By on October 20, 2014

 

Sonata-Manual-Transmission

This just happened. (photo courtesy: autojunction.in)

TTAC commentator Arthur Dailey writes:

Sajeev,

Over 40+ years of driving, I have traditionally changed cars every 2 years and never kept one for longer than 5 years or 150,000km. However I made my most recent car purchase with the intention of keeping it for 8 years or 200,000km.

With the belief that in modern autos perhaps the most expensive item to repair is the transmission (owning 4 Caravans in the preceding 15 years reinforced this), following the truism that “it is more fun to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow”, and being admittedly George Costanza like in my spending habits I ordered a vehicle with a manual transmission. Yes, a manual Hyundai Sonata.

Nobody at the dealership had ever seen one. They even had problems confirming that it came with a traditional hand brake (it does but in return you don’t get heated seats). But find one they did. Unfortunately after taking possession and performing some routine cleaning, I found that the filters were rather dirty for a new car. Checking the manufacturer’s plate I found that it had been made 14 months previously and therefore had been sitting on the lot for nearly that long , exposed to the elements for at least one full winter.

So my questions:

  • Will sitting out on a dealer’s lot for 13+ months reduce the longevity of some parts?
  • Was I correct in assuming that a manual transmission will both last longer and cost less to maintain than an automatic or was I ‘penny wise and pound foolish’?
  • Should I expect a modern car including a Korean one built in Alabama, to be relatively problem free as long as I follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, rust proof it annually and drive like the old fogey that I have become?

Sajeev answers:

Yes! We’re actually discussing the manual 6-speed Hyundai Sonata and its sister ship Kia Optima that I really, reeeeeeally wanted in brown with black cloth. Turns out I needed a 5MT truck more. But I digress…

Shine on you crazy diamond, enjoy your South Korean Unicorn!

Luckily, your first question was previously covered.  Assuming it’s been driven after purchase, you’ve cleared the “bad” gas and rusted brakes/flat spotted tires.  I think a good detail/cleaning of the vinyl/rubber/leather bits (both inside and outside) is all that’s needed to ensure the patient’s long term health.  Maybe do an engine oil change, if you haven’t done it already under normal maintenance. You got nothing to worry about.

Question 2: I can see why you are conditioned to fear transmission/transaxle replacement costs, but you’ve owned older Chryslers.  Own something from Germany and the fancy tv screens should absolutely terrify you. Or fixing bent rims.  Or a suspension overhaul from years of abuse causing bent rims. I’d be more terrified of any car rollin’ on twankies more than any transmission woe.  And is an automatic really more durable than a manual?

I donno, dude.  200,000km isn’t a long time by non-Chrysler-minivan standards. I’ve seen auto transmissions last 400,000km with nothing more than occasional ATF fluid swaps.  If you are easy on the clutch, you are fine. If not, you might need a clutch swap and completely destroy the value proposition mentioned. Don’t be that guy! 

Question 3: Problems with the Sonata and Optima have been sparse, just look at the TSBs generated.  Undercoat/rust proof, follow the owner’s manual, don’t abuse the gearbox (good luck finding a replacement in North America) and you’ll be fine.

And you might love the 6-speed Hyundai Sonata so much that you’ll keep it well beyond 200,000kms.  You “old fogeys” (your term) need to understand that most modern vehicles last longer than cars from decades past.  Rust proof this one well and I’m confident you’ll agree.

 

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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61 Comments on “Piston Slap: MT 6-speed Hyundai Sonata…Coda?...”


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Yep, a manual transmission is just one abused clutch away from costing more than an automatic in the long run. 120,000 miles is nothing to any decent automatic, but you can certainly kill a clutch by then.

    Now slap some twankies on that Hyundai.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      FWD clutches are really not that bad as major maintenance items go. OE spec clutch kits are generally less than $150, and the labor is generally in the $400 range. Most factory clutches will last 200k+ miles if not abused, and the rest of the transmission is relatively bulletproof.

      I guess to me $600 every 15 years isn’t really that bad.

      • 0 avatar
        mkirk

        I can replace a clutch on both front and rear drive vehicles (step 1 for an S series Saturn is “remove engine from vehicle” so I don’t recommend it but it is within the realm of crap I can do. I cannot however rebuild an automatic.

        The irony in this is that I have only had to have 1 transmission rebuilt ever in all my years of car ownership and that was the Mitsubishi 5 speed manual in my old Bronco II and it was ready for a second rebuild at 300k when I sold it.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      How much does a clutch replacement cost vs. whatever goes wrong with autos?

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        That’s the big question. As manual transmissions go the way of common sense, I suspect getting clutches replaced will become more expensive and perhaps require finding a specialist. Back when lots of cars had short-lived timing belts, I used to get mine changed by the BMW dealer for about $270 including a tensioner and water pump. By 2007, the BMW dealer was quoting in the teens of hundreds of dollars for the same service. Everything on new cars is plug and play. If something breaks, they read the codes and start replacing components until they solve the problem or give up. Mechanical work? That guy retired last winter.

        • 0 avatar
          Exfordtech

          Shotgun parts replacement based on trouble codes? You need to find a new mechanic. Symptom to system to component to root cause is not the same as tossing parts in based on a guess.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Is that the direct injected 2.3 or the regular 2.3? The Forte I had used the non-DI and it was a nice peppy engine as it was. I had a loaner Sorrento with the GDI (non turbo) and was really impressed how a non-turbo 4-banger could move such a tank.

    I’ve entertained getting a stick shift Sportage or Sorrento in the future, and yes those exist too.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure if you’re in another market or not, but in the US market, the YF Sonata offered a 2.4-liter, and it was direct-injection by default, hence the engine covers that say “GDi” if you lift the hood (but why would you?). We have this engine in our 2012 Sonata Limited, and it is quite peppy, if a bit coarse. I also test-drove a Sorento (which is spelled with one “R”, unlike Sorrento, Italy) with the four-cylinder engine, when we were looking for a car for my grandmother. It was a lightly-used 2014 with tons of options (navigation, panoramic sunroof, leather, power liftgate) that had been traded in by a doctor who wanted the V6 instead, which I thought would have been a red flag about the suckitude of the four-cylinder in such a large vehicle. But it had quite a hustle about it, even on a steep grade and loaded with five people, and I was impressed. Grandma decided that it was too big, but then changed her mind a few days later. Of course, when she called the salesman and asked about it, that sucker had been bought. Grandma ended up buying a 2014 Soul from that same salesman a month later.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Larger, modern 4-cylinders are by and large pretty peppy and capable. Most, from the “old” port-injected Camry 2.5 and ratty Altima to the DI Optima/Sonata 2.4, can zip these big sedans to 60 in about 8 seconds. I thought the Optima had really aggressive throttle tip-in that made it feel quicker than it was, though.

      A manual Sonata probably scoots quite well.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        As mentioned below, currently driving a 2.4L Sonata rental.

        It certainly has more than enough power, and even the 6AT is one of the better modern mainstream ones I have experienced (better than Escape and Malibu).

        The throttle tip in is terribly bad though. Pushpushpushpush nothingnothingnothing OMGWHIPLASH. I hate it and that combined with the seats would absolutely eliminate the car from contention, had I been shopping in that class.

        Edited to add, I am VERY impressed by the car’s fuel economy. The computer is showing 6.8L/100kms (34.5 usmpg) over 500 kms on this full tank. My guess is that I just don’t care to push the car, as it’s not really a willing dance partner. The Verano is lifetime 8.5 L/100kms (27.6 usmpg) over 15500 kms, but I’ll admit to being slightly addicted to the rush of the turbo on merging, so I am pretty happy with that economy.

      • 0 avatar
        bosozoku

        Agreed about the Optima. Had one as a rental recently and was taken aback by how easily it caught a wheel taking off from traffic lights, even when I wasn’t intending to do so. For a relatively small engine in a rather portly car, the thing surprised me with its eagerness and torque, especially when accelerating on the interstate; 60-90 MPH took maybe 3 seconds.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      This guy was lucky – you can’t even get a Sonata with a manual anymore. I think 2014 was the last year, and I’d bet it was available on the base model only.

  • avatar

    If you’re only keeping a car 8 years, why bother with rust proofing? Don’t most/all new cars come with a 10 year corrosion warranty?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know how expensive rustproofing is, but I’d rather not have to use the warranty at all…

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Krown rust proof, IMHO is the best. Here Southern Ontario $130 with tax to do a 2014 Impala. Money well spent.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          Seconded on Krown. If you are anywhere where they salt, you want to rustproof.

          Corrosion warranties are only good for perforation not due to body damage (like stone chips and such). They don’t cover bubbling and they don’t cover the undercarriage.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I just got the Verano Krowned. Very annoyed, as they left the engine bay a filthy greasy mess, and now I need to take it back and cajole them into cleaning it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @dave

            I’m heading to have this done this week, what mess did they leave?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Story time.

            I picked it up, and thought it rather odd that smelly smoke was coming through the vents.

            I took it straight to the bodyshop for my hail damage appointment after. The owner was so concerned he called me up and said “Your car only has 15,000 kms on it! Do you know there is oil ALL OVER your engine bay??” Thats Ok I said, I just had it Krowned, I guess they did a super messy job.

            The fact that he was that concerned enough to call me (I assured him it wasn’t a bad gasket or seal) tells me it was pretty bad. I haven’t actually seen it yet, due to my schedule of appointments.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @dave

            Thx, I’ll be sure to do an inspection while I’m still there.

          • 0 avatar

            I stand corrected – $130 is not a lot of money if you are keeping a car for 5-10 years.

    • 0 avatar
      duckccc

      “Don’t most/all new cars come with a 10 year corrosion warranty?”

      5 to 10 years is the range. the ‘problem’ is that most (all??) corrosion warranties only cover full-blown eating-all-the-way-through rust. Not the pin prick rust caused by road debris impacts that creeps onto cars past year 6.

      I always thought aftermarket rustproofing was overkill…..any thoughts?

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I can’t think that there are that many cars that need a transmission rebuild within 200,000 km. My mother and my sister both have driven their auto trans equipped cars into the ground, and the only one that that even started having transmission issues was a 1991 Lumina that started shifting funny at 320,000 km, at which time we declared the car to be officially worn out.

    With a manual trans car, the most likely transmission related failure will be with the clutch hydraulics, unless you are abusive of the clutch itself. Should you need clutch or transmission parts, you may be waiting a while. The only good reason to buy a car with a manual transmission is that you enjoy shifting. If you prefer an automatic, get one.

    • 0 avatar
      tubacity

      My Honda AT only lasted to about 115,000 KM. Should have bought another make rather than this vehicle. The transmission was only one of many mechanical failures in this over maintained vehicle. Yes, all transmission maintenance was done, Honda brand ATF drained filled every 16,000 KM.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    Great catch man! I’m sure you’ll really like her. And I hope so because to sell her you’ll need to find another unicorn.

  • avatar
    mikey

    It all depends on where you live,and drive. If your anywhere that salt/brine, or whatever they use is applied to the roads. A yearly liberal application of an oil based rust inhibitor, is a must. Rust has no brand loyalties. A BMW a Kia, or a Silverado, rust will eat your car starting at about year one. By year 8 it will start to show. Killing your resale value. The sub frame will start to rot by year 9. After that about year 13 the vehicle won’t safety check.

    If, and that’s a big if, your good with the clutch, it will run 200,000 plus.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Here in Maine, I have had zero rust issues with European cars even well into their teens. I just run them through the car wash every other week or so, and when particularly salty. And I make a point of finding and cleaning out any dirt traps, like the dog legs ahead of the rear wheels on my Saab 9-5. The ’94 Volvo wagon my brother has now has been in Northern New England its entire life, and has no body rust at all. I very much doubt I will ever have an issue with my ’11 BMW. On my ’91 BMW, when I sold it in ’08 the only rust was from the battery box area in the trunk – at some point a prior owner put a non-vented battery in the car. My car has a gel battery, so unlikely to ever be an issue.

      There is a trouble area around the turn of the century when the Germans went to more environmentally rust proofing and seam sealing products that just didn’t work as well, hence you see rusty German cars from that era. But before that and after, not much of a problem.

      And to put all this in perspective, visible rust on Japanese cars is usually around year 5-6, even now. The Americans seem to do a bit better body-wise than the Japanese, but a bit worse as far as rusty hardware. Nuts and bolts, brake lines, that sort of thing. This is where I have seen a tremendous difference between the Europeans and the rest – the Europeans all use copper-nickel brake and fuel lines that are immune to rust, and they use a much better grade of nut and bolt that don’t turn into lumps of rust after 10 years. You are not paying just for the badge.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        For once I agree wholeheartedly with krhodes, the insight into the Europeans using superior quality materials for hardware and brake lines, along with excellent seam sealing and high quality paint/galvanization is a very real thing. I was blown away when I was over at my mechanic brother’s shop and he was working on a beat to death 1996 A4. It lived all its life in central PA where they get their fair share of snow, and all of the bolts were super clean, even suspension components barely had a spot of surface rust on them. For the long term owner DIYer, this is a godsend. Even where there were deep scratches in the fenders from a prior shunt, no rust had developed. Impressive.

        Flip side being, the Audi’s interior was falling apart and some of the LCD screens were spotty and the electronic climate control was on the fritz. Suspension bushings needed replacement as well (although this wasn’t unreasonable at all at 160k) Atleast it had the simple 12 valve iron block 2.8 V6, a rugged and underappreciated mill when compared to the (in)famous 1.8T. I think the sweet spot would be to get your hands on the most basic, stripped out Euro car with few electronic gizmos to break. Either that or buy Japanese and spray it down with rust proofing wax every fall, as I am doing with my 4runner.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    The high automatic repair cost deal is an old myth. These days you don’t fix a transmission, you replace it with a rebuilt unit. Faster, cheaper, better thanks to the industry born out of rebuilt parts.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      Rebuilt units are typically about $2000. Add the labor, possible new radiator or trans cooler (#1 cause of reman unit failure is junk stuck in the old trans cooler and lines), fluid costs, tax etc. and you’re at $3000. That’s not an insignificant sum.

      • 0 avatar
        mikeg216

        you need to find a better shop, sounds like they’re sending it out to get a remanufactured unit put in and charging you a grand to do that, I went to a bunch of local shops and got prices for my explorer. $2400 everywhere, I went straight to the local rebuilder that everyone uses, $1400.

        • 0 avatar
          Exfordtech

          Depends on what is broken, if it’s just an overhaul kit and seals then your down in the 1400 range. If you need hard parts, torque converter, valve body o/h etc the cost goes up dramatically. That’s when a reman unit makes sense.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Wow, I remember the manual trans Sonatas on the Hyundai website but I didn’t think any had been built. Nice catch.

    Does the B&M shifter from the Accent GT fit?

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Back in 2010 when the then-new Sonatas just launched I talked my wife into looking at one to replace her older Odyssey. The dealer actually had a base model 6MT Sonata on the lot. My wife wasn’t interested because she has a ton of issues with her left knee, plus she never really got the hang of driving manual anyway (riding with her was cringe-worthy). I thought for sure after two model years the MT option went away. I don’t recall the Optima ever having a manual option.

  • avatar
    WheelMcCoy

    @AD – manual transmission? You are pound-wise!!

    @Sajeev – “twankies” — misread it as “twinkies” (mmmm), but had to look it up. The stuff I learn reading TTAC!

    “Rust proof this one well …”

    Maybe that’s a topic for another Piston Slap, but I’ve read some forms of rust proofing do little to help on modern cars. Drilling holes into the car to rust proof the inside makes the car even more vulnerable to rust. Adding mud guards are known to promote rust where the drill holes are made, hence the increasing popularity of no-drill mud guards… or the increasing number of owners preferring to simply do without them.

    Then again, I’ve read some Canadian drivers swear by an annual rust proof session.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I have a 10-14 Sonata rental right now, as the Veranicorn is at the body shop dealing with about 10k of hail damage (damn shadow of the Rocky Mountains!!)

    Whatever the cars other pros and cons, both my lady and I find the seats atrocious, and have had trouble enjoying even a day trip to Banff as a result.

    Really hammered home the importance of throne comfort.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Am I the only one scratching my head here, get a stick, get a hand brake, lose heated seats- huh where is the logic in that, I have not been in said car so unless the heated seats switches are where the hand brake was ???

    Hope the buyer got a good deal, sitting for 13 months and a stick maybe three other folks in NA would buy it, all are on TTAc of course.

    • 0 avatar
      Fenian

      A lot of models only have a stick on the base model. Want a sunroof? You need to step up to the package that only comes with an automatic. Want alloys instead of steel wheels? Automatic only.

      I drive a 2010 Accord EX-L sedan with a stick. It was not an easy car to find, as most sticks were on base LX or mid-range EX models. I’ve never seen build numbers, but it has to be rare as Accords go.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        This sort of thing really irks me. Make sticks almost impossible to find on a dealers lot, limit the equipment choices (and even colors??) you can get with a stick, then marvel at how low the take rate is on stick shifts in this country.

        And for the past 3.5 years, on BMW’s the automatic is standard and the stick a “no cost option”. I would happily pay more for the stick, but I am weird like that. I guess with the automatic being standard (at a higher base price than before), effectively that is the case now. I snuck under the wire for that change with my car by a couple days and saved ~$900.

  • avatar
    50merc

    One lives, one learns. When I moved to Georgia, I didn’t know to demand a termite certificate on the house. (The termite is the State Predator. If only it ate kudzu.) When I bought an old Avanti II that had spent its early years in Connecticut, I didn’t know to put it on a lift and inspect the underside and frame. Egad. (Well, at least the fiberglass wasn’t rusty!)

    The transmission on my second Windstar blew up at 60K miles. A local shop rebuilt it for $1,600, which was a thousand cheaper than a Ford dealership’s quote to install a Ford-rebuilt tranny. Anyone out there have experience buying a rebuilt transmission for an Impala or a Panther, and what was the cost?

  • avatar
    Reino

    In the very near future, when all high-end “sport-xxx” cars go to DCT, the only place to buy a proper stick-shift will be in the low-budget FWD sedans and hatchbacks.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    When I bought my ’08 Saab 9-3SC in ’09, it had been sitting on the lot for about 18mo. It had 12 miles on it, and I think a lot of that was them taking it to their storage lot, and then bringing it back when I bought it. The only issue I had with the car that was probably related was it needed a new battery at about 2yrs/24k after purchase. Which Saab cheerfully provided under warranty. I never noticed, I took it in for the annual service and they found some low voltage codes had been set, so they replaced it. I sold it a couple months later, but to the daughter of a friend. Last I heard, in the past 5yrs the only thing they needed to replace other than routine maintenance was she had to replace the shift knob. Also a manual trans car.

    I will buy manuals just as long as I can, both for the enjoyment, and the lower long term costs. The lowest mileage I have ever had to replace a clutch was 185,000, and I did it myself for <$200. My BMW won't be nearly that cheap, but I can still do it myself.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    So once again, it appears that I have made the wrong decision.

    And it was based on 40 years of experience. The manuals that I have owned have all been VW (air cooled), Hondas or older Detroit ‘muscle’ and never had a problem. Meanwhile, I developed a fear of automatics after having to replace multiple transmissions on numerous Dodge Caravans.

    As a result, I have purchased a vehicle that will have very limited appeal on the used car market or value as a trade-in, the proverbial ‘unicorn.

    My anticipated savings in maintenance/repair costs were illusory as I burn through my clutch in Toronto’s stop and go traffic, on hilly streets in the Beaches area, on slippery, salted and icy roads during the winter.

    Hyundai’s system uses the brake fluid to lubricate the clutch, so brake fluid changes will most likely be more frequent.

    And due to the placement of the hand brake, there is no room on the console for the heated seat controls, so I have to freeze my butt, as my seats are not heated.

    What a misguided trade off. What a fool I am.

    However, I seems that I did spend wisely in getting it Krowned.

    And at least on those occasions when I am driving along empty country roads in the fall and summer I do get the satisfaction that comes with actually ‘driving’ a car and working 3 pedals.

    Yet, I still dream of purchasing a Sonata wagon in brown with a manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      AD,
      I think you got a cool car. I hope you enjoy it for many years. At a minimum, stop beating yourself up!

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The brake fluid does not “lubricate” the clutch. The vehicle has a hydraulically operated clutch, so it has a master cylinder and a slave cylinder, connected by a hose. The brake master cylinder and the clutch master cylinder likely share the same brake fluid reservoir. Makes no difference at all to the life of the brake fluid.
      The clutch should be bled at the same time the brakes are, on whatever schedule Hyundai specifies. No big deal, using a pressure bleeder it is about 2min extra work on most cars.

      Stealing from someone else here is how the trade-in game works:

      Manual transmission – well, nobody wants that, so we have to offer you less.

      Automatic transmission – well, we have tons of those already, which depresses the price, so we have to offer you less.

      In the long run, it won’t make much difference in value, though I am firmly of the opinion that you will save big on maintenance and repairs if you keep it a couple hundred thousand miles. The all-important fluid changes (that people skip) alone cost plenty over that span on an automatic. And when you skip them, you get to buy that rebuilt transmission that much sooner.

      The trick with any unicorn is to sell it privately, and advertise to a wide and/or targeted audience. There is somebody out there who specifically wants that rare car, and they will pay for it. Probably have to wait longer for the right buyer.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Good catch. I forgot the calibre of the readers/posters here and provided the type of wording that I would use when trying to explain this to my spouse.

        Use the dealer for all service, according to the manufacturer’s, not the dealer’s, schedule while the warranty is in force.

        After that, off to my local independent.

    • 0 avatar
      greaseyknight

      When you are done with your “Unicorn”, just list it here on TTAC, and all the Brown Diesel Manual Wagon Fanatics(BDMWF) will be fawning over it.

      Don’t think the clutch is lubricated by brake fluid, generally brake fluid is used for the clutch hydraulic system. I haven’t heard of any modern cars using anything but a standard dry clutch.

      • 0 avatar
        FormerFF

        True dat. The only automotive wet clutches I’ve heard of in recent history are those in some dual clutch transmissions, particularly for higher powered applications. The dual clutch automatic in a Focus, for example, is a dry clutch while the VW DSG and Porsche PDK use a wet clutch.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Your clutch may last a fair bit longer than you expect. I sold a 12 year old Focus that I had since new last year, it had over 200,000 km on its original clutch and it was going strong.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My 01 Elantra’s automatic went 201k miles without a rebuild, but it had faithful fluid changes for the last 63k miles in which I owned it.

    The Sonata stick was the $22k entry price model that Hyundai advertised so prominently when the ’11 design was introduced.

    If you’re only keeping a car for 5-8 years, just about any automatic will go that distance. But the stick will never complicate engine diagnosis, and it will give you more control in winter driving.

    I took a break from the stick for 5 years due to knee trouble (12 years driving a 5-speed 85 Lebaron GTS), but then I had no problems when I got my former 05 xB1 with a stick. The driving position and clutch effort were much different.

    Now my car has no transmission (Leaf EV), and I’ve gotten used to having no worries about clutches, ATF, or any of that transmission stuff. I think all it has is 2 quarts of fluid in the gear reduction.


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