Friday, December 24, 2010

Season Greeting from

Every morning when I start the giant, it will greet me with a sweet Japanese voice announcing what day is it. It will say “今は十二月ニ十三日木てす” which means “Today is Thursday, December 23rd". The greeting always put a smile on me as it signal a new day has begin and remind me which day is it.

I didn’t drive the giant this morning so I was pleasantly surprise when it greeted me just now at 9:30p, with the message“メリキリムス今は十二月ニ十四日金てす” which means “Merry Christmas, today is Friday, December 24th". It seems the Japanese engineer who programs the greeting message has included seasonal greeting into their software. I have no way of knowing if it will say the same message early in the morning today but it seems the program has detected that the time is close to Chritmas so it added the seasonal greeting.

I didn’t notice this before so I wasn’t aware it was in there at all. I’ll keep an eye out next week for the greeting of a new year.

In the spirit of festivity in Malaysia, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my reader “Merry Chritmas” and “Happy New Year”. May the new year bring you bundle of joys, good health and good luck. May all you wishes to “dress” up you giant come through.


Update: Yes, the car greeted me with the Japanese version of Happy New Year when I drove the car on Jan 1, 2011. 明けましておめでとうございます.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Regular Workshop

I have been getting quite a lot of queries from my reader on the location of my regular workshop. Instead of replying to each individual email, I will post the location of the workshop in this blog so that the reader can find it themselves.

The workshop is located in Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara, Petaling Jaya. To get there, you drive along Lebuhraya Sprint heading towards the Damansara toll. Just before the toll, there is a ramp on the left that leads to Bandar Utama. Keep left and follow the road leading to that ramp. After you pass the BHP petrol station, on the left is a used car dealer called Petra Motor. When you see the Petra Motor signboard, immediately turn in to a slip road parallel to the main road. Go up the slip road and you’ll see a row of shops on your left.

The workshop I regularly visited is called Pusat Servis Kereta Hup Seng. They occupied the last two shop lots. If you are not familiar with that area, the Google Earth coordinate are latitude 3° 7'59.07"N and longitude 101°36'30.23"E. Or click this link to see the location in Google Map.

This is the entrance to the row of shops.

Just becareful as you pass through the tight entrance.

This is the view of the shop lots.
This is the workshop that I send my giant for service.

Yes, that white car on the hoist is my giant!

Hup Seng is an old fashion workshop that service all sort of vehicles. The owner is called Wong and he has been operating from this workshop for a long time. Beside his regular customers, he also provide pre-delivery maintenance service for imported used cars for another used car dealer. He is very familiar with servicing of imported used cars, including Toyota Alphard.

I am not promoting this workshop nor do I have any business relationship with the owner. I am just their regular customer for the last 15 years so they do allow me to bring my own spare parts and they charge me a nominal sum for services. If you do no want to source for your own spare parts, you can get from the workshop.

As usual, I want to put the disclaimer here. Readers who are interested to send their car to this workshop do so at their own risk.

If you need to contact them, call 03-77291029.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My Fuel Consumption After Service and Battery Change

As I was preparing to return to my home base after my six months assignment, I decided to drive my giant to the kiasu land so that I can bring back all my stuffs in one go. Since I have left the giant at home while I was away, I decided to send it for service before my journey.

The last service was done around March this year so it is high time to service again. I bought my own engine oil (Penzoil 5W-30 semi-synthetic) and oil filter (friom Wing Hin) and did the service at my regular workshop. All in it cost me RM112 only.

Also I decided to change the battery as I think it is getting weak due to the fact that it has not been recharged regularly as the car has not been driven that often.

The original battery came with the car probably has been used since it left the factory. I think the battery can still last quite a bit. However, since I am going on a long journey and driving in kiasu land I think it is safer to have a new battery and for the peace of mind.

I was pleasantly surprised with the mileage that I got from these two changes for this journey. I drove down to kiasu land, drove around the city for 3 days and then head back to KL. I was able to get 585km with a full tank of RON 95 petrol. That’s gave me approximately fuel consumption of 11km/litre. It seems the new engine oil and the new battery help to achieve such good fuel consumption.

I did another full tank refill at Pagoh, drove back to KL and then drove around the city and managed to clocked 530km. This is equivalent to approximately 9.0km/litre. I expect it to be lower due to the congested route I had to go through to my new office in PJ. I hope that I can continue to maintain this kind of fuel consumption and I will continue to monitor it regularly.

If your giant fuel consumption is deteriorating recently maybe it is time for you to look at these two items.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

How To Move The Middle Seat Forward

It was a pleasant surprised to receive a call from a reader who resides in Indonesia while I was driving to KL. Since I was driving in the middle of the city, it was not convenient to speak to him over the phone. Anyway he contacted me via email to find out how the passengers at the 3rd row seat of an 8 seaters get out of the car if the passengers in the 2nd row do not give them a helping hand to move the middle row seats forward.

It is truly an interesting question but I guess I understand his situation. I regularly bring my family out in my giant and I can see those sitting at the 3rd row struggled to push the middle single-seat to the front in order for them to get out. I have to constantly remind them to use the lever at the back of the middle seat!

At the back of the middle seat, there is a black coloured lever that does the job as shown below.

Those at the 3rd row seat just need to push the lever down and this will release the middle seat from the seat rail. It also lowered the back rest of the middle seat to give the 3rd row passenger more space to move out. When the back rest is lowered, you will find it not easy to push the middle seat to the front as the backrest does't give you much to hold. The best way is to use your leg to push the lever down and push the lever to move the middle seat to the front.

If you leave the lever in the unlock position, meaning with the backrest lowered, the middle seat is actually not locked to the seat rail. If you were to brake hard or accelerate hard from standstill, the middle seats will move along the seat rail. This could be the reason why you heard those loud banging sounds from the middle seat when you brake hard or accelerate hard!

I haven't heard from my reader if he has some issue with the lever not functioning and it need to be fixed. If you are in the same situation, remember the black coloured lever at the back of the middle seat.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Am Back - Hopefully More Blog Posts On The Giant

I got a few emails from my reader asking me why I haven't been blogging for quite some times. I do ask myself the same questions many times over and I guess I know very well why.

I guess that no excuse but looking back I know I have procastinated because I always think I will get to it later. Later as in when I get back to my car I will be able to complete my post so I'll work on it later. It drag on and eventually I have a vacuum period of few months without any posts.
In fact it is almost 4 months since I last posted.
I was on assignment to the kiasu land for six months so I left my giant at home. While I was there I constantly thought of writing something about the giant. However since I was without my car I just can't seems to complete my writing everytime I started. The reason being I always like to confirm my writing by showing the features/functions of the giant or I like to take a photo shoot of the subject that I am writing about. However since I was away i couldn't do this so I thought I postpone it until I get back to my giant.
Even the few times when I came back to town, there are many other things that took my attention away that I didn't manage to look at my giant and completed the posts. So it just keep dragging on this way until now I am finally back for good.
From the various comments I recently I also needs to review some of my posts to see how I can improve on them. One questions I keep getting query on is the door lock programming. I have been forwarding the same reply I sent to one of my reader to a few others that asking about the samething. I'll have to review that blog post to see if I can make it clearer and hopefully the readers will get a better understanding on how to do it properly.
I will work on my blog posts more often again.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Where Do You Get An Indicative Price?

Lately I have received many queries from my reader on what is the right price of the model they are looking for? I actually don’t have the price information but I do have a way to find out. I normally will call up my dealer to ask for specific model price but I also refer to the Star Classified on the latest market price.

In this post, I will show you how I find out the indicative price of a particular Toyota Alphard model.

You can either read The Star newspaper classified page or start with The Star homepage ( I then click on the Classified link at the top left of the page, enter Toyota Alphard into the search box, select Cars For Sale from the drop down list and then click Search.

Usually I will get two to three pages of listing from the search results. I will then scan through the listings starting with the latest entries to get a feel of the prices. I normally discard those lists that have a price that is too good to be true or those that don’t list down their prices at all.

In the list shown above, the 4th entry has a starting price of RM150K which is rather on the low side and compare to the one listed above it.

Given the fact that the Approved Permit used can only be used for car below 5 years, the oldest model that they advertise will be from year 2005. Since 2005 is also the year when the new facelift model was introduced, therefore you should check the listing to see if it includes the wording “new facelift” or NFL. In the above photo, the first entry shows that it is NFL model with quite a high specification but the dealer choose not to include the price. A NFL model typically carries a higher premium than a PFL model. Check this post to see the difference between PFL and NFL model.

The other reason for the price difference between two 2005 NFL models advertised by two different dealers could due to the effect of exchange rate. Depending when that dealer brought in the car, they may be paying a higher duty due to the higher Japanese Yen exchange rate at that time.

In the above list, you can see that there is a difference of RM16K between the price of a ’05 NFL in the 1st entry and the 4th entry (see red arrows). Even though the later entry has a slightly better spec I don’t think it worth the price difference so I can only think it is due to the exchange rate effect.

I also normally like to refer to the listings of dealers who give prices of the model from different year so that you get an overview of the price range. In the photo above, both the 1st and 4th entry gave indicative price from year 2005 to year 2007 and I typically use these as a reference.

From what I have observed, the price different between each year is about RM10K or more. If you have the budget, consider getting a later model as they normally have slightly more feature than older mode. For example, AS model from 2006 or later have a camera on the underside of the left side mirror while the 2005 AS do not have this feature.

Let say you scan the list and you find the model that you are interested in and the price is within you budget, I would suggest you to call up the dealers to enquire if the unit is still available. Since the ads are not removed from the Star Classified until after the expiry date of that ad, that car may not be available when you see the ad after several days since it listed.

Let say that unit is still available, you should ask the dealer some basic questions like the year of manufacture, model, colour, specific feature etc just to confirm that it is indeed the car you wanted. Check out this post on what options should you choose for your Alphard.

If you are satisfied that the model you want is available from that dealer, take a trip to visit them to check out the car in person. Verify the year of manufacturing by referring or check the model code to confirm the specification.

Make sure that the giant has all the features listed in the ad. Also check out some of the features like LCD, Radio, DVD player, multi-function steering, front/rear camera etc are working. Start the engine to see if it is in good running condition. Open the engine bay to check the condition of the engine, the rubbers, hoses, etc.

Of course take a test drive of the car to test the power delivery as well as the suspension. Listen while you are on the move to hear if there is any knocking sounds from the suspension or rattling sounds the rear seats.

If you are happy with the car, try to bargain with the dealer for lower price. I normally start with RM10K less from the asking price as a starting point for the price negotiation. Do note that the method I listed above only show you the price of Toyota Alphard on sales in the central region. I heard that most dealers in East Malaysia especially Kuching offer cheaper price. However I am not familiar with their offering so I can’t recommend any.

I like to use the Star Classified because it is easy to use and I can copy the details for reference. Also the listing in the Star Classified usually include contact number that you can call immediately as you scan through.

If you like to see photo of the giants, you can also use MotorTrader to find the indicative prices. Similarly you can also refer to to find the list of Toyota Alphard for sale. Both sites allow you to refer your search by year as well.

Happy hunting for your giant.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Folding The 3rd Row Seats

One of my reader asked me on this post how to fold the 3rd row seats. In this post I will show you how to do it if you have not tried it before.

You might want to create a large space between your rear seats so that you have more room to work on this.

First of all you need to find the marker for the 3rd row seat. Only when the 3rd row seat is in this position, it can be lifted up from the rail. I have tried but somehow my old digital camera couldn't get me a clear picture of the marker as shown below.

Maybe because of the beige colour and the reflection from the side wall from the flash light such that the marker doesn't come out clear. However, you should be able to find it right in front the edge of your 3rd row seat. I have circled it in the above photo.

Slide your 3rd row seat so that the front edge of the seat is level with the marker.

Now pull the level on the side of the 3rd row seat (as shown below) to lower the backrest so that it is flush with the seat.
Here is a view from the rear of the car when the 3rd row seats are in flat position when the backrests are lowered.
Now pull the level that lock (as shown) the 3rd row seats to the rail on the floor to release the seats.

Once the seat is released from the rail, you can lift it up as shown below.

Finally under the seat, there is a velco strap that you can hook your seats to the roof-hook as shown below.
Give this a try if you want to fold your 3rd row seats.

Hope this help

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Creating a Large Space Between The Seats

I have a reader asking me if it is possible to turn the middle row seats in a 7-seater giant (Toyota Alphard). However I don’t think this is possible as this feature is only available on the 8-seaters.

The original Japanese manual do have some illustration on how to turn the middle row seats but if you don’t read Japanese, you may struggle trying to understand what the manual is trying to illustrate. In this post I will show you how to turn the middle row seats to face the rear row seats.

In the photo below it shows that the left middle seat has been slide forward slightly and the back rest is folded.

Only in this position will the middle seat turn. Turn the middle left seat clockwise as shown below

until it is facing the rear seat as shown below.

Finally you lift the back rest up and then slide the seat all the way to the front.

Do the same for the right middle seat but this time turn it anti-clockwise.

When middles seats are turned 180-degrees, you will now have a very large space between the seats.

This arrangement is very handy as it allow parents to reach the young children without having to climb over the middle seats.

Unfortunately, in the new generation Alphard/Vellfire, this feature has been removed. I wish they maintain that feature in the new generation Alphard/Vellfire as I think this is very useful. I am hoping that when I upgrade to the new Alphard in many years later I can still have this feature but looks like I have to settle with what I have at the moment.

Hope this help.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Leaving the Giant Behind… Temporary

I took up a new position with a company recently and have been rather busy with my new work. Since this company is headquartered in Singapore I am fortunately (or reluctantly) posted to Singapore for 6 months. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about their products and services with the aim to bring the solution to the Malaysian marketplace.

I always has the impression any Singapore company is well-prepared and efficiency in all aspects of their organization, including onboarding a new employee. However I have to change my perception as due to some unknown reason they were not able to provide me with a notebook so I was practically without Internet access for the last 3 weeks. I did tried one of those Internet café over here for an hour only because I needed to go online to look for a place to stay. Another reason I had to change my view is because after visiting a customer here I was kind of amazed that they are not that advanced after all as I imagine. I will write about this in future.

I did go back to Kuala Lumpur twice during that three weeks but I was just too busy running around for errands so I didn’t really have the times to update the blog. Today I finally got my laptop and I also borrowed a broadband dongle from my colleague and able to get online to this neglected blog.

It didn’t occur to me that I would be without Internet access for more than 3 weeks. In this day of Internet age and in nation like Singapore where broadband is much advanced it is hard to imagine that anyone cannot get access to the Internet. However due to my work schedule (too late to visit an Internet café) and also without the proper tool (a laptop) I was completely cut off from the Internet for such a long time.

I am glad there are still visitors to my blog during my absent and some have left comments for me. I have approved all the comments and hopefully I have answered all the questions posted.

For the last 3 weeks I have been taking public transportation to work. I really admire how efficient is the public transportation in this island. You can get to most destinations by bus or via MRT. Also I find that I don’t need to wait long for the next bus or MRT because they are so frequent and on time. In fact there is a bus every 4 minutes that passed by where I stay! Since the last time I was here, they now added the Circle MRT Line on top of the North-South Line, East-West Line and North-East Line so you can take MRT to more destinations now.

Occasionally I do take the LRT and monorail back in Kuala Lumpur and I must say that they are just not as convenient compare to taking the buses and MRT in the island because they are so accessible. Many destinations in Kuala Lumpur are just not easily accessible by bus or LRT that I go there with the giant (Toyota Alphard) instead.

So when I was back to Kuala Lumpur last week, it felt a little odd to drive the giant to get to a location that doesn’t even have a bus plying that road. I do think that I am rather pampered with the giant as it become a habit for us who own a car to drive out most of the time than to think of taking a public transport. I have not have so much walking since I last did a climb to Gunung Tahan 20 years ago. It just goes to show that we are so used to driving that we sometime forgot that there are other means to get to a destination!

Now that I am away the giant is now temporary left behind in Kuala Lumpur. I will try to go back home every fortnightly to see my family and to take the giant out for a spin.

I will try to update this blog with some posts more often whenever I have the spare time here.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

People and Process Make the Different

I work in the IT line so one of the value propositions when proposing a new technology to a customer is that it should improve the productivity of the employees. With improved productivity it will bring about better service level to the end customer.

Of course introduction of new technology also require a supporting streamline process and the acceptance of the employee to achieve this objective. Therefore the return on investment in the new technology is determined by the people and processes supporting these technologies.

I received an SMS from my insurance company – Allianz - that the insurance of my other car will expire in a week time. Well it is good that they use technology to send reminder than using snail mail.

So I call ahead an hour before I reach their office making sure they have plenty of time to prepare. In fact the lady who picks up my call even asked for my car registration number and said she will prepare the quotation for me.

When I got into their office and ask for that lady, the first she asked me again is “Sir, what is your car registration number?” Well it looks like she has not done anything at all. Off she goes back to print the quotation and gave me a copy to check.

Once I agreed on the amount to be insured for this year, I gave them my credit card to be swiped for the amount and then started waiting for her to prepare the cover policy. Well it seems there is still separation of duty for this whole transaction to be completed.

She swiped the credit card but the processing of the credit is at another floor. She come back to me after 10 minutes and gave me the credit card without the credit slip. I then waited for another 20 minutes and there is still no sign of her.

I stood up and look around the office and found her answering phone calls. I signal her that I am in a hurry and she told me that the cover note is being processed. It looks like someone else in the department is doing the cover note and not her. So another 10 minutes delay before the cover note is ready.

When she passed me the cover note, I asked for the credit card slip and she told me that she needs to go to the 10th floor to collect it. Well by the time she comes back with the slip, it is already one hour since I walked in to the office. So does technology help? Hell no.

The way the process is put in place by this company to service their customer is absolutely ineffective. They don’t have a dedicated service counter and they still emphasized separation of duty so even with the use of technology there is no automation at all.

As I walked out of the office, I saw this expat who seems like a senior officer of the company and told him that the transaction took one hour to complete. He turned around and asked the lady what happened but I didn’t stay around to find out if he did anything. I am curious if he or any of his officers will bother to call me to find out if my complaint is valid.

3 years ago when I renewed my insurance there was a service counter so the process of renewing the insurance is very smooth. Everything is done with a counter staff and within 20 minutes (excluding waiting time), I will have my cover note and walk out of the office.

Two years ago Allianz took over the insurance business of that company and they decided not to have a counter. Even then last year experience of renewing my insurance with them was not so bad. That lady who served me was able to give me everything within 30 minutes. I don’t know why they are going backward this year and took one hour to complete just one transaction.

I also recently renewed the insurance of my giant but it was with another insurance company. The experience was totally different. All I did was walked into their counter, ask to renew the insurance. The officer gave me a payment slip and asked me to pay at another counter. After that I just wait for 5 minutes and the officer passed me the cover note and I am out of that place. All in less than 25 minutes time.

Anyway, after I got my cover note, I drove to the Public Bank branch where I got my car loan and asked to renew my road tax. The officer took down my car registration number, double check with the system on my details, wrote me a bank in slip, ask me to pay at the counter down stair. I pay at the designated counter without having to queue and the whole exercise took less than 8 minutes!

It is obvious that this bank has all the process in place and the right people to provide the services to their end customer. The technology is transparent in the service provided and it works because they have the right people and a streamline process to support it. That’s why I have been their customer for the last 10 years.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Accidents Waiting To Happen?

Yesterday I just posted about drivers jumping red light at the traffic junction outside the condo where I stay, and tonight, there was an accident at that traffic junction.

When I reached the traffic junction, I saw a red MyVi collided with a small van. I have no idea how this could happen as the MyVi was out of position from normal traffic flow.

Well I was curious so after I parked my car, I walked out to the scene of the accident as a large group of people already gathered there.

I asked one of the guy who was already there before me what happen and it seems the small car hit a tree and then slammed into side of the van. The impact has crumpled the front of the small car and debris were lying everywhere.

All I can hear is that a group more than 10 Chinese national arguing over who should pay for the damage and it seems they couldn't agree to the terms of settlement. The whole road leading out of to the main road was blocked by the cars and people talking in the middle of the road.

A tow truck was already at the scene waiting for the drivers to decide what to do. Because of the accident, the traffic junctions had jammed up because of curious passer-by slowing down to look at the scene.

I have no idea if the accident is due to the small car jumping the red light and swayed right too much, lost control and hit the tree and then hit the van that is passing by or due to other reason.

As there is no police on the scene so the owners continue to try to settle on their own. In the 10 minutes that I was there I didn't get much from arguments from those involved so I just walked home and thinking how many more such accidents waiting to happen in that traffic junction.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Do These Drivers Jump The Traffic Light Everyday?

I was in Penang three weeks ago and also was in Singapore last week and not once I saw anyone jump the red light. However when I am back to my own home, I am just embarrassed to see that drivers jumping the red light is a common scene in my own home town.

I don’t know what has happen to these Kuala Lumpur drivers but it seems a lot has started to take the law into their own hand. Maybe it is probably their attitude of “no one will catch me” so I don’t have to follow the law. It could be because their lives are so hectic that they don’t even have times to wait for that red light.

When I was in Penang I covered the entire east side of the island from north to south. Not once in any of the traffic lights that I have waited did I see anyone jumping the red light. Some areas like Batu Ferringi and Batu Maung has light traffics and every one waited for the light to turn green.

While I was in Singapore, I drove to Tao Payoh area to meet a friend and then went into the city and no one is breaking the law. Even as I was leaving the island using the Ayer Rajah Expressway I see that drivers are queuing to go into each traffic interchange and no one jump the queue like what I see in Kuala Lumpur.

On a daily basis coming back to my house I see so many drivers don’t even bother with the red light and just drive on. Of course there are many that obediently abide by the law and waited for the light to turn green before they drive on but there are just too many that don’t bothered. What is sad is that some of these drivers who jumped the red lights are residents of the condo that I am staying in.

I just got my first entry level DSLR which is supposedly has many features that used to be available only in the pro-level camera. So I thought why not try it on these drivers and see if I can capture a clear image with it. Here are some cars that I caught jumping the red light in the 10 minutes span that I was there.

Since this DLSR also boost a full HD video capability, let try to record a video and see how does it performs in capturing the images of cars jumping red lights. Well it comes out very well on my PC and I hope after conversion to FLV format it is as clear as well.

I have no doubt that these drivers will never dare to jump the red light in the city centre. They know the risks of doing that. However in this particular traffic junction, there is one section that has no through traffic. These drivers are just so impatient that they think they can risk their life and jump the red light instead of waiting for a clear signal.

Another factor is probably that since someone is doing it, why not me. Therefore it becomes a habit for them to just do it every day because they are used to it. On a daily basis, I see men, women, student of the nearby medical university, lorry drivers, school bus driver i all sort of cars are breaking the law.

I don’t expect the authority to come to this part of the town so I don’t think this will deter those drivers from continue to do it daily. Maybe the authority should consider programming the traffic lights so that the section that has not through traffic will turn green in a shorter time. I can see that drivers are impatient because it takes too long for the lights to turn green when there is no traffic coming from that section.

With more condo coming up in this area, I think this traffic junction is going to become very busy very soon so I wonder if these drivers will continue to jump the red light anymore.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Want To Upgrade The Rims and Tyres of Your Toyota Alphard

Once an owner found his giant (Toyota Alphard), one of the most common upgrade the owner looking for is what size of rims and tyres to upgrade to. I got this question quite often from my readers too.

This is the standard rim for AX/MZ/MZ/MZG. It is shod with 205/65/R16 tyres.

The PFL AS and MS has 17-inch rim with 225/55/R17 tyres. This is the PFL 17-inch rim.

The NFL AS and MS is also shod with 17-inch rim but it has a cleaner design as shown below.

I have tested both the 16-inch and 17-inch fitted on the giant and I feel there is much different in the ride quality. The 17-inch will feel slightly heavier because the rims and tyres are both heavier than the 16-inch set up. Also the extra 20mm contact patch on the 17-inch will give more rolling resistance so it will take a little bit more effort to get the tyres moving but not a lot.

If you want to upsize the rim, then the next option could be 18, 19 or even 20-inch. The correct tyre profile for each should be 235/50/R18, 245/45/R18 and 255/35/R20. Of course, the bigger the rim, the unsprung weight will be higher. Also lower profile tyres will have harder side wall so the ride quality suffer as it will be harsher compared to the stock set up.

There are many rims available in the market that fits the giant. You can choose either the Made-In-Japan rim which is more expensive than those made in Taiwan OEM rim. Just make sure that the rim has a PCD of 114.3.

Another commonly asked question is should the owner choose staggered rim set up. If you own a 2WD model, then it doesn’t really do you much good since it is a front wheel drive car so you are not getting much traction from the real wheels at all. For 4WD model, the traction switches between 2WD and 4WD so there is not much functional advantage in having larger rims and tyres at the rear.

Also beware that offset of the wheel mount is not very deep so if you are using staggered rim, the rear tyre should not be too wide. Otherwise, if it goes beyond the wheel arch, you will not be able to lower your car at all. One AOC member shod his rear rim with 275/50/R18 and it does look very cool with the tyres sticking out if view from the back of the car, but he can’t lower his car at all as the wheel arch will hit the tyres.

One interesting question that comes to me is what’s the biggest rim size that can fit into the giant? Well an owner I know of fitted a 22-inch rim with 30 series tyres. It look so cool with this set up but it also cost a ton of money to own it. He drives his giant daily and he hasn't complain about harsh ride at all.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Behind the Glory of A Sport Personality

I was reading this article on the Sun and it mentioned that “The cynic should give Malayssians a chance. Embrace the brave, the visionaries, the dreamers and the innovators. Embrace positive energy”.

This is truly a wakeup call for many Malaysia. We need to stop thinking that heroes only come from abroad. We also need to start treating our heroes just like another ordinary person that has done something extra ordinary.

I know this is not a post on Toyota Alphard but it is just a way to share my thoughts after finding more about the true behind the glory of a sport personality.

When I was fixing my car at Dynasty last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with his elder brother Joe Lee. Joe explained to me the concept of CWD and what products will be offered through CWD. They have plans to bring this brand to an international level with Dato’ Lee being the ambassador of this brand.

As our chat turn to the game of badminton, I understand better now how their family feel about Dato’ Lee involvement in this sport. While we acknowledged the fact that Dato’ Lee recently has won 4 super series badminton events in a row and then captured the All England just this month, a lot of people still don’t understand the pains that Dato’ Lee has to go through to get to this level.

During his low point in his badminton career, especially when he lost the Olympic gold medal match, a lot of people is writing him off or think that he has not put in his best effort, he prove them wrong and come up even stronger in 2010.

Despite all the glory, there is the other side of the story that probably no one will be able to see or feel other than their family members. For example, Joe was commenting that after Dato’ Lee won the All England event the family didn’t even get a chance to have dinner with Dato’ Lee until 4 days later. He was so busy attending all those celebration with the VIPs that he didn’t even has time to see the family.

The other sad part of being a sport personality is that people tend to “treat” him differently. Joe was relating how Dato’ Lee felt when the two of them were shopping at a mall, even as Dato’ Lee are checking out some clothing, the sales girl behind was commenting why Dato’ Lee has to check out the clothing before he buy. That pissed off Dato’ Lee and he left without buying anything. I wouldn’t blame him if he decides to buy his clothing while he is in oversea.

Also with his recent success, he cannot have his personal life just like any one of us. He can’t go anywhere without being recognized and crowded by curious bystanders. He can’t even go out to his favourite food stall to have a quiet meal. He has to ask his brother to pack it for him and eat alone in the hostel.

Currently the biggest challenge Dato’ Lee has is finding a sparring partner for his ongoing training. There are hardly any capable player in the BAM squad at the moment that can spar with Dato’ Lee and pushes him harder while he prepared for the next major event.

Also on the mental side, being the number one rank player in the world, he is the lone fighter out there in every tournament. Instead of having a team mate who is equally capable to spread the load of taking on players from other country, Dato’ Lee will have to do it alone. His preparation will include watching videos of all his potential opponents. This will put a lot of stress and mental fatigue on him to go through this in every tournament. No forgetting physical strain he has to go through to defeat his opponent to capture each super series title is even harder to bear.

I can now feel how much strength you need to have to be successful at this level in any sport. If you don’t have the mental and physical strength, a lot of people who can’t take the stress would have walk away.

For now, Dato’ Lee is our country hope in every tournament that he participate in. He just can’t quit and walk away when the country glory is upon his shoulder.

Coming back to the CWD brand, with such a person standing behind the CWD brand, I have confident that the Toyota MPV owners will be assure of the quality and the reputation of a true sportman.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Chong Wei Dynasty - Will This Brand Benefit the Toyota Alphard Owners?

If you have been flipping through the Motor Trader magazine or other local motorsport magazine lately, you might have noticed recently there are quite a few advertisements on this new brand called Chong Wei Dynasty.

I went to Dynasty yesterday to rectify some problem and saw the above poster in the shop. While waiting for my car to be fixed, I sat down and chat with the shop keeper to find out more about this brand.

Chong Wei Dynasty is the brand child of Dato' Lee Chong Wei and Danny, the owner of Dynasty Auto Parts Sdn Bhd. Beginning of this year, Dato’ Lee Chong Wei joined force with Dynasty to offer their own brand of accessories (initially) for Toyota MPVs and it will be sold through Dynasty outlets, currently in Sunway only. However there are already plan to have few more outlets coming up by this year, notably one will be set up in Cheras while another will be launched in Penang very soon.

Chong Wei Dynasty currently offers tinting and bodykits for Toyota Alphard and Toyota Estima owners. It will also offer accessories such as front/rear camera, original head unit, home theatre system, front and rear light clusters, side mirror and etc.

In the pipeline is a customized headrest similar to those found in the 2nd generation Alphard but it will comes with a monitor to cater for both Toyota Alphard and Toyota Estima.

Dato’ Lee Chong Wei used to own a 1st generation Toyota Alphard. He was a regular customer of Dynasty for several years and recently he has upgraded to a Vellfire. He also has other cars but his passion with Alphard has given him a strong desire to be involved in the auto accessories industry hence the idea of joining force with Dynasty to launch the Chong Wei Dynasty (CWD) brand.

To cater for the needs of more Toyota MPV owner, CWD will be offering a 0% interest payment plan with selected bank for the purchase of CWD products. This will probably make it more affordable and attract a lot more potential buyers from Toyota MPV owners.

I am just another customer of Dynasty and I have no affiliation with either Dynasty Auto Parts Sdn Bhd or Chong Wei Dynasty.

I consider Dynasty as a more capable accessories shop then many other as they have the right tools and trained personnel to work on my giant. I have been with them for a year now and they have cater to my needs.

In my chat with the shop keeper I discovered that it is unfortunate but a risk of doing business dealing with Toyota parts! The unfortunate part is that Toyota Japan has such a high regards to the quality of their parts that they only offer 3 days warranty to their buyers. Buyer like Dynasty have to order the parts, imported it back to Malaysia and by the time the parts arrived, it is already more than 45 days. So for every part that Dynasty offers, they carry the risk of void warranty! It is understandable now why Dynasty pricing is slightly higher as they carry the risk of void warranty while their pricing includes warranty support.

With that in mind, it is clear that with the launching of CWD brand and some parts being sourced locally, this will reduce the overall price hence benefitting the local Toyota MPV owners.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Casual Trip Around Penang Island With My Toyota Alphard

After the AOC Northern TT, I stay back two more days in Penang and took the opportunity to travel around the island. I stay in a hotel in Tanjung Bungah which has a nice view to the sea.
The beach in front of the hotel
Nice sunset view

The next day, I took a slow drive up to Batu Ferringi and Teluk Bahang to check out some of the hotels and beaches there.
A nice stretch of beach in Teluk Bahang

After that I head south to check out Queensbay Mall. I have heard about this new shopping mall from TV quite often and always wonder how it look like. Well I finally get to step inside the mall and look around some of the shops. It gave me an impression that it is similar to our Mid Valley Mall in KL.

From the open car park outside the mall, it has a nice view of the Penang Bridge as well as Pulau Jerejak.
The bridge is too far. The right patch of land is Pulau Jerejak

After lunch, I head further south toward Batu Maung again looking for a fishing village to buy some seafood. The timing was just right when I reach the village as the fishermen just got back from sea with their catches.
The entrance to the fishing village

The signboard on the left in the photo above is the same restaurant where the AOC Northern TT was held the night before. The right signboard shows the way to a small fishing village about 50meter away.

I bought a kilo of big prawn for RM36 only which is rather cheap compared to what you can get in KL. I only bought the prawn as I wasn't sure what fish to buy as they have so many variety.
One kilo of big prawn, yummy

After that I head back north to visit USM. It has been more than 23 years since I left this university so a lot has changed. Some of the old hostel that I had stayed before are no longer in their former form. Most of the old wooden long houses are now replaced with multi-story building.

Driving around the campus in the giant feel a bit odd compare to those time when I ride around in a 80cc motorbike!

I went up to the Chancellery Rock to try to catch a glimpse of the Penang Bridge and Pulau Jerejak.
The Chancellory hasn't changed much

This spot used to be the favourite place for undergraduates to come here to catch a view of the open sea as well as looking out to the majestic Penang Bridge then. However that view is no longer visible anymore. Right in front of the campus now stands the Penang Twin Tower which block off most of the middle section of the bridge.
The Penang Twin Tower!

To the right, there used to be a clear view of Pulau Jerajak but now that view is blocked by condominiums that sprung up recently.

After I have spent some time checking out various schools building in the campus, just as I did 23 years ago, I passed the small roundabout at the top of the slope heading toward the main gate.

The sculpture that greet all newcomers.

In the middle of the roundabout is a stone-made sculpture that has two sides with different carving. The front section facing the entrance is rough which signify that those who are entering the university is still unpolished. The rear section which you'll see as your drive out is smooth to indicate that (hopefully) you have learned wisely and bring with you your newfound knowledge and ready to go out to face the world. With that I bid farewell to USM again.

On the way back to the hotel, I drop by at Ghee Hiang to buy some Penang biscuits (tau sar pneah and hneoh pneah) as souvenier for the relatives.

I spent the night meeting up with my former univeristy mates before I left for KL the next day.
Clear traffic on Penang Bridge toward Butterworth

Traffic on the way back to KL is smooth but slow as there are a lot of traffics. As this is the week before All Soul Day, a lot of people took the opportunity to go back to their home town to pay respect to their ancestors. That's why the traffic over the weekend in Penang was very bad.

I am not sure when I will visit Penang again but I thoroughly enjoy this trip.

A Trip To The North To Join AOC Northern TT

Last Friday, the AOC members organized their TTs at three different locations simultaneously. The northern group has scheduled their TT long time ago and when the central and southern groups found out, they also decided to hold their TT at the same time.

The idea was to hold the TT at each location and then each location will provide live updates via Internet. However I guess it didn’t work out that way since the TT location for the northern group was not ideal for Internet access. Updates were done via mobile phone so there is no live images beam across locations.

I was informed of the TT at the last minute hence I was undecided whether to attend or not. Then I found out that one member of the central group is heading up north to join the northern group TT. That’s gave me an idea that I should make a trip up north too. Besides joining the northern group TT, I also want to take this opportunity to visit Penang as I haven’t been there for quite a while.

I graduated from USM so it is probably a good time for me to go back to the campus and check out the place to see how has it progress since I left there 23 years ago. Also I wanted to meet up with some of my university mates from Penang that I have not met for many years. So good enough reason to take a long drive!

This is also a good time to give my giant another long distance run as the last one I did was 7 months ago. I left Kuala Lumpur city at around 2:45pm and the drive up north was rather casual. The original plan was to meet up with another AOC member at Ipoh and then convoy together from there. However due to last minute changes I didn’t stop by at Ipoh. Instead I stopped at Sg. Perak R&R area to wait for two other AOC members, one from KL and another from Cameron Highland.

The 3 giants then convoy together the rest of the journey to Penang Island.
Crossing the Penang Bridge

The traffic on a Friday afternoon is pretty smooth and we arrive at Penang around 6pm and had to bear with the after work hour traffic before we reach our hotel respectively.
Before Hitting the After Work Jam

Once we have freshen up, we meet up again at E-Gate with the rest of the AOC members coming from other locations before we convoy to our final destination.
Checkpoint Behind E-Gate

The convoy took off from E-Gate heading toward a restaurant in Batu Maung. As we had to wait for everyone to depart together, it was rather late when we reach our final destination.

Where We Had Our Dinner

This TT is slightly different from the other I have attended as we have a sit-down dinner instead of a teh tarik session. We only have 11 giants in our convoy but we had 40 attendees sharing the foods in 4 tables.

Two Of The Tables With Food Ready

This is slightly different from other TT as the family members of the AOC members are more involved in this TT compared to others.

AOC Memebr Enjoying Their Foods

Also it is commendable that some non-AOC members actually took the trouble to join us at the very last minute at the invite of one of the AOC members. One of them was in Muar in the morning and after he fetch his family, drove all the way up to Penang. Another was visiting Sg. Petani and drop by last minute to join the TT.

It was nice to see all the family members enjoyed the TT and have their share of fun along the way.

After the dinner, the group convoyed back to an open car park at E-Gate and start to have a group photo session and the customary showing off each other cars and sharing of technical information.

Line Up For Photo Shoot

As it is getting late, those with family have to leave early while other proceeds to Padang Kota Lama for the real teh tarik session. However the nearby stalls at Esplanade are closing at 1am so the group only spent a short time there before we all call it a day.

All in all, it was a good TT as we have very good turn out from the members and their family. Not only the AOC members get to enjoy this outing, their family members also can share their passion during the TT.

I think this is a good sign that the TT for AOC members are more family oriented and I believed more and more members will bring their family to such future events.

Having done a northern TT, I am wondering if I will be doing a southern one in future.