioning System, Airbag, Moonproof, telesable Hatch Glass, integrated fold-up picknick-table

Last big Service Check in December 2017, Last Oil change in May 2018

Additionale facilities:
Pull-out couch-zone/ enough space to sleep for two persons
Spacious deck storage from Thule (330 lt.)
New All Terrain-tires (15,000 Miles), including spare tire

The Toyota is in a well maintained status and we bought it secondhand. He is very amply and variable as a Van. Due it‘s pull out sleeping Zone you have enough space for two on adverse weather to sleep in the car. Thanks to the four Wheel Drive, the SUV is very safe to drive on the typically gravel roads from Southamerica.
Until now the car has been very reliable, solid and free from and breakdown.
Unfortunately we have to go back home to Europe after 7 months of travelling. We are planning to sell our beloved car in the area of Chile and Argentina or according to prior agreement between June and July 2018.

Don‘t hesitate contacting us for any further questions or for buying interest WhatsApp +41 79 328 87 84 WhatsApp +41 76 416 35 49