Vivaro-Trafic_2-Primastar_2001-2014

In Europe, the family of vans Vivaro, Trafic 2, Primastar is one of the most popular in its class. Traditionally for commercial vehicles these cars were produced for a long time: from 2001 to 2014, and under several brands - Renault Trafic 2, Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro and Nissan Primastar. Let's start by taking apart the body, interior and electrics, and find out how reliable the suspensions, transmissions and engines are. Here is a detailed report on possible problems that owners of these popular vans may encounter.

Technics

This generation of Trafic was developed by Renault together with Opel, but in terms of technology it is actually a French car. There are no borrowed from Opel technical solutions, all units are French. Van with all-steel monocoque body was offered with two different wheelbases (3098 and 3498 mm), several versions with different heights and with three, four or five doors. Number of passenger seats - up to 9. Gross weight of all versions is 3-3,5 tons and payload is up to 1200 kg.

In addition to cargo and passenger van available flatbed version and chassis for installation of special bodies. Benefit design of supporting floor does not require modification, and all connections of chassis and communications are in it. 

The truck is driven on the front axle, and the arrangement of the units is transverse, in-line. Here are widely known from Renault passenger cars motors series F4R, M9R, F9Q and commercial range unit G9U. The only unusual solution is Quickshift robotized transmission with quick hydraulic actuator by MagnetiMarelli, which is structurally similar to Selespeed by FIAT. But this is an option for the most powerful 2.5 engines. The suspension is of McPherson type in the front, but there is a beam in the back - not twisted, with a Panares traction.

Trafic is a representative of the original design at the time of its appearance. Layout of the body is half-bonnet, and to access to the units the front end is almost completely disassembled, creating excellent conditions for service. This solution in the future will be massively used by other brands. Bearing body base with high raised panels is unoriginal, but progressive compared to the frame and combines high rigidity with low weight and the ability to install simplified, non-force body components.

Traditional for commercial vehicles design provides simplified maintenance not only the main units, but also internal equipment with the easiest access to the wiring harnesses and climate system. And in general, everything is very simple - and in this case it is an advantage.

Chronology

September 2001. The twins Renault Trafic II and Opel Vivaro are presented to the public. Motors are petrol 2.0, 120 hp F4R. Diesel engines - 1.9, 82 hp and 101 hp F9Q Series, and 2.5, 135 hp G9U Series. A robotized transmission is available for the 2.5 motor.

June 2006. Restyling of the model. Gasoline engine power was reduced to 117 hp because of the introduction of Euro 4 emission standards. The 1.9 diesel engines were replaced by 2.0 series M9R engines (90 and 114 hp), the 2.5 diesel began to produce 146 hp.

August 2014. Model production is phased out at Luton. Nissan models in Barcelona were produced until 2015.

Body

Exterior panels

As with any commercial vehicle, Renault Trafic's mileage is very high on average, and it's hard to expect perfect condition. But the use of quality and galvanized metal, coupled with its large thickness, is encouraging. The cars in private usage, especially the passenger cars, can be found in the versions after restyling in the native paint, but the chances are slim.

In Russia, Trafic is not the most popular model, and to find an ideal one will be difficult. Paint chips are not uncommon, especially in the southern regions. Most of the cars have mileage well over half a million. And with such runs, chances are high that the car has been repainted a couple of times "up to the waist". However, it is not so terrible, the question is in quality of works. During examination it is better not to be lazy and to reject variants with outright infringements of technologies.

The main places of corrosion are the front arches (especially at the joint with the door), driver's sill, area around the gas tank hatch, rear arches on the edge, lower part of side sliding door recess and sill, and also rear doors - especially if they are repeatedly dented.

In "highway" cars, the front edge of the hood often rots and the edge of the roof suffers. Front doors rotted mainly from inside, at the joint of metal and inner liner - this is the place where seal is adjoined and it is often damp. The bottom edge suffers seldom. The attachment points of the outer molding corrode very slowly, and the rust does not come out. The opening of sliding door often fouls at the bottom: it is necessary to look at the joint of panels under the seal. And it is definitely worth checking the "step" - moisture accumulates under the mat. There is often corrosion on the driver's door stops - it is a result of loads from driving.

From below

A high rise floor and thick metal contribute to longevity, especially if owners keep their floors dry. The floor of the cargo area rusts mostly around the edges and in the seat mount recesses on the cabin side. The problem is that the floor carpet here is with foam padding and gets wet with time. The seams suffer first of all - and these are joints of floor with rear wheels' arches and rear panel.

The plastic paneling of the side panel is well ventilated, and therefore the moisture does not get to side seams of vertical panels. The side door sill recess has notches. They trap moisture, which spreads through the rubber lower door seal over the entire plane of the door adjacency. The seal needs to be dried regularly, as does the recess. Plus, there's always damage to the paintwork from the feet here. The bottom door rail is also a problematic element. Both its fasteners and the niche where it is located on the body should be checked.

The driver's door threshold is a typical place of through corrosion. If you remove the carpet, then on most cars there is a large area where the paint is peeling, and at best you can see the gray zinc coating, and almost certainly under the seal of the doorway and wiring harness there is loose corrosion. At worst, there's a hole through which you can see asphalt.

The rear wheel arches can be accessed from the interior by removing the interior side panel trim. Rarely do the arches rot through. The main problems here are because of internal corrosion, with condensation on the side walls of the body and moisture on the floors.

Let's look under the bottom: everything is usually not bad here. Floors of a body are attacked minimally - they are processed with a good conscience from the factory, and corrosion is spreading slowly. Sills are surprisingly thick and well zinced. The main thing is to renew the paint in proper time. Mainly the inner edge at the very bottom and brackets of reinforcements are damaged.

The inner mudguards and spars are made from very thick steel, and from the factory everything is covered with bitumen compound. Although the rear wheel arches don't have lockers, they too have a solid factory coating, so there are only a few problematic edges. The spring mounting area suffers if the rubber support has been damaged. The metal there is thick, but the spring rubs it off. There is some corrosion in the front arches at the top and where the plugs are mounted on the rear edge.

The condition of the body is not bad even with the first years cars, especially when you remember how sad everything is with the Mercedes Benz Vito W638 of the same years.

From absolutely imperceptible places, where corrosion feels like home, it is possible to note a rear bumper beam. It's not visible from the outside, and it's black metal, so it rots right through by the time it's 15 years old. The front beam corrodes too, but not as badly.

Body equipment

The Renault Trafic is as simple as possible - even the power windows are mostly manually operated, so there's not much breakage at high mileage. Locks, door hinges are reliable, but still often need to be replaced in the passing cars. Breakage of window elevator cables is a big rarity, but it happens. Due to intensive use, sometimes there is wear and tear of the drive gears. A windshield is big, expensive, and very often they glue it badly - it leaks, and the interior and glass frame suffer because of it.

The age takes its toll, and small technical sins on Trafic are not uncommon. It could be the mirrors vibrations, deterioration of wiper blade, breakage of the sliding door mechanism or loss of tightness of the hood seals, due to which the water gets on the engine. Especially diesel engines 2.5, which have no cover, suffer from moisture: glow plugs and injectors get seized.

Bumper plastics become brittle over time and break easily, especially in southern regions. Headlights hold up well and only require polishing. The taillights are often broken by swinging doors, but this is to be expected for commercial vehicles.

The steering shaft sealant gasket in the engine compartment is flying out of place, and as a result, cold air blows into the driver's legs, and the interior becomes a little noisy. The rear window washer tube falls out of the mounts in winter and rubs against the asphalt. But taking into account the age and hard operation these are all trifles - the quality of execution can be evaluated as excellent.

Interior

Trafic interior is cut strong enough not to fall apart at mileage over half a million. Certainly, the quality of sound insulation is not high, everything is made of squeaky thick plastic, but the interior is durable and generally comfortable enough for a working vehicle. The condition depends on the mileage and attitude.  

The dashboards, unfortunately, are not eternal. Backlighting dies, sometimes indicators malfunction, especially on pre-2006 examples. The community of owners have already mastered the installation of panels after 2006.

With the "climate" in Trafic all is not very good, and the complaints about unheated heater are met regularly. The cable flaps can be damaged because of corrosion of guides and axles and broken gears. But the reasons are more often in something else: the truck's rear heater is controlled by a solenoid, and it can fail to operate. It will be cold in the cabin, and if the car is not heated up to working temperature, and the radiator is choked because of the infrequent replacement of antifreeze. Fortunately the availability of the system elements is excellent, for removal of cables and a radiator it is not necessary to disassemble the front panel, and the block of the heater with a motor is dismounted from under the hood, almost like on Mercedes Benz Vito of the first generation. Surprisingly often there are cars with air conditioner, its main failures are sensors and fan defects.

Electrics

The electrics are as "conditional" as possible, and the arrangement of elements, as it often happens on commercial vehicles, is excellent. It is possible to recollect from frankly strange and unsuccessful decisions only the unit of understeering plume executed together with understeering levers. Its resource is decent, but the price for replacement is biting.

As a whole here everything is simple - no optics. The connectors are huge, the wires are thick, the fuses are big, and there are a lot of bolt-on terminal connections. It is a pity that the quality of wires is not very high: it is usual for first models with crumbling insulation in the engine compartment and even in the interior.

Nevertheless, the problems with electronics are minimum - taking into account a run, of course. Because dying MID displays, relays requiring replacement, ignition switch contact groups, broken plugs of glow plugs and afterheater, interior lamps and limit switches, earth connection failure - all this, alas, is the owner's everyday life.

Running gear

Brake system

There are few claims to the brakes. Disks with diameter of 305 mm and thickness of 28 mm are used in front - these are difficult to overheat, and they serve for a long time. The caliper is simple, with a floating bracket, and very reliable. However, with runtimes over 200 thousand they are usually already repaired due to wear of guides and seals. Rear brakes are disc, too, but not ventilated, and diameter is less, 280 mm. The main complaint is to the parking brake mechanism, it is screw, and such design is inclined to sticking, leaks and corrosion of handbrake drive gland area. It is worth remembering that the rear brake discs are made together with the hub, traditionally for the French cars.

Another usually weak spot is a mechanical vacuum pump of diesel engines, its life is not infinite. Superfluous knocks, shavings in oil, weak brakes - all these can be a consequence of its wear.

And also remember: these vans have versions without ABS. Now this is quite a serious disadvantage, especially - for commercial vehicles with its large range of load variation on the rear axle.

Suspension

By the suspension, Renault Trafic II and Opel Vivaro I are the real commercial vehicles, so the suspensions are made with a fair amount of reliability. The McPherson front suspension is very strong, not a compare with the light ones: there are strong support bearings, strong shock absorber rods and tubes, good springs. Levers are massive, steel, with simple rubber silentblocks and replaceable ball bearing. Levers are attached to the solid subframe with solid bolts.

Rear suspension has a rigid Panae beam with a tie rod, very enduring, with separate underpinnings for springs on a body: not to break a longitudinal frame member during overloading. Of course, hub bearings are replaceable everywhere, very sturdy.

The weak point in the front suspension is stabilizer bars, and in the rear one only the silent blocks of a beam, bushings of Panorah drawbar and fasteners are worn out. But there is a nuance: suspensions are demanding to maintain.  Levers on both axles need to be put in strictly according to the regulations, tightening the silent blocks under load, monitor the serviceability of the springs. And, of course, the suspensions will live if you don't overload the car. A 2 ton load will break the rear beam and twist the mounts.

Steering

The Renault Trafic II and Opel Vivaro I are equipped with the usual power steering. However, the design is very different from the passenger car by the massiveness of all elements and durability. The high-pressure pump is structurally different from the accustomed Bosch. There are specific French features in the form of fancy brackets for attachments and a large number of flexible hoses in the hydraulics. But the main problems are related to the mileage of the commercial vehicles. There are some specific troubles - for example, deep wear of the valve stack, mechanical wear of the shafts and ripped threads of the lugs, typical for mileages over half a million kilometers.

Transmission

Common problems

Wear of CV joints is typical for cars with high mileage, but there are minimum problems with splines, everything is assembled and disassembled quite well. There are triplets, outboard bearings and even outboard brackets for sale separately. So in this part you can not expect random failures, it is important not to allow operation with torn anthers.

Manual transmissions

Before the restyling, the model was mainly equipped with PK5 series manuals with a 1.9 diesel and PK6 for cars with gasoline 2.0 and diesel 2.5. After restyling, Renault Trafic II and Opel Vivaro I received a box PF6 for all diesel engines, and the gasoline 2.0 engine had PK6.

Transmissions in the PK5/6 range are widely unified, have compatible "stuffing" and are interchangeable. The bodies of these boxes are made with a good margin of safety, and the bearings are also good. Basically the gear shifter gland is failing, and the shaft and the bearing are wrecked. However, spare parts are on sale. The drive cables have a bad habit to fly off the levers, but to prevent such breakage there are special sets of the plate and washer on the famous Chinese web-site.

At high mileage you will still have to get into the box. Unfortunately, in disassembly it is not very convenient - there are many press fits, many places where you need to adjust the gap, and some of the bearings are irreversibly damaged during disassembly. And the bearing kit is not cheap. If you want to buy a second-hand mechanical gearbox PK5/6 series, in decent condition it will cost from 20 thousand rubles.

The PF6 box is newer, lighter, but its synchronizers have shorter service life. But there are almost no problems with the shift actuator, and its bearings are cheap and reliable. The PF6 is much easier to repair, but used ones are much more expensive for some reason.

The flywheel on all engines is simple, single-mass, and the clutch drive is hydraulic and reliable. Only the replacement price can be disappointing: the original one costs about 30 thousand rubles, the replacement "with a name" - about 10 thousand.

Automatic transmissions

Strange as it may seem, but the Trafic and Vivaro are offered with an automatic transmission. But it is not a "real automatic", but only the gearshift and clutch from Magneti Marelli, on the model of SeleSpeed transmissions for FIAT. The problems are basically the same: in winter the mechanism refuses to work until warmed up, likes fresh fluid in the actuator, at the age of ten years and older it is capricious and leaks. Services do not like it very much, though as a whole it is logical and works rather tolerably, much better than Easytronic on Opel. The Italian mechanism has racing roots, and shifts are fast. But there is no sense for a van to growl at overkick changes, and the mechanical part can hardly sustain multiple hard shifts.

Engines

General problems

The main enemy of these cars, as we have already said, is the long mileage. Otherwise, everything here is designed for long and happy operation. Access to all systems is convenient, especially if you remove external body panels. The only disappointment is the presence of water in the engine compartment, and we told you about it in the first part of the article.

Gasoline engines

Good old 2.0 F4R is well known to all Renault owners from Duster and Megane/Fluence. The Trafic II was equipped with F4R-720 and F4R-820, the differences are minimal. This is a very reliable, strong, long-life engine without special childhood illnesses, with cheap spare parts and easy maintenance.

In Trafic II, the engine is good for mileage over 500 thousand, if it is well maintained. It is necessary to monitor the wiring, change the phasor regulator at every change of the timing belt, and do not overheat - the piston is coking very willingly. Especially, it is necessary to follow the condition of crankcase gases venting, and cleanliness of a fuel tank. Well, even the de-force variants of Trafic engine tolerate АI-92 badly, detonation is distinctly audible.

The fuel consumption of Trafic with this engine is quite moderate, and it's a very good option if you're not hung up on fuel economy or are ready to put a GTB, the engine has hydro-compensators, and the valves are burned very rarely.

Diesel engines

Heavy fuel engines are represented by passenger car diesel 1.9 F9Q and 2.0 M9R - the second option was put after restyling. A 2.5 engine with the index G9U is a representative of the commercial lineup and differs greatly in design. It was installed during the whole period of model release.

Renault M9R engine

The most common engines are 1.9 with 101 and 82 hp. This is a first generation F9Q series engine with Bosch Common Rail fuel system and turbines without variable geometry.

The 1.9 units are considered very reliable, but, as usual, there is a nuance. For a start the oil pressure should be closely watched, because the oil pump is underpressurized when it is worn, and this causes rotation of liners. Besides, among possible problems are killed vacuum pump, overheats, wiring failures. Also the engine strongly depends on a condition of the expansion valve, and the timing belt can be easily torn, if a cheap analog was installed or a broken belt of auxiliary units drive got under it. Or if you just tried to drive more than 60k from replacement to replacement. An extremely unsuccessful EGR heat exchanger is the cherry on the cake. Slider jamming, breakage of choke, internal block heat exchanger cut-off valve and heat exchanger leakage are possible here.

Thus, mechanically the engine is reliable enough. Early wear of the piston almost never occurs, the cylinder head breaks only if one drives long and hard with "squeezed" valves, or with wrong injection timing and other gross errors of operation. The engine can throw up quite a lot of small failures, power loss and the like, but for the most part they are related to maintenance only.

The M9R series motors are noticeably more powerful, but they have a shorter service life. Also, unfortunately, piezo injectors are not the most successful unit.

The 2.5 G9U engines are expected to be phenomenally reliable, but in reality it's not quite like that. The piston life is really very high, over a million. Turbines are very common, KKK03 (on the pre-restyling) and GTB1752, with a life of over 250 thousand. Not a record, but quite decent, given the low price of the cartridges. Another pluses are the reliable fuel equipment Bosch 2nd and 3rd generation after restyling, electromagnetic injectors and successful layout, greatly simplifying maintenance. As for the rest, everything is not so rosy. 

Renault G9U engine

Nozzles stop working due to flooding with water from the hood, and can also easily get stuck from corrosion and burned washers. The engine has a fairly complex mechanism with a belt and gears, in the casing of which through a bad gland is very fond of oil leakage. In addition, the gears in the mechanism drive sometimes break. The pump design is rarely "successful" - the antifreeze can get into the crankcase through it. And what without the same problematic EGR block, as on other Renaults - only here a broken throttle has high chances to fly under valves. And the saddest part is that the cylinder head is prone to cracking. This usually happens at very high mileage, but is often caused by overheating. The second big nuisance is the oil pump pressure reducing valve jamming and a high probability of oil pressure drop.

The strangest thing is that there is no original repair piston for the engine, and there are no liners. The short block is replaced as standard. However, there are some non-original parts, and they are not very expensive.

In general, the impression of 2.5 G9U is ambiguous. With good service chances for long and happy run are high, but the price of any negligence is very great. And the saddest thing is that there are no and cannot be any contract motors: they do not put 2,5 G9U on passenger cars, so the used motor will be old, with high mileage and, as a rule, killed.

Conclusion

For commercial vehicles, the Trafic II / Vivaro I look almost trouble-free in operation thanks to the successful body, reliable suspensions, and generally successful engines and transmissions. These vans don't claim to be heavy haulers, and that's more of a plus if you don't need the car to haul a ton-plus, but mainly to haul light cargo. Commercial vehicles should be phenomenally reliable. And Renault Trafic completely corresponds to its purpose. It has really strong body, there is almost nothing to break. And the electrics are as simple and reliable as possible.