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Old 19th July 2011, 13:08   #1
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Default Swap Santro AT for an '01 Esteem AT?

Hello all,
I am starting this thread to find a solution for my mum's beloved Santro At, its her daily driver, its an '03 model, with more than a lac kms on the odo. My mum loves its tall boy design, easy handling and its easy to live with nature, my whole family likes the car a lot too.

The problem:

1. The half shafts or drive shafts will require work soon, Hyundai is quoting 44k for the set of them, a normal Santro MT shafts cost only 8k for the set of 2.
2. Engine my require work, another 30k.
3. Steering Rack "could" require work, another 22k.

We foresee all these expenditures coming along in the next one year, so 1 Lac is the cost to keep the car running for some time.

Solutions :

1. Keep the Santro, get it fixed. Why you ask don't we buy a new car, well in the small car segment there are only 2 options available, A-star At or i-10 At,
the reviews on T-Bhp of A-star have been very encouraging, but one look at the interiors of this Suzuki left me and my mum - "not happy", my mum didn't like it one bit, she felt the Wagon r would have been a better choice, me thinks the same. The i-10, well being substantially more expensive, it did not offer much in terms of value - same tranny as our Santro, same mileage as our Santro blah blah and the list goes on, so it just doesn't justify buying it brand new. I would like to add that we are pretty happy with the Hyundai ***, their mechs have good knowledge and the work is always done to our satisfaction.

2. A good friend of mine has a Esteem At, its '01 mpfi model, its a single owner, its his mum's car, but driven by all family members, it has clocked around 36k till date, full maruti service history, clean car. He has just bought a ANHC At, so is planning to sell the Esteem, price will be less than a Lac. The car has no work required except the power windows have packed up. I know its a 3 speed but my mum only drives in the city, the Over Drive switch in the our Santro is never engaged anyhow. Mileage is also not a important criteria as the Santro is no better, plus my mum is a pretty sedate driver with speeds not exceeding 60 kmph, nor is resale value a major deciding factor.

The problems I foresee:

a. Gearbox, my mech for my 800 is the first person in Jaipur to get trained on automatics for Maruti way back in the 80's, now a independent mech, he told me the 800 auto box would last upto 1,50,000 km, after which it needed to rebuilt as it had pressure plates made of the same material as normal MT cars have, but it was always a headache to set them properly, he said that the parts are still available for the 800 auto, so I am guessing that the Esteem parts will also be available, although upon purchase I intend to service this car from the same Maruti *** where it is been going for the part 10 yrs. I would like to add that i dont know what material the pressure plates of the esteem At are made of but the Santro At comes with steel Pressure plates, hence as long as you change the oil on time the auto box is set for life!

b. Maruti ***, Hyundai sells much more ATs than Maruti, hence their mechs are more well versed in servicing ATs than Maruti ( personal view), especially considering that the Esteem is getting on in years, but while chatting to a Maruti salesman, he told me that we have proper mechs trained for these cars. But I am bit skeptical as we had a harrowing time trying to fix my Uncles scorpio 4wd, which Mahindra guys have not been able to fix in the last 4 yrs! Why couldn't they fix it?, they too have trained mechs but unfortunately they were not well versed, as scorpio 4wds sell so less, I noticed the same with Scorpio ATs. On the flip side my friend has never reported any problems with the service and generally is pretty satisfied with the ***.

The good points about the Esteem :

a. We owned an Esteem for a couple of years, so we a pretty familiar with it, my mum drove our old one some times, so she says she can get used to it pretty fast.
b. As it has only done 36k, it should hold good for a couple of years.
c. My 800 mech told me that the 800 AT had the same drive shafts as the MT, maybe it is same for the Esteem At hence no more Rs.44k drive shafts like the Santro.
d. It would be a welcome change to get the Esteem serviced once a year instead of the Hyundai mandatory every 6 months. Especially now that I am stationed at Pune, and mum for the life of her will never go near a service station, plus my dad being in the army is also not always around.

3. Wait for the Nano diesel AT, but my mum does not want it, she feels it is going to a lower class of car than her present car. She loves big cars ( I feel all ladys do!)

What I really want for my mum: Basically PEACE OF MIND, with me not around that much, I don't my mum to be hassled by car related issues. Also this would be a stop gap arrangement, where we will keep the car only for 2-3 yrs, after which hopefully better options will be on the horizon or a better budget.

Any Esteem AT owners? Please advice.
I have tried to put in as much detail as possible, Well I have to, it after all for my Dear mum

Williams F1.
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Old 19th July 2011, 13:26   #2
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Default Re: Keep Santro AT or go for '01 Esteem At?

I would NOT vouch for moving to Esteem AT. It'd be a step backwards from the tech you have in the Santro AT. Also, you are not sure about the parts availability since that gear box / that car has been out of production for a while (not the santro, the same GB works in the newer versions of Hyundai).

Secondly, its a compact tall boy as opposed to the low and long esteem. Santro is much more chucable in the city traffic. The esteem may not need any immediate maintenance but its still a 10 yr old car - you never know what may crop up when.

I'd say if you want to keep the car, take an opinion of a good reliable mechanic outside the A.S.S. for a second opinion on the costs. M sure it'll come down by a big margin.

Else trade the car for a newer version of Santro AT.
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Old 19th July 2011, 13:28   #3
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Default Re: Keep Santro AT or go for '01 Esteem At?


do not go for the Esteem. It has a low driving position & will give Knee & Back pain for elderly people. I had one for 5 years, when I was in my late 30's, and am still nursing back & knee problems 15 yrs down the line.

negotiate with Hyundai re parts costs. My suggestion - repair the vehicle for Rs. 1,00,000(or less if u manage) or go in for a new I10 for around 6,00,000.

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Old 19th July 2011, 14:09   #4
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Default Re: Keep Santro AT or go for '01 Esteem At?

Avoid the Esteem AT like the plague. The old 3-speed AT box was just terrible (I had the same in my Zen!).
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Old 19th July 2011, 16:27   #5
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Default Re: Keep Santro AT or go for '01 Esteem At?

I would not recommend buying the Esteem AT, when we bought our Zen many-many years ago we also looked at Esteem AT and Zen AT so as Mom could drive. At that time also it was considered expensive to maintain as there were problems with Auto gear box reported. Finally we decided to buy Zen Manual and mom was convinced to learn to drive with Stick shift.
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Old 21st July 2011, 08:34   #6
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Default Re: Swap Santro AT for an '01 Esteem AT?

So you're having problems with a '03 car and want to move to a '01 car and hope they go away? Please take the advice of others before me and focus on getting a newer AT with better technology that should be available at a slightly higher price but will ensure peace of mind!
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Old 27th July 2011, 11:49   #7
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Default Re: Swap Santro AT for an '01 Esteem AT?

hello everyone, sorry for the late reply, have been busy.

with everyone's advice being the same, I shall go with it!
What I was looking for was as to why is the Esteem AT so bad, I have ridden in my friend's car a couple of times and I didn't find anything that bad. In college we once raced this esteem against a zen, and it won, that does not justify anything but I was surprised that it performed the way it did.

So can anyone elaborate in detail about maruti automatics, just for my general knowlwdge.

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Old 20th September 2011, 10:42   #8
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Default Re: Swap Santro AT for an '01 Esteem AT?

I don't know about Automatics in general or the Santro AT/Esteem AT in particular, but let me share my experience:

I owned a M800 a while back. When I decided it was time to move onto something better, I was handed the Santro from my uncle. So the last three years I have been driving the Santro. Recently I was able to get a sparingly used Ford Ikon, which I intend to use as a highway cruiser. The Ikon can do speeds in the second gear which the Santro can only do in the fourth or possibly the fifth gear, the torque from the 1600cc engine is just amazing.

However, after driving for two weeks in the Ikon I recently switched to the Santro and boy! What a difference it is to be out into the open! I am very comfortable in the driving seat, the huge glass, huge mirrors and a high seating position help immensely. That's where I realize that no matter which car I shall own or drive, none will ever come closer to the Santro for its unique features.

So forget about replacing the Santro with some other car. None of today's cars (except maybe a new Santro) can match the unique features that the Santro offers (not even i10 or WagonR).

As for the costs, if you can, please get a second opinion from a good independent mechanic. Although the car has covered more than 1L kms, unless the gearbox or the engine develops any problems, you should not require any major overhaul work on either. If you can source the parts independently and can get a good mechanic who understands automatics, I believe you should be able to save at least 40% of your budget.
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