Blog: Driving a car with no A/C

What’s it like driving a car with no A/C? Patrick Hulbert knows the struggle all too well

The Knowledge

What do you get when you cross a man who is used to really cold weather and rain with the scorching sun and a car with no air-conditioning? Oh, sorry. This isn’t a joke. More of a rhetorical question, actually. You get a baked, sad, emotional wreck behind the wheel.

For anyone who has suffered like I have, I offer up another rhetorical question. What is worse than having no air-con in your car in summer in Dubai? The answer, of course, is nothing. Ever. Fact.

And so begins the second part of what will no doubt become a trilogy of near-death experiences. Last month I told you about the time I got locked in the car park, thinking I would be stuck for 38 hours. Fortunately, through luck and a bit of daring, I made good my escape after just 25 minutes.

But my poor luck didn’t end there. For months my air-con has been playing up. Annoying in December, but not horrific. Since then it’s been working sporadically, but this last shutdown took the car bonnet-baked biscuit.

With the cooling having sputtered back to life all on its own before, I decided to take the risk and drive anyway, expecting to be pleasantly surprised by the return of a cool breeze at some point. How long could it last? How hot can summer inside a metal box on wheels really be? Really? Surely with the windows open and me driving at speed, all will be good in the world? Only you never drive at speed in Deira, of course. You simply stare at the car in front of you at the traffic lights, finally getting through those and then suffering the pain of having to go through it all over again less than a kilometre down the road.

All the sun and heat drifted in, I needed two litres of water just to get halfway to work and I looked more and more like a sundried tomato with each passing day. My show of defiance against my dodgy A/C lasted all of three days before I realised turning up to meetings dripping wet and making pleas for more water is not a good look. In fact, it’s dangerous. And, for the purpose of this hyperbole – life-threatening.

After a lengthy (costly) spell at the workshop, I’ve been assured the car’s cooling system is ‘fixed’. And they’d better hope it is – because if I ever find myself stuck between traffic lights and that cooled air conks out, there’ll be a life in danger. And for once, on this particular occasion, it just might not be mine.

Patrick Hulbert is the editor of Time Out Doha. We are increasingly concerned for his emotional wellbeing.

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