Owning & operating a car in India in 2001 vs 2021

I am sure that many of the seniors would have experienced and noticed this change in the way we treat a car over few decades.

saikarthik recently shared this with other BHPians.

I was sitting in my home on a holiday and was ordering some car care items online, which led me to this thought - why am I buying all these stuff? I never bought these many products or services for my previous car that was purchased 13 years back adding to the cost of ownership. This change in the way we care or operate our car might be because of more exposure and maturity in us or the affordability (more income and spending mindset), availability of options etc.

I am sure that many of the seniors would have experienced and noticed this change in the way we treat a car over few decades. Let us not make this thread about just the driving habits, modifications, basic accessories or cost (example how fuel/taxes were Rs. xx back then while it's Rs. xxx), but discuss the way we and our methods/habits about car care & usage evolved or changed in past 20 years - 2000's and now. There are definitely both sides positives and negatives on this change. Some of those which I could think of are:

Keeping the car clean and in better shape

Once a wise man in the movie Transporter said "The way a man treats his car is how he treats himself".

This was always the first pointer to identify whether a person takes care of his car or not, not like judging by the cover of a book though. The habit of keeping cars clean is not a new habit by itself, but the amount of products and the ways have come a long way in just a few years. Comparing to early 2000s, cleaning used to be a daily ceremony for quite a few with minimal products like a soft cloth, probably soapy water, once in a while pressure wash and rarely detailing/coating. But now, there are a lot of products, services and outlets to clean. While some normal people employ someone to clean their car every morning and detailing once in a while, others take interest to keep their cars clean by themselves. Some of the points that I would list has increased:


Evolved from cloth and brush to micro-fiber cloths, water magnets (absorbers for quick dry), mitts and dusters, wax coated dusters (read Jopasu), foam applicators, special brushes, spray bottles/foamers, personal pressure washers (Karcher/Bosch), Vacuum cleaners.


Evolved from car shampoo to Oh! there too many and will limit to few mentions - windshield washer fluid, waterless wash concentrates, wax coats, dashboard detailers, degreasers etc.

Time & effort:

What used to be a quick dust and wash now takes hours. People watch videos and go through thousands of lines on forums to follow best practices.


Evolved from wash stations to car spas, automatic washing centers, detailers.

Extra care:

Some may think it an overkill, but it is essential to have extra care on few things like using RO water to fill their windshield wash tanks to prevent scale & clogging of washer jets/nozzles.

Special mention:

Interior detailing and cleaning now takes a lot of focus than before, even maintaining air quality using electronic purifiers, charcoal bags, perfumes and a lot more. People use dustbins in car now, earlier the ashtray used to be the closest thing.

Protecting the car

Now there are three things here that people used to consider - protecting the car from outside physical damage due to daily drive, theft/sabotage and keeping the car functional/reliable.

External coatings:

Evolved to anti-rust, anti-rodent, PU coat, PPF, Ceramic coat, anti-fog for windshields, vinyl wraps.

External hardware:

Now the bull bars/flag poles are illegal due to pedestrian safety, sun films (like old dark ones) are not legal, so mostly they are restricted to door guards and simple stuff.


Simple rubber mats evolved to 3D/7D and what not, full floor carpeting, sill plates.


Earlier, only few variants and models came with in-built vehicle alarm systems, so people used mostly accessories such as remote CDLs with sirens. Now we get access to GPS locators and geo-fencing tech. Dashcams are also very important that people spend a lot on to avoid legal harassment or road rage.

Keeping car functional & safe:

Again, keeping car serviced is preventive which has no change but the comfort of pick-up and drop, service reminder mails, RSA, start-ups trying to consolidate FNGs and offering services like gobumper and gomechanic. One downside in service area is making fraudulent claims of replacement of parts and inflating bills. There are some beliefs involved too (take it in neutral sense), so people used idols on dashboards which evolved to a lot of fancy illuminated stuff and hanging accessories from IRVM.

Another aspect in this is when you meet with some incident or emergency situation like a tyre puncture, accident etc. We now spend some good amount on getting equipment like jump cables, tyre inflators (in place of puncture kits), fire extinguishers, first aid kit (from simple pouch earlier to a comprehensive kit). There is an increase in spending on TPMS sensors and many people fill nitrogen nowadays.


  • Document carrying has become hassle free with digilocker or mparivahan app.
  • Paying challans are easy now compared to the manual challans issued earlier (god only knows if they are legit).
  • DIYs - earlier most of these were mechanical/electrical, now many are trying their hand in electronics/coding.
  • Paying toll - a miserable affair earlier, a less miserable affair now thanks to Fastag.
  • Subscription - now we have connected cars for which we pay one time sim cost and navigation license, but with EVs and other features will we get into subscriptions?

What else do you think has changed from the past 20 years in the way we treat and spend on a car? In some cases, I think we are doing a little too much where it is not necessary to.

Thanks to saikarthik once again! Check out BHPian comments for more insights & information.

Power to the people