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Old 16th September 2008, 14:56   #1
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Thumbs up In the Quest for Dependability - Autolinks (Sector 5, Gurgaon)

Ever since my trusted contact (erstwhile Senior WM) moved from Dhingra Motors to their Skoda dealership in Faridabad, I've been feeling pangs of unease, on & off. Apart from being a decent guy, he was a wealth of information on the Safari, simply by virtue of having had years of experience on the vehicle. However, even he may have strayed in judgment on a couple of occasions but I guess that happens with most people.

My determination to find an alternative to Dhingra peaked as my vehicle approached the 40k kms mark. There was also an irritating noise that had developed at 35 k kms - after three visits to Dhingra, they had not been able to resolve it. Handbrake cable, brake linings etc etc - finally they said they couldn't hear the noise & everything was fine. The problem was - I could hear it, LOL! Time for a change of scene I thought.

So, I sent a feeler out amongst the Tbhp community, to people who have Safaris & who have used other workshops. The results, initially, were not encouraging, more so because it is a 4x4 & I have found competence & knowledge levels restricted across most workshops & dealerships. Trance_Nut had already been through the experience of his workshop having "forgotten" that his was a 4x4 so they “forgot” that the front axle oil also needed to be changed at 20k! Then, I remembered Eddy's brother Mukesh had a good experience with Autolinks (recently opened in Gurgaon) so I got hold of contact details.

On a sunny afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I decided to take the plunge &, with some apprehension, gingerly dialed the GM's number. Somehow, in my experience, the first impression has always shown the way, so to speak. In this case, a minute into the conversation, I was quite impressed because he unhesitatingly came up with a diagnosis about the noise that sounded plausible! All that remained to be done was to see if it matched the final outcome!

Two afternoons later, I decided to check the workshop out for myself & landed up there around 5 pm or so. First impression was “Wow, they have quite a few parking slots outside”. Neat place. Walked in & liked the well lit main Office – each cabin had prominent signage so you knew where to go & it seemed to be open door policy. The GM was in his cabin, met up with him, liked what I saw (you know, the weather beaten type who’ve had hours of experience on the floor) & went for a TD so that he could hear the noise for himself & confirm. Would you believe that the Beast let me down badly & didn’t make any NOISE whatsoever!!! Just when it was needed! I looked at the gentleman extremely apologetically but he was unflustered & just smiled. He told me not to worry, he was more than 90% sure what the issue was since it was a 4x4 vehicle & he asked me to bring it back at my convenience. He told me that it would be tackled in two steps – step 1 during the 40k service, if that didn’t work, I would have to leave the car with them for any two days thereafter & they’d fix it.

Well, I mentioned Saturday & asked him if I should book the service in advance (given my Dhingra experience where if you haven’t booked 3 days before, especially for weekend servicing, you’re out in the cold); “no need” was the answer, “Land up around 10, it’ll be done”. Not bad, I thought. After that, peeped into the workshop area & was impressed to see quite a few bays empty. Advantage (for us) of a new workshop that people are not too familiar with I guess.

Came Saturday morning & off I went with Trance_Nut (he had an issue that he wanted checked out as well, besides there’s safety in numbers, LOL). Job card was opened, instructions were issued……but the work hadn’t started for quite some time. So we were thinking, what the heck, hope its not all hot air! On enquiring I was told that since mine was a 4x4, they were deputing their senior-most technician to do the work. T_N’s vehicle got checked out pretty quickly & diagnosis was made, then they started the service on my Beast. We hung around watching for a while till I was kind of semi-convinced that they knew what they were doing. Returned in the evening & witnessed the washing – very thorough & overall excellent job, collected the car & went home. The WM asked me to drive at least 150-200 kms to see if the noise had gone, else bring it back. I did that, the noise remained – in fact it had increased a bit, probably due to the oil change & fresher oil being put in. Initially I was a little disappointed but decided to persist with the first impression & with a little persuasion from my wife & Trance_Nut, I decided to go back for Step 2.

So I took it back to them last week on Wednesday afternoon, the work was completed on Thursday evening (problem was as initially diagnosed by the GM & fixed accordingly) & I was asked to go there on Friday morning to check it out & take delivery. I reached quite early (around 9.20 am or so) & was pleasantly surprised to see the vehicle in the car park, looking spick & span, washed & tyre-polished. The Service Advisor was ready to take me on a TD which we completed & I was then on my way. Cost: NIL. Since then, the car has been driven 250 kms & the noise has not reappeared so far. I’m keeping my fingers crossed although the gentleman was quite confident that the problem wouldn’t recur.

I must mention that I was quite impressed with his diagnosis. I was also impressed with their commitment in terms of delivering the vehicle before the promised time. I am also happy about the fact that the workshop is not insanely crowded throughout the week, simply because not too many know about it yet. They have quite a few of the Radio Taxis (Marinas) that come in on a regular basis apart from a couple of Safaris & a few Indicas (non-cab variety mostly). They have new alignment & balancing equipment as well, apart from all the ramps etc being very new. They have a HUGE body shop at the back which remains mostly empty & a big washing area etc. They have ample space around the building for easy access & the reception area is nice & clean. The Service Advisors are a young & energetic lot & quite a few of them live nearby (which means no rush to head out home in the evenings), I didn’t see any grumpy technicians on the shop floor either. There was a lot of harmless banter being exchanged between them & the overall atmosphere was productive without being frantic. They have a young WM who seems to know the basic stuff pretty well.

Oh wait, how could I forget! There is a Customer lounge on the first floor but as usual I didn’t check it out -left that bit for Hitanshu (Phamilyman, he was there for a while on Saturday & was actually looking for their canteen, LOL!) to do on his next visit.

So – have I found an alternative to Dhingra?
At this point in time, I would think so
Am I going to go back to Autolink?
Of course, definitely for the next couple of services…..and maybe on a permanent basis thereafter.

The level of comfort which was not fully there on the day of the 40k kms service is now increasing. As long as the diagnosis is made correctly & the problem is fixed, isn’t that what we all want? Thanks Eddy for throwing up this option & thanks to Mukesh as well for letting me use his reference – it helped in setting up the initial meeting very nicely. Nitin (Trance_Nut), Lucky (Zucchero), Tanveer (Tsk1979) & others who have been looking for an alternative to Dhingra – looks like we’ve found one guys!

Hallelujah!

Last edited by suman : 16th September 2008 at 15:06.
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Old 16th September 2008, 15:13   #2
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But what caused the NOISE and how did they fix it?
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Old 16th September 2008, 15:20   #3
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Nice review Suman

Infact,my safari has done 30k so looking for a trustworthy workshop to get this done this weekend.

And you posted at just the perfect time.thanks
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Old 16th September 2008, 15:24   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simply_sunny001 View Post
And you posted at just the perfect time.thanks
Welcome Sandeep! The approach road is nothing to write home about but I think its worth the extra effort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by filcord View Post
But what caused the NOISE and how did they fix it?
Read my ownership update which I'll be posting shortly.

(Hint: It had to do with the Limited Slip Differential)

Last edited by suman : 16th September 2008 at 15:31.
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Old 16th September 2008, 15:31   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suman View Post
Read my ownership update which I'll be posting shortly.

(Hint: It had to do with the Limited Slip Differential)
does the noise come when you just start the vehicle and start moving? It sounds like some gravel hitting the rear? Some kind of muted rattle?
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Old 16th September 2008, 15:43   #6
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does the noise come when you just start the vehicle and start moving? It sounds like some gravel hitting the rear? Some kind of muted rattle?
No, it was very irritating (and intriguing); no sounds or anything at start up. After the vehicle ran about 25-30 kms, only when turning left or right at low speeds, there was a "wonk-wonk-wonk" like something was jammed & hitting something. Very muted noise but I could hear it clearly. The Safari LSD is clutch driven & some of the clutches were playing up.

Options are to try & use an additive/friction modifier (remember my query on a separate thread), if that doesn't kill it, the clutches need to be attended to. The gentleman told me that he'd seen quite a few of these on the TCIC 4x4 Safaris. Of course, the LSD technology is the same so I guess he wasn't surprised. I realized after the problem was fixed (based on my googling) that this is apparently a very common problem on clutch based LSDs, once the vehicle has covered 35k miles (happpened a bit earlier in my case) - there were quite a few forums in the US where this has been actively discussed!

Last edited by suman : 16th September 2008 at 16:00.
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Old 16th September 2008, 16:29   #7
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very good that you found the alternate, Unfortunately I did not tried Autolink, even as it is just 500 meter from my home.
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Old 15th October 2008, 13:14   #8
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Hi Suman,
Good to know that you found some professional workshop.
Dhingra is just avoidable in any circumstances.
Does autolinks also servic FIAT cars?

Regards
Harish Raghav
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Old 15th October 2008, 13:54   #9
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Quote:
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Does autolinks also servic FIAT cars?
Harish, no unfortunately, they don't service FIATS.
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Old 16th October 2008, 01:49   #10
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Excellent, excellent! So next coffee at this workshop Suman??
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Old 16th October 2008, 02:21   #11
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lol, surely u jest - it'll be a BYOB bring your own beverage meet

PS: Harish ji, wonder why you haven't met Samyak so far!!
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Old 16th October 2008, 11:24   #12
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Excellent, excellent! So next coffee at this workshop Suman??
Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
lol, surely u jest - it'll be a BYOB bring your own beverage meet
Sure! Only thing is - they're pretty efficient so there won't be much time for the coffee or beverage!

My second experience a couple of weeks ago -
  • Air cleaner element red band had appeared, needed cleaning
  • An engine oil spill was noticed on the garage floors of my home & my Office
Hopped across lazily around midday, had a cup of coffee with the GM; air cleaner element was cleaned during this time.

Strategy for diagnosing leak was decided by technician - engine cover removed, engine area & below washed out with Diesel, dried completely, left with the engine running for 10 minutes.

By the time I finished making a call to Emirates for booking a couple of redemption tickets, the problem area was diagnosed, problem fixed! Car taken for a thorough wash (even though they didn't need to), manual gate pass cut & I was out of there by 1.40 pm.

Cost = NIL

I'm giving these guys an 8.5 out of 10 at this point in time. Could have said 10 out of 10 but I don't want to be too generous

LOL.

Last edited by suman : 16th October 2008 at 11:26.
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Old 16th October 2008, 11:28   #13
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So thats fixed, at 7500, mine will also roll into autolinks gurgaon.
A 800kms trip to home is coming up and with another 1000 in himachal, by January the odo will touch 7500
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