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The New Maruti Swift's Brakes Don't Work

Over the past several months, many owners of the new Swift have been complaining that their car doesn't stop in bumper to bumper traffic. Maruti doesn't agree. Will this be the first test of SIAM's voluntary recall code?

Published: Jul 23, 2012 06:50:27 AM IST
Updated: Feb 27, 2014 06:15:11 PM IST
The New Maruti Swift's Brakes Don't Work
Image: Getty Images
THOUGH CUSTOMERS are complaining the new Maruti Swift won’t stop in heavy traffic, the company denies any problem with the car’s brakes

Mangalam Singhania, a 31-year-old IT professional based out of Bangalore and the once-proud owner of the new Maruti Swift, was really angry. He had waited 22 days (May 31-June 22) hoping that somebody from Maruti Suzuki would reply to his email and explain why his car wouldn’t stop in bumper to bumper traffic.

But nobody did. And Singhania had already tried everything: Threats of a consumer court case, five visits to authorised Maruti service stations in just six months, and long discussions with the Maruti Regional Service manager in Bangalore. But nothing worked. Maruti refused to acknowledge that there was any problem with the car’s brakes. Frustrated, Singhania sent the company’s customer service department a strongly worded email. That didn’t get a reply either.

Singhania is not the only one with this peculiar problem. In the past six months, several Swift buyers have complained of a braking issue in their new cars. They have complained on car forums, in emails to Maruti, on the Swift’s Facebook fan page. In Kerala, Sibiraj PR even filed a consumer court case against Maruti, but the company has given no explanation. Puzzled customers who complain at the dealership are told to register the complaint directly with Maruti. The total number of consumer complaints, which you can pick up from car enthusiast forums, runs into the hundreds.

So, what’s the problem with the Swift’s brakes? Toms Matthew, who bought the top end ZXi variant in February 2012 and has had a frustrating time since, explains it pretty well. “You need to be in bumper to bumper traffic situation…of which we have a lot in Bangalore, drive in first gear, half clutch, RPM under 1,000 and after two or three presses on the pedal, the brake pedal becomes absolutely hard and there is no braking,” he says. While this typically happens at speeds under 10km/hr, it is not a nice situation to be in. During two separate incidents while driving in heavy traffic, Matthew says his Maruti scratched a Honda City and a Toyota Innova after his brakes failed. A third time, while Matthew was parking in his garage, the Maruti scratched a parked motorcycle.

Though the risk of harm is low at such slow speeds, a car needs to stop when the driver hits the brakes. When it won’t, there’s a problem. Maruti, though, seems to disagree. “There is no impact on braking performance in the cars mentioned. If the customer has experienced hardness in the brake at very low speeds of 5km/hr or less, that may be on account of driving in half clutch and pressing the brake to control speed, which results in engine RPM [revolutions per minute] falling below ‘Idle RPM’ [the speed at which the engine generates enough power to operate smoothly],” said the company’s spokesperson. “The brake is fully functional during such time, irrespective of hardness of pedal. “The correct technique is to press the brake and not crawl at half clutch. Please note that the NVH [noise, vibration and harshness] refinement level of new Swift is so good that the engine does not judder even under such abnormally low RPM conditions.”

Customers say that not only do stop and go traffic conditions require driving in half clutch, the problem surfaced only in the new models. And while Maruti maintains the Swift’s brakes work even when customers drive in half clutch and the pedal becomes hard, customers and experts believe Maruti isn’t coming clean on the problem. “It is not a first brake and then clutch issue. If this has to be done in stop go traffic, more than half the drivers will be stalling their engines... But yes, there could be a problem with the brake pistons which do not release on the third or fourth application [only if this happens rapidly]. This usually manifests itself as brakes getting hard. What you need to understand is, do the brakes still apply or is there no braking? No braking, then we have a serious issue,” says Bertrand D’Souza, editor of Overdrive magazine.

Even Maruti agrees there is some hardness in the brake pedal, and customers swear that when the pedal becomes hard, the brakes don’t work at all. So, is this a serious problem being pushed under the carpet?

Just a few weeks ago, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) issued a voluntary code of conduct by which automobile manufacturers agree to call back vehicles found to have defects defined in the code. But drivers shouldn’t expect Maruti to make the Swift the first car recalled under the new code. Since Maruti does not think there is a problem, customers have been left high and dry.

There is no precedent for recalls in a country where a car maker can change the starter motors in about 1,40,000 cars and still refuse to call it a recall, as Tata did with the Nano. At the SIAM press conference announcing the voluntary code of conduct, SIAM President S Sandilya said whatever Tata Motors wants to call the Tata Nano case, it was a recall. Tata Motors was not happy about this. Their spokesperson responded to Sandilya’s comments in an email to Forbes India, saying, “The installation of the new starter motor, which is a vendor supplied part, began in October 2011 and has been completed. This new starter motor was already installed in the Nano 2012, which was introduced in November 2011…we decided that we will give owners of old Nanos on the road also the option, free of cost. That is how it was done. It was not a recall.”

Recall or no recall, the SIAM initiative is unlikely to live up to expectations because automakers have a vested interest in avoiding costly recalls. In most countries, automobile recalls happen because there is a separate, independent body whose sole job is to set safety standards and ensure that they are followed. These agencies review each and every call, letter and online report they receive of an alleged safety problem. Depending on the number of consumer complaints, they may start an investigation. If safety-related defects are found, it’s up to the independent agency to determine whether or not a safety defect exists. If so, the manufacturer has no choice but to conduct a recall.

The problem with the Indian automotive industry is that there is no such body overseeing auto safety. Instead, it’s up to the manufacturer to issue costly, but perhaps crucial, recalls. Sadly, that means India’s car buyers are usually out of luck.

(This story appears in the 03 August, 2012 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Fredy Daruwala

    I am facing hard brake pedal in my ertiga vxi ,which I brought 3 years back.In the very first service ,I complained of the same and thought it was happening to me .Yesterday when I was with technical person of Maruti ,he confirmed that this problem is there and the solution is to press the brake and clutch ,which was not digested by me.Today I saw so many people complained on the net about the brake problem .I am surprised such a big company like Maruti is not recalling the cars and am keeping quiet about safety issue.

    on Dec 10, 2015
  • Gulam Hussain

    my swift dzire (petrol) when a.c on break\'s are not working..

    on Jun 27, 2015
  • Arun George

    Its not only the new Swift\'s brakes that dont work! Even Swift Dzire ZDI ABS fails and Maruti refuses to acknowledge the fault. Their reply always is \"Not in warranty period....Just change it for ~ 54,000/-Rs with no warranty how long it will last!\" We should get together and have a common forum/blog/site and go for a class action suite against the company

    on Feb 18, 2015
  • Sohil Viradia

    I\'ve experienced it too in my Old Swift Lxi....and when I complained about it, they IGNORED me :-(

    on Dec 18, 2014
  • Saurabh Singh Rathore

    I have Swift Vxi 2012 Model... Same braking issue.. at low speed brake paddle becomes hard and car won\'t stop. I told this problem to maruti service center.. they told me that there is a software update after that problem will be solved.. After updating software.. Braking issue becomes completely different.. Now paddle becomes so soft that it goes all way down to car floor.. and does not respond.. after software update i came to know about this problem when i hit the other car in traffic. One thing is for sure.. Maruti Suzuki Swift is Most Overrated car in India.

    on Aug 29, 2014
  • Arun Bana

    Facing problem of brake failure in new swift dzire at low speed in traffic conditions, reported to the KIRAN MOTORS at Himatnagar but they are giving various excuses instead of attending the issue, seeking help

    on Aug 27, 2014
  • Mahesh Sood

    I have swift zdi 2012 model, today i met with accident because of break problem. Today i was driving on 30 km/hr speed when i applied breaks to stop but car does not respond and hit to other car . Please help me that how can i resolve this issue . thanks please mail me : maheshsood@yahoo.com

    on Nov 6, 2013
  • Manish

    I wrote to Maruti (http://www.marutisuzuki.com/contactus.aspx) for this problem. They diverted me to local dealer

    on Sep 30, 2013
  • Prince

    yes, swift vxi petrol model braking problems, please recall maruti

    on Aug 4, 2013
    • Asit

      Can you suggest me that whether I should opt for swift lxi/vxi ?

      on Nov 7, 2013
  • Hemant

    dear friends please suggest me a car wheather i can go for a mahindra quanto c8 or swift zdi or ertiga vdi

    on Jul 12, 2013
  • Sameer Vashisth

    Hello, I have the same problem in my Swift Vxi Dec 2011 model. I first faced the problem last year in August. The dealer (Rohan Dehradun) changed the brake fluid and returned the vehicle. I am facing this problem again took a long test drive with their technical team they were not ready accept the problem. After a long debate they told that the ECU software will be updated to solve the problem. now waiting till tomorrow for the delivery.

    on Jul 4, 2013
    • Tapesh Varshney

      I am having ZXI, Nov, 2011 model and am facing same problem since last 6 months around. After visiting service center 3 times but problem not getting resolved, I finally exploded last sunday. At last, they also gave me the same reasoning of some software upgrade and now I am waiting for their call as they told me that they will schedule an appointment with me to have that software updated and will call me accordingly. Could you please tell me if you already got your car s/w updated or not and if yes, did that resolve the issue?

      on Jul 2, 2014
  • Naveen.k

    Hi Friends I have raised the BRAKING ISSUE with Maruti Swift in consumer court the complaint case number is 1718/2012. Maruti Suzuki India Limited (Pratham Motors) is not willing to accept this issue. They claim there is no issue with the vehicle and say that we are not driving the vehicle properly. Also, for loading/handling they charged me Rs. 5500/- On asking them about it they are not willing to give a detailed explanation. On filing a case in court, Maruti people claims that it is RTO charges and not loading/handling charges but they were Not ready to give in writing this is an RTO charges. Apart from I have paid road tax, registration fees and cess. It indirectly means that Maruti is bribing RTO for the vehicle registration just I am assuming that. If you have an same BRAKING ISSUE please mail me, Mail id is naveenk_rto@rediffmail.com I will fight in court I need your cooperation. Thanks friends

    on Mar 5, 2013
    • Abhishek

      Problem reoccurs in Swift-LXI, it works fine for 8 months after doing the reprogramming but again I am seeing the same problem. They did the programming again and changed the brake booster but problem still persist. Does anyone also seen the reoccurrence of the brake issue. Pls respond so that we can take the collective action against them. thanks

      on Jun 8, 2013
  • Vidyanath

    by addressing this issue MSIL has created another problem in SWIFT< which as usual they do not agree that it is a failure of their design. the car speeds up without user or driver acceleration at 40 kmph in 3rd and 4th gears is dangerous, b\'cos the RPM never comes down due to anti-knocking sensor , this resulted in maintaining the booster vaccum at low RPM they changed ECU program to keep up the RPM every time and anytime..... so when u drive next time SWIFT never give Acceleration the vehicle will move 40 kmph on its own, as ECU will drive ur car not u ;)

    on Feb 25, 2013
  • Ayyappa Raj

    >>> The main component of the breaking system consists of an air-compressor and vacuum_tankv(known as the booster). The compressor is connected to the engine by means of belt, as the engine worksv(rotates) the belt rotates the compressor, which invturn sucks out the air from the booster and hence creating a vacuum (low pressure) in it. This low pressure (vacuum) in the booster is later used for every breaking event while the break pedal is hit. Each time break is hit, atmosphere air gets into the booster, lowering the vacuum in it and this lost vacuum is regained by the compressor.Even when the engine is turned off u ll be able to apply break , but for jus a limited of 3 or 4 times, tat is until the presence of vacuum in the booster. It means,tat the break works only when there is enough vacuum in the booster. >>>> But when clutch is half pressed during heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic (speed less than 10kmph), the engine rpm falls down below 1000rpm, this causes the compressor to function (rotate) less than the minimum rate of rotation required for the compressor to vacuumise the booster, during this situation the compressor is not able to vacuumise the booster faster, this results in decrease of the vacuum in the booster, and hence the break becomes nonfunctional and the break pedal becomes harder. >>>> To avoid this situation , it is clear from the above reason tat, it is very much neccessary to maintain the engine rpm any were above 1000rpm throughout the journey of your drive in Swift(petrol). >>>>The company will have to replace the existing rotor-disc of the compressor with a rotor-disc. of smaller diameter, So that the compressor still works efficiently at the required rate of rotation even when the engine rpm falls below the idle rpm. So by this the vacuum in the booster is maintained throughout the drive when the engine is ON, and no matter at wat rpm the engine may be running for every instance of time. Orelse the company will have to remap the ECU of the car with upgraded parameter. [wat is rotor disc?-the engine and compressor is connected thru the means of a belt .This belt transfers the mechanical rotational force from rotor-disc of the engine to the rotor disc of the compressor, making the compressor to work] >>>>. Just think wat worse can happen, when this problem occurs, wen u are running at higher speeds..,It must be a night mare ...rite??? well, u might be thinking tat this problem may occur only when u run at a speed below 10kmph, but you are wrong, this problem can even occur at higher speeds tooo.When u drive at a higher gear with a speed lower for that gear, can cause your engine rpm to fall down below 1000rpm and in such a situation, when u try hitting breaks more than 3 or 4 times the vacuum(low pressure) in the booster decreases, causing the break to become unfunctional. Don't panic at tat moment, jus hold down the clutch so tat the engine rpm raises above 1000rpm, and then the break becomes functional again. I am sharing this situation because, I had personally witnessed this situation at a speed of 40kmph.

    on Nov 27, 2012
    • Tapesh

      OMG this is absolute night mare, I wish that this brake failure doesnt happen at high speeds, best wishes to all ppl with this problem. I was planning to buy new swift but have changed my mind already. keep it writing on best platforms, fight it in court and keep the issue alive in e-media. I sincerely hope all those having this issue in Delhi NCR should meet up and united we fight against this problem and make maruti Suzuki India to bend down and recall the model. Best of luck.

      on Aug 29, 2013
  • Manjeet

    ear all wht i shud say gr8 work by maruti Suzuki .As i having my car at maruti service center since from 8 august \'12 and i have got there signed document from there manager that date of delivery will be on 3 Oct\'12 but ammazzed till date my car is not ready pethatic

    on Oct 14, 2012
  • Mahesh Chouhan

    Even Tata Vista Safire (2009) has the same problem. Unfortunately, I am the owner of Tata Indica Vista Safire. I would request if Forbes India could take initiative and have a talk with Maruti and Tata to resolve this issue, as being a common man no one will listen to us.

    on Oct 4, 2012
  • Sibiraj

    Hi Piyush, Any update from them?

    on Aug 21, 2012
    • Abhishek

      Problem reoccurs in Swift-LXI, it works fine for 8 months after doing the reprogramming but again I am seeing the same problem. They did the programming again and changed the brake booster but problem still persist. Does anyone also seen the reoccurrence of the brake issue. Pls respond so that we can take the collective action against them. thanks abhishek 9818952231

      on Jun 8, 2013
  • Santosh Khare

    Same problem for me in my New Dzire VXI from Gem Motor Hyderabad. I complained to Maruti, today went to service center with Maruti service engg, shows him the problem. They took my car for 3 hours

    on Aug 18, 2012
  • Selvakumar

    I am also facing the same issue with my Swift ZXI which is less than 1 month old. The issue exists not only in Half clutch but also in Neutral (clutch fully disengaged). Issue comes occasionally during panic braking at slow speeds. I am not able to recreate the scenario frequently. I am studying the pattern and will update you.

    on Aug 13, 2012
  • Charles Mp

    i have the same problem in my new swift vxi while breaking in traffic /low speed

    on Jul 27, 2012
  • Sanjay Kandhway

    Hi Sibiraj, You have done a right thing to teach a lesson to Errant maruti sUZUKI.I am in the process of filing a complaint against the dealer and Maruti. My car is not even run 200 kms and I am not ready to face the problems of hitting and collision and risking of lives of self and others. I am even planning to inform to the insurance company for the faults and if any damage occurs in the vehicle or other vehicle then the Maruti is directly responsible for the same. I have a complaint no from Maruti to give reference to them. Let\'s see how they respond to it. I am even putting links on the dzire face book page about the faults and the links of websites where swift owners have put the reviews about the faults.

    on Jul 25, 2012
  • Chaitanya

    This problem occued due to loss of vacuum as driver applies brakes 3-4 brakes( vacuum level low due to this)

    on Jul 25, 2012
  • Auto Enthusiast

    http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/technical-stuff/109312-attention-new-maruti-suzuki-swift-brake-issue.html Do see the number of complaints for the Swift VDi and LDi models here. The problem is not just with low speed braking but also with braking at high speeds on their diesel models. Maruti passed off mediorcre brakes on the Swift and put many a lives at risk.

    on Jul 24, 2012
  • Abhishek Sidhwa

    yes I have the same problem with my swift vxi went to dealer four times they changed brake booster and did all checks but they said car is ok change your driving style but i felt they are misleading i appreciate forbes\' steps in this regard we all owners have to stand alltogether then maruti and suzuki will hear kindly all owners feeling this problem try to publish forbes material in local news paper i feel very bad about it maruti should shame on it as it is no. 1 brand in India and we proud to be part of it but ...................... thanks forbes for your kind appreciation in this regard

    on Jul 24, 2012
  • Amogh Chaphalkar

    The problem with the Swift\'s brakes has been reported by many owners. It is also being discussed on India\'s leading automotive forum. Link : http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/technical-stuff/109312-attention-new-maruti-suzuki-swift-brake-issue.html The issue is faced by LDi

    on Jul 24, 2012
  • Johnson Mathew

    I too am a victim of this issue by purchasing Swift Vxi on June 2012.I hit a bike while taking a U turn in a congested traffic.I was releasing and pushing the break pedal in a half clutch to move little by little but suddenly i felt that the pedal got hardened and stuck , but my car was moving and it hit a bike which was crossing in front.If I wouldn\'t have apply the hand break it could have went over the bike. One more time same thing happen to me when I tried to park the car in a slope entrance towards the gate. I couldn\'t stop the car with the break and it hit the wall. Then I realized it could be an issue with the break. Fortunately I could find about this issue by many of the users in internet. When I complained to Maruti they are not ready to accept it rather telling me to change my driving style.If Maruti know this case then they should ADD A CAUTION NOTE in their manual to make it aware to public, so that we don\'t have to meet with an accident then realise. So as customer we want Maruti should give penalty for all the scratches and dent made in our car due to their manufacturing issue . If any other part has defect then it can be ignored but breaking system is the safety of the car ,driver as well as to the public on the road. If this has any problem then that car is not worth to move in road. Its high time Maruti should do a Recall.Else all the Customer should act like Sibi by filing a case on them. Hope Justice will favor the customer.

    on Jul 24, 2012
  • Aditya Dewan

    I have faced exactly the same problem with my new swift d\'zire bought in MArch 2010. However, Maruti just does not agree to it. Have taken my car to the service centre thrice bu the problem persists. Behaviour of Maruti is shocking. Further, my bumper got damaged becase of the faulty brakes. I I really dont know how to handle this...

    on Jul 23, 2012
  • Arunkumar Muthuraj

    This is Arunkumar Muthuraj from Chennai. I am also facing the same problem in my Swift ZXI. Already visited Vishnu cars - Maruti dealer where I purchased my car and spoke with Maruti Suzuki regional office. No one is accepting this as a problem. They are saying we have to change our driving style. I had and still have a faith in Maruti Suzuki after sale service. Hope Maruti Suzuki will take some immediate action and rectify this dangerous problem soon. In bumper to bumper city traffic this problem won’t make any big dangerous impact. But imagine if this happens when we go to some hilly station and in hair pin bend. No chance. Maruti Suzuki has to do something immediately.

    on Jul 23, 2012
  • Vidooshak

    Regarding the lack of a safety regulatory authority in India, it is most visible in the fact that standard safety features such as ABS and air bags are provided only in the highest variant of any car model. Indian auto manufacturers are still confused what is a luxury feature and what is a safety feature. Recalls affect fewer people than lack of standard safety features, and yet the sector continues with impunity.

    on Jul 23, 2012
  • Pankaj

    I am facing the exact same issue. I am from B\'lore. Have talked to Pratham Motors engineers (Maruti dealer) a couple of times but no use. They are not ready to accept it as a problem. For me the problem is more when reversing the car (half cluth, low RPM, low speed conditions). Maruti needs to recall these vehicles and make correction.. What can coustomers do about it? Sit and wait??? Damn Maruti... this is not fair!!

    on Jul 23, 2012
    • Santosh

      Mine new DZIRE VXI has the same problem, I\'ve facing this since a month. Thought may be some error from my side. So, tried to search and found the horror story of this new Dzire VXI brake issue in bumber to bumber traffic. Mine is from Hyderabad, Gem mototrs. Will visit tommor to service center.

      on Aug 15, 2012
  • Umesh

    The brake problem is present in most new Maruti gasoline powered cars, where the booster operates off the engine vaccum and does not have a separate holding tank. An alternator take-off might help solve the issue.

    on Jul 23, 2012
    • Rajasekhar K

      I have brought my vehicle 6 months back and have faced the same problem again and again. When i complained of this issue in my first service the service advicer ignored the issue and told me this is because of my fault driving. Today i gave the vehicle to the second service and complained of this problem again. The service adviser (new person) aggreed that this problem is there with the new vehicles and gave me the maruti service complaints email Id to file a complaint. I am very disappointed with the maruti of such recklessness. If there are more like me in Bangalore do comment out and we can all file a complaint in the consumer court.

      on Aug 6, 2012
      • Sibiraj

        Hello Rajasekhar, Please see below forums and post your comments there, I think some customers from banglore also posted their comments in these forums. Please go through this and post your comments.... http://gearheads.in/showthread.php?10176-Swift-ZXI-Braking-Concern

        on Aug 6, 2012