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  #1  
Old 19 Jun 2008
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4x4 - manual or automatic?

I'm about to buy a Toyota Landcruiser for crossing the Sahara to Mali. I was going for manual gear box but most are automatic and someone suggested automatic are better for sand driving. Is this true? And is it a problem having automatic with a view to bump starting situations?

Any suggestions welcome
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  #2  
Old 19 Jun 2008
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only manual

Hi,
in my opinion for offroad driving only manual gearbox has a right to exist.

Piotr
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  #3  
Old 19 Jun 2008
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Manual

I have to agree with Piotr. My 4X4 experience is in Mexican jungles/cloud forests, so I can't speak to sand. But, in the mountains you can burn through a set of brake pads with an automatic when going down mountain. Besides, you want to be in control of the engine speed and clutching...manual is the only way to do this. And, yes there is the occasional bump start or tow.

Walkstx in Texas
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  #4  
Old 20 Jun 2008
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Choices

Hi

lots of desert drivers swear by auto as you do not lose momentum when changing gear that you would in a manual - there are plenty of either available here in the UK. - but it all comes down to personal preference and what you feel comfortable with
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  #5  
Old 20 Jun 2008
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Agree with all the posts.

Automatic is better for sand driving than a manual (loss of momentum etc..), but my preference is definitely for a manual for other off-road use. Much better for steep hill work and slow stuff.

So I suppose the question to ask yourself, will it be used for desert/sand driving more that other stuff?
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  #6  
Old 20 Jun 2008
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The real ultimate is an automatic fitted with an Extreme valve body from
Wholesale Automatic Transmissions

Then you can get a torque converter lock-up from the same people.
All the advantages of an automatic, which you can lock in a particular gear when doing severe off road descents etc.

I liked the auto in the Sand, and towing a trailer it outperformed a manual 60 series which wasn't as loaded as mine. This is only relevant in very soft sand as all cruisers with decent tyres will cope well with sand due to the low down torque of the 4.2 engine.

Here is a clip of my rig descending Van Zyls Pass in Namibia. Low range 1st. This is without the TC lock up mentioned above.
YouTube - Landcruiser and Trailer Decend Van Zyls Pass

A friend has recently had issues with the AT fluid overheating while doing an overland. He has since improved his driving style and the problem has cured itself. So really at the end it all comes down to how you drive and what you want to do with it...

Good luck
Graham
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  #7  
Old 20 Jun 2008
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auto will be fine IMO

As you have found, in the UK there is a much bigger choice of auto 80s and IMO the big engine (by UK standards) is well suited to it. As long as it's in good shape it will be fine for Mali as desert driving is relatively undemanding in the hardcore 'let's off road' sense. Range and remoteness are the main issues.

.. someone suggested automatic are better for sand driving. Is this true?

For regular sand driving there is not much in it but dune driving is easier in an auto, especially for a beginner. You can concentrate on the best way of keeping moving/getting through not the traction. I do recall one needed a bit of added anticipation to get round the relative lack of instant response compared to a grunty manual TLC but you'll get the feel for that within an hour. Anyway, most normal desert routes avoid sand seas where possible or just follow the inter dune corridors.

I would say for rocks and steep gradients they are much smoother too - less harsh on the transmission and tyres, and again allowing you to concentrate on positioning the car/tyres. After all you can always lock it out in the lower gears.

And is it a problem having automatic with a view to bump starting situations?

People often mention this but when is the last time you tow started a car as opposed to just jumped it off another battery? Alone in the desert you would be lucky to bump start a manual unless you happened to park on a nice firm slope.
Along with a set of jump leads, with any diesel a spare battery is always a good idea - as is a second vehicle in remote desert areas.

The hardest dune route I've done was alongside a total beginner in an auto 80 - he had no overheating ATF issues and took to it like a duck to water. We all got stuck here and there and that erg was the only time his auto used more fuel than our manuals. Most of the time it was much better - another aged auto myth that was not true in my experience.

Autos may not be the choice of the off-roading enthusiast and there can be issues of lack of local parts and know-how by bush mechanics.

The crux is to buy a good one, but you can say that for any car.

Ch
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  #8  
Old 20 Jun 2008
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Question auto's v manual.

Reading the above all makes sense, but on a slightly different note! I am looking at a tlc 80, series, at the moment, in regards to buying it. It is a jap import, UHZJ81V, 4164cc diesel, with no turbo. And an Auto. I have been assured that this could make a great car for typical Morocco type overland adventures. Rocks, sand and the usual motorway run to get there etc. A fairly basic model, 90 000 miles on the clock.
Would anyone like to put their views on to say if this is fair price at £4000?
Thanks,
Nick.
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  #9  
Old 20 Jun 2008
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I would say auto all the way! I can not think of any time when a manual is better. I love driving automatics on road and off road. They are better in every way.
But, if I was going to the middle of nowhere I would prefer to take a manual.
Autos do use a little more fuel (yes Chris they do! but not a great deal -leave that for another time...), autos can get hot if driven VERY hard for a long time. This can reduce the life of the gearbox. Also (like you say) it is not possible to push start the car if the battery, starter motor or alternator pack up. Like Chris says there is little chance you will need to do this, and if you do it will be difficult anyway, but with a manual you do have that option.
Autos are very reliable and in theory there is less to go wrong, but if they do go wrong there is a good chance you won't be able to move, and you will not be able to find anyone to fix it, and if you do it will be £2000.
If a manual gearbox goes wrong it is much easier to fix and there is a chance you could crawl along to the next village.

If you can get an auto that is low mileage in tip top condition, then do it! I would suggest fitting an extra gearbox oil cooler kit as well (£148.29 from me!)

Cheers,
Matt Savage

PS, I know where there is a very nice white 80 manual for sale with loads of kit!!
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  #10  
Old 20 Jun 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattsavage View Post
I can not think of any time when a manual is better.
I can..! on an early morning after a bushcamp, you packed tight all your your gear that for a once fitted just in place after a great early breakfast, the desert is still cold even if the sun has been there for half an hour by now. You sit in the car, find the the Elvis Greatest Hits tape and ask your partner: "are we ready to roll..?" and she/he says, "yeah..", then you pull the gear lever into your knee, push forward and gently release the clutch... and off you go.

That is better than pulling forward a rectangular handle into "drive" and just press the gas...
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  #11  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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Thanks

Thanks for the messages. I'm not going to be looking for sand but ...sort of still feel as torn, but think I'll go for my gut instinct, the bump starts have it and look for a manual - wierd how hard they are to find.
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  #12  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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Overheating auto transmissions

One way to reduce chances of overheating transmission is to run full synthetic oil in the gearbox.

One particular brand that copes really well with hot conditions is Redline.

I'm running Royal Purple synthetic oil in the gearbox and diff. I was originally going to use redline, but because we are going to be in very cold conditions as well, it was suggested to use Royal Purple.

RP is a bit thinner than Redline and will work a lot better in colder conditions.

It is a bit pricey, but it will definitely prolong/protect your gearbox better and will reduce chances of overheating.

There might be someone on the forum with good knowledge about oils...
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  #13  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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Another huge advantage of an auto on a trip is on really bad roads - imagine a really heavily potholed gravel road and lurching between 3rd and 2nd for 4 hours - probably even more fatiguing on a broken up asphalt road... clutch and gear, hand off wheel, hand on wheel etc several hundred times. On the roads around here an auto would be a real bonus. That alone would make me go for an auto if I was buying an 80 or patrol in the UK.
Gil
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  #14  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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Love me Tender

I do like a bit of Elvis.

Mario, I guess your Blue Suede Shoes like to engage that clutch and be part of the vehicle. Having a manual does make you feel more 'as one' with the vehicle.

But I Can't Help Falling in Love with the ease of the auto. So much less to do.

Don't be Cruel, get some fully synthetic oil. Like Pumbaa says, it's very good stuff.

It's Now or Never kedze!

Thank you very much (said in an Elvis kinda way)
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  #15  
Old 21 Jun 2008
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Alternative scenario:
Early morning, sun already hot and humidity off the chart. Head is pounding after loads of red wine round the fire the previous night. After 20mins farting around with the dusty roof tent cover and wrestling with zips you already are covered in dust and grime and sweating like a rapist. You climb into the car and switch on. Grab the Elvis tape, slot it in and the tape deck chews it up 'cause it is so full of dust. Eject the Elvis tape while swearing and pounding the dashboard. Slot in 1st gear, turn to your partner and say "next time two weeks in a hotel in Tenerife". <BG>
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