For an auto consumer in Pakistan, there have always been very limited options available when it comes to low budget affordable (new) cars in the market. Due to limited purchase power people generally look for a car that is cheap to buy and is easy to afford and maintain.
But like they say ‘mehenga roay 1 baar, sasa roay bar bar (buy once cry once, buy cheap cry forever)’, people who spend lesser initially, or in other words compromise on quality, generally have to spend more later on. Instead, the ‘buy once cry once’ phrase defines spending a lot upfront so people won’t have to spend even more over the long-term.
People generally compare the prices of spares, and decide this is cheaper to maintain than that. But how many of us have evaluated whether they will really need to replace that part in the tenure of ownership?
I have owned quite a few cars and can safely say, every time a Suzuki no matter how good you maintain eats, more out of pocket compared to the cars that have an otherwise daunting impression of expensive maintenance in our market.
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A brand new Suzuki Alto VXR we bought in 2005 needed to replace three of its outer door handles and 2 of its inner door handles within the period of just two years. Not because of negligence, but simply because the parts were poorly made and couldn’t withstand sunlight. No car other than Suzuki ever needed to go through this sort of maintenance expense.
Similarly the alternator and self starter went out of order in the Suzuki Khyber sooner than any other car we have ever owned. And when it comes to suspension, the smaller cars take a lot of beating as compared to the expensive ones as their suspension lasts longer and despite being expensive up front, proves to be cheaper in a longer run, thus perfectly defining the ‘buy once cry once’ axiom.
A used Honda City 2000 worth PKR 515,000 (in Karachi) proved to be more economical and easy on pocket than a 2009 Suzuki Cultus VXRi worth PKR 670,000 (back in 2013).
If you take into account all these anomalies, such as the self-starter replacement, alternator replacement, suspension repair once in each year, electrical glitches here and there for innumerable number of times, door handles replacement, side mirror replacements, bumper clips adjustments or replacement, exhaust manifold & silencer issues, door trim adjustments, window opening mechanism malfunction and the amount of time one has to spend on fixing these issues as well as the amount of money needed to be spent, it indeed cost a fortune.
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Now if you may calculate the cost of spares, they will sure be inexpensive but in case of any other (better) vehicle you simply don’t need this sort of maintenance to be carried out. People simply calculate the cost of a spare part of the cheaper car and compare it with the cost of that of an expensive one, without taking into account the quality and longevity.
And it doesn’t mean every expensive car is cheaper to maintain and vice versa. It again depends a lot on how well you maintain your vehicle. The key is to find the right equilibrium between expensive and cheap and making your decisions wisely, rather than to blindly follow the herd. There are plenty of people who buy expensive cars, and still spend way less than those who buy cheaper cars and spend a lot on their maintenance ever so often.
Related: Guide: Buying a Used Car in Pakistan
Although we do have very little options when it comes to buying a car in Pakistan, but since new car prices have gone ridiculously high in recent times, one can still opt for better and more economical options in the used car market which are perhaps expensive upfront but easy on pocket in a longer run.