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ASHISH SINHA | YOUR NEXT SET OF WHEELS

YOUR NEXT SET OF WHEELSLet’s admit it- We all love it when a new vehicle joins our family. Everyone from the kids to the grandparents are inquisitive about the fancy knobs, chrome trims and the well-lit digital dash. But with so many manufacturers entering the Nepali market, we’re seeing a variety of models driving around on our streets these days. So how do you choose your next set of wheels? Lucky for you, I’ve owned, wrecked, gotten bored of, and replaced quite a few vehicles in recent years as an automotive enthusiast. While the following list is in no particular order, it applies to car and somewhat to motorcycle buyers, and they have certainly helped me pick some of the best vehicles I’ve ever owned, and sometimes have helped me figure out why it was the worst decision I’ve ever made.

NEED vs. WANT

Be honest with yourself: Will this new ride ever see the river crossings of Mustang, or will it simply get you from home to your office in the crowded street of Kathmandu? If you get something that does it all, you’ll end up spending too much on a tank that barely squeezes through the chaotic mess that our valley has to offer. Life is full of making choices. Prioritize with a list of Needs that fall before your Wants to help you narrow down your choices.

BUDGET

Regardless of if you know the salesperson or the manager of the brand, and however many thousands they take off the selling price, they’re still in the business of selling and making money. Just because you think you’re getting a great discount is no reason to go above what you can afford or to ride away in a vehicle you have no faith in. Figure out your budget; there are a lot of great online calculators out there to help you decide what you can afford but a good rule of thumb is 20/4/10. Your down payment should be at least 20% of the cost of the vehicle. You should not finance it for more than 4 years. And your payments should not exceed 10% of your income. Stick to those basic rules to keep yourself out of any financial trouble.

TEST DRIVE EVERYTHING!

You never really know a vehicle until you drive it. Maybe you’re looking for an economical city-commuter. Take your test drive to New Road and test it in the narrow gulleys; take it home and make sure it fits in your parking space. Are you looking for something than can handle off-road trekking? Take it through the worst intersection you can think of. Are you getting bounced around because of a stiff suspension? Can it crawl through those Kathmandu potholes which rival any countryside river crossing? So, on your next day off, make a list of all brands and models that might be of interest to you and give them all a shot, and if you see a new dealership on your way there, give them a shot too.

GROUND CLEARANCE AND SUSPENSION

Even if you only plan on driving your new ride in the metropolis, it needs to get through the construction and disintegrating monsoon roads of Kathmandu. A low-riding, sporty car might look cool and be economical but it won’t be very useful if it gets hung up on the curb to your driveway. The same sentiment goes for your suspension. Bringing a carton of eggs home in your new ride won’t be very fun if you have a scrambled mess before you get there. And if you do plan on bringing your new car for adventures in the hills, it needs to be able to handle the unpredictability of the beautiful Nepali countryside. Landslides, high-water, rocks in the middle of the road; ensure there’s ample room between your underbody components and the ground to navigate over and around whatever comes your way without getting stuck or damaging your undercarriage.

FOSSIL, HYBRID OR ELECTRIC

The world is moving quickly towards alternative fuels, and rightfully so. Look at the skies over the Kathmandu valley in mid-winter to see why an electric or hybrid car is a responsible choice. Add that to potential petrol shortages like happened a couple of years ago and you’re sitting on solid logical ground to move in the alternative direction. Ultimately, it all comes down to numbers. Most electric and hybrid manufacturers will tell you how much you can expect to save or spend in electricity each month. Subtract that from your current petrol budget each month to determine if a slightly higher-priced electric vehicle is worth the money.

RELIABILITY

If you know what you want and have done thorough research, you’ll inevitably run into the following situation. There are two cars with similar size and features. They both look great, they both seem to run pretty smoothly on your test drive and they both have that cool new Bluetooth, super-bass system with a back-up camera. However, one car costs 10 lakh more than the other. Why? The answer is simple: one brand has service stations all over the country and a reputation for being reliable, the other brand is perhaps breaking in the market and doesn’t have the reputation or service infrastructure behind it. Which is the right pick? Everyone has a different budget, situation or thought process and it’s really up to you. Will you be taking this vehicle on long tours where there might be limited options for service stations? Then maybe the more reliable brand is for you. Do you know the brand from somewhere else and are willing to take a chance on the other brand? It takes people to give these brands a chance so they can build up to that brand known for its reliability. Consider what you’re using this vehicle for and what your budget is and do what you think is best.

REVIEW AND RESEARCH THE TRIGGER …THEN PULL

Okay! Now you’ve made a list of what you need (and what would be nice to have as well). You’ve drawn out your budget and saved for that down payment. You’ve taken all your potential new rides on test drives and checked out their ground clearances and suspension systems. You know what you want to power your car (fuel, hybrid, or electricity). And you’ve decided on that reliable brand with service stations all over the country. Now, look at the remaining cars that fit all your criteria. Still can’t decide? Ask yourself this question: Which one makes you FEEL the best? We spend a lot of time in our cars and we need to love them! After all, if you love your car, you’ll take care of it; you’ll bring it for all its services on time; you’ll make sure it’s constantly washed and in pristine condition and you’ll notice that tiny little knock in the front right corner and get it checked immediately. That is what saves us the most money in the long run. Make sure you love your new ride and take care of it and it might be a long time before you’ll have to buy one again.

Hope to see you driving down the road in your new ride, with a big smile on your face!

Contributed by – Ashish Sinha:
Founder at Iron Monk Works: In addition to being an avid motorcyclist, moto-journalist and track enthusiast, he also holds a degree in Marketing and Public Relations. He aims to bring exciting content to our readers issue after issue.

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