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Renault Clio Mk1 outbox woes: please save it for £100

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Look at this thing!

post-3924-0-91804400-1537455884_thumb.jpg

 

It's a 1995 Clio RT auto, as seen recently on the bay tat thread. My colleague, who has had no working modern car for a while, made a rash decision and bought it at the beginning of the week. The whole thing was a disaster as the car shredded a tyre as it pulled away and the spare had a huge hole in the sidewall (cheers, vendor!) so it was abandoned overnight and we went back the next day, fitted pair of new tyres and went home again. Sadly, in all the hullabaloo, it only became obvious the following day that there is a serious issue with the gearbox, i.e. it's stuck in flipping' top gear. You can imagine the hilarity* this causes pulling away from a standstill. Basically, it's properly shit and borderline dangerous to drive, although once up to speed it's nice enough cruising along.

 

The obvious course of action is to grudgingly eat the £500 (plus two new tyres, ffs) and chalk it up to experience, but in other respects its actually really nice. It's virtually mint - it's obviously had a little old lady owner who kept it garaged for most of its life. The under bonnet is like new - freshest inner wings I've seen on any car - and the interior, which is funky, blue and comfortable, is virtually unmarked. For a 20-odd year old Renault, it's in remarkable condition. It's got no rust on it and the MoT history is fantastic.

 

post-3924-0-67977500-1537456674_thumb.jpg

 

I realise the obvious thing to do is to book it in at a friendly garage (are there any friendly garages in Sussex anymore? I don't know of any) but that's gonna be £100 just to figure out what the problem is and tell us it's gonna cost another £500 to fix. It might not fit with the ethos of this website, but it simply isn't worth spending any money on. By the same token, at the moment it's worth £75 in scrap value.

 

So, does anyone on here have insider knowledge on old Renault three-speed autoboxes? Is this a 'known' issue, or an easy fix? Or is it basically curtains for the car, and a monkey down the drain? Any comments or suggestions, no matter how stupid, welcome...

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Well first thing before going any further is check the fluid level in the 'box and make sure that it looks like ATF... wouldn't be the first time I've seen people put the wrong oil in and that cause problems.

 

Afraid beyond that I can't make any suggestions as I've no knowledge of the specific box.

 

Locking itself in top sounds like a "failsafe" type behaviour I'd expect if it's lost Comms with something important...so I'd probably have a nosey around the electronic connections to the gearbox and wherever it's ECU is hiding and make sure the loom hasn't been damaged. Pretty much first port of call on any electronic controlled auto box really.

 

If it's half as clean underneath as it looks in the photos it's likely to be worth spending a few quid on as it's likely to perform well and for a good long while once sorted I'd say.

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Is Mr.Reno still on this forum, I thought he was based down that way?

 

He may shed some light, or even have a replacement box maybe?

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It's definitely got fluid in and it does look like ATF. If anything, the level is a touch on the high side. I should have said that it shifts into reverse, neutral and park no problem, but locking in first or second has no effect.

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Doing a bit of googlising it looks like these default to 3rd gear when something goes wrong, not sure if these are ECU controlled boxes, but there may be some sort of simple computer/controller on the box somewhere, worth checking wiring and connections etc.

 

Is it worth doing a fluid change?

 

It'll be a shame if it's the death of the car!

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To be honest, I hadn't really considered that this thing is ECU-controlled as my knowledge of cars this age is minimal. Is this the sort of thing a code reader would diagnose, or does it predate that? If it's the former, does anyone have one that might work?

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I *think* Renault were one of the earlier companies to make sure use of computer controlled boxes - doubt it's something you can plug a generic code reader into though. The box on the 21 and 25 was from the mid 80s anyhow.

 

Just thinking of the "check the basics" situation - I've had several French cars of that age play funny buggers due to the ground leads between the engine and battery disintegrating. Worth checking it's not something daft like that.

 

In my opinion - purely based on a handful of photos - I'd reckon it's worth sorting even if the box is goosed. They're comfy little motors these and quite cheerful little things for what they are, the sort of car the French are particularly good at.

 

Really hope it can be saved, they're getting to be a bit of a rarer sight on the roads these days.

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No, it doesn't stall, the gearbox works as it should except that it only has one forward speed (and no kickdown, obviously). I reckon wiring to the ECU is the first port of call, and there seem to be a few cheap s/h ECUs on ebay if that's what's at fault, so all might not be lost

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Possibly not a very helpful interjection here, but the solution to this problem for the previous owner of the one I bought from Bramz was...a manual conversion. There's a hand written receipt for the job in with the handbook and assorted other bits of paperwork. £795 all in, apparently, including the cost of the parts (box, clutch, pedal box).

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And the manual conversion was done by the same Paul Cunningham recommended above. My god I miss owning a MK1 Clio...my old RTD went to someone on here and it was identical inside. Other than the glow plugs giving up during winter it was great. And that Baccara...remember my dibs!!!!

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A manual conversation wpuld be nice but I can tell you right now it's not having £800 chucked at it under any circumstances. It was supposed to be a cheap boring stopgap but if it can't be sorted with the minimum of expense it's gonna be moved on as a project or sent to the bridge. If it was mine I might consider investing in it (not that I have £800) but I can tell the owner is already deeply pissed off with the whole thing. Hopefully a £25 ECU will sort it, otherwise...

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Have you tried switching engine on and off once it has warmed up? My laguna needed a secondhand valve body because it started pulling away in a high gear. A quick on and off was a temporary cure.

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Might be useful if you can get it onto an XR25 and look at the gearbox readings,its an AD4 gearbox,a computer swop might just solve it cheaply.

Its gone into safety mode,try disconnecting the battery(although it will wipe the radio code)and see if it resets,but it will come back.

its an OBD 1 reader aswell.

Renbreakers are listing one at £35.

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In my experience, sadly when they do this it's a total minefield of uneconomically viable possibilities.  I've had a few, and never successfully solved auto box woes cheaply or easily.  I delivered Chinese food in one almost identical to yours while I was still at school.  I bought it for £100 with 6 months tax and test, but the auto box was missing second gear.   You had to properly floor it to get the revs way up for changing out of first to have any kind of power when it thumped straight into third.  Fluid was present and correct, anything I tried cheaply to solve it didn't work.

 

It got worse and worse, to the point where it was starting off in third as yours is.  I gave that thing hells abuse three nights a week for the sake of North Belfast getting their chicken balls on time.  It lasted about four months, until one night it totally lost drive.  I had to reverse about 1.5 miles back to base at 1am and that was that.  It made me the money I needed for the Mégane II I had my heart set on as a lovestruck 18 year old though. That was whole other story......

 

Hope ya get sorted.  Seller is a top tosser for palming that off without mentioning it. 

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Hornsey Automatic Transmissions near me seem good. I've only used them for basic stuff but they were straight and prices reasonable. They've been in business for years and were recommended by my trusted mechanic when my wife's beetle had issues... Around here, other garages farm out auto box work to them. Could be worth a call, at least.

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That's a fantastic looking little car. Hope it gets fixed.

 

This is pretty much all I have to offer on the subject too.

 

It's a flipping minefield at this price point.  The price of purchase and the price of repairs are mutually exclusive; a new gearbox is £700 when the car was bought for £700 - and yet the gearbox was still £700 when the car was £7k.

 

Really hope there's a good outcome with this.  

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