Letters: Picking up where I left off

Letters: Picking up where I left off

I haven’t posted letters on this blog for 5 months now. But I have been personally answering most of the email letters that has continued to pour in. It’s just that I’ve concentrated on building up other parts of the website, and I’ll have to say it paid off. This website is now the most popular English automotive portal in the GCC, in terms of visitors. There are now well above 100,000 users going through the pages of this site every month. This, of course, is only a small victory, as there are no benefits for me in this. Many major ad agencies still refuse to acknowledge our existence, largely because I refuse to collect and hand over access to your email addresses for their spam campaigns. Anyway, here are a handful of the letters from among the billions I received since late March.

Johnson says: I am looking for an suv with off road capability as well as good drive experiance on the road, but without paying an arm and a leg for it. Have finalised between nissan xterra & toyota fortuner. Would appreciate your take on this. If any other options are available pls help.Thanks. This is the Best site for car info I’ve come across.

The Xterra rides better than the Fortuner. – MHC

Ibrahim Chiroma says: Pls what is happening to my programme ‘In Gear’ presented by Mr Adams?

It got cancelled. Apparently no one was watching it. – MHC

John Hedger says: Firstly I would like to congratulate you on a great website, I use this site constantly as a source of comparing new and used vehicles. I have narrowed my choices down to the Chevrolet Lumina S, however I agree 100% with your comment that the 4 speed auto transmission is out of date, I think we are being severely ripped off here in the GCC as the “equivalent” car in Australia is sold as the SV6 which has the 5 speed auto with active select, 6 airbags, bluetooth, twin exhaust etc all for the same price as the Lumina S that they sell here. My question is then are you aware if GM are ever going to bring this version to this part of the world or do we just have to put up with an expensive knock off?

The SS model had received the 6-speed automatic last year. I haven’t
checked up on the latest range yet, so they might’ve already brought over the better S too, but if the S is still a 4-speed this year, chances are they will bring the 5-speed later and call it a “fresh” new model. – MHC

Umashankar V. says: Since my last email, I have not yet done the deal for my new 4×4 yet. Has helped me some bit as prices are since down about 5%. The call is still between the VW Touareg & the Honda Pilot. I read somewhere on your site re the service issues with the Touareg. I have heard some not very complimentary remarks re the service provided by the VW dealer in Dubai. Any comments you have?

I’ve never dealt with VW service, but I just know that maintenance
costs are too high for a vehicle that is not quite a luxury brand. For
example, an owner told me the Touareg needs a Dhs 3000+ brake job every 15000 km because the brakes wear out quickly. A typical service costs as much as Dhs 3000, but I don’t remember the exact figure. And then the low resale value issue is always there. – MHC

Haytham Mansour says: I have a dodge charger V6 3.5cc, 2006 model and I want your advice in how to make it more powerful and strong like a real muscle car, or probably a “10 seconds car”, I installed the V8 exhaust system which has dual outlets and it helped to make it lil bit faster, but still it is nothing compared to what a hemi or SRT can do, so I hope u can come back to me with details on how to boost it up, and how much it will cost.

I am sorry to have to tell you this, but there isn’t a cheap way to
make the outdated Dodge V6 engine more powerful. The last option is to buy a custom turbo setup, but to do that properly would cost well above Dhs 20,000, assuming a turbo or supercharger is available for this engine. It would simply be easier to sell the car and buy a used Charger R/T or SRT-8. – MHC

Saqeb Mohammed says: My 2005 toyota Camry is running well on its original Bridgestone tyres. I have driven it for 77k km and they still seem to be in good condition. Should I change them?

If there is still a good amount of tread on it, then you can keep
going for one more year. Be advised though, that the lower the tread,
the less grip you have around turns or in braking, so you will have to
drive more carefully as the tyres get older. – MHC

Alaa Eldin Anwar Khalil says: Will you help me? I live in Qatar. I bought a Honda Car, HR-V model 2005. There is a high noise coming from the Gear Box, and before it runs 29,000 Km. Honda Agency at Doha tried to repair and solve this problem, they reduced that noise for one two month, but unfortunately same noise come again. They told me that there is a problem in all HR-V cars and come from the factory as it is! Now the car runs 32000 Km. only. I had Honda Car, Accord 1982, and I used it for 16 years, but never fined this problem same like HR-V car. Therefore, could you tell me what to do with this problem? If you can do any thing, could you please send me with Honda Motors e-mail in Japan so that I can write to them. Your Cooperation in this matter will be appreciated.

It seems the HR-V has a problem with the automatic due to a
manufacturing fault. If you had gone to Honda under warranty, they
would’ve installed a whole new transmission. They might make you pay for a new one now. You can try contacting the Honda Middle East Head Office in Dubai, at 971-4-8861667, though I am not sure who you can talk to you about this. – MHC

Sanjeev Sharma says: I have been religiously reading loads of articles from your website. Appreciate your hard work. I have made up my mind to buy a new Subaru Forester 2009 model. My only concern is about the dealer’s (Al-Khoory, Dubai) reliability in handling the normal wear & tear issues of the SUV. Wonder if you can enlighten me on this.

I’ve never driven a Subaru, but the company has built a reputation for reliability. I am not familiar with the dealer either, but with such a small dealer, the main issue may be a shortage of spare parts. – MHC

Anup Mathai says: First off let me tell you this is simply one amazing website is currently DriveArabia is amongst the top 5 in my personal list.I want an opinion. I am about to buy my first car in Middle East. At first I thought I would go for a nice German sport sedan (3 Series or C Class) but then everyone told me the cars were high maintenance and didn’t fare well when it came to selling them. So then I took the route of Japanese SUV…but realized the lumbering pieces of metal had the handling of a cow on a snowy mountain trail. So at last I decided I would buy either the IS300 or the G35/37…but now again the same old maintenance issue has come up. I wanted to know if the maintenance costs of Infiniti and Lexus are significantly highter than those of Nissan, Toyota, Honda etc…if so kindly suggest me a practical, fun to drive and easy to maintain vehicle…and also do tell me what you think about the Vitara and the cons of the vehicle as far practicality and functionality is concerned…Thank you and keep up the good work.

Yes, Mercs and BMWs cost insane amounts of money to maintain via
dealers, but their resale values are reasonably good. Lexus and
Infiniti, being luxury brands, also cost more to maintain than Toyotas
and Hondas. BMW does, however, offer free maintenance for 3 years or so, but you’re on your own after that. Vitaras are cramped and slow, but I haven’t driven them, although it is a firm step down from the luxury models you were looking at. Browse through the guide, and maybe there is a small SUV to that you might find more interesting. Small SUVs drive well and are practical, although you cannot go offroad with them. – MHC

James M. says: to whom it may concern, i have looked at all of your test drive videos, and i do not know who your driver is, but he or she is not very good. i would like to know if your interested in hiring a new test driver that knows what he is doing? thank you.

“To whom it may concern?” Do you even follow this website? I looked you up and it seems you are a teenager. This is not a free rental agency for kids. And how would you know what was being done on those big empty parking lots before coming to the conclusion that the driver is bad? Maybe it was all intentional. – MHC

Send in your insults through the contact form.

What do you think?



  1. You have a contact form!!! I didn’t know!! 😆 :mrgreen:

  2. To Anup Mathai

    When comparing maintainence costs, you need to do a cost per km comparison (calculating costs till at least 100,000km – as this would include all the different cost/service intervals).

    I’ve noticed that most people pay attention only to the cost of a service visit and use that as the basis for forming an opinion.

    Eg. A pajero needs an oil change every 5,000km and it costs AED380. BMW 3-series needs an oil change every 20,000km and it costs AED500.

    (I mention those two cars becase I know a little about them.)

    Call up the dealer and find out what their charges are.

    You wouldn’t want to lose the opportunity to drive a good car, just ‘cos someone told you it costs a lot to maintain…

  3. To Mash

    I could send in info on what it costs to maintain my car – with a little detail, eg. oil change, brake pads, etc.

    If all your readers do this (via some sort of form), I think it would really help flesh out this ‘cost of service’ issue most of us 2nd buyers have to contend with.

  4. to Sahmed
    I got a Pajero…SWB…thank you for your advice though…done 7500 already and the goings been good…I don’t know but I was asked to go in for an oil change at 10k only…is that ok Mash or is the dealer taking me for a ride…anyways the service booklet says the same too…so they must be right…hopefully…
    my next car’s gonna be German…probably a beemer… 🙂

  5. Author

    If you have a new car, you have to take the dealer’s ride to keep the warranty, whether they are honest or overpriced. 😀

  6. 10K is still ok..its the 20K service where they really make their money! Change this and that..sir, u need to change your brake pads too, sir, u need to do engine flush as well, bla bla! 🙄

  7. ya mash…and with Mitsu I have some sort of lifetime warranty…which would become null and void even if I changed a teeny little bulb…the question was answered when I asked them if could change the bulbs in my fog lamps to HID lamps…so ya if it truly is a life time warranty then it’d do wonders to the resale value but on the other hand that means no personalising your car…

  8. Author

    Hahaha! But I am sure it is a lifetime warranty on some specific part of the car. No car ever built comes with a lifetime warranty.

  9. I’m in market for a retro style SUV mainly for on road drive. I have to select from FJ, X Terra or H3. Considering Driving Pleasure, Ownership Cost and Resale Value, please suggest!

  10. In my opinion the FJ and Xterra are both great choices, but the FJ will probably have better resale value. Join the forum, lot of great people there who can help you in better choosing your car.

  11. MHC,
    Please reply my above question?

  12. Author

    All three suck on the road.

  13. Saagar none of them will give you driving pleasure as they are true ‘trucks’, but if you rate them according to ride comfort taking into account their off road abilities, then FJ, Xterra and H3.
    Power wise: Xterra, FJ and H3
    Off road ability, FJ and Xterra are the best and almost similar, then H3..join the Forums, will be very helpful for you..

  14. Thanks MHC and Spyke!
    I’m not looking at Off Road ability. Should I choose between CRV, RAV4 and Grand Vitara? Only Grand Vitara has 3.0 liter V6 engine!

  15. Thanks to Marouf also!

  16. Dear Mashfiq,

    Assalamua’alikum brother.

    I would like to congratulate you on your wonderful website, it is informative and gives a pretty neutral and unbiased view. I love to check out your site, although I am just a student and cannot really afford to buy a car.

    I know that you don’t really make any money of this site, and I am no business major, but I just wanted to make a suggestion. Maybe you could make some money of the Classified/used cars section to help run the site:
    1) Where people have to fill out a form (standardized by you) and provide the necessary info and photos (different views) of their cars – and they do so for a small fee.
    2) In addition, you could also play mediator for “used car dealers (at least for UAE)”, where they pay you to use your classified section (I mean you get lot of views), this way you benefit and of course it saves your visitors a lot of time as they can narrow down their search before visiting all the used car dealers.

    Inshallah, this way you can gather some funds without having to put up ads for manufacturers (which you might have to do in future for funds) and in any way compromise your unbiased reviews.

    Hope to see the site running for long time inshallah!!
    Best wishes to you.

  17. Author

    got your mail, brother. thanks.

  18. I am planning to get a mid-size sedan. Those on my radar are Mondeo, Malibu, Mazda 6 and Altima. Mondeo tops the preference due influenzed by good reviews I read.

    Altima I like but want to break away from Nissan that I am driving for past 10 years.

    Primarily is for my minimum once is a week drives to far off project sites as well as for family trips around the town.

    Which is better of the lot in terms of comfort, space, conveniences and maintenance costs? Any other suggestion.?

  19. ^join the forums. Lot of people to help you out there

  20. Out of these 4 the new Malibu is a great ride, but I’m inclined towards the Mazda 6 more than others. I’d say go for it!

  21. Hi,

    I am in the process of buying a new SUV for safety and mostly for on-road drive. I narrowed it to Ford explorer, Jeep grand cherooke and Pajero which are falling in my budget. Ford is offering a good deal 5 year warranty + 100000km free service. Please suggest which one is good.
    Thanks in advance.

  22. Hi,

    I am planning to buy the Subaru Outback. In general I know its a very good brand and is way above Honda etc in Resale value in other countries.

    In UAE it seems the resale is not good – How about the service ? How good is the dealer ?

    Please advise.


  23. Hi,

    Thanks for the nice website and nice article, I still have one question, I am looking for nice and used SUV car but still cant decide which to go, also I am still not able to decide a budget for that, but I want to know where to go and start with, I am looking for something with fair price and fair maintenance, what do you suggest?

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