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Old 6th October 2013, 15:18   #1
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Default Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Hello to All,

I am an owner of a Tata Safari 2009 VX model which has covered 40xxx kms. The Tata Safari had been my dream vehicle since the time it was released for sale and my dream was fulfilled by my dad after a week of me getting my driving license and my Safari has been my travel companion from day 1, of-course the Safari came with its own share of niggles and left me stranded two times but now it left me stranded the third time and this time in the middle of nowhere.I'd like to share the complete ordeal as it happened to me yesterday:

Quote:
I was on my way back from from Bangalore to Goa with my dad, left Bangalore quite early at 4.30am to avoid the traffic. All was well,less amount of cars and trucks on the road, quick tolls and the cool weather of Bangalore but as you say stuff happens when you least expect it.

I had stopped for a break and breakfast at a restaurant on the NH4 after which I proceeded again towards the Chalageri toll booth to go towards Goa. Just after crossing 20 kms. from the toll, I was overtaking a truck and was about at 65-70 kms. per hour and increasing,truck to my left and me on the right lane side by side on a curving road. Suddenly the service light glows and the safari starts to lose power rapidly, the power steering is lost and I have just reached near the cabin part of the truck so by great difficulty I let the truck pass me and steer the dead vehicle now rolling on its own towards the guard rail on the curve and stopped the vehicle with no help from the now-dead brakes. Got down and opened the hood but did not find anything wrong in general. I called my local TASS and the breakdown service technician said the three words which I did not want to happen,"timing belt failure". Yes it did happen, happened the third time in four years of ownership, and now in the middle of nowhere!

So I called the Tata breakdown helpline, who took the complete details and first sent me a mechanic from the nearest village TASC who confirmed and showed me that the timing belt had shredded completely, you could say it was hanging for dear life. After consulting with him I call the breakdown call center and ask them to send a towing vehicle, a flatbed to take me to the most competent TASS i.e. at Hubli. The flatbed was a good 160 kms+ away from me and took 2.5 hours to reach me.In the meanwhile me and my dad were stranded 16kms away from the nearest village with just 1 litre of bottle water in the sun sitting like a duck on a curving road full of speeding vehicles. Fortunately I had placed the warning triangle to warn others of our presence.
The truck reached us somewhere around 12.45 pm and we loaded the vehicle to go towards Hubli. Our luck not favoring us again it started to pour thereby decreasing the overall time and it took us 3+hrs to reach Hubli only at 4.30pm By that time myself and my dad decided that being a Saturday and next day being a Sunday leaving the car at Hubli was of no use cause being a timing belt failure, its repair is no joke and can take unprecedented time for repairs and staying at Hubli was not possible. So next we asked the flat bed guy if he could tow the vehicle all the way to Goa and he was ready. Finally reached the TASS at Goa at 11.45pm at night and unloaded the vehicle all at a cost of 18K which by far is the most expensive road trip I ever had.
Now the thing to consider is this same thing happened to me back in August 2011 at 16xxx kms. and that to on a downslope in Goa itself which was a hair-raising event for me and a story for another time. That time too the belt had broken causing a lot of other stuff to break and repairs had been done under warranty by TASS at Goa. Unfortunately the TASS goofed up somewhere and the belt broke off in September the same year within a month but this time it was due to a pulley or something which was misaligned. Thus I was previously stranded twice before.

As of today the safari completed 4 years is is just out of extended warranty.The belt broke thrice in 4 years and within 40xxx kms which is extremely strange to me cause normally a belt has to cover atleast 85-90K kms for something like this to happen and certainly cannot happen if the belt had been changed once /twice before by the TASS. There is something seriously wrong somewhere and I need your help to get me out of this mess.

My dad had paid for this vehicle from his retirement savings and now we are not in a position to at all to cover a huge bill and that too for something that is not our fault other than buying the vehicle itself.Guys, now please advise what should I do,whom do I escalate this to cause this time I ain't taking stuff lightly even if that's the last thing I ever do.

I was stranded miles away from proper help in the middle of nowhere with my senior citizen dad. Secondly I lost a potential client whom I had a meeting with late in the evening related to work and I had to suffer overall for some else's mistake. Either the parts are of inferior quality or the workmanship at Auto Industries,Goa is wrong or both and I plan to get stuff right this time not only for me but all the Tata owners who get cheated of their hard earned money for just believing in Tata.

I am true Tata fan and a loyal customer and my family has owned many tata vehicles,commercial and personal and I own the Nano and the Ace too but the safari has made us loose faith in Tata completely. Please hep me with what I should do next.

O.T. A team bhpian on the way to Goa in his SX4 was kind enough to stop and offer help. Sorry i could not take you name as I was just heartbroken that time and thank you for stopping. Team-bhpians are truly the best.
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Old 6th October 2013, 15:53   #2
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Quite sad to hear of your experience(s). One timing belt failure is bad enough for both the engine and the owner, and to imagine that you have suffered 3! Whilst you might try to fight this out with Tata, but I doubt they will take up this expensive rebuild FOC.

I suggest that you try and get the engine repaired from outside (Cheaper) and get rid of your DREAM ASAP.
To be blunt, but not impolite, please get yourself something that is better engineered and don't just fall for a vehicle because of the way it looks!

P.S. This is the nth time I'm hearing of premature Timing Belt failure on a Tata vehicle. Moreover, most of these incidents are from non T-BHPian friends of mine, who inevitably in their ignorance tried various techniques of restarting their vehicles, with even more disastrous consequences.

Last edited by roy_libran : 6th October 2013 at 15:59.
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Old 6th October 2013, 16:03   #3
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Hi, very strange and unfortunate that this has happened repeatedly and a timing belt usually does perform atleast 60k kms/5+ years before any sign of wear takes place. I'm not familiar with Muv's or with Tata products but this is a sure sign of a shortcoming in the product or service. You will be well advised to write a mail directly to the company and to the service station seeking an explanation for such constant failures. Getting stranded on the highway is not safe so for now drop all plans of outstation travel with this vehicle until they give you a solid explanation. Its for sure the car's crank sensor & camshaft have both received damage due to belt snapping, how much of it has been repaired/replaced/ignored has to be found out. Collateral damage can be anything from nil to total wreck (valve damage). As always even in this case which is hard to detect, symptoms can nevertheless be figured out before failure (car shaking vibrations/starting trouble/strange noises). A total engine once-over is a must.

Last edited by dark.knight : 6th October 2013 at 16:05.
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Old 6th October 2013, 16:05   #4
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Wow! Three timing belt failures in 4 years is serious stuff! Beats be as to why the belts keep failing repeatedly, this in spite of you having changed the belts in TASSs where the parts being replaced should have been genuine.

The only thing that I can think of is some pulley in the entire line up of pulleys being misaligned because of which the belt at some point is riding the edge of the misaligned pulley thereby causing it to break/tear prematurely. Do get to the bottom of this and let us all know.

You might want to get the fault analysed by some non TASS technician who would in all probability be more forthcoming with the real cause of the problem.
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Old 6th October 2013, 17:57   #5
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Its a real bad experience to get stranded in the middle of nowhere with something as serious as timing belt failure.
Hope the previous 2 replacement were covered under warranty? Usually the replaced part will carry warranty for a year or 6 months atleast though the car is out of warranty. Also please check in the manual when TATA is advising change of timing belt. You can quote that and call/write to TATA customer care and explain things, I could see contact numbers of TATA regions and corporate headquarters mentioned in their website. By the way if there is frequent timing belt issue, it may be a case of some other technical flaw which is causing misalignment. This needs to be cleared first before going for another replacement. Please keep us posted on the same.
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Old 6th October 2013, 18:18   #6
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Well, as for the issue, it is definitely not a problem with the belts or the workmanship of TASS. Three failures, with the longest a belt lasted being just 23000kms means there is some other deeper underlying cause. For some reason, there is undue stress on the belt.

What you could do is try and contact Tata officials. Apprise them of the issue, and ask them to send an engineer who can actually come and decode the issue. I dont think any TASS technician will have the capability to solve the problems. Considering its almost surely a manufacturing defect which is causing the problem, Tata may be willing to take care of expenses under warranty.

If nothing works out, the only thing you can do is sell the car back to Tata itself. Selling it to someone else, who will also suffer the same as you have seems unethical to me.
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Old 6th October 2013, 18:19   #7
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Quote:
Originally Posted by neel385 View Post
Wow! Three timing belt failures in 4 years is serious stuff! ... Do get to the bottom of this and let us all know.
I completely agree. Replacing the belt again is not a solution. "Root cause" must be found and corrected.

Please escalate to all senior management in Tata. I would write to everyone : Mr.Ratan Tata and his successor, to media, to Auocar india. You need to make loud noise here to get the attention. I would not agree anything other than engine replacement.

Even though belt is replaced, as a precautionary measure, please get it checked every 5000 kms for peace of mind.
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Old 6th October 2013, 18:36   #8
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

it may not be fault of the belt, if it is so, it cant break all the 3 times. it is the outlet of other problem, which is inside the engine, which has not been diagonised and rectified in the first failure itself, sony one of pulley or any part may have lost the rotating capability, thereby causing high stress to belt to lose its strength and break at some level, it may be jammed bearings, stuck up bush , pulleys, etc, which the TASC failed to pin point at first. so I am sure, if you can find the root cause ( some other stuck part) you would have reliable car .
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Old 6th October 2013, 19:14   #9
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

It is definitely a manufacturing defect or shoddy workmanship the first time it was replaced. Escalate the issue and get someone who really knows his job to pin point the fault. Did TASS offer warranty for the last timing belt job? And do get it evaluated by someone from the outside.
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Old 6th October 2013, 19:23   #10
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Have you checked the cylinder Head for warping ? We had a safari in our extended family and the head was replaced after it warped following a camshaft belt snapping. Luck was on our side as the vehicle was under main warranty.

If the head warps in an overhead camshaft belt driven camshaft, there are possibilities that the camshaft pulley is off alignment from the driving pulley.
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Old 6th October 2013, 19:26   #11
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

I feel that the frequent failure of the timing belt is happening due to any of the pulleys, which is either misaligned or there is fault in the groove, which comes in contact with the belt. In any case, this is not acceptable. You should write to some senior officials of TATA and draft a serious complaint supported by TASS repair bills. They should reimburse the towing charges, find the root cause of the problem and should replace the timing belt at no cost.

The other option is to get the vehicle repaired outside and sell it off.
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Old 6th October 2013, 21:32   #12
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Obviously there is some underlying cause. But given the spontaneity with which TASS identified the problem over phone, it is unlikely to be a one off. So someone somewhere knows the reason!

Regards
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Old 7th October 2013, 11:12   #13
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Well thank you guys for your concern and suggestions. As i had informed earlier, I had reached the dealership at 11.45 pm at night with the flatbed and dropped the car at the TASS workshop that too on Saturday so nothing could be done till today.

So today morning I went to the TASS and met the team-leader, I have also spoken to the Customer Service Manager who has promised to look into this matter immediately and solve it. I will keep you guys informed and ask you if I need any help in this matter.

Anyways for those who suggested selling this car immediately, I am not going to let this happen to someone else just because someone in that TASS does not know how an engine and its associated parts are supposed to work and serviced. This time I will set everything straight and right for the car before I decide what to next.
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Old 7th October 2013, 11:52   #14
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Default re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

Hi, yes it is indeed strange that thrice the timing belt has been damaged, so definitly the underlying cause is something else. I searched on the Internet and below are the top 5 reasons for a timing belt to fail.

Quote:
Taken from Acron Website


1 Misalignment
Misalignment is one of the main causes of timing belt drive failure. Excessive or uneven tooth wear, belt tracking and tensile failure can all be attributed to misalignment. By checking and aligning your shafts and timing pulleys you can increase the life of your timing belts and save yourself lots of downtime.


2 Excessive load
If the timing belt teeth are shearing, excessive load is more than likely the cause. Tensile failure and even excessive tooth wear can also be caused by excessive load or shock loads, although the latter is less likely. To cure this problem you’re going to have to redesign the drive.

3 Under-tensioned Belt
Tooth skipping, also called ‘ratcheting’, is probably down to your belt being under-tensioned. Under-tensioning can also cause excessive or uneven tooth wear and excessive drive noise so use a tension gauge to set the correct tension on those timing belts!

4 Weak drive structure
If your drive is vibrating excessively or your timing belts are suffering from apparent belt stretch, you could have a weak drive structure. Try reinforcing the drive structure and you could stop the problem.

5 Debris in the timing pulley or drive
It’s the most overlooked, but debris can cause a multitude of problems for your timing belt & pulley. Debris can account for any of the above reasons for timing belt failure – so go clean those pulleys and fit a shield to that drive!
Hope the above helps you to inform the TASS on what to look for this time.
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Old 7th October 2013, 14:32   #15
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Default Re: Tata Safari left me stranded, now a hat-trick!

richie - Do not worry, things will be alright.

Safari's have their own share of problems but this issue looks more of a not so common case. Ensure you take this with higher ups and get proper attention to the issue. Make it straight and clear to your service advisor that no work needs to be done untill the root cause is identified. Rather than just break-fixing, let a proper investigation happen and ofcourse it should be TATA's interest to use these learnings.
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