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Old 16th March 2015, 16:48   #1
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Default 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Disclaimer: This is going to be a L-O-N-G post of a 16 year old car so you are going to need a cup or two of coffee to keep yourself awake.

The year was 1998 and it was the month of September. I had returned from US 6 months ago and I was in Hyderabad while the rest of my family members were in Mysore. So every time I would want to go to Mysore it would be bus, not exactly the most comfortable means of transport at that time. Plus I needed to get to office which was a bit far off from my house and hence I decided to buy a car. After selling my Honda Accord in US(and feeling really bad of doing so) I was not exactly in the mood to go and check out cars but after those 6 awfully tiring months I got over the fact that I had sold the Accord and finally decided I have to buy a car. It had to be new, no used car and it had to be something cheap to maintain and buy. Since I was not in India from 1993 I had absolutely no idea of the new cars on sale. Only cars I knew were the 800, Omni, Ambassador, Padmini, 118NE,Gypsy, 1000 and Zen. So I asked a few of my relatives( to be precise two) which car was to be bought. My dad who had used the Ambassador for more than 25 years strongly recommended it ( but I refused it saying it was too old) and my elder brother told go for the Esteem. He rejected the 800, Zen from the Maruti stable citing the reasons that they are too small and if I bought a car it should be modern and big. I listened to him and on the next weekend dropped by to Varun Motors. I asked the sales adviser for the price list and he told me to wait for two minutes. Meanwhile I was just checking a parked Esteem. Thought it was a bit too big for me as I would be the only one travelling in the car for most of the time.

Next to me a red Zen was parked. It looked too good to believe and I instantly ditched the Esteem. I went over gave the Zen a good look. It seemed to be perfect from outside. Looked excellent and was small. I decided to check out the interiors and sat in. Wait a minute first attempt I could not sit in. Main reasons- The seat was pushed all the way in front and the car seemed too low for me. I pushed the seat all the way back to accommodate my 6 feet 3 inches frame and sat. Well for a few seconds it seemed like I sat on the floor and not on the seat. After further adjustment of the seat to my reclined driving position I felt a bit comfortable but no way as comfortable as in the Esteem. I checked out the dashboard and instrument cluster. I liked it and it even came with a Kenwood stereo and 2 speakers in the front. Got out of the car and checked out the rear bench. Absolutely no one could sit behind the driver seat with my adjustments I mean not even a 6 year old in comfort. I got into the rear seat after pushing the front passenger seat all the way in front. It felt a bit comfortable but nothing that was not manageable. Boot space was negligible. Meanwhile the sales adviser was standing in one corner and was seeing me checking out the Zen. He interrupted me while I was sitting in the back. I had completely forgot about him and the Esteem price list till that time. He said he saw me checking out the Zen and thought if I was interested in the Zen now. I told him to chuck the Esteem price list and get me the Zen price list now. Before going to get the other price list I asked a few questions and they were-

1. Me: Does the car come with the stereo as a standard fitment or have you fitted it for a customer?
SA: Saarrr new model Zen. This is Zen-VX. It comes with stereo as standard fitment. Grill is changed in front.
Me: Ok start the engine. I would like to hear it. ( I did not know how to drive stick shift as yet as I drove the automatic Accord).
SA: Yes sarrr.(He started her up and gave a rev or two. Wow it sounds nice I said to myself)
Me: How much horsepower?( Followed by the 'Mileage kitna deti Hai' question)
SA: Sarrr horsepower I dont know it is there on price list but engine is Japan engine. Fully made in Japan. Very good engine saarr. Mileage it gives 16.

He got me the price list and I checked it out. The Zen-VX which I wanted costed 3,65,000 ex showroom and on road the SA told it would come at about 4,15,000. Went back home with the price list. Debated between head and heart. Head said Esteem- more space,bigger car so more people if travelling can travel more comfortably, appeared to be a more sturdier car, a bit more safer. Heart said Zen- looked so good in Red( hey even Esteem is good in the looks department but I felt Zen was a timeless design) but then that was it nothing more in which the Zen scored against the Esteem. The next weekend I went over and booked the Zen in the VX version. He promised delivery in two months which was too much for me. I knew a few higher ups in Varun Motors. Got in touch with them and they assured me I would get the car in a month. I called my elder brother after the booking and here is how the conversation went:

Brother: What called to say that you booked Esteem?
Me: No called to tell I booked the Zen.
Brother: Ya I know you are joking tell me when you are getting the car.
Me: No really I booked the Zen.
Brother: What? I told you not to buy that small thing. Only 2 people can fit in that car. It is so impractical, small and cramped. ( obviously sounding mad at me)
Me: I don't need such a big car and come on Zen looks so good.
Brother: Fine. I have never understood you till now nor do I think I will understand you in the near future. Congratulations on your new car. ( A bit calmer remembering who I am- a person who after taking a decision sticks to it)
Me: Thanks. I will get the car in a month. You come to Hyderabad.

Told him to convey this to everyone and kept the call. Phew! Matter settled with brother. Meanwhile I decided to name the car as Zen itself, no other name. So if I refer to the car I refer to it as Zen not as the "small car" of our home.

After three weeks I got a call from my SA and he told they received a batch of cars and I could select mine. I called up a friend and asked me to send his driver who was an old, experienced chap. Went to the showroom with the driver. I had meanwhile changed the colour from Red to white or Gold because the SA told it would be tougher maintaining Red i.e. for touch ups its difficult to get the right colour. There were about 7 cars to choose from which were either white or gold (this was only for me and not anyone else because of the higher ups). The driver had a test drive in every car, listen to the engine sound, have a look at the tuning of the engine and checked the engine response. He finally gave me the choice between 2 cars which he told had very good engines. I trusted him a lot. So I listened to him. One was gold other was white. I took the white over the gold one. D-day after consulting home minister was set to October 3 which was three days later. So asked the driver to come on October third and headed home. 3rd October I tool delivery with a few members from my family and so bought my first car in India. The driver drove the first 1000 kilometres which was the run in period and then taught me how to drive. The car after three days was accessorized with the following

1. 90/100 H4 Philips headlights( one fused out the other one is still working ) with a cut outer. Excellent combination I must say, really powerful.
2. Autocop.( One thing which has not been reliable in the car)
3. Door mats and one for the boot.
4. Padmini horns. Factory ones were horrible. Sounded like a mouse squeaking. Padmini horns are pretty good. Loud but no too loud and they sound good.
5. Reverse siren ( taken them out long ago)
6. 12 v socket.

To be continued....
Attached Thumbnails
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dsc01264.gif  

Last edited by GTO : 4th July 2015 at 14:20. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 24th March 2015, 11:31   #2
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Thumbs up re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

So now I will be giving a detailed life report of the car or what I would like to call- The biography of Zen. I have divided its life in a 5 year format i.e. I will give details of the car in first 5 years, second 5 years etc in this format.

1st 5 years(1998-2003)

Zen had ran only 7000 kilometers. Immediately after I bought Zen my office shifted and it was now a 2 minute walk could get me to my office. Hence the car was used only for weekends when I went for a pleasure drive. My travel to Mysore also stopped fully. In 1999 it did one Hyderabad-Tumkur trip since my son was born. After 2 weeks I returned with Zen to Hyderabad. In the year 200 I shifted to Mysore because of change in work and then had to shift to Bangalore.Zen was drown down from Hyderabad to Mysore by my cousin. When I came to Mysore got the car registered as a Karnataka vehicle. Now when the car left Hyderabad it's health completely deteriorated. Reason as follows-

In Hyderabad Varun Motor did a good job servicing but when I got it down to Bangalore not a single guy in the MASS near Central Railway station knew how to work on the car (sorry don't remember the name of the MASS). They tuned Zen horribly but I just did not have time to care of Zen thanks to work. Zen transformed from a peppy, rev happy car to a boring, not at all rev happy car. It performed like a diesel car and the engine was just not smooth. Let me state an instance to show how bad the people at the MASS near the Central Railway station were.

I had given Zen for a service. They wrote down my complaints and told they will fix the problems. When I collected Zen in the evening something did not feel right after one kilometer. I slowed down to 20 kmph and thought of stopping on the side of the road and check under the hood but then all hell broke loose. The car started misfiring very badly, Zen started jerking and almost stalled somehow managed to limp Zen back to the garage. Over there on opening the hood out of the 4 spark plugs 3 WERE OUT OF THEIR PLACE . Gave them a good trashing, literally strangled the SA got the spark plugs fit back into place and left the horrid place, after promising to never return to their garage.

This was the sole reason for the deterioration of Zen's health i.e. pathetic work quality from MASS.

In 2002 I shifted to BTM layout and over there I gave it to Sai Motors who were not an authorized service centre. They did a bit better job of cleaning that's it their technical knowledge was also in the pits.

From 2001 to 2003 I drove Zen everyday because my office was far away from home and there was no company transportation. I must admit all this while Zen just chugged along even when it was not tuned properly and poorly maintained. Not even a single day it broke down in this period heck in Zen's entire life it has not broke down and come to a complete stop stranding me on the roads.

2nd part of its life(2003-first half of 2008)

In the later part of 2003 the best thing happened in Zen's life. I hired my dad's driver Mr. Mariappa who was my dad's driver for a long time in the Horticulture department. Mariappa could understand any car by just starting and going for a 200 metre spin. That was his experience with cars. When he joint me he already had 25+ years of experience of driving Ambassador's day in and day out and maintaining them. When he first saw Zen I told him Zen's engine is in a bad state. At first he did not believe me completely. He went to the back saw the Exhaust pipe checked the amount of carbon settlement on the pipe and immediately told in Kannada-"Sir gaadi na chanagey nod kond illa. Silencer thoomba kap ag idey" Translated- Sir has not taken care of the car well. Too much of black residue on exhaust pipe. He took the key tried starting Zen. Zen just would not start in the first attempt. He then let the starter motor cool down for 10 seconds, pressed the accelerator pedal a bit and then cranked. Zen immediately sprung into action. He reversed Zen carefully out of the garage with Zen misfiring a lot as the engine was cold. He then parked Zen warmed up the engine and started off with me in the passenger seat. His first comment- What sir it is going like a diesel car. No pick up. Very lethargic. See it struggles to take pick up in first gear itself.

Agreed with him and when we reached home. He opened the hood, cleaned the air filter, checked the spark plugs. He tried playing with the carb settings but realized the design was different from the Amby's and immediately set out to Sai Motors. Over there he bugged the living hell out of the mechanic who was tuning the carb and out of the garage came the car a bit smoother and a bit more rev happier. Everyday Mariappa would drop my son to school in Koramangala, drop me to office and then come back home and set one thing after the other right with the car. Mechanic's from Sai Motors dreaded him because he always chewed them out with the problems. The health of Zen considerably improved with Mariappa. He took care of it like it was his own car, always drove it slowly and steadily no matter how the road was. Everything improved but in 2005 things got bad- REAL BAD.

Mariappa had gone to fuel the car up at Bharat Petroleum in BTM. Usually we put petrol in a bunk near Koramangala but due to fuel being over there he had to fill at Bharat Petroleum. He always knew the fuel there was bad so he called me up and told me he is filling only Rs 200 worth fuel. They were out of normal fuel so after he received the go ahead from me he filled in Speed and then started the problem. Zen started jerking badly, misfired badly and every other engine related problem arose. At first he thought it was the carb acting up and got it tuned but the problem remained. He went ahead fot the spark plugs changed which did not rectify the problem. He then spent an entire day in the garage set the tappets, tuned the carb, got the fuel tank opened and drained out, filled in new fuel and all which still did not solve the problems. He visited loads of other garages, garages where he got the Amby's serviced but nothing solved it. For 2 months Zen's health was very bad. Then 1 day without my permission Mariappa got the fuel pump changed and Lo and behold everything was sorted out.

Every other garage had denied a problem with the fuel pump but then Mariappa being himself just did not give up and finally got a new fuel pump installed. At first it did still did not solve the problem. He told lets wait for 2 days and then let us see what to do next. True to his words Zen literally solved its problems by her own self. After 2 days Zen was back in action, after a bit of tuning, she ran like a new car and from then on it had been pretty smooth sailing. So moral of the story - NEVER EVER FILL SPEED OR ANY PREMIUM FUEL IN ZEN NOT EVEN A DROP TO GO IN.

In this time span in early 2008 the dynamo conked out after repeated warning for 2 days. The dynamo problem is another story itself. The cars battery would progressively drain out by the end of the day and the first day suspecting battery problem( a new battery had been installed) we gave the battery for charging and plonked in a replacement battery. When the replacement battery too conked out it became obvious that the battery was not being charged. A quick check and we found out the dynamo was in its last leg. Meanwhile I had changed the service centre to Prithvi Motors an authorized MASS and when asked they said they did not have a dynamo in place and promised to get one in 3 days. I had to make a trip to Mysore so told them to get the dynamo and left for Mysore. On the day of return the battery was completely drained out and hence I had to push start the car and somehow made it successfully to Bangalore without a break down in the way. Got the dynamo replaced and the battery charged and Zen was ready for another day. This period except for the dynamo thanks to Mariappa's care the car was running well.

Also as the Kenwood cassette player gave away in 2007 I got a Kenwood player and 2 kenwood speakers installed. The Kenwood speakers were installed in the boot.

3rd part of Zen's life(second half of 2008-2013)
On the first day of the second half of 2008 this is what happened.

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dsc00972.jpg

Yep Zen crossed the 1 lakh kilometers milestone on 1-06-2008.

In 2009 Zen went for a rejuvenation to Mysore. The seats were re-cushioned, seat covers changed,headrest made for the back seat. Dents were removed and the car was thoroughly cleaned, polished, all nuts and bolts tightened to the right amount, a few rattles fixed and rims were repainted as they were looking ugly thanks to the neighborhood dogs. My elder brother was responsible for the rejuvenation. He had recently sold his Maruti Omni and had a fantastic Pioneer CD player and 2 DIESEL AUDIO speakers with him which were pretty good. So he chucked out the 2 year old Kenwood CD Player and speakers and put the Pioneer CD player and DIESEL speakers in place. Later I figured out he did that because when he bought an Indigo, he could get permission from family member(s) (to be precise our father) to buy a new CD player,speakers,sub woofer and an amplifier for the Indigo .

In 2011 the garage was changed from Prithvi Motors to Sagar automobiles near Dairy circles. In 2011 the starter motor gave up and was duly replaced with a Lucas-TVS one. Then the carburetor started acting up in 2013. From July 2013 on wards problems with carburetor made Zen's health go bad. First the pick up dropped, then the FE dropped and then Zen was giving out BLACK SMOKE. Mariappa took it to variuos garages. People did all kinds of stuff to the carburetor to get it right nothing worked. One mechanic told the engine needed an overhaul and it was drinking oil. When Mariappa showed him that the engine was not drinking oil and oil quantity remained constant he realized he could not take Mariappa for a ride and backed out. Later we finalized the carburetor was the culprit and with the help of Sagar Automobiles placed an order for an original MGP carburetor. It took about 1 week for them to get it and then 1 day for installation and then test driving Zen to make sure everything was fine. A special mention and thanks to SA Raghu( without whom which getting the carburetor would be impossible). He played a very important role in getting Zen back to former glory ( he also gave my car extra special treatment when he saw the Coorg Wildlife Society sticker on the car and got to know I am from Coorg as even he was from Coorg).

During 2010 Zen had minor accidents' on the Bangalore - Hassan highway. From then on I felt there was a safer car needed for highways and hence retired the Zen from highway duty and bought the 3rd generation Honda City. Details of the accident will come in the next post. Also in December 2013 Mariappa the person who helped Zen to revive its former glory and maintained Zen like his own car had to leave the job because of his age and health issues.

4th part of Zen's life(2014-present)

As of today he has ran 1.64 lakh kilometers with the engine not yet opened and still the engine shows good compression. I am mighty impressed with this.

After the carb replacement so far no major part has been changed. Zen was sent for another rejuvenation in 2014. Mainly for the FC. All nuts and bolts were tightened, bumpers repainted, all window winding mechanism parts oiled, new mats put in, all door beadings changed, a few places were developing a bit of rust they were sanded and paint was touched up and again rims were repainted thanks to the dogs. The Zen got a Sony head unit similar to the MEX-DV1707U. It comes with AUX,USB with WMA/MP 3 support,CD player and tuner. Good enough for casual hearing. Again this was kind of a hand me down. My elder brother sold his Indigo and bought an Innova. He got some head unit from Dubai which comes with Android 4.0 OS and it is pretty VFM and does its job very well. So this Sony player was laying around gathering dust, so when Zen went for the rejuvenation he chucked in the Sony Head unit too.

Last service was done about 4 months back in Mandovi in Bannerghatta Road. I got an SA (Mr. Divakaran) who literally specializes in Zens. He knows every nook and corner of the car and gives great attention to detail. For example- the cardboard piece between the mat and spare tyre in the boot was in 2 pieces. He got it replaced by an MGP piece of cardboard which has some 2 steel pieces and can be connected to the nut and bolt which helps keeping the spare tyre in place. The stick like structure used to hold the bonnet in place when the bonnet is put up had a holder which had come out somewhere back in 2009. No SA till now had bothered to check that part. Even if I asked them they said it can be ignored. But this SA went ahead and without even asking me got this part and put it which just shows he was interested in getting the car to be perfect. He did not do unnecessary jobs which most other SA's recommend or do without even me asking them to do it. He even knew that the Zen's carbureted engines are troublesome in the cold morning's and hence kept the engine idling a bit higher than usual and he mentioned this to me before I could ask him. Since summer is approaching it is time to go back to him and get the idling back to normal. Also I am noticing a flat spot at one point during acceleration indicating the tappets need to be set. So a bit of work is lined up but nothing major. Zen still gives 14 kmpl in the city and about 18 or 19 kmpl in the highway ( tested on a Bangalore- Tumkur- Bangalore trip)

Next post on the accidents,parts changed,likes and dislike of the Zen.

Last edited by GTO : 4th July 2015 at 14:21. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 30th March 2015, 00:56   #3
Join Date: Jan 2015
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

This post will contain all the accidents, parts changed, likes and dislikes of the Zen and the maintenance schedule I follow.

So far by God's grace we have had absolutely no major accident. There were accidents which could be major accidents but by God's grace and seat belt's they were minor. Here are the accidents in a chronological order.

a)In 2004 when I was waiting at the BTM Advaith Petrol Bunk signal. I was the only one at the signal along with some other car next to me. The signal had just dropped to red when I had to stop and hence knowing it was a long wait I switched off the engine, put the gear in neutral and had my right leg on the brake. As I thought of letting go of the brake and applying the hand break I just happened to see the rear view mirror for about half a second and to my horror I see an OIL TANKER hurtling towards me at higher than speeds of 60 km/h. In the next half a second thanks to reflexes all I did was to leave my leg from the brake pedal. By the time I left the break pedal, wham! the tanker had hit me. Zen spun out to the centre of the road but to the right side of the road and the tanker did not stop but instead sped away. Some people got out of their cars and came to see if anything happened to me and Zen. Thanks to the seat belt I was wearing my head did not hit the glass or steering but instead was held back in position. I first checked myself for any hurts. Saw myself to be perfectly fine and then removed the seat belt and got out of Zen to check the damage on her. I was in for a surprise.

A good one though. Absolutely nothing had happened except for a slightly misaligned bumper with a orange marks ( paint of the tanker) on it. People asked me if I was okay. Replied I was fine and thanked them for checking on me. After thanking God I started Zen and reached home which was 2 minutes away. Got my box of Addisons rubbing polish successfully removed the orange marks and next day at the body shop in Sai Motors the alignment was corrected in 2 minutes. What happened was that kinetic energy was just transformed from one object to the other. If I had kept the leg on the break pedal when the truck had it I know Zen would have been reduced to half its size as I have seen in quite a few cases like this one. Phew! Thanks to God's grace and seat belts a major disaster was averted.

b)The year was 2007 and I was returning from M S Ramaiah North City with one of my cousin brothers. There were 2 barricade on roads put one behind each other. One on the left side of the lane and the other on the right side of the lane which was put up to slow down as police were doing some checking on a few vehicles. I saw the barricades well in advance and slowly err.... slowed down to make thee slight criss cross. As I made the turn from the right side to the left to avoid the barrier in front again I just looked into the rear view mirror for a split second and I see a Santro hurtling towards me. I immediately punched the gas pedal down but the Santro negotiated the turn at the SAME SPEED and smashed into the rear of Zen. Again thanks to my leg off the break and seat belts nothing happened to me and my cousin who was also wearing his seat belt. After jumping about 50 meters in front I saw the Santro had stopped. I got out of the car to have a word with the driver of the Car. Seeing it was some L board lady driver I just kept my cool and went and told her to please drive slowly until she learnt to drive properly in the most calm way I could tell her. But that person's answer shocked me.

She said it was her wish on how she could drive and instead told it was my fault that I had slowed down to negotiate the barricades . I then told that the barricades where meant to slow down the people and it was not kept there so that people can showoff their driving skills by negotiating at high speed and walked off. This time something did happen to Zen. The LHS light assembly was broken at one part and blue paint marks were there on the bumper. Again went back home a bit off Adissons application and the bumper was proper again. The light was changed in the next service

c)5-11-2010- The worst day for Zen and me. 2 accidents same day.

I had started of from home at about 8:30 AM with my family ( me ,wife and 2 kids and Zen) to Hassan with my cousins ( the same one who was there with me in the 2nd accident) family in their Swift for Diwali. At Magadi road my elder son went to the Swift as Zen was cramped with luggage. We took the left to get on to the main highway which was newly tarred. I was ahead of the swift. As the road up ahead was good I went to touch 80 km/h. There was a KSRTC bus ahead of me in the right lane doing about 50 km/h. I honked and flashed lights so that he would give me way to overtake him as I did not want to overtake from the left which is not good. He immediately gave way as there were no cars on the left side of him and gave the usual hand signal for me to go ahead. I went ahead. When I started covering the length of the bus I realized the bus started going faster and when half of Zen had crossed the front part of the bus I looked into left hand side wing mirror for a fraction of a second only to see the moron bus driver turning the bus right even though I had not completely overtaken him. What happened next was a nightmare. Thanks to my reflexes I punched the gas pedal and Zen responded immediately increasing speed quite fastly. But the speed gained was not enough and the bus hit the left side of the car.

I was at about 100 km/h and the bus at 70 km/h. The left side of the car LIFTED UP FROM THE GROUND but thanks to Zen's good mid and high range power Zen managed to get away or I would say move in front fastly and all the people in the car were saved. The bus VERY weirdly got into the RIGHT side of the Highway by an opening in the median. If I had not punched the gas pedal at the right time Zen would have simply been tossed into the air by the bus and me, my family and Zen would be no more. Thanks to Gods grace one more miraculous escaped happened for both of us. Here is what people in the Swift told us. As my cousins son saw the bus give way he honked when he was still a bit far away from the bus and got approval to overtake from the bus driver so hence he also began gathering speed. As he came nearer to the bus he saw the bus driver turning ever slow slightly to the left and started decreasing speed. He then saw my condition and completely left the gas pedal and shouted getting everyone's attention in the car. Everyone stared ahead and as he completely pulled to the right they thought that was it, we would be no more. But then again after that shock when the bus turned right after hitting Zen they could not see Zen as the bus covered Zen they got another shock thinking we were just spun out in front of the bus and my cousins son started braking in the fear of hitting us.

But then after the bus made its transition to the right side of the road they saw us and Sighed a H-U-G-E sigh of relief. I made a mental note of the bus number and slowed down and parked on the absolute left side of the road on the gravel to check up on all of us and check Zen. Seeing Zen horrified me. The lower left hand side back of Zen ( near the fuel tank lid) had crumpled up like a papad and there were paint marks and the bumper had come off. Meanwhile I had signaled the Swift to go after the bus. After seeing everything was right in a minute, I got in Zen and revved off to chase the bus. Making quick progress I made up with the bus and Swift. We followed him and as we came near a town he stopped the bus in a bus stand to eat. He did not know we were behind him but he was completely aware that he had hit us. When we stopped and went after the bus driver he immediately got right back in the bus LEFT A FEW PASSENGERS IN THE BUS STAND and tried to escape. We immediately ran back to our cars, started them and chased him.

Believe me he went up to speeds of more than 80 km/h. At one place there was police checking and hence he slowed down. Immediately my cousins son in the Swift went ahead and parked right in front of the Swift so that the bus could not move ahead and I parked behind the bus. We went to the front of the bus and shouted at the driver. The police seeing us came to us. We told them the entire incident and they gave a sound thrashing to the driver in form of words. I immediately to pictures of the bus so that I could complain to KSRTC. As if this incident was not enough the same day we had a TIRE BURST. 5 minutes after leaving from the checking spot the rear right side tire burst. I was at 70 km/h and suddenly the cars right side picked up with a huge bang noise. The noise was frightful enough to make my younger son burst into tears. Somehow I managed to bring the car to a halt after a bit of playing with the steering wheel. I also did not panic and apply the brakes. As given in the official article of Team BHP applying brakes after a tire burst can be treacherous. Again thanks to God's grace and my presence of mind we were saved. I am saying this as I have seen some really bad accidents were tires had given up in a similar fashion. The Swift had gone ahead. I called them back.

The damage done to Zen was again bad. The mudflap had flown of and the part of the bumper where the mudflap was attached was cut into two parts. Put in the spare tire only to discover it was hard. Slowly drove to Hassan and the same day I got rid of the Good years which lasted 48 K km's and got 5 new Bridgestone's. Confession time : Before I left for the trip I knew the tires had got hard and they were up for a change. They had good amount of grip left so thought I will get it replaced after the trip. Lesson learnt : If tires are getting too hard get them changed no if's or but's. I had to learn it the hard way but I hope no one in this world needs to learn it this way. Now for some pics of the damage done on this day.

Damage done to Zen from bus.
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-image104.jpg

Close up of the damage
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-image105.jpg

Traces of white paint on bus
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-image103.jpg

Killer bus
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-image102.jpg

I shot of an e-mail to KSRTC on the same day with the pictures attached. At first as expected I got no response. After a few days shot of an other e-mail to them stating dire consequences if they did not make it a point to catch the driver and educate him on how to drive properly and safely. After a few days got a reply from them but they stated they suspended the driver for a month. I did not understand which part of 'educating the driver to drive safely and properly' they did not understand. Instead they simply suspended him. I feel this way the driver might never learn to be a bit safer in future as I am sure he would be more pissed off than ever with KSRTC's officials. Instead he might get in to a bad mood every time he remembers this accident and drive more dangerously due to anger.

Now for the list of parts changed other than the parts which are changed on a 4-5 year basis(tires,battery etc)-
i)Starter motor
iv)Fuel Pump

Yep that's it. Nothing else. One thing I would just like to state- till today not even a single suspension part has been changed other than the steering knuckle which was changed in the last service. Heck not even a single belt has been changed till today. One thing I can say- parts for the Zen are pretty long lasting. The SA Mr. Divakaran had told the rear suspension is a bit weak and might need a bit of fixing in the next 15-20 K km's depending on usage. This means no suspension work for next 3-4 years considering the cars current yearly running of <5 K km's running. The engine still shows good compression and according to Mr. Divakaran will easily last good for another 40-50 K km's (read= no major engine work for next 8 to 10 year) !

What I like about Zen

i)That gem of an engine. G10 B - super smooth if treated well and damn rev happy. Long lasting and reliable engine.
ii) Overall reliability of the car.
iii) Good FE- 14 kmpl in city and about 18 kmpl in highway.
iv)L-O-N-G lasting parts used.( Example the stock factory fitted speakers are still doing well, suspension parts et all)
v)Cheap maintenance cost and excellent Maruti support available everywhere.
vi)Rugged vehicle.( Example- Once my mother fell ill in Coorg and her condition was not great. Had to rush her to Mysore which involved going through the horrible Nagarhole Forest road that existed. I went over all the pot holes at speeds of greater than 50 kmph. I expected the bushes to give up because the torture given was pretty bad that day but nothing had happened to the bushes or any suspension part on checking at Mysore. Similar situation my brother did it with his friends Alto the bushes did not hold good.)
vii)Good handling of speeds up to 120 kmph after which it feels like its about to take off. That precise non power steering deserves a mention. The feedback provided by it is great at high speeds though it can break your bones while trying to park or make U turns on a narrow road. My City's power steering has very little feedback at high speeds.
viii) Styling- Timeless Jellybean design which just does not look old to me somehow.
ix)Some nice features in the car when bought- Kenwood speakers and HU. Door pads were not those cheap plastics as we see in today's cars. I somehow like that rexine covered door pad which has a soft touch. It came with day and night mirror something that my cousins 2008 Swift LDi can't boast of.
x) Butter smooth and precise gearshifts. I have driven lots of other cars but I personally feel that Zen's gearshift are the most smooth and precise. No notchiness in shifting to any gear.
xi) Factory fitted tinted windows.
xi) Top notch paint quality.

What I don't like about Zen

i) Cramped cabin- Enough has been said about this.
ii) Really less boot space.
iii) Seats are not comfortable.
iv) Ride quality- Hard suspension set up. Comfort is sacrificed a bit too much for handling.
v) Tissue paper thin hood and doors. No safety in this car whatsoever.
vi) Plastic quality and fit finish in the cabin leaves a lot to be desired.
vii) Mediocre pick up with A/C. Pulls like a dog if there are 4 people and the A/C is on. Blower makes a lot of sound in the 3rd speed, a bit in 2 but with speed 1 you don't get anything. Really bugging to drive on the highway's with A/C on as you will constantly keep shifting gears to maintain speed and will fee severely under powered.

My Maintenance schedule for ZEN

i) After 5,000 kilometers oil and oil filter to be changed.
ii) Wheel alignment after 5,000 kilometers.
iii) Air filter after every 10,000 kilometers.
iv) Engine tune up - every 5,000 kilometers
v) Spark plugs- 10 or 15 thousand kilometers cleaning every 5,000 kilometers.
vi) Tappet adjustment- every 20,000 kilometers
vii) Carburetor cleaning - once a year
viii) Brake fluid after 20,000 kilometers or whenever SA advises.
ix) AC gas refill as and when required.
x) Cleaning of interior and exterior- once every week. Polishing is done by myself once a month. After 19th of March when my elder son's exams have got over he has rendered himself useless for next 1 month and hence cleaning schedule has changed to interior and exterior cleaning once in 3 days and exterior and interior polishing once in 5 days lol.
xi) Coolant once in 5 years complete replacement.
xii) Fluids top up every week ( only if required)

That's it. This is more or less the schedule followed by me to keep Zen both physically and mentally well. Oh yeah just forgot Italian tune up done by me once a week.

Next post will be a review on the interiors, exterior, engine and perfomance, ride and handling, maintenance costs etc.

Last edited by GTO : 4th July 2015 at 14:23. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 3rd April 2015, 10:08   #4
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Exterior design and build quality

Exterior design according to me is a timeless design. The jellybean shape of the car is something I like even after seeing Zen on road for more than 2 decades. The design overall is proportionate. A very clean design is what I would say devoid of any kind of modern body lines. Mine is the 1998 version so it has a redesigned front grille. IMHO I feel this was the best grille compared to the honeycomb one which came in the year 2000 and the other grill which had 2 horizontal bars in the middle. The front looks good from whichever angle you see it but this is not the case with the rear. Stand right behind the rear of the car and it might look boring. Stand at the 3 quarters and it will look good.Mine is the VX version so it came with body colored bumpers and 2 ORVMS. The LX got black bumper and an ORVM only on the right side. Badging for the car is stickers, there is one sticker with the 'Maruti Suzuki' and the other states 'ZEN-VX' To complement the looks Maruti had given top notch paint quality.

Even after 16 years the paint is still good i.e. it still holds that shine and if you give the car a good wash and polish the exterior, it will still shine like a brand new car ( mine is a white car so paint was non metallic). Seeing the exterior paint I have had many people following me home to ask if the car is for sale and if its repainted or the paint is original. Let me sight a few instances where people walked away in disbelief-

i) 2 years ago one of Mariappa's friends in NGV made an offer of 1.5 lakh for the car when Mariappa was waiting to pick my children for school. The friend was too adamant on buying Zen. Only after Mariappa told him a few hundred times that I will not sell Zen even if he holds a gun pointing at my head he walked away defeated.
ii) 3 months ago I had got some levelling work done for a plot of mine. The contractor had come to my home in his brand new Figo to collect the money. At that time I had just returned from some place and was putting it's cover when the contractor saw Zen. Instantly he asked,"Sir how much do you want for this car. You have kept so well. Is it original paint? I will pay you 1.5 lakh for it sir. Please sell it to me." I go," Yes it is original paint but NO, it is not for sale." He immediately said," Wokay sir. If you are selling it sell it to me. I will pay you 1.5 lakh even if you put it for sale after a year." . After this he left damn sadly looking at Zen a few times before getting into his Figo.

Other than this I have had people following me till home asking me if Zen is on sale and people knocking on my window if I am ready to sell the car.

Time for a few snaps.

The front grille I was talking about.
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-untitled.png

A few pictures of Zen's recent expedition to Coorg.

Pics of Zen with coffee plants planted in the premises of my home at Coorg.
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7263.jpg

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7259.jpg

Build quality on the outside of the car is nothing great. Yes, the paint quality is top notch but the pannel gaps are just not acceptable. When I state this I mean that even when I bought the car pannel gaps were bad. I checked out other cars and all were the same. The doors are tissue paper thin and you close them and they close with a rather hollow "thunk". The bonnet is also tissue paper thin. All this makes the car light but by no means inspires a sense of safety in you.

Overall in this aspect I can give Zen a 6/10

Interiors and features
All black interiors nothing much to talk about. In 1999 it was a very contemporary looking dashboard but now in front of today's car dashboards it is a plain vanilla dashboard.Lots of shiny plastics are there on the dashboard. There are no soft touch materials used. The parts though are pretty durable. Even after 16 years not a single part has broken off. The switches are still intact and even the indicator stalks and their prints have survived so far. There is absolutely no storage space in the car except for the glovebox (small again) and the ashtray. I do not smoke so that ash tray has no use of its own. Hence I changed it to a toll receipt holder cum change holder.

The ashtray I was talking about. Note you can take it out of its place clean it and put it back.

The door pads look excellent when new. They are soft as they are made of rexine and even the armrests are excellent BUT they have sadly not been able to stand the test of time. Over the 16 years they have developed air pockets which look damn ugly. The drivers side is the worst of all as it will be shown in the pics. The front seats have good support for short people but for tall people like me they are not exactly comfortable for long drives. Less thigh support, bad lumbar support and low seats have been the perfect remedy for back pain for me. No one can sit behind me when I adjust the seat to my comfort effectively making the car a 3 seater including the driver. People in the back seat( when stock) will complain of no headrests and bad lumbar support. Both have been taken care of long ago during the ifrst rejuvenation. However if you push the passenger seat completely in front then and if you sit behind the passenger seat it can be quite ok ( this is how I used to travel to office everyday when Mariappa was there). The rear seat is foldable but it cannot be split. Boot spaces is L-E-S-S. You can accommodate two bags that's it. Airport run's are not for this car. Overall to sit inside and travel for long distances is something which no one will like.

Feature side again a lot for 1999 nothing for 2015. Zen came with a factory fitted A/C and heater, Kenwood Head Unit with 2 Kenwood speakers, tinted glass ( yes you read it right, something which my Honda City does not come with), body coloured bumpers, internally adjustable rear view mirrors and day and night mirror. Accessories I added after buying Zen is Autocop( added a week after buying and still working), Padmini horns, RPM TV(added by my brother), 2 diesel speakers, Sony head unit,Reverse Camera (not needed but again dropped in by my brother), 90/100 headlamps, 3 sets of mats (one got chucked out), leather steering cover ( again added a week after buying but it is still good), seat cover changed twice, 12V socket and headrests for rear seats. One thing I am really impressed is there are absolutely ZERO rattles even after these long 16 years of rough and smooth usage.

On this aspect I can give Zen a 7/10

Engine and Performance
Enough has been said about the G10B unit of Zen. It is one hell of a revv-happy engine and reliable to the core. I have not had a single breakdown in my 16 years of ownership. The 993 cc engine gives a total of 50 hp. On paper it sounds mundane but in reality it is completely different. Without A/C this car can give quite a few newer quite a chase. I have been able to clock 0-100 kmph in about 14 seconds ( only with me in without A/C). Below is what I think about the gear ratios selected -

1st gear- Really short. Will need it only to move the car.
2nd gear- Tall. Can go from 10 kmph to 70 kmph.
3rd gear-TALL.Does 30-120 kmph
4th gear-This is one gear I have used very less. I go up to 70kmph in 3rd and then directly to 5th. So hence not used much.
5th gear-Allows for comfortable cruising. Does not feel short like that in my brother's Innova. If you are feeling lazy all you have to do is to slot into 5th gear at 40 kmph and Zen will take you to whatever speed you want above it comfortably and slowly.

Below is how the car will respond in various situations with different kinds of load

Only driver, no luggage, no A/C.
Go-Kart. Period. Can amble around in the City in 2nd gear. Passes the speed breaker test with flying colours. In fact if you are the only one in the car no need to engage first gear. You can start off in 2nd gear with ease, no clutch slipping required.

3 passengers, no luggage, no A/C.
Still has enough power. Can put other cars to shame. Not much of a drop in pick-up. Will need 1st gear to only move the car forward. Again you can easily go over Bangalore's speed breakers with ease.

3 passenger, with A/C, no luggage.
Will be a snail. Will take it's own sweet time to reach good speeds. Driving in the City will be a pain. You will see yourself using the gears a lot more than usual. My tip- get to speeds above 30 kmph and then switch on A/C. If you try driving around in the City with A/C on full time you will find yourself stalling the car a lot of times while starting off from stand still. Switch off the A/C under hard acceleration and you will get a sudden jump in pick up like in a turbo charged car.

3 passengers, with A/C, with luggage.
Will be slower than a snail. You can find inner peace of your mind by the time you get to 100 kmph. Trust me you would want to do this only if you have a gun pointed at your head and the person with the gun wants you to do this. Get to a decent speed on highway and then switch on A/C.

Driving Zen on the highways can be daunting. The seats are not exactly comfortable which irritates you. Then bad low end torque does not allow you to do quick overtake maneuvers in 5th gear. So you will have to get into 3rd gear where all hell breaks loose and you suddenly have more than enough power to overtake. Changing to 4th from 5th is useless as you will not get much of pick up. Then again change the gear to 5th. So driving like this can get a bit irritating because the gears need to be worked a bit too often.

Driving on ghats is a bit easier (ain't it the opposite usually). All you need is 2nd and probably 3rd gear at times. When I went to Ooty in Zen, all through the hairpin bends I comfortably managed in 2nd or 3rd gear. 1st gear was used only when I completely stopped. This reminds me of an incident in this trip. Let me put it down. I know its a bit off topic but none the less-

I was driving to Ooty in Zen with my family and my elder brother in his former Indigo with his family. At the viewpoint he handed me over the keys to his Indigo stating he wanted a break from constantly changing gears in his Indigo as it was under powered and had lots of turbo lag. He wanted Zen so that it could be easier for him. I handed over Zen's keys to him and he happily took off making quick progress leaving me and the Indigo wanting more power to make quicker progress. As I struggled through in the Indigo after 15 minutes of not sighting Zen I saw Zen parked to the extreme left of the narrow road and with the hazards own. Fearing the worst I stopped behind Zen and saw my brother standing out. I walked up to him and asked whats the matter. He told that Zen was absolutely struggling to go up hill in the last 5 minutes. He was standing on the left of the car and was checking the air pressure of the 2 tires on the left. I walked over a bit to the right only to see the right front tire punctured. The car was parked on a slope. The tire completely flat. No way to jack the car up and put the spare.

Now just 2 weeks ago I had returned from US with one of those 12V tire inflator pumps. I put it to work and got the pressure up to 30psi. I told my brother I will drive Zen and he can take his car back. Then after every 10 - 15 mins I would have to stop, again put some air into the tire and then again start off. This exercise costed me a good 1 hour 15 mins. But one thing I was absolutely happy with was that even though Zen ran with a not so right tire it did the climb without breaking a sweat and did not pass the normal temperature mark unlike my brothers Indigo which needed a cooling time of 15 minutes after reaching our hotel ( his cars needle was between H and the normal temperature mark and the fan was continuously running ).

Reliability of this engine is something I respect a lot. In all these years of ownership not even once as it let me down by breaking down in the middle of the road. No matter how bad its health was it just chugs along without complaining. Today I just returned from a 700 kilometer trip of Bangalore-Mysore-Coorg-Mysore-Bangalore with a lot of running around in Coorg. The roads where I stay are dirt tracks filled with potholes. I ripped Zen on that kind of terrain for 5 days and I am happy to say that Zen did not miss a single beat in this trip. Even though it was put through the torture of going through bad roads with heavy loads Zen has returned without any vibrations or new noises.

In the carburetor version of the Zen you would want to squeeze out as much power as you can from the engine because of its low power output. To get all of that power following is what I do-

1. Only Castrol Magnatec 10 W 40 for the engine. ( semi synthetic oil). I once put in Shell Oil from MGP and the engine smoothness and pick up was lost. Got it changed after 2000 km's only.
2. Spark plugs are changed every 20 K km's.
3. Use shell fuel as much as possible ( shell premium or normal unleaded Shell petrol I have always seen there is more pick up with the Shell fuel and even the efficiency is higher. For example on the recent Bangalore - Mysore- Coorg trip, I had filled in Shell premium from their Bannerghatta branch and the pick up was more. The fuel efficiency with a mix of 60 % non A/C and 40% A/C I managed to cover 162 ( as seen on the trip meter) kilometers with 8 liters of fuel ( I topped up the fuel at another Shell outlet in Mysore) and hence the fuel efficiency was 20.2 kmpl. Excellent figures if you ask me. Somehow only Shell Premium is accepted by this engine, premium fuel from Indian Oil or Bharat Petroleum is absolutely hated by this engine.
4. Tuning of carburetor in every service. Absolutely essential. After the new carburetor was put in, I felt the pick up was much better than the initial years believe me or not.

This aspect of Zen deserves a good 9.5/10. .5 taken away for the pain she gives when I need to drive with A/C.

So far so good with the gearbox. It has been untouched. The clutch plate was changed at 95 K km's. A good life considering 3 people learnt to drive on it. The gearbox is just out of this world for me. The slick short throw, precise shifts is just something that I have not experienced in any car till date. Even my Honda City's gearbox feels notchy compared to the Zen's. It is really like a hot knife cutting through butter. Not a single gear feels notchy to engage including reverse.

Rating on this aspect is a perfect 10/10.

"What do you mean by that eh?" , is what Zen would ask if she could talk. Only thing which is their for safety is seat belts. No ABS, airbags, crumple zones etc. Add to this the tin can construction of the car. This is the main reason why I decided to retire her from highway trips with family and went ahead and bought the Honda City.

Being brutally honest I will give Zen 0/10 in this aspect.

Ride and Handling

Ride at lower speeds is decent but as you pick up speed the it is gets a bit harsh but nothing has harsh as say a Gypsy or Omni. The set up is clearly set more biased towards handling than comfort. Bangalore has potholes in plenty and you have to slow down every time you spot one just so that the passengers dont get a back pain. When it comes to the handling department it is pretty good. Body roll is well controlled and oh man that non power steering is a joy to use in ghats but not in the city as it feels extremely heavy in stop and go traffic and parking maneuvers . Feedback provided by it is excellent. The car is planted till 130 km/hr after which it feels a bit unstable ( please don't get me wrong. I am not encouraging anyone to drive at those speeds and above) .

Rating on this aspect an 8/10 .

Brakes do lack the bite at speeds after 120 kmph. But come on the car was really not designed to be driven at high speeds.

Rating - 7/10

What I think about Zen: A car that I can never forget and something more than just a car to me . Period.
Attached Thumbnails
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-edit-1.jpg  

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-edit-3.jpg  

Last edited by GTO : 4th July 2015 at 14:25. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 28th June 2015, 21:52   #5
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

UPDATE : The car has finished 1,65,900 odd kilometers now and also went for the 1,66,000 service. Almost two weeks since the service was done. A oil leak problem had started up which was rectified as the oil filter being over tightened and the seal giving up . Engine tune up, oil and oil filter change was done. Cost came to 5 thousand rupees. 1 day after the service I checked the oil level and shockingly it was not full 3 litres the dipstick was marked only up to half its height. Looks like the morons at Mandovi have tried to save money by putting 1.5 l oil but instead billed me for 3 litres of oil (this is what happens when you cant give it to your regular SA) . Now I really don't know if there was engine tuning done because everything inclusive of the idling rpm remains the same and perfomance is the same ( good before same after service too). Also noticing a weird noise from the rear brakes need to get it checked up, but brake cleaning was done in the service and everything was checked and said to be fine so now i don't know if they really did just about anything to the brakes either. Also forgot to mention they simply billed me for 4 extra window washer fluid packets when I did not even ask for them, they had just kept it in the glovebox. The Exide battery is about 4.5 years old, might give up after a year or so . Have to go and get oil topped up and get that brake noise rectified. So far so good still chugging along without much complaints .

Last edited by swamyzen : 3rd July 2015 at 22:06.
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Old 3rd July 2015, 22:02   #6
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

A few more pics

The interiors.
17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7198.jpg

The Sony Head Unit.

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7202.jpg

The ZEN-VX sticker.

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7194.jpg

The only interior light. The bulb has never been changed .

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7204.jpg

Highly misguiding cap used by Maruti. You actually pour the window wash fluid over there not the engine coolant.

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7212.jpg

The engine bay.

17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen-dscn7209.jpg

Last edited by swamyzen : 3rd July 2015 at 22:05.
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Old 4th July 2015, 14:28   #7
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Long-Term Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!

Splendid review! It'll greatly help those who are in the market for a used Zen today.
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Old 4th July 2015, 14:51   #8
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Brilliant, brilliant, writeup.
And the love for Zen shows too, how's youve managed to remember/capture every incident so well.
I used to have a similar vintage zen, in blue, 97. The car is basic, but such a tremendous hoot. At that time, the traffic was also much lesser on delhi roads, and it was so much fun!
And that summer turbo button in the middle of the dash, its the BEST!!
Now looking out for an MPFI zen as a project car, but thats the thing with Zens. If theyre any good, no sale(like yours ) or too expensive. If reasonably priced, then theyre battered.

Here's to many many more years!
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Old 4th July 2015, 15:53   #9
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Excellent write up of a rockstar!!

This was and will be one of the best cars ever from the MSIL stable and am proud to own one at home.

The Beam Blue Zen I have at home still brings a smile on my face even though it is 12 years old now.

Brilliant to drive and though basic, it is so much fun on the road!!
Wish you many more miles with your Zen.

BTW, you have maintained it immaculately. Just a suggestion- You could invest in the wheel covers(if not alloys) and make the exteriors even lovable.

On hindsight, why did Estilo ever bear the name of this icon? Such a loose car with a loose character (pun intended)
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Old 4th July 2015, 16:16   #10
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

My second car from April 30, 1999 to around May 2004 was the Beige Zen LX (the colour was the in thing on Zen at the time). It was great to drive and what a pickup compared with the 800 Std. My first AC car too.

During these 5 years, I had great changes in my life--changed to my present job (Jan 2000), had an extremely close personal tragedy, which was followed a year and half later with some of the most beautiful experience of my life, which is still continuing. Yes the build quality on the outside was really tinny but that was what we paid for (3 lakh).

The car has had such an impact on me that even now I use the registration no for many security purposes (know what I mean).
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Old 4th July 2015, 22:48   #11
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Originally Posted by arnabchak View Post
Excellent write up of a rockstar!!

This was and will be one of the best cars ever from the MSIL stable and am proud to own one at home.
The Beam Blue Zen I have at home still brings a smile on my face even though it is 12 years old now.
Brilliant to drive and though basic, it is so much fun on the road!!
Wish you many more miles with your Zen.
Thanks a lot for the compliments arnabchak. The fact that the car is basic and does not interfere with the way the driver drives it is what makes the Zen so much fun on the road. Regarding the wheel hubcaps I prefer the rims without the wheel hubcaps and also I like retaining the originality as much as possible hence no alloys too . Wishing you and your Zen all the best.

Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
Brilliant, brilliant, writeup.
And the love for Zen shows too, how's youve managed to remember/capture every incident so well.
I used to have a similar vintage zen, in blue, 97. The car is basic, but such a tremendous hoot. At that time, the traffic was also much lesser on delhi roads, and it was so much fun!
And that summer turbo button in the middle of the dash, its the BEST!!
Now looking out for an MPFI zen as a project car, but thats the thing with Zens. If theyre any good, no sale(like yours ) or too expensive. If reasonably priced, then theyre battered.

Here's to many many more years!
Thanks a lot for the compliments mayankk. That turbo button (A/C switch) is one feature that is present only in the Zen . Yeah quite true that not many good well maintained Zens are available these days.

One thing I have forgot to mention in the review is about the 13 inch rims. They are known to bend easily but so far I have not had a single bent rim.

Last edited by swamyzen : 4th July 2015 at 23:04. Reason: Adding text.
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Old 5th July 2015, 01:16   #12
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Now this is what I would call a long term ownership review. I for one, hardly know anyone who have retained their cars for such a long time. And to actually remember all the niggles & issues with it for the entire time-frame is really commendable .
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Old 5th July 2015, 10:53   #13
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

Excellent review for the pocket rocket! I remember asking you for a review of your car in your intro thread and I am super glad to see it here! Thanks.
Our Zen MPFI will complete 13 years in December, however, it has logged merely 31k on the odo! More so because I was away from it for a few years. It's clocking kms a little faster now. Other than preventive maintenance, it has needed nothing much. Picks up speed like a rocket and drives like the new car it was on day one!

However, your car has the best radiator grill that the Zen has ever had. I would still like to get a similar design for my car. Plus, bending of the older 13 inch rims was a common problem with pre-2000 Zen's because of the narrower side profile of the tires. That was corrected later by using 12 inch rims allowing for a wider side profile.

Thanks for writing this review!

Last edited by saket77 : 5th July 2015 at 11:04.
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Old 5th July 2015, 11:45   #14
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Default re: 17 years and 167,000 kilometers with my Maruti Zen

This used to be my dream car as a kid. It used to give goosebumps whenever any jellybean zen driver used to hard rev and zoom off.
Its a pity Maruti replaced Zen with a dud called Estillo.
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Old 5th July 2015, 13:09   #15
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Originally Posted by saket77 View Post
Excellent review for the pocket rocket! I remember asking you for a review of your car in your intro thread and I am super glad to see it here! Thanks.
Our Zen MPFI will complete 13 years in December, however, it has logged merely 31k on the odo! More so because I was away from it for a few years. It's clocking kms a little faster now. Other than preventive maintenance, it has needed nothing much. Picks up speed like a rocket and drives like the new car it was on day one!
However, your car has the best radiator grill that the Zen has ever had. I would still like to get a similar design for my car. Plus, bending of the older 13 inch rims was a common problem with pre-2000 Zen's because of the narrower side profile of the tires. That was corrected later by using 12 inch rims allowing for a wider side profile.
Thanks for writing this review!
Thanks a lot for the compliments Saket77 . Your car has run really less for it's age which is really nice you know like low mileage, original parts et al which is quite rare now. Regarding the 13 inch rims , my car made in 1998 does have the 13 inch rims but so far so good not had a problem with them but I have seen my cousins Zen which also had 13 inch rims bent badly and he always used to complain about them. Post 2000 like you said it was replaced with the 12 inch rims which were better for the size of the tire used. Nice to see that you still remember my introduction thread .

Originally Posted by agd19682 View Post
Now this is what I would call a long term ownership review. I for one, hardly know anyone who have retained their cars for such a long time. And to actually remember all the niggles & issues with it for the entire time-frame is really commendable .
Thanks a lot for the compliments agd19682 .
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