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Virtual Mechanic

Car and bike questions? We have the answers


My Ford Ikon Flair 2004 model came fitted with 175/70 R13 tyres, but now I am keen to replace them with alloys and tubeless tyres. Should I change the tyre size? Are tubeless tyres tough enough to tackle Indian roads and what should I upgrade to? Will 185/65 R13 be ok or should I go in for 14-inch rims?

Ishbir Singh, via email

Tubeless tyres with alloys are no sweat on the Ikon. Not only are they safer, but ride quality too is enhanced. You can fit 185/70 R13s. You could also take a look at 185/60 R14s, but the car's ride height will drop and the ride could turn a little harsh.

We're a family of three and are planning to buy our first car. Our daily run will be around 15-20km and our priorities are safety, reliability, driving ease and comfort. I have zeroed in on the Honda City, Optra 1.6 and Ford Fiesta. Please suggest an ideal buy. Also, is it okay to buy a big car as your first car? The general trend is to buy a small car first.

Ashok, via email

Pick the new Honda City ZX. The reasons are simple yet compelling - since this is your first car, it helps to have one that is user friendly and easy to drive. The City is both, and also has controls that are light and effective. A fuel efficient petrol engine best suits a daily run of 15-20km. Also, the car's engine has been tuned for good driveability in urban conditions. Very few cars come close to the back seat feel-good factor offered by the City. Honda's service and reliability is excellent and that should be the clincher. Moving on to the second query, first-time drivers generally find small cars easier to handle than large ones, especially while reversing and parking. Again, most people in India buy small cars first because that's what a fair majority can afford. As far as the other cars on your list go, we'd have recommended the superb Fiesta (the diesel model) if your odo clocked more than 40 km a day. The Optra is good too, but a tad too big for a first-time buyer.

My Tata Indica's rear tyres get inner wear as there is no wheel alignment for the rear wheel. The FIP pump also seems to have a problem. I'm looking to change my car (budget: Rs 6lakh) and am looking for a good diesel car with low running cost and good fuel efficiency. Also, how do you calculate the cc/bhp of an engine, and lastly, I'm also looking for some maintenance tips that'll help cut garage visits?

Dhanraj, via email

Our choice is the Hyundai Accent CRDi and it should slot well into your budget. Measuring the bore and stroke of the cylinder and then multiplying the same by the number of cylinders calculate an engine's capacity. And as for tips, be regular with your maintenance schedules and you shouldn't have too much of a headache in the future.

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