Earlier on, the utility car market in India was the land of only the Mahindra Armada. It has been in the market since the M800 and is still going strong. Its strong reliability plus Mahindra ruggedness have ensured that it achieves a certain level of respect amongst the kind of buyers that Mahindra intends for it. Nonetheless, even rally experts prefer taking most of the Mahindras for their expeditions. Needless to say, there are various other people ready to take on the mantle of off-roading king and which better can than the Armada for this. Used Mahindra Armada cars are very rare to find in the market, just like the Maruti Gypsy. It was only the advent of a certain MUV from Tata which signaled the downfall of the Armada and that happened to be the Sumo. However, Mahindra didn’t take it lying down and brought in the Grand version of the Armada and well this one definitely had more of the tricks that the competition could offer.
The Armada was built on a chassis which was ladder frame in nature. That’s an entire metal body with the least of the plastic parts stuck on to it. The mountings and nuts for the body need to be screwed time and again since build quality wasn’t that good. The mounting bolts for the seats also need to be tightened time and again since these tend to slip away. The rubber beadings on the door frame also have to be observed for cracks since they are an item which need replacement more often since the entire weight of the door body falls on them whilst the door is open. Body corrosion is something which most of the Armada cars suffer from. This is due to the fact that at that point of time, there were not many manufacturers willing to look into the rust factor. It was more of selling off the car rather than looking into the details. If the previous owner had cared to watchout for the polishing and also the servicing of the car, then definitely there would be less of corrosion elements in it. Nevertheless, get the car checked for underbody rust by taking it up a ramp and inspecting it carefully.
The interiors of this car are bare basic and more often than not, require some scrubbing of the block to get them back in shape. For the Grand variant, there used to be power windows, AC and also a power steering. For the earlier Armada, the power steering may have been non existent, the Grand version’s power steering requires some very intense care. At every 3500 kms, the steering oil needs to be changed or atleast inspected. The drag links as also the tie-rod ends of the steering also have to be inspected for play and damage. A ball type recirculating joint was present in the manual steering version and due to the presence of one too many linkages, there used to be a play in this version. The power steering in the meanwhile had its gearbox fixed onto the cross-member in the front and hence the bell crank thing is eliminated entirely leading to a better steering experience. The steering tie-rods as also the links for the drag need to be greased and also checked at every service. The hose connections which ease the passage of the hydraulic fluid needs to be checked for leakage of oil. If preventive action is not taken early on, it would lead to serious after effects. A hard to maneuver steering wheel would be the result of the same. For the steering pump to work alright, the fan belt tensioner to it should be placed with the right tension. A frayed or worked out fan belt requires immediate replacement. A fan belt which is loose would make the driver pay for it by having a bigger turning circle than what is usually required.
The brakes were the bug bear of the earlier Armada models. All wheel drum brakes meant that brake force wasn’t much to contend with and also if the brakes lacked the adjustment factor, then they would get the car pulling to one side under hard braking. For the Armada Grand Sport, Mahindra provided discs in the front with the parking brake connection being attached to the rear wheels. Further more, vacuum assistance greatly enhanced the braking characteristic of this car. The stress on the left leg is reduced greatly by the use of a diaphragm clutch. The earlier one was of the finger type. Hydraulic actuation was present in the Armada Grand model. The earlier Armada had a 4 speed gearbox which was sourced from Kia Motors while the one in the Grand was a 5 speed unit which was much better in its shift action. The clutch used to last only for 30k kms and after that a replacement was on the cards. The lubricant level always needed an eye kept on it so that it performs optimally throughout. At every 18k kms mark, the lubricant needed to be replaced.
Since the Armada comes from an age where leaf springs were thought of as the saviors in the automobile industry, almost all the variants of the Armada are blessed with them. Later on Mahindra decided to widen the track in the front and this led to a good handling of this SUV. However, inspite of Mahindra tinkering around with the leaves of the rear suspension in later Armadas, the ride quality still remained back breaking. The kingpin bearing in the front develops a play and the use of shims can be taken to adjust the play. Above speeds of 60 kmph, if the wheels start to wobble, then it means that the play is excessive. The shackle pins also need to be greased at every service. For the rear suspension to be a bit supple engine oil mixed with grease is the way to go at each service.
From the onset, the Mahindra Armada was available only with a diesel engine and in this case, the engine was borrowed from Peugeot and it was named as XDP. The earlier engine was anemic producing something close to 62 Bhp and only 120 Nm of torque. It was a naturally aspirated model. Later on, in the Grand Sport, Mahindra introduced a powerful diesel motor which produces close to 70 Bhp. This one also got the 5 speed gearbox. The engine is trouble-free in nature provided that the servicing is done on time and the engine oil changes are adhered to. Also, this engine had far less NVH than the naturally aspirated one. For a second hand Mahindra Armada, the engine mounts need to be checked for rust and also at every 12k kms, the diesel particulate filter needs to be changed. The diesel injectors have a long life and even with the sub standard quality of fuel that India receives, they ran good for 50k kms before needing a cleaning. At every 5k kms mark, the engine oil needs to be changed. A properly maintained Armada would return around 11 kmpl in the city and 15 kmpl on the highway.
A used Mahindra Armada was also available with 4×4 option. How good it was, only the rally experts or off-roading junkie would be able to tell. A second hand Mahindra Armada goes dirt cheap now provided one has the right contacts and also the expertise needed to negotiate the deal. Since not too many are available now in the second hand market right now, it is wise to check with people who own these SUVs and enquire whether they are interested in selling it. A used Mahindra Armada price would hover around the Rs 60k to Rs 1.85 lakhs. A well maintained 2005 model can also empty the pockets by a good Rs 2.8 lakhs.