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Driving my 15-year-old Grand Vitara solo from Gujarat to Karnataka

Please note that this is a petrol SUV and an AT at that. I was prepared for several refuels en route but all these concerns got rubbished.

BHPian vigsom recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Introduction

This is a travel account of the longest ever drive in my life; 1420 km between Gujarat and Karnataka, undertaken solo. This drive isn't anywhere as

  • Close to the long ones undertaken by ace tourers,
  • Challenging as drives undertaken in unforgiving terrain,
  • Beautiful and enchanting as many featured on the forum

but, for me, this was going to be the drive of my life this far, undertaken with little planning, but with my grumpy old companion - a 2007 Suzuki Grand Vitara AT.

Safety

Here are a few points that I followed:

  1. Continued to drive only as long as I felt alert
  2. Seat belt on at all times with doors locked
  3. Dawn to dusk driving, with a little stretch on Day2
  4. Checked the vitals of the car at periodic intervals
  5. Kept a bottle of water, and a towel (like a State Transport Corporation driver) handy at all times
  6. Followed speed limits to the T
  7. Never allowed the low fuel warning light to come on; refuelled well before that

Acknowledgement

I'd like to thank Almighty for having brought me home safe n sound, plus BHPians @sridhar-v and @paragsachania for giving me the reassurance that this drive was going to be worth the effort, and for all their support en route.

Background

I've been driving since 1994 but never did a highway drive until 2002. Post that, it wasn't until 2017 that I drove on the highway, between Chennai and Madurai and later from Chennai to Vellore. Many short highway drives followed and the longest one was in 2019 between Vadodara and Mumbai. The urge to undertake a long drive was there since 2021 but couldn't be executed due to rapidly changing Covid protocols at the Karnataka borders. I had an upcoming planned journey to the south but wasn't sure whether to take a train or take the car.

Decision taken the night before travel

Let's call decision day Day Zero. While I was anyways slated to take a train two days from Day Zero, something told me at approx. 2030hrs that taking the car would be a bold move, and this would be the best time to execute it - the weather was cool, the car was in good shape after a recent round of diagnosis and care, plus there were no cross-border restrictions.

I took a split-second decision, loaded the Fastag with enough balance to fund the tolls on this trip, took the car to my trusted fuel station and filled fuel to the brim, ensuring that I filled no more than the pump cut-off point. Please note that this is a petrol SUV and an AT at that. I was prepared for several refuels en route but all these concerns got rubbished.

Preparations and planning

Since I had already packed all relevant items of the car like its papers and spares in 2021 (for a planned drive which was then shelved), it was easy to put things together quickly:

  1. Car papers - Original RC, PUC Certificate, Insurance (had all these on my parivahan app but still)
  2. Spare bulbs, some wiring
  3. The K&N filter cleaning kit, some engine oil, some Toyota Long Life Coolant
  4. A full tool kit, two spare 5-litre cans

Although I got information on fuel stations en route from @paragsachania and @sridhar-v, I did no planning on which petrol stations to fill up at, where to stay, nothing, and decided to act on these based on how long I was going to be on the road. What I initially planned was to take the Kharel - Saputara - Aurangabad - Solapur - Vijayapura route with halts at Aurangabad and Hospet.

Lack of planning (which I suffered on account of)

Did not take a car charger for the phone; my phone battery lasts long but I didn't think of the car charger since I'd never done ultra-long hauls.

Sleep

Since I'd taken this decision at short notice, I was excited, and anxious, and slept only at approx. 11:45 pm with a target to set off at 06:30 am the next morning.

Setting off on Day1

I got up at 05:30 am, finished my big job, loaded all the stuff in the car, said a small prayer, and was off at 06:15 am, praying that all went well. Having worked on many cars, and typically knowing what can go wrong with the machine, all this does tell on one's mind, especially when one hasn't embarked on a long drive like this. I was concerned but allowed my grit and determination to stay on top.

The first concern makes me stop just 30km away

Although I had ensured I'd carried everything, something told me I'd missed carrying my mobile and laptop chargers. I pulled over, put on the hazard warning lights, opened the boot, checked my bag, and couldn't find the netted charger case. I smiled and turned around to get back home. Again, about 10 km after I turned around, I decided to check again, and again pulled over, checked my bag thoroughly, and lo and behold - the netted case was there with both the chargers. Lost approx. 25 minutes due to this confusion. While all this happened, I used the opportunity to check if all was well in the engine bay; no abnormality was detected (NAD).

Continuing with my drive

My next concern was about the Fastag working on the car - although I got the Fastag in 2020, I never ever got to use it since the car was doing only short distances and clocked negligible km since end-2019. This concern was also assuaged when the barrier opened at the first toll plaza. Phew!

Setting off at 06:15 am

Sunrise over the Narmada

Continue checking out BHPian vigsom's travelogue for more insights and information.

 
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