Where to get your Toyota serviced in Ulaanbaatar as an English-speaking foreigner and my top tips for overlanding in Mongolia.
After driving across Central Asia to reach Mongolia, my Land Cruiser 78 was in desperate need of a service.
I’m talking the works. Oil change, new oil filter, gear box oil change, brake fluid changed, new brakes, new air filter, new fuel filter, new engine belts, diagnostics test, new bushings, and the list goes on. Three million tugriks (about $1,000 USD) lighter, the Troopy was once again running as smooth as butter. Choosing which Toyota service center to choose was an easy choice.
Top Motors is well versed in dealing with overland vehicles, especially when it comes to Land Cruiser 70 series. It’s the place where the guys from Alu-Cab, among others, get their vehicles serviced. So, I knew they knew what they were doing.
Making an appointment is easy. Just like working with their team. Their front desk guys speak English and are patient, thorough, and helpful.
Each time I visit Top Motors at my designated appointment time they’ve been ready for me. No waiting on my end, just quick, painless service.
You can also call the reception desk at +976-80004111 and speak to Gal-Sansar, Top Motor’s mechanic if you encounter a problem on the road.
Their service center is located on Peace Avenue, Ulaanbaatar’s main road, and is just a few kilometres from the city center. Their location is easy to navigate to using Google Maps.
I put together two quick YouTube short videos showing how my first visit to the Top Motors service center went.
Once my Land Cruiser was back in overlanding shape, it was time to hit the road again. But this time I would only be exploring Mongolia.
Since I’m often times traveling alone, or as part of one of the small group tours I lead, it’s important that my car is well taken care of.
The three most common problems I encounter when overlanding in Mongolia are:
What to Do When You Get a Flat Tire in Mongolia
Flat tires are almost inevitable when overlanding in Mongolia.
More often than not you find yourself off-roading, even if you’re heading to a major destination within the country.
Even if you are on a paved road, the chances of potholes appearing out of nowhere are high.
It’s a good idea to always have at least two spare tires with you and know where your jack is at all times. Carrying a pair of work gloves is also advised.
I personally don’t use a high lift jack, but other overlanders swear by them for good reason.
How to Change a Fuel Filter
If you haven’t already, pick up a few extra fuel filters from Top Motors in Ulaanbaatar.
The fuel filters for my Land Cruiser 78 are 40,000 tugrik each and I always have at least two new ones in my car.
Changing one on the road is easier than you think.
When I was in western Mongolia, my fuel filter light came on, screeching until I pulled over and stopped the car. Which I did immediately.
At this point I found myself popping my hood and getting out my wrench set from the back of the car.
Removing the bottom bolts first, I was able to remove the top piece that holds the fuel filter in place before pulling out the dirty fuel filter.
I quickly put in the new filter, reattached the fuel line, pumped in some diesel and I was on my way in 30 minutes. Without the extra fuel filters in my car, this situation would have been much, much worse.
How to Get Your Car Unstuck
Another common thing that happens in Mongolia is getting stuck. Much of the driving here is off-road, which means you’re bound to encounter mud, sand, and other treacherous terrain.
Having a set of recovery boards is the fastest, easiest solution when this happens.
Winches are great, but you won’t always have something else to winch from. Unless you know the old deadman anchor method which makes use of a winch and shovel. The shovel will act as your anchor point, but you had better be sure you’re comfortable with this method, and not in loose sand, before putting it in use.
Heavy duty tow ropes and recovery shackles are also essential to carry onboard with you at all times.
Unlike in other neighboring countries, it’s not mandatory to drive with your headlights on in Mongolia.
However, you will need to wear your seatbelt at all times. There are often police on the side of the road checking for just that.
Speed monitors are another thing – and they’re sneaky about it. The local traffic police will set up speed detectors ahead of where they pull you over. So, even if you don’t see them pulled over on the side of the road, they’ve already caught you.
If you do get pulled over, be prepared to show your driving license and car registration. The police most likely won’t speak English, so just be patient as you both try to figure out what’s going on.
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