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Buying used automatic family car, any to avoid?

bernado

Prominent Member
I need to replace our aging MK1 Focus Estate (2001) with something more contemporary, got £6,000 so around 2010-12 vintage I reckon.

Trouble is the Focus has an auto gearbox and my other half has got used to the easy life so wants another automatic.

To be fair the Mk1 Focus auto box has actually been very good and no trouble at all, I think it's a lot more basic than the more modern variants and I'm worried we could end up with a costly failure if unlucky.

Are there any auto boxes known to be more reliable than others or is it just a lottery based on previous usage?
I was thinking a Honda CRV (ignoring the mpg) but have read mixed reviews on the automatics.

Any ideas anyone, other than buy a manual?

Thanks
 
D

Deleted member 27989

Guest
It's a huge open question...Really should be a bit more specific...

Generally I'm not concerned about automatics, other than can they deliver the power and shift quick enough....
 

un1eash

Distinguished Member
Avoid Honda CVT autos, in fact avoid all CVT.
 

bernado

Prominent Member
It's a huge open question...Really should be a bit more specific...

Generally I'm not concerned about automatics, other than can they deliver the power and shift quick enough....

Well yes of course those things are important, my question was on proven reliability of any particular auto box over time which is the market I'm in sadly.

Avoid Honda CVT autos, in fact avoid all CVT.

Thanks for that, I was a bit unsure of those to be honest which is a bit of a shame as I quite fancy the car itself.
Is that a generally accepted opinion of CVT variants or have you had bad experiences?

The Ford C-Max fits the bill in terms of size and practicality but I also see lots of disgruntled users very unhappy about Ford's Powershift auto boxes (did I read they're moving back to torque converter types?).
 
D

Deleted member 27989

Guest
My point was that I've had auto boxes in Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Toyota, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, Porsche, Maserati, Saab, Fiat, Peugeot, Volvo, Rover, Honda, Dodge, Ford and I'm sure I've forgotten a few....Dated between 1987 - today. Variants from standard old slush boxes, to tip-tronic to CVT to current dual clutch fast shifting boxes...Can't say any has particular issues or is to be avoided.

My favourite of them all was the Nissan Murano with its CVT gearbox, so super smooth and fast...Based on that experience I can't but disagree with @un1eash regarding CVT, although I'm aware that Audi's implementation (or mating to engine/drivetrain?) seemed to have been flawed.

I think my least favourite was the Nissan Patrol but to be fair that was more its mating to an agricultural 4 cylinder 3.0 diesel opposed to the box itself. The combination of that one didn't work that well.

Currently I've got three auto boxes;
1. Tiptronic from 2004, done about 112K miles mated to a 3.0V6 with mechanical four wheel drive. I've had one issue just before Christmas, but that was that the electronics corroded over time and once desoldered and soldered and reprogrammed it is as smooth as ever again.
2. DSG from 2014, done about 40K miles mated to a 2.0 turbo with electronic four wheel drive. Super fast shifting thing from the VAG group. 7 speed and I love it. But does require a different driving style to make most of it.
3. 9G-Tronic from 2017, done about 40K, a 9 speed with hydrodynamic torque converter (i.e. uses fluid instead of a mechanical clutch) mapped with AMG software to a 3.0V6 twin turbo with primarily rear wheel drive. My least favourite as it is only superb when you really push the car...

Anyway my point being, all gearboxes can be different depending on the combination of the car, engine, drive train and software provided by who ever installs them. As such it is impossible to provide a generic answer that is based on facts.

I really wouldn't be concerned about any particular type, but try them out and see where you like it in combination with the car as that is the only thing that matters. For example last holiday I had a Fiesta with an auto, I hated it, but that wasn't the fault of the gearbox. It was the fault of the engine being too small. Same as with the replacement which was a Nissan Juke, again that 1.2 was no match for the CVT.

Anyway just my opinion, go try them for yourself!
 

The Dreamer

Distinguished Member
Both our auto’s are Volvo, a 2013 XC99 (6 speed), and a 2015 V60 (8 speed) - can’t fault either really, even the 6 speed is silky smooth, and the 8 speed, the only real sign that it’s shifted is the Rev counter dipping.

The older gearboxes in the XC90 (the 5 speed) have a known fault, in that they overheat under prolonged stress i.e. towing - which results in one of the internal clutches slipping, and is expensive to repair. This seems to have been fixed in the 6 and up boxes. Our older 5 speed XC90 still had over 140k on the clock before that started happening though - it can be headed off by fitting an oil cooler to the gearbox if you suspect you might be vulnerable - but we didn’t find this out until it was too late; still, had it not been for the gearbox, we’d have kept the older XC90, as it was a great all-rounder (albeit a bit expensive if you’re just poodling around town)!
 

IronGiant

Moderator
@The Dreamer That's interesting because that's exactly the issue we had with our Kia Sedona 5 speed box while towing last year. No permanent damage as far as I can tell, but it looks like getting a cooler fitted before we tow again would be sensible.
 

The Dreamer

Distinguished Member
@The Dreamer That's interesting because that's exactly the issue we had with our Kia Sedona 5 speed box while towing last year. No permanent damage as far as I can tell, but it looks like getting a cooler fitted before we tow again would be sensible.

It may be worth chatting with a gearbox specialist to make sure the issue is the same one.

The chap I spoke to was very familiar with the Volvo issue, even to the point of predicting exactly what the OBD readout would say (he was right - clutch A in the gearbox) and as part of his rebuild, would modify the gearbox to accept a cooler.

I can't remember the company's name - but they were recommended up here in the NorthEast as they did all the gearbox rebuilds for the Ambulance service - a specialist such as this is probably who I'd chat to about your Sedona - though if there's a Kia owners forum, it might be worth checking them out too?
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Thanks. I took it to a specialist down here who could find no faults, but obviously couldn't test it under load. He did find a broken earth strap that connects to the box so stopped short of recommending having a cooler fitted.
 

bernado

Prominent Member
Both our auto’s are Volvo, a 2013 XC99 (6 speed), and a 2015 V60 (8 speed) - can’t fault either really, even the 6 speed is silky smooth, and the 8 speed, the only real sign that it’s shifted is the Rev counter dipping.

The older gearboxes in the XC90 (the 5 speed) have a known fault, in that they overheat under prolonged stress i.e. towing - which results in one of the internal clutches slipping, and is expensive to repair. This seems to have been fixed in the 6 and up boxes. Our older 5 speed XC90 still had over 140k on the clock before that started happening though - it can be headed off by fitting an oil cooler to the gearbox if you suspect you might be vulnerable - but we didn’t find this out until it was too late; still, had it not been for the gearbox, we’d have kept the older XC90, as it was a great all-rounder (albeit a bit expensive if you’re just poodling around town)!

Thanks for that, you're not wrong about the economics of the XC90, I thought my old 850 estate at 19 mpg was bad enough :)
 

IronGiant

Moderator
if there's a Kia owners forum, it might be worth checking them out too?
I had a hunt around and found a thread on a UK Caravan forum, where 6 owners were said to have the issue. Kia were reported to be scratching their heads and talking about looking at additional cooling options, but one member said that they could stop the slipping by turning the car ignition off and back on again. Unfortunately the thread was archived without a result being reported. If it is an electrical gearbox management issue rather than just a cooling one I guess the earth strap could have been important in my case. And I'd rather not spend £350 on additional cooling if not required. But I don't want to trash the gearbox testing it towing without. Decisions, decisions...
 

Atavus

Established Member
I had a Ford Powershift box in an S-Max and liked it. Important to do regular oil changes. Some places offer a power flush service to restore neglected boxes.

I replaced it with a newer S-Max and that’s still Powershift (2017). They seem to have gone full auto 8 speed since then.
 

The Dreamer

Distinguished Member
Thanks for that, you're not wrong about the economics of the XC90, I thought my old 850 estate at 19 mpg was bad enough :)

Yep - it’s how we ended up with 4 cars! We still need the towing capacity of the XC90, and occasionally the 4 wheel drive - but the economics became apparent when my wife borrowed my diesel Saab for a week.

‘Your cars very economical’ she said ‘I’ve not had to fill up all week’

‘Well, how often are you filling the Volvo?’

‘About every 3 days’ - :eek:

£80 every three days (25 mile each way commute, and lots of stop start traffic + house visits)

We worked out that a 2nd hand V50 would pay for itself in 3 years - in fuel savings alone!

Since moved on to the V60, which is actually even more economical, despite being much more powerful.

We did try SORNing the XC90 for 6 months, but that became an expensive exercise as the boots dried out and needed replacing when we put it back on the road - it would have been cheaper to just run it occasionally, and pay the Road Tax - which is what we do now. So despite being 5 years old, it’s only got just over 30,000 on the clock. It’ll see us through to retirement I reckon.
 

DOBLY

Prominent Member
How about another Focus estate? - there seem to be a reasonable number of petrol automatics available at Ford dealers around the country.
 

bernado

Prominent Member
How about another Focus estate? - there seem to be a reasonable number of petrol automatics available at Ford dealers around the country.

At the risk of being boring I was actually thinking the same myself.

I fancied something a bit different but I suppose the fact a newer one is likely to have a driver's window that opened, central locking that was, ehrm, central and the wiring loom going through the hatch not being severed meaning the third brake light and rear window heater worked would be something of an upgrade!
 

Cobb

Distinguished Member
I have a 2015 Fiesta with their powershift autobox. Can’t fault it, it’s responsive and smooth.
 

Delvey

Distinguished Member
Anything with the Citroen EGS gearbox.
The later one maybe fine, but they are essentially a manual gearbox with automated clutch and gear changes (the usual auto gearbox has no paddles, the EGS has paddles).
The input shaft bearing fails, leading to pieces of metal in the gearbox, but it is expensive to fix, and no guarantee when fixed it will operate properly
 

Smiffy 2

Prominent Member
As Delvey points out, avoid the earlier Citroen/Peugeot Auto gearboxes (EGC). They are crap (and I sell 'em!!). The later EAT6 boxes are superb, but outside of your price range unfortunately.
The EGC's are awful. Pogo city.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
:laugh: I know, I know, I do seem to set myself up for it :D
 

Delvey

Distinguished Member
As Delvey points out, avoid the earlier Citroen/Peugeot Auto gearboxes (EGC). They are crap (and I sell 'em!!). The later EAT6 boxes are superb, but outside of your price range unfortunately.
The EGC's are awful. Pogo city.
I would not say they are crap, it is just they are unreliable, and expensive to fix
 

Smiffy 2

Prominent Member
I would not say they are crap, it is just they are unreliable, and expensive to fix

I'd say they were crap personally, but each to their own.
They are not a good driving experience...
 

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