Renault Trafic vs Ford Transit, which one?

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 Frankie boy 07 Oct 2021

Morning all.

Now in a position to buy a van and and am down to a choice of two. Transit swb owned by a reputable garage or a lwb trafic from a dealer. 

Transit seems decent (rust free for its age) but it's 2 years newer and £1300 less.

Both have about the same mileage. 

I've owned transits and been happy with them but no idea how a trafic compares.

Any thoughts?

 graeme jackson 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

The transit is 2 years younger and £1300 cheaper. Seems a no-brainer (sorry for using such a crass colloquialism) . Not sure why you're bothering to ask?

 Frankie boy 07 Oct 2021
In reply to graeme jackson:

Well i figured maybe someone might thoroughly recommend the trafic with stories of super mpg and ultra reliability. 

Ultimately was just wondering if there was much reason for the trafic being so much more

 colinakmc 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

No first hand experience other than that the Trafic is nicer to drive but I hear tales (possibly apocryphal) of gearbox and driveshaft issues with it. 

 Enty 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

No idea about Transits but I've had two Trafic minibuses over the last 12 years. One a SWB one a LWB.

First one gear box went after about 180,000Km but other than that was brilliant and a really good workhorse. 

My current one (2012) is a bit tired now at 200,000km and I'm hoping to replace next year. Still a brilliant runner but struggles a bit in the Alps with 8 people and the trailer

Models 2011 and later have a chain which supposedly lasts the lifetime of the van but I'm going to get mine checked at the next service.


 gravy 07 Oct 2021
In reply to colinakmc:

(possibly apocryphal)

Nope, I can personally testify to the shiteness of trafic gearboxes having gone through two replacements before I thought better of a £1500 bill every two years.

Apart from that it was a very nice van

 e.ms355 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

Very happy with my trafic (swb) had it 2 years now, it's 14 years old. two owners before me, 110k and so far so good. just come back from european roadtrip, no issues whatsoever

 Frankie boy 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

Yeah, in all honesty, the transit seems like a better deal on paper but I still see way more old Trafics and Vivaros about than I do Transits. Budget wise I'm already likely to be getting an old one anyway, but in my head I dont see any 2007 transits about much so getting a 2009 one doesn't sound like years of motoring ahead, despite it being cheaper. I do kinda prefer the extra space in the LWB Trafic too. Trafics = gearbox problems, Transits = rust problems. Swings and roundabouts I guess.

In reply to Frankie boy:

I’ll mention this as a bit of an aside since I don’t know if vans are being similarly affected, but used cars are escalating in price meantime in UK.

I read that average used car price in UK sold through auto trader was up £2k last month c/w in Sept 20. First hand, I’ve seen at a garage around the corner where there is a 19 reg car (admittedly a prestige model so prob loaded with kit) which last week I thought was priced very high from just a glance, but yesterday when I passed it has another £3k added to the price ticket!

Also, I’ve seen some near new cars several months old/pre regs/demos going for virtually full rrp, and was told by a sales person that they are at unprecedented levels with trade ins being similarly higher valued. 

In reply to Frankie boy:

I've had one transit and 3 vivaros/ trafics (in amongst the 10 vans I've owned).  Despite the transit disintegrating due to rust I would buy one again if it were the right van - trafic/vivaros I wouldnt touch.  The engines seem to be made of cheese - if the injectors dont fail the gear box (or crankshaft!) will somewhere around the 150k mark.  They're a good cheap van for tradies who want something that looks sharp for three years and goes nice and quick (for a van) but once they get into the second hand market they dont have long to live.  

Transits - just watch out for the rust!

 Frankie boy 07 Oct 2021
In reply to arose:

Yeah the ŕust is what worries me about the transit. Its a 2009, had a respray body but don't know what underneath is like yet a bit seen it. 

It's just that you don't see many pre 2007 transits about and i kinda don't wanna be throwing the van away in a couple of years, not at current prices anyway.

 Frankie boy 07 Oct 2021
In reply to Climbing Pieman:

Van prices are up about 50% on what they were before 2020. Currently I'm looking at paying about 6k on a van that i would have only considered paying 3 or 4k on 2 years ago.

Normally i wouldn't consider buying one now but my last one was written off so no choice. 

In reply to Frankie boy:

Get it on a ramp and have a poke about with a screw driver.  If theres any mention of rust on the MOT advisories it'll cost you a load next year.

In reply to Frankie boy:

Is it for a camper conversion? If so I wouldn’t choose on the mechanics (which are probably a bit of a lottery) but the size of each. If it was intended for an extended trip abroad then I’d get the LWB, if it is for weekends and holidays I’d get the swb  

 deepsoup 08 Oct 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

Hm..  I'm currently wondering if I'll be wanting a new van or just a new gearbox within the next few months or so.  I was thinking new van, but if second-hand prices are silly perhaps another gearbox is the way forward.

More vague info for the OP:

I'm on my second Renault Trafic.  The previous one had started making slightly ominous gearbox noises (at about 180k) when I sold it to a builder friend of a friend.  (He then went on to cheerfully abuse it for many more miles, so I guess the noises weren't as ominous as I thought.)

Meanwhile my current van, which had about 70k on the clock at the time, needed a new one almost as soon as I'd bought it.  (It was ex RAC and might have had a bit of a hard life towing.)  It was actually the diff that was whining then, not the gearbox itself.  It had a reconditioned box fitted then, is up to about 185k now and has just recently started to be a bit noisy in 6th.  Not a problem yet, but I guess it's only going to get worse.

I've loved both vans, and had no problems with the engines despite their reputation other than the odd load of gunk in the EGR valve of the first one.  Both have always been quite expensive on suspension and brake parts, bushes, brake calipers & pads, shocks etc.  But perhaps that's more a reflection on the quality of the roads around here (and the quality of my driving) than the van itself.

The gearbox has always been the fly in the ointment of the 'driving experience' though - they're really nice to drive* otherwise but changing gear can be clunky.  The current one has always been especially difficult to get into 2nd when it's cold.  (Fine when it warms up.)  Both developed a problem at around 150k where the gearbox cable starts to pop off.  Which feels catastrophic, but it's just a press-stud type thing and you can pop it right back on - for a while until it gets really sloppy and starts to become a real problem.  A new pair of cables are irritatingly expensive to fix such a relatively minor problem at one end of one of them.

(*Bearing in mind that my previous few vans were LDV, so almost anything would have been a marked improvement!)

Oh, and FWIW both alternators conked out and needed to be replaced at almost exactly 140k.

In reply to Frankie boy:

I have a LWB vivaro (which is same as a Traffic) and think it’s great.

Timely oil changes are super important with diesels so checking the service history might help you choose between them.

In reply to Frankie boy:

Advice I got years ago, was that if it had a towbar... don't buy it

Because if it spent a lot of time towing, the engine is prematurely aged compared to all the ones that don't

In reply to Frankie boy:

My last 2 vans have been traffics, got shut of 1 at 5 years and 180k, the next one at 7 years 194k. Other than the last one having an electrical problem in the first month they were perfect. I also had a small fleet of 4 more traffics at work. 1 had its injectors changed at 150k.

Not a single gear box problem on any of them and they were all heavily ladened. 

I had a 07 transit from New, it's the only van I ever got rid of as soon as the warranty ran out. Fuel pump once, 2 egr valves and 1 other thing that I can't remember. At 3 years old and 70k you could hear the rumble of the dual mass flywheel getting ready to give in and it was peppered with rust too. 

The transit was the nicest to drive and had a very tight turning circle compared with the Traffic, its also about 6 inch wider. Doesn't sound much but it adds a lot to the internal space. 

Ahh almost forgot, my own traffic needed 3 sets of suspension toppers in its 194k life but it did spend a lot of time on Farm roads. 

 Frankie boy 09 Oct 2021
In reply to Dax H:

Thanks all for the info.
Realistically it sounds like any van (especially) in my price bracket is going to be a lottery. I guess what I'm hoping for (as I'm sure we all do) is the one which will have the least unwanted bills in the long run.
Sadly the van market is really crazy. Trying to find a van for 5 or 6k that I'll get more than a couple of years out of seems to be the challenge at the moment. I once had what I thought was a "fairly decent" 07 plate transit and that van doesn't even exist any more so the thought of spending 5k on an 09 plate........

My last van was a Citroen Dispatch (until someone wrote it off). It was nice and nippy, but the 1.6 engine was notorious for injector problems. Twice for me in 2 years. It was also a bit too narrow for me in an ideal world, hence looking at the wider Transit or Trafic.
I even looked Vitos but they all seemed well out of my price range at the moment.

In reply to Frankie boy:

I had a Mk1 dispatch, I got it new and ran it for 4 years, 150k and it cost me nothing except servicing, tyres, brakes and the exhaust fell off at 120k. I think I got it some time around 1993 or 94.

SH is always a gamble, especially at the age your looking for. Newer ex fleet are normally okay but at the age your looking at they will have been in private or small business hands and most people in that situation run them to the ground if they are reliable and get shut if they are not. 

In reply to Frankie boy:

Keen an eye on what this guy has for sale.

He gets a lot of Fleet vans which have been perfectly maintained throughout their life and in top condition. I bought my Vivaro off him  - an ex British gas van - for 7k and it’s impeccable.

 themuppet 10 Oct 2021
In reply to Frankie boy:

Are you able to stretch your budget at all?

I'm about to put up for sale a 15 plate Renault Trafic 115 Business in black. It's done 120k miles and has been well looked after and is a clean and tidy van with nice extras such as built in Sat Nav and remote phone connection. Looking for around 7.5k and there's no VAT to add as it's a private sale.

In reply to Frankie boy:

No experience of driving a transit, but our old Traffic drives very nicely, and it has been easy to find cheap parts for wherever around Europe.

One factor to decide is that the I believe the Traffic is significantly narrower than the Ford with excellent visibility. Great for parking and manuvering, there are SUV's wider than it. But this may limit some campervan layouts. We managed to get good wall insulation and still fit in everything we wanted though. Sideways beds are not really an option. 

In reply to Frankie boy:

Are you planning to convert it to a camper?

After VW it seems that the vivaro/traffic is the next most popular conversion, the upshot being it’s much easier to buy off-the-shelf campervan components that have been designed for it.

Post edited at 13:07
 Frankie boy 11 Oct 2021
In reply to themuppet:

I think I'd be pushing it a bit to get up to 7k to be honest. My main target is nearer 6k but if the van looked really good (or as really good as you can expect for that kind of money), I could probably get up to about 7k.

By all means though, feel free to mail me the info and I'll discuss it with the wife.

 Frankie boy 11 Oct 2021
In reply to Twiggy Diablo:

To be honest, I've always done the camper conversions my self, so "off the shelf" parts have never really entered my head. 

In reply to Neston Climber:

Our Dispatch was a bit snug when we were in it width wise so anything wider than that is a bonus.

Post edited at 19:37
In reply to Frankie boy:

Same here really but the few bits i did buy (windows, popup roof, and passenger seat swivel) seemed easier and/or cheaper to get for a VW or Vivaro than other vans.

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