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Old 31st July 2009, 13:05   #1
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Default Alto LXI - feedback after 7500 kms

It is close to 7800 kms of driving my car and I figured it would be a decent time to share my experiences with my Alto LXI - born December, 2008.
For a first time driver like me, this car is a boon when it comes to simplicity. Everything is simple akin to a point and shoot camera as against an SLR without auto focus.

It is this simplicity that has gave me the confidence to drive around in any kind of traffic and on any kind of roads.

The car has everything that a 2-wheeler owner would dream for. It has a roof, an AC, comfortable seats, nice visibility of the road, decent amount of power and doesn't cry for attention every now and then. You can handle it the way you want, even manhandle it and it will serve you as a loyal pet would.

I started off cautiously after buying the car. I would drive only over the weekends save the occasional 80 km drive to the office once a week. I would drive slowly, barely crossing 60 kmph. I would start off the blocks slowly when leaving a traffic signal, I would let other drivers pass me, I would obey traffic rules and enjoy the drive. I would even switch off the engine if the traffic signal timer showed more than 50 seconds.

That was Delhi and I did this for about 4000 kms of driving.

I am in Bombay now and drive to my office daily covering 64 kms both ways. I have become rash, have altercations with people on the road almost daily, switch lanes without a second thought, cross 100 kmph at the slightest chance, flash my hedlights impatiently at slow drivers, refuse to give way to people trying to overtake me, in fact, even race such people sometimes. I have even crossed 130 kmph on a highway drive to Poona on the expressway.

The car, though, continues to serve without protest. It does give out a grunt here and a moan there when I insist on pressing the accelerator pedal without shifting to a lower gear. It even smirks with disapproval when I switch on the AC and try to climb a flyover in the 4th or 5th gear. But that is all. The car takes in patiently whatever I have dished out to it.

Here is what I have got from this car.
Fuel efficiency of 17 kmpl with AC on all the time (measured in Bombay, using tank full to tank full method)
Wiper of the car has gone for a toss - I don't know why. But it leaves marks on the windshield and makes a grinding noise against the glass even in heavy rain.
And it does not clean properly.
The groan when the AC is on is loud
When I switch on the AC after a long halt, there is a distinct smell. At first, I thought it was rotten fish (the areas I drive through in Bombay have this stench all through), but then a colleague once told me that it was the smell of rubber.
Once in a while, the clutch requires some effort to depress. It happens in between drives when I press it to change gears. Is this an issue?
The air pressure goes down every time. I check once in 15 days and there is a loss of about 3 points. It should be 30 but it usually is 27 or 26. Is there any way to stop this from happening?

And it has, it pains me to say this, suffered bad bruises thrice. They are actually scratches and dents but they are bad enough for me. The passenger side door, both front and rear, have big scratch marks on them and the front door is dented badly. When I stop at a traffic signal, there are drivers who look at it and five an expression as if saying, "Oh oh, kya haalat kar di hai gaadi ki. Lagta hai bhaari accident hua hai."

Hey, the dents were caused because my wife was learning to drive and she banged the car against the stilt in a basement prking while reversing the car. It wasn't a road accident. This happened twice.
And on one occasion, the first time I took the car to my office, I was relying on the gaurd to give me directions while taking the car out of the parking lot. He went, "Aa jao saab, bahut jagah hai" and I reversed without thinking. The front bumper got caught in the bumper of another car and came out just a bit. Since that day, the bumper rattles and vibrates giving me enough opportunity to compose music from that sound. Never trust anyone, I say.

The suspensions must have taken quite some punishment on these Bombay roads. The roads are broken in many places, there are manhole covers right in the middle of the road, potholes are never covered and it looks as if the MC think this is what rain water harvesting is all about.
Then there are the pedestrians of Bombay. They are worst when it comes to road discipline. They will cross the road anytime, anywhere. They will walk as if it were a stroll in the park. They will suddenly put up their hand like a traffic policeman and expect sppeding cars to stop and let them through. They have no sense, no regard for safety (their own and that of the car driver) and they can be dangerous. They have tested my response mechanism twice.

And what can I say about my driving. It is perfect. I never seem to let go off the clutch. I don't keep it depressed all the time but my foot is itching to step on it anytime. I tend to keep the clutch pressed when the traffic is absolutely slow and bumper to bumper. I still manage to engage fifth onlyl after 70 kmph with AC on,; without AC, the 5th comes at around 60. I still have not got used to the width of the car. It makes it difficult for me to negotiate narrow spaces. Almost everytime, I have someone telling me that there is enough space to take the car through. Wonder when I will get used to it?

But now, I am more confident with this machine. And I simply love the driving part. I do wish sometimes that it had more power, especially after having driven my brother's Innova. But my family is happy, I am happy and that is what matters.
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Old 31st July 2009, 13:22   #2
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Nice write up, I suppose the Alto always keeps it's owners happy, I have almost never seen an Alto owner not being happy with an Alto. You seem to be getting good FE too. I suggest getting the dents fixed and changing your wiper blade, as it will spoil your windscreen. Happy driving my friend, I wish you many miles ahead.
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Old 31st July 2009, 14:34   #3
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That was very nice ,travelwriter! My sentiments exactly. I wanted only a roof over my head and four wheels for taking my family around. Son has grown bigger and it was not possible to travel threesome on my good old Splendor anymore! So originally planned for a new 800.Then decided to have a little bit more "luxury!" and went for the Alto last month. A cute little car!
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Old 31st July 2009, 16:01   #4
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travelwriter,

Your post is one-of-a-kind I must say, nonetheless, I enjoyed reading about your experiences and I am glad you are happy with the car. The FE you are getting is great with the a/c on.

The wiper blades have gone brittle which is why they chatter and don't wipe clean. Use a fine sandpaper and sand down the edges of the blade and you will amazed at the results.

I for one drive with the a/c recirculation flap permanently closed. It keeps unwanted dust and debris from entring the cooling coils and reducing their effieiency. When using the a/c and there is a need for fresh air in the cabin I simply lower both windows for a min or so when driving at 40-50 km/hr and get a fresh airflow into the car. This will go a long way in keeping you a/c in top form. Would recommend that you do the same as well.

Your tyres losing air pressure by 1-2 psi is common and there's really nothing you can do. Ideally, you should check it every week.

Do not ride the clutch like you are doing as it will lead to premature wear of the clutch plate and expensive repairs. The Alto's torque curve is linear and you do not need to ride the clutch. She can easily putter around at 5-7 km/hr with first gear engaged and foot off the clutch completely.

You can easily shift into 5'th gear at speeds of 50-55 km/hr even with the a/c on. There's no need to rev her till you touch 70 km/hr and then shift.

I would suggest you tone down your driving style and take it easy. Will do wonders for the car and the engine. The Alto is a very reliable car and will serve you well if you maintain it well.

Cheers,
gpa
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Old 31st July 2009, 16:18   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gpa View Post
travelwriter,

Your post is one-of-a-kind I must say, nonetheless...Cheers,
gpa
Thanks, buddy.

By the re-circulation vent, I presume you refer to the little knob below the AC knob that goes sideways (please excuse my lack of knowledge). I never slide it to open and I do the same thing that you do. Open the windows for sometime with the AC on.

But my car certanly loses power with AC on, so much so that getting into the 5th at 50 causes a drone sound in the engine.

another thing is that when the car is stationary and the AC is running, the car vibrates quite a bit. Especially the gear lever. It shudders as it there were a tremor. Do you experience this as well?
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Old 31st July 2009, 16:41   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travelwriter View Post
Thanks, buddy.

By the re-circulation vent, I presume you refer to the little knob below the AC knob that goes sideways (please excuse my lack of knowledge). I never slide it to open and I do the same thing that you do. Open the windows for sometime with the AC on.

another thing is that when the car is stationary and the AC is running, the car vibrates quite a bit. Especially the gear lever. It shudders as it there were a tremor. Do you experience this as well?
Yup, it is the little knob that moves sideways. I have also gone as far as disconnection the connection under the dashboard so that these service guys don't play with it and accidentally let the crud in.

As for your second query, I did feel the vibrations especially when the engine was new, but nothing so bad that the gear lever was vibrating. It will be worth to get your engine mounts checked. Now after ~17,000 kms, I still feel a light vibration but again no gear lever vibrations so do get it checked.

Last edited by gpa : 31st July 2009 at 16:46.
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