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Old 12th March 2016, 11:15   #1
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: warangal
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Default 20 years with a Maruti 800

Hello folks. You might be thinking that there is no use of posting an ownership report of a car that is no longer in production. But you would be quite wrong because there are a lot of things modern cars and their owners can learn from this marvellous piece of engineering.

But first, let me introduce you to my humble Maruti 800 still feeling shy to talk to strangers hiding behind that ramp of our house
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160310_071719.jpg

A lesson of history
In the olden days, my dad was a development officer for United India Insurance Co. Ltd. He has a good friend circle, some of them in good positions and he sat in a Padmini Premier, Ambassador and a Zen for brief moments. After sitting in the former two and being spoilt by the space they offered, he swore to God to not buy the tight and congested Marutis. But then, there was a talk in the olden days that all the other cars breakdown and is a common sight for them to be stranded with bonnets open and waiting for the engine to cool down but Maruti car is bullet proof.

Fast forward to 1995 and I was two years old and when we were in the Industrial exhibition in Hyderabad, there was a Zen on display and I ran towards the car and tried to open the door and sit in (that is what my parents tell me). It must be a miracle because how would a small kid know how to open the door. It was then that my father felt that I need to buy a car because my son asked for it. And from the limited loan he got at that time, he went to Maruti showroom in Vijayawada and saw the cars. There was the option of buying the fully loaded Maruti 800 which he could buy or there was the barebones Maruti 800 DX "TK" edition. When he asked the sales representative what the difference is, he was informed that the TK edition comes with better quality parts than the standard edition. For example, it comes with a 50:50 split folding rear seats and esteem front seats, the door hinge mechanisms etc are made of metal rather than plastic, the glasses and windshield are thicker and stronger, there are plastic floor mats on offer and a 100/90watt bulb instead of the usual 60/55s. I cannot validate it because I never sat in another M800 to validate the differences.

However, he bought the base model TK edition because it has better parts. He drove very commendably, I must say because he tells me that in the early days, he used to get a consistent 24kmpl on his highway runs. Of course, the traffic was very scarce and it was effectively used to carry two and a half people, me and my brother were too small (read lightweight). The car went for the first three free services and then it was serviced by the local mechanics. He loved the car and took good care of it. He never let the car out of his sight near the mechanics because who knows, they take it out for a joy ride or break some parts with their clumsy hands and their inexperience. We did not use it that much except for once a month visit to the supermarket and once in two months, a highway run to Hyderabad for 200kms. It was the first car in our "khandaan" and served as the marriage car for everyone of our relatives. And I am right in saying that it was only the second maruti car in Khammam (where I lived in my childhood) and certainly the most popular one. Because cars were so rare, that too maruti was futuristic (to be honest, all the other cars that were sold in India were designed in the 60s). We would roam about to shopping in the car. We were pleasantly surprised when 20 years later, when we went to a marriage in Khammam fort, a man came up to my dad and started the conversation with "You must be Mr. Pasha, the owner of 4447, I used to see the car very often back then but it disappeared. Where are you living now".

My brother and I were small kids and had great fun in the car. The best childhood game was that we small kids would kneel in the rear seat backwards and not take support of anything as the car was on the highway. The challenge was who could kneel for the most time without falling down. Once my father had to sudden brake and I got stuck in the rear passenger footwell. My mother tugged me out. Other than that, on our way to and fro, we used to buy breakfast. We used to eat breakfast with chutney and so the sambar packets were left. We used to collect all of them and when we overtake a lorry, we used to aim the packets at the rear tyres of it just to see them explode. We also played spot the rhyming plates (who is the first one to spot 77 or 888 on a number plate) and identify the lorry from behind (ashok leyland and tata had some tell-tale signs that only sharp eyes can catch which I forgot now, helping distinguishing one from another). It was a tradition for us to get lost in Hyderabad or new city and the four of us used to argue pointing at four directions telling which way is correct.After every long tour, I would cry to sleep inside the car. And being small kids, my brother and I, whenever we walk from one room to another, we would imitate like we were driving the car, blinking eyes like sidelights, turning the imaginary steering wheel etc. And when we were in the car, we used to shout 'pee pee' as horn from inside the car.

My father has the convenience of LTS. And so, when I was small we took long tours in various rented cars. We went in an Ambassador to Ajmer, once again to Rajastan. The last and the only one I clearly remember was when we took indica to chennai and bangalore. And my dad drove the diesel indica for a km or so and commented how dreary and slow the car was.

I used to see a lot of cars but never desired any. I loved the Opel corsa, Mitsubishi Lancer, Honda city and Daewoo Cielo and Matiz. But my absolute favourite was the zen. I remember I used to have a zen toy car which was my hero car which I used to make jump from over the bed, make it do stunts etc.

I wish things were like that. But things went downhill from there. You can read it in my introduction here

We got transferred to Ramagundam, Karimnagar dist, AP and adding to that, dad had a mountain of loans because of helping with other's marriages, buying a mango garden for the sake of my aunt's marriage. It was tight that dad could not maintain the car. So, he did not. We still drove the car for provisions, market but no long tours. And no regular servicing. When dad got bonus, I guess after three years, dad finally got it serviced, changed front two tyres and did wheel alignment. And we went on a long tour to our relatively new mango garden. There were three more years of in-town driving. And that was when I started learning to drive the car. I was not 18 yet and so my dad took me to the NTPC helipad and I learnt how to drive and sharpened my skills. Whenever we wanted to go out, I would hurriedly grab the keys and reverse the car out of the parking lot. And there were three more years of restrictions. Also three more years of no highway trips.

But then, we got transferred to Gulbarga, Karnataka. Financial status improved as the loans started clearing off. But dad became busier and busier. And we lived in the extreme end of town in a gated township attached to the ring road that was under construction. And attached to the ring road was a vegetable market. For the first time, I was allowed to drive the car to and from the place. As soon as I turned 18, I applied for learner's license. Interestingly, my brother did not bother to apply for one until then and I had to do it for him as well. In the learner's license stage, I would take every possible opportunity to drive the vehicle, although my father would not allow me to drive most of the time. And slowly, I took my turns on the highway. We generally make trips once every six months.

And that's when the misery began. I was put a speed limit of 60kmph on highway. The problem is that, we were four heavy weights (dad, I and brother weigh 90kgs each) and as you have noticed by now, we have a roof carrier which was occasionally full of luggage and so extra drag. And the road between Humnabad and Gulbarga is a scary ghat section. So, you need to really revv the nuts off the engine in third before shifting to fourth. And the ideal shift point from third to fourth for the car is 50-60kmph on medium inclines. And in fourth, the power starts coming from 60 and you get nice torque between 70-80 and that's where the engine should be singing at. At 60, you have not much power. But dad would not listen to me. And my mom was the speed governor sitting diagonally back to me all the time. I got my license and so did brother. I started pleading dad for more car time and I got my share. My brother never bothered to do anything at all.

And then, dad decided that my game difficulty should be set to "master" mode. He now had enough money that he got a Sanden AC fitted into the car. Life was miserable for me because the speed limit was still 60 and the car suffers a hell lot more when under the influence of AC. Only God knows how I managed to drive car those days.

I said enough is enough. Either let me drive as I wish or drive it yourself. Dad took control and suddenly he realized how dreadfully slow the car has become. He decided that the AC in our car is cursed and no one should touch it.

But things were not the same anymore. I noticed that dad was no longer driving the car. My brother is the kind of person who thinks that there is no difference between swift and ertiga, so even he does not bother with anything. Naturally, I am the self-proclaimed in-charge of the car. And I bought sweeping changes in the way we travel by implementing certain tips for efficient packaging.

Tips for efficient packaging
1. As much as you can, prefer to have cloth bags and backpacks over suitcases and trolleys. Cloth bags are flexible and distort into the available space whereas the suitcases with their fixed sides leave a lot of space wasted.
2. When you are attending a function and have precious clothes and jewellery, put the wedding dresses of all of you in one big suitcase along with the jewellery. That makes it easy for you to sort out the bags. No more re-arrangement everyday.
3. One more benefit of that is that all the non-important clothes can be in partially unironed state. So, cloth bags and backpacks for them.
4. Roll all the clothes like you would do a bedroll and pack them in the bag. It allows for tight packing and also there are no wrinkles because of that. One more bonus point is that, bag with rolled clothes will be more flexible and fit easily in the odd places.
5. All the extra pairs of slippers go underneath the front seats because although we like the extra space of putting our foot down there, lets be honest, no one is going to do that for long.(sorry city and jazz owners, it is not for you)
6. If you are carrying a 5liter milton of water or something like that, put it close to the seat base of the front passenger. The passenger will always extend his legs and so they will pass over the can. It will also serve the extra benefit that you can have a glass and serve everyone water.
7. No matter how hard you try, there is always going to be the gap between the rear seat recline angle and the luggage. Stuff it with water bottles. The point is, you are always going to have a lot of water inside the car. And it does not make sense to put it all in parcel tray or inside the cabin. You are going to stop for breaks once in two hours at least. So, if you have your water stored there, all you have to do is open the boot, try pushing the luggage a bit forward and reach for a bottle. Alternate solutions involve putting all the bottles in a bag which occupies more space and when taking the water out, you have empty space which could have been used more effectively.

After such strategic planning, I also added some mantras.
1. Have the least amount of stuff in the passenger cabin. We had a habit of having a food items bag with some breakfast, lunch and snacks packed which was put in between the seats or on the floor. No matter how convenient it is, it is a thing that leaves you lesser room in the cabin and takes support of yours. And so you develop fatigue and irritation. So, I stuffed them into smaller covers and laid them on the parcel tray (read over the luggage because M800 does not have a parcel tray).
2. Always prefer the AC unit over anything else. Earlier, we rolled the windows down and enjoyed a lot of air. And since our speeds were moderate, we enjoyed the experience. But what I have learnt is that, no matter how cold or ambient the air temperature might be, the blast causes oil to form on our skin making us tired. If your drive is a total of 2 hours along a good coastal road, fine. But if you want to drive all day on the coastline with cold breeze on your face, trust me, you are better off with an AC.
3. Eat something at least at an interval of half an hour. I know all the energy of food is stored and resupplied to your body when you need it. But the burst of energy when you first digest the food is more powerful than replenishing from the body. So, eating keeps you more active.
4. Taking a break makes you decrease the journey time. You might be thinking that it is a waste of time to stop for a break. But still, stop, turn off the engine, get out, strech your legs, water the plants (pee) and then continue. Your mind relaxes, gets some good air and so you are more active, makes you go faster and have more concentration and make less mistakes. Suggested, take a 5 minute break every hour.

I did all of these and it made a lot of difference in the way we travelled. The first ride with all these changes was a winter ride and so things were absolutely stunning. Even though my father insisted many times that we roll down the windows, but on questioning him how he felt during the journey, he admitted to be more relaxed in AC and without wind blast.

But then summer trip arrived and the to journey was turning out to be a disaster. The AC in our car and in general in all M800s is like a cooler. It cannot cool the cabin in the summer. I had a hard time convincing my father to keep the windows rolled up. So, I learnt a lot of lessons and brought swift changes.

Tips for best AC chilling in summers
1. When you stop for a break and start the car to leave, put the blower on full, put the engine revvs moderately high and spray water on the evaporator coil. You will experience instant cooling. The evaporator coil is like the radiator and is placed in front of it. And specifically for this purpose, I drilled a hole into the cap of one bottle. We would aim for the evaporator through the gaps in bumper and squeeze the bottle.
2. I noticed that the floor gets very hot. I experimented with all types of materials and finalized on thermocol. I took half inch thick thermocol sheets and laid them on the metal floor and then put the car carpet and plastic mats on it. You wont believe how much difference it makes. After this mod, our car AC turned from an air cooler to a functional AC. Of course, it makes a difference in the leg room a bit.
3. If you want to stay icy cool, put curtains to the windows. We did not have those stick on sun blinds, so, we hung up towels which were hanging stuck between the windows and it felt icy cool in a M800.

I am sure modern cars do not need such desperate measures but for cars like M800 and maybe Tata Indica to some extent, the cooling is absolutely rubbish. The AC can only maintain the cabin temperature to a constant. Good luck trying to reduce cabin temperatures. Also, modern cars could do this to save some fuel which would have been wasted cooling the car down.

Then came the driving style. Now that my parents were not constantly monitoring my activity because of the added comforts and distractions, the speeds increased. To compensate for the loss of power due to AC, I squeezed the engine more. I optimized every move. I would see further, remember what is in front of the vehicle which I wanted to overtake, plan my overtaking moves, learn lessons from each move, improvise. I became aggressive as hell, like a racing driver, never missing the optimum gear for the optimum revvs. But slowly, I myself began to realize how much more the engine is humming. There was a coolant spill after one highway run. I decided to take it as easy as possible. So, I put strategy ahead of sheer speed. The result is that, I developed a unique driving style that takes me from A to B faster than my dad and also more mileage. One caveat is that for the concentration required I can no longer talk or listen to music while driving. Music becomes noise and it takes me 5 seconds to calculate what 2 + 3 is (no, it does not take 7 seconds to 3 + 4).

My driving style
1. Memory mapping.
I read the road and put it in my memory all the time. Let us say that I am approaching a lorry and want to overtake it. At some distance, I can see that the road ahead curves to the left. I remember the road ahead and make an instinctive decision. If I can accelerate fast and keep the momentum going, if I can overtake him before the turn, I would keep on going faster. Else, slow down and stick behind the lorry.

Same instance also applies when I am overtaking a series of lorries. I come to the outside lane and am overtaking the first lorry, I see the second lorry and the oncoming vehicle in the opposite lane. I know how much my car can accelerate and so I calculate what the relative distances are going to be when I come to behind the next lorry and check whether double overtaking is feasible or not. If not I ease into the gap.

I have seen baffoons who blindly overtake what is in front of them and slot into the gap for a moment and swerve into the right lane and overtake. I have also seen morons who see two lorries, gun it hoping for the best. When the plan doesn't work out, they flash their lights, honk the horn and the opposite vehicle has to slow down and let them go.

2. Optimum distance of view: It is a known fact that indian roads have potholes or some patches etc. and it make driving stressful for us. But what mistake people do is they look just in front of the car for pothole or for pedestrians or for vehicles. Your sight should generally be the furthest you can see clearly. See the distance, map it in your mind and remember. So now, when you see a crater in the middle of the road, you see it at a distance and correct the line of your car to avoid it and carry on. What idiots do is they see the road near to the car, go fast and when they see the crater, they either suddenly brake with risk of being rear-ended, swerve on a suicide mission into the other lane or trash their car. They just don't have enough time to process the information and take a safe decision when they are seeing the crater only one second before crashing into it.

And the distance of view should be a speed sensitive thing. When you are at 140, it is the farthest your eyes can see. When at 100, it is the furthest you can clearly see. When you are at 40, it is the general line of sight of common driving public. When you are at 10, it is the nearest to the car. It is sort of like when you are driving a car on a muddy track, you see a big boulder on side of the road and remember it and steer clear of it. You don't go an inch close, lean forward and struggle to see the boulder. Just like that, see the potholes and the traffic conditions from a distance and remember to tread in the optimum route with the least turns required and the optimum speeds to be carried instead of swerving left and right and left and right and sudden brake, dancing on the road. You might say that jaywalkers and stray animals are a hazard. But the point is that when you are at 100, the abovesaid guideline is the stopping distance for your car. You have to look out for hazards there. Any hazard closer to your car, you cannot control or stop your car in time. It brings me to the next point.

3. Slowing down: People generally argue with me that I will drive 100 and see the closest to the car, my car is equipped with ABS and it can stop in time to avoid jaywalker, blah blah blah. But the point Mr. Smart Pants is that there might be a vehicle behind you with a more inattentive driver. So, when you apply brakes reasonably firmly, he might just not be having the concentration and ram into you. The road is not a place to show off how powerful your car brakes are.

I have also seen an accident where Mr. Smart Pants boasted of the same skills. He was driving at 60 when he suddenly saw a crater in the road and instinctively turned right. He found out that the divider starts and to avoid it, he turned left. The car spun off into the divider and car was a total loss claim for my father's office. Things to learn, if he looked far ahead as 60 would ask him to, he would see both the crater and the divider and have taken necessary action. If he was driving as slowly as the further his vision would go, he would have been at 40 maybe and could sudden brake in time for the divider.

So, the point is that, when you have potential hazards nearby, maybe a group of children, slow down and the max speed you should carry is 40 so that you can brake in time. And also practice rule no. 2.

4. Braking: When you are about to come to a standstill, try braking a bit faintly and slowly one second advance. This helps clean the brake discs and prime the brakes ready for action and you know if there is any fault. Also the brake light provides sufficient warning for the car following you to start to brake.

And when hard braking, don't just stamp on the brake pedal. Most of our cars do not have ABS and skid away. And no, when the car is skidding, it is not stopping in the earliest time but the car is braking the most effectively just before it starts to skid. So, apply brake force progressively but fast until you hear the car skid and ease off the brakes just a tad bit. That is the best braking you can do. Make it a habit to feel the brake feedback and the pedal tightening when you brake. This way, when you brake in an emergency, you willl instinctively read the braking ability of your car and add more brakes rather than standing on B pedal.

And when you practice this, no skid sounds and keeping cool will allow your mind to think so that you can make your evasive move rather than ram the thing in front in terror.

5. Tips on actual driving: We all think that we are better than Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton. But if you were better, the companies would have hired you instead of hiring them. There are a lot of things you should learn about throttle control, braking etc.

a. The biggest mistake I have seen people doing is that when they come behind another vehicle and there is a train of vehicles on the other side, they shift to the highest gear with lowest rpm and stick behind it. That is wrong. If you are at the highest gear with the lowest rpm, you are running on lower mileage because your car gives the most mileage when it is in the right revv band. For petrol, the best mileage zone is where your engine is singing normally, where once you poke the engine, it will go faster. Contrary to popular belief, mileage zone is NOT at the zone just above the zone where the engine would knock. Similar for NA diesels. For turbocharged cars, the optimum mileage zone is where the turbo boost just hits maximum. Another reason why you should be in that zone is because when the oncoming vehicles have passed by, people generally just overtake with foot buried in the throttle. It would have no use because you are not in the power zone.

b. They mistake the position of accelerator with the engg term acceleration. Engg acceleration is the rate by which your speed changes. And your rate of change of speed should be low so that less stress on engine, more mileage etc. It roughly translates as don't bury your accelerator. Dumbing it down, you can put your accelerator wherever you want as long as it isn't in the red line. But the speed with which you change the position of accelerator should be low.

c. Use engine braking but not violently. When you are approaching a village, people hold the clutch and let it coast and then hit the brakes. When you tell them to use engine braking, they shift two gears down and dump the clutch so that there is a sudden rise of rpm and very hard bite from the engine. Both of them are wrong. What you should be doing is that, when you are approaching a village, start releasing the accelerator slowly and feel the vehicle decelerating. If the vehicle is still not doing enough braking, release the accelerator pedal faster. Let the procedure go on until the engine reaches idle rpm in that gear at which point, hold the clutch and coast to the point. Mind you, if it is inevitable, BRAKE and don't come crying to me that I instructed you to let go of accelerator and so you hit the vehicle in front of you.

d. Anticipate the mentality of other vehicles. I too am to aggressive and believe that the man who came first should be first in queue and don't approve of morons who cut our way. And lets say there are two lanes and one slow moving lorry is being overtaken by another slow moving lorry, you have your right to way, stick your vehicles's nose to the tail of that lorry and flip a finger at the taxi. But if two fast moving vehicles are overtaking one another, the speed is too high and the variation too steep that if you want to maintain your right to queue, you burn a lot of fuel, add a lot of risk and it is just not worth it. Stay back.

In the same way, if you see two lorries with some gap between them and a car behind it in the outside lane, slow down. There is no point in flashing lights, honking horns at him because he cannot judge how fast his car can overtake the lorries. And he will most definitely be a moron because any respectable man on seeing the oncoming traffic will get back into his lane. So, no point going till there and braking suddenly (unless you are a social worker and are ready to spoil your car to teach him a lesson). Ease off the accelerator and save fuel.

Same thing with bikers and autos. Honk a horn at them. See if they react or not. If they not even notice you, no point trying to overtake him because he is already a dead man living extra time. Do the overtake manoeuvre only if you have dashcam because he most certainly will take a sudden right and die under your car tyre. Sorry for using harsh words, but uneducated imbeciles get their licenses and do just that and the bigger vehicle is at fault. So, instead honk your horn continuously because honking is free and wait for him to give way. Also, who wants to brake suddenly when he does stupid manoeuvres and waste fuel, risk the car in the back to hit you and have a headache.

Same with children. They just run in the middle of the road. I think the parents just think, if he dies, we will make another and leave the children roaming on the highways. so, Honk to alert them and if they notice, it is good, carry your speed. Else slow down to 40. Same with stray animals.

And also slow down for blind curves because you don't know who is overtaking other vehicles on the other side of the curve.


All these points are from my experience of driving. Going fast from A to B is not about how fast your car accelerates or how sudden you can brake. It is about how you can maintain your average speed. My father drives too cautiously on highway. But he only sees ahead by 70m and so he applies brakes for every pothole, adjusts his line, overtakes one vehicle at a time etc. I, with my anticipation chart the correct line far ahead so lesser slow downs and maintain speed most of the time although I slow down for every hazardous situation and I arrive at a destination faster than my father. It evolved into a mind game, driving and I need no further entertainment. And whenever I sit in the passenger seat, I often see these mistakes and laugh to myself.

And because I am the journey planner, I do all the checks, engine oil, coolant, washer fluid, tyre pressure, lights, papers. I love all simple pleasures of life and feel happy to myself when every trip is a successful one. I also do one more thing which most of you think is irrelevant but is one of the most vital things to do. Before leaving, I wash the windshield outside and inside and the headlight glass with Colin. You might think that I am a fool to do that but try doing it once and go on a night journey and you will see the difference.

And here is how far we have travelled.
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111947_1_p.jpg

It is 87,950.1 kms and yes, we have not crossed 1 lakh even after 20 years of M800. Out of all those kms, I have done 25,000kms over the span of 5 years. And yes, before me driving, we used to feel very tiring to do a journey and so there were very less kms clocked.

Here are customary pics of the ride taken at various points in it's life. I have old film photos too but they are stored somewhere.
20 years with a Maruti 800-20140319-09.41.31.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-cimg0096.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-img_20130830_202913.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20150828_101515_1_p.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20151005_060739_1_p.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20151128_170907_1_p.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20151116_114133_hdr.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20151216_182825.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160127_120310_1_p.jpg

Yes, we did a lot of proper off-roading with M800 and it put those bolero pickups and tata ace to shame. The last pic is after I drove M800 through freshly ploughed and watered loose sand and parked it in the corner where the sand was dry and firm.

Last edited by aveemashfaq : 14th March 2016 at 09:48. Reason: spelling mistakes
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Old 13th March 2016, 11:25   #2
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: warangal
Posts: 144
Thanked: 426 Times
Default The ownership report

Things M800 went through
1. Clutch was replaced twice. Once when I was a kid too young to remember in Hyderabad and second, in gulbarga before I was the main driver. Reason for clutch change, I suspect the long shelf life is not a strong point of clutch.
2. Changed to Halogens sometime in the 90s. One of them was gone in Gulbarga, so changed that. Apart from that, every single blub is stock. Apart from the front parking light. I should also mention, when dad took it on an office tour to bidar and parked outside the hotel, some idiot stole our side lights which were original maruti ones and came with screws. We could not find original replacement ones and had to settle for plastic ones which faded away.
3. My dad never got a suspension replacement in 15 years. When we were shifting house from Ramagundam to Gulbarga, the left rear leaf spring snapped and so he got that replaced. When he saw the sheared off spring, he told himself that it must be a manufacturing defect. On the next journey, the right one broke and he got that replaced as well. When he came back to Gulbarga, he said to himself that the car cannot handle four heavyweights and so he went to the local shed and got extra leaf springs attached (as if our car is a force toofan taxi). It ruined the ride very much.
4. Changed the tie rod ends three times.
5. Silencer changed twice. The ones in the intermediate changes were normal spare parts and had less life. Now running on the third MGP silencer salvaged from an accident vehicle. It seems to have a very long life.
6. Changed the brake fluid once after 15 years of service. Brake pads, don't know.
7. Drained the engine coolant and cleaned the radiator only once when AC was being installed. All the other times, it was just top up.
8. Engine oil changed only when it smells bad and turns black completely. Air filter is also changed sometimes though most of the times, they blow forced air and clean it.
9. Yes the current set of tyres is upsized. My father's Divisional Manager in Gulbarga got a replacement set of tyres for his Alto as the company provides them free. The old tyres had a lot of thread left on them and so my father asked to buy them second hand. The good news is that they are of the same size as the stock Nylon tyres the car comes with (maybe a bit broader). I checked and there was no speedo error after the tyre change.

The careless maintenance can be majorly attributed to our time of poverty in Ramagundam. When we recovered, he started questioning why do you need those replacements and changes when the car runs perfectly fine without troubles.

After coming to warangal and being of 20 years of age, as you can see in the opening picture, we do not have a dedicated parking spot and no shed and so the sun had it's toll on the car. Here is the situation report as of now
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111806_1_p.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111911_1_p.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111919_1_p.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111933_1_p.jpg
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111939_1_p.jpg

Yes, the original seat covers are in mint condition and yes, the car came with an ash tray in the door panels for rear seats. All petrol pipes were changed 4 months ago because they started cracking. Until then, they were OEM 1995. And so, because the parts started giving up, we bought a flood damaged Hyundai Getz and restored it. It is here in this thread.

And then dad told me that he would give it to an uncle of mine who lives in Eluru. Eluru is a nightmare for the car because it is mainly a slum city. Whenever we go there and park the car on the main road because trust me, the streets are so narrow that even M800 would struggle to go through and if you park there, you will strand all the other traffic. And when parked on the main road, I often found kids stuffing broom sticks into key holes, climbing the bonet and roof, trying to spoil the car. Eluru people do not need cars and they can't maintain them.

I tried arguing with him telling that our car is so well maintained, BTW, it only has two scars.

1. Back in 1997 maybe, my father was parking the car and rubbed it against the gate.
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111730_1_p.jpg

2. In 2012 maybe, we left it in a parking and some person rammed his car into it.
20 years with a Maruti 800-p_20160312_111720_1_p.jpg

My father did not repair them because he believes that if you bring it out, the paint will drop off and you need to re-paint the whole car. Please don't tell me that the paint wont fall out. I know it already and tried telling him but he would not listen.

After a lot of argument, he told me to ditch the KB100 and make a plough that attaches to the back of the M800. Read actual story here

But no. Once again the classic dialogue. Sell it to scrap merchants. I doubt if anyone will even pay 20,000 for the car. I demanded him to leave the car alone. Currently, there is an argument between selling the car, making a plough and me taking ownership of it.

To be honest, I was in favour of selling the car until now. But after my review of KB100 and how they hated me to destroy a good working classic, i started thinking to myself, why not restore it and keep it to myself. Because until now, we only had the M800, KB100 ATV was impossibly small and was unstable. Now, with the extra boot space of Getz, I argue that I can make a much stabler ATV and so no point in tinkering the M800. He asks me to sell it and I adamantly stick to restoring it. And finally he decided to let me keep it. But I have no parking spot because Getz will replace M800. Lots of things to sort out but happy to keep my wheels.

Last edited by GTO : 14th March 2016 at 10:26. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 13th March 2016, 15:16   #3
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Default The good and the bad bits

I was driving only M800 until now and so my idea of the world was limited. But then, I sat in various cars. And when we went to Chennai, I hired a self-drive zoomcar.

Here it is
20 years with a Maruti 800-img_20160218_114129_hdr.jpg

It was only for one day and so the next day, we booked another one. I got to drive an Ecosport, Swift and the city. I also sat in swift dzire, logan, indica, and the indica vista. I will tell you about them sometime but now for the M800.

1. Visibility. There is nothing as good as the M800. The low seating position of modern cars and the high window sill, thick pillars, long bonnet line, high set dashboard, all of them hamper the visibility. In the M800, just lean over and you can see the entire surroundings. In the modern cars, things were good as far as the bonnet with seat height adjusted to max, but it hurts the driving position that I put it down. And visibility was dreadful.

2. Reversing the modern car was a total nightmare. Big huge bikes disappeared in the back of the car and I had to rely on parking sensors and getting down to inspect a clear pass. But in M800, you can see upto the handlebars of those bikes behind you.

3. Space. We all think that M800 is just a matchbox but I should admit, the thin doors liberate as much space inside the cabin that it does not feel that bad either. Just to put it to perspective, our family felt that our car has the same cabin space as that of the new swift. Although the swift dzire tour somehow felt very spacious and way better than swift.

4. Seat comfort. This was the real shocker. I sat in the city with it's soft seats felt perfect and I felt that all modern cars have good seats. But then, after sitting in the ecosport and swift, I felt that M800 had marginally better seats than them. The seat compound in ecosport and swift was too firm, that even though I had adjustable lumbar support in Ecosport, I could not find the optimum position and the side support was not that satisfying. The size of the seat in M800 is a bit too small and the sides of the body wont get supported but the support it offers is good. The seating position is exactly like the swift. My mom says that she loved the seats of city and M800 alike and dismissed the other cars as rubbish. So, shorter people will love M800 seats. Indica was like a bench, stupid and useless.

5. Engine in M800 is good for the car. The F8B engine has good low end torque and is responsive. In modern diesels, I loved the turbo kick. And the best part of turbo is that, you are in mileage zone when you are in turbo zone. However, driveability suffers. I wanted to overtake and the engine was just below the turbo zone and as the turbo spooled up, I ran out of space to overtake. I hate turbos for that. That said, city had very good response. And also, as you poke the accelerator, the response is not so fast. It felt like a postman was delivering accelerator inputs in modern diesels whereas in M800, it was sent by mail. It was however at high speeds that modern car shines through.

6. Gearbox in M800 is four speed and gears felt equally distributed with a proportionate rise in rpm. In all modern cars, it felt that 1,2 and 3 were clearly in one zone (for use in the city) and 4,5 were just too widely spaced for the highway. What was wrong with proportionate distribution. Also, I hate the slick shifting gearbox with very less gap between 1,3 and 5. I see and appreciate what they are trying to do with the gearbox, making throws shorter causing lesser fatigue to the driver. I once put the gearbox in third on first day and was caught up in the lag because I did not know the speeds for each gear. I looked at the gearbox and could not tell which gear it was in. I thought I must have shifted into fifth and so put it to neutral and back into third. Still moving but still lag. I thought that I was getting it wrong and thought, lets try pushing it a bit left and slot it in third. But I remembered, what if it goes into first and blows off the engine. So, I thought, I should experiment with trying to put it in fifth. The engine did not protest and was still in the middle of same lag. I got confused, slowed down a a bit and slotted into second. Please have some spacing so that users can visually identify which gear the car is in. On a side note, I felt that the gears of honda city were not perpendicular. I mean, when I shifted from first to second, I took a bit of diagonally slotting in and same with all gear changes. Maybe it is because of 4 gears in bottom and 3 gears in the top.

7. Steering. The steering of M800 is awesome. No other word for it. Yes, it is a mechanical circulating ball type steering and has a lot of resistance at idle. But as it gets into motion, it becomes free and as any modern wheel. That said, when you are on highways, these electric power steering units feel like videogames. When I am driving the M800 on highway at say 80kmph and I turn the wheel, it is initially loose to take a turn to some extent. But then, the resistance to further turn in increases. This tells me that I am turning the wheel too much and the tyres are gripping the road causing a tough turn in. So, I know that if I turn further, I will loose traction. This is steering feedback. In city and swift, they had no change in resistance whatsoever. I don't know my grip levels, I don't know if it is advisable to turn tighter, no feedback at all. I was terrified not knowing whether the car would loose grip or not. No wonder modern cars have so many accidents because the dim-wits turn the steering wheel like videogames to take a turn and escape a pothole or another vehicle, spin off and crash. On the other hand, the ecosport had overacting steering wheel. As soon as the speed crosses some limit, the wheel just becomes hard and rock solid. It is telling me that turning even an inch is dangerous. I just wanted to yell at the steering wheel for giving me stupid inputs.

8. Chassis and suspension. M800 handles well. It turns and changes direction quickly whereas every other car took sometime to respond to steering inputs. I could feel the modern cars wheels turning and pulling the car with it whereas in M800, turn the wheel and the car turns. Also, undulations on road are handled well by M800 and it is not upset so quickly. M800 handled on par with city and swift was upset a bit more. But the shocker was ecosport. I was doing 70 and the undulations on a highway were transferred into cabin. I was in a sudden doubt whether i went over a pothole or something and later I sat the whole journey cursing all people who buy just stupid and pointless vehicles which are glorified hatchbacks and are more useful than the respective hatchback for nothing but show off.

9. Space and dimensions. I know it should be a con as M800 has no space but for the average family of two adults who sit in the front comfortably and their children in the back, it is perfectly alright. Four adults might struggle if they are tall or have heavy personalities. Our car felt as spacious as the swift facelift. So, it begs the question, why do you need more at all for the price. The city friendly footprint really helps us a lot and I squeeze in wherever the auto goes whereas big fat cars are stranded just because a bike is in the wrong lane. The scale of the space problem was realized when my dad left the door open in honda city when he got down for cigarettes. I wanted to close the door and despite sleeping across the cabin in honda city, I could not reach for the other door. It made me feel embarrassed because we used to tease our mom for not being able to reach things. M800 is a perfect car for a small family.

10. Low cost of maintenance. You just can't beat that. The tyres are so small that they are cheap, every spare is cheap and the oil it drinks is also cheap. Service bills rarely cross a thousand bucks and when we had a broken component, things would go to 2000 or 3000. I never saw in my life, a service bill with 5 digits on it. Heck, the plastic door handle I bought as replacement for broken one was 20rs, beat that anyone.

11. Reliability. Japanese cars are obviously reliable. But what you fail to notice is that dad did not service is so often and not even now. Yet, no part has failed because of it. During his days, he never checked engine oil so I suspect that it must have gone below the min threshold but no complaints. Brake fluid was changed once in life and yet no broken brake lines or faulty sensor crap.

12. Off-road ability. Low weight and tight dimensions help. As you have seen in the photos, I did do some proper off-roading and never got stuck.

Cons of M800

1. The AC takes its sweet own time to cool the cabin. You might say that the AC does not cool the cabin at all. But after the mods I did, trust me, M800 cooled cabin to a temperature as good as the modern car in chennai heat (we have similar heat in summer in warangal).

2. Brakes. Brakes on M800 are rubbish. They have no brake booster and after a 1400km trip, my calf muscle developed an ache. The next day, when we went to supermarket to fetch provisions, my leg was shivering that I parked aside and let dad drive (I am not writing a travelogue on that because my aunt died in an accident and that's why I drove continuously to reach there and to the place where she was buried and back).

3. Lack of gizmos. It is not really a problem that much but when you pull up at a petrol pump and roll the windows down, the attendants laugh at you.

4. Lack of respect and boxy looks. I personally like the look of our car but people do not share the same feeling. They often remark that this is the car of the age of dinosaurs and even though zen belongs to the same age, they don't tell anything about that. But what hurts is that at some petrol pumps, the attendants keep on filling the bikes keeping you waiting. What is frustrating is that, when another good car queues behind you, they fill you up.

I am sorry for all the offensive words I have told but in retrospect, I am a purist. I love my M800 and love everything manual and mechanical. I have developed an opinion that there should be city cars like M800 and I think the car that symbolizes my love the most is the original fiat 500.

And now comes the biggest task of restoring a M800 to original spec. I want to know if I have to open up the engine at all because it seems to run fine. I have to do a ignition distributor tuning, carb cleaning and maybe the timing belt tuning. I also have to clean engine oil using engine oil cleaner and coolant with a coolant cleaner. I am thinking of adding new white seat covers and add the white theme to the interior of the car. I also have to sand off and spray paint all the rusted surfaces. I am not going for a full paint because I don't think the car needs it and I don't think my dad would approve of that. Also, factory paint carries more value in a restored car. Experts please comment on painting. I will be opening the lights and cleaning them inside and out. I want to get rid of the bull bar and the grill on the rear tail lights but my father keeps on asking if 4 kgs is a lot of extra weight. I will be getting rid of roof carrier for sure. I am thinking of painting the bumpers but should I paint them white or black. I know white makes the car feel more modern but black gives it the classic look.

Right now, I am too busy with getting the Getz home and then I have to make the new improved KB100 ATV but after that, I will most definitely begin the restoration process.

Last edited by GTO : 14th March 2016 at 10:24. Reason: Spacing :)
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Old 14th March 2016, 10:24   #4
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Default Re: 20 years with a Maruti 800

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Long-Term Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 14th March 2016, 12:37   #5
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Default Re: 20 years with a Maruti 800

Great review of a great car aveemashfaq! I can totally correlate with you with each and every word that you have mentioned in your review. We also have a M-800 1997 make. It was also our first car and was our primary car till 2013 before Figo joined our garage. Due to our financial problems, we were not in a position to buy a new car so she served(and is still serving) us like a faithful partner. Reading your story it was like something which I can nod with you in an agreement about the character of the car which you have produced. The pure mechanical feel, the skill to optimum use of th F8B motor on highways, the barebones feel, the parasitic sanden AC etc.
I would strongly urge you to keep it up and restore it to its ful glory. Car companies are not making cars like they use to make it in yesteryear, they are now more obliged to cater the need of a mass market which just needs fancy gadgetry toys with no soul in them(no offense to them who love present gen car). It is a shame that people consider it a dinosaur and have no respect for them. About the engine, I would say that first check the compression of engine and of that is good, then I don't feel the need that it must be opened however if it still needs an overhaul, then maruti provides half engine replacement option which would be as good as a new one. Overhaul the carburetor also and clean the intake manifold, other than that, a general service if all fluids will be sufficient. Check the brake pads for wear too. Best if luck for the restoration. Cheers.
P.S- I disagree about your view on Ecosport,it has one of the beat highway ride and soaks undulations with aplomb. Must be some problem with the rental car.
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Old 14th March 2016, 13:48   #6
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Default Re: 20 years with a Maruti 800

A brilliant review of most people's first car on TBHP.
From the staple of the roads, its now such a rarity, the modest 800. And still a looker, compared a LOT of stuff on our road.
Moving away from that. You, sir, are turning into our resident R K Narayan. Extremely interesting threads, and wonderful background that you build.
Very refreshing to read your experiences!
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Old 14th March 2016, 15:39   #7
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Default Re: 20 years with a Maruti 800

I'm sure most of us here in India have grown up with at least one Maruti 800 in the family or extended family. After all this car showed the country what a reliable, fuel efficient and inexpensive four wheeler is all about. Your thread took me down memory lane and I could relate to a lot of points that you mentioned in your write-up. Thanks for that.

My family has had models from 1989, 2005, 2002 and the more recent Alto800. Out of all these, the 2002 5-speed was the best in terms of power delivery, steering feel, fuel efficiency etc.

I am thinking of painting the bumpers but should I paint them white or black.
Please keep the bumper black. Body coloured bumper on an 800 is a no no!
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Old 14th March 2016, 21:20   #8
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Default Re: 20 years with a Maruti 800

Nice thread and I am sure many people including myself have had the pleasure to be driving around is a800 in the 80s and 90s.
However I would like to point out IMO "TK" stood for tatkal models where you had to pay a premium to jump the queue in those days.
It was a sellers market then.
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Old 14th March 2016, 21:38   #9
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Default Re: 20 years with a Maruti 800

Thank you all for your input. Here is my bucket list.

1. Clean the carburettor. It has never been opened. We sprayed it with WD-40 to clean the side walls but that's about it. I told dad many times that I tried my hands at carb tuning and the fuel-air ratio screw made no difference to the rpm which means it is all clogged up.
2. Add engine oil cleaner and flush the system. I have done that in recently restored flood damaged Getz and I feel the product is impressive. Not sure how 20 years of sediments are handled though.
3. Washing the cooling circuit with coolant cleaner. The engine seems to be overheating a bit and goes to the mid line on AC in summer. Previously, it was slightly below the center line. My dad wanted to get the engine opened and serviced as suggested by the mechanic but I don't trust anyone in warangal with my car. So, no engine opening. Instead, I circulate normal water in the circuit added with coolant cleaner and all the slime will come out. I don't know how many times I have to do for a 20 year old car but fingers crossed.
4. Valves and engine head cleaning. Open the engine cover and clean the whole place properly with a brush and petrol or thinner or WD-40. Also aim at the valves and clean them as well. I know that the dirt will go into the cylinders. Open up all the spark plugs and crank the engine. The cleaning fluid inside the cylinders will clean the surface of cylinders and get spat out from the spark plug hole. (You can learn a lot from hands on experience, for me with restoring the Getz. Now, can't you?)
5. Cover up rust from every part of the body. There are places where rust is beginning and thank god there are no holes in the body. So, sand those surfaces and repaint them. I want to go for full body painting but dad says no. And outside parts are not rusted. So, all the interior will be painted with my bare hands using spray cans. And obviously, when I am at it, I will paint the bumpers, front grill, the dash board, doors from window sills to the top, the rims, interior door trim in black, the hexagonal part of the grill in red.
6. Replace the lights inside instrument cluster with brighter ones. The stock ones are awfully dim now.
7. Create a black and red interior theme in rexine with red door pads, red seat covers with black dashboard and black door trims. I am seriously thinking of not doing this because the original M800 seats and door trim is in a very good shape. Please suggest if it is worth saving the original form.

Brakes are good and everything in the car is working fine apart from the engine (engine is robust and good, only the carb is bad. However, it is just that being a mechanical engineer and knowing about cars, I know the engine is not in it's best position and so I am working on it) and we are still using the car so no worries. Am I missing anything.

Wishlist for now
1. Replacement of front shock absorbers and try to convert the rear into coil springs. This is not something I would do urgently with highest preference because I am running on tight budget and dad thinks that original Maruti parts should not be replaced unless broken and the front shocks still work.
2. Get a clear lens headlamp, paint it black, put a projector lamp in the middle and put flexible DRL which doubles as the indicator. I wish to make the setup like the suzuki ignis concept. But that would require me getting a job first.

Help me. Someone give me a decent job. I love the M800 for it's mechanical simplicity and robust engineering and want to make it my daily driver to office. I want to remind myself everytime that you don't need a million horsepower and a limousine to be happy. The joy of owning something that you made yourself, the joy of owning something only a few people in this world can manage to own, the joy of owning an honest friend with reliable mechanical parts making you feel like the boss and making you feel in control of everything under you cannot be matched.

I think that is why the americans say, It aint about what you can buy, it is about what you can build.
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Old 11th December 2016, 09:09   #10
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Default Re: 20 years with a Maruti 800

I have done the restoration. In fact it was posted 6 months back and is online at this link. All the progress is posted there.

In short, the highlights, best mileage 26 kmpl, highway mileage 22-24 kmpl, city mileage 18-21 kmpl. I have enough pep to overtake other cars in the city under 40 kmph. Still more work/upgrading being done.

Note to mods: If possible, can you merge the threads because there is no point in having two threads for one car. One was DIY restoration and this is ownership.
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