How to Prepare your Car for Off-road Trips

From the towering mountains to the wide-open desert expanses, rocky wadis to soft, sandy dunes, the outdoors is a veritable playground for car lovers. Off-roading in the UAE is hugely popular for those with an adventurous spirit. As a sport, the weekends see hundreds of people ‘dune bashing’ and taking their vehicles off the beaten track.

But if you’re planning on exploring the Great Outdoors, how do you ensure you’re ready for the challenge? Here are five tips from Al-Futtaim Automall to ensure you’ve prepared your car for an off-road trip.

Get your car serviced

Off-roading can be very demanding on a vehicle, so if you’re taking your car into unknown territory, it’s best to make sure it’s up to the job. If you’re heading off for the weekend, then a ‘health check’ at your local service center should be more than enough to check that your vehicle is ready for the challenges of off-roading. But a full service is recommended if your plans involve a more prolonged foray into the wilds.

Check your tyres

If you don’t have the right tyres for off-roading, you’ll find yourself bogged down in the first dune or muddy trail. If you usually drive your vehicle on tarmac, it may be worth changing to a set of off-road tyres so you can scramble around without sliding or losing traction. You’ll need to get to your off-road destination, so your tyres must also be at a suitable pressure to cope with road driving.

Once you head away from the asphalt, it may be time to drop the pressure. But when you’ve finished exploring the wilderness, you’ll need to get those tyres pumped back up again (and if you have a puncture, you’ll need a way of re-inflating your tyre once it’s repaired). That leads us nicely onto…

Carry the right equipment

From a spare wheel complete with off-road tyre to a tyre pump, a small shovel for digging yourself out of a sand trap, a first-aid kit, food and water, spares (including petrol), recovery tracks and that all-important sleeping bag, pack as much equipment as you think you’ll need for your trip. Think about the kind of terrain you’ll be tackling and pack accordingly.

If you think you may be fording some deep rivers, it may be worth getting a snorkel fitted so that the water doesn’t flood your airbox and leave you stranded mid-stream!

Tell people where you’re going

If you’re heading off-road, there is always the chance that you could end up in trouble. Make sure you tell people where you’re going, how long you’re planning to be away, and the route you’re taking so rescue services can find you if necessary. Make sure your onboard navigation system is fully operational, and take a paper map just in case you lose your GPS signal.

Check you’ve got the right car

All of this advice is great, but the bottom line is – do you have the right car to go off-roading? Putting a set of off-road tyres on a Nissan Sentra isn’t going to get you down that wadi or over that dune. You need the right kind of vehicle to go off-roading. SUVs are the obvious choice. They have higher ground clearance, so you’re less likely to ‘ground out’. The suspension has more travel to cope with uneven terrain while still ensuring the ride is as smooth as possible. And they’ll have 4WD and even ‘crawler gears’ to easily tackle steep hills. Look for examples like the Mitsubishi Pajero Midline or the rugged Jeep Wrangler, which has a go-anywhere-do-anything attitude.