Renting a car in the US and driving to Mexico

I’m in inquiring here for a friend of mine who will be coming from Japan and driving from LA to Mexicali.

Just how much of a hassle will he be facing if he tries to take his rental car across the border. I know he will need to buy additional insurance from a Mexican company, but aside from that will he face an additional hassles aside from the fact that it will likely take a long time crossing the border, especially since he is not a citizen of either the US or Mexico.

The Mexican Embassy in Tokyo, apparently not tourism-oriented, told him to expect to get hassled by bandits.

IIRC US car rental contracts prohibit taking the car into Mexico. He might want to consider renting the car in Mexico from a reliable US-based rental company. You might want to call Hertz and Avis and others to get specific info.

Never had trouble with bandits, but we always stayed on highways. Bandits are not unheard of, of course. As with any travel, common sense goes a long way.

Aside from the general gut feeling that I’m glad I’m not a Japanese guy in a U.S. rental car on highway in northern Mexico, I can’t address much. But I can tell you that many rental car agreements I’ve signed have restrictions on where the renter can take the car, and Mexico is commonly prohibited. So, he needs to make sure that his destination is understood and agreed to.

I think I’m going to advise the guy to drive to Calexico, get a hotel room near the border and just walk across to Mexicali and take taxis or buses when necessary.

I don’t know if the Customs people are going to frown upon a Japanese citizen going back and forth across the border for a few days however.

Avis, Hertz, and National all specifically say that their vehicles cannot be taken across the Mexican border.
But you can take them to Canada!

Yeah, take a taxi across the border.

I suspect that the fact that US auto insurance isn’t accepted in Mexico has a lot to do with this. If you intend to drive there you always need to stop at the border and get Mexican auto insurance. Don’t ask me how because I’ve never done it.

I saw a Budget car rental sign at one of their Los Angeles county locations that offered Mexican insurance. So I assume they allow their cars to cross the border. They have a web site and toll free numbers.

It was quite common when I worked in Mexico to rent cars from Avis in Laredo, TX. Included was insurance for Mexico, permission to enter Mexico with said vehicle, papers for the Leon Avis to do scheduled service (which was then farmed out to the local dealership), and everything needed to be legal and protected. The difference was striking – in Leon a tiny, little Malibu was about $120 per day with the LDW! The daily rate from Laredo was about $60, which is still considerably higher than the “normal” non-Mexico rate for a tiny car (oh, wait, rental companies call them “midsize” for some reason). Of course, you had to drive back and forth to Laredo (10 hours each way) every once in a while to change cars – they wouldn’t let you keep them more than 90 days.

My friend called Avis in Japan and they said that if he picks up the car at LAX and agrees to pay an additional $22/day for Mexican auto insurance and stays within 450 miles of the border, he’s OK.