Quick Tips And What To Expect When You/You Want To Buy A Brand New Car

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

Buying a new car is probably the best thing ever, clean showroom floor, shiny paint and that new car smell with the plastic covers on the seats, that for some reasons Malaysian’s love to keep them. Since the Covid-19 Pandemic, many manufacturers are offering discounts on their models, so if you’re thinking of getting a new car, you can visit Paul Tan’s Automotive News and check out their very informative posts on what cars are discounted along with any related exemption for purchasing cars.

With the exception of taking bank loans, and essentially being in debt when owning a new car, owning a new car always outweighs driving a second hand car, especially if your old car tends to break down a lot. New cars simply don’t have that issue, UNLESS the manufacturer issues a recall if a specific component of the car is not working, such as leaking, mounting failures and such, I’m also ignoring reliability of particular models, because there are stories of brand new cars that are always at the service centre. These types of issues are generally not that common, especially if you buy something very dependable like a Toyota or a Perodua.

Like taking care of everything, your brand new car needs to be taken care too, and there are things that you have to expect when you own a brand new car or if you’re in the market of getting a new one. Here are some quick points.

  • Depending on your marital status, budget and style, get a car that suites your style and daily needs.
  • The market is saturated with all types of manufacturers offering various types of models.
  • You can either play safe and choose local cars, which are cheap and dependable or go the extra mile and get something quirky (European).
  • Japanese cars are always the easiest choice (Toyota and Honda) and have respectable customer service (depends on the dealer).
  • Financing, cost and other related things are also based on the dealer, push/negotiate a little and you might get a few free extras.
  • You can trade in your old car to the dealer, some dealers offer benefits for trading vehicles of the same manufacturer (selling your old proton car for a new one).
  • Expect to wait if you choose a specific colour or option on your car as stock may not be ready.
  • Book a test drive with your dealer if you are really interested in the car, this is for you to get a quick driving experience and vibe of the car.
  • Check owner reviews to see what other people who have purchased the car feel about it. CarBase.my has a section on owner reviews.
  • Modern car commercials on TV don’t show much, get a brochure from a dealer or stands you see at the mall to find out more about your dream car.
  • After you’ve bought your car, always keep in touch with your seller/dealer.
  • Your car is bonded with the manufacturer’s warranty for a period of time (varies between models).
  • Do not do anything to void your manufacturer’s warranty such as servicing it at another place, major modification of mechanical and electrical components (see what your warranty covers).
  • Keep your warranty book and related paperwork for proof, and do not throw away your owner’s manual.
  • All information about your car is found in the manual, from simple switches to where the jacking point of your car is.
  • Always follow your dealer/manufacturer service dates, do not deviate from the schedule as you might void the warranty.
  • Initial service are simple, but as the car racks up the miles, servicing may cost more, some dealers provide a service package at reasonable prices.
  • You are entitled to report any issues to your car at the dealer’s service centre.
  • Always keep up with any payments that involve your car.
  • Treat your car carefully, don’t be to harsh to it even if it is new with still strong components.
  • If you care about your bodywork, install rubber door guards (some dealers provide it) or apply an anti rock chipping clear film all over your car (prices vary depending on car).
  • Pay attention to what the dealer service centre say when you are sending your car to service, things like wheel alignment might have to be done at an early stage depending on driving distance.

Owning a new car is somewhat a breath of fresh air, you don’t expect it to break, meaning that you don’t have to worry about anything. Though keeping schedule maintenance is still very important, because if you don’t, your brand new car isn’t going to last very long, there have been cases where people don’t service their oil just because they think their car is new, this is mind blowingly ridiculous and stupid, do not be these kind of people. Choose a car, get your budget and financials straight, always maintain it properly and you don’t have to worry for a long time.

Basic Tips On How To Take Care Of Your Wheels And Tyres

Wheels and tyres are really important components for your car, because it literally makes the whole vehicle move, though some people still have problems taking care of them, or that they just don”t care. If you do care and you don’t want to waste money when your tyres fail at the absolute wrong time, here are some basic tips on how to take care of your wheels and tyres.

Wheel maintenance

Bent wheels from subtle to noticeable
Source: MiataForum, clublexus, acurazine.com

From the photos shown above you can clearly see that these wheels aren’t exactly round, as it should be, these wheels have been subjected to harsh driving, sometimes unintentionally by their owners. Bent wheels are almost always caused by hitting potholes and giant crater sized holes on the road, and living in Malaysia, those types of pavement are normal, my car’s new wheels already have some chips and road rash, which aren’t as bad, road rashes and chips are just mostly cosmetic.

However bents like these are far from just an eyesore, some people purposely love to hit potholes, not caring what is actually happening to your wheels and suspension, well  this is what happens if you look closely at your wheels, and sometimes you don’t actually see it as it can bend on your inner wheel. The only way to really see if you’re wheels are bent is by going to a tyre shop, which brings us to some tips on how to know, take care and maintain them. 

  • Avoid purposely hitting potholes, especially big ones, they can seriously damage your wheels.
  • Cars with bigger wheels and low profile are generally prone to have bents, road/curb rashes, be extra careful.
  • If you’re wheels are bent, the steering will begin to shake, uneasy handling and your tyres will start to deflate.
  • It is also obvious that there is visual damage on your wheels.
  • Your tyres will start to wear unevenly and may cause a blowout (seriously bad wheel bends).
  • Other mechanical components may be damaged from vibration.
  • Most tyre shops will offer to fix bent wheels (price depends on size, type, color etc).
  • Realign and balance your wheels every few months to know the condition of your wheels.
  • Replace wheels if they are bent too bad as the structure may be compromised.
  • Cracked wheels must be replaced immediately, as they can cause loss of control when driving.

As a driver who owns a Kia with 17 inch aftermarket wheels, because the original factory wheels were bent beyond fixing, it’s a bit hard taking care of them, I only had them for a few months at it’s already showing some scratches, luckily I haven’t bent any of them. The tips above are as basic as it can get, you just have to drive carefully and try to avoid damaging a rather expensive component of your car, because shops charge each wheels to fix! plus you have to leave it there for hours, days even. Cars with big wheels and low profile tyres (we’ll get to that portion soon) will have more problems, unless the wheels are built to handle continuous pothole slamming, now this doesn’t mean if your car has smaller wheels, you’re safe, I’ve seen Perodua Vivas with stock steel wheels turn into a square from hitting holes.

Tyre maintenance

Tyre maintenance are a whole different thing, these are the rubber that goes around your wheels that help you drive as smoothly and comfortable as possible. Tyres come in many different brands, sizes, width, profile and use, from big off-roading tyres to super sticky track tyres and to our normal road tyres, but even they have different variations within their range. 

Tyre diagram
Source: Wikipedia

Before getting tyres, you need to know what all those numbers mean, even though a tyre shop would know what to put on your care based on the manufacturer’s standards and the size of your wheels, it’s good to have more knowledge on these. The most important part of your tyre are rows of numbers with the slashes (/), as shown on the diagram above, that tells you the type (passenger), width (in millimetre) height and wheel size/diameter (in inches), you can ignore the R (radial) because here in Malaysia, we don’t have a four season climate, so radials are really your only choice. Now all of those factors play a role in getting a comfier ride, for instance your car, from the factory may have a 175 width with 65 height tyres on 14 inch wheels, tyre height is important, it is what most people call tyre profile, low profile tyres have very thin sidewalls, commonly used on high performance cars for tighter and stiffer performance, while high profile tyres have big sidewalls, which is comfortable on roads because of the big gap between the pavement and you, but it won’t be the best at handling, as the tyres might flex when cornering hard. This applies to having wider and thinner tyres, the wider it is, the better it handles.

Now this doesn’t have to be a major concern to you, because as normal people driving normally, you should just stick to the manufacture’s standard of wheel and tyre size, which is perfectly fine for normal daily driving. For example, my Kia came from the factory with 17 inch wheels, so when I changed to my aftermarket wheels, I didn’t have to modify anything in order for my wheels and tyres to fit. Wheels and tyres are extremely tedious when working on them to get the right fitment, if you really want to change any of them, such as getting wider and bigger wheels, always choose the right tyre for it to fit, because if you don’t get a wide enough tyre to fit your larger wheels, that tyre is going to be stretched over your fat wheels and it’s not going to last long with all that stress. There are so many factors to consider too, such as wheel spacing and clearing your inner wheel wells, but that’s a story for another time, let’s talk about how to know if your wheels are old, worn out and how to take care of them. 

  • Check the date of manufacture by looking at the numbers from the picture shown above.
  • Older tyres tend to get hard and generate loud road noises, a tyre would typically last around 4-5 years.
  • Tyre age also depends on how you drive, the more you drive, the more wear it gets. Though if not driven for a long time, they start to deflate and dry rot into the ground, check for cracks on the sidewalls.
  • Tyre brands are subjective, some brands may offer quieter rides, but my cost higher, stick within your budget (personally I’d use Bridgestone or Continentals).
  • Do not buy old tyres (check the date at the shop) or mismatched tyre brands for each wheels, this will cause compromised handling, braking and fuel efficiency. 
  • You can use a coin (old 20 cent) and dip it into the tyre tread (bunga) to measure the depth.
  • If your coin is deep into the tread, your tyre is fine, but if its sticking out, you need to consider getting new ones.

Tire wear patterns & coin test
Source: Tyrepower & cars-care.net

  • Check your tyres for uneven wear, each wear will dictate what is happening to your car.
  • One sided wear are caused by misalignment or worn down suspension parts, go to a tyre shop do re-do your alignment and balancing.
  • You will know your car is misaligned or non balanced when the steering starts to shake and the car will pull to one side when letting go of the wheel.
  • Misaligned tyres will also create a sound when driving at speeds.
  • Do your alignment and balancing every six months or when your tyres start to pull the car.
  • Two sided or the middle portion wearing is caused by under inflation (both sides) or over inflation (middle section).
  • Inflate or deflate your tyres, always use the recommended PSI air levels.
  • Your tyre PSI levels is usually on the driver side door sill (look down), or on some occasions the fuel door.
  • Look for a number (30 PSI for example) and insert that number to the air compressor, which are usually found in gas stations, wait for the machine to beep, indicating its done.
  • Patched tyre wear is caused when other suspension components are worn out, or aggressive braking.
  • All of these worn tyres are NOT safe to drive, especially on long journeys at highway, replaced them as soon as possible.
  • Tyres can get so worn and bald, the metal cords under them might be exposed, you shouldn’t be driving anymore if that happens.
  • Compromised tyres can cause, handling, breaking, and fuel efficiency issues along with a loud and uncomfortable ride.
Bubbled tyre
Source: parksidemotors.ca
  • Bubbled tyres are the worst case scenario, the sidewall may expand due to constant unevenness and wear when driving.
  • The bubble will burst and can completely shred your tyre and destroy your wheels.
  • Bubbled tyres must be changed immediately.

So there you have it, these are just basic tips on how to take care of your wheels and tyres, there are more detailed things that you can consider, mostly number based decision making, but for an ordinary driver with an ordinary car, these tips will work just fine, always remember to take care of your car tyres and wheels, because they aren’t cheap to replace and is not worth wasting your precious time. Avoid bad road pavements that can misaligned your car, routinely check up on your tyres to make sure they are in good shape to be driven because you’re going be in great danger if your wheels or tyres decide to give up driving at high speeds. 

If you have tips of your own and questions, feel free to share to us in the comments section, drive safe and smart everyone!

The Tale Of Old Yellow, Part 1

Old Yellow

Everyone remembers their first things, one’s first love, your first trip to the dentist, anything that’s done the first time will always be inside our long term memory. My first thing was my first car, a 2003 Hyundai Getz GLA 1.6 in bright yellow, it was my first car that took me on for an adventure of life events, crazy stories, and breakdowns throughout my ownership of him. The relationship between man and car is normal if you’re a gear-head, but each one is always unique. ‘Yellow’, as I called my car, we formed a buddy relationship between us, inseparable and recognisable, Yellow slowly became well known among friends, teachers and families around me, nicknamed the “Official Car of Diploma in English” and the “Official Club Car”, Old Yellow here has a long story to tell, and that’s what I’m going to do, immortalising him in this story, the tale of how I met my best friend and how I had to let him go. This is the tale of Old Yellow, the legendary Hyundai Getz.

May 2014, the story begins.

The month of my birthday, I knew what I wanted ever since the beginning of the year, a driver’s license, I was old enough at 17 and having the ability to drive would be a huge advantage to me. After months of going to driving school, hour after hour of the mandatory lecture, trying to figure out where second gear was in the terribly maintained Perodua Kancil school car and embarrassingly failing the computer test the first time (I truly didn’t open the book that was given by the school and blindly took the test). I was one of the last batch of students that didn’t have to learn the new teaching and driving methods, like the S-curve and other weird things that people don’t actually do on the road, I was lucky. Finally, JPJ test day, our road transport department evaluation was the last phase of all driving school tests, many say it’s the hardest part of it, depending on which officer you got. As I got into a much better Perodua Viva school car that actually had all five gears for my public road course, I greeted my officer in charge, a middle-aged lady, not smiling, not even looking at me. I followed all the procedures that were graded by the officer, not missing a single one fearing that I’d fail immediately, after checking all possible start-up procedures, I depressed the clutch slowly, and carefully, the car puttered along the road. The test was supposed to take at least an hour of driving and explaining road signs or answering the officer’s questions, but for some reason, my officer got bored of my slow driving, I didn’t really have a choice, the speed limit was below 50 km/h, it was an industrial, residential and school area test drive, speeding was something logically, I couldn’t even conceive while driving next to an assessing officer. “Slow nya awak bawak, dah la, balik-balik” is what she roughly said, I had to follow orders, there was no point of showing off my “skills” to the officer, I said “OK” and we arrived back at the school after literally 15 minutes of driving. Despite that, I got a pass and couldn’t stop smiling on the way home in the bus, I finally got my license! 

June – July 2014

After waiting a few weeks, and going about my normal school day, I finally was able to process my driver’s license, and I received my probationary sticker, a giant “P” sticker that every new driver had to stick on the front and back of the car, the common joke about P drivers are they are absolutely clueless and have no idea how to drive, but that stigma wasn’t going to hold me back into the driving world. Driving my parents’ car was easy, we had a W204 Mercedes and a 2011 Kia Forte, during the first two years, I wasn’t allowed to drive the Mercedes, because it didn’t have the mandatory two year P sticker, so I mostly drove my mom’s Kia, slowly practising driving a larger car made it much easier for me to drive into the tight spaces around town and avoid giant potholes which I just realised were scattered everywhere in Malaysia! I never knew my parents were destroying their car wheels from hitting these craters. My brother also let me take his car out for a spin, a second hand 2009 Perodua Viva, that’s a car story for another time. Our parents would never buy us a brand new car, and personally I agree, I would be much less appreciative if I had a new car that has no issues at all, I know some people don’t want to deal with that, but I think it’s a part of the life experience, from there you truly know what your car is and what it’s capable of doing, it slowly builds the bond of caring and understanding. Honestly, fresh students who get new cars will somehow find ways to break them, I’ve had many experiences along the way dealing with this.

Late July, 2014

After I got home from school, my parents and I had a talk about car ownership, that day was the day they said they wanted to buy a car for me, because they know it’d be impossible for me to share a car with my brother, so they decided to just get another car, to shut both of us up. I never did ask for a car, I could have driven my mom’s Kia anytime, but their utmost gesture of wanting to get one for me made that moment one of the happiest things that has ever happened in my life, my own personal transportation! It was mind blowing, at that time, I would be the first high school student to drive a car. My dad told me to research on what car I would want, but there were some rules, it had to be a four door and an automatic. So I went onto the web searching and found a couple of used car dealers near my house, I wasn’t a picky person, really, anything  that had four wheels and a steering would have been fine, though I wasn’t sure if I wanted a sedan or a hatchback, local or import. Generally, people who get their first cars are usually locally made cars like an old Proton Waja or Perodua Kancils and Kelisas, typical hand-me-down cars. The search went on and off for two months, because I was busy with school (it was SPM that year) and I didn’t want to focus entirely on looking at cars despite how excited I was.

Early October, 2014

My parents decided to take me to an actual car dealer to look for cars, that way I had a better feel of what I wanted to have, we went during the evening to a stretch of road that had rows of car dealers, from grey imports to small trucks. The first dealer we went had a decent lot full of cars, ones parked in the front of the line were a mix of late 2000’s Proton Sagas, a couple of Honda Civics and Toyotas. Initially my parents wanted to get me a Myvi, we had one years back, and it was a very good car, small size and great fuel economy, and also known as the “fastest car in Malaysia”. Though the Myvis in this particular dealer were really rough, dents and dings all over the body, and one had water inside the taillights! “Ugh”, I said to my dad and we moved on to some rows of Proton Sagas, one car sticking out of the row was a bright orange Honda Integra DC4 Sedan, it was lowered with Enkei sport wheels, “carbon fiber hood”, a massive spoiler and bucket seats, I’ve only seen Integra in coupe form rather than sedans, and I just found out they had frame-less doors, it was undoubtedly the coolest car there, and the moment I showed it to my mom, well the answer was a huge “NO”, even though I pointed out that it was an automatic, but owning a modified 90’s Honda is risky, you never know what the previous owner had done, one minute you’re enjoying a speedy drive, then a catastrophic failure on the next, that orange Integra obviously had little to no original parts left, like all Honda Integras.

The next car that I was actually very interested in was a 2009-ish Proton Saga, it was a silver coloured mid-range spec car, with minor scratches, and some faded body panels. My dad was into the car too, it had a small enough engine for road tax purposes and big enough to fit the family (and my friends of course) with a decent sized boot. However, the moment I opened the door to get a feel on the inside, a strange, putrid odour came out of the car, it was absolutely disgusting! It was like the previous owner, or whoever really had be driven this car, sweated and soaked his shirt inside the car, and left it for hours, that smell didn’t go away even after I opened all the windows, I knew that kind of smell was never going to go away, I immediately rejected on what could have been a pretty decent car. That day went on with us just looking at potential cars, we decided to try again tomorrow.

October 5

October morning, this was the day, it went on as usual, looking for cars at a few dealers, and once again, none were either up to my parents standards or was too disgusting for me, there was one dealer that had a super clean Perodua Kelisa SE, the two-tone blue and black version, original seats and radio, not even a single curb scratch or road rash on the rims, it was perfect! But as soon as my mom saw that the car had to move through five gears (manual car), it was again, a “no”, the reason because they wanted an automatic car is so that they can drive it as well, which was fine by me, since I’m not paying for the car, really they could have given any rules on what to get and I would have no problem. On we went to the next lot, lot 1824, this dealer was a bit different from the rest, it had various selection of cars, from crappy ones to a gold BMW 740Li, a WRX Subaru and a Porsche Boxster, which I actually broke by ruining the automatic roll down window when the door opened to clear the soft top, instead of going down, it went upwards and I couldn’t close the door properly, so I kept quiet and pretended like nothing happened. Amongst the rows of sombre used cars, one stood out, parked at the edge of the roofed parking area, with the hood open, a bright yellow hatchback, bearing the Hyundai logo on the grille, as I went closer to it, I circled around it, “Getz”, the name of the car, six spoke factory wheels and a decent looking ground effects body-kit. For some reason, something was different with this car, this Hyundai Getz, my dad soon came to me and said “this one looks nice”, I nodded, and circled the car again, inspecting the body and general condition of it, the yellow paint was repainted, but the dealer told that Hyundai Getz’s did come in yellow. I asked more about the car, how old it was? “2003”, the dealer said, I opened the door and was greeted with a very early 2000’s Oriental car interior, small red, yellow and blue squares dotted the door cars and seat fabrics, it was an automatic with overdrive drab in general basic scratchy plastic interior, nothing special for a 2000’s Korean car, it did have a driver side airbag. Slowly I had a strange vibe with the car’s interior, somehow it felt good, the driving position was good for its type, it wasn’t a tiny super-mini like those you see in Europe, it was quite spacious, almost sedan like. As I scanned the interior, opening visors and checking the seats, which had a 3 kg maximum weight hook on the passenger side seat that immediately broke when I touched it, the only bad part about the car was the centre console plastic trim, which was slightly sticky and faded, almost looked like it was chewed. The dealer offered my dad to test drive the car, and he did, while I sat in the back, as my brother called shotgun. My dad has heavy food, very heavy, after turning the key and the car groaned to life, he instantaneously stepped on the gas pedal and the car came to life, jerking and accelerating up to speed, the interior plastics squeaking and rattling as the car idled and came to a stop after the quick test drive. “Good”, he said, my dad asked how much was the car to the dealer, I decided to purposely not hear the exact price out of respect of my parents, but I did heard one thing “mileage tinggi”. I went back in the car and turned the electrics to the instrument cluster, and there it read 92,000 km on the odometer. this was a pretty high mileage car, Korean cars from the 2000’s weren’t really known for longevity, cars like these are meant to be disposable, used up and thrown away. My dad initially hesitated because of the high mileage, since it could lead to problems, the price was decent for what it is, and the engine was a 1400cc four-cylinder, small enough for cheap road tax and insurance. My parents turned to me and ask if I wanted the car, I was 17 at the time, and this was a big decision for me, I’d be the owner of my first ever automobile, I can’t change that, this is going to be my car, literally forever or until it breaks in half, but deep inside, I knew that there was something special about this car, for one thing it was the only yellow car at the shop, like Bumblebee in Transformers, at one point I was hoping it would actually transform into a robot. I knew at that moment that this old yellow car was going to take me places and do lots of fun things together, it was going to be my new friend, and looking into its headlights as if they were eyes, I said yes, Yellow I named him, and yes, it its a boy despite in being in a cute colour and its hatchback appearance. That day ended with me officially having my own car, I was smiling all the way home, my own set of wheels, what more could I have ever wanted? Honestly I never really cared for the Hyundai Getz, they were quite common cars, and most probably rivalled the Myvi but was obviously far more expensive because it was an imported car, it had heater controls which I will never use, when I reached home, I spent all night researching about the car, and I turned out, it was a pretty decent car when it first came out, the first generation Hyundai Getz, which was Yellow, scored decent safety ratings except for pedestrian safety, which wasn’t really a concern for me, I don’t run over people on a daily basis. The 1400cc engine made around 90-ish horsepower, and the Getz was also rebadged as an Inokom car, which was basically the same car but locally assembled and had the Inokom logo instead of the Hyundai logo, I was proud to have an original Korean made car. Overall the Hyundai Getz GLA, which was the trim level, was a good car and sold well in Europe and other places, it wasn’t a rare car by any means, although there was a special edition variant which was all white and had sportier wheels, but it was made for the  second generation model, and frankly, the second gen Getzs didn’t looked as good. Tomorrow was the day of the purchase, I had to go to school so my parents handled everything. That night, I couldn’t sleep thinking about what I was going to do with Yellow.

To be continued…