Suzuki Baleno – A Flop Or We Don’t Know How To Work On Cars?

Suzuki Baleno

In November 2015, I switched from 2000 Suzuki Mehran to a 2004 Suzuki Baleno JXR. The car was in superb shape and required some maintenance jobs like clutch/pressure plate, some repair in suspension system and a weak engine gasket. It so happens that I have to travel between Karachi to Hyderabad, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Sehwan along with my family quite frequently. As a family man and a car enthusiast, I always keep my ride in best possible running conditions. That means that I am constantly listening for the emergence of unwanted noises and always rectifying the problems proactively. It is important to note that I am a government servant, and our organization has a few buildings in Karachi at different locations, and my residence is about 25-30 km away from my office. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to reach my office from my place.

It is going to be a long story so buckle up!

Start of the my “flop car” experience:

After only a single visit to Hyderabad, I instantly formed the opinion that clutch pressure plates need instant replacement. I went to a cousin of mine, who works in a body shop and asked him to get the job done for me from his colleagues. One of his colleagues stepped forward; he informed that it will take a day during which he will change the clutch pressure plate and on complimentary basis will wash the fuel injectors and check all the necessary DIY type of jobs. The next day I took the car to his workshop as agreed upon, and asked him when to come for the car. He said that it would be better if I come the next morning so that he can be sure of completing all the tasks. I agreed and on the next day, while returning from office at 5.00 pm I went to his workshop directly from my office and was really ‘pleased’ to see that the bonnet of the car was still up, the gearbox was not available, and one of the shock absorbers was missing!

suzuki baleno shock absorber

Also Read: Used Car Reviews: 2001 Suzuki Baleno

On investigating, it was learned that the car will be ready the next day, I informed my cousin, and he also was furious with his colleague. I told him “Ustad parson mene har sorat Hyderabad jana hai, tumhary meherbani kal muje gary de dena (I have to visit Hyderabad the day after tomorrow on an emergency basis, so please make sure I get the car tomorrow).” The ustad agreed, and regarding the shock absorber he said the mounting was broken (which was true). The next day came and passed, and in the evening, I again got the pleasure of meeting the ustad. The gearbox was installed, but the shock absorber was still missing. I was really furious, but since he was a colleague of my cousin I remained calm and asked him that I need the car one way or another, so please complete the fittings. Somehow the ustad managed to perform the necessary fitting and during the process kept on urging that in the morning it will be ready. I did not waver  and told him I need to go therefore I need the car. During the fitting process, he kept on checking other cars as well. Meanwhile, I called my cousin, and he arrived there. He was also very embarrassed, and I was feeling sorry for him. In the very last, when only a few of the bolts remained, the ustad went away to another car and did not return, my cousin called him after 15 minutes, and he replied that I will tight those in the morning. He got furious and abused him in the language of Ustaads, took up the wrench and tightened the bolts himself. Luckily the clutch pressure plate task did not require any setting or rechecking. That was the last day I met that ustad, and thereon I never visited him again. In the final stages when my cousin was tightening the bolts one of his other colleague who was present there said to my cousin “Yaar ustad Baleno hai he nakaam gary (Ustad, Baleno is a flop car)” I was not in the mood for an argument and kept quiet.

When it all went horribly wrong:

During the travel, I observed engine missing problem. In Hyderabad I have a friend who owns a workshop, he gave his opinion about Baleno that it is a good car, but once it gets the issue of missing and coils, it never gets resolved. However, he was able to fix the coils problem by changing them to side coils.suzuki-baleno-engine-coils After that, I did not visit the workshops for next four months except for routine oil change. Recently, in April 2015, I was traveling to Hyderabad from an unfamiliar route (via Thatta) when I bumped the car over a speed breaker at a speed of around 90-100 km/h. Instantly I recognized some noise in the front shock absorber. I went to the workshop of my friend in Hyderabad where he checked that the shock has leaked and after checking the market, we opted for brand new ones. They were for about PKR 11000 (along with the mountings and new springs). I spent a total amount of PKR 18000 that day on the suspension system. The task took about 4 hours to be completed as the shocks had to be brought from Hyderabad city. I got the car on the same day. The next day I was driving back to Karachi when I noticed that the car was not accelerating properly and was not going above 80 km/h. I checked the radiator, and I thought that the gasket was near end (there was a pressure created in the radiator). After reaching Karachi, I asked one of my office transport colleague to get this job done for me.

He was very kind to take my car to a local workshop from where the official vehicles having small issues are repaired. In the evening on my return, I got the car and was pleased to see it. My office colleague was there, and he produced the bill and informed me that a bearing was noisy, so we changed it, we changed the timing belt and other belts as they were worn and we replaced the timing belt cover. A total bill including mechanic fees of PKR 6000/-. I paid him the money and thanked him, and he said you may check the car for few days if any issue we will get it fixed. I said fine and in the night I took the keys and in a joy started the car to enjoy the ride. The car cranked, and the silencer vibrated giving a pleasant sound of a beating drum. I said to myself ‘no problem it’s a small issue I will tell my colleague and he will get it fixed” then the check engine light caught my eye. I reassured myself with the same thought. I turned on the A/C, and it was not working.

The next day I wrote these issues on a paper and delivered the keys and that paper to my office colleague who took the car to a mechanic. On that evening, the mechanic informed me that he has fixed the AC and in the morning the electrician will come, and he will fix the Check light. On the next evening when I got to the mechanic he said: “Sir the ignition system is taking load and needs replacement, the battery is worn out, the fuel injectors have a problem that’s why the car is missing, and this is also the reason of check engine light.

suzuki fuel injectorI was livid but didn’t reply him, I called my office colleague and said: “I don’t know why or how my complete car has turned into trash and no system is working in it, however, it was all right the other day.” He talked to the mechanic and answered me that “sir the mechanic is agreed that in the morning he will service the ignition system, and he will arrange fuel injectors from any other vehicle and get your vehicle ready.” I replied that I am in no mood of going back to that person, so the office transport section guided me to the bigger workshop nearby with the recommendation and praised the guys over there that they will sort out everything. But the next morning my car did not crank! The battery had died. Somehow I arranged the battery and drove my car to that workshop and met with the manager. He instantly assigned a mechanic on the car and informed me that the check engine light is probably because of some jugaar of that ustad and due to the jugaar the alternator was not charging the battery properly. The final solution, complete wiring check of the engine bay and mechanical checkup along with checkup of the timing of car.

The bottom line was that I will get my car in two days. I had no other way than to agree with him. During these two days, I kept on visiting him for status. On the second day, he informed that when AC was turned on there was a smell of burning and on investigation it was found that one of the transistors in the ECU has burned. The solution being repair of ECU. Meanwhile, it was also established that the car was missing due to the leaking of valves. The head was removed and sent for valve replacement. On the fifth day the head was received back and fitted, and when we tried to start the car, it refused to start! It was established – this time – that the damage to ECU was irreparable, and the attempt of repair did not succeed, the solution being arranging another ECU from scrap market. Since that day, I kept on visiting him on the daily basis, but the answer remained the same that ECU is not available, and I have asked my contacts even in Lahore and Islamabad to arrange an ECU. I was shocked and stuck with this guy who was telling me that ECU of a car manufactured in Pakistan is not available in Sher Shah Market and need be checked in Lahore and Islamabad. With all due respect to Islamabad and Lahore, but it was completely illogical as in my understanding Sher Shah market serves as a source for Islamabad and Lahore as well.

On the 15th day, I discussed this issue with another cousin of mine who owns a leaf springs workshop. On the call he started abusing the manager of that workshop, on the next day, he came to my place with an ECU of Baleno and an electrician to fit it. We went to the workshop and started the car after trying for about 15-20 minutes. The manager displayed pleasure that I found the ECU but refused to release the car saying that we need to check the work we performed. I told him that as per your setup, your workshop remains closed on Sundays and tomorrow is Sunday, why do you want to stop the car when you do not intend to work on it in the morning? Halfheartedly he agreed and asked his handyman to fix the panels (which are still not properly set due to the unavailability of clips).

The conclusion of this horrific tale:

The next day I took my car to my cousin. He called his colleagues, and it has been decided that he will personally overlook the CNG fittings and other fittings, and he will get them performed from his contacts. Moreover, this task will be completed in 3-4 hours, and I can hopefully get my car in the ready state in the evening. It was further advised by my cousin that never to visit that workshop again, and if he asks for money, then I should ask him for compensation of damaging ECU of my car as, in my cousin’s opinion, it was damaged (intentionally or unintentionally) by that workshop.

Suzuki Baleno CNG

The final unanimous opinion of all the colleagues of my cousin is, “Baleno nakaam gary hai, bohat tang karty hai! (Baleno is a flop car, and it gets you in trouble)”.

But I must ask, is it Baleno’s fault, or is it the fault of all those ustaads who had absolutely no idea what was going on? I think the answer is pretty clear.

Mohsin Ali

A government servant working in a scientific research based organization, the author is deeply attracted to cars and is an enthusiast of fuel efficient driving and using new gadgetry. The author also considers himself an environmentalist and an advocate of green energy resources.

  • Guest

    1. You bought a 12 years old car. From my experience of owning various cars, I can tell you that a 14 years old car will break down (needed to be towed) approximately every 1500 km. Such a car can be used for small commutes in the town, but not useful for highway driving where it could easily be used 10000 km in a month.

    2. If you buy a 12 years old car, you need to replace all the oils, complete brake overhaul (caliper kit, master cylinder kit, washers and boots replacement, disc facing, drum facing, hand brake cable and of course brake pads and shoes). Maybe you would even need to replace the discs and drums. All this would cost money.

    3. All 4 shocks would be performing unoptimal. A pull cart like Mehran doesn’t care if the shocks are present or not, but a bigger boat with long suspension travel would punish you a lot even if a single shock is not performing identical to the others. Therefore, you should keep in budget the replacement of all 4 shocks.

    ————–

    4. Despite you mention that you have had a car before, it looks like you have no permanent, trustworthy mechanic (family mechanic). You will give your car to a colleague of a cousin, or a colleague of another cousin.

    5. You never mentioned what type and quality of replacement spare parts you used for the car.

    6. You abused the car by ramming it into a speed breaker at a speed of 90-100 km/h. Thank God you didn’t die yourself neither killed anybody else. It is unbelievable that you went over at a speed of 90-100. Either you were cruising at 90-100, saw the speed breaker late, slammed the brake, the speed was reduced to 30-40 while you finally hit the speed breaker. Anyhow the car could have been totaled, yet you were saved and ended up breaking only a single shock absorber.

    7. Passion is not equal to proper knowledge. Sorry to say but your knowledge about faults that can develop in car is limited. And you have noted yourself that you make emotional decisions: “After only a single visit to Hyderabad, I instantly formed the opinion that clutch pressure plates need instant replacement “.
    Comical. Clutch can give different types of symptoms before failing, and those symptoms can be noted in a short 3-4 km drive, and confirmed in a little longer drive. You don’t really need to go all the way Khi-Hyd to form an “instant” opinion.

    I have an idea that you didn’t even need to replace your clutch. The loss of power was because of the head gasket, as you learnt after a few thousand kms.

    8. When the mechanic offered to “wash the injectors”, you agreed. Why? Are you rolling in money? Did you ask him/her why the injectors need to be washed in the first place? You went for the clutch plate job, right? How come the injectors came to be part of the discussion?

    9. What are “all the necessary DIY type of jobs?” Does this terminology even make any sense?

    10. When you submitted the car for clutch plate, why did he even remove the shock absorber without informing you or without your consent? It is possible to remove the gearbox by just loosening the shock (without removing it). Did he think you have an unlimited budget and unlimited time? In any case, when the mechanic realizes more parts need to be replaced, he/she always informs the owner of the car. In many situations, the owner says he/she does not have the budget, the mechanic can reinstall the same broken part on the owner’s responsibility.

    11. Shock mounting does not easily break. It usually breaks when the shock absorber already has finished its useful life, and the shocks are now coming unfiltered to mounting instead of being “absorbed” the shock absorber itself. In a 12 years old car, you may as well need to replace all 4 shocks and all 4 mountings.

    12. You decided the head gasket needed to be replaced once the engine started missing. After the replacement, the silencer became faulty, the A/C stopped working, the CEL came on.

    13. All in all, it was not discussed which tools or which diagnosis was performed to check the health of clutch plate, injectors, spark plugs, coils, head gasket and valves leaking.

    14. Baleno may be a good or bad car, but your method of relying on cousins, friend and transport incharge of your office has caused you a lot of harm. Please avoid this and find skillful and trustworthy repairmen of your own.

  • Bil

    As a car enthusiast, i was shocked to see KIWI and cosmic in your car. Apart from that, after reading all your post i simply cnt decide how you being a car lover you dont even know a good mechanic in Khi plus leme tell you , true gearheads never send their cars to anonymous ustaads and even if they do they get all the work done in front of them.

  • mk

    for highway usage car should be new, no prblm if it is mehru.

  • HAHAHA

    I am sorry but no car enthusiast leaves his car alone at the unknown mechanic. The problems were created by the mechanics themselves but you were unable to identify them as you do not have a trust worthy mechanic of your own.

  • Usman Haider Sheikh

    a car enthusiast would take a mechanic along and make a checklist of all the things that need to be sorted out before buying something. still the amount of money he has thrown upon his baleno in such short time period is unbelievable. seems like mechanics took advantage of his inexperience.

  • My reaction exactly.

  • Awais Rehman

    V truly commented. I Kept Baleno,s twice , First a GTi ( 260k on Odo, kept for one year) and second was 2005 JXL( 92K on odo a kept for 3 years, I never came across with such isssues. These were just routinely maintained from my known workshops.

  • The Blessed Guy

    True

  • The Blessed Guy

    You have been ripped off thoroughly, mate!

  • Zulfiqar Ali Soomro

    I have come across people who encountered a problem with the ECU where their AC stopped working but it turned out to be a basic wiring/coil issue and got fixed. Plus I have owned Baleno for 8yrs (and counting) never encountered such problems as mentioned in the text. Sahab ki mechanics ne aur phir baad me aap ne comments me achi tarah le li hai.

  • BalenoOwner

    You bought a old car (of not a good condition) thats why so many things are breaking apart…
    I own a 2005 baleno and its all in superb condition(no suspension,engine work done so far)…
    Only it had a backfire issue a few years ago.I changed the coil wires and its now totally fine.

    Secondly you should always go to the authorized dealership for car repairment.Their labour is much more professional.Though their parts are way too expensive so I buy the parts from saddar,rwp and give them to the dealership to install them in the car.

  • Lazy Sapper

    There were the days when Pakistanis were considered the most skilled people in the world. Now a days, if they touch anything, that thing malfunctions. That’s all because of poor intentions and bay barkati in the hands of people.

  • Ali Irfan

    True that. I myself own a baleno as a second car in my house and at beginning my mechanic could not clear some problems and he himself told me to take it to Suzuki 3S dealership and from then onwards it is working perfectly. Alhamdulillah.

  • Hassan Rao

    18000 for shocks O_o ……

  • Murtaza Shahid

    No matter how one comments to defend it but bottom line is baleno was ruined by paksuzuki.

    Baleno after 2002-2003 were extremely badly built vehicles.

    Till date suzuki is surviving on old models. Mehran cultus Ravi Bolan. Non of the new cars have made it to the mases

  • FT

    Car enthusiast? Made me laugh for a bit.

    I owned and maintained a Baleno JXR 2004 for 12 years until we sold it three months ago. 400k on the clock. The routinely maintained items were:
    1. Axles
    2. Bushes
    3. Coils
    4. Brake discs/pads

    The sparingly maintained items were (as far as I can recall)
    1. Master cylinder
    2. Fuel pump
    3. Guardery(supports the engine, mine broke due to rusting)
    4. Engine mounts

    I was abroad for a few years and behind my back the car was given to some unknown mechanics who screwed up the internal wiring. Upon my return I got the wiring refreshed and that’s it.
    During the 400k journey we got the engine overhauled 2 times. Both times I personally bought every spare part and my chosen mechanics worked under my supervision. Nothing was touched unnecessarily without consent.
    Baleno’s spare parts are a major problem. E.g. I was unable to find brake discs on the first attempt. Tried shershah and magazine lane. After using some personal connections I was able to acquire them from near sohrab goth. It’s painful but worth it eventually.
    Baleno is NOT a failed car, nor is it the mechanic’s fault. It’s always the wrong choices an owner makes and ends up paying heavily for it.
    I always ensured not to use Chinese spare parts when either Japanese (genuine) or Kabuli (used) parts were available.

    Please don’t put the Car Enthusiast community to shame by counting yourself as one.

    Your article was a mere experience that you bore the brunt of and luckily escaped with a broken suspension. You could’ve gotten the car checked in accordance before buying it and avoided these collapses/bad choices/manipulations.

    Sorry to say but your cousin does not sound like he is at all experienced in such matters. You can always post on pakwheels forums where CAR ENTHUSIASTS would be more than willing to help you out.

    Thanks for reading.

  • Sufyan Javed

    A little harsh don’t you think?? I mean you’re right about everything else but telling someone they’re not car enthusiasts is silly bro c’mon all you need to do to be an enthusiast is ‘love cars’ and thats about it..! Peace

  • Sufyan Javed

    Now thats a WELL THOUGHT OUT reply…! But for me most of this is true coz the mechanics here in Abbottabad make THE MOST TYPICAL dumb mistakes and mess up the car even more, i own a 2002 Baleno JXL and whenever i need something done right i have to go to Pindi or Peshawer for it….! This really IS the reason for this car not being successful as it should have been.. I mean not everyone puts up with a car that no most mechanics cant fix… not everyone is patient enough and they end up blaming the car…

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