The transmission in my Disco3 developed the dreaded P0735 (Gear 5 Incorrect Ratio) and P0730 (Incorrect Gear Ratio) at 125K.
After ringing around, my options seemed to boil down to dropping the car to any of the following repair locations:
1. Solitaire (The only LR appointed dealer in Adelaide)
2. One of the reputable independent LR workshops (I am aware of two or three)
3. A Transmission specialist who remotely has the knowledge and skill to attempt to tinker with the ZF system. (I am aware of Rowell & Searle)
I also contacted LR who took 20 days to tell me that they can't do anything for me as the car was out of warranty. They also didn't care whether I would every buy another Landrover or not.
Solitaire and the independent LR workshop basically told me exactly the same thing. They take the gearbox out and send it to A&B Automatics in Melbourne in a special crate. After around 10 days turnaround, A&B would send the gearbox back and they would then re-connect it to the engine.
Price Quoted: around $8,000 incl.
I then realised that there potentially could be a fourth option. I rang the service manager from A&B who explained that some customers do actually make the trip to Melbourne to drop off the car directly at A&B Automatics. The drive in/ drive out price would be $6,182 inc GST and comes with a 2 year / 50K warranty. A&B Automatics are the biggest recondition operation of ZF transmissions in Australia and are basically an extension to ZF Getriebe GmbH in Germany, as their engineers are factory trained. Most Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Aston Martin, VW, Maserati including Landrover Dealerships send their gearboxes to A&B to have them reconditioned. Even the transmission specialist in Adelaide sends their customer transmissions to A&B. So I concluded that there is actually nobody in Adelaide who is sufficiently qualified and equipped to seriously attempt a ZF transmission overhaul.
The A&B Service Manager further explained that the ZF transmission actually does communicate quite a bit with other components of the car and that it would be beneficial to have the car available to them as they can perform final handover tests with the reconditioned transmission back in the car to make sure everything works as expected. In addition they know that they were the last ones touching the transmission once refitted. Made perfect sense to me.
I assessed whether my transmission would make it to Melbourne without completely failing on me during the trip from Adelaide to Melbourne and I made an appointment. I drove in manual mode and avoided 5th gear where possible. I managed to make it to Melbourne without any major dramas and only had to stop 4 times to reset the car after going into fault mode. The majority of the trip was actually done in 6th gear.
Next day after I arrived in Melbourne, I dropped the car off to A&B and took a cheap flight back to Adelaide. I was very impressed with the professionalism and protocol of the entire A&B Operation in Dandenong. http://www.abautomatics.com.au/ A&B really took the time to explain everything to me and made sure I feel confident and comfortable at all time. They even allowed me to have a sneaky bit through their recondition factory, which I found extremely clean and well organised. I felt I made the right decision.
After two weeks, I took another cheap flight to fly back to Melbourne to pickup my baby with a reconditioned transmission. The Service Manager explained that they did extensive testing of the transmission and also went through the re-learning phase symptoms I will encounter, which are perfectly normal while the Mechatronic unit readjusts to my driving style. Amazing piece of technology really. I was very impressed with the individual treatment I received and attention to detail those guys have. After settling the bill, I walked out to the car and was greeted by a perfectly washed car including all rims and tyres.
I was blown away with the outstanding customer experience I received and again was very confident that I did make the right decision and driving the car to A&B directly. Driving around Melbourne and back to Adelaide I couldn't stop smiling and was astound how quiet the car is again. It's quite amazing how I didn't realise that the car became noisier over time due to the ageing transmission.
Why am I sharing this story with you? I want to make sure that those guys at A&B Automatics http://www.abautomatics.com.au/ get the recognition they deserve for an outstanding job well done, professionalism and the extraordinary customer experience they provide. I am just a happy little vegemite again after my baby has been looked after so well and the treaded transmission issue is now history.
Thanks for being patient and reading through my story.
Please Note: It was my personal decision to drive to Melbourne with a faulty transmission and I calculated the risk associated with trip based my own level of risk appetite. Everyone's situation is different and you will have to decide for yourself if you are prepared to take the risk to make the trip. Don't blame me if you don't make it.
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