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Needed a motorcycle under Rs 2 lakh, ended up buying a used Maruti SX4

As per my strict budget, I had even booked a Bajaj Dominar 250 but for some reason, I decided to give the "consider a used car" idea a try.

BHPian moto_rrevver recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Introduction

Hello BHPians, before knowing my car and how I ended up buying it, I would like to give a brief introduction about myself.

I am a 90s kid from a small town Ghatshila in Jharkhand and my passion for automobiles and music is a gift from my dad. I am an Engineer who started my career during the pandemic in 2020 and guess what is the first thing that comes to the mind of a petrolhead as soon as he starts earning.

I went to Bangalore for my job and after 4 months our office got shut down because more than 50% of the employees were COVID positive, fortunately, I was not in that 50%. Returned home started working from home, started saving money for my first bike and it was July 2021 when I had to report back to the Bangalore or Pune office. I chose Pune as most of my family and friends are in Maharashtra.

Search for a capable touring bike

As per my needs, I started looking for a capable touring bike as I travel a lot and mostly with a pillion, so a good pillion seat and comfortable riding posture were mandatory for me. As most of you have assumed, Dominar 400 was my first choice, it is a hell of a machine, but my budget was not allowing for it, so I skipped it and started looking into other options.

Option 1 Dominar 250 -

This thing was closest to the mighty D400 but it lacked an aluminum swingarm, was less on power and torque, and had less chunky front USD forks. It was costing me around 1.9 Lakh on road which was fine by me as I had capped my budget at 2 Lakhs.

Option 2 Suzuki Gixxer 250 -

Loved the engine, the refinement was way better than a few of the Yamahas, it was a complete package. Got to know why everyone bets on Japanese engines, unfortunately had to reject it due to not so not-so-comfortable pillion seat. It was costing me around 2.1 Lakh on road.

Option 3 Yamaha MT-15 -

It was rejected before even getting the test drive, due to an almost non-existent pillion seat, still, I went for the test ride as this was the bike my heart wanted, and I know I would have bought it if I had to ride alone. Fuel economy of 50kmpl, R15's engine with upright riding posture and street naked body, nothing else was needed to please me. It was costing me around 2.0 Lakh on road.

Option 4 Java 42 -

It checked all my boxes only con for me was low ground clearance which was manageable. The only reason to reject this was the price tag as it was costing around 2.4 Lakh for the variant I selected after the test ride. And for that price any day I'll pick the D400 after adding a few more thousands.

Conclusion-

After riding all the contenders, went for the Dominar 250, and booked the bike in mid August 2021. They promised the delivery after almost 2 months in October as they told me there is a semi-conductor shortage and I checked with other dealers too no luck anywhere.

So a long wait and excitement started, every day was feeling like a month now. Finally, the time came, I did not sleep the night before the delivery, thinking about how my first ride would be and what other places I wanted to explore on my new machine. Called the dealership 1st thing in the morning and it was heartbreaking to know that it would take 2 more months.

After waiting for 2 more months, it was October 2021 and again the same thing production was slow due to a semiconductor shortage. After waiting for almost 4 months I was frustrated. Started looking for other options. Duke 200 was never on my list but knowing it was a very capable and frugal bike with upright seating posture and a good pillion seat with the new generation Duke I went for the test ride.

1 thing to note I visited Java, Bajaj, Yamaha, Suzuki and KTM showrooms, the pre-sales experience of KTM and Jawa was the best they treated me like a customer who is out to buy a 2+ lakh bike should be treated. Loved the Duke, it had all the bells and whistles and lacked only a slipper clutch which I think should be included in this segment. Came back home and told my mom and my girlfriend (present wife) about the Duke and it was a big NO as soon as I said the words, KTM Duke. My mom termed it as a killing machine and my girlfriend was not comfortable in being a pillion of a chhapri bike according to her.

How the idea of a pre-owned car came into play

1 fine day I was discussing all this with a friend and he suggested I should look into the pre-owned car market as during the pandemic the costs were significantly low for pre-owned cars as the automobile market was buried into the ground.

Obviously, I loved cars since childhood and my family never owned a car so I was not very confident about the idea as there can be several issues with the car which can cost even more than the value of the car itself to do the repair jobs, though I was a good driver, had done multiple long drives on friend's cars and self-drive rental cars but I know owning an old car can be a pain if anything goes wrong. Still, I chose to give it a try.

Pre-owned car hunt began

Must haves -

  • CNG-friendly engine, as it was a replacement for the bike so it should be economical. I didn't want to buy retrofitted CNG cars, either I wanted factory-fitted CNG or I wanted to do the fitment from a trusted dealer myself.
  • For parts availability issues, I avoided discontinued brands in India.
  • No rusting issues at all.
  • No engine or gearbox failure history.
  • It should be under 1.5 lakh as I was saving 50k as repairing budget.

Conclusion -

Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai (The un-safest brands in India). It was a replacement for a bike and taking it under consideration, any car is safer than a bike.

Started searching online platforms like OLX autos, Spinny, Car dekho, Truebill etc.

I was not looking for something specific in the car because I know under 2 lakh rupees you can't expect much and you don't have a lot of choices, I just needed a car with no rusting issues, a well-maintained engine and gearbox and as it will be an old car so the availability of spare parts should be good.

Test drive 1 - 2010 Swift vxi

  • Good car peppy engine no major issues as such but many small issues. Very poorly maintained interior, over 1,00,000 on ODO, Broken engine mounts, noise from suspension.
  • Cost 2 lakh non-negotiable.

Test drive 2 - Santro xing GLS 2011

  • Again a good option, well maintained interior, 85,000 on ODO, good owner who loved his car (very important point), minor scratches and dents here and there (manageable).

Test drive 3 - My SX4 vxi 2008 petrol

  • Went to a local dealer in Wakad, Pune, he had a lot of options but after looking at the SX4 something clicked in my mind. Original paint, No rusting issues, powerful 102 BHP 1.6 liter reliable petrol engine, only 76,000 on ODO, superbly well-maintained interior (better than Santro and Swift), I will get decent boot space after installing CNG, better built than both Swift and Santro, all 4 power window, rear defogger, wider tyres 195/65 R15 for better road grip, not so silent cabin but quieter than Santro and swift, no noise from suspension, electrically controlled ORVM's and everything in working condition.
  • Costing only 1.5 Lakh with paper transfer.

Took the delivery

Took a test drive, went back home, searched for a mechanic on Google with good ratings, took him to the dealer, and got the car checked. After a thorough inspection below were the points highlighted by the mechanic.

  • Tyres were 7 years old and dry rot needed to be replaced immediately.
  • 1 engine mount was broken.
  • Coolant hoses were dry not needed replacement soon.
  • Suspension job was coming soon.
  • Weak AC, needed cooling coil cleaning and gas charging.

Rest everything was fine he assured me, and he assured me that the ODO was not tampered, the engine or gearbox was never opened, and the car was not rusty.

Cost calculation by the mechanic as I instructed him all the parts should be original MGP.

  • Tyres - 20k to 25k
  • Engine mount - 2k
  • Coolant hoses (all) with labor - 2k
  • Suspension job - 15k to 20k (with Swift parts as he told Swift and SX4 lower arm and link rod are the same and he was correct as now she is running with Swift parts only).
  • AC job - 3K
  • Car cost after negotiation 1.4 Lakh
  • Repair cost - 50K
  • Cost of CNG fitment from a reputed dealer - 50k
  • Total - 2.4 Lakh I assumed at that time.

40k more than my budget but I was fine with it as it is a car, and I can spend 40k more than my bike's budget.

These are the pictures from the 1st day I bought it.

Experience after buying

I was more than happy but scared that if this decision went wrong, I couldn't undo it and my hard-earned 1.5 Lakh which I saved for this would go into the drain so to avoid further losses I decided to drive the car for 2K km and if any major issues don't come up then I will go for further repair and CNG fitment work.

1st issue

After getting the AC fixed went on a small trip to the Konkan coast with my friends and on Lonavala Khandala Ghat (Pune Mumbai expressway) the car started overheating. Stopped the car as soon as possible after reaching a safe place, and did not drive at all after overheating as I knew it would damage the engine. Did not think a lot about it at that time as nothing could be done, after the temperature was back to normal, we went there, enjoyed our trip, came back to Pune and meanwhile, the car did not overheat even once.

Solution

Got it checked by a good independent garage and thank God it was not a major issue the radiator was dirty got it cleaned it took 800 bucks for radiator cleaning and 300 bucks for opening and fitting charges. The mechanic sent me the picture of my clogged radiator from the inside and it was bad why don't people change their coolant on time "It is as necessary as an oil change" my mechanic quoted. After that till date, the car has never overheated, I have done a lot of long trips, and some high-speed runs too and never faced any issues after the repair.

High Rise sequential kit CNG fitment with RC registration

After driving 3K km that is 79K km on the ODO went for CNG fitment with a very reputed CNG fitment center in Pune. Others were quoting 42K to 45K for a good sequential kit with filter, as I did my research before getting the job done and I know the importance of CNG filters. For reference go through this thread.

But my guy was asking for 53K still I went for him as I know the brand or type of the kit matters less than fitment quality, so I spent extra for a hassle-free ownership experience, and I was right. Till date no issue related to CNG and the current ODO reading is 1 lakh plus KM. I change low-pressure CNG filter at every 10k KM service, as it is cheap, and precaution is better than cure.

He also said that no suspension modification is required for CNG in SX4 as the rear suspension of SX4 is built to last and it is one of the best cars Maruti has ever sold in the Indian market. I was happier with my decision after hearing this from a professional.

Fitment of CNG

Boot space after fitment

Getting new shoes for her

The old tyres were hard as rock and had 0 grip left in them it was a Bridgestone Turanza 300. I was searching for the best tyres available in the market, didn't want to change the size or speed rating which is 195/65 R15 91V, was looking for a soft compound as my car does not come with any safety features like ABS or EBD so the tyres were the only layer of protection for me, I don't care if fuel economy will take a hit as I already converted my car as Bifuel CNG/Petrol.

After a lot of research, I went with the Yokohama Blue Earth GT AE51, it costed me 26K for all 4 wheels, I know it is on the expensive side for a 13-year-old CNG car but it's not like that, I believe if you keep your things maintained and in good shape, it will always serve you well and never break down when you need them the most.

After getting the new tyres fitted, I felt the difference immediately. Went to an empty road, slammed the brake and it gripped the road firmly and no squeaky sound whatsoever, cabin became more silent and this is one of the best tyres for wet grip too. Only con is, it is a soft compound tyre so while taking it off the tarmac you need to be very careful and yes you will not get the best fuel economy.

Suspension job

Got all the moving parts of the front suspension changed, except the shock absorber as it was in a perfect condition. All genuine MGP parts used as Swift parts are compatible with SX4 so it was not a very expensive job. Steering rack bushings also changed.

Total cost with labor - 12000 bucks. This is the reason our Indian uncles are fans of Maruti, cheap maintenance. The genuine parts are even cheaper than the after-market ones.

Rubber parts

All the coolant hoses and engine mountings were about to give up so decided to get it changed before it completely gave up on me.

Used all Maruti genuine parts, some hoses were difficult to get and were taking longer if I ordered from MGP retail outlet so ordered them from Boodmo. I love this thing about Maruti's, any car, any make, any model you will get the genuine parts, for a few cars it may take some time after ordering, but I can bet that you will get all the parts.

Got all mounting and hose replaced as preventive maintenance costed around 10k including parts and labour.

Surprise repairs

It's a pre-owned 13-year-old car you will get some surprises definitely.

While changing the hose behind the engine there are 3-4 parts of engine cooling system line. 1 metal pipe connected to thermostat cover, thermostat and thermostat housing, and internals of this pipe and thermostat was a bit rusty so the mechanic suggested that if it goes bad it can result in coolant leakage issue and as for the job, he had already opened many components including intake manifold so he suggested that it can be done in the same labor charges now and if I plan it to do later I will have to pay the labor charges again, so I decided to change all of those 4 components including all the hose and mountings. Which costed around 10K.

The AC condenser fins were too bent which was not providing optimal cooling inside the cabin changed it with the original MGP condenser and it costed 6600 bucks after that the AC is working perfectly till date.

Accessories

I wanted it to keep her stock so no major mods.

  • Remote locking system - As my car already had factory-fitted center locking so it was not a problem to add center locking remote, it took 20 minutes for the accessories shop guy to fix the Black Cat center locking system. It was not a necessity, but I did not want to unlock my car in the traditional manner by inserting the key. Costed 3500 bucks
  • Parking sensors - I got Sonilex 4-point parking sensor and this is not optional, I believe parking sensors are a necessity for sedans. Costed 2000 bucks
  • Window visors - To drive in monsoon with a little bit of window rolled down to avoid fogging. Costed 500 bucks
  • Fog lamps - No fancy fog lamps only the 35 watt halogen ones from Uno Minda with relay for circuit protection which comes factory fitted with the SX4 Zxi. Fog lights are kind of important in Maharashtra's monsoon. Costed 3000 bucks.

Picture after fog lamp installation.

  • Bluetooth dongle - As SX4 did come with factory fitted Kenwood audio system which is more than decent I would say, but it lacked Bluetooth connectivity, so I bought a Portronics Bluetooth receiver named auto 12 which does its job very well for playing some music and taking calls using Bluetooth. It costed me 600 bucks only and it is holding up till date.

Bodywork

After getting my SX4 in perfect running condition it was time to retain its beauty, as these 13 years she had been through a lot which was evident on her body. Swirl marks, small scratches, deep scratches and small dents, all over the body thankfully no rusting.

Started searching for a good body shop and found Brotomotive on YouTube, was impressed by their work, it was near my house, so decided to give it a visit. Parikshit was there and he guided me with the process and gave me a quotation of a whooping 1 Lakh rupees. I don't doubt the quality of the job they do but for me spending that much on an old car was not worth it, so I went with my local trusted mechanic after he promised me that he would do the job with good quality paint and in a closed room under 40K and will give me 2 years of warranty if Paint bulging happens.

After the paint job, she looked fabulous.

Pictures after the paint job

Final result

After spending almost 3 Lakh rupees I have a reliable, less driven, perfectly working CNG/Petrol Bi-Fuel car which does not have a single unwanted noise or a single scratch on the bodyline as the paint job turned out to be amazingly well according to the price I paid. There is not a single switch or button in the car which is not in working condition.

I know many will say that I spent 1.5 lakh rupees on a car that is not even worth 1.5 lakh, but as I said I want it perfect or I don't want it at all.

Kitna deti hai

  • CNG - City 15 to 18 KM per KG, Highway - 20 to 22 KM per KG
  • Petrol - City 10 KMPL Highway - 16 KMPL

15th-year Re-registration and how it makes sense for me financially

Maintainance cost -

  • Oil filter every 10K km - 200 bucks
  • Engine oil every 10K KM - 2500 bucks for Castrol Magnatec fully synthetic
  • Spark Plugs every 20K KM - 600 bucks NGK BKR6E 4 Pc
  • CNG filter every 10K KM - 600 bucks
  • Air filter every 20k KM - 500 bucks
  • Spark Plugs every 20K KM - 600 bucks NGK BKR6E 4 Pc
  • Coolant every 20K KM - 1000 bucks for Motul inugel ready to use coolant without water.
  • Gear oil every 20k KM - 1000 bucks for Shell spirax 80w-90 Api gl-4 for manual transmission.
  • Break oil every 20k KM - 350 bucks MGP
  • CNG cylinder inspection every 3 years - 2000 to 2500 bucks
  • So every 10K KM minor service and every 20K KM major service.
  • Cost of minor service - 5000 bucks including labor
  • Cost of major service - 8500 bucks including labor

No major repair coming under 5 years as all the major parts have been replaced including the tyres, front suspension and brake pads.

Re-Registration -

Paid the green tax and did the fitness test in Pune R.T.O. and now she is registered for another 5 years till July 2028. Costed me around 12K including brokerage.

Conclusion -

A proper shiny sedan in pristine condition for 3 Lakh rupees after all major repairs done, registered till 2028 with low maintenance cost (Because it's a Maruti). Total ownership time is almost 7 years till 2028 (if possible will extend it again for 5 years), and I drive around 10K per year so the engine will be in reasonably good condition for at least 50K KM more, that is 1.5 Lakh KM on ODO. Happy me!

Please let me know how you guys feel about my decision.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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