OT: Auto Gearboxes - general

Sorry to be so OT, but I've been searching and asking without much joy. Apologies to anyone who has seen earlier postings elsewhere.
I've had 3 Carlton/Omega automatics. The gearboxes were fine on the first 2 - went to 200k with no gearbox problems. The 3rd is just under 100k, and the gearbox is fine - it's just the rest of the car that they ruined by the "facelift". I've been looking at big-inside cars to replace it and had almost decided to revert to manual with a new Nissan Note (also have a scrappage trade-in), but its wheel well won't take a full sized spare. Other similar vehicles are all too small internally so heads front or back hit the roof or sides of the car or knees have to be removed to get in the back..
So we ended up looking at a s/h Skoda Octavia with DSG gearbox. The Fabia is too small.
Does anyone have any fact-based opinions on these? Does having 2 clutches and 2 gearboxes in there make them twice or half as likely to fail? These gearboxes seem to mainly come attached to dual-mass flywheels. I read that gearbox repair costs are £1000, £3500 or cheap because the clutches can possibly be replaced separately, but everything I've read seems to be based on guesswork or hearsay. . Anyone have any fact-based views? I seem to remember from my Ford Prefect days that ordinary clutches had to be replaced several times in the life of the car.
PS changed the Defender for an auto Disco (now up to 160k) because of knee problems, hence the auto love-in, but maybe a car clutch would be lighter and OK. Need this vehicle to outlast me, and there is very little spare cash. The mature lady we transport every day can't easily get into the Disco..
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Bill

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Like you I love autos but I'm afraid I can't help with DSGs as I've not had any experience of them.
I do have a V8 Defender auto 1998 which I am very reluctant to part with but unfortunately LR no longer offer it as a Defender option. Wish they would do a DSG
I drove an Astra estate today through a bit of traffic. Why does everyone put up with manual gearboxes?
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hugh
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One thing I can't get my head round is how a DSG would work getting out of my drive, which involves (Disco) full lock backwards up a slope. The pavement is also screened to either side, so I have to be able to stop instantly if a child or doddery person walks across at the wrong moment.
The torque converter deals with this fine, slipping for England, but if I understand right, a DSG is either in or out of gear, and there is no clutch pedal to slip. Does a computer slip the clutch? I suppose I'll have to insist on a test drive backwards up a hill!
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Bill

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[caution: rant follows!]
I have a VAG dual-mass flywheel gearbox on our 02 people-carrier (Alhambra), bought "s/h" from a main dealer with <3k miles on it (it was their demonstrator vehicle). It has the 'standard' 1900TDI engine of the period, which itself is nice, however the flywheel seems to be its Achilles' heel.
The flywheel failed one month out of warranty. The dealer told me VAG would not contribute a penny, and, having been verbally quoted around £1200 by them, I ended up at a clutch specialist, having it done for what IIRC was still £800+ (and an awkward two days off the road).
The specialist had to cut it off, because the failure mode jams the two parts together so that you can't get a spanner to the relevant bolts, however the replacement was so much in demand it was a standard OEM part and in ready supply. When I went to get it, he commented, "They all do that, and the taxis round here book them in before the warranty expires!" They knew the system as they sometimes did in-warranty repairs, farmed out when the dealerships were full.
Technically it failed in-warranty, as the trip to the dealer was made when my wife finally had too much difficulty driving it and complained to me - I'd have realised much earlier that something was wrong, but she has no 'feel' for mechanics. Also, not having encountered dual-mass flywheels before (I've never owned a Porsche!), I had no idea the problem was that, nor how expensive it could be, nor how dodgy the history of the things was (there are urban myths of bits of the earliest ones exiting Porsche bodywork sideways under load, etc.). If someone had mentioned the flywheel design at any point in the sales process, I'd have looked it up and then walked away from the deal.
I still find it incredible that VAG didn't know it was a class problem.
It's not the only issue on the vehicle that's purely down to quality issues - we've never had a consistently functioning aircon either, as VAG can't produce reliable aluminium welds (but after trying once out of warranty, that's simply too expensive to be worth trying to repair again). And the electric wing mirror 'design' is an expensive joke. I could do better with Meccano. They are stupidly expensive, and irreparable by normal means. Likewise the rear lamp clusters.
I will never, ever, touch VAG products again, unless someone convinces me that their designs, build quality and service have improved. And that will take some doing.
No doubt everyone else's mileage varies.
Incidentally, assuming the scrappage scheme's secondary objective was to 'green' the vehicles on the road, why are we being encouraged to buy designed-for-obsolescence products that fail/wear out after a short while, rather than vehicles like Defenders, which last indefinitely? Isn't the use of manufacturing resources taken into account? And, if it's only economic stimulus, why is it principally benefiting Korean manufacturers and importers rather than British car plants? Surely that's hurting our national debt, rather than helping it?
Oh, I forgot: it's been set up by politicians...
Regards,
S.
[I like to think of myself as not yet old enough to be 'Grumpy', but I may be wrong.]
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SimonM
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That is my attitude to Vauxhall. In my case, it's the complexity of the thing and the amount of cabling and number of possibly dodgy connectors, but especially the cost of parts.
The Carlton was straightforward, part galvanised and, when I did it myself, simple to understand and maintain. It also took an 8x4 sheet of ply in the back, which is why I stuck to Omegas. But now I have an unreliable car from a company that's for sale one day then not the next with electronics that the main agent's diagnostics can't seem to diagnose.
My personal diagnoser points to a component that should cost a few pounds, but is only sold in a larger component costing hundreds. Main agent seemed to be just changing bits at random and high cost. It may be greener than the older versions, but when the agent says they won't go on unless I spend £1700 on the next repair, any green concepts and I disappear over the horizon.
I don't worry about aircon although that's a separate complaint with the Omega and its facelifted aerodynamics that hit you with sub audible pressure waves when you open any window at reasonable speed, but I really appreciate the rant..
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Bill

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The fact that it's out of warranty doesn't automatically relieve the supplier of liability. The warranty is a voluntary offering by the supplier and does not affect your legal rights under the sale of goods act. You could go to the small claims court which costs next to nothing even if you lose and argue that a flywheel, which is not a serviceable item should last the life time of the car and if it fails in 12 months t is obviously not of suitable quality. If you have evidence that this is a class failure then that would only strengthen your argument. Frpm what I've read on other groups dual mass flywheels are not just a problem on VAG cars (and TD5s) they fail on several other makes, which is not surprising given the number of joint ventures around in the field of engines. <snip>

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hugh
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Indeed so.
Perhaps I should have. But, in the absence of time and resources to do this I elected to pass on it. I've simply made a mental note to be very cautious about VAG products in future.

I don't: the repairers do/did, and that's the problem.
They have a far stronger vested interest in staying sweet with their major manufacturers, even if they're not agents. So it's reasonable for an indy repairer to express sympathy, but not offer help in that situation, because of the risk of being blackballed by the agents from whom he gets referrals (probably) and some specialist parts. They have the power to make life very difficult for anyone in the trade prepared to stand up in court against sharp practice.
It ought to be an area where Trading Standards can do the investigation, but they're completely overworked nowadays.

So it seems. The other issue is that, whilst customer expectation is that a flywheel is of indefinite life, the trade know it isn't (as do I, now!), and operate the spares/repair channel accordingly. That's also where the bulk of their profit comes from. So I'd stand up in court and say, "When I was buying the car, nobody mentioned these flywheels break/wear out!", and they'd put up a motoring expert of some sort, to say, "But _everyone_ knows they need to be replaced from time to time."
As a general point, what would stuff the manufacturers concerned (and that's not necessarily VAG, as you point out) would be getting MTBF numbers out of them under a court order or something. It's a good guess that the worst offenders have a very good idea of how reliable these things are, and data to prove it.
But now I'm straying into fantasyland...
Regards,
S.
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In my experience small court decisions are not entirely based on logic. The judge would most likely be a car owner, which would help you. Also depends whether the judge likes the look of your face or not - and in my case - not.
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hugh
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FWIW I've heard nothing good about dual mass flywheels, they all seem to fail expensively and often. My Toyota Surf had one that failed, and was replaced by a much cheaper solid flywheel. I've never been able to notice any difference in noise, vibration or anything else.
I'm sticking to the simple stuff in future, at least when the clutch arm went on the 90 it was only about £15 for a new one, and 30 seconds to replace it. We won't talk about the hours spent actually getting at it, but at least I could do it myself, unlike the replacement flywheel on the Surf. The man said he had to remove the front diff in order to tilt the engine to get the gearboxes out!
Gordon 80,86,90
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In article <f9c0756b-8aaa-4e57-8f33-d0c8cee916d4

They are known problems on Transit's and heavies too.
Dave B.
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They are known problems - full stop.
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hugh
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Before dual mass flywheels I could count the flywheels I'd replaced on one hand.
I'd hate to own a car with a DMFW, I've seen em melt the nylon parts, crack, break up, seize up, I've seen an internal spring on a VW DMFW wear its way through the side of the flywheel and destroy the gearbox bellhousing by machining a groove round the inside.
I suspect they aren't up to the punishment a modern driver gives them, to me they seem too lazy allways riding the clutch instead of using the handbrake.
DMFWs can't dissipate the heat of abuse like a solid flywheel.
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Jon



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On Fri, 11 Dec 2009 22:25:29 -0000, Jon wrote:

Or unable to do low speed maneuvering without the engine doing 3,000 rpm.
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Cheers
Dave.




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It's a good point. When I switch from the Landy to the Alhambra (DMFW), I usually stall it at least once. Even though it's nominally got far higher power output, it's got nothing at low revs, and the gentle manoeuvres I do in the Landy, for parking etc, just aren't possible without a lot of revving in the other thing.
If you rev it, it's fun to drive, but that's the only driving style that works. You can't be laid back, and my usual thing of crawling up to the end of the queue on red lights (so I never actually stop moving), is really hard to achieve as the Alhambra doesn't like the revs set really low and just won't pull, despite being much lighter weight.
It's 1.9 litre versus 2.5, both having turbos, standard factory intercoolers and four cylinders.
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writes

Bloody mondeo tdci I always seem to stall them. -- Jon
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Jon wrote:

Shite engines.
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Nige,

BMW K1200S
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So, here I am the OP. Tomorrow I almost certainly have to make the final decision after going round and round in circles and asking question after question. Another major factor was the count of available pennies.
My auto Disco 300tdi is fine but I want to spread the load by getting something reliable in car shape. We seem to have descended into a straight choice between an 07 Focus estate 1.8tdci, or, with a real stretch of the budget, an 06 Octavia 1.9 estate. Both manual. Both have DMF's and whatever we get will have to survive getting in and out of our path, which involves a 90deg standing start turn backwards uphill and almost blindly across the pavement. Both from main agents, with 1 year warranty.
I've driven the Skoda and like it, drove a Focus hatch which felt OK. Can't yet drive the Focus estate because the dealer is having to replace the flywheel. It's up in the air and I've only been able to inspect the underneath
The parameters are....... 1. Have to replace the auto Omega before it collapses completely, so within the next day or two. 2. Want diesel 3. SWMBO wants a reasonably new car. 4. Must have a proper spare wheel. 5. Must have space for long legged driver plus non-nimble person in back seat behind driver (this rules out most small cars). 6 Must be low car tax. I'm paranoid about the potential combination of incompetent political parasites and fanatical, utterly misguided greens.
Has anyone any views about which would be the least bad of the above 2 to go for to get something that will be reliable and maintainable for about a 10 year life? Is the 1.9 TDI PD VAG diesel simpler than the 1.8 tdci Ford? Are both drive trains as bad?
It's so, so, so depressing.
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Bill

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While I think about it, something else to avoid, especially in your particular situation re. the drive are these blooming electric handbrakes. Talk about making things complicated just for the sake of it.
Gordon, again.
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In message

Well, after asking everywhere I could find on the 'net, I've gone for a manual Skoda 1.9tdi to complement the auto Disco. I don't think there's any electric in the handbrake. Part of the decision was based on reading that there is an official manufacturer's single mass flywheel available, and a clear statement from the dealer that the DMF is covered by the warranty. I couldn't find a suitable DSG auto version at a price I could afford and with sufficient warranty to make it a justifiable gamble.
It judders when reversing out of the 90 degree uphill path with 2 passengers aboard unless I rev more than I think good and slip the clutch. I have this mad horror that one day I'll accelerate to get a smooth clutch action in reverse and the turbo will kick in....... Still, it looks like a substantial hedge across the road. Also on the motorway in top I trundle along at 60 fine, slow down to 40mph/1500rpm then accelerate in top and it judders frighteningly. Change down and it's OK.
But I'm getting better with it and even the family members, frightened by the concept of me in a manual car after all these years, seem to think I'm causing less whiplash.
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Bill

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says...

Interesting.
I have a Mazda6 TS2 estate as a works car, same engine 2.2 Eurosomething 160bhp turbo etc as the current Mondao's. Low speed manouvering etc at idle, wonderfuly easy, even up slopes and kerbs etc. In some ways easier than the LR109/110 hybrid (200TDi), there again, the car is a fraction the weight of the LR...
Dave B.
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