Updated: Apr 2, 2019
To make sure you dont fall behind, it's key to have the right set of wheels
How to make sure your camper car is ready
By Oliver Fineran, F.A.K.C. Offroad Specialist
From the endless sands of Empty Quarter to the peaks of the Al Hajar Mountains, the range of locations to set up camp is as broad as your desire to explore. However, with the varying terrains on offer across the UAE and Oman, choosing a suitable vehicle to explore these beautiful landscapes is a key factor.
Here are some pointer on what you should look for when choosing a vehicle:
You will require a 4x4 or AWD to access the best these countries have to offer. Suitable ground clearance is a must. Whether you are driving in the picturesque sand dunes or mountains, you will need to navigate and traverse through Dunes or Rocks. Although some vehicles are 4x4 / AWD, they are not suitable for taking off road. You will require a vehicle that has recovery points. This is not a tow hook that screw in to the bumper! These are usually points on the frame designed for recovery. They do come as standard on most 4x4 and AWD’s. No matter how experienced you are as a driver, you will at some point get stuck or need to assist someone that is stuck. Therefore, ensuring that the vehicle has factory recovery points is a must.
Some of the common brands used by FAKC members are the Land Rover, Toyota Prado / Land Cruiser / Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero, Ford - F150, Explorer, Expedition, Nissan Patrol, Pathfinder, and Jeep Wranglers.
Before you purchase any vehicle follow these basic steps:
Start by focusing on yourself. Forget if the colour is your favorite or you like the alloy wheels. Make sure you focus on the important areas. Before you go and view the vehicle, search for the common issues / faults of the vehicle you are looking at on the internet. Mainly, end of lifetimes for the components not covered during general maintenance (air suspension, bushes, Diff Fluids, belts, etc). Check when these were replaced and ask to see the receipts and the contact details of the garage where they were replace. Failure to do this could lead to disappointment later on. Check that the Vehicle is well maintained. This should be documented in the log books and by the local agent / garage. Call them verify the maintenance Schedules. Check the dates on the Tyres. After three years they need to be replaced in the UAE. Check the spare tire. Check the jack kit and tools are in the car.
Check the Safety Triangle is in the Car (RTA requirement). Push every button; check that it works. Check that the AC is ice cold.
If the vehicle has Air Suspension put it up and down multiple times. If it is on its last legs, it will generate a fault message Raising Slowly or a fault light will generate on the dash.
When driving the vehicle, listen for any slight knocks on speed bumps, cornering or when pulling away and breaking.
Check the Vehicle VIN number on the RTA Website to see if it has been involved in any major incidents.
Once you are happy with the vehicle, organise a Pre-purchase inspection at a reputable garage. This will highlight anything that shows sign of ware and If they refuse to do this, it is likely that there is something wrong. WALK AWAY.
Once the pre-purchase inspection is complete, ask the garage for cost to rectify the works. Use these cost in your final negotiation.
On agreement of the value and completion of the purchase, get any priority works highlighted in the inspection fixed.
When choosing insurance, multiple agencies provide cover for off-road recovery. FAKC recommend that you ensure you have this cover. Once you have your vehicle, you will also need to ensure that you also regularly maintain it and ensure that it is in a suitable for travelling long distances off road.
If you follow these steps, are you certain to have a hassle-free journey on and off the road, with minimal risk of your car tripping you up on your camping trip.