Chery Tiggo T11 with mileage: corrosion is inevitable, and the electrics are full of surprises

 

Technics

Technically, the first-generation Tiggo, as well as its updated FL and Tiggo 3 variants, are as simple as possible. Many elements are either officially licensed, or simply copied from other cars.

The exterior originally repeated the Toyota RAV4 of the second generation, and the body was largely similar to the “Rafiki” of the first and second generations by design in a free interpretation of the Chinese. Certainly, it is completely made of steel, without use of aluminium, plastic and other new-fangled materials like magnesium alloys.

The engines are located transversely to the front, the all-wheel drive is realized by an angular gearbox and a clutch on the rear axle. Interior design also partially copies the Japanese solution, although not as literally as in the Lifan X60.

The engines themselves on the first series of Tiggo are also clones, but copied not from Toyota, but from Mitsubishi. Specifically, from Sirius family, which has been mastered at production in China. The second series Tiggo received its own Acteco engines developed by Austrian AVL under the modern electronics from Bosch.

There are three automatic transmissions. The 2-liter engines were equipped with hydromechanical automatic DP0, well known from Renault and PSA. There was a Mitsubishi F4A42 gearbox with 2.4 engines. Later came the variator QR019CHA/CHB of its own design, also with the involvement of European engineering companies.

Five-speed transmission QR523MHC, QR523MHB and QR523T are variants of old Mitsubishi boxes, they are produced under the license for decades, and not only for Tiggo.

Suspensions are McPherson at the front and multilever at the back, almost completely copied from the second-generation RAV4.

Timeline

November 2004. Model unveiled at the Guangzhou Motor Show.

Middle of 2005. Series production of the model begins. Sirius 2.0 and 2.4 series engines. 5-speed manual transmission and 4-speed automatic transmission.

April 24, 2006. Assembly of the model begins on the plant Avtotor in Kaliningrad. Only versions with manual transmission. SKD assembly.

November 2008. The model’s production at the TagAZ plant was started. Only the version with 1.8 engine and manual transmission. The model is assembled on a full cycle. Model’s release on Avtotor was stopped. Deliveries of automatic transmission versions from China are started.

September 2010. Model update, new Acteco 1.8 132 hp engines in combination with manual transmission and automatic transmission. The new exterior design. The interior is updated.

February 2012. Appearance of the 1.6 119 hp Acteco family motor, only with manual transmission.

May 2014. The model is renamed to Tiggo 3. Significant changes in appearance and assembly technology. The old licensed engines are no longer installed. A variator is paired with the 1.6 motor. The 1.6 motor itself has increased in power to 126 hp.

August 2019. China once again updated the model, redesigning the exterior in the spirit of the older models.

2020. Tiggo 3 left the Russian market without waiting for the last restyling. In China, production and sales, as of early 2021, continues.

Body
Exterior panels.

Paint quality varies greatly depending on the location and year of assembly, but in general remains low, floating between “disgusting from the factory” to “better than Zhiguli”. The situation with metal quality is similar. On cars before 2014 there is no galvanizing at all – chipping begins to rust immediately. The situation on the Tiggo 3 is better, but not by much.

The primer is bad, the paintwork itself is delicate and thin, on the inside elements only 20-30 microns, outside on average 60, but a lot of blotches up to 100. To find a perfect car in the “native” paint is possible except in the southern regions and under five years old. The exceptions to the rule are very rare, and those are the cars that were very well looked after and stored in ideal conditions. It is hardly necessary to chase after these variants, as in normal exploitation conditions with street storage its age will be short anyway.

Do not be deceived by the photos in ads for sale, the car even at the age of 10+ years old keeps quite a decent appearance, it is not like a rotten bucket. But it makes no sense to buy a car older than 8-10 years if you expect not to invest into body. Even with good care, there will be few intact elements, and besides what can be checked with cursory inspection, there will be ten nooks and crannies where everything is rotten.

In a typical 5+ years old car, rust is insidiously appearing on almost all the panels, both in restyling (FL) and before restyling, and a harmless looking bug may in fact mean the absence of metal under the paint within a radius of ten centimeters of the visible point of damage. The situation with Tiggo 3 is not clear yet, but it seems that a little zinc or deeper phosphating on the outer panels does not change the situation cardinally.

A good Tiggo is a boiled Tiggo. As a rule, normal variants have sills, arches and doors welded, and problem areas cleaned, painted and anti-coated. Remember: welding is good, it’s reliable. But fiberglass and epoxy are really bad, but it also happens on Tiggo. It is necessary to estimate not the originality of the body, but the quality of bodywork and complexity of anticorrosion treatment.

Among the owners of “Chinese” cars there are rumors about non-rotting cars of the “correct” assembly, but there are different opinions. Someone considers Chinese assembling as an ideal, someone – Kaliningrad, but almost all agree that the assembling of TagAZ, especially in 2008-2009 is the worst option in terms of quality. In fact any old Tiggo that didn’t had full anti-corrosion treatment immediately after leaving the showroom rots. Basically the rotted seams and inner surfaces, on the treatment of which the Chinese technologists decided not to spend money.

“In 2011 I bought a new Vortex Tingo (analog of the first generation Chery Tiggo of Tagaz assembly). Owned it for four years, covered 75 thousand km. No problems, no repairs, no complaints on the engine – only changed the oil. In year 4 of ownership the suspension begun to rattle and all around was covered with rust”, – says Tiggo owner Oleg Trubetskoy

Inspection in any case is recommended meticulous, and do not expect that you can find an excellent body for the Chinese car for cheap. The average price for “body” parts is higher than for “Japanese” cars, because there is no such thing as a sensible “contract”, “quarters” and “nouscats” (like, say, for old Mark II, which we wrote about recently) for Chery. And the quality of Chinese body elements for Chinese car is significantly lower than that of Taiwanese competitors. Anyway, you will have to stretch and adjust more often, and the catalogs do not shine with precision because of the abundance of different versions of body elements for different years.

Having evaluated the situation as a whole, we shall pass to problematic places. Sill and under-sill stiffener rot from within practically at all cars, even at very good in all respects. A seam between a sill and rear arch is also the first to give up. Often the dots along the rear and front fender arches are the areas that are rotten through from the inside out.

The hood also rots from the inside around the radiator grille. In the recesses of the “beak” water accumulates, and it is looking for an exit outside. The doors just rot at the bottom and around the handles, where the corrosion is formed immediately, it just spreads slowly. And the door frame, especially the rear one, is in the risk zone – all the bloatings on the frame coating, most likely, cover the through holes.

The edge of a roof over a windshield is another traditional place of occurrence of problems, even on absolutely new cars the paint starts to bubble there.

The rear door suffers not only around the handle, but also on the glass seals and in the lower part. And under the plastic overlay, you can often see the rust from the fixing holes. In doorways under the bottom decorative overlay it usually feels itself freely, for some reason the Chinese have glued to the plastic overlays foam rubber, which collects water. And next to this foam – mounting holes in the body, the edges of which are always scratched with clips of fasteners. And the upper part of doorways can be inspected carefully, the ventilation of the roof cavity is not very well thought out here, and there is always a lot of condensation. If seat belts are damp, it is worth removing the sealer and checking openings on perimeter, look at roof seams and condition of center and front struts’ amplifiers. And the floors at the same time.

From below

It may seem strange, but even in ten-year old cars the floors are in pretty decent condition, if interior is dry. It is useful to check it, because even slightly damp carpets lead to growth of rust along paper cloths of underbody insulation. It will be difficult to dry everything completely in such case.

The main age-related problems noticeable underneath are rotten sills and an abundance of corrosion in the arches. The sill rots from the inside, and if there is rust on the outside, it is useless to paint it, only to cut it off and replace it with a new one. Fortunately there is inexpensive galvanizing available for less than 5 thousand a piece. The rocker sills reinforcements are also usually replaced, they have small height and strongly rot at the bottom, the form is simple, and they are often “molded” by place. The rear part of a threshold suffers most of all, but local repair is usually doomed to failure because of bad quality of anticor and a primer from a factory. So if the rust appeared, it is necessary to change everything.

In arches the corrosion is also necessarily present, but through perforation will be only near technological apertures and along seams. The place of the fuel line in the rear right arch is especially bad. The metal pipes are covered with a plastic cover, and just a lot of dirt collects behind them. In the front arches, the mud pocket forms not only in the back of the arch, behind the locker, but also on top, around the strut support. This usually rots the thinner metal at the front of the cup, near the welding points of the reinforcing plate. By the way, it is better to put a cover on the prop and pour some anticorax on it, otherwise water will accumulate in it. But rusting at the same time and the edges of all the holes, the wiring of the brake pipes and ABS wires, the surface of the reinforcing spar in the arch.

Surface rust on the underside of the body is usually unnoticeable even in the rear, the benefit of mastic on the underside was not particularly spared – if it does not protect, it will hide. Usually, if there are problems, the mastic flakes off around the drain plugs, and it is visible. Unless the area in front of the rear suspension is covered little and under the trunk. And a dry layer of thin rust is slowly sharpening the underbody, as with many other cars, though.

Of course, the seams are rotting away little by little, especially in the rear of the body, under the trunk, where the muffler periodically heats the body, and the sealant breaks down faster, causing the rear panel to rot away from the floor panel and the floor panel from the spars. The quality of the body sealant is not good at all, pay attention to how it is applied in the engine compartment. It will tell much about peculiarities of a particular instance.

It’s not uncommon to modify exhaust on a mono-drive car, to hang a gas tank under the trunk, and move the muffler to the central tunnel. By the way, it is worth checking the fuel tank mounting straps, they can break on 2012 model year.

Of course, it is necessary to inspect the joints in the engine compartment, there are very loaded elements, and corrosion often comes out at the joints. It is necessary to check not only the glasses, but also the windshield frame from below, overhead recess, joints of a fender and spar reinforcement, all elements of the front panel and the back of the hood. Special attention – to seams of cup and engine shield: there is weak welding, it could be torn off during accidents or suspension overloading, very often the welding points are strongly corroded and are only waiting for additional load to come off. It is more convenient to look from the cabin with an endoscope.

Open the gas tank hatch, it is metal here, and the rust on the hinges will gradually penetrate through it by about 10 years of exploitation. In the meantime, just will interfere with the spring to open it, so the office clamp with a spring clipped inside – a good solution, its spring will help the hatch will not get stuck when you open it. It is also necessary to examine all seams of a rear door aperture and longitudinal seams of a roof, there can be surprises with cracks both in sealant, and in metal itself. The body is old-fashioned enough, soft and weak.

In general, if the Tiggo is old, there may be enough problems. Especially a lot of them will be in cars, which have often traveled off-road. But it is not Niva, and the car is adapted to off-road exploitation hardly. And the car reminds Lada only in that it is good only new.

Body equipment

I think, it will not be a surprise if I tell, that bumpers are Chinese. They are made of inexpensive plastic, are molded with huge tolerances and are quite fragile. But the problem is rather in the way it is assembled and fixed on the body. The variety of clips in metal, screws and skids can hardly be calculated carefully in CAD-programs. Everything sags, backlashes, or stands up tight. With age, plastic deformation becomes visually noticeable and gaps become horrible. Especially, it concerns the cars before the first restyling – later they have obviously improved technologies. True, these cars are newer too – probably, they still have things to do.

The same trouble with the headlights, handles, mirrors and overlays. All this is made with very low quality requirements to the workmanship, and if it was also changed, it fits very approximately.

Optics after the restyling with lenses, and they are obviously of lower quality than you can buy now, burn out literally three years to the state of loss of luminosity. And headlight covers are lost regularly. There are also headlights, but they burn out the LEDs, and they are too bright. During repairs they usually change the lens, and the LED power supply is redesigned, reducing the current.

It is better not to switch on the fog lights unnecessarily – the glass is fragile and afraid of water. And it gets inside easily. The side windows are scratched from the sand on the seals, and often they twist, or even they can fall in the door because of the weak plastic brackets fixing the glass to the window elevator mechanism, which are inclined to break at any overload. As a result, the appearance is badly spoiled, not only because of the aging paintwork, but because of the additional equipment.

Otherwise, oddly enough, it is not so badly done. The locks, windshield wiper mechanism, rails and more last long enough. Especially if you treat the car carefully.

Interior

The interior is one of the strong sides of the car. Anyway, so think the tiggovites think, and it is partially so objectively – mainly due to “solid-drawn” Toyota ergonomics. True, the plastic is cheap, unpleasant to the touch and rigid, the buttons are pressed “unpleasantly”, and as a whole the budget character of the car is well felt.

Regular noise insulation leaves much to be desired, not only because it does not provide silence in the cabin, but also because it is not waterproof, contributes to corrosion of the body floors. The “sound insulation” is often changed, which usually does good in all senses, except that the interior is assembled for the second time even worse than the Chinese in the factory.

One more minus is a quality of work of the climate system. The heater radiator with thin tubes gets clogged, and in winter the car stops to warm up the interior. The work of shutters is also not ideal, all intermediate modes between “cold” and “hot” cause unpredictable fluctuations of temperature at the changes of load on the engine and speed of the car. And in the fall, it’s difficult without air conditioning, the windows sweat at the first opportunity.

Everything is sad with the service life of the interior. The car looks like old Zhiguli at the run of one hundred thousand: shabby steering wheel and greasy covers of seats, frayed plastic of door cards, frayed buttons… Looseness of buttons, steering wheel switches, steering column, climate knobs grow appreciably and already frankly hamper to operate the car normally.

The situation, certainly, can be corrected by dry cleaning and replacement of worn out elements, blessing that there is a choice. It is a pity, but according to observations, not many of tiggovers are engaged in it.

Electrics

It’s enough to see Tiggo’s cabin wiring once “opened” and it will be clear that the life of such a car owner will never be boring. The wiring looks as if it was taken at the factory from another car and tried to restore it. Thin, brittle wires are poorly twisted into wires, for some reason the usual plastic tape is used for “strengthening”. The connectors are all leaky, made of crude plastic with very questionable fixation.

The panel wiring harness is attached to the panel itself when the car is assembled, which adds unnecessary vibrations to it. The corrugations in the engine compartment and in the doors are leaky, collecting dust and dirt inside, and as a result, the wiring life is reduced and the insulation is frayed.

Contact groups of the steering wheel switch assembly, ignition switch, power windows unit after three years of operation may require caressing and lubrication. The brake and clutch limit switches are frankly weak.

Gauges are a separate problem. The sensors of temperature of antifreeze, throttle position, oil pressure, and also lambda-sensors serve surprisingly little. And the electronic throttle on new motors is also not long-lived, though it looks quite decent Bosch. Nevertheless, inside there is dirt and failures already by 100-150 thousand runs. Oh, and do not forget about the spark plug wires – it’s an expendable item on any engine, even though the ignition modules themselves are quite strong. The switching units, relays and gasoline pump are not especially good either.

In general, the problems with electronics are frequent. Sometimes the turn signals, headlights, backlighting fail, fuel level suddenly depends on the speed, ABS suddenly starts working on a level surface, the engine doesn’t start…

It is interesting that the life of the generator is rather good; it runs its 150 thou or more, but it does not keep the charge most frequently because of broken wiring.

The picture is not very cheerful, but it is complicated by the quality of Chinese schemes of the electric system. The quality of translation, reference to the options and colors is very approximate. The versions of the blocks and their stuffing can be very different from what is expected. In general, in the best case it can be called surprises, in the worst – a minefield.

Intermediate Bottom Line.

Given the obvious problems with the quality of body metal and paint, the newer the Tiggo will be, the better. It is desirable to take Tiggo 3 after 2014, when there is an anti-corrosion layer at least on the outside, albeit thinner than we would like. Older cars are likely to need to be welded pretty quickly. The interior is unassuming, even unpleasant in places, but hardly a problem. The electrics are broken, though from cheap components, so it will not ruin for service. To make a complete impression, in the second part we will study the problems of the running gear, transmission, and engines.

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