Friday, August 28, 2009

Haa! Good as New

When I told my friends at the office that I've gone back to Ford to fix the dents and scratches to my car, some said that it'd be better for me to save money by going to some 'Ah Beng' for the knock-and-spray job. I'm glad I didn't.
Going to some Ah Beng would mean that the work would be sloppy and unsatisfactory, resulting in the car looking spotty. And it's not like I haven't tried it before - my old Waja got a patch job from some Ah Beng and was never the same looking after that.
Yes, I ended up paying quite a steep sum to Ford for the knock-and-spray job - RM995 to be exact - but at least my car looks good as new.
"I don't see the difference, papa," my son remarked, suggesting that he should have been able to spot the knock-and-spray job.
"Exactly," I replied, in that you're not supposed to be able to see that the car has been repaired and given a new coat of paint and lacquer over the damaged spots.
Of course, had it been a second hand banger of a car, I wouldn't have bothered to go back to the Ford dealership to fix my car.
But it's not.
My Ford Focus S2.0 is my baby and I'm determined to keep it looking pristine for as long as I can :P

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Door that Nearly Crushed Me - To Death

Not a good combination - low blood sugar and chitosis. These combined can dull your senses, as though you were intoxicated.
Being on a strict diet, I didn't adjust for the Ramadan fast. As a result, I found myself hopping out of my car while the engine was running without first pulling its handbrake and putting the shift in neutral.
The result? I had to jump back into my car when it started moving off without me in it!
The trouble was, the car was at the gate to my old house, and as I was jumping back in, the gate pushed the driver side door shut, crushing me in the process.
I felt like dying! I couldn't breathe.
The car kept moving causing the car door to crush me further. Luckily, I managed to pull the handbrake and wriggle myself out.
Goodness! What was I thinking? All I wanted to do was ensure that the gate didn't scratch my car door as I was going into the driveway.
Instead, I ended up causing a lot more damage to the car and placed my life in danger in the process.
The picture above of the damage to my car door doesn't look like much. Thanks to the solid build of the Ford Focus S2.0, the dents and scratches are almost impreceptible.
But the pain to my body wasn't. God! It was painful.
No more trying to stay off sugars and carbs during Ramadan. And no more doing things alone when I'm severely fatigued.
I nearly died today, but Allah has spared me, for now...
Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah).


Addendum: Dangit! The repairs are costing me close to RM600 just for the front door. Oh, well. Dugaan (trial/tribulation) for something good that's coming my way, by Allah's Will.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stupid Maybank - To Replace My Lost Passbook, I Need to Change My Account Number?

What the frek? I lost my old passbook and, to get a replacement, I was advised to change my account number by the front desk Maybank customer relations employee.
Why? Well, if I didn't, I'd have to pay RM15 just to keep the same number, plus a host of other "administrative" fees.
How the frek did that come to be? Doesn't Maybank know that one's main savings account is linked to all sorts of transactions, the most important being one's salary?
Just to save about RM50+, I should change to a new savings account?
This is probably the stupidest thing I've experienced with Maybank.
"You know what? Forget it," I told the customer relations girl. "It's just too much trouble. Everything's pretty much online these days anyway. Why must I even bother?"
But then, future transactions could very well involve the use of a passbook, like applying for EPF payments, etc. Well, if I ever need to use a passbook, considering how stupid Maybank is, I might as well go to a competing bank and start afresh.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Saga that Comes with 1.6L Campro Engine

Hmm... I didn't realise that Proton has started producing and selling New Sagas with 1.6L engines - I only found this out after checking the Proton Edar website for information on the New Saga SE. The introduction of the 1.6L variant makes New Sagas a little more interesting, actually; a lot more than the introduction of the SE variants.
With such a small body, the 1.6L engine turns the New Saga into a potential pocket rocket. Of course, if there are any on the roads, I don't think I would have noticed, if only because my Ford Focus S2.0 tends to out-gun and out-run most Proton cars.
Still, having owned a fast Waja 1.6L(M) car, I can imagine how nippy and exciting driving a New Saga 1.6L(M) can be. It's no Gen 2 CPS, but it can run - fast.
The New Sagas featured above are not the 1.6L variants but the SE variants that sport 1.3L engines. At RM46,000+ for the auto version and RM44,000+ for the manual version, the SE variants are more expensive than the baseline 1.6L variant, which sells at RM39,000+.
While they have upgraded interiors and slightly more stylish exteriors, SE variants are not as appealing to me as the 1.6L variant.
But then, I don't intend to get a brand new car anytime soon. So, all this is just academic.
Still, if I wanted to get a New Saga, I'd do away with the fancy trimmings and concentrate on getting as much horsepower as I can.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eyeing a 2nd Hand Avanza

The Toyota Avanza is without doubt one of the most popular 7-seaters on Malaysian roads. Reasonably priced at around RM70,000+ for the 1.5L variant (without ABS and airbags), the Avanza is the kind of family mover that's bound to remain popular well into the next decade.
When cleverly done up, it can look really attractive, as can be seen from the featured Avanza.
Not surprisingly, Avanzas can still fetch a reasonable resale value.
Nonetheless, as with all second hand cars, one of the main things to look out for is engine trembling caused by damaged engine mounting. The most obvious tell-tale sign is rough idling, which is audible enough to be discerned and can even be felt right through the steering wheel.
When in good condition, a car shouldn't vibrate so badly that it sounds rough and shudders at the steering wheel. So, regardless of the "tip-top" assurances by used car sales persons, walk away from an Avanza that feels rough to the touch. Otherwise, use that as a leverage for further discounts.
Another thing to look out for is the smell of cigarette ash in the passenger compartment. Experience shows that people who smoke in their cars don't really have much regard for them. So, you can imagine how "well" they have taken care of their cars.
As a result, cars that used to be owned by smokers tend to fetch lower prices. Again, either walk away or use this as a bargaining chip.
Yet another thing I like to look out for are worn out shocks. Test drive the Avanza you're eyeing over humps and potholes, and feel how well the car responds.
If it gets too bouncy, then you know the shocks would need changing out soon. Again, use this as a bargaining chip or simply walk away.
And of course, test out the aircon through and through. Old cars tend to develop aircon blower problems - you can't turn it up without causing the blower motor to overheat.
Look out for visible condensation. This is a sure sign that there's something really wrong with the aircon blower.
And if the passenger compartment doesn't cool down quickly enough, then it could be a compressor problem.
Personally, I don't know when I'm going to get an Avanza, if at all I'm getting one. The wife doesn't like it, albeit my assurances that it's pretty good.
What I do know is that, aside from the things mentioned above on 2nd hand car buying tips, the Avanza I buy would have to be equipped with anti brake locking system (ABS) and airbags. The former would help greatly in avoiding accidents, whereas the latter, well, would or should be useful in an accident.
Also, I hope I get a 7-seater soon (whatever it may be) because ferrying my wife, two kids, two dogs and my mother in-law can take quite a toll on my Ford Focus S2.0. Although this doesn't happen very often, the Focus is a pocket rocket for goodness sake, not a heavy load hauler :P
(The Avanza featured is courtesy of Siakap at

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Life's Great Money Waster - Buying 1st Hand Cars

It's been said before but it's worth saying again. Buying first hand cars is a great money waster because of the immense depreciation cost involved.
Still, people can't resist buying 1st hand cars, including people like me.
It's the satisfaction of buying the latest and the sleekest.
It's the satisfaction of smelling the brand new interior.
It's the satisfaction of not hearing creaks and rattles.
In short, it's the satisfaction of a whole host of things that come with buying a brand new car that gets car enthusiasts like me going.
The downside, of course, is the pain of ever mounting debt.
It's the pain of not having enough money to do other things that are important, like preparing for children's education, retirement, etc.
In short, it's the pain of a whole host of things that come with buying a brand new car that gets enthusiast like me down in the dumps.
So, on the balance, only one question remains - can you afford it?
For me, I know I could but not without a whole lot of heartache arising from being short on money every end of the month.
So, I'm going to stick to doing what I've always done - keep my cars until I have a very good reason to change to a new one.
But damn! That's hard too. Each time I look at the Mitsu Lancer Evo X, my heart skips a beat.
So much so, each time I have money to spare, it's that same old question of "Do I - Don't I?" that pops up.
But no, I'm sticking to my resolve. No more brand new cars unless I can't help it (like if my old car becomes a clunker or is no longer value for money).
Meanwhile, I'll focus on my old Ford Focus S2.0

Friday, August 7, 2009

Damn Snatch Thieves - Busted My Wife's Car Window

Thank God for Cool Armour. If not for it, my wife's handbag would have been snatched or, worse, she may have gotten hurt.
Fortunately, Cool Armour did its job. While it didn't stop the thieves from damaging the front passenger side window, the security tint prevented the window from shattering and collapsing.

This was despite the three hard blows the window received from the desperate snatch thieves who, having failed in their attempt to steal, sped off on their bike before anyone could really react.

My wife was shaken but not hurt. She even mustered to courage to threaten them by moving into 'D' and stepping on the accelerator.

But since the traffic light was still red and there were on-coming cars, she couldn't give chase.

After the fact, my wife and I had a discussion on what really happened. It would seem that the snatch thieves were eyeing her movements from the point when she bought dinner at the stalls near her office. They must have followed her and struck at the first available opportunity.

Moving forward, we're looking at this positively. Despite the scare, it is a timely reminder from Allah Almighty as well as a blessing - a small challenge through which much good will come as He mentioned in Surah al-Inshirah of the Holy Quran: "Verily, through hardship comes ease."

The window repairs will cost quite a bit and getting it coated with Cool Armour again is going to be a little arduous. But, all the same, we look to a better future.

And Allah knows best.


Addendum: In my haste to send the Mazda6 for repairs and get to work, I didn't snap photos of the busted window. Oh, well...


Addendum 2: Haa, my wife snapped a few. This is how the window looks about an hour after the incident. The window started to collapse because many of the small fragments began peeling off from the security film.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Look! A Focus with a Hyundai Badge

I was at Jusco Bukit Tinggi, Klang last weekend when I spotted an oddity being exhibited at one of the centre courts - a Focus 2.0 with a Hyundai badge. Named the i30, the Focus lookalike mimics many of the Ford Focus S2.0's styling features,

For a Ford enthusiast like me, the i30 is not the real thing but, dang, it's close. And in some respects, it looks even better.
Check out the similarities at the front of the i30, especially the way the headlights slant backwards and the way the engine hood tapers on the sides, giving the car the distinctive Ford Focus look.
At the same time, some features appear better thought out. Compared the real Focus, the i30's rear is a lot more stylish and better thought out.
For one thing, the i30's hatchback is less slanted, allowing for bigger passenger space, especially headroom, in the back.
For another, the i30's rear lights are far more interesting to look at than the Focus' less imaginative and dull tail lights.

Also, the 2.0L version of the i30 comes with 17-inch rims and the wheel arches are designed for those rims as well. So, there's no need to compensate by getting larger size rims or over-sized tyres (a problem that's inherent in Ford Focuses sold in Malaysia).
Still, I doubt that the i30 performs as well as the Focus S2.0. Although I didn't get the chance to test drive the car, from what I could tell, the i30 doesn't have an engine compartment chassis stabiliser bar.
This could result in significant body roll, which would compromise handling at corners and bends.
Nevertheless, the i30 is being sold at about the same price as the Focus S2.0 but comes with a 5-year warranty instead of the Focus' 3-year warranty. Considering how pricey Focus spare parts are, getting the i30 may be the better deal.