Tuesday, August 24, 2010

About Cars - Not Driving Them (or Being Driven) To The Wall

This is to continue sharing my "experiences", last posted HERE, when me and family were outside from this "bumi bertuah".  Outside Malaysia, I had driven cars for quite some years, all around the eastern part of U.S. I had also driven rented cars from south to north of New Zealand and all over the U.K. I had done it twice at different times all over U.K. (except Ireland).

Driving with a GPS unit (nowadays) is marvelous! I was once lost my way for hours trying to get out from New York City, during those 'map' days.

OK. Outsyed The Box have talked about prices of cars, HERE (Cars in UK)HERE (Cars In US) and I will share my driving experiences in UK (no need about driving in NZ and US, quite similar in terms of driving attitudes). On our recent holiday in UK, we rented a medium sized 1.6 litre diesel engine car and at another time a small sized 1.5 litre petrol engine car. Both models are available here in Malaysia (except they don't bring in the diesel version here)

We rented from two different well known rental car companies, also doing business here in Malaysia.  When I took the diesel car, it had a mileage clocked at some 5,000 miles and the other was a brand new! (having the mileage clocked at 3 miles). Both cars  have  a gadget/meter to estimate how many more miles you can drive before the fuel totally runs dry. Neat!

I have never rented a car from a well known car rental company here in Malaysia. I have rented a Kia Carnival from a car rental company chosen by American Express Card. It was long time ago. I think the rental cost here (rented from a well known car rental companies) is more expensive than in UK. The amount of petrol I spent while renting that Kia Carnival? Mak Datok!!

Let me digress a bit, but still relevant when we talk about quality of things we get around here. The whole family was stranded beside a highway in Pahang, one day. Why? Because my SUV's  gearbox kaput! KAPUT THE SECOND TIME!! That's when I made an emergency call to AMEX and they sent a Kia Carnival since I had asked for a family/people mover vehicle.  The SUV I bought was a CBU unit from Korea. The SUV's gearbox KAPUTED the first time when it clocked around 60,000km mileage when it was 2 years 11 days old. And no, nothing! Naza people said the car was already beyond its 2-year 40k km warranty. No sympathy, no nothing. How's that for customer's service? This was not a power window that won't work. This was gearbox entirely broken down, kaputed the SECOND TIME !!  how's that for quality of a damn SUV thing that costed more than RM150,000?  When the damned gearbox broke down the first time, I had to fork out some 5 figures amount to pay for it! Almost 3 months stranded at service center waiting for a new gearbox to arrive from Korea and not even an offer to lend me another vehicle to go to work!. I asked them, "What if the gearbox give way again?" They said, "It has a 3-month warranty 10,000 km mileage". The "beside a highway stranded incident" happened just about reaching the 3-month and  clocked about 9,000++km  (after the new second gearbox installation)! Of course they did not charge for the THIRD gearbox, but they did not compensate me either on car rental, and several other components that went kaputed together with the gearbox, and again the time lost  while they  waited  for and installed the third gearbox! Luckily there was no towing charges by AAM since I am a member. The towing was somewhere in Pahang, all the way back to KL. When the SUV was back on the road again after being in ICU twice, I made the decision to throw out the JUNK SUV fearing for a third time gearbox kaput. So why did I choose to own a JUNK SUV in the first place? Prior to making that decision, I read a few car magazines which reported that the same SUV model won the "SUV of  The Year" award, 3 years in a row! Of course the award were in some other countries, not Malaysia. Since then anyone who have had asked my opinion prior to buying a car or SUV, my advice is "NOKIA". Of course I dont mean the nokia phones! I have decreed a fatwa on my family members too, "NOKIA".

Okay, back to the driving experiences in UK.

A full tank costed me about GBP60 for the diesel one and slightly above GBP40 for the smaller petrol one. It also depends on which fuel station you go to since different fuel stations have different prices per litre fuel. I think Shell seems to offer the cheapest fuel per litre there in UK 

I am quite sure that I had covered more than 700 miles before refueling the diesel; or was it more than 800 miles? Okay, let's talk about the 1.5L petrol one. I think it was 600 miles driven before next refuelling (mixed motorways and cities driving).

I drive japanese cars here in Malaysia. I had a 1.6 Proton Saga Magma engine before, and on my record, this car served me the best so far (Record in terms of less headaches in component breakdowns throughout the ownership time).

Yesterday I filled up my nearly empty tank, 1.5L petrol japanese car with RM63 of  fuel (the yellow pump, RON95? anyway, the cheaper one). Let's say RM65 for a full tank. Total distance this car normally does before next refuelling is around 400km before the fuel warning light starts to flash again. So RM65 for a total distance of 400km (mixed not KL city driving)

Let's be safe. Let's say I had clocked 500 miles (instead of 600 miles) for the UK rented  car. In kilometre, it is about 800km. Wow! 800km for a full tank fuel ?

Looking at the "500miles/800km GBP40 plus full tank in UK" versus the "400km RM65 full tank in Malaysia", my mind was lingering on few things.

Was it the high quality fuel in UK, be it diesel or petrol? They say the diesel version car won't come here in Malaysia because our diesel fuel will wreck the Euro-5 (?) diesel engine in no time.

Was it the engine efficiency ? The cars in UK are more efficient?

Darn it! I should have recorded the fuel quantity when I filled up the tank in UK. It could have been the larger tank they have there in UK, more fuel pumped in, therefore more mileage covered.

But before you argue (like the government always argue) that GBP40 is roughly RM200, please assume that you pay GBP40 in UK's environment (simply to say that you live there, factoring everything of UK environment including income tax etc). Dont simply convert the GBP to RM  and compare. It is not right to compare the spendings in UK while you are earning your living in Malaysia. Let's be a bit fair here when comparing. Assume that in UK the petrol's price range is from 1.13 to 1.26 unit price per litre and in Malaysia the petrol price is 1.85unit price per litre (forget the RM and GBP for one moment).

Driving in UK leave me the feeling "it is more economical" than in Malaysia. In getting around and moving about (to go to Poundland stores and moving about to buy White Bread, Clark Shoes, Underwear), I have not factored in the kind of public transport they have over there. The low cost carriers that operates there ( to be fair, cost of properties like homes too). Maybe I'll touch the subjects next. For now it is just cars and driving around.

What do you think? Between "speed" and "reckless", which one contributes higher road accidents statistic?

I don't really know. Due to my "affection" to the sign "90" I had a few times driven the car in UK with speedometer at "90". There were many more cars whizzing, overtaking me on the right lanes since I drove mostly on left lane on UK's motorways. Ooopppss!! That was 145km/hour speed! The speedometer in UK was in miles per hour, not km/hr !!

There was a man recently killed by a 3-wheeler (you know that motorcycle attached to a carriage) at Kepong (?). Do you think that 3-wheeler was doing anything above 80km/hr? 50km/hr? Which one is more scary to you, a speed demon doing 140km/hr on PLUS Highway or a "lipas kudung devil" zig-zagging the lanes (including the emergency lanes) in KL city at 70km/hr? I think the traffic police should use canggih "video camera" in the cities for Ops Reckless, more frequent than the "still camera" at highways Ops Laju.

I think driving attitudes in UK gave me a "safer and more comfortable" feelings when driving. Here, it does not take the "speed demons" to scare me on the roads. It seems more drivers here are in a rush to get somewhere, yesterday!

In UK, you flip the signal and the drivers (including truckers, buses etc) will flash the head light giving you the safe opportuniy to cross the lane. The fast one will switch to the next right-hand lane, giving you again, the safe lane switching manouveur. Do you experience such courtesy when driving here? Yes I have, but still way far behind the courtesy as displayed by the UK drivers (the US and NZ drivers too! based on my experiences). But the UK drivers will become mad if you switched lane without giving the signal, especially when they are quite close behind you during the lane-switching manouver. Giving ways to other as and when appropriate, seem to be the attitude of the drivers there. During student days, we were once caught in traffic jam (but still moving slowly) on motorways leading to Washingston DC at peak time. We were weaving from left lane to right and right to left. Quite surprisingly, the American drivers' courtesy still gave us the space to switch lanes when signalled even though it seemed our car was the only one zig-zagging the lanes. I did feel ashamed!

Where do they learn these courtesy and civic-mindedness ? Certainly not in a kindergarten or schools where the subjects courtesy/civic mindedness/nation building not being stressed upon or nurtured while the kids are having good times mingling and playing everyday at school. But do the kindergartens and schools produce good citizens of the nation? (the schools and kindergartens which seem to drive the kids to the wall to score as many As and to finish tons of homeworks in all those many subjects "God-knows what", necessary for the young minds to grow up to become what ?!.. kiasu adults ?) Do they produce well-mannered and courteous citizen?  Or do they produce savage road bullies, speed demons and not-so-courteous lipas kudung zig-zagger devils? Do they produce the ever satiable "in god we trust" citizen, not those who live and die for this god alone?

This article is way too long! Time for Kempen Satu Sekolah Untuk Semua! Sign THIS please !!
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