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Old 29th May 2019, 19:25   #1
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Default Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

Recently I was on a 8 day trip to Thailand where they have many cars similar to Indian models. I had an opportunity to drive a Toyota Vios, Honda City, Nissan Almera (Sunny) and speak to owners of cars such as the New Honda City 2003-08, CR-V, Mobilio RS, Toyota Corolla, Fortuner, Hilux, Suzuki Swift, Ciaz, Mercedes and BMW several models.
I own a 2008 Honda City ZX and 2015 Mobilio RS and have driven several cars extensively. Here in India, we have periodic maintenance every 6 - 12 months. The brakes are changed every 20-30K kms, the clutch every 50K kms, Suspension every 50-75K kms as preventive maintenance. Every service take at least 1 full day. But all the cars seem to develop rattles and become gruff. My own cars, 6 in the past 20 years have all had aged rapidly.
However in Thailand, the only thing they routinely do is an oil change every 8-10K kms. Once a month for taxis and about once in 6 months for private vehicles. Service time is 15 mins. The rental car I had, a Toyota Vios has 1.6 lakh kms on the clock. Most of the Taxis (Corollas) had 3-5 lakh kms on the clock, but they were rattle free and extremely smooth. They seem almost new.
I had a similar experience in Singapore 3 years back but attributed it to first world conditions. But Thailand is no different from us. They have better road discipline, but the potholes and vehicle abuse is similar to India. In 8 days I heard a vehicle horn only 2 times, and no minor fender benders, only a few major accidents.
This got me thinking, is the quality of cars to blame for their faster aging in India. Or is it our poor driving manners? I've noticed this across the board from Alto to Mercedes. A 3 year car definitely doesn't feel new.
Please do share your inputs including experience of other countries.
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Old 29th May 2019, 19:56   #2
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Default re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

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Originally Posted by wildsdi5530 View Post
Here in India, we have periodic maintenance every 6 - 12 months. The brakes are changed every 20-30K kms, the clutch every 50K kms, Suspension every 50-75K kms as preventive maintenance.
Nah! Periodic maintenance for most cars is 12 months. Brakes are changed as per driving habits. My pads were replaced 40k kms back. I don't think I need to change them for another 10k kms. Rotors at 100k kms. Clutch was replaced at 75k kms. Suspension is still fine even after almost 150k kms. I don't think anybody changes suspension as preventive maintenance. Even brakes and clutch show early signs before breaking down.

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Every service take at least 1 full day.
Not really! Depends on the dealer, the city and the brand you've chosen. Once, I got periodic routine service done in about 3 hours.

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But all the cars seem to develop rattles and become gruff.
Only rattle I have in my car are squeaks from rubber beadings in windows and that is because of the uncovered parking.

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However in Thailand, the only thing they routinely do is an oil change every 8-10K kms.
Same here.

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Service time is 15 mins.
This is something which needs to be improved here. It takes atleast half a day for service.

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The rental car I had, a Toyota Vios has 1.6 lakh kms on the clock. Most of the Taxis (Corollas) had 3-5 lakh kms on the clock, but they were rattle free and extremely smooth. They seem almost new.
It depends on the caretaker of the vehicle. Even here, cabs still exist which are in tip-top condition.


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This got me thinking, is the quality of cars to blame for their faster aging in India. Or is it our poor driving manners? I've noticed this across the board from Alto to Mercedes. A 3 year car definitely doesn't feel new.
This one (The love of my life - A 2000 Maruti 800 DX 5-Speed. EDIT: Gets export model features on Pg 27) is 19 year old. Does it look like one? This one is 5 year old and 150k kms up.

It all depends on how the car is maintained. These things have a long, reliable shelf life if maintained and driven properly.
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Old 30th May 2019, 13:16   #3
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Default re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

I'd say road conditions do factor, but IMO the major role of cars ageing faster in India is pathetic workmanship while working on the car, amplified by the stinginess of owners when it comes to maintaining the car.

There is a very specific set of steps to follow to diagnose a lot of problems in cars, and 90% of the service centres don't do follow it. I'm not even talking about the roadside garages. Also, most of the owners try to save where ever they can, like running tyres if the thread is visible, even if the rubber is hard. Going till the last kilometre on brake pads. Changing suspension when only it starts creaking.

The only well-aged cars we see in India are of car enthusiasts/lovers.
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Old 30th May 2019, 14:03   #4
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Default re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

As a student in Boston, I bought a '93 Accord with 90,000 miles on it. That's almost 1.5 lakh km!!! I put another 15,000 - 20,000 miles on it while I had it. The car was in superb condition when I bought it, and was further improved by the time I sold it (audio, free flow exhaust, tyres etc.). Americans are known to regularly use cars with 200,000 miles on them.

I have yet to see any 150,000 km car like that in India. Couple of reasons IMHO:

- USA (and many western countries) have long highways / freeways that one can utilise on the daily commute to work. The car is thus cruising in top gear on flat roads. In India, the slow average speed increases the rate of wear & tear. I would say that 50,000 km of harsh city driving is equivalent to 150,000 km of highway driving.

- Quality of roads, but India is improving here (city as well as highway roads are now mostly good).

- Quality of maintenance. In the USA, counterfeit parts & poor quality of labour aren't as rampant as here.

- Quality of customer. Owners of 5+ year old cars in India are known to consider "cheaper" options for repairs & maintenance. We are a jugaad country, after all.

- Quality of car. The average selling price of a car in USA is about $35,000 (that's 23 lakhs). I would guess that the same for India is about 7 lakhs. There will, of course, be a difference in the quality levels of a 23 lakh car vs a 7 lakh one.

Last edited by GTO : 30th May 2019 at 14:05.
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Old 30th May 2019, 15:40   #5
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

Incidentally I have been to Thailand 2 weeks ago, here are my observations.
The roads are relatively good and well designed with no unnecessary speed breakers.
Maybe it is just a notch below Singapore or Malaysia.
Around 30% of the vehicles are Toyota's and the rest play catchup to provide equally good service to customer to gain market share, so If service is good with certified well trained mechanics and affordable the chances of having well maintained vehicles is certainly higher.Furthermore it is mandatory in many countries to have well maintained vehicles, like in Australia they have yearly checks to make vehicle roadworthy.
So I think the main issue is with poorly maintained vehicle driven on less than ideal roads(the entire suspension and engine mounts take a severe beating) with adulterated fuel and oil thrown into the mix.
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Old 30th May 2019, 15:43   #6
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

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Originally Posted by wildsdi5530 View Post
.... in Thailand, the only thing they routinely do is an oil change every 8-10K kms. Once a month for taxis and about once in 6 months for private vehicles.

.... is the quality of cars to blame for their faster aging in India. Or is it our poor driving manners?
I am sure that the oil change will be accompanied by a air filter cleaning, fluid top-ups etc. So it is not just an oil change, but may be servicing of essentials.

Of course, these countries may have a far stricter regulatory requirements (as compared to ours) when it comes to registration of vehicles, ergo, which ensures that the quality of the vehicles are superior than those sold here?


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Originally Posted by GTO View Post
... In India, the slow average speed increases the rate of wear & tear. I would say that 50,000 km of harsh city driving is equivalent to 150,000 km of highway driving.

.. Quality of car .... There will, of course, be a difference in the quality levels of a 23 lakh car vs a 7 lakh one.
Apart from the average speed, the varied nature of traffic on the roads also takes its toll. How many sudden / emergency stops do we do on our daily commute - quite a few, I would hazard a guess.

The difference in quality is something which has been expressed in various other posts in other threads. I do remember reading a post about a trip to a hotel from the airport (in Istanbul?) in a Skoda which had a lakh+ kms on the odo, and the owner says that this was after crossing the 999,999 mark!!
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Old 30th May 2019, 19:21   #7
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

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Originally Posted by batish View Post
Nah! Periodic maintenance for most cars is 12 months. Brakes are changed as per driving habits. My pads were replaced 40k kms back. I don't think I need to change them for another 10k kms. Rotors at 100k kms. Clutch was replaced at 75k kms. Suspension is still fine even after almost 150k kms. I don't think anybody changes suspension as preventive maintenance. Even brakes and clutch show early signs before breaking down.
It's 12 months/ 10K kms in newer cars. Until a few years back it was 6 months/ 5K kms. Innova, Honda City, Alto had the same. Honda does not replace based on km run, but my 15 year old Alto has always been serviced at Mandovi and the SA changes the above as per km run.

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Not really! Depends on the dealer, the city and the brand you've chosen. Once, I got periodic routine service done in about 3 hours.
Still too long to wait and get it done!

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Only rattle I have in my car are squeaks from rubber beadings in windows and that is because of the uncovered parking.
You're really lucky then. None of the cars I've been in feel new after about a year.

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It depends on the caretaker of the vehicle. Even here, cabs still exist which are in tip-top condition.
I'm talking about a rental with 1.6 lakh kms on the clock. Have you seen the condition of Zoom cars in Bangalore?

I wonder if we buy a car and do only regular oil changes at home, without all the tinkering around at service centers, will the cars be in better shape?

Last edited by ampere : 30th May 2019 at 19:33. Reason: moved the responses out of quotes. Makes it easy for other to respond
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Old 30th May 2019, 20:57   #8
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

I would primarily say road conditions. I am sure all cars in Bangalore are aging at a super fast rate. Extremely heavy traffic, terrible road conditions, high levels of pollution all probably result in some part or the other getting impacting more than a car in a more sane environment would.

Although my car has a 1 year service interval, once it reaches 9-10 months, I 'feel' it needs to be serviced. So 1 year in normal conditions is probably 10 months in most places in India.
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Old 30th May 2019, 21:15   #9
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

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Originally Posted by wildsdi5530 View Post
...

I wonder if we buy a car and do only regular oil changes at home, without all the tinkering around at service centers, will the cars be in better shape?
I've never owned a luxury car but for budget models, I'd hazard to say yes.

If one knows what they're doing and have the necessary manuals and equipment to conduct even regular maintenance and easier wear & tear part swaps, the quality of work will be far better than most A.S.S. workshops. Heck, given the kind of hit & trial absurdity most workshops indulge in, your car will probably stay healthier without their kind of 'maintenance'.
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Old 30th May 2019, 21:30   #10
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wildsdi5530 View Post
Recently I was on a 8 day trip to Thailand where they have many cars similar to Indian models. I had an opportunity to drive a Toyota Vios, Honda City, Nissan Almera (Sunny) and speak to owners of cars such as the New Honda City 2003-08, CR-V, Mobilio RS, Toyota Corolla, Fortuner, Hilux, Suzuki Swift, Ciaz, Mercedes and BMW several models.
I own a 2008 Honda City ZX and 2015 Mobilio RS and have driven several cars extensively. Here in India, we have periodic maintenance every 6 - 12 months. The brakes are changed every 20-30K kms, the clutch every 50K kms, Suspension every 50-75K kms as preventive maintenance. Every service take at least 1 full day. But all the cars seem to develop rattles and become gruff.

It is only our mind set that destroys a car.
Till date I have used many cars in the last 25 years. Initial few years post 1992 were spent with my dad's Premier Padmini, and occasionally with his Contess or MM540, Only the Padmini was allowed un-supervised.
In 2005 it was my own Tata Estate which I used for a measly 1.64 Lakh km.
Of other cars in my list my 2005 Indica lasted 8 Yrs and 3.24 Lakh km mostly used by my sales staff.
Of two Innovas one was sold at 1.64Lakh km and one at 1.92 Lakh km with only tires and brake pads changed ebven suspension was original.

Only my Polo which I totaled due to a tie rod fracture lasted less than a lakh km.
Among sales staff and other co contractors you can see many cars which have run many lakh kms. As long as you avoid products from Maruti, Honda and (pre Creta) Hyundai everything else can last lakhs of km.

Toyota is best followed by Ford, Mahindra and Tata.
Pune based KK travels who runs Pune to Mumbai airport had 175 Tata Arias, when they were sold after they were sold they all had run 5 to 8 lakh km.
main thing that you should follow is to keep to low rpm until engine warms up, usually 25 to 30 km.
Only check wheel alignment do not let them use spanners on it unless it is beyond limits. Once you use spanners to loosen and re-tighten the nuts they get loose due to road impacts.

Check brake pad thickness with a vernier, change when you are at about 40% original thickness ie 6mm instead of 14. If that takes more than 75K km you need to change drivers, or your driving habit.
Every 4th or 5th service ie 75k km open up your bell housing and clean debris from clutch wear, replace the thrust bearing if necessary, clutch and pressure plates easily last 1.5 lakh km or more.
Our cars last less due to technicians un-necessarily fingering what they should not.


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Old 31st May 2019, 02:13   #11
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

I think cars need some good care in India to work well for a long time. I've driven a well maintained 14 year old Swift with 1,50,000 km and it drove beautifully. There are fine examples (like paragsachania's cars) on our own forum which have many kms on them.

That being said, there are a lot of reasons why cars in the first world last longer. And a few are design choices.

1. Part tolerances:
  • Some parts (like a interior trims, bumpers, engines etc) in India might have a slightly higher tolerance compared to the counterpart in the first world market
  • This results in more wear and tear, and can mean the difference between an interior developing chronic rattles at 10,000 km vs an interior developing rattles only after extensive use of 1,50,000 km
  • Having tighter tolerances for parts can mean a huge cost for companies as manufacturing has to be precise
2. Body structure:
  • I've read on this forum that Indian cars get inferior anti-rust treatment than cars abroad
  • This can be partially justified as cars abroad see bad weather like snow often
3. People's mindset:
  • Cars are a status symbol- many people want to change cars every 5 years. We need to educate people and change that attitude
  • Also, good TLC is something only a few Indian cars get. People aren't too bothered to find the right person to repair their car
  • Many people don't have good parking spots
  • Note: I wouldn't put the entire blame on people as finding competent ASCs/FNGs is difficult
4. Road & weather conditions:
  • We have continuous start-stops, sudden braking, badly designed speed bumps, too many pot holes etc.
  • Have you seen your engine bay? There's too much dust on Indian roads
  • Compare all this to american conditions- smooth flow of traffic (mostly driving between 1500-2500 rpm,) great roads with few imperfections, hardly any dust etc

At the end, I think it is all down to people making the effort to maintain their cars. Of course- maintaining a 10 year old Indica is very tough, but a 10 year old City should be very easy to maintain.

Last edited by landcruiser123 : 31st May 2019 at 02:15.
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Old 31st May 2019, 06:40   #12
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

QUALITY

Quality of materials - From the sheet metal to the seat fabric.

Quality of manufacturing - From the nuts and bolts to the robotic welding.

Quality of Quality checks - Yes. Sounds funny?

Quality of infrastructure - Roads

Quality of service - Through the life of the vehicle.

Quality of lifestyle in general - Ask the question, what is the life expectancy of people in India vs. Thailand? 68.x vs. ~75.x years.

When the Indians in India age faster than abroad, what the heck about cars in India?!
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:33   #13
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

Do they really age faster? Or are they just maintained far more poorly? The latter, I believe. Maintaining any car well is an expensive proposition, and in this cost-conscious kitna deti hai country, we love to save money even as we keep driving on and on.
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:40   #14
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

Road conditions apart, another filter is the fitness test. All cars in Thailand need to be tested every 7 years. UK, it is after the car is three years then annually after that.
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Old 31st May 2019, 10:00   #15
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Default Re: Why do cars in India age faster than abroad?

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But all the cars seem to develop rattles and become gruff
Roads it is.
As several people above have commented - the quality and condition of the road is one major factor.

Poor road quality affects the suspension directly - but the high intensity shocks and vibrations affect the whole mechanical structure, the small components like hinges and latches and kind of everything - yes even the wiring and electrical contacts.
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