When car breaks down in a foreign country

posted in: Asia, Experience, Jordan | 12

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There is always an element of surprise or risk when we step out of our homes for travel. Most of the times, things go well but there will be instances where destiny gives us some challenges!! The recent trip to Jordan gave us a dose of such experience. I had rented a car from a local company called Monte Carlo. This decision was made based on the price and positive reviews in internet. The initial impression was good as the person was waiting at the airport and formalities were finished in a jiffy. I felt that the car was underpowered but I felt that I should not compare with my car at home.

Car breakdown

The flat tyre

While driving in the Dead Sea area, I felt that the car was not pulling forward. It was because of flat tyre. I was bit surprised as it was a tubeless tyre. Normally, it takes few hours for tubeless tyre to become flat. It seemed that it was not a nail but had hit a sharp object and the air had completely gone. I was not new to changing tyre and hence I started the process by first removing the luggage from the boot.

A car that was going in opposite direction stopped and 4 guys got down and came towards us. Within seconds two more cars also stopped and the people in those cars also came out. Upon knowing the issue, they volunteered to help us out and started working on it. Within few minutes, they completed the job. The spare tyre had less air and they asked us to fill it in the next town that was 10-15 km away. While we were wondering whether we need to pay them, they shook hands and went!! Amazing people!!

Flat tyre is not a big thing. It happens. But the real story starts now.

The second flat tyre

To our surprise, the air in the new tyre also went off!! We were now stranded with two flat tyres and the next town was still far away. It was a terrain that was sparsely populated though vehicles were plying regularly on the road. It took few minutes to get out of shock and act. I tried to call the rental company but my mobile was not in coverage area. That was really bad!!

The only option we had was to wave our hands towards the vehicles coming on the road. One of the cars stopped. There were four guys in the car. I told the problem we were having. The person driving the car could not understand English and he woke up the guy sleeping behind. That guy knew English and I told him about the issue. He had no solution but asked us to call “911”, the emergency number. For some reason, the emergency number was also not reachable and he made the call and started talking.

Help from Army

Things started moving in positive direction. An army jeep going in the opposite direction saw us and took U turn to came towards us. They were patrolling the area as it lies along Israel. The officer could not speak English but I managed to tell him the problem. After speaking to “911” person, he told us that they will take the two tyres to the next town, get it fixed and come back. He asked 2 JOD for repair (1 JOD for each tyre puncture). It was unexpected and we were extremely happy to hear that. Promising to come back by 30 minutes, they took the tyres and went. 

Two more vehicles stopped while we were waiting on the road. They had electric air compressor which could be used to fill air and drive to next town. I was not sure whether it would have helped as both tyres went off quickly. Anyway, since the army people had already taken tyres for repair, I explained the situation and thanked them for their support.

Within 25 minutes, the army men came back with the tyres. One tyre was repaired and the other had some bigger issue. They also returned back 1 JOD for the tyre that was not fixed. It was a very professional behaviour. We thanked them for their support and started our journey.

The fact that the we did not had a proper spare tyre was bothering me. Petra was still 3 hours away and we still had to climb a steep ghat road. We stopped at the next available puncture shop to get it fixed. Upon checking, we found that the “hole” was larger which could not be fixed by standard tubeless tyre repair procedure. He had to remove the tyre and put patch from inside. But at end the tyre was ready. But he said that the tyre was “not good”. Due to language issues, I could not understand it full.

Log nut issue

We reached Petra without incident. I called up Monte Carlo and explained about the issue. I told them about the condition of the spare tyre. They were responsive and said that they will send a mechanic immediately. They kept their promise as the mechanic turned up within an hour. He did a round of inspection and said that the tyres were ok but at the same time he made a startling discovery. Out of 4, only 2 log nuts were supporting the front tyre as the other two nuts were wrongly put. There was a risk of tyres coming out while driving. Effort to fix it did not work and he concluded that the part has to be brought from Amman and replaced.

The Monte Carlo support team mentioned that they would either fix it on next day or get a new car. That meant that we will not be having car on next day. But luck also played a part as we would be in Petra for whole day and there was no need for the car. It was repaired on the next day.

We did not face any issue after that.

Possible reasons?

I expressed my displeasure to Monte Carlo when I returned back the car. While they lamented about the condition of the roads causing punctures, I told the that tyre punctures happen and I don’t blame them for that but it was their responsibility to keep a spare wheel with full air. They also messed up with log nuts. They apologised for the same told that will waive the fees for the car assistance support they provided. I could have pushed for more but I did not. While their vehicle maintenance was questionable, their service support team was very prompt and active. It is also possible that the tyre was punctured during previous rental period and the log nuts would have been wrongly put.

This incident gave us a new perspective about Jordan people. If not for them, we would have been in a bad state.


  • I own an automatic car back at home. Hence I looked for the cheapest automatic car in rental car list. That was a bad idea as I got a car with very weak engine. 
  • Check for the condition of spare tyre always. I overlooked it while taking the vehicle.
  • Have a local SIM for connectivity. It is very important in such cases. It did not help us when we were stranded in middle of the road but was very useful when I had to communicate to Monte Carlo in Petra.
  • Always carry enough food and water. I will be very useful if you have to wait for few hours for help. 
  • Think before driving during night in unknown areas. It could be sometimes dangerous to get stranded in night. 

12 Responses

  1. srikanth manjunath

    The situation calls for sad face..but bravo you handled very well. I do understand the panic level during the crisis. the bit by bit narration made this post worth reading and also take necessary precautions. Nice post Aravind.

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