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Old 4th June 2023, 21:39   #1
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Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Introduction

I am sure we all have heard of Medical Tourism. But Maintenance Tourism? Here is an account of how I travelled 400km to my preferred technician to get a bunch of jobs done on my oldie - a 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara AT and how I ended up doing up another car as well.

Why travel 400km just for maintenance?

Sounds ridiculous, isn't it?

1. Why would one spend a few thousands to travel while the job could be done in the current city?
2. What if one knows no technician in the city of residence?

However, what if there is an impending travel to a city, one changes the mode of travel from train to car, and one adds some maintenance agenda to the trip to get jobs done by one's preferred and trusted technician? Well, that's precisely what I did. The plan was to do up my car, but I also ended up with a wild card entry in the form of a 2011 Toyota Corolla Altis.

Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-krish_vaniyambadi.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 5th June 2023 at 00:43.
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Old 4th June 2023, 21:55   #2
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Re: Maintenance Tourism| Travelling 400km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Background

I'd performed some maintenance and checks on the Grand Vitara in Oct-2022, documented here. While all components had been checked, the ball joints on both lower arms were reported weak, and that meant that the arms would require change as soon as possible.

Options examined

1. I examined an out of box solution by evaluating if getting bolt on type ball joints (like in VW and the Toyota Altis), cutting out the existing ball joints, and fitting the new ball joints made sense. However, I shelved these plans as fitting these might throw the camber out of value and I'd be staring at tyre wear next.
2. Suzuki genuine lower arms - these were priced at a whopping INR 9,900 for one side and INR 11,000 for the other side
3. Other options overseas via partsouq, spareto and autodoc. I had an option where someone was travelling and could get these parts shipped and then carried personally.

Under option3, there was a set of parts available under the KAMOKA brand from Poland - a pair of lower control arms, a pair of stabiliser link rods, a pair of steering tie rod ends, and a pair of spare lower arm doughnut bushes. Parts plus shipping to a known person overseas all came to a mere INR 14,000.

When the parts arrived, my contact was aghast to note that each lower arm was weighing a cool approx. 4.5kgs. He managed to bring them all in via a generous baggage allowance, and had the invoice for support should Customs ask. It was a clear passage and when the bag arrived, I was shocked to see how heavy this was. Phew

The kit
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-gv_suspensionpartkit.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 5th June 2023 at 00:45.
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Old 4th June 2023, 22:24   #3
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Re: Maintenance Tourism| Travelling 400km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

How to get these parts fitted?

The car was in Bengaluru, hibernating, but I wasn't sure whom to go to. Meanwhie, there was this impending trip for two of us to Chennai in Apr-2023 and the travel would have most likely been by bus or train. Seeing an opportunity here, I decided to undertake Maintenance Tourism - to travel from a developed city to a small village on the outskirts of Chennai to be able to perform the maintenance by my trusted Doc (technician).

Precursor to the trip

An engine oil change was also getting due, so I got myself an oil filter from an MGP store, and while I was wanting to stick to my trusted Castrol Magnatec 5w30 as engine oil, I got the itch to move to 100% synthetic in the form of Motul XCess 8100 5W40; got 5 liters from the authorised stockist at JC Road.

The dangerous walkway - never got anywhere close to this opening though
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-dangerouswalkway.jpg

The booty
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-motulxcess8100.jpg

Bengaluru to Chennai on a super hot summer day

This was one of those really hot spells in Tamil Nadu in April. Although I left cool Bengaluru early in the day, the heat started beating us even before Krishnagiri. The poor AC was slogging it out all the way to Chennai. Enough had been said about the route elsewhere so I'd not dwell on the travails of a driver on this sector. However, I was fortunate to re-route from Sunguvachatram to Vallakottai to Oragadam to Vandalur and enter Chennai via GST Road. I managed my only stop at Sunguvachatram and was in Chennai in approx 6 hours 25 mins.

Suzuki Grand Vitara says Hi to the Maruti Suzuki new Grand Vitara
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-gvvsgv.jpg

Somewhere between Krishnagiri and Vaniyambadi
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-krish_vaniyambadi.jpg

Sunguvachatram to Vallakottai
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-sunguvachatramtovallakottai.jpg

via Oragadam to Vandalur
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-oragadam.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 5th June 2023 at 00:46.
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Old 4th June 2023, 22:47   #4
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Re: Maintenance Tourism| Travelling 400km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Continuing my arduous journey to Avadi

The heat in Chennai was just too much, and I'd started wondering why I even took this on. But then, tasks are meant to be accomplished, and there are no U-turns here. After a quick meal, I continued my journey to my trusted technician, who stays well past Avadi, off the Engine Factory Road. Started my Maintenance Tourism day at 7am from Bengaluru and was finally at my destination nested past Avadi at approx 4pm. Hot hot hot!

Passing through the Heavy Vehicles Factory Area in Avadi
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-hvfroad.jpg

He was working on a Hero Honda and as soon as he was done, we got down to first inspecting and replacing the components. While both lower arms were anyways going out, we just wanted to check if the stabiliser link rods had any residual life. They did, but 16 years was enough life, and since I had the new components in hand, out went the old and in came the new.

Final list of jobs undertaken (call this the 1,00,000km service)

1. Lower control arms, stabiliser link rods, steering tie rod ends replacement
2. Inspection of brake pads, greasing of caliper pins - OE brake pads seemed good for another 20,000km at least
3. Cleaning of brake drums and inspection of wheel cylinders for leaks if any
4. Replacement of brake fluid (used TVS Girling DOT4)
5. Replacement of engine oil

My long day ended at 9:30pm when I left his place. MOTUL XCess 8100 is a much talked about engine oil. It will be a while before I can comment about the performance of this oil in my car.

Work in process
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-gv_wip1.jpg

Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-gv_wip2.jpg

The KAMOKA lower control arm
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-lowerarm.jpg

Stamping on the lower control arm
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-lowerarm_stamping.jpg

New components in
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-newcomponents_1.jpg

Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-newcomponents_2.jpg

The caliper - painted blue in 2018 and is still intact
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-gv_caliper.jpg

New brew getting filled at approx. 1930hrs
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-newbrew.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 5th June 2023 at 00:49.
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Old 4th June 2023, 23:09   #5
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Re: Maintenance Tourism| Travelling 400km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Day 2 of Maintenance Tourism - Enter the wild card

I was scheduled to go back with the car for a low priority job - to fit Boston SXi606 components that were lying in the attic since 2012. These speakers were in my 2003 Toyota Corolla AT that I parted with and were never fitted in any car since then. The plan was to fit these components in the rear of the Grand Vitara.

However, a wild card entrant, a close friend's 2011 Toyota Corolla Altis, put my original plan on hold. This car's rear brakes were squealing and needed immediate attention as it was clear that the brake pads' thickness was down to the wire.

The 2011 Altis
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-2011altis.jpg

I took the Altis to Avadi, got the rear brake pads inspected - both the right and left side pads were all gone. Just to be sure, I got the front pads inspected and these were also low on thickness.

Jobs planned on the Altis

1. New brake pads - front and rear
2. Skimming of all four discs
3. Throttle body cleaning
4. Headlamp bulbs upgrade

No.4 was a special ask as my friend complained about the meh lights especaially on medianless roads. The old gen 51W and 60W halogens are no match for today's LEDs.

Day's progress

After the discs were removed, the next challenge was finding a proper machinist to get them skimmed. The challenge here was two machnists were closed that day. After much delay, we located a machinist in Pattabiram, very close to the Hindu College Railway Station, and he was very helpful. Said it would take 2 hours since he had some pending jobs, but committed to a 5pm delivery.

Meanwhile, I went back to the city using a local train, then hopped into a bus at Chennai Central, got off at GP Road, got the brake pads, a Cabin Air filter, OSRAM Night Breaker Laser 9005 for the high beams and OSRAM LEDriving 50Wx2 9006 for the low beams. The lights alone cost INR 7500 plus. I chose two types of bulbs using the same logic that Toyota adopted in their GL and VL variants - one type for the low beams and another type for the high beams

It was 5:30pm at GP Road. Took an autorickshaw from GP Road to Vadapalani, had a quick snack, hopped into the Grand Vitara with my friend, and was back in Avadi by 7:40pm, by when the skimmed discs were in place. New brake pads in, new LED lights in, OSRAM Nightbreaker Lasers in, and the Altis looked like one wicked cat with the new lights on. The difference between the stock bulbs and the new ones was like night vs day.

After the Altis, it was project Grand Vitara Part 2 - we used the existing wiring routing to lay input wires to the crossovers, and output from the crossovers to the woofers. Tweeters were placed in an experimental position near the rear quarter glass. By the time my friend and me were out of my technician's place, it was well past midnight.

Front brake pads - worn
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-altis_frontbrakepads1.jpg

Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-altis_frontbrakepads2.jpg

Rear brake pads - worn
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-altis_rearbrakepads.jpg

Throttle Body - before
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-tb_before.jpg

Throttle Body - after cleaning
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-tb_after2.jpg

Travelling from Pattabiram to Chennai Central and to GP Road on a hot hot afternoon
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-tickets.jpg

Bulb specs
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-altis_ownermanual_extract.jpg

Last edited by vigsom : 5th June 2023 at 00:49.
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Old 4th June 2023, 23:32   #6
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Re: Maintenance Tourism| Travelling 400km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Quick meet ups with many bhpians

I had the pleasure of meeting up with bhpians @srinath.S, @freakmuzik and the gentle giant @locusjag the day after the jobs were completed.

Navigating the Bermuda Triangle

I fondly call the Bengaluru - Chennai, Chennai - Trichy and Trichy-Bengaluru sector the Bermuda Triangle, not because vehicles disappear mysteriously, but because most funky drivers on these sectors use bermudas. It was on this sector that I hit a magical number finally.

The Grand Vitara moves past a major milestone
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-gv_100000up.jpg

Kumbakonam Degree Coffee outlet before the 99km mark with a pedigree car lying abandoned
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-kdc_1.jpg

Encountering an ultra slow SETC Ultra Deluxe between Salem and Dharmapuri on my return
Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-setc_ud1.jpg

Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs-setc_ud2.jpg

Summing it up

My Maintenance Tourism plan did benefit in many ways:

1. The satisfaction of getting planned jobs done to one's requirements by a trusted technician
2. I spent a mere INR 3K for all the jobs that I undertook for the Grand Vitara
3. Squeezed in an Altis in the already tight timeframe
4. Although tough, I managed to travel in a Furnace (the local train) and a bus thereafter in sweltering heat
5. Executed the project with no jobs missed; very long working hours but won the test of enndurance
6. Managed to bring a smile on my friend's face with superior lights fixed and the brakes attended to
7. Navigated the Bermuda Triangle without wearing Bermudas

The only negative, though, was the many diversions on the Benagluru - Chennai and Chennai - Trichy sectors. In their current state, they don't deserve to be called highways and the least that authorities can do is at least halve toll collections on sectors that have diversions. Tolls are meant to be collected only if the journey involves a seamless passage and improves fuel efficiency. Just for records, my FE on the Chennai Trichy sector was 1.5kmpl lower than what it was in 2016-17; same car, same driver, but lower FE.

Last edited by vigsom : 5th June 2023 at 00:22.
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Old 5th June 2023, 05:39   #7
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Re: Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Thread moved out from the Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 5th June 2023, 06:17   #8
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Re: Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

This is a novelty. Credit to you vigsom in pursuing 'Maintenance Tourism'.

I would love to do the same had I been residing in a city or state in which I cant trust my car maintenance to someone on top of it my preferred mechanic/workshop resides in a different city or state. I would gladly do a road trip just to get my car serviced or get the odd job performed from my preferred mechanic or workshop.

Quote:
3. Other options overseas via partsouq, spareto and autodoc. I had an option where someone was travelling and could get these parts shipped and then carried personally.

Under option3, there was a set of parts available under the KAMOKA brand from Poland - a pair of lower control arms, a pair of stabiliser link rods, a pair of steering tie rod ends, and a pair of spare lower arm doughnut bushes. Parts plus shipping to a known person overseas all came to a mere INR 14,000.

When the parts arrived, my contact was aghast to note that each lower arm was weighing a cool approx. 4.5kgs.
I would request your views on asking a contact to bring in parts intead of simply ordering it from international website. Is the intention to save on import duty? I presume it is. Lets assume you had ordered from an international website and instead of your contact bringing in parts , carrier service like DHL were to bring it to your doorstep. Would the import duty still be the same?. If not same, would it be less if you were to use a contact to bring in parts instead of carrier service like DHL?

The reason I ask the above is, because for my used Honda Accord 2008. I have given up on boodmo for procuring maintanance parts or off beat parts. I have recently got a shipment from a Singapore seller on whose website I placed an order and upon reciept of the same, placed another order for O-rings, head cover seal, and other parts. The carrier is DHL and I receive an invoice of import duty to pay when they hand over the parts to me at my doorstep. (Note: This is not the first time I am placing an order on international website for procuring parts, and therefore, I am well aware that import duty has to be paid. My query is whether you are saving on import duty by using contact, and when compared to a carrier service like DHL. How much do you save, approximately)?

Last edited by ritedhawan : 5th June 2023 at 06:21.
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Old 5th June 2023, 06:59   #9
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Re: Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Quote:
Originally Posted by ritedhawan View Post
This is a novelty. Credit to you vigsom in pursuing 'Maintenance Tourism'.

I would request your views on asking a contact to bring in parts intead of simply ordering it from international website.

The carrier is DHL and I receive an invoice of import duty to pay when they hand over the parts to me at my doorstep. (Note: This is not the first time I am placing an order on international website for procuring parts, and therefore, I am well aware that import duty has to be paid. My query is whether you are saving on import duty by using contact, and when compared to a carrier service like DHL. How much do you save, approximately)?
This topic has been covered in multiple threads. Yet, here goes.
I buy a number of parts for my Mini Cooper S 2012 Model R56 from sites in the US and EU. Mostly US. Because the time for them to arrive is 7 days! Fedex International Economy.

Problem is that Indian Customs levy Duty, IGST etc on the full invoice value including freight which is absolutely criminal. You can see the screenshots attached for reference.

Indian Customs is whimsical and they havenít gotten out of their Communistic Protectionist Mindset yet. Probably never will.

BMW India always says they haven't got stock. And they have to place orders with their Warehouse in Maharashtra which most of the time wont have stock. So the stuff has to come from EU. Parts arrival can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. Especially rarer parts.

Often when I travel or when my wife travels we bring in smaller and less heavy parts.

Sometimes when my good old friends and classmates and all come in, they are kind enough to bring smaller parts. Because they all know how car mad I am and they indulge me a lot. God Bless Their Kindness!

Yes, typically when you or a friend personally brings in a part, the customs donít hassle you too much especially when you are below the allowance of 25K per person in terms of importing things for personal use. Whereas the dragnet that they put out for all couriers is impossible to circumvent.

But I generally do not feel good asking someone to bring in a real heavy part because we all know that it will eat up their luggage allowance and can also potentially cause headaches for them when coming in to India by way of explanations and all.
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Old 5th June 2023, 08:25   #10
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Re: Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Only hard-core car enthusiasts can even think of doing something like this, let alone actually doing it. Hats off to you Vigsom.

BTW, those brake pads of the Corolla were worn to the T. Safety hazard I would say!
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Old 6th June 2023, 17:41   #11
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Re: Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

This reminds me of myself travelling 800kms to & fro from my Home town Nellore(AP) to Bangalore for my Jetta service.
In spite of having VW Service center in my city, I travel to get it done at my favorite FNG Engineering Exponents.

Worth the trip!
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Old 6th June 2023, 18:32   #12
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Re: Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
I am sure we all have heard of Medical Tourism. But Maintenance Tourism?
Thanks for giving this a name, Vigsom, and sharing this. Here, I thought I was a weirdo to do something similar. You've encouraged me to come out, so to speak!

April 2023. My KA03 registered Duster was due for its 6th annual service and a few minor niggles fixed. All the previous services were in Bangalore - a mix of Renault Whitefield and Indiranagar. I always trusted those service centers and each of those jobs were straightforward.

Sometime last year I moved to Calcutta. There are two Renault service centers in the city, but found their locations personally tedious to get to. Being new in the city, low on trust factor, and in general, dismayed by the general driving manners on roads here, I was 1) reluctant to have the vehicle driven by a service center driver, 2) keen to sit through the job.

Other than that, I needed a quick break.

Durgapur, about 190kms from my place in Kolkata, has a Renault ASS, just outside the city. Not that I was familiar with this shop, but found the Google reviews encouraging. Started from home on a Saturday at about 6am to make the appointment at 10am. Job card opened by 10.30am, and all wrapped up by about 2.30pm. Was not planning to drive back the same day anyway. Found a great hotel in the city center, spent the rest of the day ambling around and chilling. Found Durgapur rather impressive!

When it comes to the ASS, I got a 5* service, I must say. Top SA! I need some body work done, and few parts need replacement soon, but weren't on stock. Told him that I will let him know in advance so that he can procure everything, such that I'd stay and work remotely from Durgapur for a few days, while I leave the car in his workshop for the pending repairs.

On the whole, I'm glad I embarked on this "maintenance tourism." Saw a new city, found a great service center, and the Duster and I got a much needed stretch of the legs
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Old 6th June 2023, 19:30   #13
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Re: Maintenance Tourism | Travelling 400 km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Quote:
Originally Posted by ritedhawan View Post
I would gladly do a road trip just to get my car serviced or get the odd job performed from my preferred mechanic or workshop
Absolutely, @ritedhawan. The peace of mind when one's trusted Doc is on the job is invaluable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
typically when you or a friend personally brings in a part, the customs don’t hassle you too much especially when you are below the allowance of 25K per person in terms of importing things for personal use. Whereas the dragnet that they put out for all couriers is impossible to circumvent.
That's the sad truth - all couriers with package of any value is subject to duty. Update: As far as I know, the current duty free allowance for Indian passengers coming in from countries other than Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar is INR 50k.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sagarpadaki View Post
Only hard-core car enthusiasts can even think of doing something like this,

BTW, those brake pads of the Corolla were worn to the T. Safety hazard I would say!
Many Thanks, Sagar! As long as the Josh is there, execution will happen. The Altis pads did not pose an immediate concern but yes, continued usage would have resulted in the discs going kaput. Their irresponsible temporary driver was responsible for the pads' excessive wear.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ramsagar View Post
travelling 800kms to & fro from my Home town Nellore(AP) to Bangalore for my Jetta service
Oh Wow! That's a lot of kms for peace of mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.Fawlty View Post
Durgapur, about 190kms from my place in Kolkata, has a Renault ASS, just outside the city. I got a 5* service, Top SA! I'm glad I embarked on this "maintenance tourism." Saw a new city, found a great service center, and the Duster and I got a much needed stretch of the legs
Thank you for narrating this experience @Mr.Fawlty. Your trip defines "Maintenance Tourism" even better.

Last edited by vigsom : 6th June 2023 at 19:41.
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Old 11th June 2023, 14:18   #14
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Re: Maintenance Tourism| Travelling 400km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

fantastic insight, i own one and frankly speaking struggling to find a AC compressor assembly, new price is quite steep and more than that is the delivery time. any suggestions of repair/ replacement parts, especially water pump, alternator and compressor assembly. also, Kamoka webpage doesn't have online purchase option on it, could you kindly assist on how you manage the buying process with them. Thanks in advance.
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Old 11th June 2023, 15:45   #15
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Re: Maintenance Tourism| Travelling 400km to a preferred technician for maintenance jobs

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJM View Post
any suggestions of repair/ replacement parts, especially water pump, alternator and compressor assembly
Here are my views:

1. Alternator- can easily be serviced at any competent auto electricals workshop.
2. Water Pump - is unique to this car so would need to be procured
3. Compressor Assembly - I know that someone had retrofitted a SANDEN Compressor with a 6pk pulley (don't remember the model number though) with new hoses on a Grand Vitara. It cost 20k in all. The mounting clamps were fabricated, and everytime the oil filter had to be removed, the compressor would need to be moved forward to access the oil filter

You could also try sourcing these parts from the used parts market in Delhi OR elsewhere.

Parts for the Grand Vitara are super expensive and jugaads/ equivalent replacements are the way out.
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