Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vios Requiem

I am wishing my ‘steed’ goodbye. For almost 7 years, it had faithfully shuttled me without incident through the 4 corners of peninsular Malaysia. Together, we had ventured into the hinterlands of Kelantan, the coastal lowlands of Negeri Sembilan and Pahang, the sea sides of Penang, the jungles of Perak and northern Johor, the narrow congested streets of historical Malacca and not to forget, the daily traffic battles of metropolitan Kuala Lumpur. It had come true through rain, wind and sun in addition to an occasional flooded road or two. My Toyota Vios…
Oh what a feeling! To-yo-ta! ;)

This was truly my ‘first’ car, or least the one that I really felt was my own. I have had a 1990 Maroon Honda Accord back when I studied in the USA, but it never really felt like it’s was ever going to be a fixture since it was a forlorn conclusion that I would return to Malaysia to find my life here. :p I sold that car off to a junior when I graduated.
A Japanese American...

The car that I drove at the dawn of my life as a ‘wage earner’ was the same car that I drove while I was in college, my grandfather’s 1983 White Toyota Corolla station wagon, BBT8605. ;) It was also known as the ‘death wagon’, after I nearly slammed it into the back of a surprisingly stationery car in the middle of a highway in Klang! I could still remember how my passenger back then, a college mate named Wei Choy, looked shortly after our near death experience. ;) He was pale as a ghost! Fortunately, well maintained brakes saved our skin.

I drove the ‘white ghost’ for as long as I could hold out against a car of my own, over my grandmother’s constant pestering for me to get a newer (safer) car. I finally relented when in a downpour, the amount of water that was getting itself into the car threatened to drown me in it! :p ;) That was when I met MY Toyota Vios…
My Vios outside the Duta Hacienda apartments in Port Dickson...

It was a brand new line back in 2003 and I remembered Britney Spears was the model they hired to promote the car. She was ‘clean’ back then and not ‘messed up’ as she is today :p. At a higher range, Orlando Bloom was promoting the Altis.
Vios on the way to Kenong Rimba, outside the Shell Petrol station in Gombak...

Plonking all the money I got from the sale of my car in the US, as well as a generous contribution from my grandmother, I got my ‘companion’ for the next 7 years in November 2003. It was also about a few months into my 2nd job at Mitsui Copper Foil (MCF), Shah Alam and I have been told that the Japanese Managing Director, Kawashita san, on seeing me drive my brand new Toyota Vios to work for the first time, actually wondered whether I have been ‘overpaid’ to afford that kinda car for a junior maintenance engineer :p (I am glad to say, that in the course of my service at MCF, I showed him that I was worth MORE than the money I was paid then).

My first heartbreak came rather quickly. Some dude slammed his Wira into my rear bumper as I was queuing up behind other cars on the Summit, Subang Jaya ramp after exiting the KESAS highway. Apparently the dude thought he was driving a ‘Kancil’ perhaps and misjudged the gap between the railing and the leftmost side of my car. Miraculously, despite the hard bump I felt in the car, the bumper held with the exception of one broken clip and some paint shaved off. I extracted from that fellow an RM300 compensation, complaining that it was a brand new car and I had to replace the whole bumper for fear of it falling off!.:p The cost to replace the bumper was a lot higher I found out later, at >RM500 and after thinking a while, I took a chance to leave it alone. The bumper is still in place till now. ;)
I'm gonna miss this panel... ;)

There were a few teething problems as well, ranging from loose seatbelt panels to twice failing power windows, frankly not I would expect from a Toyota. The last was particularly annoying as the technicians at Sungai Rasah service center were less than attentive or concerned about my complaints. It was the second time the power window failed in two months and I was told that a replacement power window motor would only be arriving two months AFTER I make the warranty claim to which I exclaimed that “If I had wanted to drive a car with faulty windows, I would have bought a PROTON!” This illicted a very ‘smart alec’ky response from our ‘friendly’ service technician that “ALL cars are also like that!” A quick email to the Japanese sales director in Malaysia (in which I specifically mentioned that after this episode, my next car would be a Honda), prompted a call from the manager of the service center a few days later. Amazingly, the ‘parts’ have 'arrived' at the shop and I could bring in my car ‘anytime’ to have the power window motor replaced! (The reality is that spare parts are always available, it's just that for 'free' replacements, they try to make it a little bit more difficult for you to 'obtain').
Vios at the Gunung Nuang carpark...

Over the years, I continued sending my car to the Toyota service center even after my warranty expired, diligently emulating my grandfather’s tendency to keep the car ‘well maintained’. The prices were hefty but the there were really no major technical problems since the power windows failed.
Vios in Tanjung Malim, with one strange but familiar looking dude waving back... :p (click the picture to get a better view of that 'bugger' is)

There were a few more heartbreaks, notably the time when I brought the car to the Lubuk Kawah camping trip with Aurelius and gang. What was originally supposed to be a road to a resort with a nice clean car park, turned out to be a 4WD adventure trail! A huge ‘gronk’ echoed into the interior compartment as the undercarriage of my car rubbed against rough stone, making my heart skip a beat. :p I had to endure another near case of cardiac arrest when the left front door of my car ran against the protruding point of a thin metal wire from a fallen fence on the way out, gouging a foot long line into the paint! :’(
Vios feeling the PAIN! :p 4-Wheel Driving on the trail to Lubuk Kawah, OUCH!

Then there were the perpetual ‘meteor shower’ of stones that often strikes the users of the KESAS highway. Having driven a lot of highways in Malaysia, I can swear that stone throwing ‘toyols’ must inhabit the portion of KESAS between Kota Kemuning and the entry/exit point to my home in Bandar Puteri, Klang. More often than once, I would hear the un-welcomed thump of a stone hitting the sides of my car with the occasional heart rendering ‘crack’ of a ‘bull’s eye’ on my front windscreen! You really never see the stones before and after the strike although the results on the windscreen is glaring! I have had three of these bull’s eyes in recent years along the KESAS highway, although the first one was on the road to Gebeng, Kuantan when I had the misfortune of following behind a very large (and dirty) lorry.

Inevitably, signs of ‘old age’ has begun to creep in by the 5th year of its life. Critical injuries have become to manifest with busted up joints (all 4 wheel bearings worn out), bones (broken suspension arms) and respitory failures (air cond compressor breaking down) occurring within a span of 3 months on average. It’s ‘senses’ were also going as the rear sensors were starting to register ‘ghosts’ when there was really nothing there. It's eyes (lamps) were starting to develop cataracts (blurring due to build up of hardened dust deposits).

It's time of service is nearing an end, and I have find another steed.

Therefore today, I hand over the reins of my steed to the stable master. May the new master the stable masters finds be kind to you as I hope I was the same... Sayonara BGY9835 and Godspeed...

Hajimimashite WUB2138, watashino atarashi kuruma desu! ;)

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