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    Thread: Musings of my first love: Chevy spark!

    1. #1

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      Red face Musings of my first love: Chevy spark!

      Flashback: 26th july 2005


      " And class, remember, yes in french is called 'oui' pronounced as 'we'....."

      Simple_car calling simple_car: Lovely rains. You know monsoon is my favorite season. It gives life to everything. Plants, animals, diseases...
      But its raining a lot today. Seems like I will have to wear those stupid pants my aunt gave me on my last birthday tomorrow(it takes a lot of time for the clothes to dry in monsoon, and my wardrobe, for the lack of better word is best described as modest). I hate those things..

      A peon appears from nowhere: "madam ni sangitlya ahe balkanna jaldi sodayla sathi. Paoos khupach ahe" (madam has ordered to leave the kids early. Its raining heavily)

      I left the college alone (was the odd one stupid enough to take french) wading my way through knee deep water. My college was in Vile parle east, and I lived in borivali. I reached the station only to know that the trains are also stuck. Called up dad, who said he was in vile parle west for some work and that we would leave together in our skoda octavia. I started again to weave my way to his office. For those who know bombay, will know that vile parle west is worst than east as far as height from sea level is concerned. As I was walking, water slowly came upto my waist level. Wow, I thought, wonder how we'll be able to go home in this situation (looking at the jams and cars which had already be stranded. Some SUV owners were kind enough to give a lift to children, but that was of no use since the cars weren't moving anywhere)
      Little did I know then I wouldn't meet my family for 2 days. The octavia was lost to the floods, and declared as total loss.



      Fast forward: December 2007


      Last year was terrible for us. The floods had caused severe damage to our offices and machines. Finances were very very tight, and I had just started my graduate college.

      One evening.

      Dad: "I think we'll have to buy a new car now."
      We had a toyota qualis which had survived the floods doing its regular duty with dad.
      Me: "But, why do you want a new one? And more importantly, how do you intend to pay for a new car?"
      Dad: "I don't like travelling much in the qualis. I'll sell off the qualis. We'll buy 2 new cars. One small one right now, and a a car with good ground clearance (remember, we needed one for wading through floods which we expected every monsoon) later once the office is functioning to full capacity."
      Me: "Your choice. Let me know what you are thinking."
      Dad: "I have heard, the fabia is getting launched soon, I'll buy that. What do you think?" (dad is a skoda fanboy)
      Me: "Whatever. Its not like you are going to listen to me anyways. But I like the new spark which has been launched. Remember, you like the matiz, your friend drove around in. Its the same car, only the badge has been changed, and hopefully a little more reliable as well."
      Dad: "Skoda Fabia it is.."

      Few months later, when the fabia was launched, dad was the first person to take a test drive of the tdi model at the then newly launched JMD showroom in navi mumbai. Even before they did the customary pooja of test drive model. Later in the evening:
      Dad: "I have booked a test drive tomorrow of the spark. Want to join?"
      Me: "What about the fabia? I thought I'll be seeing one in our building tomorrow?"
      Dad: "Its pathetic. Too many vibrations. And floor the accelerator, that engine just disappoints. Too noisy. Rest of the car though, is superb."
      Me (Smiling): "Ok. I'll join you. It'll be the first time you took me along for a test drive too."

      Next day, after the test drive.
      Dad: "Ok, so much time for the abs model to be delivered?"
      Salesman: "Sir, 3 months. We have a stock of the next highest model available though. The LT for immediate delivery if you want."
      Dad: "Send me the papers tomorrow. I want the car in 3 days tops."
      Salesman: "Sir, that is not possible. It will take at least a week for the formalities to be completed, you know insurance, paperwork etc. And sir, you know how the RTO works, it will take 3 days only in the RTO!"
      Dad: "Ok. I am buying the insurance from you. And please add that music system which I saw in the showroom. Now how long will it take for the car to be delivered?"
      Salesman: "You'll have the car day after tomorrow, afternoon 3.00 p.m."

      2 days later, the spark arrived.

      - - - Updated - - -

      Other cars considered:
      None. We usually know which cars we want. Never had a confusion.
      Just a heads up for others; the swift, santro, alto, wagon r, getz were all within our budget. Never considered.

      I had learnt driving in an old rickety run down esteem for 2 months, before I was given this car. So, with that as a reference point, I drove the car for the first time while going to the marketplace with my mother.

      And I fell in love.

      Initial impressions:

      A) Likes:
      1. What a steering! Not as light as a santro, very direct, and more than all of that, just makes me smile (priceless)
      2. Good power (remember, I was graduating from an esteem which must have had not more than 40 hp)
      3. Awesome brakes
      4. This thing loves being thrown around. Like a dart no less!
      5. The center mounted speedo (yeah, I loved this arrangement a lot)
      6. Felt quite robust.
      7. The styling. Just brings a smile to my face every single time I see her

      B) Dislikes:
      1. The stupid grey interiors. The dash just felt like a big grey slab. That said, I prefer this color over beige in the newer sparks
      2. Switch the A/C on and there is a distinct laziness in the engine.
      3. Bad space for the rear occupants (wasn't much concerned about this since I would only be driving it)

      But all in all, I was ebullient!

      I will be concentrating more on my experiences with the car rather than pics.

      This car was my first love. No doubts. I drove it and cared for it like a baby (note to self: need to show such emotions more for the real human babies)
      I wasn't aware of anything like running in period of the engine, or for that matter that its theoretically better to have the oil changed during the 2500km general check service, or anything like that for that matter. But fortunately, until 2500kms I babied the car too much.

      2500kms to 0 kms
      No no, just because I am bad at math doesn't mean that I am bad at numbers (in fact quite good). You read it right.
      At 2500 kms, the first service was done and the speedometer console was replaced under warranty (the speedo failed). The new speedo came with 0kms reading.

      3600kms & my first mistake
      These were the days when I was crazy for alloy wheels! I just wanted a set for my car. So, my b'day present from my dad was a set of alloys (Mom was p****d, since my wardrobe needed an overhaul. But I wasn't listening)
      And here comes my first mistake. Since I was a noob in this area, I just went to the local alloy wheel shop, chose a set of alloys and got them installed. No change in diameter, but there was an increase in J width. I didn't change the tyres as well (stock were MRF ZVTV). Just wanted that cool alloy look.
      The increase in the J width caused one big problem. The rear wheels scraped the tyre well under full load while going over bad roads. I spoke to the tyre guy, and he washed his hands off the incident. I let it be as is since the car thoughout its life has been fully loaded only twice till date.
      The only silver lining: the alloy wheel set consisted of 5 alloys (unlike the 4 which you get in the market nowadays) and the pcd was correct (I found out later)

      10,000 kms
      Uneventful. Had a routine service at A.S.S., I blindly trusted the S.A. and got all jobs done recommended by him. Second mistake. Costed me 3k.

      So, I had a good hang of the car now, and used to drive it only once a week. This is the phase when I started to understand the true good points of the car. By now I had driven the i10, wagon R, and santro quite extensively (me and my friends used to race each others cars during the night at a desolated place. Shh... shh.. don't tell my parents I had my first scratch, the first ding and also my first road rage incidents by now. The left hand side ORVM bore the brunt of my road rage. I still haven't replaced it to remind me of my foolishness whenever I drive this car. It vibrates when going over undulations. I'll put up my final impression of the car in the end.

      15000 kms and the painful separation

      If anybody had told me that I would be separated from my love after just 15000kms, I wouldn't have touched this car at all. Dad decided to hand over the car to one of our senior employees, as a reward for his services. I had my first breakup. Sure, the car would be seen by me regularly; sure, I would still be maintaining the car; sure, I could drive it whenever I wanted to, BUT, it didn't feel the same. I lost interest totally, and ignored it from then onward.
      We got ourselves a 2nd hand getz (mint conditon, with full service history). The getz just didn't make me happy, although everybody else were very pleased with this car. I lost interest in driving, and continued my life, travelling around in trains.

      50,000 kms and reunion

      My exams had been postponed, and I was studying in my room. Suddenly, tring tring, tring tring

      Me: hello?
      Dad: I am buying 2 new cars for our employees and selling of the getz. The spark needs some maintenance. You'll handle it?
      Me: Why don't you sell of the spark? And why are you selling of the getz?? Its running fine and if you sell of the getz, what will you go around in?
      Dad: sparks loan is not yet over. Should have gone for a 3 year loan. But what is done is done. I'll travel in spark for few months, then we'll buy a new car. But I am currently getting a good deal if I sell of the getz.
      Me: ok. But I don't know how bad the condition of the spark is. It may take a weeks time to get it in full running condition
      Dad: No. I'll give you 3 days. Make sure its in a driveable condition.
      Me: ok. But I'll need a day to evaluate whats wrong with the car. Give me 4 days.
      Dad: ok
      Mom: Why are you smiling?
      Me: Spark's coming home!
      Mom: So? I thought you had broken up with her
      Me: yeah. But, I still feel so happy.

      That evening, I was reunited with the car. I was smiling and reminiscing.

      The car had suffered quite a lot in the hands of the employee. But, it was repairable. There was a huge dent in the rear bumper. The rear doors were jammed. All 4 shocks were shot. The brakes were shot. Had undergone only 2 services since I last parted with her. The clutch was shot too. The initial lot of cars had a very common issue with regard to muffler rusting. Mine had it too.
      But, the engine was still silky smooth, the car still darted around, and more than anything else, she still made me happy.

      I gave the car to nikhil auto workshop in goregaon. Following things were done:
      1. Clutch overhaul. 3rd mistake. Only clutch plate change would have sufficed
      2. all 4 shocks replaced
      3. Brakes changed. Front pads only, along with disc skimming. 4th mistake.
      4. S.A. told me there was some minor leakage in a pipe connecting the coolant tank. Replaced. 5th mistake. Taken for a ride.
      5. Alternator/fan belt changed. The car had the screeching sound, which is reported quite frequently by spark owners.
      6. I let the muffler remain as it is, since it now gave the car a more sporty note, and besides, the above repairs had cut a huge hole in our pockets.

      The following things were not done (due to my ignorance):
      1. Spark plug change (as per schedule)
      2. Coolant change (as per schedule)

      After, the car came home, I realized that the above 2 things weren't done. I went to a local garage here, and inspected the spark plugs. They were clean, a little soot here and there, but didn't look quite serious. The mechanic proclaimed that I could use it till next service. The coolant change, the mechanic told me that the coolant's color is fine. Wish I could kick my *** for listening to him. 6th mistake
      Last edited by mclaren1885; 18th Jul 2013 at 16:08. Reason: Removed bold fonts on complete paragraphs to make it easy to read.

    2. #2

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      Present day

      52000kms and the breakup. Again!

      The petrol diesel price difference was now at 20 Rs. per litre. Mom and Dad's combined running dictated that we get a diesel for our daily needs. Dad announced that we were getting the figo (again, I wasn't consulted), and that spark had to leave now.
      I managed to convince him to make it as a backup car for anyone to use. You see, we were facing a lot of issues with our family's current lot of cars. I told him to keep the car at another place, and use it only when one of the other cars broke down. The fact the loan closure would take a few more months convinced him. Whew! At least the car was still with us.


      75000 kms and the chevy quality shows its true colors

      Time went by, and I didn't see the car for well over a year. Well, i did see it once, but only to replace the front 2 tyres which had gone bald. It had barely run 1000kms in 6 months
      One fine day, I was called to check the condition of the car as the new driver felt that the car needed service. Little did I know that I would be entering into a nightmare.

      The problems:
      1. The car had covered 25k kms in 6 months. No service done. Great! Mom didn't think to inform me that the car had replaced the duty of one of my relatives bolero which was giving him a lot of problems.
      2. The clutch was shot again! (but expected. The driver is know to use it judiciously)
      3. There was suspension noise again! (this I didn't expect, since even though the driver uses the clutch judiciously, he is careful while negotiating the roads)
      4. The A/C was shot
      5. The car was accelerating while depressing the clutch. The engine maintained the revs at higher level. I couldn't figure out the cause for this, but at this stage it was manageable.
      6. The alternator belt was begging for a replacement.
      7. Power steering belt was nowhere to be seen. But surprisingly, there was no change of feel in the steering
      8. Rear wiper stalk broken
      9. The hydraulic arms which hold the boot open were shot.

      All above points pointed to poor quality of parts used. I maintain quite a lot of cars infact. I am well aware of how the respective drivers use the cars. Of all the cars which are maintained by me, I have concluded that chevy's parts just don't last long enough. Or rather they are not abuse friendly. Why? Read on...

      I went to the newly opened JMD andheri workshop, with a sense of doom. I knew that this would be a final straw for my parents. They will sell it off. I just had a bad feeling about it. Met the parts manager there and a chat with him. Quote for proper service, front suspension overhaul (I didn't feel that the shocks needed replacement), Muffler replacement, throttle body replacement, clutch overhaul (didn't budge when I told him that I only want to replace the clutch plates) and some miscellaneous things was in the range of 70-80k with labor.

      Gulp

      Sat down at home and thought this through:
      1. I'll need a good mechanic. This car will have to be serviced outside only.
      2. The clutch will hold through for few thousand kms (though it was on its last legs). I could delay this replacement for a couple of months.
      3. Muffler replacement could be put to hold
      4. I'll skip the shocks replacement.
      5. The throttle problem was still manageable at this point. I'll dig into this later and find a solution on my own.

      Next two days was spent by me taking the car around to show to different mechanics. I must have visited 5 different garages in my area. All of them were either giving jugaad solutions (I hate this), or I was suspicious of their claim that they would source original parts for the same. I know all of them source parts from suppliers in opera house area, and I know that it has an equally big market for spurious spares. I'll have to trust one guy and go ahead.

      Called up few friends for help, and I got none. Called up people I hadn't spoken for over a year, and finally an old acquaintance (whom I remember being into car modification) referred me to a new chap. He warned me upfront that he's a little bit more expensive than other guys but guarantees original parts. Met this chap next morning, and first impressions were a little disappointing. A little..

      He was an enthusiast, but didn't have his own place. But I kinda liked him. Gut feeling told me to trust him. Decided to take the plunge. Decided to repair it step by step, since the car was needed in between

      Step 1:
      1. Change all oils: engine, brake, coolant, etc.
      2. Change all filters and all belts
      3. Change spark plugs
      4. Change front brakes
      5. A/C checkup would take some time. Could live without it. Let it be.

      I also had to replace 3 tyres this time since the rear 2 were bald by this time. Also one of the alloys shattered the day before. Good thing that I had a 5 alloy wheel set. Bought a steel rim, fitted it with a brand new tyre, and used it as stephney.

      Step 2: I won't be revealing the costs here. Feel free to message me for the same
      1. Front suspension overhaul (I was reluctant for the shocks, but decided to go ahead. The mech told me it was best to do it)
      2. Clutch plates changed
      3. Alternator overhaul (bearings and motors). This was done since the car had broken down the day before, and the local mech in the area did a shoddy job of the repair
      4. Throttle body problem had now increased many fold. It was now dangerous to drive the car. This new mech asked for a day to see where the problem was. Called me up the next day and said the LLR (I forget the full form now) was faulty. Rest, the cable and things were fine. This unit is unique in the sense that it will break down completely if you try to open it up. So it has to be ordered. It would take a few days for him to source it, but it could be done. Gave the go ahead (was now getting suspicious). He assured me that in case this doesn't work out, he won't charge me for the same.

      Step 3:
      1. The LLR module was replaced, but the throttle problem persisted. The mech said to give him some time to figure out the cause.
      2. The hydraulic mounts were replaced.
      3. The rear brake lining were replaced.
      4. Ordered the rear wiper arm and wiper.
      5. The mech said (after a few hours) that the muffler (which was now eaten by rust) was the cause. Replacement was necessary. I told him, if this doesn't work out, I'll not pay him at all.

      Step 4:
      1. Muffler replaced. Problem reduced by a huge extent, but still present. The mech said to drive around for 100-200 kms after which it will settle down. This turned out to be true.
      2. Rear wiper arm was of the newer spark, didn't fit, reordered it.

      All in all the experience was good. I trust his diagnostic skills atleast. As far as parts genuineness is concerned, only time will tell. I have bitten the bullet.


      80,000kms

      The mech recommended a 5k kms service interval initially for 2 services, since there was some sludge seen by him (I doubt it though). Anyways I followed it, and the car was given for 80k kms service to him again. I don't recommend the usual practices followed at service stations (read--> throttle body cleaning, engine flush). They aren't as effective as a premature oil changes to remove the sludge.
      Btw, the rear wiper arm still hadn't been procured. The part arrived at my place just a few days back. Have yet to fit it back.

      1. The A/C compressor bearing failed. Decided to live with it. Replace it next year.
      2. The power steering belt was shredded. Replaced it. I asked about this quite premature replacement and wear of the belt, but the mech claimed that the damage was purposefully done by someone else

      Next day, again the power steering belt was shredded. But the car was far away from home. Spoke to the local mech, who said that the A/C bearing was interfering with the belts function. Instructed him to remove the compressor assemble totally. Also replace a new belt

      Next day, again the power steering belt was shredded. This was getting a bit too weird. I decided to let it be and had the belt removed. The steering feel doesn't change at all anyways. So its been that way since

      - - - Updated - - -

      I have driven this car for at max 20k kms of the total mileage covered. But I have been solely responsible for its maintenance. Also, I have put in my impressions of comparisons with different cars that I have driven. Here are my final impressions:

      Likes

      1. Engine
      Its a 63hp 3 pot engine. During your normal day to day drives, this engine feels like any other 4 pot engine. At idle, its difficult to know whether its running or not. When you are in the mood to race, the engine note is a nice one, nothing great, but nice nonetheless. No harsh NVH levels which have been traditionally been associated with 3 pot engines.
      Has a good low and mid range power, top end is bad.
      The i10 in my opinion has the best of engines. Wagon R's engine, I would rate next to spark. Santro has only 1 advantage, i.e. low end torque.

      2. Handling
      The car is a neutral handler.
      Handling is one of the make or break decisions for me and my family. All our past cars and present ones have one common thing. They are good/neutral handlers.
      i10 and santro fare very poorly in this aspect. The VW twins are definitely better. Wagon R is quite similar to spark.

      3. Steering
      I like the steering. Its direct. No feedback. Not as light as the hyundai's, and polo. I still cannot point out the exact reason why I like it so much though

      4. Rattle free nature
      The car has no rattles till this stage. This is a very pleasant surprise. Its not been exactly babied.

      5. Robust build
      Overall, a very robust build. It takes on the abuse related to city driving pretty well. The kind of accidents this car has been through, it has always been the other car which managed to get damaged more badly. No, no major accidents; just the occasional bump, scratch and bike tussles.

      6. Looks
      Purely subjective. I love it till date.

      7. Center console speedo
      Again subjective. I love it though. I for one do not mind at all that it doesn't have a tachometer. It looks simple.

      What I wish would have been better OR Dislikes (for other people)

      None of the following points are my personal dislikes. Just that they should have been better in my opinion.

      1. Interior
      Plastics are hard, but durable. There is an excess of grey color in my car. Yes, there is that occasional silver inserts on center console, and window areas BUT these silver inserts have faded and now revealed their true color i.e. black. Looks ugly
      That said, I prefer this color scheme to the beige found in newer sparks (which is a big pain to maintain)

      2. Space management
      I am no expert in car design, hence cannot comment on what the original designers thought of while making the car. All I wish that the management would have been a wee bit better. Like rear door bottle holders. An little scooped out space in frond dash (which looks like a slab).
      The space for rear passengers is limited (as expected from a small car), but my hand grazes the thigh my my co passenger when changing gears from 1st to 2nd (can't wait to let my girlfriend sit here. One of the reasons why I love this car)

      3. Paint quality
      Not so good. has faded a lot over these years.

      4. Road noise insulation
      Its bad. You'll hear a lot of tyre noise. Be prepared of this. The hyundai's are better in this regard.

      5. Mileage
      I get 11-12 in bombay traffic, with A/C off all the time. Highway drives give at max 17. Note, I knew the chevy is not going to give a good mileage. A maruti gives better mileage with me on the wheel. Can't comment on hyundai or vw twins

      6. Chevrolet car parts quality
      This has been bugging me a lot. I have doubts in this area. My reasons are as follows:
      a) I maintain cars of different brands, and I know the driving styles of respective drivers in and out. The parts failing in chevy do not fail on other cars, with the same drivers and similar roads they drive on. This is just my observation
      b) During my A.S.S. visits, the spark owners whom I interacted with presented with similar complaints. The shocks of all the cars were being replaced at <50k kms value. The throttle body problem was existing in cars of 2 owners whom I spoke to. The muffler rust issue was also known. Although I agree that my data is very small, yet the trend is similar. Would like to hear comments of others on this aspect

    3. #3

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      90,000kms service done

      90,000 kms Service

      Currently odo stands at 88k kms (actually: 90.5k kms)

      Bad news continue to haunt this car and my pocket

      1. The brake pads had to be replaced again. After just 13.5k kms.
      2. The suspension is now a little 'loose'. No, there are none of those ball joint/tie rod noises, just that it doesn't feel taut like I prefer.
      3. The left headlamp has conked off.
      4. The central locking has a mind of its own.
      5. Now, comes the worst part. While trying to remove the right front wheel for brake change, one of the bolts was found to be jammed. Took 2 days of welding to remove it. Was considering cutting the alloy, but fortunately the nut finally came out. But the alloy now has marks of the chisels which were used, and is now blackened due to constant use of welding torches. Looks bad.
      6. The right wheel bearing had to be replaced.
      7. Rest, oils and filters were changed. Rear wiper which was ordered has been put back.
      8. There was a mis-communication in the earlier post. The power steering belt and the compressor is still certainly in its place, my fault for stating otherwise. But I was told so by my drivers, and... its a complicated story, very difficult to explain here. I will now have to have a good chat with these guys.
      8. A faint bearing noise is heard. I think its of the compressor assembly.

      Sigh....love is a b***h.

      Thanks,
      Simple_car

    4. #4
      Crazy guy!
      not aware that he can set his status here!
       
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      Anandv267's Avatar
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      Holy duck. That is one of the most detailed reviews ive ever read. Full of details. Glued to this one
      You can make me angry but you cant make me sad

      Manager at cafe sri krishna- chennai (kotturpuram)

    5. #5

      In Bhai We Trust
       
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      This is one of the best, detailed ownership thread I have read! Kudos to you Sir. Glued for further updates
      Pulsar'09 | Swift'11 VDI |Indica'11 DLS| RE CL350
      "If Death Comes before I prove my blood, I promise I'll Kill Death!" - Capt. Vikram Bhatra (Param Vir Chakra)

    6. #6

      Enjoying Bangalore rain and
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      Reminds me of my first car, Matiz SD Mineral Red, which stayed with me for 11 long years and clocked 1,33,000 kms. I did change the fuel pump - normal problem with Matiz, changed an ECU and wheel bearings. Gem of a Car.
      Dzire Vdi 2010
      Matiz SD 2000
      TVS Streak 2009
      Kawasaki 4S 1995

      "Success is like your own shadow, if u try to catch then u will never succeed, ignore it and walk in your own way....it will follow u.."

    7. #7

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      The car is now sold. The axle broke 2 days back when the car went over a pothole. I can now safely say that I have spent a fortune trying to maintain this car. I will have to cut back my losses. Hopefully, in the future, I will buy it back and restore it fully.
      Attaching some pics which I have:

      The damaged alloy
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      This is me sitting behind my 5'11" adjusted driver seat
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      90k kms old interior. Notice the black fade marks on the silver inserts
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      This is misaligned bumper after a frontal impact. The build, I feel is pretty robust.
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