A regretful tale of my old Maruti Zen: Mistakes made & lessons learnt

It has been nearly 3 months and about 3.5k km since I put the new carburettor for the car and it has not given a single issue whatsoever.

BHPian BeemerBug_06 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

In life, people make mistakes. It is only human to make mistakes, after all, they occur so that you can improve from there. So do remember to always learn from your mistakes. Even with your cars!

Here is a little story that wasn’t narrated earlier in the thread, although it falls before me taking the car out on the highway.

So here goes!

The car was working perfectly fine and ran like a dream ever since I started daily-ing it early last year. However one fine day in October 2021, it stalled in the middle of the road while I was driving and then refused to start. I was frustrated, although composed as I had a vague feeling it was something to do with the carburettor or fuel pump considering the breakdown it had had in August 2019 showed the same symptoms.

I eventually managed to get the car running after pumping the accelerator pedal a few times and had to keep the revs high while driving, or else it would stall.
So it was driven straight to Ravi’s garage and then diagnosed.

As I had expected, it was the carburettor AGAIN! This was the second time the car had thrown up that issue. Partly due to my negligence too of not cleaning the carburettor regularly and servicing it on time. Ravi assured me that it would be sorted in a day or two and the car would be fine. With that thought, I left for home.

The next day I got a call from him asking to visit the garage when free. So off I went. He had taken out the carburettor from the car and in his typical fashion pinpointed to me what was wrong with it. The entire inside was covered in gunk and the packing had disintegrated partially. But to make things worse, the second throttle butterfly valve was stuck and this time it was REALLY stuck. The bugger just would not budge even after using several dollops of WD40, carb cleaner spray and paint thinner. It seemed to have been stuck up for good!

So what next? I was starting to get a bit fed up for starters.

The carburettor was cleaned up and serviced thereafter, however, the second throttle butterfly valve refused to free up. I drove the car around in that state for some time, but it just didn’t drive like itself for obvious reasons. The pickup felt dead, it would struggle to go beyond 60 km/hr and the AC would virtually kill whatever little strength it had left.

Another frantic call was made to Ravi. He suggested that we get a new carburettor for the car as they are still available. Initially, I agreed to his suggestion, but then the boy racer in me thought of something else.

Those of you who have experimented with carburettors and older cars would surely find this bit of the thread entertaining

I thought of going all out and plonking an Esteem carburettor into 1513! Well, although the carburettors that came for the 800, Zen and Esteem are basically the same i.e double-barrel carburettors made my Mikuni, they obviously varied in certain aspects. The Esteem carburettor was equipped with larger jets and internal components in order to support the engine. A well-tuned Esteem carburettor on a stock Zen engine, Hmmmmm sounds like fun doesn’t it!

Ravi instantly rejected my plan and said that it’s best to just keep the car original mechanically and get a new Zen carburettor instead of a used one from an Esteem. He also repeated that the Esteem carburettor would turn my car into a petroholic (a car that drinks too much fuel). But I stubbornly didn’t listen and wanted to try this out. I wish I had thought it through that time itself.

I managed to get a used original UCAL-Mikuni Carburettor from a scrap Esteem via my contact at Chor Bazaar and was thrilled to plonk it into 1513.

After much reluctance and warning me repeatedly, Ravi agreed to help me fit the Esteem carburettor. It was first opened up cleaned and serviced and then fitted onto the car.

At first glance, things didn’t look very good inside the Esteem carb. Just like my Zen’s, everything was covered in gunk, the rubber bits were finished and there was a small amount of corrosion too. I however didn’t let any apprehension get in the way.

The old carburettor

In goes the Esteem carburettor, after a tedious hour of loosening nut bolts and rusty screws that had probably never been opened

I was absolutely thrilled the first time the car rose to life after the Esteem carburettor had been installed. It sounded like a different car altogether. The calm and sweet engine idle note was replaced by a rather throaty note which sounded brilliant indeed.

On revving it, it sounded mean and full of energy. I felt that with this carburettor I would own the road and had daydreams of taking the car to autocross events and racing with it

A few noticeable differences in the way the car functioned with the Esteem carburettor were:

It was truly a happy time with the car during the initial days of the Esteem carb. Unfortunately, the happiness was short-lived! Sigh!

About a week after I had done the transplant. The car began to behave weird. It started to rattle and rumble while idling (something it never did before) and it would not pick up without jerking constantly. So there came another visit to the workshop. After diagnosing it, it was found that the accelerator pump located near the diaphragm was faulty and was throwing out petrol. Something that it is not supposed to be doing.

I was confused but confident that it would be resolved. The part had clearly failed. So what to do? It was 2021, and not 2001 unfortunately. So going and getting a carburettor accelerator pump was a bit too impossible. Finally, we decided to put the pump from the original Zen carb onto the Esteem’s and it ran fine. Incident #1

Incident #2 – One morning when I was off to work, the car began to throw a tantrum. It wouldn’t start without me holding down the accelerator and then would idle roughly before stalling again. Turns out the idle jet had an issue. Ugh. It was opened up again, cleaned and put back.

Incident #3 – For a few months after the second incident, the car ran fine courtesy of Ravi and Sanjay Bhai from the neighbourhood who patiently listened to my rants and helped set the car right.

However, on a hot summer afternoon on my way back from work, I turned on the AC which effectively turned off the car. I then turned off the AC and started the car. It was alright. But every time, the AC was turned on it would die. So I drove home, baking in the heat.

The problem was ruled out as a faulty AC actuator part, which is responsible for setting the idle every time the AC is turned on and off.

I was fed up. This time for good!

I even had the thought of letting go of the car at one point and getting something modern, away from all these Carburetted headaches. Head supported, but heart detested. Well, after all, it was my idea to try out this transplant.

Besides these incidents, the car just did not run properly no matter how hard we tried to set it right. To make matters worse, it had started to give me terrible mileage like 7-8 km/l and would never accelerate smoothly without jerking. Perhaps it was a sign.

At its second home!

An attendant jokingly asked me, ” Arey aap phir se kaise aaye? Kal hi toh petrol bhara tha aapke gaadi mein hahah”

Mistakes were made

With the fuel prices rising, having an uneconomical and unreliable car did not help. I got an earful from the home ministry for spending excessively on fuel and besides that, I felt more upset for having screwed up a perfectly smooth and functional car with my silly ideas.

I then finally decided to put an end to the saga. Ravi was approached yet again, although this time rather sheepishly and warily. I said to him, “Ravi uncle, how about uh we put uhh a hmm new Zen carburettor for 1513 ?” He had nothing but an evil smile on his face and began to laugh hysterically because he very well knew that I’d eventually come to him with this worry.

I wish I had listened to him in the beginning. It would have saved me a lot of money, stress, and anxiety and ensured I had more patience and peace of mind left.

Well as I mentioned earlier, mistakes were made. It’s important that we learn from them!

So we took some time out and visited the wholesale car parts market at Opera House in South Mumbai and were lucky to find a few shops that had a new carburettor in stock. While we looked around for the original UCAL Mikuni carb, it wasn’t found because the company has officially gone defunct.

I eventually bought a made-in-India KPACCO carburettor from Nitin Motors, a Maruti Suzuki parts specialist shop, at a decent rate. The piece was almost brand new as it was manufactured in 2022 Jan. A few people told me to avoid this so-called Desi-maal. But in a situation like this, it is best to get what you get and move on.

There it is, all clean and shiny!

We purchased the carburettor along with a set of packing and a cleaning spray. The following day, we installed it for the car and gave it a tune-up. Things were back to normal instantly. The car was back to being its peaceful silent self. Not a rattle or whine was heard anywhere and boy-oh-boy it ran like butter !

My fuel economy figures were also restored eventually. At present, I get around 12 km/l in the city with the AC on and about 18 on the highway which is normal and fair.

It has been nearly 3 months and about 3.5k km since I put the new carburettor for the car and it has not given a single issue whatsoever. If I am brutally honest, it is running at its absolute best right now. Every morning I’m greeted by a half-self start and water dripping from the tailpipe. I had missed that!

Lesson learnt – When someone experienced tells you something, do them and yourself a favour and listen to what they’re saying and think it through carefully.

Or rather, just think everything through carefully !

Another noteworthy point is that for cars like this which have been well preserved and taken care of for such a long period of time, it is best to leave the original and not meddle with the Mechanicals.

Learn from your mistakes!

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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