Published: February, 2002
Who else to ask but the experts!
My wife and I plan on doing some extensive "adventure travelling" throughout Mexico.
As part of the budgeting process I am trying to figure out how a Class B motorhome would be classified on the "cuotas". Would it be a "pick-up/panel", an "autobus" or a "C2"?
Like so many others we admire your spirit of adventure. Continued good health to the both of you.
PS: I used to go salmon fishing in Alaska out of a little town near Mt. Vernon, Wash called La Conner.
Lorena Responds: We forwarded your questions to David El Codo Eidell, who has spent many years towing a trailer throughout Mexico:
Just about every "cuota" I've ever been on treats motorhomes as a 2-axle truck. Same thing with pickup trucks towing a trailer (let's say the rig has a total of four axles -- it will be treated as a 4 axle truck). But even pickups with a huge camper, with nothing in tow are usually treated as an automobile. Motorhomes towing a boat are charged truck rate, totaling up the number of axles, while motorhomes towing a car, pay a truck rate plus an automobile rate.
Some "autopistas" (cuotas -- toll roads) charge a 2-axle truck double that of a car, while others (mostly Government operated) charge one and a half times that of a car.
Some notoriously high priced stretches are the periferico (ring road) around Magdalena, Sonora; the periferico around Guaymas, and the three Maxi Pista sections north of Mazatlan.
Some autopistas are worth just about any cost because of what they avoid. In the "worth it any any cost" I include these tollways:
The toll road to Acapulco from Mexico City.
The toll roads from Tepic to Guadalajara (insane numbers of trucks on the free road).
The toll road from near Patzcuaro through Uruapan.
The tolls on many roads were punitive when I first tried them in 1994. For instance, the toll for a car on each leg of the Maxi Pista was then 54 pesos (when the peso was 3 to 1). The toll road concessionaires did not revalue the tolls after the 1994 devaluation and today many of the complaints that you hear were based on the pre-devaluation charges. If you should bust one RV tire on a non-toll road pothole it would have paid for many miles of smooth pavement. Also fifteen dollars in tolls on some stretches would be offset by an extra day of hassle, the cost of tranquilizers, and frustration.
Far and away the best way to save money when RVing is to back WAY off the gas pedal. Try cruising the toll roads at 45 to 50 mph.
Also, before leave home, have a local hotshot tune-up expert really go through your engine: distributor advance curve, new wires, carb overhaul.... the whole shot. With Mexican gasoline over two dollars a gallon, even if you have to pay a couple hundred dollars for a "super tune" it will save you money on a trip of several thousand miles.
If you encounter a stiff head wind, find a place to park rather than pay fifty dollars or more in gas to buck it.
Current Mexican Gasoline Prices from Sanborn's Insurance
Check your tire pressure EVERY MORNING without fail. Use a gauge, not shortcuts. I can just about assure you that on a long trip you'll save a tire or two, plus a hundred or more dollars on fuel.
The success of your trip will depend on what you DIDN'T take with you rather than what you did. Pack your rig like you're going to pack the cargo on your back. No canned goods. Maybe twenty pounds total in groceries. Take spices. Empty out cubbyholes, cabinets, drawers and cupboards.
Play a "loading game" with your partner when outfitting the rig. Bet your better half that for every unused item that they insist on bringing it'll cost a ten dollar bill (first aid kits are exempt). This goes for packages of foodstuff, clothes, anything. The ten dollar per item fine (or whatever the penalty) will help keep your head in the right place as you carefully pare down useless junk.
Mexico has absolutely everything you need (except for frozen corn) especially in tourist areas. Keeping the weight of your rig down to a bare minimum will be the toughest but most appreciated part of your planning. If it doesn't turn out that way, upon your return you may chew me out :-)
And have fun. I love having my own bed and reading light with me, and a handy refrigerator for midnight munchie runs!
You responded to an e-mail I sent to Carl and Lorena regarding how a Class B motorhome is classified for the purposes of toll charges. Even though it is a van conversion I take it you are saying it is classified as a " C-2 " vehicle. Would that be correct?
On another note I just want to thank-you for the service and confidence you provide to those of us who want to explore and enjoy Mexico as you have.
El Codo again:
I'm sure glad that you emailed me again, because from the way you describe your vehicle it is a van and not a van/box motorhome. Vehicles that are a van and do not have dual real wheels (dually) are not a motorhome -- and vans are charged the automobile rate.
For reference, even single rear wheel "vans" with a box-like motorhome body are charged the truck rate. Just to make this as clear as possible, vans that have a built-up roof section are charged car rates. The van has to undergo major conversion surgery or have dual wheels before it is bumped up a class.
Now that I think of it, another way of distinguishing between a van and a van/box is if the original rear van doors have been replaced.
Sorry about the confusion. Saludos!
Dear Carl & Lorena
Thank you, not only for your help but the confidence to go and enjoy Mexico as you two free spirits have done.
Continued success for all you may have planned.