How to prep your car for KT Desert Drive

Little things can make a huge difference when it comes to desert driving

By Staff Reporter

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Published: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 4:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 4:57 PM

It’s almost time, and the off-roading community is excited that the 2021 edition of Khaleej Times Desert Drive is just around the corner.

On November 19, over 500 participants will set out to explore the great outdoors of the UAE. While it’s potentially the safest and most fun way to go dune bashing, there are certain points that need to be adhered to, especially when it comes to preparing your car for the event. We spoke to CV Ravin, General Manager Sales at Al Habtoor Motors, Mitsubishi – the main sponsor of the event – to give us a few tips on preparing your car for the day.

“In this part of the world, desert driving is a common activity for many people. While there is a substantial support mechanism from the government to ensure safety, there are things worth bearing in mind when heading out. First and foremost, ensure that your 4x4 SUV is desert ready – most crossovers may not be able to handle the challenges of the Arabian dunes,” said Ravin.


Irrespective of whether you have a capable SUV, it is also crucial to ensure that it is in proper working condition. Any parts that seem they may fail must be checked and replaced if needed. Recovery is a difficult proposition in the desert, and participants must remember that.

“Check the car to make sure that all essential fluids, from the coolant to engine oil, are at the optimal level. The tyres are equally important as they are the contact between your vehicle and the sand. Since you will have to deflate the tyres and then inflate them again, it’s paramount they are in good condition. If the tread is low, or there are visible cracks from ageing, change your tyres before venturing out,” Ravin added.

Getting all-terrain tyres is advisable because they are designed to ensure maximum traction in slippery conditions. Also advisable is an onboard compressor to inflate and deflate your tyres to the right air pressure.

Furthermore, it is essential to ensure that your vehicle’s off-road gearing works properly before you venture out for the drive. This is critical because most people, especially those who aren’t ardent off-roaders, don’t use low gearing on the road. Therefore, it’s best to check these settings before hitting the dunes.

Then there is oft-ignored component of the vehicle that must be assessed before the drive.

“This might seem rudimentary, but all the seat belts, including those for passengers, much be checked in advance. If there is a problem, they must be replaced. It is vital that all occupants are safely belted when out in the desert,” said Ravin.

Equally important is to ensure that the objects in the car are secure and are not a potential hazard to the passengers once out in the desert.

So, what must one do if they have a vehicle with low ground clearance? Ravin recommends installing a skid plate to ensure there is no damage to the underbody of the vehicle. Install a skid plate at least in the front - it will give you more confidence to skim over dunes.

“When you are driving in a convoy setting, it’s advisable to have a flag pole. This will improve the visibility of your vehicles over dunes and in the troughs, thus ensuring a safer and more fun excursion for everyone. And the best thing is, you do not have to have any physical work done to get them installed – most can be fitted with vacuum suction cups,” Ravin concluded.

The Khaleej Times Desert has rapidly gained immense popularity in just three short years. Launched in 2019, it has become the event of choice for off-road enthusiasts.

With a safety team to back you up, a spectacular day out in the desert and plenty of fun and food, it’s the best way to experience the UAE’s stellar outdoors. What’s not to love?

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