A160 Automatic, Advice please!

Discussion in 'Engine' started by Smarties, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. Smarties

    Smarties Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Hello fellow enthusiasts and forum members. Some buying advice please. My neighbour is looking to downsize, and with my constant praising of the virtues of MB ownership he has looked at an A class, 99 vintage A160 with 54000 miles and full MB/specialist history. He likes the car, (there’s a lot to like, I still think these are very clever little cars), but he commented that the Automatic transmission seemed slow between the gears. I did own an A class some years ago, and I seem to remember it didn’t have the best quality gear change. So to my question, I have read numerous horror stories about the A class’s fragile Automatic, but I’m sure for every 1 we hear about there are 100 good ones (I’d like to think so at least!). Is there anything that can be done to preserve these fragile transmissions, regular transmission oil changes etc? Or do I seem to recall that these had one of MB ‘sealed for life units’. Your thoughts would be gratefully received.
     
  2. Buggerlugs

    Buggerlugs Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Hi Smarties,

    Fluid changes are always a good idea on any automatic.

    However, in the case of the A class auto gearbox, there is nothing that can be done to prevent the failures this unit often suffers from, the main ones being clutch and brake drum fractures due to the use of poor quality materials and manufacturing processes and Transmission Control Module failures. Torque converter and floor shift module failures also feature.

    The lethargic gear change quality is also a characteristic of these cars and cannot be improved, well, actually it could, but that would need MB to acknowledge that you cannot write effective powertrain control software in a simulated envrionment per say, you also need seat of the pants feedback from real people, what's the chances of that then.......

    In short, in my opinion, the auto gearbox is the achilles heel of what might otherwise be a good choice of 2nd hand car, therefore I wouldn't recommend one. HTH.
     
  3. teknow

    teknow Member

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    Read my problem. It might be "something or nothing" - will find out tomorrow. The thread is in this forum - search for W168.

    I've had an A-class for the last 4 years. It is a 53 plate A160 Avantgarde Auto. I've loved it ... forget what people say it has been amazing.

    We bought it for £10k with 19,000 miles on the clock when it was 14 months old. 76,000 on the clock now and apart from servicing, the only fault I've had is the current gearbox problem.

    I was told to avoid the earlier ones though because of the suspension mods after the 'elk' incident. It makes for a hard ride - apparently.

    I would definately go for a LWB though - there is more legroom in the rear than the S class and all the seats come out making a cavern. I transported my entire kitchen in the A-class including end-panels and some of the worktops. Truly superb.

    We regularly went to France in it and back. Great now we have kids, ace for the dogs too.

    Downsides - a few interior bits "fell off". Primarily seat height adjuster - been through 2 of those (£6). The rear high-level brake light cover, a door seal came loose. Total cost of all these about £30 from MB.

    Door mirror glass is expensive if "clonked" - £45 or so from memory.

    I really love driving it though - I usually get about 38mpg out of mine as I mainly do motorway. Can be a bit thirsty around town though - missus was always grumbling and her 1.6 golf is much more frugal.

    The headlamp bulbs are a pain in the **** to change - you need to be a contorsionist.

    I've got the "play" in the steering column which is a regular fault. Has been there since 30,000 miles but doesn't cause any problems if you can ignore it.

    I haven't noticed sloppy gear-changes in mine ... quite happy until the box started to play up recently. But it works fine in Summer mode - so hopefully just the selector.

    They also suffer with drop links. Mine make a noise on rough services, but never been mentioned by mechanics ... so 76,000 and I'm still on the originals.

    Hope that helps!
     
  4. jaymanek

    jaymanek Authorised Forum Sponsor Authorised Forum Sponsor

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    A class Auto Boxes (w168 chassis) are rubbish.. dont buy one. Ive had first had experience a few times now...
     
  5. teknow

    teknow Member

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    Humour me here if this sounds nuts.

    Lots of A-classes were "Easy Rent a Car" owned.

    I rented one of these once, and admitedly screwed the nuts off it. My brother-in-law admits he did too. Perhaps the reason lots of A-classes suffer gearbox issues (accepting the fragile argumnet) is that they had a "hard start" in life?

    When I bought mine I specifically made sure it had not been pre-owned by them or any other company associated with them!

    Anyhow, if my car costs me £1000 to fix, then 4 years of trouble free motoring (so far) would be worth it I reckon.
     
  6. Smiley

    Smiley Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Jay is right - he knows his stuff; take his advice and buy something else.
     
  7. fuzzer

    fuzzer MB Club Veteran

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    I had an A160 auto 1999 from new , had it for 18k miles and was plagued with auto gearbox problems that the dealer wasnt willing to fix even under manuf warranty.

    would i buy another? would i hell lol.

    Great car , had lots of fun times and had it loaded to the gunnels loads with all the seats out, but the gearbox was a complete deal breaker for me.

    p.s. i sunk almost £19k into it.
     
  8. OP
    OP
    Smarties

    Smarties Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Thanks chaps, your views are very much appreciated. One final thing, is it possible to check/change the transmission oil on these models?
     
  9. area51

    area51 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Location:
    Orpington,Kent
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    A160 Avantgarde
    A160 Automatic, Advice please

    Smarties, please take a look at www.aclassinfo, in particular the link on page 59. This should give some answers regarding automatic transmission fluid/filter change on the a-class.
     
  10. teknow

    teknow Member

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    Oct 18, 2008
    VMTP changed my transmission fluid for £100 inc VAT.
     

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