just back from a trial with the Maruti western India Service manager. The agenda / issues to be sorted were
1) Stiff rear suspension
2) Suitable tyre pressures
3) Clutch release jerks
4) Notchiness in gears (may be related to clutch)
5) Steering centering
To summarise, my opinion at the end was...well...this is a family site.
Even before we got to the patch of road that I was supposed to demonstrate the ride on, he told me he was aware of the issue and also refuted that the newer cars didnt have the problem. He said that MS wanted their car to be sporty by design, hence had kept the rear suspension on the stiffer side. He also informed of testing 3 cars yesterday with the same issue. Then he said something no one will appreciate- that they had by now sold over a lakh Balenos and that the costs to make any modifications and fix issues were very high. I just cut him short and asked him if that meant they werent going to do anything about it. He dodged that question. He began to tell me that testing was in progress and they have done a lot of testing with a few Balenos in Pune recently. I asked him whether that was with the RS and he didnt answer satisfactorily. He started comparing with the Polo and Golf and other cars which I wasnt interested in hearing Basically, it looks like we are stuck with the stiff suspensions and need to compensate with 1 or 2 psi lower pressures or higher profile tyres
Then I told him of my testing with the suspension inserts and tyre pressures to try and soften the ride. He didnt comment on the tyre pressure but was more interested in the TPMS I had installed for safety in case of a puncture.
He also asked regarding the other modifications I had made- the relay kit, bulbs, horn. After the usual cribbing about warranty and fire and such, he became more receptive when I told him that I had given the first right of refusal to the ASC and when I told him that I was using Hella stuff with Phillips branded bulbs. I also explained why I had made the horn change (I dont use the horn too much consciously). So my tyre pressure question remain unanswered
During the drive, after experiencing the first few clutch release jerks, he aked to drive. After some initial pedal pushing, he asked his associate whether clutch bleeding had been done. His associate informed that this has a clutch cable,so adjustment was done. He drove the car very rough informing of doing this intentionally to try and release any issues with the system. Subsequently, even after he started driving normally, he couldnt avoid even a single clutch release jerk. Every release could be felt whilst he was driving. Finally I asked him to let me drive and showed him how the jerks could be avoided by being exceedingly smooth with the driving. ater, he suggested to me that I should have bought the diesel with its hydraulic clutch and I asked him how that suggestion was helping at this point.
Even on the sealink road, where the car showed its tendancy to meander in a straight line, he simply refused to accept the lack of centering blaming it on the road being crowned, not level, wind etc.
On the way back, I pointed out to him the low rumble the engine produces at low revs. You know, the sound the engine produces when its overloaded in a low gear? I get this sound all the time when at lower speeds just after releasing the clutch and whilst the engine isint still in the proper rev band. I told him that this sound comes often and sounds like the engine in an old car. He couldnt hear it by the ASC fellow with him heard it immediately and informed that it is the sound of engine vibration being transfered to chassis. I asked him why this sound is coming in a new car and whether the mounts had perished. He said its due to the light build and no weight in the back. I asked him if the ASC would supply a couple of sand bags to keep in the backs for better weight distribution. He laughed it off but didnt answer.
Regarding notchiness in the gears, he informed it was because the tolerances are not that good to keep costs down. I pointed out how, when engaging any gear the first time, there was a notch in the stick movement but if you held the clutch depressed, came back into neutral and went back into the smae gear, there was no notch. He siad that because the syncronyser was not in perfect position due to tolerance issue and that to avoid this would mean a higher manufacturing cost. I did nt know what to say. He was actually telling me there was a problem intentionally created in the process of cost cutting!
At the end of the drive, he told me that most of my observations were more of feedback rather than issues with the car specifically. He said that these things were common with all Balenos. He said he would do the steering check at 3rd service (my car is at 9.3k km) By then my patience was done, so I told him I has not bothered with whether it was common with other cars or not and that I wanted these points sorted in my car. I told him of how my mom had actually hit her head on the roof in the back when we hit a pothole at 60 and how she complained she was going to get spondilytis whilst sitting in the back coming down the grat section on the expressway. I told him I didnt have these problems in the Swift I replaced with the Baleno, so didnt want them in the Baleno either. I didnt get a satisfactory answer, he started saying I was too sensitive to my observations and that some people didnt even notice these things whilst some did.
He suggested that after a couple of years, when I upgrade, I should buy a Scross 1.6. I returned that after all the issues I had in the Baleno, I wont buy a Maruti next time. He didnt comment
When I closed, I told him I wanted the suspension issue to be sorted at the earliest and that if it had been a part issue, I would have asked the ASC to sort it out and not involved MS. I didnt wait for a reply
My request to all owners who have felt the suspension issue, kindly make a formal complaint regarding it at next service