I am planning to buy a new car. My daily usage will be 30-35km in the city. As petrol prices have gone up, should I buy a Maruti Wagon R Duo which runs on LPG, an LPG-powered Chevrolet Spark or a diesel-engined car such as the Tata Indica DLS? The car should not cost more than Rs. 4.5 lakh. I want a car with low maintenance costs and whose spare parts will be easily available.

Sumanta Panigrahi

An LPG-powered car makes sense for you, given the price and daily running.

We suggest you go in for the Spark LPG as it is more spacious and comfortable. Also, if you buy the Wagon R now it will be outdated within a month as the new model is expected in late March with the new K-series engine, which is unlikely to have a CNG engine at launch.

I bought my Maruti Swift VDI in April 2008, and I use it mainly in the city. It has clocked 30,000km and I am happy with the car.

But I now hear a peculiar noise inside the cabin, similar to that heard on race tracks when cars are driven at high speeds. I have checked the condition of the tyres as well as the tyre pressure, and both are fine.

Also, when I drive over 50kph, the odometer reading goes up only till the 1500rpm mark. Is there a problem here?

R Pradeep

The noise could be due to accessories being fitted improperly or wiring running through the firewall.

If the rubber grommets have been removed and not put back, this could cause a problem too. Other reasons for such a noise could be worn-out bearings or an improperly fitted roof carrier.

Take the vehicle to a workshop for a full check-up. The rpm readings for those speeds are correct.

I own a seven-year-old Santro. I now plan to buy a diesel car to be driven for around 1200km every month on highways, rough and hill roads.

I am impressed by the Fiat Punto's solid build, ride and handling, mileage and styling but fear Fiat's service back-up, spare parts prices and maintenance costs. Is the Punto a good choice of car for me?

Sakthibabu Singaram

You are right. The Grande Punto's outstanding ride and handling makes it best suited for rough roads, hilly terrain and long-distance driving.

The 1.3 diesel engine is quite punchy and offers good performance and economy. Fiat's back-up is not the best and you need to be aware that your ownership experience may not be without some angst. However, Fiat India along with its distributor, Tata Motors, is making a big effort to improve customer service. Our advice is to go for the Grande Punto if you like it. Hopefully, you won't have any trouble with it to visit the service station more than necessary.

I have a 1994 model Premier 118NE which has clocked 54,000km. It still gives me excellent service and I use it only for long-distance driving. I would now like to buy a new car priced within Rs. 5 lakh. It should be comfortable on long drives and have a spacious boot. I am interested in the Tata Marina and the Premier Rio but seek your advice for my new purchase.

Mahesh Thadani

Both the Tata Marina and Premier Rio have good luggage space but priced more than Rs. 5 lakh. Besides, both these cars do not offer the same standard of quality and reliability as some other cars in this range. We suggest you go for the Maruti Swift Dzire LXi, which is a logical upgrade from your 118NE. The Dzire is decent for long distances and has a spacious boot. Also, at just over Rs. 5 lakh, it is close to your budget and promises trouble-free motoring for many years. The Dzire has recently been launched with a brand new engine which makes it even better than before.

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