For most of the last year I was planning to buy an old, used car and when I’d saved enough for it I instantly started looking for one. After a quite long search and criticism I found a car which was comfortable enough both for my pocket and for me. It was an old Hyundai Santro Zip Drive – GS, twelve years and eleven months old, but it was cheap and when I took a test drive it seemed in quite good shape. Of course there was a little work needed to be done, like A/C wasn’t working, silencer needed welding, central locking needed servicing and some small stuff like that. But all that seemed nothing before the price which was only Rs. fifty thousand. It’ll cost me five thousand more; max; I thought and closed the deal happily.
My car was working great. I even got it checked by my dad’s old mechanic; he drove it and said it’s a good car at this price. So I was happy. I got some of the work done like welding the silencer, changing door handles, changing oil and stuff. After that I went to visit my aunt a hundred km away. Mileage was also good. Again I was very happy. A few days after I was back from my aunt; my car’s transmission started sticking. It wasn’t much noticeable in the beginning but started to grow more galling as days passed. When I took my car to the mechanic he said car’s clutch plates needed replacement. I got that replaced. Still I wasn’t much worried. It’s an old car after all. Now I just needed to get the air conditioner repaired and the days were still cold enough so that wasn’t necessary until the next month.
My car ran smoothly after that… for a few days sure it did. Then the starter started to stick every morning, just click-click a few times and then finally it would start. I was upset, yes, but it wasn’t that much vexing in the beginning. Then one day I couldn’t roll down my car’s windows and the starter wouldn’t budge. So it wasn’t the starter after all it was either battery or alternator. Again quite grudgingly I had my car’s battery checked and found out the battery was almost six years old and too frayed to go on. I replaced the battery and hoped this was last thing needed replacement in my car.
But then again one morning my brand new battery was all out and now I was seriously enraged. Now it was alternator. I was short on money by the time so I had to go for a second hand alternator which broke down within a month, but my mechanic was good enough to replace it again without a penny.
Two months passed without any trouble. I used my car in and out of the city and it worked fine. Then again, my car’s steering oil started to need top-up every two days, now it was oil seal. I consulted with my mechanic and I knew it’ll get worse; still I ignored it for the time being, I had a long trip planed with my family and if power steering stops working I could do with manual, it’ll work.
I and my family started our journey with joy. We were headed three hundred kms north from Mumbai, via Mumbai-Goa highway, to Chiplun; a town where we’d lived for eight years before shifting here, where two of my uncles and one aunt still lived, and after that we were to go to our native place some two hundred kms further on Mumbai-Goa highway and from there, to Kolhapur where my father currently lived; hundred kms more, and then back to Mumbai via Pune-Mumbai expressway, four hundred kms more. Well that was the plan, total one thousand kms.
It was, as I’d planned, a four days trip. We were five people; me, my mother, my sister, her husband and her baby. As long as we started on highway I realized, at turns my car wobbles a little violently, even when I maintained an average speed. That meant rear suspension, I knew. At two hundred kms my car’s engine started to sound like a diesel engine. I didn’t know why that was so I stopped at a service centre and enquired. It was the gear box, great. They told me I could go a few hundred kms with it without any trouble and we arrived at Chiplun, our first destination. Next day, before heading to our village, I called my father and asked him to meet us at the junction to Kolhapur on Mumbai-Goa highway, from where our native village was a little farther. I left my car at a hotel near the junction and we all proceeded with my father, in his 1996 Opel Astra 1.6, which was still stunning. (She is still as stunning as she could be, except for fuel efficiency, but the engine and body and space and style and comfort and… I mean almost everything is great).
So we visited our village and came back before dark to the junction where my car was parked, then, I alone in my Santro and everyone else in my father’s Astra, we continued toward Kolhapur. It was still a hundred kms more and before we reached there, my car’s engine was as noisy as a bus. There was no way I could’ve made it back to Mumbai with my car in that condition. Next day I left my car at a garage of my father’s acquaintance in Kolhapur, and a day after that I started my return journey as planned, in my father’s car.
Two days later my father was in Mumbai for his business. He came by train, and I forced him to take his car back.
After fifteen days I travelled to Kolhapur to get my car. Gearbox, Suspension, A/C compressor, wiring, Power steering, everything was done and my car was running smoothly, I mean really smoothly this time. I took my car back to Mumbai and enjoy the solitary journey like never before.
Well I bought that car cheap, for Rs. fifty thousand and all that work and replacements cost me Rs. Sixty five thousand and that’s not it, there’s still some body work and paint that needs attention. So finally my cheap car is not so cheap anymoreJ.
Oh and yes, after a month I had to replace that second hand alternator too.