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Pre-owned Fiat Grande Punto E+ 90hp - VFM or Lemon?

Discussion in 'Punto 1.3 MJD 90 HP' started by V. K. Pasupathy, Sep 12, 2016.

  1. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    After owning two WagonRs in a period of 5 years between 2011 and 2016, the time has finally arrived to go for a safer car. Initially I was pestered by my family members and friends alike suggesting too many options literally recommending all the cars around - except a fiat.

    Frankly, I had other plans in the back of my mind. I was drooling over fiats since the Unos were first launched in India. At that time, though I had opportunities to drive my friends’ vehicles, I never had the wherwithals (read : middle class) to own a car. I wanted to bring a fiat home while no one in the family had any dissent. After all owning a car shall be a happy occasion.

    Before continuing with pre-purchase process that brought the current GP-E+-90hp home, a little on my previous cars. During 2010-11, when we first decided to buy a car, I could nearly fix a Fiat Palio (pre-worshipped though), but it was called off due to vehement protest by my father, who insisted buying ONLY a car which has good service network and hassle free spares. At that point of time, I did not have the knowledge/information to convince my father and went for buying a used and good old WagonR of year 2000 make. My point is simple. Father is satisfied with a WagonR and I had to spend very little on the buy, with the option of getting a good car anytime I wanted after throwing it even at scrap price.

    Life does not allow us to carry out all our plans the way we think. Does it? I ventured into agriculture for two years between 2010-11 & 2011-12 by investing in medicinal plants farming in a leased land. The idea was to take up agriculture as my prime profession, after the then proposed voluntary retirement in 2012 -as I found myself mis-fit for Government service long time back yet unable to find an alternative for long. Mother Nature was not kind to me and I ended up losing my all savings, apart from accumulating substantial debts. Thus, I was literally forced into taking up this profession as an indirect taxes advisor/consultant after VRS.

    Meanwhile, the first WagonR seldom saw the road, which I retained for nearly 3.5 years before I sold it off for a paltry value, in exchange of another pre-worshipped WagonR (during Feb 2015) from my Brother-in-Law whom then went for an upgrade.

    Finally, after my situation stabilized in the last four years into the profession, with all debts repaid, I noticed that my road travel has increased greatly from about 6000 kms per year to 12000 kms and with this profession, my travel is more likely to increase and not otherwise. Then came the discussion for buying a ‘safer’ vehicle and the speculations in para 1 above. May be we give a thought on an upgrade or luxury only when we are at peace.

    During deliberations, it was not hard for me to convince everyone in the family about the choice of fuel - Diesel, as the car-to-be is going to (or at least perceived to) cover reasonable kilometres on annual basis. Then comes the sticky part of the choice of car.

    Did test drives of cars owned by friends ( I hate to TD a brand new car from a showroom, as it would mean complete nuisance with my mobile ringing all the times). The cars that were available for me to TD were Marui Swift VDI, Renault Pulse RxL dCI, Hyundai Grand i10 CRDI Asta, Ford Figo Titanium TDCI (not the new Figo, which no one in the family likes it) and of course a Fiat Grande punto 1.3 MJD Active. The Volkswagen Polo was not test driven nor any attempts were made for the same, as we simply did not like it. My point was that one car goes out of competition and my father’s point was that it was insanely costly to maintain. I didn’t disturb his view!

    And, all cars - in the perception of my family - were liked for one aspect or the other. The Pulse was liked for its effortless steering wheel, near petrol engine like performance without any turbo lag whatsoever. The Figo was liked for its handling in traffic, less turbo lag and a good steering. Swift caught the imagination of all not with its decent performance on road, apart from the bias that existed among my family members - the most trusted brand in India. Similar is the case of Grand i10 CRDI, offering a decent performance with comparable prices. However, the engine with one lesser pot was perceived to be negative to NVH in the longer run and was rejected forthright.

    My father was all along interested in Maruti Swift ZDI, simply on economic considerations - with VFM (?!), best resale value, perceived low maintenance costs, and so on. Had a difficult time to convince him on either on a Fiat punto or Ford figo. His take was if not Swift VDI, then, it has to be either of Nissan/Renault siblings.

    He made out his economics as below:

    Cost of purchase of top variant of any vehicle under consideration : Rs.8 - 9 Lakhs

    Resale value after of the car after covering 1.2 Lakh Kms in 5 years :

    Rs.5 - 5.5 Lakhs for Swift VDI

    Rs.4 - 4.5 Lakhs for Renault/Nisaan Pulse/Micra

    Rs.3.5 - 4 Lakhs for Ford Figo (though old Figo not available for purchase)

    Rs.3 - 3.5 Lakhs for Fiat Punto

    Depreciation for

    1. Swift ZDI per km : Rs.2.50 to 3.00 per km

    2. Pulse/Micra : Rs.2.80 to 3.25 per km

    3. Ford Figo : Rs. 3.30 to 3.80 per km

    4. Fiat Punto : Rs. 4.50 to 5.00 per km

    All my arguments on the solid build quality, safety features, driving dynamics of Punto or on the features of Figo (a car used by me to show that I was not biassed to Fiats) were not heeded to with the final nail - “You are not going to drag race with your car on the road and you are a more sedate driver now than you were some years back. Why can’t you go with a ZDI?” for which I did not have an answer for some time.

    Thus, the decision was nearly made with Swift ZDI winning hands down. However, I requested all in family, particularly my father to postpone the decision a little so that I can come with a good solution, which was agreed. Father told me that he was still open to discussions and if I can provide him with a better value proposition for the cars I suggest, he is amenable to a change.

    Then, came the thought of buying a used car. Did some research on used car valuation, life of diesel engines, worst case scenario, Servicing niggles, etc., and went to father sometime in March this year with my idea of buying a used car - either a Ford figo or a Punto top trim.

    I made out an economic presentation as below:

    1. Cost of acquiring a 4 - 6 year old vehicle with less than 1 Lakh kms on odo :

    a) Fiat Grande Punto : Rs.3 - 3.5 Lakhs.

    b) Ford Figo : Rs.3.5 - 4 Lakhs.

    2. Initial maintenance expenses : Rs.50 k

    3. Total cost of acquisition : Rs.3.5 to 4.5 Lakhs

    4. Usage in kms for 5 years : 1.2 Lakh Kms

    5. Resale value after 5 years : Rs.1 - 1.5 Lakhs

    6. Savings in cost of acquisition of a new car: Rs.4.5 to 5 Lakhs

    7. Interst @ 8% on the saved costs: Rs.36k to 40k per year or 1.8 - 2 Lakhs in 5 years

    8. Resale value + interest on Saved costs: Rs.2.8 - 3.5 Lakhs (in 5 years)

    9. Additional maintenance costs (being old car) : Rs.20k per year or 1 Lakh in 5 years

    10. Resale value + net savings (8-9) : Rs.1.8 - 2.5 Lakhs

    11. Depreciation thus, [1-10] : Rs.1.70 to 2 Lakh

    12. Depreciation per km : Rs.1.40 to 1.70

    I have also mentioned that the above calculations does not take into consideration the EMI interest that would have been payable to bank, when availing a Car loan, which also are further savings.

    The above economics could convince my father of the value proposition that I was talking about whom agreed to go for a used fiat punto or ford figo, with a stiff budget of Rs.3.5 Lakhs till the car reaches home in road worthy condition. And, he agreed to the trade-off for travelling long distances (60-130 Kms) for finding an Authorized service station given the price at which the car would be procured. A word of caution though : Not to get a lemon after a hard search!

    Moral of the story till now: If a factor is working to your disadvantage, try converting it to your advantage! I did precisely that - The low resale value of Punto/Figo was a disadvantage from a seller’s perspective, while it is a certain advantage from a buyer’s view. I had to change the position - from a prospective seller to an immediate buyer. Thats it!

    To be continued ….
    Trilok Chandar, limraj, KPR and 2 others like this.
  2. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    The hunt begins!

    So, it was going to be a top trim of either a Figo or Punto. It goes without saying that I am totally biassed to buying a punto and I simply discarded a few figos that were offered to me by some dealers without even taking a test drive. At home, I used to tell that was not good, this was imperfect, the service records were not available, etc., (Do you really need a reason to reject a used car?!)

    During the course of search, I happened to come across a couple of MJD Emotion/Emotion+ 90 HP at mouthwatering prices, (at around Rs.2.5 to 2.75 Lakhs) with still scope for further negotiations. I used get tempted during the initial periods of search, “Oh, just finalize the deal”. However, somehow, I kept my instincts in tact and went for due diligence starting from verifying service records. Invariably those cars that asked for paltry prices have all their odometers rolled back by a few tens of thousands of Kms. I walked away from each of such offers. Meanwhile, I have gathered lots of information from the internet forums - specifically a lot from team-bhp, teamfiat, fiatforum, myfiatworld, etc., I have even seen and listened to a lots of videos that contained information on diagnosing various engine related noises and their interpretations.

    April and May passed off, with no used car inspected by me thus far looked promising for me, especially when my father’s tone lingering in my mind - “Don’t get a lemon after a hard search”. Nothing appeared to work for me. Either the condition of car was not up to the mark or the asking prices too high by fiat’s resale standards (no offence intended). And, I nearly thought of postponing my decision to buy a car by a few months.

    During the third/last week of June, I saw an ad in Olx and called up the person who put up a Punto MJD E+ 90hp (2010 make, two owners, Tuscan Wine ) for sale. The place where the vehicle was available was some 220 kms away from my place and given the futile travel undertaken thus far (roughly a 2000 kms in two months, just to inspect cars), I was kind of not fully interested in another travel. And, I thought of sending a known mechanic from my place to inspect the car for mechanical issues and to get to the nearest FASS for verifying the service records. When I suggested this, the seller readily agreed. Meanwhile, I remembered a client of me located in the same place as the seller and contacted him and apprised this. And, he offered to send his mechanic friend for a preliminary inspection and if all fine, then I could visit for a more thorough inspection.

    Surprisingly, my client called me up and said that the mechanic has given a positive feedback of the vehicle to its mechanical condition and also as to the service history. The vehicle has a genuine 86xxx k on the odo (that was surprising then, having seen too many cars with falsified odo) with all services except the last one @75k were performed only in the FASS. The last one was also performed at a multi-brand car service station, the Mahindra First choice.

    However, the niggles with the vehicle reported are (1) a cracked breather hose connecting the oil separator, (2) failed glow plugs (3) Blue & me did not work (4) brake pads might have worn out. (5) engine noise insulation packing is coming off and to be replaced, (6) two minor dents one on the boot door and the other on the left rear door (7) clear coat has peeled off at a few places and (8) one fog lamp is not available.

    After getting positive response, and after thinking over the niggles reported for a while, I started off for carrying out my personal inspection, as per the long check-list I have prepared (which I will post sometime later). I thought I will buy it with the reported niggles if the mechanical condition of the car is otherwise fine or that may require a little resources to restore. I requested the seller not to start the engine at all on the day of my visit as I only wanted to cold start the engine, for which he agreed.

    I reached the place at around 10.00 and my client picked me up and took me to the seller’s home after having our breakfast. From 10.30 onward I started my inspection/testing the vehicle (some tests might have looked weird to the seller, but tolerated me).

    Problems/Niggles I noticed:

    1. Apart from the niggles reported by the mechanic, I found the idling after a cold start was a kind of rough with a mild clucking sound similar to the knock sound (no. Not the injector sound) from the engine bay that goes away when the engine was revved over 1500 rpm. My guess for the same was a sticky lifter, which I understood to be a minor issue.

    2. Also, before when the engine reached its operating temperature, there was a slight hesitation in pick up. Going through the service record, the car was used for the better part of 50000 kms in Chennai, in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I attributed the hesitation to clogged injector or EGR valve or Inlet manifold or all of them that may require a good clean.

    3. The Fuel economy of the car was very low at 15 - 17 km/l with over 80-90% highway drive by the previous owner, I thought of three things, viz., the Mass flow sensor or MAP sensor or the Lambda before Catalytic converter could be malfunctioning or gone. My guess was that it could be possible that all the three may not work properly, they might not have gone kaput requiring replacement of all but, could have been covered by gunk limiting their function, given the substantial mileage on the odo was covered in start-stop traffic in Chennai.

    The above, though were informed guesses, thanks to uncle Google, I was still apprehensive of being indicators of any major fault. Though the mechanic was reassuring of the engine/transmission condition, it is certainly not an easy decision to take - whether to or not to go for it. Though I have owned a couple of pre-owned cars before, the decision was still not easy. May be, the previous cars I purchased came without any sort of pressure on my head with no one there raised any adverse tone about them. I should acknowledge the brand value and the perceived reliability a Maruti vehicle enjoys. Anyway, it was a tough decision, with my mind wavering around - one mind saying “Just walk away” and the other saying “you won’t get any better than this”. After a while I have decided to walk in to the transaction - come, what may happen.

    After enduring the turbulent thoughts for a while, and deciding to go ahead with the purchase, I estimated the cost of servicing / cleaning jobs / replacement of parts / hoses would set me back by Rs.30 to 50k if I buy this car. With this in mind, I started to negotiate the price with the seller and within an hour, the deal was reached @Rs.2.90 Lakhs.

    Informed the deal to all in family, particularly to father - whom advised me to drive down the vehicle if everything is fine. Then I paid the buyer through RTGS using my mobile, took delivery of the car, filled the tank in a fuel bunk recommended by the seller (later I regretted filling there and the details in my next post) and drove it back home.

    To be continued…
    ravikn likes this.
  3. nibedk

    nibedk Regolare

    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    @ V. K. Pasupathy. Good that you are thoroughly researching before getting the car.

    Well I have a Grande Punto 90 HP bought May 2014 which currently has 43 K Kms on odo with close to 50% on NH and another 20% ring roads (ORR in HYD) with very little in city travel. Well my average FE over 43 K is 15.4 km/l. I have got mileage as low as 11.5 km/l going as high as 19.6 km/l. All these numbers are calculated based on full tank method. There have been instances of close to 23 km/l over say 300-400 kms stretch.

    These are not just approx. numbers. These are exact numbers based on my fuel log that I have been maintaining since Day 1.

    You are being paranoid my friend. FE is more an indicator of how aggressive a driver is? It can't always be a function of issues with the car.

    My wife is perfectly fine with my style of driving. But my dad says I am too aggressive even though I don't cross 120 km on the odo. Its not always that some one driving @ 120 would get more mileage than someone @ 130. How you get to 120 or 130 decides your mileage.

    Me and my wife both drive regularly and our speeds are always between 110-120 but she extracts more for every liter of diesel burnt.
    15-17 km/l is perfectly acceptable mileage.

    One more thing you are contradicting yourself by saving that the car is driven in Chennai for better part of 50 K and as well 80-90% on highways. One of these statements can be true not both.

    With close to 90 K on the odo I would say a mileage of 15-17 km/l is brilliant. Do not go by the inflated numbers doing rounds on the net. Even I have got more than 24 km/l over a stretch of 200 km. I know of folks who have got more than 26 km/l over s stretch of 300 km. But that's the whole story. Full tank mileage calculation over a period of time gives a better picture of mileage.

    Any car that has seen the service center every 15 k and preventive service done as per need should be fine if mechanically there are no problems.
    V. K. Pasupathy likes this.
  4. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    @nibedk I think I've stated that the vehicle had 2 owners before me. What I said was the first owner drove the car for over 50k Kms in Chennai and the second owner covered more highway Kms than in city traffic. I do understand diesel mileage is more a function of driving style, yet the mileage of 15-17 stated by the seller appeared too less for me. And presently after I did some maintenance / replacement of parts, the highway mileage stands improved to the better side of 20/l with the highest mileage achieved of 24.xx on a 700+ km highway trip (measured by tank full to tank full method - of course with some sedate driving at speeds between 90-110kph).

    Yes mate I agree to your suggestion of a paranoid in me. Even I felt that way sometime back. But only after clearing all the issues / discounting the perceived issues with the service station guys, the paranoia appears to have gone.:D

    Will post the details of the maintenance undertaken till now shortly.
  5. nibedk

    nibedk Regolare

    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    @V. K. Pasupathy. Mate I have stopped thinking about FE anymore and accepted the mileage I am getting. It takes all the fun out of driving. I do keep all the records though for my cars and bike. It helps me analyze when they need to go for service.
    Turbothinghy, asimpleson, KPR and 2 others like this.
  6. KPR

    KPR Regolare

    Punto Evo 1.3 90 HP
    Waiting for Update.
    1. Hope you mention which service station helped you to get rid of paranoia! Is it Fiat's ASC or local mechanic? And your reviews on their work with cost spilt up on various works.
    2. Your write up is a good guide for purchase of used cars. (esp the costing part :))

    Above all we are waiting to see the car. So kindly post few photos in between lines to break monotony.
    V. K. Pasupathy and Tornado like this.
  7. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    @KPR Will do for sure, may be by next weekend. By the way I'm doing with Mahindra First Choice, Karur who tolerate with me with all drills I take with their personnel.
    :happy:. More on why MFC later.
    KPR likes this.
  8. swgaan

    swgaan Amatore

    Panvel, Maharashtra
    Grande Punto 1.3
    V.K. good write up bro.
    and welcome to the world of FIAT.
    V. K. Pasupathy likes this.
  9. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP

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