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Car and bike questions? We have the answers

I own a Fiat Palio 1.6, which has done around 50,000 km. The service personnel have told me that my car's timing belt and bearings need replacement, while the user manual recommends a check only at 60,000 km and replacement after 1,20,000 km. When I mentioned this to the service personnel at Fiat, they said that the manual is printed for international conditions. In local conditions, the belt and bearings need replacement sooner. But the belt and the bearings seem to be in pretty healthy condition. I am worried because the people at the service station say that if the belt gives away, it might cause expensive engine damage. Please advice me on this.Rathnakar, via emailFiat's service personnel have advised you correctly in this matter. The fact is that Indian operating conditions are among the harshest in the world for cars, what with our poor roads, adulterated fuel and high levels of air pollution. In this case, you would be better off changing the timing belt and bearings, which will cost about Rs 2,000. But it will save you a much higher repair bill in the future. The main culprit leading to the premature wear of the timing belt and bearings in your case is the excessive dust pollution. So when the manual says that you should change at 1,20,000 km, that is more in keeping with ideal operating conditions like those prevailing in Fiat's home market in Europe. I am taking delivery of my car from a dealer shortly and am getting a current registration. However, I understand that the car itself was made in October 2005. Would it still perform as well as a vehicle made in 2006? I am getting a good deal since the vehicle was made in 2005 and am keen on buying it, but not if the performance will be inferior to a newer model. Also, will the vehicle be considered a 2006 model, since it was produced last year?Savio Barretto, via emailDue to the way in which car companies manufacture and distribute cars, it is perfectly normal to take delivery of a car made a couple of months prior. This does not in any way mean that the car will perform poorly or less effectively compared to a slightly newer version. In your case, it appears that the dealer was giving discounts to clear its stock of '05 models, which is a normal industry practice. Also remember that prior to delivery; dealers check the car to ensure it is working fine. It won't affect resale value, since in India, a vehicle's model year is determined by the date it was registered and not the date it was manufactured.I want to purchase a Toyota Innova, but after hearing about the Toyota Fortuner, I am waiting for it to be launched. I read that it will be launched in mid-2006. However, Toyota dealers are not saying anything about this vehicle. Should I wait for the Fortuner or do I go in for another vehicle? Please help me arrive at a decision.Muralidhar, via emailToyota has decided to postpone the launch of the Fortuner, since it is very focused on making a success of the Innova and also on developing and producing its new small car. So it is unlikely that the Fortuner will be launched anytime soon and we realistically expect it to be come to India around end-2007 or early 2008. I have a problem with my Zen MPFI that has flummoxed the dealer. For the past three months, my car, purchased in October 2003, often refuses to start. There is no sound when I turn the key. There is nothing wrong with the battery and when I took it to the Maruti authorised dealer, they claimed the problem was with the starter motor, and repaired and refitted it. Now the problem has recurred and I am at my wit's end. Hari Nair, via emailFrom what you have said, it seems the fault lies with the ignition switch. Have the dealer put in another ignition switch and start the car several times to check whether it starts up without any problem. If yes, then you've identified the problem. The other suspect is the starter motor, which may not have been repaired properly, so if the ignition switch is not faulty then have your starter motor checked again. Another possibility is that if you have fitted an alarm system to your car and try to start without switching it off, it may be automatically immobilising the engine.

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