Llanteros-Your New Best Friend in Baja by Will Ebersman
It is an axiom that Mexican mechanics can cobble parts together from different brands of of cars to keep an auto or truck running.
Llanteros, or roadside tire repairmen, are typically found every few miles along major highways in Mexico or more sparsely along the secondary roads, such as the road from Mex 1 to La Bufadora.
This road varies in condition from well-paved to rough-surfaced with the occasional pothole and the Mexican equivalent of a speedbump. Somewhere along the way, I managed to flatten my right-rear tire.
I wrestled the spare tire out of the trunk and dug out the jack. Fortunately, the emergency spare tire, the miniature version of a real tire, had air in it. This type of tire is designed to only be used about 15 miles on the front axle or about 50 miles on the rear axle. Any farther than that is not recommended by your auto maker. Since I was south of Ensenada and had a 60-mile drive back to the Rosarito Beach Hotel, I knew I needed repair or replacement.
One of the locals directed me me back along the road to his llantero. Even if I didn't understand him completely, the tractor tire, half-buried in the ground, painted yellow, was a good clue. In Spanish, the double-ell is pronounced as a 'y' so the word is pronounced 'yan-ter-o'. It's a good one to remember.
This llantero apparently had been a crew member for some NASCAR team. From the time I drove up, it took him about a minute and a half to put the car on a jack, unbolt the wheel nuts and remove the tire. The tire was partially re-inflated, put into the leak detector tank, examined and marked where the leak was. Fortunately, I had a small hole through the tread and not in the sidewall. Repair, rather than replacement, was necessary.
The tire was unbolted from the rim, a patch applied to the inside, and the tire static-balanced and re-mounted. It was them put onto the car and the emergency spare put into the back seat.
Elapsed time flat to fixed was ten minutes by my watch.
Cost of the repair? Fifty pesos, or at the going rate of exchange , about $4.15.
Flat tires are a fact of life in Mexico for both the locals as well as for tourists. Unless you're trailering a boat or doing the off-road racing thing, having a llantero nearby takes a lot of the worry out of travelling down south.