Want huge road presence but don’t have enough moolah to spare for it. The best option is to go for a used car and which is a SUV. The first thought that comes into mind when I mention road presence and SUV is, the Tata Safari. Well, a used Tata Safari makes great sense since it is backed up by Tata Motors service. In the following article, I have actually done some research on some tips on buying a second hand Tata Safari. These may not be the only deciding factors while buying one however they definitely are an eye opener as far as going in for a used car.
This SUV was launched in the later half of 1990s. When it was launched, the only other “real” SUV that it had competition was the Maruti Gypsy. But then the Gypsy wasn’t spacious and lacked road presence. The lack of a diesel option meant that many stayed away from this SUV. The looks of the Tata Safari were quite modern back then but now we would call it dated. Still there are many Tata Safari loyalists who are ready to go bonkers on this SUV’s looks. The first thing when you are out in the market scouting for a second hand Tata Safari is to avoid the petrol burning units. There were few of them sold and the petrol engine had quite a notoriety for been unreliable. Also avoid the pre 2003 models as they had many gremlins in them and the last thing that you would want is to be with a car which would be more in the garage than the roads.
The earlier diesel powerplant of the Tata Safari was a 2 liter 90 Bhp unit. It was seriously underpowered for a car which weighted about 2 tonnes. The 186 Nm of torque also wasn’t able to eliminate the massive turbo lag that this car came with. First and foremost to check would be the turbo hose pipe of this SUV. There have been reports of it developing leaks and performance would be greatly affected by this. If it hasn’t been done, then be ready to pay Rs 1763 for it. Regular servicing in about 6 months or even the 10,000 kms mark should do the trick for this capable SUV. If the specimen you are looking at has clocked close to lakh kms, then an engine overhaul would be required and it would cost you about Rs 20,000. For a regular service, it would cost you approximately Rs 3,000.
A Tata trademark, the gearbox, is actually an Achilles heel for any Tata car. The earlier Tata Safaris had an ill shifting gear box which made for imprecise throws. There was also a whining sound to be heard when the gear was shifted from 2nd to 3rd. Don’t pay heed to this since as discussed this is to be expected from the earlier batch of Tata Safaris. One thing that would take time getting used to is the rubbery gearshift. Check for wornout clutch bearings since a second hand Tata Safari, which has clocked more than 50,000 kms is known to have some problems related with the clutch. The clutch plate would cost you Rs 4053 whereas the pressure plate would add another Rs 2215 to the bill.
Now comes the suspension. This is one part wherein each and every Tata product is fantastic. A used Tata Safari shouldn’t be an exception. The suspensions are more tuned for a relaxed ride quality rather than out and out handling. The rear Suspension features 5 links with coil springs and hydraulic shocks whereas the front ones were the Double wishbone with hydraulic shock absorbers. This made for a fantastic ride quality especially at the back. Check for suspension oil leaks and if suspension bushes have been changed around the 60,000 kms mark. The front suspension stud would cost you around Rs 900 whereas the entire front suspension rebuilding would cost Rs 3750. With everything in place, the Tata Safari is sure to take you around in business class. Don’t expect handling like a Honda CR-V or even for that matter a Toyota Fortuner since this SUV is known to be top heavy and definitely a used Tata Safari wouldn’t be game for all those corner hunting antics.
Electricals are also known to have caused many issues in the ownership of some earlier Tata Safaris. Do check if the specimen that you are intending to buy has each and every switch and bulb working with precision. Interiors of the car gell well and even age doesn’t catch up with them. A single shampoo job is enough to get the interiors shining. Check if work on the AC has been carried out, if not, then you are looking at footing a bill of Rs 5000 just for the AC work. Check for odo mileage and then have a look at the tyres. If the tyres don’t seem to be the same as one would expect from such a high mileage car, then it is better to ask the owner about the changes. Used Tata Safaris are available both with 2 wheel drive and 4 wheel drive system. For those who want to go mud banging, the 4 wheel drive with high and low range makes for a good buy. The pretty high ground clearance also makes it easy to go for off roading jaunts. The paint job is immaculate for the Tata Safari whereas there is no rusting of the parts. Even the silencers of the SUV withstand the perils of time well and usually don’t require a replacement until the 1 lakh kilometer mark. The 0-100 kmph dash for the old 2 liter motor is about 20 seconds whereas for the new 2.2 liter DICOR motor, it reduces to 16 seconds. NVH is on the higher side since Tata cars aren’t known for been refined and the Tata Safari is a prime example of it. Easy availability of spares and widespread Tata network coupled with the impeding launch of a new Tata Safari in 2011 means that resale values for the old cars should go down. Usually Tata Safaris hold their value well and shouldn’t depreciate fast.
The Tata Safari in all is suitable even for daily trips to the office or the occassional one on the highway. Both are dispatched very well and I see no reason as to why a used one cannot do the same. Expect fuel efficiency in the range of 11 kmpl in the city whereas the highway figures would hover around the 14 kmpl mark. Been a diesel, running costs would be low and also there is less of maintenance required if you find a well maintained SUV for sale. The prices that I have seen for a used Tata Safari from the 2003 production series is Rs 3.72 lakhs whereas the second hand Tata Safari price in India from the 2006 batch goes to Rs 5.20 lakhs. If possible, then go for the DICOR versions which have a higher power output and have better fuel economy.