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:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

There and back again

No, this is no hobbit tale but a promise to myself that I do not want this place to die. I have been neglecting this space for long and though I have tried few posts in between, I could not find the enthusiasm to continue blogging.

Now, after a long gap, I have started recording the chronicles of a new member in my family and though I regularly update 2 well known forums, I was thinking of starting an independent journal.

First I thought of starting a new blog, but then the idea of reusing my primary blog stuck me - I do not see any other new posts coming here in any foreseeable period, so may be if I keep updating this place with the happenings in Jai's world, may be I will start writing more and more and may be I will start blogging again.

With out further ado, let me introduce you Jai - the Tuscan Wine 1.3 MJD 'Active' Fiat Grande Punto