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Old 10-09-18, 11:31
Slickwix Slickwix is offline
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T4 Post Icon Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

Hi there,
Here's my dilemma regarding auto vs manual, appreciate any feedback to help me decide.


Briefly...been eyeing T4 campers in Norway for 3 months now (had a T3 Vanagon years ago, great times). Anyway, I've honed it down to 2 choices and would greatly appreciate hearing from experienced people regarding my conundrum.
First vehicle is a 1999 California Coach with the Diesel 2.5 litre TDI, (75 KW, 102 PS), with Automatic Gearbox!
The other is a bit ambiguous...a 2000 Caravelle pop top decked with a nice California interior (good looking job from the photos), manual with the coveted 111 KW, 151 PS motor.
OK, so car 1 has the auto box and 'slower' motor, 301 thou km on the clock. I was put off by the motor and gearbox, but then the seller dropped the price drastically which re-tweaked my interest (currently 5500 pounds).
I really like car 2 . engine and set-up especially, 334 thou km, but with price double (12,500 pounds).
I'm planning long jaunts across europe and smaller rural trips around Scandinavia.


So.....the questions.....which of these is the better deal regarding my planned use? Of course I realise a million variables can affect the vehicle (care, regular service etc.), but if we assume all those factors equal, is a 102 Auto somehow better/worse/equal than the 151 manual? The 5500 vs 12500 is really a dilemma as well.

Apologise for the long-winded build up, am very grateful for any advice received.

Slick
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  #2  
Old 10-09-18, 13:59
Or_GazM Or_GazM is offline
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Default Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

I love my auto.....BUT.....they are damn expensive to get fixed in Norway (45,000 NOK last time!)
Around 22,000 NOK in UK.....but it's a long drive with a faulty gearbox! (I had a spare from a 'velle I scrapped, and took it for a recon to Glasgow.....whilst visiting my mother in UK).

Chances are, the California auto will already have the extra cooling for the gearbox.....makes a HUGE difference.
As long as it's been serviced correctly (VW say "sealed for life", but fluid should be change at 100,000km max!) it should be OK.
Check for rough gear changes, or problems with reverse (the 2 problems that show up 1st....)

The 102 is not exactly "slow" if tuned correctly.....I have a pic of my dash showing 200kph (redlined at 4600 rpm) whilst in Germany.

Driving NOT so fast, I can also get 0.63 l/mil

If you can get the auto at a good price, and put some money away to fix the gearbox....that's the one I'd go for.
Makes long distance cruising easy, you can fit cruise control easily (if it doesn't have it) and gearbox will change up and down on our "wonderful Scandinavian roads".

Don't forget, the 151PS motor is basically the same engine....bigger injectors and air flow....and so more stress on the rest of it.
My 102 is currently somewhere around 145.....just takes time and money to get there.
There's a Norwegian tuning company will give you around 130 for 2000 NOK......and the torque is good for hills/mountains.

I've been driving from Vatne (nr Aalesund) to Leeds in UK for the last 10 years in our "van"....it's good for the mountain roads we have, and brilliant through Europe (where to join a motorway, you have to be doing at least 120kph! from a standing start at a gas-station....)

There will be some saying avoid the auto at all costs....but I'd never swap mine to manual.

OH....edit....gearbox MUST have correct fluid in it....NOT the red Dex III !!!!! VERY IMPORTANT! (Read the threads about the auto-box).

Last edited by Or_GazM; 10-09-18 at 14:10.
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  #3  
Old 11-09-18, 22:49
Slickwix Slickwix is offline
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Default Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

I really appreciate that reply Or_G, that was the kind of response I was kind of hoping for (better still with the Norwegian elements already installed, very nice kompis).
I think I'll have to go out and take a look at this camper and give it a proper road test. I'm no stranger to slack/tired/loose auto gearboxes (once drove the nullabor road across australia with a Mazda that took a good 5 minutes to hit 60 km an hour...absolutely shot gearbox, but that's another story). Usually the test I go by to test an auto gb is count the number of seconds it takes to engage from D to R and back again, as well as the sound and feel of the gear changes.
I haven't invested enough time (yet) to do all the research, so must admit I don't really know what "the California auto will already have the extra cooling for the gearbox." means....an external cooler or pump on the transmission casing maybe??
I'll be hounding you for the 2000kr tuners' number if I end up buying it, and very good to know a cruise control is not hard to have installed (was one of the critical elements I was pondering).
Curious no one has added their 2 cents to this thread....maybe auto is the way to go after all?
Thanks again.
Slick
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  #4  
Old 12-09-18, 07:01
rogerk110 rogerk110 is offline
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Default Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

I've never understood the British male obsession with manual gearboxes. It takes a real man to know when to change gears!

I currently have a manual T5 here in the UK, but when I lived in the USA I had an automatic T4, and I loved that baby. The gear change was incredibly smooth, the consumption was as good or bad as it would have been if it was a manual, you don't sit changing gears and clutching when in stop-start traffic, the cruise control was perfect, and all in all it was a better experience than driving my T5. I had that van for the 7 years I was over there, and never had a moment's trouble with it ... just changed oil, oil filter and air filter ... and did about 100,000 miles in those 7 years.
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  #5  
Old 12-09-18, 07:11
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scruffytoo scruffytoo is offline
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T4 Post Icon Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slickwix View Post
Curious no one has added their 2 cents to this thread....maybe auto is the way to go after all?
Thanks again.
Slick here is my 2KR worth.

I have owned T4's for over 27 years, the only reason I have never wanted auto is I don't want to remove the driving experience (applies to every vehicle I have owned). Most people will treat an auto like the plague, and maybe give you the 'wrong' impression.

What Gaz has experienced he is able to share, in his own inimitable way; and very good and insightful info it is too. I know a very good auto old established gearbox specialist not a million miles from me, with a huge reputation in the trade; and they will not touch that gearbox! Gaz's tartan army are the recommended go to specialists here in the UK, and that limitation alone makes auto ownership for me anyway; much less attractive.

The 111 was never imported to the UK, so always has an air of interest, nor was the Cali, so same applies. The 111 you are looking at sounds like a 'bitza' though (and I am the worlds worst O.E. anorak).

Out of the two, and with the future clear in my crystal ball, I would go for the 75 Cali (you can by more KW's if needed); PROVIDING, both maintenance history and the gearbox stand up to close scrutiny.

There you go all that typing for just 2KR
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  #6  
Old 12-09-18, 08:08
Slickwix Slickwix is offline
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Default Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

Hmm, that is all very supportive, I appreciate all those kroner worth of info and advice.
Just got off the phone with the owner. Apparently it has been in the family from new (daughter has taken over from the father). When I asked about the gearbox service history I was told the oil has been shifted now and then, but it has not been part of the 'regular' motor service. Still, it is a daily runner, which is promising.
I'm beginning to get a real feel for the auto, but personally have been closer to the manual for the "driving experience" too. Always comes down to the guts in the motor though.
One real downer is that the gas burners and sink were removed by her father....a microwave has been placed in the cupboards (this is a post 6/99 model), so I'm immediately wondering how hard it is to replace these items (wrong forum thread I know, but anyone have any idea off the top of the dome?). Again, the price seems hard to resist (5,500 pounds and negotiable). As Or_G noted, could be useful to have the saved funds as a reserve for any technical surprises to come.
Thanks again for the inputs.
Slick
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  #7  
Old 12-09-18, 09:30
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scruffytoo scruffytoo is offline
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T4 Post Icon Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slickwix View Post
Hmm, that is all very supportive, I appreciate all those kroner worth of info and advice.
Just got off the phone with the owner. Apparently it has been in the family from new (daughter has taken over from the father). When I asked about the gearbox service history I was told the oil has been shifted now and then, but it has not been part of the 'regular' motor service. Still, it is a daily runner, which is promising.
I'm beginning to get a real feel for the auto, but personally have been closer to the manual for the "driving experience" too. Always comes down to the guts in the motor though.
One real downer is that the gas burners and sink were removed by her father....a microwave has been placed in the cupboards (this is a post 6/99 model), so I'm immediately wondering how hard it is to replace these items (wrong forum thread I know, but anyone have any idea off the top of the dome?). Again, the price seems hard to resist (5,500 pounds and negotiable). As Or_G noted, could be useful to have the saved funds as a reserve for any technical surprises to come.
Thanks again for the inputs.
Slick
Most parts come to those who wait, been after a seat cover for over 6 years now, but no rush I have owned the vehicle over 19! The problem is you even see 1991 Westfalias complete and making good money, so just need to be in the right place at the right time for some 'salvage' parts

I think if it drives well for that money it's still a winner.

Just a further note in relation to the original thread topic, I honestly believe poor and misguided service maintenance has led to the gearbox failures we read about (ie, no fluid changes, wrong fluid and possibly inadequate cooloing too). If that had been addressed and was all 'spot on' maybe they would still be running fine

I had an output shaft bearing failure on my manual, something that was addressed under warranty on most vehicles of the time. VW agreed even after 8 years to make a contribution to the repairs, the brand new gearbox arrived and the boys fitted it. I road tested it and immediately determined the final drive noise was unacceptable. VW agreed to supply another new gearbox (luckily this was still at a time when you could actually buy them), that was fitted and has been fine since (around 11 years or so now).

So it's not only auto owners that may have sutffered on the gearbox front
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Old 12-09-18, 09:49
rogerk110 rogerk110 is offline
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Default Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

You'd be extremely hard pushed to find a manual version of these vans in the USA, yet they have been going strong over there for decades. I doubt if VW would have succeeded over there if there was anything wrong with their auto gearboxes.
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  #9  
Old 12-09-18, 10:09
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scruffytoo scruffytoo is offline
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T4 Post Icon Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerk110 View Post
You'd be extremely hard pushed to find a manual version of these vans in the USA, yet they have been going strong over there for decades. I doubt if VW would have succeeded over there if there was anything wrong with their auto gearboxes.
Nor would they have had the opportunity to pay out over $30 BILLION in compensation, over the diesel emissions scandal 'Dieselgate'
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  #10  
Old 12-09-18, 15:03
hobbyhorse hobbyhorse is offline
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Default Re: Auto vs Manual gearbox....cases for/against?

I wouldn't worry so much about the transmission as faults will soon become apparent when testing.

A far bigger problem with T4s now is hidden body rot - lots of it.

Many T4s, even some good looking ones are old bangers / money pits.

Caveat emptor

Ouch.... another knuckle
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