Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good motoring

Donít drive downhill with engine off
H. Kishie Singh

Very few people have bothered to read the fine print of their insurance policy. This leads to a lot of confusion while making a claim on the company. The problem arises when a person sells his car. The owner of the car may have a no claim bonus (NCB), which can be up to 65 per cent. This means that the owner has paid only 35 per cent of what the actual insurance premium should have been.

The UT consumer disputes redressal commission has said that the insurance policy gets transferred automatically. This is not wholly correct. The 65 per cent of the NCB benefit belongs to the car owner and is referred to as an earned benefit by the insurance company.

This insurance, comprehensive insurance, can be transferred only if the buyer deposits the NCB amount with the company along with Rs 60, which is the nominal charge the insurance company takes as transfer fee. The insurance does not get transferred automatically.

There is another way to abide by the rules of the commission, which quotes the India motor tariff law. The ruling maintains that the insurance policy stands automatically transferred. The seller cancels the insurance policy with the NCB and takes out a third party insurance. The buyer can be made to pay for this.

Third party insurance is not expensive. Yet it keeps every thing legal both for the buyer and seller. Third party insurance for cars up to 1000 cc is Rs 670, plus service tax. For cars from 1000 cc to 1500 cc the third party insurance costs Rs 800, plus service tax. For cars above 1500 cc the third party insurance costs Rs 2,500, plus service tax. In any case, it would be advisable that you check with your insurance company before finalising the deal. That way nothing can go wrong.

The other day I was coming down from Kasauli on the back route and met scooterists coming downhill with engines switched off. They were freewheeling and the foot was on the brake to control speed. There is probably no move that is as dangerous as freewheeling downhill, more so on a two-wheeler. You have only one brake working on the rear wheel. No one in India uses the front brake.

If you have not used the front brake for some time, chances are it is rusted and non-functional. So you canít depend on it. Just to save petrol worth Rs 5, you put your life at risk.

Your life. And in case you have your wife and child/ children with you, you could wipe out the whole family by one silly mistake. Are they worth only Rs 5? Let us say you do get to your destination in one piece, here is what you have accomplished. You have worn out your brake lining and brake drum. This will cost you much more than the Rs 5 worth of petrol you have saved.

The constant use of brakes will heat up the brake drum and polish it, rendering it friction-less. For effective braking that you need, good friction between brake shoes and brake drums is necessary. Even if you have made it to the flat road, your braking could be only 50 per cent of what it should be. You are still in danger of loosing your brakes. You will need to overhaul your brakes. You have not saved anything. On the contrary, you have risked your life.

This is a common sight on city roads. You are following a two-wheeler and the red light at the rear is on. As you overtake and glance at the rider, you see he has his foot on the brake pedal. This is the sign of a bad driver who has no confidence in himself and knows little about his machine. While he is driving the two-wheeler with his right hand on the throttle, his foot is on the brake pedal, restricting free forward movement.

Here is what you are doing. You are killing the fuel efficiency of the machine up to 30 per cent for sure, possibly 50 per cent. Second, you are damaging the rear brake drum as it automatically gets polished. A two- wheeler rider should keep in mind that he is dependant on the brake of one wheel. It should be in perfect working condition.

Happy motoring.