Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Delhi to Jamshedpur in two days

Day-1 : Drove from West Delhi (Dwarka) to Kanpur – a distance of 502 km. Left Dwarka at 4.30 AM and reached Kanpur at 1 PM. Spent about 40 minutes at Faridabad to visit someone’s house in Faridabad soon after getting out of Delhi early in the morning. Made it a point to fill up my fuel tank at Faridabad (Haryana) where fuel in cheaper than Delhi, U.P., Bihar and Jharkhand.

Day-2 : Drove from Kanpur to Jamshedpur – a distance of 883 km. Incidentally, this is the maximum distance I have ever covered in a day, driving by myself.

During this return leg from Delhi I was careful not to repeat the mistake of missing the Allahabad bypass. The Allahabad bypass is a superb 4-lane dual carriageway, 82 km long, passing mostly through sparsely populated areas – I did not come across a single petrol pump on this stretch and hardly any dhabas. Toll collection has not yet started here as the road is not yet officially complete.

Car performance was superb throughout this trip. SVS / MIL light problem has gone after EGR valve cleaning. Roads being excellent, I could comfortably drive between 90-130 kmph.

Some statistics:
Total distance covered during Jamshedpur-Delhi-Jamshedpur trip: 3066 km
Jam to Delhi (Ashram chowk) driving thro’ Allahabad city : 1339 km
Delhi (Dwarka) to Jam via Kanpur city and Allahabad bypass: 1385 km
Overall mileage : ~ 21.80 KMPL (includes about 400 km city driving, ~ 70% AC, lots of driving over 100 kmph).

While going to Delhi from Jamshedpur:
Day 1 : 133 km (Jam-Ranchi)
Day 2 : 759 km (Ranchi-little beyond Kanpur)
Day 3 : 448 km

While returning to Jamshedpur from Delhi:
Day 1 : 502 km (Dwarka-Kanpur)
Day 2 : 883 km (Kanpur-Jam)

20,000 km maintenance routines (4th paid service) on my Swift VDi

During the EGR valve cleaning job my car had already clocked 19,800 km and I decided to get the scheduled maintenance routines due at 20,000 km carried out simultaneously. Some of the important routines were engine oil + filter change, transmission oil change, brake oil change, coolant change, fuel filter change, air filter change, tyre rotation, checking all underbody fasteners, etc.

Total expenses were Rs 4691 (EGR vv gaskets : Rs 53; air filter : Rs 259; fuel filter : Rs 1204; oil filter : Rs 376; Golden Cruiser coolant 3.0 lit : Rs 705; Golden Cruiser brake fluid 250 ml : Rs 155; Mobil Delvac engine oil 3.1 lit : Rs 720; Castrol EP90 gear oil 2.5 lit : Rs 495; Labour : Rs 703).

It would be seen that the costliest item to be replaced every 20,000 km is the diesel filter (Rs 1204). It is a particulate filter cum water separator manufactured by BOSCH in Spain. I wonder why this filter cannot be developed indigenously.

Isn't EGR valve malfunction covered under warranty?

My Swift comes with a 2-year warranty and I have additionally purchased extended warranty for 2 more years. Since my car has not even completed 2 years, I was surprised when M/s PEBCO, Jamshedpur (Maruti authorized service station) stated that my EGR valve problem would not be covered under warranty and would be carried out on chargeable basis.

I reasoned with PEBCO that EGR valve cleaning is scheduled (as per Swift’s maintenance schedule) only at 30,000 km and if it has got clogged prematurely at 19,000 km, there must be some design / manufacturing defect and so its rectification should be covered under warranty.

PEBCO officials told me (as a justification for not covering the problem under warranty) that adulteration of diesel is common in India and this leads to excessive carbon formation which clogs up the EGR valve prematurely. I informed PEBCO that I always bought diesel from a reputed petrol pump in Jamshedpur and challenged them to draw a fuel sample from my car’s tank and prove that it was adulterated.

It is relevant to mention here that I had already discussed this issue with the petrol pump owner (who happens to be a qualified engineer) and he told me that some car service stations routinely raise the bogey of adulterated fuel to justify several problems in their respective cars and escape warranty liability. This petrol pump owner assured me that I could ask the diesel manufacturer (Indian Oil) for chemical analysis of the fuel sold in his petrol pump and defied any car service centre prove that his fuel was adulterated.

Despite all my reasoning, PEBCO refused to take a diesel sample from my car and stubbornly stuck to their decision not to cover my EGR valve problem under warranty.

Subsequently, I took up the matter with Maruti’s Regional Office at Ranchi. They agreed with my reasoning and directed PEBCO, Jamshedpur to rectify the defect in my car free of cost (under warranty). The matter was thus amicably resolved.

Problem with the EGR valve

The Multijet engine fitted in my diesel Swift has a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. The basic function of EGR is to reduce NOx emissions by recirculating small amounts of cooled exhaust gas into the engine's intake system when required.

The EGR Valve has an exhaust passage into it, and an intake passage from it. The valve is controlled by an electronic actuator. This electronic actuator is in turn controlled by the engine’s ECU (electronic control unit or on-board computer). Depending on parameters like engine RPM, coolant temperature, etc., the ECU sends commands to the electronic actuator to open (to varying degrees) at appropriate times, allowing exhaust gas to enter the intake system and reduce the oxygen content of the intake air.

A couple of months ago, with about 19,000 km on the odometer, I noticed that :
1) The SVS light was not going off after 4 seconds of turning on the ignition
2) The MIL light was not going off after starting the engine
3) There was no noticeable change in the car's performance

I took the car to Maruti Service where they connected their diagnostic device (called Tech-2) to my car’s ECU and found DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code) No. P0400, i.e., problem with EGR flow. According to the Swift workshop manual, DTC No. P0400 is detected if one of the following conditions is satisfied :
1) Difference between measured MAF (mass air flow) and reference MAF is out of specified range
2) EGR valve is stuck open

Maruti Service technician cancelled the DTC with Tech-2 and the warning lights (both SVS and MIL) returned to their normal states without carrying out any repairs to the engine. Thereafter, I used the car for over one month without any problem.

Again, about a month ago, the SVS and MIL lights warned me of some malfunction. Again, there was no noticeable change in the car's performance, i.e., there were no symptoms of any problem except the warning lights. I took the car to Maruti Service and they again found DTC No. P0400, i.e., problem with EGR flow. They correctly diagnosed the root cause of the problem as excessive carbon deposits inside the EGR valve making its operation sluggish / erratic.

The problem was satisfactorily rectified by dismantling and cleaning the EGR valve. The following pictures will give you an idea of the procedure.

View of engine compartment with battery and air filter removed. The EGR vv. assembly (with electronic actuator removed) is seen inside the red rectangle

The EGR valve assembly removed from engine

Note the carbon accumulation inside EGR valve

EGR valve after cleaning

This nozzle injects exhaust gas from EGR vv into intake manifold. Note the carbon deposits.

EGR cooler being cleaned

EGR cooler after cleaning
After the EGR valve cleaning I drove the car from Jamshedpur to Delhi and back (about 3000 km; doing speeds upto 130 kmph) and there were no warning indications.
My personal impression after examining the EGR valve after dismantling was that there were substantial carbon deposits but they could not be called excessive -- the gas passage through the valve was not blocked (I ascertained it by blowing thro' the valve with my mouth). Also, I could operate (open / close) the valve by pushing it with my fingers -- it was not jammed (but could be a bit sluggish under actual working conditions). It must be said to the credit of the Multijet engine that its sensors and on-board computer are sensitive enough to detect problems well before they start hampering the car's performance.