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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
    Hi all. Here are some pictures of my ride, which is long overdue. IMG_20160929_133657.jpg IMG_20160929_133706.jpg IMG_20160929_133712.jpg IMG_20160929_133723.jpg

    The two dents one on the hatch door (just below the letter "P") and the other on the left rear door (visible in the last pic) are retained for now. These pics were taken some two months after a Wurth polish and detailing. Still holding the shine.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
  2. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    Here are some more pics of the interiors. IMG_20160929_133807.jpg IMG_20160929_135606.jpg
    The roof mounted DVD Player is not working and the remote control is not available. Planning to get it work sometime when I find time.
    Murphy_Fiat and KPR like this.
  3. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    Continued from Post #3:

    Before I continue, my apologies for the delay in posting updates as I happened to be too pre-occupied these days. Hope I will quickly finish off the purchase/initial maintenance part in the coming days. Here is a small update.

    The choice of Mahindra First Choice:

    On my drive back home after taking delivery of the vehicle, and driving for about 120-125 kms, the vehicle suddenly had lost lot of power with the throttle response turned too sluggish. And, the vehicle started to behave like a naturally aspirated diesel. If I pressed the A pedal hard, the vehicle seemed to even decelerate. Stopped the car on the road-side and allowed it a 10 minutes rest. Then, when I started to drive, it behaved normally. And, reached home without any troubles.

    So, for the initial maintenance jobs, I have identified a FASS at Erode, about which some rave reviews were provided by owners of Fiats in several online forums and thought of fixing an appointment with them - may be the weekend following the arrival of the car. I happened to meet another Fiat Punto owner (BNW Emotion), whom had all the way from Chennai came and serviced his car for some major maintenance works relating to suspension and HVAC to FASS, Erode. During my interaction with him, he told me that he left the car a week back at the Service station and has just taken delivery, with the jobs performed on his car were absolutely satisfactory. But one week sounded too long a time for me and when I checked the reason for the delay, I was told that the said FASS, due to its reputation of good service, is flooded with cars from all over places and they are having a difficult time to cater to the sheer volume of the cars that check in for servicing.

    This made me to ponder if I should really go to Erode or to find an alternative. In my case, at that point of time, I am not sure of the exact quantum of works to be performed on my car and what is needed is a general evaluation after whatever niggles I have observed and servicing/replacing the parts as may be necessary - means, I may have to wait for more days for my car’s turn. So, I have decided to go with a local garage - with no compromise on quality aspects. I found two multi-brand car service in my place itself - one is Mahindra First Choice, that was started very recently (during second fortnight of Jund 2016) and the already running MyTVS. I did not want to go to a road-side mechanic as I was apprehensive if they would know all the electronics in the car.

    So, I went to MFC first (in my bike) and met the franchise owner Mr.Vignesh and had a chat with him. I checked with him if they have any experienced mechanic whom worked in a FASS or Tata Service station previously for which he answered in the affirmative. Then, I asked for a meeting with his experienced mechanic, who can work on fiats. Here comes Mr.Dhanapal, an ex-TASS mechanic whom worked for 5 years between 2010 and 2015 with VST Motors and True Sai works.

    I had interviewed (not for offering a salaried job though!) Mr.Dhanapal for a while and found him to be knowledgeable and started believing “Yes. I can trust this fellow and give my car for servicing”.

    Finally, I insisted to Mr.Vignesh that I will be in the floor of their workshop while my car is being worked with, to which he agreed too (may be because the franchise was new and yet to win a big customer base and thus, had decided to tolerate me!)

    So, I didn’t visit MyTVS as I felt my requirement will be well served by MFC.

    Next day, I checked in my car in MFC for performing the long list of checks/jobs to be done to my car that I have made out.

    To be Continued..
    KPR likes this.
  4. ramjn

    ramjn Staff Member Janitor

    Linea 1.3
    I think you have 3 choices to make from nearby places. Marvel in Erode and Trichy. And True Sai in Salem. I am not sure how would MFC will source the parts for you and even they may take longer time for need of any critical parts. My feeling is that FASS will be better than the MFC.
  5. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    The color Tuscan wine always puzzles me - in some viewing angles the color looks like chocolate brown and in some angles it looks like deep maroon. The color perception also changes with different lighting conditions. Not sure if I'm the only one to have this - to put it candidly - illusion.
    Deepak likes this.
  6. Turbothinghy

    Turbothinghy Esperto

    Punto Evo 1.3 90 HP
    Even the Ferrari Red color that comes with Punto looks like maroon and orange under different sunlight and camera conditions :D

    Congrats on your 90 HP and your cost analysis thread was a good read.
    V. K. Pasupathy likes this.
  7. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    You have a valid point here @ramjn. And it turned out so. I had to wait for nearly 5 days for a small sleeve connecting the oil separator, that was badly damaged and needed a replacement to arrive. The humorous part is that all larger parts were sourced by MFC in 24 hours while this one took further 5 days. Here goes the next part of the story.

    The jobs that I have identified and mentioned to MFC when I checked in (on 05/07/2016) the vehicle are,-

    1. Glow plugs issue - To check and replace wherever required.

    2. Engine oil Change.

    3. Oil filter, fuel filter and Air filter change.

    4. Check the condition of brake pads and to clean / replace as needed.

    5. Examine all the hoses/pipes in the engine bay replace those that are weak or coming apart.

    6. Check the condition of suspensions.

    7. A complete general check up on the condition of the vehicle, with special attention to the tapping noise from the Engine bay.

    8. To address the pick-up/hesitation issues that were observed during the drive back home upon taking delivery.

    9. Wheels alignment.

    10. Any other work / replacement after consulting me.

    The following are the works performed.

    1. All four glow plugs were gone and were replaced with Original Bosch OEM plugs.

    2. Engine Oil changed - Petronas Syntium Fully synthetic 0W40.

    3. Oil Filter / Fuel Filter and Air filter changed with OEM spares.

    4. The rear brake pads have given up and was changed.

    5. Breather hose (U Sleeve) and the sleeve connecting the oil separator to oil dipstick tube changed.

    6. Left front absorber started leaking oil and was suggested a change, which was changed too.

    7. EGR Cooling coil upto the intake-delivery pipe were cleaned physically.

    8. Brake cleaning done on the front brakes.

    9. After I approved the wurth polishing and detailing job, it was performed.

    As regards the pick-up/hesitation issues, I was told that that may be due to clogged air-filter that was there ealier and that the vehicle behaved normally in their test drive.

    Also, I was told that the engine oil that was in the vehicle earlier before the present change was a Mineral Oil and that could also be a reason for the pick-up issues and the tappet noise. Anyway, I was assured that if the issue to return, they will take care of it.

    It is to note that while all the spares were sourced by MFC within 24 hours as assured by them, it took a 5 full days for sourcing a simple spare - the sleeve from the Oil separator, defeating the whole purpose for which I turned to MFC, as opposed to the FASS.

    Changed parts:

    Broken Hose (U Sleeve)

    Glow Plugs

    Brake Linings (Rear)
    Shock Absorber (Front LH)
    Then the bill came, which was a shocker. The parts prices were inflated and out of the bill of Rs.22,300/- I found that at least Rs.3500/- was overcharged for parts. I have compared the 99rpm.com prices and also the recent bills posted by fiat owners those are members of various online forums and proved the the fact.

    After a long argument with Mr.Vignesh, the franchisee owner, he agreed to take responsibility to this and has assured me to get a refund/shop credit for the overcharged amounts and if everything fails, he assured to provide discounts in labour charges during the next services and that way he would compensate me.

    I gingerly paid the bill and left off with a decision not to visit this garage, nor recommend it to anyone, as I was very sure then, Mr.Vignesh will never call me back nor give any discounts and after the heat subsides he will repeat the same story - that everything is done online in the SAP system, that he has no control over spare pricing, etc.

    Surprisingly Mr.Vignesh called me up and informed after a couple of days that he brought this issue in the Regional meeting of MFC franchisees and argued the case hard before their Regional manager and sought a refund for me. However, the end result he mentioned again punctured my enthusiasm - that they have refused to offer a refund/shop credit as the spares for Fiat are procured only from MFC authorized dealers (not from OEM suppliers) and that MFC charges only 8% towards handling charges.

    Then, in another couple of days, he called me up and informed that he had escalated the issue to next level. Then, after sometime he informed that it too failed.

    Then, he called me up after a few days and informed me that he will continue to offer me steep discounts for any service with my vehicle till I feel I am compensated of my loss.

    By that time, I have done some 300-400 kms since oil change. During this period, the hesitation issues had all returned and the tapping sound - presumed to be the valve-train/tappet noise - would disappear with rpms. However, another issue cropped up. The tapping sound had returned like more of a thumping sound that started reverberating in the cabin with the sound appearing in the same frequency as the earlier tapping sound. This sound was like thump..thump..thump… during acceleration in lower gears under load, especially when the vehicle had not reached the operating temperature. It would sound like beating a over-inflated tyre with a metal rod. The sound peaked after driving a 5-6 kms. This lead me to a state of paranoia, “oh my god, did I buy a lemon after a long research, thinking too smart of myself?”.

    Uncle Google, while at most times helped me with positive information, also added to my woes with the search results indicating anything to be fault starting from worn piston rings to failing main bearing to failed injectors. Complete frustration and I had to take all of them. Alone.

    I visited MFC again after Mr.Vignesh’s last call and mentioned the issues to Mr.Dhanapal. He examined all intake lines for leaks, checked the inter-cooler, checked the turbo and returned with nothing. All are fine, yet the noise is present. After nearly some 3 hours of meddling with the vehicle, he suddenly pulled out the fuel pipe leading into the fuel filter and took a drop of fuel in his hand and smelt it. Then, he brought his palm to me and asked to me to sense the smell of the fuel. Horror!!! it smelt Kerosene.

    After filling the tank at the seller’s city, I had only topped up the tank at Karur in a reputed fuel station. Therefore, the contamination has to be from either of the bunks, with pointer indicating toward the unknown bunk at the seller’s city. Mr.Dhanapal suggested that either I can drive the vehicle for the next two tank fulls with fuel from a reputed bunk or from a COCO bunk or that I can go for a physical fuel system drain and cleaning. Mr.Dhanapal was of the view that the thumping noise could also due to the contaminated fuel. I chose the first option to burn off the contaminated fuel and decided to take my car off the garage. I have asked for a water/shampoo wash of my car, which was done.

    As for my suggestion for an injector cleaning, Mr.Dhanapal suggested not to pull out the injectors from the engine, there is a risk of breaking the tread and instead, I can try some fuel additive for cleaning injectors.

    The bill this time was Rs.0 for labour and Rs.227/- for water-wash, that included interior vacuum cleaning also.

    After my exit from MFC, I drove straight to the bunk at Karur, from where I topped up my tank and checked the fuel straight out of the nozzle of the pump by smell. I smelt Diesel.

    Still feeling uncomfortable with the way the vehicle is, again, despite Mr.Dhanapal’s words, browsed through lots of information in various online forums, listened to lots of engine noises in youtube and came across the possible cause of clogged MAF / MAP. Also, one forum suggested use of STP engine oil treatment. Like a terminally ill person looking for remedies from any source, I was running around.

    Next things I did was to order for a couple of cans of ABRO injector cleaner from Amazon, a can of STP oil treatment. I have also ordered a 1/2 Litre bottle of 90% Isopropyl Alcohol and a can of Carburettor and Air Intake cleaner from ebay and Amazon. Cleaned the MAF and MAP sensor (DIY) with IPA and re-installed them, to notice only a marginal difference. The idling after a cold start was still rough and the thumping noise to return after 5-6 kms of driving.

    Then, I came across a discussion in a forum relating to the Positive crankcase ventillation valve issues, which opened my eyes. Till this point I never checked the fuel efficiency of the car, as I had too much to worry above (at least in my perception). I immediately went for a fill and noted the odo. I took the bills for earlier fills and the figures are as below:

    Odo : 866xx - Tank filled at Seller’s city.

    : Not Noted - Topped up with 15.70 Litres

    :87563 - Filled with 26.70 Litres

    Therefore, the mileage for 42.40 Litres is 913 Kms or 11.33 Kms/L. And, this is totally unacceptable mileage for any diesel car.

    The comprehensive symptoms with my vehicle were,-

    1. Thumping sound that grows in intensity when the vehicle is run in load;

    2. Fuel consumption was paltry at 11.33 Kms/L

    3. The noise was like hitting a over-inflated tyre.

    This made me to think, “is this some kind of breathing trouble?”

    Next day, I went to MFC again and the Oil separator was pulled off by Mr.Dhanapal to notice that it was completely clogged and it required pressure in excess of 100psi for the air to get to the other two outlets of the oil separator. Bill : Rs.150/- for labour.

    With a planned trip to Tirunelveli with family approaching in a week, I asked for cleaning the part with the Carb cleaner I have taken along with me and a good high pressure air cleaning, which was done. The vehicle was better then, but still the thumping noise occuring during in-gear acceleration.

    I have ordered the part from 99rpm.com on the same day, and I was not sure if it will reach anytime before we start to Tirunelveli. Surprisingly, the part arrived early (two days before the scheduled journey) and I visited MFC again to change the part. Mr.Dhanapal changed the part within an hour and took another hour to conduct a full check-up of all hoses in the air intake line and all vacuum line pipes at my instance.

    The thumping sound was completely gone, but still the tappet sound exists when the engine is not upto its operating temperature. Here I want to mention a thing. It was a strange coincidence that the thumping sound I mentioned, and the tappet sound were so precisely synchoronized that it appeared as a single sound. Earlier, due to a broken breather hose (U Sleeve), the engine was breathing freely venting off the blowby gasses thorugh the leakiy hose, albeit leaking oil. Then it sounded only a tapping noise. When the breather hose was fixed, while the tappet noise still existed, was outdone by the noise that was due to building crankcase pressure.

    Then, the Tirunelveli Trip was done, after topping up the fuel and adding a can of ABRO Injector Cleaner. My car returned amazing mileage in excess of 24 Km/L, which is simply a great improvement over what it was returning earlier.

    Then, the second can of the injector cleaner also went into the tank during the next fill, after returning from the Tirunelveli trip. Meanwhile, I have ordered for a couple of bottles of Iftec System D from Roger Motors, after reading some positive reviews in team-bhp, which I presently use @ 1ml per litre and plan to discontinue after 3 tank fills (after ABRO).

    By now, the abnormal noises are all taken care of, with only the valve train tappet noise persisting at lower rpms under load. And, the noise is not so prominent as it was, but very much muted now. Sigh.

    Ø Driving this car is a pleasure and I didn’t know or experienced it during the first 1000-1200 kms of driving;

    Ø The comfort this car offers is that I never felt myself tired even after driving over a 100 Kms in potholed roads, which I realized only after the first 1000-1200 Kms of driving;

    Ø The safety this car offers is that it can steer past any obstacles with I just need to think of the manoeuvre; that it can come to a complete halt - giving complete control of the vehicle to me - if I apply an emergency brake to avoid a buffallo. And, I didn’t felt these during the initial days;

    Ø The confidence the vehicle offers - “Oh, you are going to be safe. Just enjoy your ride” - everytime I hit the highway was not understood by me during the intial days;

    Ø The speed insulation the vehicle offers, at 100 Kph the yawn I let off as if going at 50 Kph in my earlier tin-can branded as WagonR. I never noticed it earlier. (Now I have set speed limit @120 in my vehicle);

    Ø Dynamics - as they call it. I didn’t know the meaning of it until recently.

    Had to change the battery as the car failed to start a couple of times early in the morning. Since the date of purchase, it was showing intermittent messages in the MID like "Airbags failure" and "ABS Not available", which are indicators of failing battery, yet I wanted to persist as long as I can, but not for long though. Changed Exide 50 AH @ Rs.4750/- after buy-back of old one.

    I forgot to mention. I have, in the meanwhile purchased a VAG COM cable and using it with Multiecuscan for diagnostics and use it once a while to read various engine parameters.

    Last month, after doing a long trip (885 Kms in two days) to Chennai, during the return journey, I noticed that the turbo kick is not coming till 3000 rpm. On return, I connected the vehicle to my laptop through the VAG COM cable and done a TD, capturing the rpm vs. Manifold pressure. The boost pressure was 1035 mBars at 2097 rpm, which was substantially low. @3197 rpm, the pressure was 1594 mBars, which was still less than the peak pressure of 1900+mBars.

    Went to MFC again with the graphs and again, Mr. Dhanapal started examining the car. Conducted a TD of the car with their OBD diagnostic tool and arrived at the same finding - The boost pressure was too low.

    Then, he checked the VGT vacuum actuator, and told me that it was working perfectly and there will be no issues with the turbo. He suggested for a cleaning the intake manifold and the exhaust lines and to check if there is an improvement in boost pressure, to which I agreed. The intake manifold cleaning took most part of the forenoon and a couple of cans of WD-40. The intake manifold was completely clogged with oily gunk restricting the space for air flow. During the process, it crossed my mind, a simple way to check if such oily gunk would also have clogged the exhaust lines. After Mr.Dhanapal was done with intake manifold, I asked him not to dismantle the exhaust lines but, only to pull out the Oxygen sensor. My logic is if the oxygen sensor is covered with sticky gunk, then, the same will be the case with the entire exhaust line, starting from the catalytic converter to the muffler. When Mr.Dhanapal removed the Oxygen sensor, upon seeing it, I turned very happy. The O2 Sensor was coated with fine powder of carbon with no traces of oil. It was cleaned like new with a simply blowing with compressed air.

    O2 Sensor after cleaning:

    I asked him not to remove any part from exhaust line, but to give a good compressed air blow through the hole in the exhaust line, where O2 sensor sits.

    Blow it, a huuuge black cloud of carbon powder was let off from the tail pipe. He repeated the process a few times and fixed back the O2 sensor. And, it was around 4.00 pm already and having skipped my lunch, decided to change the brake / gear box / coolant and power steering fluids. (of course after checking MFC prices! Once bitten..!). Mr.Dhanapal did the job in another 2-1/2 hours. Checked the boost pressure again by TDing the vehicle and the graph now reads 1651 mBars @2192 rpm, which is better, but still lower. And, the turbo boost is available in my vehicle in a more linear fashion from 1700 rpm onwards than a sudden kick @2000 rpm. Bill for the whole thing : Fluids : Rs.1689/- Labour : Total 10 hours, discounted to 6 hours : Rs.2088/-. Total Cost : Rs.3777/-.

    Boost pressure prior to cleaning Intake / Exhaust:

    Boost Pressure after cleaning the intake/exhaust (1651 mBar @2192 rpm):

    Well. Now the paranoia is completely gone and I started to enjoy the ride. The cost apart from the money spent - 10 days of my working time, which I had to compensate by working in holidays and burning midnight oils at times too. But, the moments were all lost, as I did not have the mind or will to snap some pictures during the initial days of frustration. However, I have some nice pictures of my odo now.

    The Range Showed a whopping 1020 Kms, after about 140 kms covered since tank filled, when we stopped for break-fast enroute to Chennai:

    Got a overall mileage of 24.2 covering 885 Kms Karur-salem-Chennai-Salem-Karur.
    IMG_20160926_190400.jpg IMG_20160926_190419.jpg IMG_20160926_190439.jpg

    Here are the Coimbatore trip readings:
    IMG_20160929_135334.jpg IMG_20160929_135352.jpg IMG_20160929_135401.jpg IMG_20160929_135411.jpg

    An engine with a good fuel economy is an indicator of its good health. Now, my car is healthy all aspects, and now I have turned my head towards the other niggles - of course not too significant - like, the tachometer needle has gone loose and has to be put in its position, the missing fog lamp to be replaced and the dents are to be repaired.

    ramjn and Deepak like this.
  8. Giridhar

    Giridhar Amatore

    Avventura 1.3 90 HP
    Excellent analysis @V. K. Pasupathy sir. Need to learn from you the way analysis to be done. Glad that at the end you are enjoying Fiat and the immense pleasure you are deriving from it after all the niggles you have been facing.
    V. K. Pasupathy likes this.
  9. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    Thanks @Giridhar. Buying a used car after due diligence is truly a VFM. Still have to endure some frustrating moments especially during the initial period. Hope my experience will be of use to at least some of our members here.
  10. KPR

    KPR Superiore

    Punto Evo 1.3 90 HP
    @V. K. Pasupathy Woah! A revamping job you have done with your possession.
    That's a detailed session you had with MFC and as @ramjn suggested Marvel Erode/Trichy or Truesai could be the better choice for future.
    Solving one issue after another would've given you immense satisfaction. That's Fiat;).

    BTW need to learn lesson from Mileage Guru: How is it possible ji? TripB reads 885KM, 13.17 hrs, 66 KMPH average and 24.2 KMPL on a 90 HP Engine:nailbiting:? What was the top speed you drove and give us more views on extracting mileage from this 90 HP? 66 KMPH Vs 24.2 KMPL! Are we missing something on our 90 HPs?
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
    V. K. Pasupathy likes this.
  11. V. K. Pasupathy

    V. K. Pasupathy Amatore

    Karur, Tamil Nadu, India
    Grande Punto 1.3 90 HP
    @KPR I maintain speeds between 90 and 110 kph or more precisely, the engine rpms between 2200 - 2500. I follow this: Quickly accelerate to 110, say in 30 seconds or less, then ease the pedal to a position just enough to maintain speeds @100. When the speed gets down to <90kph, accelerate again - quickly - to reach 110. And, no spirited drives, no hard braking and no lugging in higher gears. But, yes. It is always very tough to control your instincts to not to revv hard with a 90hp motor under the hood. I do occasional 4000+ rpm runs on highway, especially when I feel sleepy:D, but restricted to only a few kms (10 or 15 kms max in a clear and straight Road stretch). And I figured out the sweet range of rpm for the 90hp to be between 2200 and 2500 when I recorded live parameters - rpm Vs fuel consumption - using multiecuscan. And at this rpm range the fuel consumption was less @ 3 - 3.8 liters per hour, means you could cover 90-100 kms under ideal conditions with roughly 3.5 liters of fuel. Here are the graphs.

    1. Engine speed Vs. Fuel consumption: 3.225 litres per hour @ 2419 rpm

    2. For the same engine rpm & fuel consumption, this graph shows the vehicle speed.

    Therefore, ideally, if you can make your engine to maintain the above readings as long as possible, IMO you can get a better FE out of your car. And, I have also observed from my readings that if your run the car too slow (<60 kph) or with frequent acceleration/deceleration cycles, the fuel economy steeply dips (consumption increases to >8 Litres per Hour).

    Hope this helps.
    KPR and Deepak like this.

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