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Old 21st March 2007, 22:49   #1
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Exclamation Petrol Indica - 35000 km

I'm currently driving an Indica 1999 petrol model. It was bought by my dad in Dec, 1999. That time, the Indica was quite a revolutionary car - homegrown, spacious, powerful. It was a family decision. The previous cars had been the good old Amby, on which I learnt driving, and an Omni, on which I perfected driving!

No use going through the years inbetween, as I did not drive it much, as I was in a different city from my parents. I got the car to myself a year back and thats when my story starts.

First of all, let me say that the Indica never gave any problems. Milage was an issue, sure, but then it has an old engine for heavens sake! With regular maintanance and no accidents, it cruised the highways of West Bengal, Assam, Karnataka, survived the city of Kolkata (Calcutta, for old-timers like me!) and putted along the roads of Bangalore 3 years back when most of the road-laying in Hosur road, Bannerghata, Whitefield was still being done. It has been one tough car.

I drove it down from Bangalore to Hyderabad as my sis, who was using the car shifted out of B'lore. Highway milage it gave that trip was 16-17!!! Seriously! Speeds of 100-110 max. The only incident that happened was that the exaust pipe holding broke. Had to tie it with a wire.

After driving it around for a while in Hyd, I got a bit ambitious....(greedy?). I wanted to fit an A/C, Power windows and an CD/MP3 system. First up was the Music system. It was a straight-forward process, Pioneer HUD. Got it done from FastTracks, Minister Rd. Next, was the power windows. This was done by Malik Cars, Tata Motors dealers, with whom I used to get the servicing done. Finally, I fitted the A/C, again from FastTracks. Now, after that the car began to give problems. Within a week of fitting the A/C, the car began refusing to start. On calling a mechanic, he said that the Battery was drained. Fine! Got it charged and after 2 days, again...... Phusss. Car did not start. Reason - dead battery! This time I replaced the battery buying a new Exide one. All was fine for 2 days when again phussss...... dead battery. By this time, I had got well aquainted with the Mallick Cars breakdown service guys and the service station! They finally said that I had to change the alternator as the existing one was not taking the load and hence the battery was not getting chanrged. Had to dish out a hugh amount for it! But I changed it and things were fine for a while. One day belore I was to go on a planned outstation trip, the car stopped in the middle of the road! And that was the begining of my engine troubles! To cut a long story short, I was facing the following repeated problem - The engine refused to pull, and would die if revved. God knows the number of times I got stuck in the middle of the road due to this. It was a running joke with my friends as to whether the car was at my place or in the service station. Got many engine parts changed but still there was no permanent solution. During this time I lost faith in Mallick Car. They finally used to say that it is an old carb engine and nothing much can be done. One part (can't remember the name) needs to be replaced, but there is no stock as the current MPFI engines do not use that part. It reached a point when I took delivery of the car from the service station and enroute home it stopped!!! A friend who was with me does not forgive me, even now, for making him push the Indica in the middle of office traffic!!! After this, I gave up on the authorised Service Centre and looked at the local garages. Finally gave it to one local garage that got it working fine...with a lot of misfires. And they did this by not replacing any part as mentioned Mallick Cars!!! The bill came to just about Rs 1200! The misfiring issue was finally sorted by another local mechanic who replaced the spark-plugs. So that is the saga of my misadventure with my car, which I possibly have been guilty as well! I thought of sharing this with you so that others can learn from my experience.

Ok. Cost till date -
AC - Rs 25K
Power Windows - Rs 11.5 K
Battery - Rs 4.5 K
Alternator - Rs 10 K
MP3 - Rs 6 K
New tires - Rs 2K (one of the OEM tires burst!)
Misc maintainance - Too much. I estimate atleast 10-15K..... most was after adding the power windows and A/C

I estimate, I spent over Rs 70K on the car!

The A/c is currently disconnected, but the power windows are running perfectly fine. Will be giving the car to a garage as I think the clutch wire is loose, as the gears are not catching properly.

All in all, I love the Indica. I personally feel that it will not let you down if you treat it well. It is one tough car. To give an example, the car was once accidently (don't ask! Sis was driving!) rammed through the roll-down steel garage shutters of the previous house. It came out with minor scratches on the bumper and bonnet and windshield (which was replaced). That was it! The steel shutters, on the other hand, was bend outwards. I personally think the old Indica models are tougher then the current ones, although the new ones are more advanced, in other departments, technologically, aesthetics and features. It was in this Indica that I hit the max speed of 155 kph on the Kolkata-Shantiniketan Expressway, over 5 years back.

Would I buy an Indica again? Hmmm. Frankly, I'm spoilt by the space. I cannot sit in any of the other hatches (below Rs 6 L) as I feel cramped! The only other hatch that matches the space in my opinion is Getz. Swift too felt very cramped. (I'm 5-10.5' btw). Note: I've not sat in the U-VA, so cannot comment on that, although I feel it would be spacious as I know the Aveo space well. I'm also not considering the Fusion and SRV which should/would be spacious, but is out of the price segment I mentioned at the start of this para.
Basically, my next car would be a 3 box. but if I were to buy a hatch, I would prefer a Getz over the Indica, as my maintenence experience shook my confidence in the service provided by Tata. But I still cannot feel negative against the Indica, call it owner's bias or foolishness.

Btw, with summer approaching, I'm seriously tempted to reconnect the a/c! But not doing so, as I'm haunted by the past experience. Any suggestions regarding this would be very welcomed.

End of story. Ok.... you can now send the brick-bats.......
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Old 22nd March 2007, 02:07   #2
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Quote:
Within a week of fitting the A/C, the car began refusing to start. On calling a mechanic, he said that the Battery was drained. Fine! Got it charged and after 2 days, again...... Phusss. Car did not start. Reason - dead battery! This time I replaced the battery buying a new Exide one. All was fine for 2 days when again phussss...... dead battery. By this time, I had got well aquainted with the Mallick Cars breakdown service guys and the service station! They finally said that I had to change the alternator as the existing one was not taking the load and hence the battery was not getting chanrged.
Nice review,bro.Quite a few contradicting points.
Im a fellow Telco product owner for the past 15 years.

IMHO,The problem is not with the AC or battery or alternator or the car itself.
Its with U finding a proper garage for it.
Every city must have a good garage.U gotto hunt for it.If u dont find one,PM me...I might just start one.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 10:46   #3
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Thanks Nitrous. As I mentioned I'm regretfully not too knowledable about the inner working of the car. Many times, I have to accept what the presumed knowledgeable mechanics/service engineers say...even though many times I have noticed that they are not always right.

Still, thanks to Team-BHP my knowledge is slowly expanding, due to the many views and suggestions and opinions mentioned here. But I have a long way to go.
Any idea if it is possible to take a (pardon the phrase) 'Crash Course' on basic DIY and/or training on what all is under the hood. I've gone through reference sites, likes Wikipedia and How Stuff Works, but IMHO, nothing beats practical lessons.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 11:10   #4
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Comprehensive review Driver

Its the first for a first gen petrol Indica on the forum. Your experiences match many of those with petrol Indicas of your vintage. Why didnt you buy the Indica with a factory fitted AC in the first place? Any particular reason?
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Old 22nd March 2007, 11:17   #5
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I had the V2 petrol. Didn't face any issues at all. But it was the topend one, so it had all the goodies factory fitted.

The battery dying down on so many occassions, thats funny. Is the alternator rating different on petrol indicas with AC fitted from the factory? You said the alternator was changed, was it replaced by the same model? or by an uprated one? (Assuming that, factory fitted AC equipped Petrol indicas had a higher rating alternator).

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Last edited by drifter : 22nd March 2007 at 11:19.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 11:23   #6
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Originally Posted by nitrous View Post
IMHO,The problem is not with the AC or battery or alternator or the car itself.
Its with U finding a proper garage for it.
Every city must have a good garage.U gotto hunt for it.If u dont find one,PM me...I might just start one.
Btw, I'll be very glad to take up your offer on the garage!
I've tried 4-5 places, but not found a good one yet. Will be trying a new one sometime next week, when I go for the clutch problem. A friend recommended this place. Hope it clicks. I really do love my Indica and I do feel guilty for her having this experience.

Forgot to mention 2 points.
1. The car still carries the original West Bengal registration plates.
2. The car is being sent home to my parents, now settled in Guwahati.

I had intially planned to sell it here in Hyd. but I was not able to get the NOC for it, as the West Bengal RTO claimed that since we had been paying the other states (Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh) road tax for many years, they will ONLY release the NOC if we pay them the road tax for the years when the car was not in West Bengal!!! And this was after trying through some known sources!

So now, the plan is to get it registered in registered in Meghalaya, from an uncle who has assured us that he can get the registry change done. In any case, I was planning to buy a new car. Hopefully sometime this year.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 11:32   #7
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Originally Posted by Dippy View Post

Why didnt you buy the Indica with a factory fitted AC in the first place? Any particular reason?
Thanks Dippy. At the time of purchace AC was not high on the priroity list. Besides, mine is the first Gen Indica, the version before the V2, so if my memory serves me right, A/c was not part of the standard factory offering.



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Originally Posted by drifter View Post
Is the alternator rating different on petrol indicas with AC fitted from the factory? You said the alternator was changed, was it replaced by the same model? or by an uprated one? (Assuming that, factory fitted AC equipped Petrol indicas had a higher rating alternator).
Drifter
The alternator replaced was an uprated one. Happened sometime back so don't remember the numbers, but it went from 85 <units> to 110 or is it 115 <units> alternator. Sorry don't know what is the correct term for the unit. I basically got the alternator that are now being fitted to the V2 AC models
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Old 22nd March 2007, 12:42   #8
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Originally Posted by DriverR View Post
Thanks Dippy. At the time of purchace AC was not high on the priroity list. Besides, mine is the first Gen Indica, the version before the V2, so if my memory serves me right, A/c was not part of the standard factory offering.
The first lot of Indicas that came to market were all non-AC models.

And there's an interesting story behind this.

Tata had chosen Subros as the vendor for supplying AC kits for Indica. Subros was also the main vendor for Maruti. So, guess what, Maruti exercised its pressure and influence over Subros to not supply/delay the supply of AC kits to Tata Motors. Consequently, Tata's production and delivery plans went haywire. This episode was much talked about in the press.

Such was the fear of Tata's new car in the minds of Maruti management.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 12:46   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DriverR View Post
Thanks Dippy. At the time of purchace AC was not high on the priroity list. Besides, mine is the first Gen Indica, the version before the V2, so if my memory serves me right, A/c was not part of the standard factory offering.
1999 had the AC. We purchased a diesel indica in 1999. But the AC version was quite more expensive
[/quote]
The alternator replaced was an uprated one. Happened sometime back so don't remember the numbers, but it went from 85 <units> to 110 or is it 115 <units> alternator. Sorry don't know what is the correct term for the unit. I basically got the alternator that are now being fitted to the V2 AC models[/quote]

Alternator was a problem, it did not put out enough power. It was upgraded in first getn V2. ACwas upgraded in 2002 V2(Second Gen V2 which saw major changes to Petrol engine as well as suspension for both diesel and petrol) in June 2002. Tata started advertising "Super Chill AC" at that time. The older AC on Pre-V2 indica's was pretty useless for back seat passengers.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 12:56   #10
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ACwas upgraded in 2002 V2(Second Gen V2 which saw major changes to Petrol engine as well as suspension for both diesel and petrol) in June 2002. Tata started advertising "Super Chill AC" at that time. The older AC on Pre-V2 indica's was pretty useless for back seat passengers.
If my memory serves me right, it was advertised as "Instachill AC".
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Old 22nd March 2007, 13:04   #11
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Btw, with summer approaching, I'm seriously tempted to reconnect the a/c! But not doing so, as I'm haunted by the past experience. Any suggestions regarding this would be very welcomed.
Better not be out pushing the car in the hot sun. LOL. Good unbiased, straightforward opinion. Thanks, driverr.

Do find out the ratings of the factory fitted AC & Alternator & the ones that you have fitted. I feel that AC may have been too powerful for your alternator/battery.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 16:25   #12
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Thanks Esteem_Lover. Will search and see if I can find any details on the alternator. I normally have the habit to hoarding all replaced parts in the boot of the car! So I know I have the old alternator somewhere around.
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Old 22nd March 2007, 23:07   #13
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Nice review @DriverR. Having driven a petrol Indica for 3 yrs, I share all the plus points you mentioned. The space does spoil you.

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Besides, mine is the first Gen Indica, the version before the V2,
There was another model in between - the one I have. Indica 2000. I have the basic model - LEi - and it has an AC and a MPFI engine. No power windows/steering.
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Old 26th March 2007, 15:47   #14
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Thanks Esteem_Lover. Will search and see if I can find any details on the alternator. I normally have the habit to hoarding all replaced parts in the boot of the car! So I know I have the old alternator somewhere around.
The boot of your car must be full by now & rattling away to glory.
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Old 28th March 2007, 08:23   #15
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The boot of your car must be full by now & rattling away to glory.
Yup! Had an natural surround-sound bass effect to go with the music!!! But now I've removed most of the parts and kept them in my house. Still have some old beading and bulbs lying around in the boot though.
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