This post has been a while coming but deserves to be written because this company needs to be credited for it’s mechanical competence, we also need to say a massive thank you to all the staff at Kimu especially the boss – Charlie.
When we decided to stop in Merida part of that decision was the recommended mechanic there, english spoken and a professional work place that immediately made us feel confident of the work to come.
We had a list that was suitably long and within 10 minutes of arriving we were going for a test drive with the boss – Charlie – to determine the possible causes of:
- The loud banging that had been part of our journey since the middle of Baja California
- The stiff and quite scary replacement steering box we had acquired and had sent over to Tulum
- The speed wobble and vibrations through the van whilst driving that we had had since Canada
- The leaking automatic gearbox
- Plus a few other niggles like a blowing exhaust and even the growing collection of mechanics oily finger marks all over Hanna’s front bumper
By the time we got back to the workshop Charlie had diagnosed the banging as a loose shock absorber and one of his mechanics tightened that up immediately for free, just as a goodwill gesture to start.
We returned over the next 2 weeks to have them work on the other problems and each one was a proper job!
The wheels had been balanced by computer 5 times before we arrived – twice in the UK before we left, 3 times in Nova Scotia and although each time had been a mild success, none of them sorted the speed wobble. Charlie took all 7 wheels over to a place … I don’t know where … and a man in to his retirement apparently balanced all of the wheels using his finger and eyes – giving us a perfect balance and no hidden speed related scary wobbles; incredible … makes nonsense of computer balancing.
The leaking auto-box – seemed to majorly be leaking after some supposed specialists had ‘fixed’ it in Tulum … mmmmm … high temperature silicon and the wrong rear oil seal left us with worse leaks than before they had their bodged attempt. Upon investigation it seemed that somewhere along the line a spring and rubber seal had been put back incorrectly leaving the spring riding on the rear drive output on the auto-box. This had caused a groove to be worn in the metal. Charlie had the whole thing dismantled and sent to a workshop for tooling back to smooth and then spent ages finding a new oil seal that would fit this new specification seal – and bought us a spare for future use should we need it.
His team put back the original steering box that we had had removed in Tulum and tightened up the play.
They also cleaned the oily finger marks off the front of the van, fixed the blowing exhaust, mended the drivers seat mountings and many other jobs that never got listed on any invoice (and so were free) just because they needed to be done.
But apart from a list of what they did this post is really about the people at Kimu. Twice a week they all participate in after hours Akido around the back of the workshop in an outdoor Dojo. The English spoken by Charlie (having been trained in the US) made technical conversations easy and specific but also Lilian, who worked in the office was on hand when Charlie wasn’t there to translate and help us understand the technical intricacies of the work that was being done. Cristabell who worked in the front reception is a lovely lady who made the hours waiting in the reception a pleasure. Raul in the back office was efficient and made the ordering of parts transparent and Raul the workshop manager was also a lovely guy to liaise with regarding the work itself. And finally Charlie, a well-travelled man with a life philosophy based around the principles of Aikido and into meditation, yoga and self-development. Thanks team Kimu you made our time in Merida a better than we could have hoped for experience.
As a note to any overlanders reading this – If you need parts sent from Europe or the US then we suggest ordering them yourself to an address not the Kimu workshop. For why? well we needed engine mounts – which in the UK were around £50 each and could have taken 5 to 10 days to arrive. But the same ones were for sale in the USA for slightly more but Kimu could order them and get them to us in 3 days – and that happened. But because the ordering was done from a Mexican company to a US company the import taxes were hideous … I mean we paid 2.5 times the cost of the parts in import duties and taxes. This is by no means a reflection on Kimu – they were just as stunned as we were. But having had parts delivered to Tulum and now San Cristobal de las Casas from a private address (my father-in-law – thanks Simon) in the UK to a delivery address in Mexico (a travel agent in Tulum and a post office in San Cristobal) we paid a lot, lot, lot less in taxes and import fees so this is more of a note of our personal experience should anyone be following in our footsteps. As I say this is no way a reflection on Kimu – we were shocked but it did not diminish our experience of the team or change our attitude to towards the work that was carried out.
They can be a little hard to find so here is a link to a Google Map of their location.