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Scams of Car Service Dealers
Be careful and do not fall for their pitches when you go for routine servicing
With urban real estate costs high, and showing no signs of declining, car sales flattening out and utilisation going down, one of the only remaining income streams for service dealers is a variety of scams foisted on you—if you are not careful about reading the fine print when your vehicle goes for routine servicing or maintenance. Here are some of these:
•  Nitrogen in tyres has to be the biggest scam going. With normal driving, or even fast driving, there is no real benefit on existing standard tyres fitted on standard rims. Only if you are headed out to a race track will it make sense to pay thousands of rupees for what they claim is nitrogen gas.
• Alignment and wheel balancing, ideally done once every 15,000-20,000km, unless there is sign of heavy wear & tear on tyres, for which again there can be multiple other causes. Every which way, if you end up paying more than Rs500 to align and balance all four tyres, then you are paying too much.
• Clutch overhauling scam. Clutch does not need overhauling if it goes slightly ‘hard’. Clutch needs overhauling if your engine starts ‘slipping’, i.e., when you press down hard, the engine roars ahead, while the car follows not so quickly.
• Steam cleaning of air-conditioner ducts. This one takes the cake. All they do is take your car, turn your temperature controls at hottest, run fan at highest for five minutes, and then let the car cool down for half-an-hour.
Don’t fall for these scams. I have written multiple pieces on how to take care of your car before, and after, the rains. If you follow them, hopefully, you will be fine.

Car Pooling Urgently Needed

About 30-40 years ago, when the total production of motor-cars in India was around 70,000-100,000 per annum, the Motor Vehicles Act and amendments, as they stood then, had a very interesting provision for optimal utilisation of existing roads and vehicles. You could, on the payment of a moderate and reasonable fee, convert your private car into a commercial taxi for a few months, and then, after paying the required insurance top-up fees, be street legal as a taxi too.
This way, in peak seasons, private cars otherwise lying around unused could, and often were, used as legitimate private taxies. As long as they satisfied the basic criteria on fitness and permits required, regardless of age, you could wrap an additional registration plate over the existing one and earn some money as well as keep an asset from blocking expensive public real estate. What ails most Indian cities nowadays is the large number of private cars lying underused—often not used at all, for whatever reason. On the other hand, with parking rates and drivers’ salaries going up, in some cities, there appears to be a shortage of good quality cabs. There is an obvious fit here. Which will also be an income-earning opportunity to those who have bought cars but don’t use them all the time.

Second-hand Car: More Insights

A friend of mine bought a used car recently from another friend of his. The car was in good shape and condition, about five years old, but had been lying abandoned and unused for the past three years or so. During this period, the car's insurance had lapsed; apart from that, it needed some minor repairs, and cleaning. Two issues that he came to me for advice were:
• Weird smell emerging from the air-conditioner. He had tried to use some fragrances but they didn’t appear to work. A quick servicing of the AC by a specialist fixed that, but what came out of the ducts was like a mini decayed forest, certainly unhealthy. And that is a point to remember if cars have not been used for a while.
• Synchronising the expired insurance for the purchased car while taking benefit of existing ‘no claim bonus’ for the old car he sold as scrap and re-registering it. To do that, he had to first take insurance in the previous owner’s name, then place the documents for re-registration and, simultaneously, transfer the previous ‘no claim bonus’ to the newer car. Bit of a hop-step-jump that, but that’s how it is.

Parking Troubles

Parking cars on roads comes naturally to many of us, in India. One can understand if the urge to double-park, as it is called in other countries when you pull over and stop on a road for whatever reason, overtakes us when we are on the move. But, to assume that it is a birthright to double-park even for overnight parking on roads which have multiple forms of traffic—from pedestrian to cycles to motor vehicles—on a regular basis, needs to be figured out.
Overnight parking has become a major issue in Delhi, the more ‘posh’ the locality, the more acute the parking ‘problems’. With what were single-unit houses becoming four- to eight-family habitats, over the past few decades, along with basements doubling up as offices and additional ‘servant's quarters’ coming up on the terraces, it is not unusual to see 12-16 cars, and an equal number of two-wheelers, adorn the road space outside a 300-400-square metre plot.
It gets even worse where there are smaller plots and in smaller cities. Likewise, in markets and bazaars all over India and not just Delhi. As a result, roads and pavements outside homes and offices are like war-zones, protected by man and machine and video cameras at a level not seen on the LoC (line of control) or international border between India and Pakistan.
In some parts of Delhi, the problems are so severe now that, after about 10pm or so, people just park anyhow anywhere, blocking the option of not just emergency vehicles accessing the streets, but pretty much all movement. Traffic jams inside inner ‘colony’ roads become gridlocks and parking rage is replacing road rage. It gets difficult to write about new cars and bikes when there is a parking war going on outside at 6:30 on a cold winter morning!

Reversing Safely

While looking out of the window from where I live and work, the most common sight is that of motor-cars trying their level best to squeeze into tight parking slots by any means possible. Often, this means huge usage of power-steering, and change of locomotion from forward to reverse gears, multiple times. All this provides continuous recreation to the vast variety of idlers who collect when such drama is going on. Power-steering has made multiple movements easier; but, at one time, many of us born to non-assisted steering, would take great pride in being able to slot a car into a parking bay in one smart move, regardless. (But not many people now even remember pre-power-steering  cars!) There are many online websites that teach you how to reverse into tight parking spots. Take a look at them. It will save you a lot of tyre and steering system wear & tear, to start with. Plus all those idle loafers will not laugh at you.
(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves.)



Harish Kohli

2 years ago

I have quite a bit of experience on the service stations carrying out unnecessary repairs. In on instance they called me to say that the brake pads have to be replaced. When I complained to the GM and told him the pads were replaced during the last servicing and the car has been driven only 1,000 Kms, the pads became alright.
An issue I would like your opinion on is regarding the manufacturers recommended service schedule after every, normally, 10,000 Kms. Tasks to be done and consumables/parts to be changed at each service are specified. Even if the vehicle has hardly logged, say 2,000 kms, I am asked to change the oil, filters, coolant, spark plugs, overhauling of fuel system, alignment etc. I reluctantly agree to change theoil & filters but not for the other works. Where do I stand with respect to the warranty, particularly the extended warranty. Can it be declined because of my refusal to follow the recommended schedule?


Veeresh Malik

In Reply to Harish Kohli 2 years ago

Thank you for writing in.

The previous generation of Indians and Indian cars, the Ambassadors and Premiers, typically needed a service ever 1600kms or so. From that to 10000kms has been a very rapid change.

In the bargain, however, there is this huge fleet of low-usage cars which run up huge servicing bills because the authorised service stations charge basis timeline recomendations and not mileage done.

Will warranty get impacted?

That depends on manufacturer to manufacturer and there is no one clear answer to that question.

Shall attempt to address this issue in a future article.

Harish Kohli

In Reply to Veeresh Malik 2 years ago

Namaste Veereshji, An article on this subject will be appreciated.By the way, now that we follow kilometer instead of miles, hasn't there been any word to replace milometer and mileage? I get foxed when I have to use these words.

In a lighter vein I can't help commenting on your statement "The previous generations of Indians and Indian cars ..........." Well I think the service schedules for the "Previous Indians" and the new Indians could be reversed. Do Fast Food companies have any comments?

Nifty, Sensex may try to rally – Tuesday closing report
A close above 8,560 may mean a short rally in Nifty. Bank Nifty has to close above 18,450 for the first sign that the downtrend is ending 
We had mentioned in Monday’s closing report that NSE’s CNX Nifty may continue to weaken unless it manages to close above 8,600. After opening low on Tuesday, the 50-share index started moving gradually higher. However, the momentum weakened after a few hours and Nifty headed lower during 11.30am and 1.30pm. Thereafter, the benchmark witnessed a sudden surge and hit high of the day. However, the indices immediately gave up the entire gains and closed lower for the fifth consecutive session. 
The S&P BSE Sensex opened at 28,209 and moved in the range of 28,130 and 28,455, while Nifty opened at 8,537 and moved between 8,536 and 8,628. Sensex closed at 28,162 (down 30 points or 0.11%), while Nifty closed at 8,543 (down 8 points or 0.09%). Bank Nifty opened at 18,348 and moved from the low of 18,290 to the high of 18,546, but could not manage to stay in the green and hence, closed lower. Bank Nifty closed at 18,331 (down 118 points or 0.64%). NSE recorded a volume of 71.79 crore shares. India VIX fell 4.19% to close at 13.6725.
As per the indicative calendar for issuance of Government dated securities, the Indian government will borrow Rs3.6 lakh crore from the market during the first half of the fiscal year 2015-16 (1 April 2015 to 30 September 2015). At the time of announcing the government's indicative borrowing calendar, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) said that it has also been decided to elongate maturity by issuance of security up to 40-year maturity.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said in a report that it expects India's economic growth to accelerate to 7.8% in the fiscal year ending 31 March 2016, driven by an improved performance in the industry and services sectors, which have benefited from business-friendly structural reforms. ADB expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.3% in both 2015 and 2016 for Asia.
Coming back to Indian stock markets, Natco Pharma (6.50%) was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. IDFC initiated coverage of stock with outperformer rating and setting a target price of Rs2,730. The stock hit its 52-week high last week at Rs2,291.40. NIIT Technologies (6.37%) was the top loser in ‘A’ group on the BSE. It informed that a dispute has arisen between one of the company's subsidiaries and its client in the APAC region, which may result in claims and counter claims. The company is exploring various options to resolve the dispute. In line with the company's accounting policy, the company shall be providing up to a value of US $ 10mn., towards unbilled revenue, during the current quarter.
Bharti Airtel (2.86%) was the top gainer in the Sensex 30 pack. It was in the news for its partnership with Amazon Web Services to offer its cloud computing services to customers in India. Tata Motors (3.27%) was the top loser in the Sensex 30 stock.
The US indices closed Monday flat with a negative bias. 
Asian indices showed mixed performance. KLSE Composite (1.01%) was the top gainer, while Hang Seng (0.39%) was the top loser.
Chinese manufacturing activity dropped to an 11-month low. The preliminary HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.2 in March, compared with a final reading of 50.7 in February, HSBC Holdings PLC said today.
European indices were trading flat with positive bias. US Futures were trading in the green. Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are making an attempt to find ways to help Athens reach a deal with creditors that will keep it from falling out of the euro. After an hour of talks, the two leaders reportedly indicated no breakthrough in resolving Greece's debt troubles or its increasingly contentious negotiations with its European Union partners, who are demanding fresh reforms before offering more money to Athens.
Germany's private sector grew in March at its strongest rate since July 2014. Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) jumped to an eight-month high of 55.3 in March from 53.8 in February. France's private sector expanded for the second straight month in March, a survey showed today.


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