In April 2010 we had the Bharat Stage IV emission norms setting foot in India. Many slow sellers met their end. But that wasn’t all. Car makers still had to worry about some of their best sellers. The new emission norms warned auto makers to update their car engines. Now, Maruti Suzuki had to do something about its best seller Alto.
At a time when we hear about India’s largest car seller’s quarterly profits unexpectedly falling by 20 per cent, we also hear that its Alto is crying. Fuel droplets are dripping. Leakage problem? And, what have the emission norms got to do with this? Experts claim that problems in Alto blew up after the company tweaked the F-series engine that was upgraded to meet Bharat Stage IV emission norms.
The worried car maker said yesterday that it will be fixing the oil leakage problem in the engines of around 6,000 Maruti Alto cars produced in April. The leakage problem can cause starting problems in the little car. Maruti Suzuki has already requested its 800+ sales network centres and around 2,740 service workshops to check and repair the affected Altos. So, do we have another Maruti recall? Maruti Suzuki says, no! It is not a recall?
The car maker says, “The vehicle, if affected, may show some starting problems. This can be easily repaired at the workshop.” An auto expert says, “The engine comes with some design changes incorporated in its core structure, which could have led to this problem. It can affect the pressure in the engine and also impact the car’s performance.”
If you can recall, it is not even a year since over 1 Lakh Maruti Suzuki A-Star cars were recalled for defective fuel pumps. The A-Stars were recalled in November 2009 from India and export markets like Europe, Australia and North Africa. Getting back to the Alto, Maruti Suzuki sold 64,500 Altos during the April-June quarter this year and it hasn’t been discovered yet as to how many cars face the leakage problem.
“We do not know the total number of cars having the problem. We have called 28 customers to bring their cars for technical evaluation,” a Delhi-based Maruti dealer said on condition of anonymity. The Alto gets shipped to Nepal and Sri Lanka as well. As for Delhi NCR, Maruti dealers have asked customers to get their cars fixed at the earliest soon after they started receiving complaints of oil leakages during May and June.
The company sold 2.35 lakh Altos, or 27 per cent of total sales, for the year to end March. Now, the car maker hopes that the matter doesn’t swell into a recall scandal linked to faulty pedals that injured Japanese auto major Toyota’s reputation for quality. Maruti is already up against a grinding down market share with the competition intensifying. The car maker is also bringing in the smartened up Alto K10 next month which will hopefully mask the current problem.