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Virtual Mechanic

Car and bike questions? We have the answers


My brother and I intend to drive his brand-new Range Rover 3.6 TD V8 from Mumbai to Punjab via Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Can you suggest a scenic and safe route? Also, do you recommend that we undertake such a long drive in a new vehicle, given the inconsistent quality of diesel available in different parts of the country?

Manuuj Kathuriaa

A good route for your to drive is from Mumbai to Ajmer on the Golden Quadrilateral highway. This will take you through Vadodara, Udaipur and Chittorgarh. From here you can turn towards Nagaur and Bikaner and then head straight to Punjab through Ganganagar.

Suggested itinerary:

Day 1: Mumbai to Udaipur. Try to start at around 5a.m. as this will comfortably get you to Udaipur by four in the evening.

Day 2: Udaipur to Nagaur. Stay at the Khimsar fort that is located nearby.

Day 3: Nagaur to Bikaner. Stay at Gajner palace. For details visit www.hrhhotels.com.

Day 4: Bikaner to Punjab.

Of course, if you want you can spend more than one day at these places. But remember you’ll be driving through some of the hottest parts of the country. As regards fuel, you shouldn’t have any problems if you tank up at the larger fuel stations. Company-owned outlets are the safest bet. Reliance has good diesel, but since it is a bit expensive, it doesn’t move too fast, so stocks might be old. As a rule, if your fuel gauge needle is hovering at or below the halfway mark, top up at the first good fuel station.

Also, we suggest you drive your new car in the city for a day or two, read the owner’s manual carefully, locate where the tools and jack are kept, where the fuses are housed etc. In other words, familiarise yourself with the car before you head out.

I have a 2005 Ford Fusion which has done 68,000 km, slightly less than half on state and national highways in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. Recently, I replaced all four shock absorbers and both sets of tyres with new ones, since the old ones were almost completely worn out. However, my car has started to rattle again when going over bumps and potholes. I would like my car to get as close to a factory-new suspension as possible. Will changing all four coil springs help?

Raghuram Kalletla

A harsh ride and rattle build quality are two flaws of the Fusion which we had pointed out when we first tested the car. This is largely due to the relatively low profile of the tyres. Changing the coil springs won’t help but if you can import a good set of dampers, it could transform the ride dramatically. A cheaper but not as effective an option would be to reduce tyre pressure a bit to soften the ride. However, this is only advisable for low-speed driving in the city. Tyre pressure must be increased for highway driving.

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