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Old 30th July 2012, 10:21   #1
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Default A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

This is my first ownership report on team-bhp so kindly pardon me for the mistakes, if any.

So the story starts like this - On 17th May 2002, a small boy studying in 5th class accompanies his mom and dad to a big maruti showroom in a Premier Padmini. After three hours, the family comes out with a flashing brand new Miami Gold ZEN - the best selling car of that time. 10 years after that, the same boy sits on his bed, opens his laptop and starts writing this ownership experience while the ZEN is still parked gloriously in the garage outside the window of the bedroom.

Too dramatic? Maybe. But thats the relationship between me and our dear ZEN. As mentioned above, this relationship started 10 years ago. My father had bought a second hand Premier Padmini in 1991 which proved to be very lucky for him as just after one year, he was blessed with a cute baby boy - yeah right, that was me . Well coming to the point, after serving the family for 11 years, the Padmini was pleading for retirement. And so the search for a new vehicle began. At that time there were not too many options and the new car was surely going to be from the biggest brand, Maruti.

On one particular day, I went along with my parents to a maruti dealer named Competent Automobiles in Gazipur near the Delhi-UP border (that time we used to live in Ghaziabad). I was too small to talk to the Sales Executive and hence decided to explore the cars on display. At that time also I was able to identify most of the cars just by looking at their faces. So the cars which I remember seeing there included a Maruti 800, a limited edition Maruti 800 (which had some body coloured bumpers etc), a zen, baleno, esteem and the evergreen Gypsy. Due to limited parking space at our home that time, the suitable options were reduced to just two - the 800 and the zen. Some discussions took place between mom and dad and the decision was made in favour of the zen. The car was booked within a week and was delivered after about 15 days.

So the gorgeous Zen came home on 17th May 2002 with me sitting on the back seat. As years passed, my seating position changed from the back to the front passenger seat and two years ago I was promoted to the driver seat. In other words I can say I have been brought up in this car and it plays an important role in the development of the automobile enthusiast in me. The car kept serving us exceptionally well and didnt provide a single second of worry to our minds. My father switched jobs and we had to shift from one place to other. The Zen moved along with us. At times it had to bear heavy loads of luggage during shifting, but it did that with ease and the entire family was happy with the combination of the beauty and the beast.

Things I like:

1. The cute and simple looks.
2. Revv happy engine.
3. Smooth gear shifts and clutch.
4. Great ride quality.

Things which could have been better.

1. The rear legroom.
2. AC takes quite long to make it comfortable for the rear passengers.
3. Quality of material used in interiors.
Attached Images
    

Last edited by dZired : 30th July 2012 at 13:03.
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Old 30th July 2012, 10:51   #2
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

A bad day in my relationship with the zen

Everyone around was totally satisfied with the car but as it is said, anything can never be perfect.
So on one fine morning in 2010, my dad went to clean the car and noticed that the windscreen had turned darker. He went ahead, opened the drivers door and what he saw was alarming. The entire area around the combination switch just behind the steering wheel had melted and the remains lay on the foot mat. He rushed inside, called me to come out and I was too shocked to see that state. It was clear by now that the steering assembly had caught fire that night and the darkness of the windscreen was a result of the deposition of soot on it. We carefully inspected the area for any traces of fire which could still cause more loss, but the matter was cold now and the fire had fully ended. Then I sat on the driver seat and looked around for the damage done. The entire combination switch area (between the steering wheel and the speedometer) had melted and the resultant hard and brittle mass of solid including the indicator and wiper stalks were lying on the floor mat, a portion of the plastic which covers the speedometer had disappeared, the speedometer glass had signs of turbidity (milkiness)due to contact with excessive heat and the covering of the driver's sun visor had melted. I then saw the rear view mirror and noticed that tiny drops of tears had emerged in my eyes after seeing my beloved in this condition. The ignition switch was jammed due to melted plastic all around it and my father advised to call a toeing vehicle instead of starting the car in that state as it could be dangerous.
Sorry about the poor quality of the pics.

The combination switch area which had the main damage:
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Driver's sun visor:
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Speedometer glass and the plastic surrounding it:
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The remains including indicator and wiper stalks lying on the floor mat:
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This pic shows the total damage:
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Well we came out of the shock and called the maruti assistance. They came within half an hour and the car was taken to the maruti dealer. The service guy there said that the entire combination switch assembly had to be changed. The speedometer plastic, front windscreen, sun visors, and steering wheel were also changed as my father decided to make the car totally fit as before. "The cause of the fire was some short circuit in the indicator stick of the combination switch", this is what the guy there said. Meanwhile my dad applied for the insurance claim, a guy from the insurance company came and did a suvey, and to my surprise he rejected the insurance claim by showing some stupid facts . Dad was also depressed after seeing the car in that state and hence decided to pay the entire amount himself. But due to lack of spare parts, the recovery of our beloved was delayed.

Things changed again and everything became the same as before.

After two weeks we were given a call by the dealer telling that the work on the car has been completed. Though the dealer was not able to source a cover for the combination switch and the glass of the speedometer, everything else looked fine. Father and I decided to take a test drive before paying the amount and hence both of us drove it on an empty stretch of road. and the ZEN had all those traits for which we had loved it for such a long time - the revv happy engine, great pickup and the smooth drive. We were happy to see our beloved as healthy as before (though we didnt expect this after such a big damage). The payment was made and the beauty again returned to our home.

Two years have passed and the car is totally fit, gives great mileage and is serving the family as before. It has now clocked 1lac kms and now the time has come to bid farewell as we are planning for an upgrade. But this car will always have that special place in the soft corner of my heart.

Last edited by dZired : 30th July 2012 at 13:33.
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Old 30th July 2012, 13:37   #3
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Some present day pictures of the car:
Attached Thumbnails
A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX-dsc01050.jpg  

A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX-dsc01051.jpg  

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Old 30th July 2012, 15:57   #4
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Note from Mod: Moved the thread to Long Term Ownership section. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 30th July 2012, 17:20   #5
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Good to see you have restored the Zen to its glory. The jelly bean design Zen was a craze at the time it was launched. Sporty drive with lovely chugging on the road was not available anywhere else.

We had a blue Zen (1996 model) which we sold last year. Reading such threads makes me feel i should buy that car back.

Thanks for sharing, keep driving and maintaining it the way you currently have. How much the car has run on the odometer?
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Old 31st July 2012, 08:52   #6
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Good to see you have restored the Zen to its glory. The jelly bean design Zen was a craze at the time it was launched. Sporty drive with lovely chugging on the road was not available anywhere else.

We had a blue Zen (1996 model) which we sold last year. Reading such threads makes me feel i should buy that car back.

Thanks for sharing, keep driving and maintaining it the way you currently have. How much the car has run on the odometer?
Thanx for the best wishes mayank. The zen has always been the favourite of people who have driven it even once. Bringing a facelift to the zen at that time was a big mistake maruti did IMHO. Well the car has 99,654 kms on the odo.
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Old 31st July 2012, 11:46   #7
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Quote:
Originally Posted by dZired View Post
the car is totally fit, gives great mileage and is serving the family as before. It has now clocked 1lac kms and now the time has come to bid farewell as we are planning for an upgrade. But this car will always have that special place in the soft corner of my heart.
A very passionate and heart felt review about a car which totally appealed to the heart, at the time of its launch.

The Zen had a phenomenally better dashboard, seats and interiors since it was an export model for MUL and guaranteed driving pleasure to anyone who drove it on a winding road.

I d recommend you keep this car for yourself if you have the parking for it and buy another car for your dad as an upgrade. Some cars are beyond mere machines.
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Old 31st July 2012, 13:13   #8
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Quote:
Originally Posted by n.devdath View Post
I d recommend you keep this car for yourself if you have the parking for it and buy another car for your dad as an upgrade. Some cars are beyond mere machines.
Ahh! you are providing that much needed push to me. Even I want to keep this car. But friends and family have started complaining about it growing old. My dad already drives a dzire and an upgrade in the pipeline is forcing me to think about seling it. Life would have been so great if I had an extra parking space.

Well maybe I can show this post of yours and tell my family that I too have someone on my side.
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Old 31st July 2012, 13:46   #9
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Quote:
Originally Posted by dZired View Post
Ahh! you are providing that much needed push to me. Even I want to keep this car. But friends and family have started complaining about it growing old. My dad already drives a dzire and an upgrade in the pipeline is forcing me to think about seling it. Life would have been so great if I had an extra parking space.

Well maybe I can show this post of yours and tell my family that I too have someone on my side.
When does a car grow old?

In my opinion, when it becomes unreliable, calls for an ASC visit every week or fortnight, drives like a dud, guzzles fuel, and most of all, stops to pull at your heart strings when you think of it, that is when a car is actually old.

I do not see any of the above mentioned issues in your Zen and hence, as long as you are happy with it, it is never old.
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Old 31st July 2012, 15:42   #10
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Good to see you have restored the Zen to its glory.
Actually, the Zen was nearly a dud on its launch. The market went at the thought of paying 4.25 lakhs for a hatchback. This, a little after the Maruti 1000 was launched. Remember, whoever bought the Maruti 1000 was a prime target for the income tax department.

Eventually, the masses realised the sheer quality of the car and that it offered a superior driving experience to the under-powered Maruti 1000. The air-con was better too.

Once the Zen picked up, there was no looking back. I remember, in 1997, people would pay Rs. 30,000 premium for instant delivery (allotment letter resale was commonplace then).

Congrats on completing the 10, Dzired. Though, I wish that you had added more of a review to this thread Link to our review guidelines.

We owned a '95 red Zen for a long time. The car performed superbly and reliably. Only grouse was the awful low end torque.

A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX-p1000347-custom.jpg

A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX-p1000315-custom.jpg

A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX-19-custom.jpg
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Old 1st August 2012, 08:17   #11
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Originally Posted by GTO View Post

Congrats on completing the 10, Dzired. Though, I wish that you had added more of a review to this thread Link to our review guidelines.
Thanx for the advice GTO. Looks I missed out a great point in the review. Well that was my first attempt at tbhp and I will try to post a more comprehensive review of the Dzire soon.
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Old 2nd August 2012, 20:15   #12
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

Quote:
Originally Posted by dZired View Post
It has now clocked 1lac kms and now the time has come to bid farewell as we are planning for an upgrade. But this car will always have that special place in the soft corner of my heart.
This strikes a chord for sure - I sold off my beloved 99 Zen less than a week ago (though it seems like a lifetime - so much seems to have happened between now and last Sunday, which was when the wife and I bade farewell to our long serving and trusty steed). Can completely understand what you mean by saying you'll always have a special place in your heart for this car - although I'm not even in India any longer, not a day has passed by that I don't think about the Zen and the drives we took in it, even though I'll probably get another car within a few months. Like you, it was my first car - as with first loves, one tends to never forget them!

I'll stop here before I get too emotional - but on another note, how on earth did the short circuit occur? That is DANGEROUS stuff - I remember my indicators would often make a buzzing sound (like there was a problem with the electrical contacts) and I'd often get it checked even though I was pretty sure there was no problem with them (and there wasn't - but I just wanted to be on the safe side). Not sure why that used to happen, perhaps a faulty fuse is my guess - but it stopped once I got the fuses for the headlamps and radio changed (I know, don't ask me - no idea what the connection is there!).

Thanks for posting the review and the pictures - I know I think about my baby Zen (or at least, what USED to be my baby Zen) everyt ime I see another!

Cheers, and thanks for the memories.

Rahul

Edit: Have to agree with you on the A/C as well - the blower is just too weak for it to cool the rear effectively, especially on a really hot day - though the reverse seemed to happen once the temperature drops just a bit - it then used to really CHILL the car, including the rear passengers!

Last edited by Zenster99 : 2nd August 2012 at 20:21.
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Old 3rd August 2012, 07:56   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zenster99 View Post
I'll stop here before I get too emotional - but on another note, how on earth did the short circuit occur?
The service guy said that insulation of the wires of the indicator stalk had melted due to excessive heat or were damaged because of continuous use as a result of which the short circuit occured.

Thanx for the appreciation zenster. I am totally able to understand your feelings about the zen as I am going through the same phase.
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Old 4th August 2012, 15:37   #14
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

We have a 97 Zen, white which I wanted to trade in for a Swift D. With so many people asking for it, we gave it a re-look, and decided against it. So it got a FC (and a new lease of life) for 5 years, and service (a paltry 420 bucks), and we believe it's a keeper. It's 99% fit with no rust and no trouble with electricals whatsoever.
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Old 9th November 2012, 09:00   #15
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Default Re: A 10 years ownership experience of a ZEN LX

So finally we are going to sell the Zen due to lack of parking space as the dzire and swift have filled the garage. I am looking for someone who can take good care of the car even if I get 10,000 bucks less than expected.
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