Isuzu Bighorn, 1997, auto transmission overhaul

mack77, Jun 28, 10:25am
Would it be "safe" to buy an Isuzu Bighorn (1997, 203,000km) that has had the auto transmission reconditioned in Napier. I get the impression that the owner, a tourist from Europe, used it to tow a caravan around the South Island and probably over the many steep passes before heading up the North Island when the auto transmission failed in Napier. He had in reconditioned there.
I have heard that when the weak auto transmissions in old Honda Odyssey's fail and are rebuilt in NZ they only last 30,000km or less!

franc123, Jun 28, 10:36am
The Japs must laugh at our attempts to fix their scrap metal. Depends on who is doing the repair work doesn't it, what went wrong, how badly it was damaged/cooked/worn and what got replaced, you'd want to see the receipt. As for the best person to overhaul a Hondamatic, its a properly trained and seasoned dealer mechanic who has been doing it for a decade or two, there ARE tricks to setting them up right and general trans shops don't necessarily pay enough attention and take enough time to do it properly, mind you this can be more the fault of breakdown insurance providers than a lack of tech skill.

mack77, Jun 28, 10:40am
Thanks for your posting "franc123" but the vehicle that I'm concerned about is the Isuzu Bighorn, or are your comments equally valid for it?

franc123, Jun 28, 10:42am
Your question was answered in the first two sentences. The trans is only one concern, you should be equally concerned about the rest of the vehicle and VERY concerned about what engine is in front of it too, you want to see the digits 4JG2 and not 4JX1.

mugenb20b, Jun 29, 4:45am
I'd stay away from the Bighorn, I'd only buy a manual one with a 4JG2 as suggested. The 4JX1 is a hand grenade with a pin pulled. As for the Odyssey transmissions, they can easily last 250k if looked after. Failures after 30k sounds like BS to me unless it was assembled by some jungle monkey.

petermcg, Jun 29, 6:06am
Is it 4cyl diesel or 6 cyl petrol model.

mack77, Jun 29, 7:45am
It's a 4 cylinder diesel (4JG20) auto. My research indicates that both the auto transmission and engine, in this model, are very reliable and superior to that of any other alternative vehicles, including Toyota Landcruiser Prado. Of course if you do the wrong thing you can damage anything.

petermcg, Jun 30, 3:50am
The petrol one has GM 4L30E and can be a head ache. I think the diesel could have a better one

cammey, Jun 30, 7:30am
Yep. The 4L30 is way to weak for those trucks.

IMHO they were strong enough for a small bicycle or skateboard pedalled by Nana.

3beers, Jun 30, 9:22am
Yep the petrol 3.2 V6 runs the GM 4L30E absolute pig of a trans
The 3.1 4JG2 diesel has an AISHIN WARNER 30-40LE almost bomb proof . Same basic unit as used in Prado .
There are a couple of solenoids that play up some times making the trans jump between 3rd and 4th and a sort of 1/2 gear in between .

mack77, Jun 30, 1:15pm
Hi "3beers''; thanks for that interesting info. above.

mack77, Jun 30, 1:32pm
I have now received a copy of the invoice showing the work done on the auto trans in this vehicle that I am considering buying. It basically says: "changed 5 litres of ATF Texamatic 1888 fluid, fitted new filter and gasket, road test ok". This was done by a bus company mechanic in the bus companies workshop in Hawkes Bay.

After this work was done in Hawkes Bay and after continuing his trip around the N. Island the the owner/driver of the Bighorn then wrote: "transmission sometimes whines after starting when it's been cold (doesn't slip when warm, tho, and still worked well for us" before departing back overseas and leaving the vehicle for a NZ friend to sell.
Can anybody determine the significance of this comment?

luke041, Jun 30, 7:13pm
Well it has not been reconditioned then it's been serviced. And why would a backpacker want to spent money on a service, my guess would be it lost drive because of a blocked filter (clutches falling apart). And now the new filter sounds like it's starting to block up (whine when you start it up). The transmission is f--ked! so walk a way.

tamarillo, Jul 1, 12:39am
Personally I'd not risk it. Sounds like box caused problems hence they interrupted journey to take it in, but it's just had a basic oil change only. It's still noisy. When it goes the trucks not worth fixing.

mack77, Jul 1, 9:30am
Thanks for your comments "luke041" and "tamarillo".
I received some further information today in the form of a copy of an email message sent by the German owner/driver to his NZ friend (the seller); which may give more leads in analysing the state of this auto-trans. I quote: "Attached is the invoice for the repairs done in Napier, basically a change of the transmission fluid and filter set on the gearbox, might not have been necessary as the mechanic told us afterwards that the 'old' filters looked clean (no debris from gearbox, meaning no abrasion, so good)."
I believe that the NZ seller is not trying to hide anything for me but of course he only knows what he was told in these emails and probably also in verbal communications.
I am going to contact the owner in Germany to see if I can get further information, as soon as I can arrange it.

franc123, Jul 1, 9:49am
Do you think you should really bother? You have been told a story that's somewhere in between misleading and an outright lie. Both these parties want rid of the thing before it goes bang and clearly don't care who they offload their damaged problem child on to. As said above backpackers aren't here to spend large amounts of money with the local automotive repair industry. Unless they're prepared to knock at minimum the installed cost of a good used auto off the purchase price AND it checks out well otherwise don't go there.

mack77, Jul 2, 11:26am
Thanks for your advice "franc123". I'll keep looking for a problem free one.

supernova2, Jul 2, 11:34am
Problem free Bighorn. Sorry but there is no such thing known to mankind.

franc123, Apr 1, 3:11am
You're not wrong about that, what examples that are left are getting pretty old and grumpy these days, bad engine leaks, diesel leaks from pumps, powersteer box leaks, buggered brake calipers, alternators and suspension wear are just about standard. There are well looked after ones about still but they're much much harder to get than even only 6 or 7 yrs ago.

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