Off-roading is considered a serious hobby in the UAE especially during the winter months
The region is known for its vast deserts and wadis and offers many unexplored destinations and thrilling driving experiences to its residents and visitors alike. From high-speed dune driving to steep mountain trails, there is so much to discover with your 4×4. While off-roading is exciting, it can be tough on your vehicle as it pushes its capability to the limit, putting stress on tyres and the engine. Constant exposure to mud, water, dust and dirt can cause important parts to wear out faster than usual. Thorough checks before the trip are vital to avoid breakdowns out in the desert and Nithul Lakshman, Managing Director of the Dubai-based garage, PAL Auto Garage, shares the Beginner’s Guide to a hassle-free off-road trip.
If you don’t have the right tyre – do not take your vehicle off-road. A good set of all-terrain radials are vital to ensure the tyres do not get stuck or punctured. Make sure a thorough check of the tyres including the spare tyre, is done before the trip.
Engine Oil Check
It is important to check the oil level before any long road trip. It is always a good idea to take some spare engine oil with you as many engine problems are caused by lack of oil changes. If your next oil change is due soon, it’s safer to do it before you head off.
Unfortunately, there is no way to tell when the battery will die; sometimes it happens unexpectedly with no prior signs. However, if you feel that when you are starting the car, the engine cranks slower than normal, the battery is probably close to its end. Usually, a battery may last from 3 to 6 years, so if your battery is over 4 to 5 years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested before an off-road trip. The last thing you want is to get stranded in the middle of the desert with a dead battery! These days you can easily find a self-starter gear to help you start the vehicle without the help of another vehicle.
Brakes, Steering, Suspension Assessment
A thorough inspection of the vehicle is vital before an off-road trip to check the functioning of brakes, steering, and suspension. This service is usually provided in your garage.
If there is one item that every off-roader must absolutely have, it’s a Hi-Lift Jack. Designed for off-road use, a high-lift is the ultimate tool that can be of assistance for recoveries in many conditions or for emergency repairs.
A recovery strap is an absolute essential. It comes handy in many situations especially during an engine breakdown or when out of fuel. These straps are designed for a hard and jerking pull and can be hooked between the stuck and unstuck vehicle.
Extra lighting is essential when going off-road. The vehicle headlights might not be bright enough during fog or at night. A couple of high-quality fog lights, when combined with the existing headlights, are the ideal. A thorough electrical check of the headlights and brake lights must be done ahead of any off-road trip.
Before going on an off-road trip, it is necessary to put together a survival kit. This includes a first aid kit, mobile chargers, energy bars, food and water and the basic hand tools. Although many 4-wheelers come with GPS and compass these days, it is important to carry a physical map and a compass in case of an emergency or if the signal runs out.