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Old 16th October 2007, 14:09   #1
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Angry Breakdown!

On Sunday we witnessed one of the worst nightmares of the highway driver.
Cruising around 90, I notice that all electronics(Blower, clock, stereo) are erratic and losing power.
I stop the car, check out the battery terminals etc., and decide to drive towards Delhi(already crossed Karnal toll booth).
Stop at a garage at Panaji. By this time power is all but lost. Nothing is working, no lights etc.,
The guy says, alternator totally gone. Its a sunday and past 5. At that moment I am in a true dilemma. Delhi is 100+kms away with home still 150kms away. What to do?

Take a bad decision. Drive towards delhi and find a taxi stand close to border.
Soon its getting dark. The car is without power. I am sweating. tucked behind a truck without lights, I don't know how far can we drive like this.
when the battery fully goes, the car will also shut down because alternator is totally dead.
Then it happens, the car shuts down and I coast to a stop about 300mts ahead of a dhaba. Its dark, and scary. News reports of cars being looted haunt me. Luckily there is a steady stream of trucks going by.
I manage to stop a truck, but he has no tow rope.
I push the car 300 mts back, to the dhaba. the owner is a helpful guy who offers to call up mechanics etc., but sunday evening, all shops are closed.
then he suggests we wait. His dhaba is 24 hours and if we want we can wait till morning. He tells us lots of Sumo taxis stop by and maybe we can negotiate with some guy to take us till Delhi border from the taxi stand there we can hire a cab to tow us.

Unfortunately nobody is agreeing. The border is 35kms away still.

At that point a Tempo traveller comes loaded with families.
We both go and explain to them our dilemma. all of them agree to help us. I get the tow rope ready.
Once we are going to tie and all, one guy in the party disagrees. He says their speed will be reduced.

The dhaba owner tells us that 10-15kms ahead there is a taxi stand.
I request him to tow us till there atleast, its only 10kms, at most it will waste their 10 minutes.
But he insists on being a jerk.
"We are doing 90-100 speed, with you we can do only 60, so even 10km we lose time".

At that point I know he is of that category of people who abhor helping others.

The Dhaba owner tells us that he will try contacting taxi guys from his village, meanwhile we can try asking others from help.
Many sumo's etc., come there, but nobody is willing to help us.
Then a veera from Faridabad comes, and he cheerfully tells us, why the border, I will tow you till noida, tie your indica to my alto! He looks like our LBMs twin brother with same style of talking too!
Unfortunately he has no tow hook at the back of alto. He offers to take us home, and we can pick up the car next morning.
home is 90kms away and I am not too keen on leaving the car like this in the middle of nowhere.
We thank him, and he goes on his way.

Its past 8 and we are desperate. Meanwhile the dhaba owner has arranged for an indigo who will tow us home for 1700rs. Bargain hard and he agrees for 1500.

20 minutes later the indigo comes. Its a brand new car, with no tow hook!
Again its a fix. those guys make more calls, and finally around 8 we have a Mahindra bolero with two blokes.
They are ready for 1300rs.
We tie the car, and off we go.
The tow rope is a make shift one made from fence wire(plain one) so only 5 feet long.
the two blokes don't know abcd of towing and are speeding away to glory.
And I am at the steering wheel, 5 feet away from the rear of a bolero, with no power in the brakes, my ankles paining as I have my eyes glued to the brake light(one is working in the bolero).
Every minor brake by the guy means I have to literally stand on the pedal.
When he pulls away it means a harsh jerk.
After 30 minutes I am badly drowsy an fatigued. My legs are aching like hell, and home is still 2-3 hours away.
Thankfully we reach the bypass without the rope breaking. But I am fatigued like crazy and the red lights help me regain some composure.
Its midnight when we finally reach noida, thanks to the two blokes who came like angels out of nowhere!
In 85K kms of driving this is the first time the car has broken down like this. Before this we would go to himachal uttranchal on a whim, but I guess now I'll try to make it a point to avoid driving in evenings.
she has a new alternator now, and hopefully things will be better now from reliability front, but what a scary drive.
Few years ago I saw Kurt Russel's movie "Breakdown". Memories of that movie made the whole thing even scarier!
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Old 16th October 2007, 14:14   #2
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Scary, is the word. Getting stranded in the middle of nowhere gives me the frights even as i think about it. Imagine if the dhaba was not there, you would have had a bigger mess then.

Tanveer, you were with family when this happened?
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Old 16th October 2007, 14:26   #3
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Yup was there with my wife.
Just the two of us.
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Old 16th October 2007, 14:33   #4
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Yup was there with my wife.
Just the two of us.
Man, what a bloody nightmare! Glad that the two of you came out wiithout any problems - anything could have happened.

I always make it a point to have the car checked out before I undertake long distance trips, irrespective of whether the car is old or new. Not sure if the alternator would have shown signs of conking off though but still - better do a check in future mate!

Last edited by suman : 16th October 2007 at 14:36.
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Old 16th October 2007, 14:33   #5
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Yup was there with my wife.
Just the two of us.
Just thinking about it gives me the creeps! Thank GOD you were able to get to your place safely. Even me takes my Indica (1L+ Km) on whims for road trips, but guess now I am gonna get an inspection before one else take the other car. And sure am gonna get the Indica's alternator checked this weekend. Hope something like this never happens to anyone!
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Old 16th October 2007, 14:38   #6
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Scary, very very scary
One Question Tanvir-I know when the engine is completey down or switched off, brakes won't work at all. How did you manage it during that long travel?
When I had to drive only 15 km in the same situation of engine, that distance was looking like it would never end up.
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Old 16th October 2007, 14:45   #7
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Originally Posted by suman View Post
Man, what a bloody nightmare! Glad that the two of you came out wiithout any problems - anything could have happened.

I always make it a point to have the car checked out before I undertake long distance trips, irrespective of whether the car is old or new. Not sure if the alternator would have shown signs of conking off though but still - better do a check in future mate!
It was catastrophic failure. The cutout went, voltage went over momentarily, and the wiring burnt down completely. So complete failure. Partial failure(low voltage) is manageable , you just try to be in higher revs without AC.
I always check alternator voltage with a multimeter before setting out on long trips, and this time was no exception. But in case of such breakdown you are on your own.

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Originally Posted by lordofgondor View Post
Just thinking about it gives me the creeps! Thank GOD you were able to get to your place safely. Even me takes my Indica (1L+ Km) on whims for road trips, but guess now I am gonna get an inspection before one else take the other car. And sure am gonna get the Indica's alternator checked this weekend. Hope something like this never happens to anyone!
My indica alternator was from an older batch. The new one I got from the new indicas is a much better unit. the AMP is 90(same as before) but a lot many components including the troublesome rectifier plate are changed now.

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Scary, very very scary
One Question Tanvir-I know when the engine is completey down or switched off, brakes won't work at all. How did you manage it during that long travel?
When I had to drive only 15 km in the same situation of engine, that distance was looking like it would never end up.
I had to sit on the brakes every time that guy tapped the brakes. It was very very tough. Luckily the brake shoes are new, so even without power, they slow down the car appreciably.
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Old 16th October 2007, 14:47   #8
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Despite your checking the alternator, it failed. Sad!!

I would say, its a bad experience, but all is well if it ends well.

Last edited by dadu : 16th October 2007 at 14:49.
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Old 16th October 2007, 15:17   #9
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Couple of things:
a. Don't you keep a tow rope in your car? I insist on a 5m tow line when i ride my bike out. I guess its something we all need at times.
b. You got me remembering the time my mom's m800 alternator used to conk off like that - is there a checklist for older vehicles that one should check before starting off? Or a 1lakh km service that one could consider for older vehicles?
c. lastly, didn't you get TATA on road help? What about those tata workshops by the highway that proclaim 24 hour breakdown service? Surely, some of them would be for cars as well. Waise, why didn't you consider moving back to karnal/panipat?

Finally, i'm happy that nothing untoward happened to you. That was indeed a sticky spot you were caught in.
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Old 16th October 2007, 15:20   #10
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That was one hell of an experience. Thank god, it worked out well in the end.
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Old 16th October 2007, 15:27   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phamilyman View Post
Couple of things:
a. Don't you keep a tow rope in your car? I insist on a 5m tow line when i ride my bike out. I guess its something we all need at times.
b. You got me remembering the time my mom's m800 alternator used to conk off like that - is there a checklist for older vehicles that one should check before starting off? Or a 1lakh km service that one could consider for older vehicles?
c. lastly, didn't you get TATA on road help? What about those tata workshops by the highway that proclaim 24 hour breakdown service? Surely, some of them would be for cars as well. Waise, why didn't you consider moving back to karnal/panipat?

Finally, i'm happy that nothing untoward happened to you. That was indeed a sticky spot you were caught in.
From now on I am keeping a tow rope always. but that night, it was unavailability of a towing vehicle which was the biggest bottleneck
Electricals are the parts which go off and leave you stranded. So make sure the radiator fan, starter motor and alternator are functioning.
TATA was last option. I knew the alternator had failed. In Indica its not a simple repair. that would mean towing to nearest tata center in Panipat, spending night in panipat in an unfamiliar hotel(not a good idea when you are just 2 people).
I had called up people in Ludhiana. If nothing had got arranged, my uncle would have come till the dhaba from Ludhiana in his safari and towed us to noida.
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Old 16th October 2007, 15:27   #12
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chalo thankfully Tanveer,you guys got back home safe

but did you the try the 24 hr TATA helpline as Phamilyman also asked.

and there are TATA dealers and workshops loaded on the karnal bypass.

just curious to know whether this helpline thing works or not.
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Old 16th October 2007, 15:42   #13
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chalo thankfully Tanveer,you guys got back home safe

but did you the try the 24 hr TATA helpline as Phamilyman also asked.

and there are TATA dealers and workshops loaded on the karnal bypass.

just curious to know whether this helpline thing works or not.
I would have called them if nothing else would have worked.
Since we got a cab to tow us to noida, it worked out fine.
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Old 16th October 2007, 16:06   #14
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A nightmare dreaded on a long drive esp during nights! Good, you could get out of it without any probs.

As Suman suggested better to get a Check-up done incl the battery & alternators before a long drive.
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Old 16th October 2007, 16:18   #15
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break-downs can happen anywhere. this friends indica broke down - because of an air-block in the fuel line- at a cinema that is outside the city. well, at 1230 the TASC sent their emergency repair car- those dudes fixed it up in 10 mins and we were off.
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