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  • Writer's pictureHilary McCormack

Driving in the desert is not cheap!

Updated: Jun 29

Summer has arrived in full blazing force in Saudi Arabia, and by and large, my desert trips have ceased due to the extreme heat. For a blue-blooded Irish person, such as myself, temperatures of 40 and above are just more than the human body can cope with!

So, for the next few months, I will turn my focus to getting my car and my camping gear ready for the next off-road desert season, which will recommence for me in late September.

My current set of wheels is a 2018 Pajero and it had one previous expat owner. There is 90K on the clock and I have driven 30K of those kilometers. So not big wear by any means.

Most of those kilometers have been spent off-road driving and tackling dunes in the wilds of the Saudi desert: great fun, but no doubt about it, hard on the car, especially if you happen to go nose-first over a dune too fast, once to often.

So, basically, what can you expect? Firstly, things will go wrong. Fatigue will set in, and things will break.

I can say it is extremely lucky if things fail or break while you are close to civilization or if you have a phone signal and can phone a friend to come to the rescue.

Since I became a Pajero owner, I have been diligently taking my Pajero for its dealer services, which are around the 5K and 10 K kilometer mark. This service usually consists of oil and filter changes, but not much more than that. The cost is, on average, 2000 SAR, so it's not peanuts.

Recently, I have been getting concerned about my tires; apparently, with the heat, city driving, and the off-road conditions, you will do well to get two years out of your tires in the Middle East. As you can imagine, it wasn't a huge shock when I recently suffered a blowout and ended up with a mangled rear wheel.

Thankfully, the blowout happened while I was on a minor road rather than the highway. But it is a shock nonetheless.

What made that day even more fortunate was that it was a Friday, and I was overwhelmed with offers of help from the local community driving by on their way home from the Mosque, which considerably eased my initial panic and worries about resolving the situation!

The cost of replacing the tire with another high-quality, durable brand is approximately 1000 SAR. You can absolutely find cheaper, but I opted to get better quality.

Soon after this incident, the next issue presented itself: a grinding noise from deep behind the front right wheel. So, back to the garage, but this time, I took a bit of advice from a few seasoned friends on which garage to use. Many of my friends have found that using your local corner garage is just as effective as using the car dealership, especially if you have completed the years of the car's warranty. You will definitely save money if you find the right place and team to work with.

The grinding noise that I had been trying to ignore for a couple of weeks turned out to be a couple of worn-down rubbers on the 'Wish Bone,' which is the linkage between the two front wheels and the joints that keep the whole thing together. Khaled, my new trustworthy mechanical expert, gave the Pajero a thorough look over and quickly identified the issues.

The price he is about to quote me for fixing all of this is the actual price for having so much fun in the desert during the winter months! SAR 2500 all up, which is a good outcome for wallet and Pajero. I am back on the road and can look forward to a new desert season with confidence.



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