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Car and bike questions? We have the answers

On a recent outing, I changed from neutral to first gear without using the clutch. Although my bike is running fine, I have read that shifting without using the clutch can damage the gearbox. Does my bike's gearbox require checking?

Zal Dubash

There should be absolutely no problem with your bike. Most modern motorcycles are built tough, to withstand more abuse than most rider's can throw at them. This minor a mistake will have absolutely no effect on your bike.

I am looking to buy my first car for my five-member family. My priorities are good fuel efficiency, comfort and peace-of-mind ownership, low maintenance, good after-sales service and service station network, and fine engine performance. My daily usage will be 25km with occasional trips outside the city.

Tejas Shah

The i10 is a good choice but could be quite cramped for a family of five. The boot is small too. We suggest you look at the Nissan Micra because it is quite a roomy car with lots of features and well-priced too. Nissan's dealer network is not very well-developed but it's still worth considering the Micra because it is a well-engineered and good value hatchback. However, if you can wait till March 2010, the car that would best meet your requirement is the Toyota Etios hatchback. It will be the most spacious hatchback in its class and has been conceived with low cost of ownership in mind and, true to Toyota tradition, should give you years of trouble-free service.

I own a 2008 model Swift Dzire VDi which has clocked 39,000km. The car has been regularly serviced at Maruti service centres. Mileage in the city with the AC on is 14kpl and 18kpl on the highway. The car is in excellent running condition. However, I now plan to sell it in exchange for the VW Vento Highline Diesel. How much do you think I should get for my Dzire? Is the Vento diesel the right upgrade for me considering my annual mileage of 20,000km, with over half of that on the highway? How is VW's aftersales service? Since I plan to use the Vento for seven to eight years, is it built for long-term usage?

Arun Kumar

The market price for a 2008 Swift Dzire should be in the range of Rs. 5 lakh to Rs. 5.5 lakh. The resale value depends to a great extent on the vehicle condition. If you have maintained it well, you could be lucky and get an even better price.

The Vento Diesel is the ideal choice for you as it is an excellent highway car and is pretty good in the city too. The engine has lots of pulling power throughout its rev range, so it is driveable in the city and has great overtaking ability for highway use. The Volkswagen network is still small but is being ramped up rapidly. The quality of service is good though spare parts prices are on the expensive side. The Vento's German build quality should ensure that it easily lasts seven to eight years if you adhere to service schedules and drive it in a careful manner.

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