Archive for the ‘automobiles’ Category

April 6, 2016

Toyota Prius – 2011

Some bloke emailed me that he is looking at a used (‘second hand’) Prius 2011 with 60k km on it, and if there’s anything that he should look out for before deciding to purchase it. Here’s my reply to him:

Hi [bloke],
Prius 2011 has one very common problem – ‘Check Hybrid System’. It’s an error message that pops up halfway through your driving – won’t stall, can continue driving, but at reduced power and no hybrid.

Cause ranges from defective 12v AUX battery, to the inverter, to the Hybrid battery itself. Most problems seen on high mileage 2011 models, before the infamous Toyota Prius recall (to flash the firmware). My theory is, the 2011 high mileage models could have already sustained damage to the transistor (too late) for the recall, or simply it wasn’t flashed right at Toyota SC (some users complained abnormal charging behavior or driving experience). Toyota has this under warranty (8 years). Since the unit you’re interested is somewhat low mileage, I’d say it’s low risk (but check with the owner anyway if he/she had the car flashed at Toyota SC, and make sure you test drive the car with ECO/PWR mode disabled).

Maintenance: No worries. It’s very economic. My 2012 model is approaching 90k km, no brake pad change, no 12v AUX battery change, no ATF change, and only brake fluid change once. Parts are expensive but so are other makers. Remember, Prius isn’t marketed as a ‘fuel economic’ vehicle – it’s supposed to be a ‘green vehicle’ (although being ‘fuel economic’ is one of the advantage of being green). Prius isn’t that economic when you do a lot of short commute (of less than 10km per trip) with frequent start/stop.

If you need more info, you can request to join this closed group at Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/priusgang/
Lots of info inside, updated daily by Prius owners on their experiences.

It’s a closed group, just mention to the admin that you’re interested to buy a 2011 Prius and you’re here to seek more interaction from owners.

Michael Ooi

One thing I forgot to mention though, is to look out for sleazy previous owners. If you’re getting it from a dealer, be sure to check the battery vent at the driver side of the rear seat. Check for thick dust build up or signs of tampering there. Thick dust build up on the vent (or inside the vent) is an indication of a potential overheated hybrid battery which could have a shorter life. You can be a bitch about it but no harm checking. Reason is simple – just read this post about notebook computer overheating issue I’ve written before here – the same principle applies. A clean a vent is an indication of lowered risk.

michaelooi  | automobiles, mails/posts  | Comments Off
July 15, 2014

Prius’ new pricing in Malaysia

We all know cars in Malaysia are fucking expensive due to its ridiculous tax structure. But a few years ago, in a bid to encourage people to buy hybrid vehicles, the primate government of Malaysia for once did something right… by introducing some tax exemption for imported hybrid vehicles. That was a period when the sales of hybrids soared and flourished (that was also the time I bought my Prius, at 145k bucks – not exactly cheap but, it could have been more expensive if it wasn’t for the tax exemption). Then come last year, the government decided to pull the fucking plug on the tax exemption thingy (in a wily scheme of things involving Proton) and the prices of imported hybrid vehicles has since gone back to ‘normal’ (fully taxed, like any other fucking cars). Here, take a read of what Paul Tan posted on his website :

[Source]
Toyota Prius and Prius c get new price tags without CBU hybrid incentives – RM153k to RM231k!

UMW Toyota have released the new prices for the Toyota Prius and Toyota Prius c after the government’s tax incentives for CBU hybrid vehicles ended at the end of last year.

The following are the new prices, OTR including insurance for private registration:
Toyota Prius – RM 216,400.52
Toyota Prius Luxury – RM 230,916.00
Toyota Prius C – RM 153,170.43
As you can see, a B-segment Prius c now costs as much as a D-segment Camry, while the Prius and Prius Luxury‘s prices have been pushed up to way over RM200k.

The Prius was first launched in Malaysia in August 2009 with the pricetag of RM175k. The RM175k pricetag was possible because of a 100% import duty exemption and a 50% excise duty exemption. The government later increased its incentives to 100% exemption for both import duty and excise duty, bringing the Prius price further down to RM139,900.

Later, the Prius facelift was launched in 2012 with two spec levels – the normal Prius for RM143k and a Prius Luxury for RM148k. The smaller Prius c came in at two spec levels – RM97k for the normal spec and RM104k for the Prius c TRD Sportivo.

While the Prius and Prius c were pretty popular cars when they had tax-free prices, we don’t think there will be many takers for these two cars at these new price levels, except for buyers who qualify for tax-free pricing such as those under the TalentCorp program.

However, UMW Toyota is set to come back into the incentivised hybrid game with the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Pricing was last rumoured to be slightly higher than the RM181k range-topping Camry 2.5V. In fact, we’ve already seen the Camry Hybrid at JPJ Putrajaya as well as driving on public roads.

This model did not qualify for the previous CBU hybrid incentives which required a model to have an engine of 2.0 litres and below as it had a larger 2.4 litre engine. The Camry Hybrid will be locally assembled to qualify for duty exemptions for CKD hybrid cars provided by the 2014 National Automotive Policy (NAP), which doesn’t set an engine displacement limit. The new CKD hybrid incentives are set to last until end-2015.

If you’d pan over to the comments section, there was a huge outlash by the readers at PaulTan.org – that the price tag was fucking ridiculous, etc, and they could have bought a much better alternative like a Volvo or a fucking Golf GTI or something. Some would even condemn the past owners (like me) for being ‘stupid & gullible’ to buy the car during the ‘tax exempted’ period and now I have to fucking rue about my purchase because spare parts are going to be a problem. Can you fucking believe that? That’s the dumbest shit ever. How can I be ‘stupid & gullible’ if I bought a car with less tax levied on it? I guess it will be smarter to buy a car with full tax and higher price, just as long the person could live at peace with the expectation they’d get a plethora of spare parts around? LOL!

You know, what amuses me the most is, these readers complained like they’ve not seen anything like this before, but little do these amateurs realize that they’ve all been fucked in the ass – all these while – with the same rusty dick full of spikes, with the same rip-off of a tax structure on every goddamned consumer car on sale in Malaysia! A small car with puny engine that costs 60 fucking grands!? (believe me, that’s the best selling vehicle in Malaysia!) And these people think it’s ‘cheap’! (but really, they don’t have much choice, I can understand that. It’s anything but cheap). That’s like a prison inmate jeering at zoo animals for not having freedom! I guess the general Malaysian has been inured to the shit they’ve been dished out all their lives, that they’re now living in a delusional state.

So now, to the question (if one has to ask) – do I feel sore about this whole price hike thing? Of course not! I think I might have just struck a deal of a lifetime! The car I bought 2 years ago, is close to 100 fucking grands more expensive today! How about that? Have you bought a car like that before? I think I might be able to sell it at a profit even… but that’s just wishful thinking.

michaelooi  | automobiles  | Comments Off
January 4, 2014

Silverstone tires suck donkey cock

Never ever buy Silverstone tires. I got a bulge on one of my new tires, which caused the ride to emit some strange repetitive noise at certain speed. When we sent it to the shop we bought the tires from, we had to pay for a replacement tire, while the defective one got sent to Silverstone HQ, or wherever the fuck it is, for warranty investigation.

Those incompetent Silverstone shitfucks took 3+ months to ‘investigate’ and concluded that it was due to ‘misuse’ – which of course was a lame fucking lie. Why? Because the car was only driven to work by my wife Emily – a commute of about 40km daily – most of it in traffic jam, and only for a few fucking months. Misuse? Yeah if your tire sucks massive donkey cock.

So, that has got to be it. Silverstone tires suck. Sucked so bad that it’ll bulge even with low mileage and low speed (traffic jam). I ain’t going to dispute that with those Silverstone scumebags because it ain’t worth my time to waste another few months talking to those living-in-denial retards. I’m going to just do this instead – tell everyone not to buy Silverstone tires.

I’ve been driving for 20 years, and I’ve driven on many brands – Pirelli, Bridgestone, Yoko, Michelin, and a few other cheap ass brands which I can’t recall – I’ve never encountered a bulging problem before, with the exception of a Pirelli I had many years ago, and that only happened because it was used way over its visible treads (too botak until it bulged).

So, if you’re looking to change tires for your ride, remember this – Don’t ever buy a Silverstone brand, because this product sucks. You definitely deserve something better (well, unless you suck too).

P/S: If you’re from Silverstone, FUCK YOU.
Naa

michaelooi  | automobiles  | Comments Off
March 17, 2013

Toyota Prius (FAQ)

I’ve owned the Prius for close to 7 months now. Been getting a lot of questions about it from people around me. From the questions that I’ve been getting, I can deduce that most people have set a similar negative reservation about the hybrid car in general, which I suspect they learned from their empirically knowledgeable family mechanic, or perhaps an old person in the family – which mostly aren’t true. Here are the most commonly perceived myth about the car (all are real questions/doubts I’ve gotten before), and my answers to the doubts.

A hybrid car / Prius is an underpowered piece of junk.
If you’re comparing to performance cars with twin turbos under the hood, yeah it’s underpowered. Otherwise, it is as normal as any 1.8 cars you can lay your hands on. Prius has 3 driving modes to choose from, depending on your needs. With a push of a button, the modes will change the accelerator’s sensitivity accordingly. Eg. if you need to go somewhere pronto and need the car to be as fast as possible, you can select the ‘Power’ mode. It’ll blow your mind away (at least it has blown mine). If you need to save some cash and pissing people by driving slowly isn’t an issue, select the ‘ECO’ mode. It’ll blow your mind away too, with the amazing fuel consumption (haven’t tried it before though, this mode). Otherwise, get a mix of both worlds by not selecting anything (the normal mode).

Air-conditioning also stops working when the car stops.
On a Prius, the air-conditioning would still work when the car stops. That’s because the air-conditioning system uses an electric compressor, just like your household fridge. So when the engine goes start-stop mode, the compressor would still be functioning. Well, unless your car’s air-conditioner is fucked up. Get it repaired. However, I can’t comment on Honda Insight though, as I do not own one. It uses a belt driven compressor like a conventional car, so I guess in a certain mode, the air-conditioning will turn off if the engine stops.

The battery needs to be replaced every now and then, and it costs a bomb to have it replaced.
EVERYTHING needs to be replaced every now and then in a car. And it does cost a bomb to have them replaced. But I think having saved on the low fuel consumption and the lack of need to replace belts – it’s a reasonable trade off. (it costs about 9 – 11k to replace the battery I heard. Cheaper than a gearbox.).

The car gets better fuel consumption in traffic and by braking, than driving in the highway.
That’s a fucked up notion propagated by guys who suck their own dicks. No car in this world saves more fuel/energy by being in traffic, and by braking a lot. Regenerative braking is a way to salvage the lost energy when you try to slow the car down. The best way to get optimum fuel consumption, is by braking less (or not brake at all), and to drive every drop of your fuel at about 80 – 90kph (city driving speed). If you get traffic, your fuel consumption is going to spike up no matter how hard you fucking brake.

The electronics in a hybrid car are annoying and mostly redundant.
Quite contrary, I think it makes the car fun to drive. Apart from the auto headlights, auto wipers, track charts, and shitloads of other screens, there’s this particular ‘summary screen’ after each drive, that gets to me every time. It’s like a scoring system for your journey. It makes you feel compelled to plan your route, and study the physics behind the drive (uphill, downhill, acceleration, traffic, et al) to get a better score in your next drive. So much so, that it turned into a fetish – in other words, it makes you plan to be more efficient, without you realizing it. I think it’s a good thing (that’s at least better than you switching off your lights to save the Earth or some stupid shit like that).

It’s inconvenient for me to charge the fucking car because I live in an apartment
A hybrid car does not require to be charged from your 3 pin plug socket you numb nut. It charges itself automatically when the petrol engine turns on, or when you brake. That’s why it is called a hybrid.

Prius is too quiet that it endangers the pedestrian.
Fuck the pedestrians, but it is not a quiet car. It does get eerily silent when it goes into full electric mode, yes, but it still emits some strange buzzing noise. But then, it escapes me why would anyone get concerned about this. Just honk at the motherfucker, he/she will know you’re coming.

The low fuel consumption isn’t good enough to justify the cost of the car.
Get a fucking bicycle. It’s cheap and it doesn’t use fuel. (nothing justifies the cost of a car in Malaysia).

A diesel car has a better fuel consumption without needing a battery.
Well, what can I say, it’s true. Get a diesel car then. But have you considered a bicycle? It doesn’t need a battery either, and it’s ZERO fuel consumption. How about that?
(Prius gets about 4.8 liter/100km, that’s about 21 km/liter, just by driving normally. If you use techniques, it can get as low as 3.8 liter/100km or 26 km/liter. My previous ride? Best I ever got was 10 liter/100km, or 10km/liter.)

Toyota service sucks and even suckier to service a complex Prius.
If any of you think Toyota service sucks, you suck. You obviously have not experienced what really is ‘suck’. Try to get a Chevrolet, a Proton or a Naza car. You’ll learn what ‘suck’ means. I personally think Toyota service is good as it is and they’re definitely good enough to service a Prius (which, by the way, is serviced like any conventional petrol powered car).

Email me if you need to know anything more about my Prius.

michaelooi  | automobiles  | Comments Off
August 27, 2012

Experience of owning a Chevrolet Optra in Malaysia

I first blogged about my current car – Lorraine – back in April, 2004. It has been 8 years I’ve driven this car. It’s a Chevrolet Optra 1.6, a 2003 make (but bought new in 2004). I’ve been through thick and thin with her, and a recent spate of bad experiences concerning its spare parts, has made me decide to change my ride to a newer one. But before that, I would like to write about the experience – of owning a Chevrolet in Malaysia. I’m sure not many of you are interested, but I’m gonna write it anyway.

But before I dwell into the details, I would like to touch a little bit on some general info about this model. In case you do not know, this model is actually a Daewoo Lacetti (Google it). It’s not really an American car but a Korean make. It’s just a fucking rebadge to become a Chevy, like that Naza Ria or some shit like that. Back in those days, this car is considered one of the best looking Korean make around and was sold at an affordable price. Wanting to be different and attracted to its minimalist design, I took a leap of faith and bought this thing. BIG. FUCKING. MISTAKE. This is one of the many things I regret, along with the bad taste in fashion and opting to live-in with my late mother. Now, on to the details…

Product.
Optra is a great car. It is reasonably good in power for a 1.6 and the handling’s good – I know nuts about body roll / oversteer / that kind of shit but, let’s just say I have had no problem maneuvering around dead carcasses, pot holes, and there was even once I did a fish tail maneuver (out of reflex) to avert an accident. Its ABS saved my life a few times. The bumper’s tough (hit from the rear 3 times, with only a small bump). No major showstopper to date. But there were a lot of minor bad experiences though:
– Wear / tear : The radiator hose had a leak once, and another one time had a leak on the reservoir. Small fixes.
– Wear / tear : Thermostat unit connecting to one of the coolant hose got brittle and registered a minor leak. Changed it to a cast iron type (had to be imported from Thailand).
– Wear / tear : Broken door handle once at the inner part, and another at the outer part (some plastic parts aren’t that good in durability).
– Wear / tear : Locking mechanism went lose a couple of times on both rear doors. Had to get them changed. Some inconveniences registered.
– Wear / tear : Wheel bearing got fucked once and made the car sound like Aedes mosquito fogging machine. Changed it for an arm and a leg. (expensive)
– Fuckloads of times with blown headlights (there is a recall recently about this – read Suzuki Forenza).
– Fuckloads of times with blown taillights. (that was due to the poor design on the socket, which causes intermittent connection and shortened the bulb life. Fixed it myself and got rid of the problem.).
– Leaking antirust gunk below all the doors. No solutions from anyone. Been living with this for 8 years. Fuck me.
– I didn’t like the weird/annoying noise when locking/unlocking this car. Been living with this for 8 years. Fuck me.
– Car has exceptionally high fuel consumption. It may be a 1.6, but it guzzles up fuel like a bitch. 9km per liter of petrol. That’s how bad it is. (gets worse if the traffic’s fucked up).
– Fuckloads of times I had to get the air conditioner fixed. If there’s one fucking problem I have to name about this car, it has to be the goddamn aircon. I’ve changed literally everything there is on this car that has something to do with the fucking aircon. From the hose to the compressor, to the goddamn control unit (which was burnt, almost a safety concern).

Service.
Now, this is fucked up. Chevrolet is the epitome of bad services. It’s worse than Proton, I believe. First of all, the Chevrolet brand has changed no less than 5 managements throughout the 8 years of this ownership. (Ridiculous, right??) When I first bought the car, it was under Chye Seng Motor (or something like that) and the only Service Center was located in Bagan fucking Ajam (that was like, going to Sepang from KL city). And the service was fucking abysmal. Parts took months to deliver (as I learned when I ordered some parts that were damaged during the tinting service) and the attitudes of the personnels there were worse than prison wardens. Chye Seng Motor then added another SC in the island near Sg Tiram and shit literally got improved, but not for long. The chief mechanic there left a few months afterwards, and the service turned a few notches down below average. Then there was another management change, SC was then relocated to Autocity. It was alright there, until they shut it down again, and reopened again a few months later under DRB Hicom. Then, it changed again to Cergazam (which was the longest and best period ever – Cergazam was good). And then it changed again recently park under the big shit ass corporation – Naza. It was hell under Naza. Again, shit went back to square one, for Naza was as bad as Chye Seng. Not wanting to go through the same experience again, I opted to change this car once and for all. (and the resale value was unbelievably low)

In a nutshell, owning this car has been a torture. Not because of the car itself, but because of the experience of having to deal with the shitbags that do not know how to run an automobile servicing management. Having to deal with multiple changes in its management hadn’t been impressive at all as well. So, if you have the heart to own a Chevrolet – read this review in depth and get a glimpse of what might happen to you in the future. Me? I’ve had enough, I’m switching back to Japanese.

michaelooi  | automobiles  | Comments Off