Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dummies guide to car detailing - Part 3

Wax or Polish? What is in a name?

Though both terms are used interchangeably, there is a fine difference between wax and polish.

In generally, Polish is a mild abrasive substance which will clear the paint surface of mild oxidation and smoothly micro sands the surface and gives the surface a wet, deep glow.

On the other hand, wax is a protective coating - it covers the micro pores in the paint and seals it and helps the paint to shine. A wax does not have cleaning properties, and applying a coat of wax on a non clean surface is not at all recommended because wax will seal the minor aberrations.

Though generally polishes are abrasive, there are exceptions. meguiars claims that they use a secret polishing oil and their 'pure polish' is non abrasive.

To Polish or not to polish?

As you may have already understood, most polishes are abrasive materials so naturally there will be doubts like why should we use abrasive materials on the paint. The answer is simple - to clean the paint surface and to remove swirl marks, to improve surface reflections and to improve the paint gloss.

Generally, if the car is not used in a heavy polluting environment, you should wax your car once in 3 ~6 months (depending on the wax) and should polish the car in once in a year.

The definition of polish is: "Polishing is the process of creating a smooth and shiny surface by rubbing it or using a chemical action" (from Wiki). Polish is the process of making it smooth by friction, but more often than not, it is not the heat which is produced using the friction which does the work, but the friction itself. Most polishes are emulsions of powered abrasive in a carrier. Heat causes paint dull, so wet polishes eliminate the heat induced by buffing action.

Different polishes have different cutting ability, and this cutting ability determines the amount of paint removed in each hand or machine stroke.

There are different kind of polishes available in market - we must choose a polish based on our needs.
Typically, based on technology, we can divide polishes into polishes which uses 'Diminishing Abrasives Technology' and those which uses 'Non-Diminishing Abrasives Technology'.

I am not going into detail of the difference between these two, but if any guys out there want to know more, feel free to ask.

The market have dime a dozen polishes claiming to work miracles on your car paint finish - we really need to know what we are buying before we try them on our paint surface. For example, the outcome of a coarse finish polish and a fine finish polish are way apart.

Some polishes are specially formulated for machine use, while some are for hand use. the difference between them is the way the abrasive materials in the polish 'breaks-down' during the use. As I said earlier, polish in an emulsion and the carrier act as lubricant too.
While polishing, the abrasive materials break down into finer particles to do the work. If you use a machine polish by hand, the particles may not break down, and may not buff out to give you the shine you are looking for. Same way, if you use a hand polish with a buffer, the particles may break down too easily and you will not get the cutting action.

the polishes are scaled on a grade of 0 to 1, 0 being non abrasive polish and 10 being the most abrasive. Most good polish compound use a mix of silica and aluminium oxide - they are hard materials and the kinetic energy during the polish action makes them abrasive.

For our general use, we do not need to go beyond 4. 1 is a Pre-wax cleaner polish, 2 is final finish polish, 3 is final cut compound, and 4 is heavy cut compound.

Polishes beyond scale 4 are generally called grit sanding materials, and we usually do not need so heavy stuff to work on our paint.

the new advancements in technology have helped many brands to manufacture what generically referred as single polish or single liquid polishing system. These are made with the help of advanced micro-abrasives and can be used for cut, polish and finish, depending on the buffing pads or materials used.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dummies guide to car detailing - Part 2

surface preparation \ pre-wax cleaning

From the moment your car leaves the paint booth, the car surface gets affected by the pollution.
When the car leaves the paint booth, the paint is at its impenetrable best. It is like a smooth sheet without any pores. As the time goes by, the pollution in air, the regular contamination the car come across in daily life, daily wash with hard water etc open up micro pores on the paint and these contamination gets deposited and some times, a mild oxidation layer gets formed. Most of the times, a regular was is not enough to remove these contamination.

Before we start steps to enhance the shine of car paint, we need to clean the surface first. The cleaner the surface, the better the results are.
Usually paint cleaners are mildly abrasive in nature. The locally available rubbing compounds are a kind of paint cleaners, but personally, I prefer to call them paint killers.
It is very important to clean the paint from all the bonded surface contamination, oxidation layer, surface imperfections,stains,soot etc and a paint cleaner is one way of doing it, if the contamination level is high. How ever, please do keep in mind that the paint cleaner is abrasive in nature and should be used very carefully and sparingly.

If surface contamination is not much, but you feel that car already have wax coating, use good Pre-wax cleaners to strip off all the wax.

If the surface imperfection is not much, use clay bar to clean the surface. Clay bar is neither a substitute for any process nor a one-in-all solution for polishing\waxing. Clay bar is a tool which helps you to remove surface contamination easily and quickly.
It is not at all abrasive and is one of the most preferred method to condition the paint surface.

Let us Clay

Clay bar is a rectangular shaped bar, and is used after lubing it.

Clay is useful to remove metal contamination, paint contamination, soot, embedded micro contamination in the pores and is a very good glass cleaner.

How does the clay cleans the paint?
Now, that is an interesting question. Clay is an abrasive cleaner - but used properly, it is not abrasive to the car paint, but to the contamination. That is why we need to lube the clay before we apply it.

How do you know when it is time to clay your car?
Claying is preferred once or twice a year, unless the car gathers heavy contamination. Once you wash the car, gently slide your hand over the surface - if it is smooth, you are done - no need to do any thing further. If you feel teh surface is rough,grainy or bumpy, clay it.

Apply the lube and gently rub the paint using clay. Do not use much force - clay cleans the contamination by aberration, so you do not want it to do the same on your paint surface. Once the claying is done, you can see a thin film of dirt of it - you will not see dirt particles. that is because clay do not magically lift off the contamination, but cleans it by grinding it mildly.

Remember - Paint cleaners and clay are not your every month cleaning products. They are designed to clean aberrations and are mildly abrasive in nature. Compared to paint cleaner, we can safely say clay is not abrasive, but improper use of clay will mar the surface finish.

Pre-Wax Cleaners
Before we go to next step, let me add a bit more info on pre-wax cleaners.

Many people thinks clay bar is a replacement for pre-wax cleaners, but it is far from truth.
Clay removes surface contamination, while pre-wax cleaners strip old layers of wax, embedded stains and even gives surface a mild correction. They are a mixture of light polishing agents and cleaning solvents, but the cleaning ability is given by cleaning solvents - not by polishing agents. That is why you can use pre-wax cleaners almost monthly, with out affecting the paint thickness in a measurable level.
Claying should ideally followed by pre-wax cleaning so that the surface is ready for the next level of treatment.
I am not going deep into different kind of pre-wax cleaners.

Some points to remember:

Always work under a shade. A hot car surface is not a good place to do any detailing work.
Work on a small area, and buff off residues as you go. Pre wax cleaners usually do not need to dry before you can buff them off.

You can use micro fiber or soft cotton cloth folded like a pad to apply these pre-wax cleaners, but the best applicator is a foam applicator. Use a foam based applicator and use microfiber cloth to buff off. Do not use lot of pre-wax cleaner - a small amount is all you need.

Once you finish Paint cleaning \ claying \ Pre-wax cleaning, your paint surface should be smooth and should be clear of all contamination. Now, the car is ready for the next step.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dummies guide to car detailing - Part 1

This is a series of posts I wrote in TFI - India's one of the best Fiat forum.

I am not a detailing hobbyist or enthusiast, but I thought i will share what little knowledge I have here.

While many people are happy with giving the car to their GDW (gaadi Dhone Waala - term courtesy to my friend Guderian in another forum) for daily wash, there are some people who are not happy with the disdain these people having in handling our cars shining paint surface. If you are one of those and want to do some DIY to keep yuor car shining like new, read on.

What is car detailing?

It is not just washing your car with any available substance and pat srying it, but a rigors process of cleaning your car, washing the car with good care, cleaning the surface aberrations, polishing the paint to restore the finish, waxing the paint to form a protective barrier so that the paint is not affected and using quick detailers\spray waxes to keep the car shining like new.

Washing your car

Now, what is the big deal in washing? Let us take a hose, shower the car with water, soap the car with some shampoo and hose down the leather and pat dry the car. We are done - right? Wrong.

Few things always we need to keep in mind for a good wash:

Wash the car is shade. Never wash the car under hot sun.
Wash the wheels first. Wheels are dirt accumulating magnet and clean them first.
What matters is not the form, but the quality of the car was shampoo
Say no to scrubbers\local sponges
Use 2 bucket technique or use a bucket with a grit guard
Different cloths for different purpose - there is no One size fits for all.
Do not let the car dry in sun.
Sheet of water lets the water run off easily from car.
Use soft cotton or much preferably - micro fiber for drying the car

Let us go a bit deep into washing process.

The common tools we need is a good shady area, good length of hose to water wash the car, 2 buckets, a brush to clean tyre, a good car wash concentrate, wash clothes (preferably wash mitts) and a good quality soft cloths for drying the car.

After parking the car under a shade, apply water liberally on the tyres. After that, use a good cleaning agent of your choice - I prefer car shampoo - and use a mild brush to brush down the tyre to clean all the mud deposited. If you are really particular, you can even jack up and clean the stones which have got lodged in the grooves.
Brush down vigorously and follow it up by again water washing the tyres - use plenty of water and make sure that there is no soapy residue left.

When you are done with tyres, start clean your alloys\wheel caps. Dip a rag in the foam and wipe down the alloys\wheel caps throughly and then wash them thoroughly with water.

After thoroughly cleaning with water, wipe down the tyres with cotton waste. If you are particular about tyre shine or want to keep the tyres looking like new, you can apply tyre cleaners.

You can use alloy wheel cleaners \ break dust repellents or as a lesser effective substitute, you can use good wax on the alloys.

Once you are done with tyre and alloys, start hosing down the car with plenty of water. If the water you use is hard water, you can use some softening agents (like ONR in preferred dilution). Use plenty of water to loosen the dirt, but do not use a cloth to drag the dirt - dirt particles may get lodged in teh cloth \ sponge and may introduce micro scars. While hosing the car with water, do not use much pressure - this can make the grit drag over the surface which in turn will results in micro scratches.

After this, take some water in one bucket and add a good car shampoo to it. Car shampoos are usually pH controlled, and are based on detergents - not on soaps. Soap based cleaners may contain trace elements which can damage the paint. Use a wash mitt or a microfiber cloth or a good soft cotton cloth to apply the form on the car surface. general purpose Sponges are less preferred since they have cavities which can entrap dirt particles which can streak the surface.

Use small motions instead of long sweeping motion and make sure that every time the cloth\mitt picks up dirt, rinse it in the water in the other bucket. This technique of using two buckets - one to dip and wash and other to rise clean the cloth - is called two bucket technique. An alternative is to use a bucket with grit guard.

A grit guard is a plastic guard which sits inside the bucket which traps the grit to the bottom of the water.

make sure that you rinse the cloth frequently so that the cloth remains dirt free every time you use it on the car to apply foam. Foam the car thoroughly - it is advised to have different cloths to foam the lower side of the car and upper side of the car. Dirt accumulation are more on the lower half usually.

When choosing a good car wash liquid \ shampoo, do not choose one which contains trace elements of wax -wax is a sealant and when you wash, you want the paint to open up - not seal close.

Once you are done with applying foam and loosening all the dirt, apply water again. Use plenty of water and make sure that you hose down all the foam from the surface.

When apply the foam and water down your car, please make sure that the car never dries under natural heat.

Apply water in sheet like instead of sprinkling it since sheet will remove most water from the surface.

When the car have been properly cleaned using water, use soft cotton towel or micro fiber to pat dry the car. There are special high capacity towels available which can absorb lot of water - one substitute you can look at is a really soft pet towel with lot of water absorption capacity.

Never apply much pressure, and while pat drying, if you come across any dirt particles, do not try to force them off.

Once you finish pat drying your car, evaluate the paint surface. If the car have been waxed recently and you used a wash\shampoo which will not affect the wax, and if the paint is in generally good shape, you can follow up the wash with a quick wax or even with spray wax.

On the other hand, if your paint needs rejuvenating or you stripped all the previous wax layers and you have surface contamination you need to go for surface preparation \ pre-wax cleaning

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Shine all the way

After the excellent detailing by Ultimate Detailerz, I was on the look out for a suitable wax for supplementing the detailing process.

Its been more than 2 months after I got the detailing done and though I have never done a single water wash after that (thanks to Jopasu and ONR) I could feel the friction when I lightly rub a cloth over the body.

After having my experiences with F1 and Turtle wax and couple of lesser known local brand waxes, I wanted to try some thing better this time. After initial searches, I was almost decided on getting Collinite 845 - it is generally considered as one of the best and most durable wax out there. While trawling the net during my search for the wax, I came across many detailing forums and I spent a lot of time reading lot of posts and got introduced to engineered waxes.

After some more reading and lot more trawling, I came to the conclusion that there is no harm in trying an engineered wax - now the choices where between Meguiars NXT 2.0 and Mothers FX SynWax. The opinions were quite divided on some forums - depending on whether the Forum favored Mothers or Meguiars - but the consensus was that both were more or less equal. Most people were prefering NXT 2.0 for Black color cars and FX for other dark metallic colors. After comparing the results of cars and trucks which were detailed by NXT, FX SynWax and Collinite 845, and after going over all the reviews and posts made by people who have actually used them, I could not find much of a difference to ditch the synthetic wax to get Collinite. For dark colors, FX Synwax was giving really good gloss and reflections and I could see lot of flake popping too.

I was not interested in long lasting wax - I take it as an excuse to lavish some TLC over Jai, so a wax which lasts 1~2 months was good enough for me - I was looking for better reflections and lesser elbow grease. All these and the fact that it is readily available off the shelf tilted the scale towards FX SynWax.

Ordered my bottle of FX from automall using there online store (carpolish.in) on Monday night and the wait started. I so badly wante dto wax the car on Friday afternoon and even took a half day leave (who really want to work after a sumptuous Onam sadhya ) but they took their sweet time to courier me the box. I think i will give 7 out of 10 for the service by automall - I had to repeatedly follow up about the shipping, and I did not get the tracking number as promised by them and though they were available on mobile, my sms and e-mails (using the contact us forum) did not generate any replies. Next time, if I need anything from them, I will go and pick it up from their shop.

I got the wax on saturday (5 days for a order to realize - I stay in same city as the seller :Frustrati )

Sunday morning, I started with my usual dusting with Jopasu, followed by a round of quick cleaning using ONR. After this, I started waxing my car with FX - took me only about an hour to wax my whole car and it was really easy on - easy off, with a great shine to boot. I took some old soft cotton cloth and made a jugaad applicator pad and applied the liquid wax with circular motions and allowed it to dry to haze. After few minutes, I buffed the panels using 3M yellow MF and voila. It was as simple as that. Did one section at a time, and it was much much easier to apply that the F1 or Turtle - the wax have some good cleaning power and the reflections are crisp and vivid. Many people are of the opinion that you need to give some time for the synthetic waxes to bring out the shine, so I am all game to wait and see if I get more of it.

I need to get some tire form and some products for taking care of the plastics - the research is on.

Let the pictures do the talking now:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First DIY on Jai

Did I ever tell you how much i dislike the puny horn which Fiat gave with Jai? The anemic horn is one of the first things I wanted to throw out - I gathered from different threads that Punto used to come with twin horns but from 2011, they have done some cost cutting and the Active model comes with a single Hella 'Popular' horn. Now, for a guy who uses Hella Redgrill on his Unicorn and have never used a factory fitted horn for long time in any of the bikes or cars, this single horn is as unimpressive as they can get.

This week, we were out at Reliance mall and while LOH was happily browsing through the apparels section, I slipped away and started browsing the Reliance Autozone and thought a pair of Hella Silver horn will make an ideal gift to Jai. After clicking couple of pics of some other bottles (not THAT kind of bottles which we men of stronger soul usually lust after, but the automobile equivalent of Olay and Garnier and all that stuff you get to see in your bathroom, if you are that kind of bloke who got yourself married to a PYT) I managed to extract myself with some dignity (of course, after paying the amount and all that) before the sales chap decided to kick me out for disturbing his daydreams.

Took Jai to a neighborhood workshop and got a quote for fixing those lovely silver disks - but being a Saturday, they were already full and wanted to come back on Monday and they want me to drop Jai and collect him after three hours - now, i was ok with the high estimate and everything but 'the dropping him to get things fixed' part - if they want to open him and fix the horns, better they do it when I stand there.

Came home and the DIY keeda started gnawing me - 250 rs for bumper removing and fixing it back, and 250 rs for fixing a horn, which you can even do in your sleep plus all the wire, relay etc on actuals - no wonder these workshops are mushrooming and I am sure they are making a neat packet.

Opened up my tool kit and after rummaging a bit, I got what all I needed - hella horn relay, couple of spade connectors and lots of wire and insulation tape. Armed with some DIY horn fixing gyaan from some other forums, I started opening up the front grill of Jai - I managed to pry open the grill, but the size 8 nut was proving to be a tough nut to crack, so after some futile attempts, I took Jai to the FNM (Friendly Neighborhood Mechanic) and asked him to open up the bumper for me. Once we removed the bumper, I started working on fixing the horns - he was amused to see me pulling out all the tools and sitting down to get the horns fixed, and during some small talk told me that I am the first car owner he have seen really working on the car, after taking the car to a workshop.

I was almost hoping that I will find the wiring for the second horn tucked away, and FIAT did not disappoint me - when the bumper was removed, I saw the wiring for one more horn neatly taped and tucked away. Fixed both the horns and was back home in about an hour with a mighty pleased Jai.

Tech specs:

Name: Hella Silver Horn
Current consumption : 6 Amp (Max)
Frequency: 335 Hz/400 Hz
Sound pressure : 117dB
price: 675 INR @ Reliance autozone, Arekere.

Some WIP pics:

Monday, August 8, 2011

Trivia time

I had some awesome experiences during the delivery.

The car was driven from Thrissur showroom to Kodungalloor for the delivery - this is around 40 km trip and the car was dusty by the time it arrived in the Kodungalloor showroom. I reached the showroom by 8.45 am and the car was at the wash bay to get the final was before the delivery, but the power was down. We were waiting for the power to come and while checking when the power will be back, we realized that there was some work going on by Electricity board and the power will be down for the whole day. I was ok with taking the delivery with out getting the wash done and I told the showroom guys that it is ok for me to get the car as it is and I will wash it after I get him home. I asked Aldrin (the manager of the showroom - we were directly dealing with him and another SA- Anish, during the whole Booking-delivery) to get the car from the wash bay, but to my surprise, the SA Anish washed the car with buckets full of water. I was really impressed and never thought that the SA will really get down to get the work done by himself. Anish brought the car after wash and the watchman dried the car using some cotton cloth - after taking the delivery, I tried to tip the watchman, but he blushed and politely refused to take any tip. He was muttering "sir, I did nothing more than my duty. It is not right to accept anything for doing my duty", and vanished from the scene.

I have heard stories of gate keeps\cleaning boys hinting for a tip and even asking for baksheesh, but here I saw an old man who believe he should not take anything extra for doing his job.

A big kudos to Anish and the watchman - you guys made my day big way.

The Number plate guy:

It was around 1.10 when I pulled up at the sticker shop at Okkal, near Kalady - the shop was closed and I called up the mobile number on the door to check if the guy will be returning shortly - or else, I can move on and find another shop. The guy picked up the mobile and told me that though he just reached home for lunch, he will come and get the sticker done. He came in five minutes and in another 10-15 minutes, we decided on a font to get the numbers printed, but the real task started when he started removing the temporary registration sticker from the front and back bumpers - it took close to 45 minutes to finish the whole job and by the time we finished, it was past 2 PM. I was pleasantly surprised when I asked for the charge - it was just 100 RS. I tried paying him extra for the efforts he took, but he brushed aside my attempts saying that he does this stuff every day and 100 is his normal charge - he was polite but firm on saying that he will not take extra for doing his regular job.

To top it off, he showed us a small eatery and even guided us to that place - we had the most awesome beef and chicken curry and some nice biriyani rice and tapioca from there - after devouring couple of plates of Beef curry, chicken curry, biriyani rice and tapioca, the bill was still less than 150 rs.
If any of you are driving on the way to perumbavoor from angamaly, stop here for some mouthwatering lunch. After Kalady, look for Okkal co-operative bank on the left side of the road and take immediate left when you see the bank. You will see a culvert when you take the turn - this place is on the left side of the culvert.

I some how managed to forgot where I kept the spare key after I took the delivery of the car. I turned the house upside down but was not able to find the key. Disheartened, I enquired about placing order for spare key, and came to know from the guys at hosur road Prerana service station that it will cost between 3-5K ( a ballpark figure - they do not deal with sale of accessories\parts, so they did not knew the exact price). Before placing the order, I decided to check the bag which i carried to showroom when I took the delivery and to my amazement, I found the key nicely settled under the laptop sleeve on main compartment. This is the same bag I checked at lest 10 times before, but every time I checked, the key remained hidden. Phew!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

And he came home one day...

The background score.

My secret dream was to buy a decent long distance tourer bike which can do a fair bit of trail riding too, but the way the biking scene in India is evolving and the after effects of marriage (complaints from LOH after those long bike rides), made me realize that my dream will remain as a dream for at least couple more years. LOH was giving subtle hints about the necessity of buying a car, but I being me, the hint remind just hints till she point blankly refused to come with me for another ride if I do not get a car.

When it was clear that the ultimatum is given and I do not have choice to buy that big bike I always wanted, I grudgingly gave in and said I will consider buying any car as long as it is a Jeep. She looked at me incredulously and told in that special tone "I want a CAR - any thing with open top/open bed or anything resembles an SUV is not an option". I said that is it - if you do not allow me to buy the Jeep I want, I am not buying anything. This went on for months and all my attempts to woo her with the pictures of tastefully done up Jeeps and Boleros and Xeons did not bear fruit. The only SUV she partially liked was a Scorp, but that is the only SUV I do not like much - imho, I will take a Bolero any day over a scorp- but then, I am digressing from the story.

Though I very much wanted a Jeep, I knew in the back of my mind that a Jeep will not suffice as the only mode of transportation and I had a small ray of hope in the guise of MM Thar, but when it was released, I came to know that it will not to be available with a HT and AC, so getting the best of both worlds was just not possible, and I was not really enthusiastic about buying one and getting an aftermarket HT. After the Thar got released, I was ok to buy a car - the only condition I put forward was, it should be a hatch - a mile crunching oil burner hatchback.

This was going to be my second car purchase in last two years - I did buy a car almost one and a half year back, mainly for my parent's use. The main criteria during the selection process was - should be diesel, should have huge space inside cabin, and an engine which is easy to work on. Indica Vista TDi was the natural choice, and touch wood, till today, the car is serving us very well, and so is the infamous Tata A.S.S.

This time, the priorities were slightly different, and we both sat down with our own priories to discuss - after initial rounds of ifs and buts and what-ifs, there was only one car left - Fiat Punto MJD. For me, it fits my bill perfectly - It is a Hatch, handles good. eats up potholes well and have excellent road manners, comes with the tried and tested 'national engine' and boasts a perfectly weighted steering which is one of the best I have enjoyed so far. Loh was in love with the looks and the T.Wine color and if not Punto, she wanted to buy a sedan which I said I am no way, unless it is a diesel Cedia.

We did a comparative analysis of other cars (Swift, Ritz, Figo, Polo, Fabia, Micra, i20 and Vista) but in our case, the clear winner was Punto.

Though the heart was already set on Punto, we did consider Figo for some time - it was VFM but after everything said and done, I know my heart will ache every time I will see a Punto on the road - so, rational thought was thrown out of the window for once and we booked the Punto. I have a penchant for black color but this time, the opinion was divided - I love the hip-hop black, but BNW was tugging my heart strings. Though LOH wanted T.Wine, we almost decided on Black, but when I saw a sparkling T.Wine punto at Concord, my heart flipped- I know this is the color i want.

Choosing the variant

Now that it was decided that the car is going to be a T.Wine Punto MJD, the next task was to decide which variant to go for. Though I know the importance of the safety aspects and the benefits of ABS+Airbags, the EPack was out of my reach. Though i am not an audiophile, I want a decent music system and the factory provided one was a strict no-no for me. I do not miss things like electrically adjustable OVRM, Dual tone dash board, Blue&Me (I prefer not to use mobile phones in any way when I drive) and all other sundry stuff - If I chose Active, the only things I need to add is the central locking but I will miss ABS+EBD - If I need ABS+EBD, i have no option, but to go for Emotion, and to pay for all the additional stuff which i do not need\can get it done myself in a better way (like music system). After much discussion, I decided I will go for Active and will get a central locking done and will add ICE and some other upgrades (Headlights, horn etc)

Booking and delivery

When it was time to get the cheque book out, I decided to go with Hysone Motors, kodungalloor. One of the main reason was the excellent service we got when we brought out Vista - the manager Aldrin went great lengths to make sure that we had a hassle free experience. This time also, the expriance was not different - they took care of all the paper work and made sure that the loan got approved (From SBI) with minimal fuss. Other than the offer from Fiat (1 year Insurance, Extended warranty and RSA for 5 K) and Corporate discount, I got 5 K cash discount, free Garware sun film, rain guard and car cover. He also offered to get the floor lamination done for free, which I politely declined.

I booked the car in may last week and wanted to take the delivery by June end (the good date and time and all) and I was kept informed about the progress. Got the registration done with our agent and saved couple of thousands - the showroom charges about 2.5-3K as registration charge while we got everything done at outside for 700 rs.

Some pictures of the delivery:

First sight at the dealership - getting ready for the delivery:

Jai with the Team-Bhp sticker:
All Set to go home:

After First rains:
Naming the car

I do have names for all my cars and bikes, and it is usually after I the first ride\drive I name them. I plan to keep the car for long term and want to do lot of road trips as I did with my bike. The first name which came into my mind was Jai - the name of Amithab Bachan in the epic film Sholay.

Travels with Jai

It took me all of just one minute to find a comfortable driving position - kept the steering at lowest and adjust the seat a bit and voila. It did not take much time to get used to him, and what a re freshening experience it was. The cockpit and driving seat is light years better than my Vista and I like the firm support the seat offers. Though I am using Vista on and off and have taken her for some long drives, I am still not comfortable with the driving position - no such issues with Jai. I love the way the doors close with a thud and how heavy and solid the body feels, and I do not even want to start what a dashing looker he is.

But every thing is not that rosy - the door handles and some other plastic bits does not exude the same feeling of built to last like that of the body, and the dash board came off the very second day, but none of them really matters. Though I am not that old, my benchmark for comfort and utility is our old Ambassador and these loose plastics do not bother me a bit. The only major grouse I have is - when it is pouring heavily, there is fog getting formed on the outside of the driver side glass window, which obstructed the RHS rear view mirror view. If I open and close the window couple of times, this goes off, but it is mildly irritating to get the view blocked because of this fogging issue (I checked with my friend who have an I20 and he says his car also have the same issue.) the big turning radius was an issue in some small and tight interior roads of Kerala, but I have got used to it now. I am not happy with the headlight - I think the headlight of my Vista is better in illuminating the roads than the headlights of Punto - I plan to upgrade the headlights and horns soon.

The 1111 km Update

Did 2 small trips (150 km round trip) before we drove back to Bangalore and I was really comfortable by the time we started the journey to Bangalore. It is a pleasure to have his company in highways - I am in love with the steering wheel. Perfect size and perfectly weighed - this is one feature I cannot stop talking about. Every time I sit behind it, my face lit sup with a huge grin. The 460+ km trip through Kodungalloor-Thrissur-Nilambur-Mysore-Bangalore took 10 hours but none of us (me, LOH, My parents) where tiered after the end of the journey. The car performed well with 4 people and a boot laden to its brim, but we did not take him to serious speeds - it is not at all easy to keep him from touching triple digit speeds when the road open up. The a\c is a chiller - not sure whether it is really because the a\c is good or because the weather. I guess i need to wait till summer to measure the effectiveness of the a\c. As of now, the maximum fan speed we use is 2.

Things in Pipeline

Getting central locking+remote locking done
A date with ultimate detalierz - will call them up and fix the date once the central locking is done.
Upgrade the headlights - Current choices are: Osram nightbreaker plus or hella 95\100 with relay (thanks @Pri2 for the info)
Upgrade Horns: Stage1: Hella redgrill\Stebel TM80 for every day use
Stage2: Stebel nautilis Brio (la dolce vita)\Dukes of hazzard type of horn (will be fitted as an auxiliary
horn with a switch to switch between this and regular horn)
Utsav number plates: Right now I have done a sticker number plate and plan to get the Utsav number plates done few months down the lane.
Upgrade Sunfilm to 3M - will be done after using the current garware for couple of months in summer - will depend up on how well the garware performs.
ICE: This IS the major upgrade and I will do it slow - one part at a time. I do not want a very high-fi ICE set up, but I want a set up with low and tight bass and acceptable levels of SQ.
Seat covers: Might get it done depending on Vitamin M factor - not a high priority item though.

Some more shots

After first interstate crossing: