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Discussion Starter #1
I'm arriving late summer in Lakeside (Chapala) and I've been thinking about whether to bring my present car or a different one. For this post I'm wondering how high some of these topes are. I know they vary and that some are harsher than others. I have 5 -7/8 inches clearance under my engine and some of these low areas are not directly in line with the wheels, in which case everything between the wheels gets lifted up as the car goes over it. Can anyone give me the range as to what I might have to deal with? I read several threads from 2014 about topes but I have yet to see any estimates of how high they might be. Thanks.
 

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With the way this traffic tears down the highways, it might be difficult to get anyone to make precise measurements. However, most of the small cars can manage them if they slow to a near-stop and don't have 4 large adults or a Great Dane in the back seat. What kind of car do you have? If someone on the board has a similar one, he/she can probably tell you his/her own experience.
 

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What kind of car do you have?
I have a Ford ZX2 which was a sporty transition between the Escort and the Focus. The car I'm considering is a Chevy Cobalt, a local car that is in beautiful shape and has been blessed by my local repair guy as being in very good shape.
 

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The issue of topes in Mexico is an interesting one and I can assure you there is no standard at all. Some topes are noted by signage and painted, many are neither signed or painted. There is no standard size at all and many topes can be axle breakers so you are on your own. We moved down here in 2001 with a U.S. manufactured Chrysler which was a fine car in California but so low to the ground that there were times when we travelled to Oaxaca State we had to ask passengers to exit the car to negotiate certain topes in indigenous villages. We got rid of that U.S. car and, for years, have only driven Mexican plated SUVs here. At the present time a Nissan XTrail and Mazda CX-5 both of which negotiate topes well as long as we are cautious in approaching those topes.

Speed bumps are not uncommon in France where we sometimes drive but they must meet a lawful standard. Here in Mexico there is no standard whatsoever and one of the reasons for that is that, while Mexican drivers are among the world´s politest and most civilized in many ways, they can be notorious scofflaws when it comes to driving rules. For example, in Chiapas where we live much of the year there are many indigenous villages interspersed along most major highways and these villages are often crowded with pedestrians. Without the moderating influence of topes, many drivers from elsewhere would race through these villages without slowing down at all. As a consequence, villagers often construct topes that are not only unmarked but will bust your ass if you hit them wrong. This happens all over Chiapas but my favorite is the highway from San Cristóbal to Palenque - a beautiful drive - with, as of my last count, 280 topes many of which are axle busters if you hit them at high speed. As a consequence, that drive which should take maybe three hours takes about five hours. That´s OK. Years ago when Dawg was driving from Montgomery to Mobile or San Francisco to L.A.I was always in a hurry to complete those journeys ASAP. Chiapas slowed me down much to my personal benefit. That drive from San Cristóbal to Palenque and other points in Chiapas is through splendid countryside which should be treasured so topes be damned as long as you have a car that can handle them.
 

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Anywhere from a couple inches to some that are hard to see over. Palm bark and heavy mooring rope are the easiest. Angle and turn your wheels at the peak for big ones. Non painted in the shade in some tiny town are killers
 

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Some topes are higher than others and can tear-off something underneath if you're not careful. No regulation size that I know of. Not all topes are signed and you may not be aware of their existence until you hit one ... if you're not carefully watching. Typically, topes are placed at the entrance/exit to communities when traveling on highways ... and also near schools, etc. On some highways you'll encounter a lot of them. For example, on the stretch of MX Hwy. 200 from Acapulco south to Puerto Escondido ... there are more than 200, according to reports from drivers who've counted them.
 

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A back street in Tzurumutaro, Michoacán has molded, angular concrete topes. We call them "tank barriers".

Oddly enough, on the main highway that passes by the Tzurumutaro school, there are a set of topes suaves, or smooth, rounded topes that are easy to cross.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, Lagoloo, Hound Dog, Sparks, and Longford and Anonimo. It looks like the Cobalt is out since it has only 5.4 inches (13.7 cm). I have heard that 16 cm clearance should be okay, generally, but I don't quite have that with my present vehicle either (15cm). I don't plan to use it a lot once I'm there so I don't really want to sink a whole lot into a vehicle at the beginning.

Most of my immediate concern will be the trip down from Laredo to Chapala, much of which will be on 57 and 80 including some cuotas. I've "driven" parts of it with Street View and haven't seen any topes yet other than some that look like the topes suaves that Anonimo described. I've looked mainly around the towns. This initial trip will be where I will want to make good time.

Thanks again.
 

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There are some places in Mexico where topes are not just a bump in the road ( Merida and the town of Tequila come to mind) not only are the topes high they are wide ( maybe 3' wide) for pedestrians to walk
safely across a street. One time I saw some small sports car ruin his lower cowl because the front on the car protruded out from the front tires and it was hung up on this large tope........good luck
 

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There are some places in Mexico where topes are not just a bump in the road ( Merida and the town of Tequila come to mind) not only are the topes high they are wide ( maybe 3' wide) for pedestrians to walk
safely across a street. One time I saw some small sports car ruin his lower cowl because the front on the car protruded out from the front tires and it was hung up on this large tope........good luck
Those 3 foot wide topes are common in many places. I see vehicles cross them at a 45 degree angle with cars with low clearence and make it.

I almost got hung up on one driving 5 miles an hour in a new Walmart shopping center years ago and as you said it was for people pushig their shopping carts across the driveway because they had no level place on the sidewalk outside the store. It did scrape the bottom frame but no damage on my Maxima. After that I went to another driveway to park. There were four or five of them as it was a large shopping center.

On Monday a dump truck went over one of those 3 footers on the periférico a mile from my house at a busy T intersection which really needs a traffic light and opened up the back hatch and spilled his load of powdered red clay all the way along the highway for more than a mile. He obviusly should have slowed down at the tope.
 

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The three foot wide topes which are meant ordinarily to accomodate and protect pedestraisns are no problem and are easily negoitated,. One usually finds them at places such as airports or urban pedestrian zones. IF you do not know the difference between these types of topes, stay where you are at present.
 

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"stay where you are at present" ugh? Tell that to the driver of the Lotus I saw hung up in Tequila......
I´m not sure I understand you chicois but I´m not challenging you, just curious. Tequila is a nice town and, as best I remember, not noted for difficult topes which is the subject here. I really don´t know what a Lotus is so perhaps my ignorance is blinding me but how could one get "hung up" on one? I am not being sarcastic, just curious.

When I told one of the city fathers of Teotitlan Del Valle, a Oaxaca State Zapotista village, that his local topes were unreasonably high and narrowly built he looked at me as if I were insane and, get this, he was a friend.

OK, I get it. Lotus is a sports car. Why would one drive one of those to Tequila and if having done so and experienced problems, why ***** about it?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
IF you do not know the difference between these types of topes, stay where you are at present.
Hound Dog: Thanks for your further input. I doubt if I have seen all there is to see but I had seen enough to prompt my question with about a 3 month lead time so I could plan accordingly (hopefully). I've seen the topes from the Lakeside area to GDL, between the old and new bus stations, then to León and San Miguel, and that's all. What I didn't get was a close look at them since I wasn't thinking about these details as it relates to my driving something there. In fact, it was only recently that I got around to crawling under my car and measuring the clearance. I still need to see if what I am measuring is all just shielding, and if so, I need to find out how much clearance I have from the actual organs of this beast.

Thanks to Chicois8, too.
 

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Well, if ineffectively, cited. Just to clarify, wide pedestrian protective "topes" usually designated as crosswalks in much of the world, are a quite common method of designating pedestrian walkways and meant to slow traffic thereabouts in order to insure pedestrian safety. Here in Mexico, these are not "real" topes which are typically found in rural áreas on primary and secondary highways. If I am forced to drive at night in Chiapas, I try to find a big truck or local taxi to follow because you can´t see nor anticípate these "real"topes nor can anyone else. If you follow that truck or taxi, however, you can observe it brake or bounce its ass off in front of you and you can slow down.
 

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Bubba, I did not understand this sentence or grammar, you wrote... "stay where you are at present."

Yes Lotus is a sports car slung low to the road, the large /wide topes in Tequila are located on Highway 15 as you enter town from the north. By hung up it was like a teeter totter on the tope,3 locals walked over and picked it up by the rear end and carried it so the wheels were on top of the tope and the car could continue on...

I was in Teotitlan last year and did not notice their topes were higher than any along the highway from San Cristobal to Palenque...
 

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Bubba, I did not understand this sentence or grammar, you wrote... "stay where you are at present."

Yes Lotus is a sports car slung low to the road, the large /wide topes in Tequila are located on Highway 15 as you enter town from the north. By hung up it was like a teeter totter on the tope,3 locals walked over and picked it up by the rear end and carried it so the wheels were on top of the tope and the car could continue on...

I was in Teotitlan last year and did not notice their topes were higher than any along the highway from San Cristobal to Palenque...
Good story Chicois. How humiliating. I am reminded of when, about 1985, I was enjoying my usual Martini out on the patio in a favorite restaurant in California´s Napa Valley as I often did when I leaned back without realizing one leg of my lawn chair was in the dirt off of the patio and, as it came about, as I leaned back, I slowly and disgracefully toppled over into the garden in slow motion with legs flailing and I was wondering what to do after that so after arising from the mud, I said to the obviously embarrassed waiter, " Another Martini please,"
 

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Bubba, I did not understand this sentence or grammar, you wrote... "stay where you are at present."

Yes Lotus is a sports car slung low to the road, the large /wide topes in Tequila are located on Highway 15 as you enter town from the north. By hung up it was like a teeter totter on the tope,3 locals walked over and picked it up by the rear end and carried it so the wheels were on top of the tope and the car could continue on...

I was in Teotitlan last year and did not notice their topes were higher than any along the highway from San Cristobal to Palenque...
lI love this story chicois, It is the essence of life. Here you are in a 200,000 USD (or whatver) sports car meant to show off your butt in Santa Monica driving through a hick town like Tequila and here is your ass stuck on a tope meant to slow down turnip trucks. You coudn´t make this up. Priceless.
 

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Many rich local yuppies drive some very expensive sport cars around the Puerto Vallarta area and the rest of western Jalisco......
I was in La Penita, Nayarit in January and across the street at the stop light facing me was a Formula 1 race car, when the light turned green it took off like a rocket and just as loud.. LOL
 
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