Auto or Manual Box (1 Viewer)

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Neil H

Free Member
Jul 20, 2019
44
10
Funster No
62,556
MH
Chausson Flash 04
Exp
Since 2010
Hi, searching for a van conversion about 6m long, probably a Fiat Ducato 2017 ish. I guess that if I buy a auto in this age range it will have a Comfort Matic auto box, rather than the later 9 speed true auto. After reading loads about the problems of this box the question is, is it worth taking the gamble and going auto. Most of the vans that we have seen advertised are auto, by not having the confidence to buy one its ruling out a lot of vans that might be suitable for us. Thanks in advance Jan and Neil
 
May 14, 2021
1,776
2,864
East Yorkshire, UK
Funster No
81,218
MH
ADRIA Twin 640SLB
Exp
Since 2012
I think the 9 speed auto came out in Ducato’s anniversary production, which was July 2021 I think, My 2022 van is but my mates 2019 van wasn’t.
 
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May 3, 2021
118
232
South Devon, UK
Funster No
80,860
MH
Autocruise Alto 2013
Exp
Since 2021
We’ve got a comformatic, 2013 van. It does drive a little differently than a ‘normal’ automatic, but it didn’t take long to get used to and I’d have no hesitation having another if needed.

That said, although I’ve no personal experience of the new 9 speed auto, based on having the 8speed version of the same box in my main car, that would definitely be an upgrade!
 
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Jul 12, 2013
3,898
5,306
The City of Henlow
Funster No
26,906
MH
Adria Supreme
Exp
Since 1980
Your question was Manual or Automatic rather than getting too engrossed in the technical differences between the various versions of 'Automatic'. Surely the discussion is between having total control of gears or allowing the vehicle to select the most suitable gear for performance or economy or ease of driving.
I have an electric auto gearbox on my Renault Master and mostly love it. I am perhaps more confident in the reliability of a manual box but would not wish to change.

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May 3, 2021
118
232
South Devon, UK
Funster No
80,860
MH
Autocruise Alto 2013
Exp
Since 2021
Your question was Manual or Automatic rather than getting too engrossed in the technical differences between the various versions of 'Automatic'. Surely the discussion is between having total control of gears or allowing the vehicle to select the most suitable gear for performance or economy or ease of driving.
I have an electric auto gearbox on my Renault Master and mostly love it. I am perhaps more confident in the reliability of a manual box but would not wish to change.

Good point! We weren’t specifically looking for an automatic - we were looking for a very specific layout/spec of van. The first one we found which was suitable and within budget happened to be an auto. I saw (and still see) it as a bonus!

I’ve not had issues with the gearbox so I guess my opinion is different from someone who has had expensive/complicated issues. My (brief) research before buying did not indicate systemic issues - sure plenty of people who have had issues but equally many who have had the same box multiple times on different vans and have been pleased with it.

Whilst I did end up adapting my driving style slightly to suit the comformatic auto, I now very rarely ‘disagree’ with the gear it chooses. Notable exceptions being up or down very steep windy hills - such as from the cliff to a beach or in a mountain range. In those cases I do tend to revert to semi auto and override the selection as either it’s revving like crazy unnecessarily, or changing up to 2nd when I can see that I’m going to need 1st again ver shortly. Other than that, it ‘just works’!
 
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davidroxburgh

LIFE MEMBER
Apr 16, 2014
295
450
West Sussex
Funster No
31,012
MH
Van Conversion
Exp
Since 2012
I would not worry. In general an auto even if comfortmatic is much more sought after. If you look at dealers ordered new vehicles the vast majority are auto. I accept that the new 9 speed auto is better than the comfortmatic but that means a very late van.
We have had 3 - 2012 Burstner Ixeo 6 meters 150 engine. Particulate filter issue once but otherwise great. Next 2012 Hymer LHD bought in Germany - 150 engine - never missed a beat. If in VERY mountainous country with say start at junction on severe slope it may take a few goes to start right. Next Westfalia Columbus LHD bought Germany 2.3 177 top engine. No issue whatsoever.
For many oldies such as me auto is relaxing especially in city centres.
Go for it!
 
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mikebeaches

LIFE MEMBER
Feb 22, 2010
5,455
8,949
Bristol
Funster No
10,377
MH
Rapido V68 Van Conversion
Exp
Since 2009
Touch wood, no problem with our Confortmatic gearbox and now much more relaxing and comfortable to drive than a manual, from a personal perspective. :giggle:

When younger, always preferred manual gearboxes - but then age started to creep up on me... ;)

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Apr 22, 2018
6,888
12,719
Herts.
Funster No
53,503
MH
Adria Coral lowline
Personally wouldn’t have a comformatic box. Full auto yes. When it does play up, you are knackered. Holiday over. No one appears to be able to fix them, you can’t tow it, you can’t play the no clutch match the revs gearchange scenario as you can on a manual. Everytime you read about one failing on a holiday, it becomes a massive event with people swapping bits, waiting for parts and generally not knowing what they are doing with it, and everyone on here thinking they know more then the “specialist” who now has the van in their workshop. That’s not for me.
 
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Nov 14, 2018
1,119
2,726
Europe
Funster No
57,224
MH
A grey one
Exp
since 1996
I ended up with Comformatic by mistake. When I picked up the van from Germany, expecting it to be manual it was Comformatic. I was delighted at the mistake as I'd payed for a manual version. I've had automatic cars before but never a motorhome. I really like it and won't go back to manual. I've got an Adria Twin on order and that will have the automatic gearbox.
 
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Oct 28, 2022
463
947
Funster No
92,132
MH
Rapido
Personally wouldn’t have a comformatic box. Full auto yes. When it does play up, you are knackered. Holiday over. No one appears to be able to fix them, you can’t tow it, you can’t play the no clutch match the revs gearchange scenario as you can on a manual. Everytime you read about one failing on a holiday, it becomes a massive event with people swapping bits, waiting for parts and generally not knowing what they are doing with it, and everyone on here thinking they know more then the “specialist” who now has the van in their workshop. That’s not for me.
Obviously you know then, thanks

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Puddleduck

LIFE MEMBER
Jan 15, 2014
12,449
44,380
Scottish Borders
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29,703
MH
Without at present
Exp
On and off for many years.
Ours is a 2016 Comfortomatic and (touch wood) no issues at all.

The car, Peugeot has an electronic auto and likewise no issues.

I would not go back to a manual box.
 
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Aug 26, 2008
4,806
25,674
B&NES
Funster No
3,823
MH
Van Conversion
Exp
since 2007
Probably time for a poll thread! We only hear about the ComfortMatics that needed fixing, which is always a major issue for the unfortunate MHer, and don't hear as much about the ones that just keep on working after years of use and many thousands of happy touring miles.

I had to drive a manual loan car last month. Dealers seem to avoid autos for cheap loan cars. Why is that, when so many customers drive autos. First time for over 2 years. Pulling away from junctions hoping not to stall. Having to remember to change gears. It reminded me why my van and car are autos.
 
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hja

May 8, 2020
1,001
3,265
Lincolnshire
Funster No
70,433
MH
Globecar Summit Prim
Exp
Since 2019
Wouldnt touch a manual. Have had auto cars for years. Had a comformatic for a couple of years - I had no problem, but hubby did. It went into limp mode a couple of times. Seemed to be his big feet getting two pedals at once. Now have the new auto ear box which is great.
 
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Neil H

Free Member
Jul 20, 2019
44
10
Funster No
62,556
MH
Chausson Flash 04
Exp
Since 2010
Brilliant, what a great forum, thanks for all your comments, very helpful, I think you pays your money and takes your chance, but if a van with the comfortmatic box comes up i would definitely consider buying it, thanks again Jan and Neil
 
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Oct 12, 2018
164
219
Somerset, UK
Funster No
56,690
MH
Buerstner Travel Van
Exp
Not long enough!
My wife's car has a 9-speed slush pump box. My car has a CVT. Our motorhome has a Comfortmatic. The wife's is undoubtedly the best (but cost a fortune). I love the CVT which is much better than everyone seems to think. The Comfortmatic is as good as the CVT but with both you need to understand how it reacts and drive accordingly.
I haven't driven a manual for about 25 years and normally use my left foot for braking. With slush pump/CVT this allows better control of the torque convertor and a smoother drive. Can't do this with the Confortmatic as the system won't allow brake and throttle simultaneously (to protect the electric clutch) so I have to concentrate! Not being able to brake and nudge forward makes getting on levelling ramps a bit more difficult but given the choice again I'd go for the Confortmatic every time. And yes, these forums (I'm on several bike forums in addition to this one) tend to report problems rather than satisfaction so I suspect (hope!) the scare stories are overblown.

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Upvote 0
Dec 17, 2016
984
1,011
Malvern
Funster No
46,488
MH
Hymer B525 2006 A cl
Exp
2012
I would be wary of the Mercedes version of the comformatic, called Sprint shift. They seemed to have been more problematic. Sprintshift stopped being used awhile back now, however. Recent auto Mercs have been torque converters
 
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Jul 18, 2009
11,385
18,496
Manchester UK + Javea/Xabia Spain + Abu Dhabi
Funster No
7,543
MH
HYMER B644
Exp
2004
I would be wary of the Mercedes version of the comformatic, called Sprint shift. They seemed to have been more problematic. Sprintshift stopped being used awhile back now, however. Recent auto Mercs have been torque converters
Sold to VW in the old Mercedes built crafter. Re-branded “shiftmatic”. Should have been sprintshit re-branded shitmatic.
 
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