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Old 26th April 2009, 11:09   #1
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Default Baleno 50000 KM report

I have used TBHP to research a lot of things, this is my contribution to the forum.
My ownership experience after owning a used Baleno for almost 3 yrs and 20k kms.

Purchase criteria
I was looking to buy a used hatch in the second half of 2006. This would be my first car apart from the cars my father had owned previousy ( a Premier Padmini and a M800 in the late 90s). The Wagon R and Santro were ruled out as my wife did not like the looks, the swift was too expensive and not available used. This left the Alto and the Palio, I did not like the Alto, and the Palio was not such a great buy because of the resale value, fuel efficiency, and spares and service. We then had to start considering saloons, a friend of mine wanted to sell his Accent around the same time so I thought it was a done deal. He then postponed his decision to sell and I was in the market for a saloon, an accent preferably.
The search
I saw some cars at used car dealerships but was not very impressed by any car. One Sunday I was at this car mela and saw a silver Baleno VXi 2003, it looked clean and had run less than 30k (29K) and also met my criteria of 3yrs and 30k kms for a used car. This compelled me to consider a Baleno which I had never considered before. I asked them for the pricing and was quoted 4.4 lacs, but was told that it was already sold. I left my number with them in case they came across a good car. The dealer comes back to me after 4 days and tells me that the customer backed out as he could not get finance. I offered him 4 lacs and after a lot of back and forth we settled at 4.15. I then spoke to the previous owner, he told me he had sold the car for 3.92 lacs, I thought 5% was a fair margin.
++Initial impressions
I took delivery during Navratri in 2006 and planned a trip to Srirangapatna which is about 120KM from Bangalore on Mysore road. This was the first time I was taking out the car on the highway. I started off with my wife and my parents. Mysore road was pretty crowded due to Dussera and I had to weave in between traffic, the car felt very at home doing this between 100-120 kmph. Along the way 2 NHC vtecs who were racing each other overtook me, I tailed along taking advantage of the path cleared by them, after about half hour they could not keep up and I overtook them and lost them. On the way back I touched 170kmph on an empty stretch trying to see how fast it would go. It started raining and I was driving at about 100kmph, the car felt steady even when we hit pools of water. This trip was an eye opener as I had no idea that the Baleno was a performance car.
++Ride and handling
The ride at low speeds is a little bumpy, it feels strangely like there is a small zone before the dampers begin to work, sort of like riding on very over inflated tyres. This is most noticeable at slow speeds 30-40 kmph on very smooth roads; put your head against the headrest and you will notice that the car is bouncing. Most people donít even notice this.
The ride at high speeds is very nice, no undulating ride even at speeds over 120kmph. It eats up broken tarmac and bad roads, without any comment from the better half. I have noticed that I drive over a bad stretch of road in front of Shantiniketan (people in Bangalore will probably know where this is) without even noticing it, this same stretch is quite uncomfortable on my TBird with the laptop flying all over.
There is very little body roll during cornering and people donít get thrown around in the car (this could be because of the lateral support in the front seats). The car exhibited a very mild understeer all these days this has suddenly disappeared after the latest wheel alignment, balancing, and wheel rotation. It now exhibits a slight oversteer even though the rear never threatens to swing out. This could be because of any or a combination of these factors: wheel rotation (tyres with more tread are in front now), alignment, or because I am running on 32psi against 30psi earlier. Handling is the carís forte, it does a lot of things without scaring the driver or the passengers but robs the driver of some excitement, if you need to get from point A to point B fast -this is your car.
++Engine and performance
The engine is not the most refined of the lot but it seems to get smoother as it hits the 40K mark. It is very torquey and will pull from 800rpm onwards. You can see a definite change in the fuel mapping around 1750 rpm and again at about 2750 rpm. One thing I have noticed is that the engine loses its spunk over a period of time if it is not revved, this can be remedied by redlining the car a couple of times or resetting the ECU by disconnecting the battery. The engine looks like it will last over 100k km.
+Suspension and ground clearence
As what the suspension does, is covered in the ride and handling section. I will cover two things here, how the suspension is built and the ground clearance.
I have found that all the suspension components are all over engineered in this car, I have not needed to change any bushings till now (50k km) and does not look like I will have to in the near future.
Everybody knows that the ground clearance is the Balenoís biggest disadvantage; let me tell you what scraping speed breakers can do to your car. For most part they donít do much to the car there are two projections to protect the under carriage and these take the brunt most of the time. The exhaust system could get damaged is the car takes a bad bump. But, they are capable of giving the owner a mild heart attack every time.
++NVH and rattling
This car is very quiet with the windows rolled up, you can hardly hear the outside world. If the stereo is not turned on, the keyfob rattling against the dashboard is an irritant. On the other hand, I have noticed that all new cars in this segment are just as quiet, but for a six year old car to be that way still must be good I suppose.
+Braking
The brakes seem adequate till about 120kmph, though I have never locked up till date. At higher speeds there is a floating feeling till the car slows down to 120. In the city the feel is progressive at regular speeds.
+++Tyres
I should actually put this as a separate review but will not as I know I will never post if I donít post it now. The car was shod with 185/70 R13, Bridgestone Potenza G3ís on Aura 13 5.5J alloys. These tyres have impressed enough to decide to buy the same kind when I need to replace them. Let me list why:
  • Tyres have run 50k km and have tread left for 10k more atleast
  • They have never locked up even under very hard braking
  • Good performance in rain, never had to slow down because it was raining
  • Tyre noise is not loud enough to distract
  • Good cornering and does not loose grip easily
  • I have driven rough shod over bad roads, gone off and climbed shoulders and have never got a bulge. Even at 50k I would not worry if I have to do a 1k km trip on the tyres.
I know lots of tyres can do all this and more, but will they last 50k/60k km??
-Maintenance
I have done two services till date and the average cost is about 2.5k each time. Apart from these regular services I needed to change a clutch at 40k (7k) and a battery last year. Though not cheap, it is not exactly in periphery of Skoda.
Accident repairs and body parts are expensive. I ran into a wall coming out of Garuda mallís parking area and had to change a rear door. It cost me about 20k though the insurance company paid for most of it. I lost a LHS wing mirror and that was to cost me 5k, I finally managed to get a used one in working condition for 1.5k as I had to paint it anyway.
++Seating
The front seats have good lateral support and are comfortable for lean people, they donít do much for large people.
The rear seats are very comfortable, they offer good under thigh support and the tall backrests support the spine.
I still have the original Maruti upholstery, it does not show any wear and will last another couple of years.
--Ingress/egress
Getting in and out of the car is a pain because it is so low, further the doors should be opened wide to get out. This is a definite no-no for old people.
+Fuel economy
I get 11kmpl with 95% ac on in the city and about 16kmpl on the highway with 100% ac on and speeds of about 100 Ė 120.

I can probably write more but will stop here for now. Only thing my significant other half has to add is that the car is a White Elephant because she cant drive it. We cannot sell it and buy a smaller car as we are used to it now. I have now booked a Nano for her, if I do not get an allotment I might have to sell this car and hunt for an Automatic.
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Old 26th April 2009, 17:50   #2
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Very nice review, most of your observations are spot on. Baleno has a lot of potential even though not considered as a performance car by many. Have fun.
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Old 30th April 2009, 10:32   #3
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Here is a picture I took on a trip last year.
Attached Thumbnails
Baleno 50000 KM report-speed-demon.jpg  

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Old 30th April 2009, 11:18   #4
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How much did those hellas cost you? What bulbs are you running in your headlights? 100/90?

On highways are you able to run all four light continuously?
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Old 30th April 2009, 12:31   #5
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Nice Review. Staright to point. After looking the pictures i felt Hellas does not look good in Baleno.
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Old 30th April 2009, 13:46   #6
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Generally hellas look good in jeep/SUVs. But its about perception, they may look good in an M800 too for the owner.

The car is well maintained, nice review with plusses and minuses.
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Old 30th April 2009, 22:12   #7
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Default Spot on.

This is a really neat review and clearly lays out my own perceptions of the Baleno.
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Old 1st May 2009, 18:03   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crazydiablo View Post
How much did those hellas cost you? What bulbs are you running in your headlights? 100/90?

On highways are you able to run all four light continuously?
Yes I am running 100/90 on the headlights and have not had problems running both pairs on the highways. The OE lights are not really enough even with the 100/90's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazydiablo View Post
How much did those hellas cost you?
Sorry, I missed this. They cost me about 3k and another 1k for wiring and clamps. They run 12/55 H3s and I think they are Comet 500s.

Last edited by Jaggu : 1st May 2009 at 18:18.
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Old 1st May 2009, 19:22   #9
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Thats a good price, where did you pick it up from?
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Old 1st May 2009, 20:14   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akas_chauhan View Post
Nice Review. Staright to point. After looking the pictures i felt Hellas does not look good in Baleno.
Thanks, for me it was not about looks. I desperately needed additional lighting for my highway runs. They play havoc with the aerodynamics too!
But, they look really mean in the rear view mirror when you want to overtake.

Quote:
Originally Posted by crazydiablo View Post
Thats a good price, where did you pick it up from?
It was a place called Konark in Koramangla in one of the lanes on the Raheja Arcade road.

This is my stable, taken on Ayudha puja in 2007
Attached Thumbnails
Baleno 50000 KM report-cimg0783.jpg  


Last edited by Technocrat : 5th March 2012 at 21:17.
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Old 1st May 2009, 22:24   #11
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Nice stable, looks like the lights are a recent addition.

Can you give a reivew on the fog lamps. Can you drive with them all the time on highways?
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Old 5th March 2012, 13:05   #12
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Default Re: Baleno 50000 KM report updated to 72000

Hi folks,
Just to continue my long term update. The car has now run about 72000 KM and still feels just the same. Apart from looking a little beat up because of all the scrapes with traffic etc.
Here is my maintenance history of the car it has not had any part failures in the past expect for the two highlighted in red
Ignitor coil - about 1250/-
Wheel Bearing - about 2150/-
I will need to overhaul the clutch and change the timing belt at 80K.
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Old 10th March 2012, 22:45   #13
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An excellent write up so far, after owning a Baleno for the last year I can only agree with what you have said so far. Just completed my 70k service, only major was getting the O2 sensor replaced as the old one was causing the check engine light to come on. I have moved onto Shell Helix fully synthetic oil, must say that it is running very smooth and perfect now. How did you know that the bush bearing needed changing? And any plans to upgrade to 14inch wheels?
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Old 10th March 2012, 22:47   #14
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Default Re: Baleno 50000 KM report

An excellent write up so far, after owning a Baleno for the last year I can only agree with what you have said so far. Just completed my 70k service, only major was getting the O2 sensor replaced as the old one was causing the check engine light to come on. I have moved onto Shell Helix fully synthetic oil, must say that it is running very smooth and perfect now. How did you know that the bush bearing needed changing? And any plans to upgrade to 14inch wheels?
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Old 11th March 2012, 11:11   #15
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Default Re: Baleno 50000 KM report

Very nice write up. I bought mine new in Jan '05 and it has clocked 1,11,000+km in the past 7 years. Even today there are no rattles of any sort in the car. I have changed 3 sets of tyres @ roughly 35k kms each and that has helped preserve my suspension. Infact I got the entire suspension and clutch replaced @ 1,09,000 and that too was preventive maintenance. She has only run on Mobil 1 since I changed oil @ 1k kms. Even today there is a wide grin on my face each time I take her out.

This was probably the most under-rated/ over priced car when it was launched but the price correction towards the end of prod life in 2005 did make a difference to sales and after these years I feel its money very well spent.
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