In the Indian budget car segment, there is only one near-untouchable, dominant force we all know by the name of Maruti-Suzuki. While the 800 was their most affordable car, their most successful car was the infamous Alto. The Alto was launched way back in 2000 as a more premium version of the 800. On the basis of just three simple brownie points, affordability, ease of driving and practicality, the Alto has been massacring sales charts since its inception. For the past 13 years, the Alto has been India’s top-selling car with more than 2 lakh Altos being sold per year! Being popular as a very good learner’s car, a lot of Altos make it to the second-hand car market as most owners upgrade to bigger cars. So, here we will take a look at the important aspects you should look at while buying a used Maruti Suzuki Alto.
This issue was reported specifically with the second generation of Alto 800’s and Alto K10’s. A batch of these vehicles manufactured in the period of December 2014-February 2015 was assembled with defective right side door latches. Maruti-Suzuki themselves issued a recall for 33098 vehicles affected in this batch. As per them both right-hand side door on these cars were fit with defective door latches.
These door latches often don’t close properly and will require to be shut multiple times. Even if they do, the doors are still capable of opening without usage of the door handles. Applying a slightly high amount of pressure on the door will be sufficient to open them. While Maruti has contacted the affected cars’ owners to replace the latch for free, it is highly possible that a few cases were missed. So be sure to check both the right side doors on the used Maruti Suzuki Alto you intend to purchase.
The Alto’s engine is very prone to engine knocking and pinging. This issue is a tad strange since it has a pretty low compression ratio which should ideally be less prone to knocking. Nonetheless, the Alto does suffer from this problem and there are multiple reasons why this occurs. The primary culprit is the use of poor quality or adulterated fuel. Despite being made in India to suit our conditions, the Alto is very bad at accepting bad fuel. It will show its signs of discomfort almost immediately through engine knock.
Apart from bad fuel, the other reasons include retarded ignition timing or faulty spark plugs. The ignition timing issue can be fixed by simply advancing the timing for the proper firing of the cylinders. A faulty spark plug will require replacement. The issue with engine knocking is that its prolonged occurrence can do a considerable damage to all parts around the combustion chamber. So be sure to look out for knocking on the used Maruti Suzuki Alto you intend to purchase. If you do observe the presence of knocking, get the other surrounding parts checked for damage as well.
This issue is limited to the latest generation Alto K10s with the AMT (Automated Manual Transmission) gearboxes. The AMT transmission on the Alto encounters an error where it automatically shifts to Neutral in the middle of driving. This sudden shifting is accompanied beforehand with the Transaxle Warning Light (Transmission Warning Light) lighting up. This was a very common issue reported by several owners across the country.
The reason behind the occurrence is incorrect programming of the AMT control module. The incorrect programming causes the module to pick the wrong gear for the wrong RPM and put the load on the clutch. This, in turn, causes the clutch to heat up. The safety feature present on the control module automatically shifts to Neutral to prevent further heating up. So, when you test drive the used Maruti Suzuki Alto you intend to buy, be sure to look out for unexpected neutrals and the warning light. If you incur any, you know what the problem is.
Another very common problem with Altos, in general, is with frequent engine misfires. While the misfiring itself can’t be detected, it usually reflects itself in the form of severe lack of power. This is very particularly noticeable at high RPM’s where the Alto’s powerband is already just average. With the misfiring effect in place, the power lag is very apparent and noticeable. This is caused by the accumulation of carbon residues and miscellaneous dirt in the throttle bodies.
The carbon accumulation clogs the bodies similar to how fat accumulates in the arteries. Due to clogging, adequate fuel isn’t released into the combustion chamber on the application of throttle. Due to the inadequate fuel, a lean mixture is released which causes improper combustion. When such a situation occurs, the throttle bodies need to be taken out and thoroughly cleaned. So in case you observe lack of power while test driving the used Maruti Suzuki Alto you intend to purchase, you know the reason.