My 16 year old VW T4 Transporter Double Cab Chassis Syncro is unwell.
The original dual mass flywheel has finally expired and will take the original clutch plate with it. I got 270,000 kilometres out of them so one can’t complain too much about their demise.
What I can complain about is the fact that it has come shortly after getting the engine timing belts changed over. This is something that has to happen every 90,000 kilometres. And is a specialist job so I had to take it five hours south west of home to get it done. AU$1,700
My local mechanic has decided that changing the clutch and flywheel is too big a job for him. Getting the gearbox out is well known to be a bastard job that involves much manoeuvring under the hoist. Two of his colleagues in other shops passed on it as well. The local VW dealer (who once stuffed a timing belt change for me) can’t do the job until the end of September and they quoted nearly $1,600 in labour alone...genuine parts cost? A smidge over AU$3,000 for the three major parts alone (clutch plate, flywheel and slave cylinder).
Fortunately, another local mechanic is up for the challenge. He’s claiming to have done a couple before but I’ll wager neither he nor his offsider (who’s actually done them) has done a Syncro version before - it’s AWD and the rear drive shaft comes off a transfer case mounted to the left side of the gear box plus in this version the steering rack sits on the gear box...
The labour cost will hopefully be a bit cheaper due to a likely $30-$40 discount on the hourly rate from the VW mandated rate ($153/hour). Parts costs for a non-genuine kit run around AU$1,300 to $1,500 even though the non-genuine recommended retail price is around AU$2,400. In the end, I figure any change from four grand is a win.
So by the end of next week I’ll have spent the best part of six grand on basic wear parts for this vehicle in the last month. And it still needs a new set of tyres. Its current value on the local used market is somewhere between AU$10,000 and AU$15,000. This seems quite nuts unless you think of the alternative.
Buying a new one (T6 Transporter Dual Cab Chassis 4Motion) requires an investment of well over fifty grand, much of which would have to be borrowed at around 7 to 9% per annum - over the 5 year life of a loan this is not insubstantial when the payments are a $1000 per month. The depreciation is somewhere in the order of 50% in the first three years on these things...so I’d be paying more for less. And I still have to run it. I might as well simply set fire to cash.
So this is making my recent and near future investments look like a bargain. Almost sensible even...who’d have thought?