Lada Granta with mileage: automatic transmission versus hydromechanics, 8V versus 16V and perfect running gear

 

Running gear
Brake system

The Granta has brakes: disc brakes in the front and drum brakes in the rear. Here we could finish, since the service life of the rotors of discs, pads and calipers is not very long, but sufficient, and their price is not great. ABS is often met, it was due to the good of all variants above the “Standard”, though versions “Norma” with sedan body could not have it.

The main mass of criticism is the rear drum brakes and frankly unsuccessful cylinders of drums. The construction itself is not bad, though the high efficiency is received at the expense of big diameter of composite drums with aluminum body. But they “run” a little with time, that is why they often replace them with solid cast-iron ones, very heavy, which affects their running characteristics. True, it is the historical hydraulic cylinder without limiters, with a bad seal and a low life. It can leak with mileages up to a hundred thousand km, or even worse! – There are enough cases of leakage at 40-50 km run. Well and replacement, as you understand, is connected with total overhaul of the mechanism. It is not so expensive to overhaul, but the rear brakes are often disconnected in cars without ABS. And some owners try to improve braking by disabling the rear axle brake force regulator. Numerous videos of Grants skidding during braking are just a result of such interference.

Against a background of problems with back brakes, the noise of front calipers, weak pins and dusters which need permanent control are trifles. Fortunately, the consumables are really penny: for a hundred rubles you can buy a bunch of spare parts in the nearest store. Buy a new caliper quite decent quality and moreover – fresh rotors and pads is also not a problem, the prices are extremely low at a generally good quality. True, fakes and frankly “crooked” copies are very common. For VAZ, alas, consumables are still riveted “at the knees”.

Decayed tubes, swollen hoses are mainly found on the cars in “advanced” years – all these elements serve their five-year life in good faith, and then – “as it goes”.

For those who can’t get enough of regular brake system, and there are a lot of such owners among Grant owners, it is possible to remake literally everything. There are certified brake setup, enlarged rotors for front wheels, and variants with notches, perforation and simply from good brands. Any whim for your money.

The main thing to remember is that all modifications often in fact lead to decrease of brakes’ efficiency, because OEM brakes were not so bad and were made by engineers, but not by garage “practitioners”.

Suspension

The Granta has a suspension too, and it’s a beauty what a suspension. Exactly for such suspension in the backwoods people still like VAZ. Here both road clearance is not bad, and moves, and power capacity is quite decent. Cars in “Standard” configuration are usually equipped with a base suspension with classic double-tube shock absorbers, and the “Norma” and “Lux” have gas springs. The springs and stabilizer are also different. The brand in any case – SAAZ, marking elements of the first suspension, shock absorbers and springs begins with 2190, and the second – with 21980.

In theory, the second option should steer better, but in fact both are designed more for confident driving on very bad roads and comfort. If you need drivability, there are kits of modifications. And the scale is impressive – you can buy even a front subframe with triangular arms. Thanks to “factory tuning” in the person of Granta Sport with its sports tubular arms on a stretcher and Demfi struts, which set a good bar by quality of adjustment of suspension.

As well as in case with brakes, in practice it is not so simple to receive excellent controllability with installation of any tuning elements, many alterations result more likely to its deterioration. But the installation of upper and lower extensions and stiffer crabs usually gives the maximum result for the car without special preparation of the body and rear suspension.

The peculiarity of the Granta suspension is that its front McPherson is very archaic in design. There is no subframe, the rack is located on the engine panel high, and uses the scheme with the main carrier arm and lever-stretcher, attached to the forward bracket (the so-called “crab”).

The main advantage of this suspension is the comfort and low requirements for the quality of its rubber products. Disadvantages – the high rigidity of literally all the mounting points of the arms in relation to the engine shield and the rack and, as a consequence, the complexity in adjusting the handling, its dependence on the design solutions of the body.

With Granta designers have already understood the basic laws, which have given 2108 sharp steering, and 2110 – on the contrary, jelly, so that even the basic cars had quite acceptable for the beginning of two thousand years characteristics of steering and comfort. But with emphasis on comfort, of course.

There are also other disadvantages, besides constructive ones. Thus, high bending moments, acting on strut bearing cup, are not supported by durability of body, and as a result the standard strengthening of support and the bearing cup bends. And the strut bearing suffers, though modern grants are made with big bearing, following the example of foreign-made.

High variable load on the front end of the spar is not the best way affects the durability of its seams, and the strength of stretching brackets always not enough, to make them stronger – means to worsen the already poor passive safety of the body. And for confident driving in style “more speed – less pits” the strength of standard one is not enough.

The rear beam is almost ideal structurally, but it has no safety margin. The Soviet weight discipline is still noticeable. As a result, its properties as a torsion stabilizer transverse stability are not expressed very strongly. And it really needs a separate stabilizer to help.

Okay, enough theory. In a big city like Moscow or St. Petersburg, the life of grants suspension is limited mainly by aging of rubber elements due to chemistry and has little relation to loads, if we are not talking about minor accidents and bumps on curbs. Its four-five years and one-hundred-and-a-half thousand kilometers it surely withstands, little by little loosing characteristics of shock-absorbers, especially quickly – rear ones, which do not like loads. At the same time the support amplifier in front is distorted. At high peak loads the corresponding elements, stretching brackets, supports, and more seldom – transverse arms of a front suspension usually give up.

To make a tragedy out of the suspension repair on the Granta is to be either a formalist, or a very greedy person. Prices for decent spare parts are at the level of a mid-range foreign car or even lower.

Certainly, you will not achieve the legendary “Mercedes” drivability of suspension, and comfort – too, but as a whole it is possible to receive quite good characteristics for inexpensive price. There is no need to order anything, you can find quite normal parts in any part of the country. But as with other spare parts for VAZ, you need to be careful: silent blocks made of raw rubber and brackets from recycled materials, repainted booster shock absorbers on sale are frighteningly common.

Steering

The rack is simple, mechanical, and well familiar to at least two generations of mechanics. It makes its 150-200 thousand if to keep dust covers intact and not to abuse lack of roads and rough terrain.

The shorter one is on machines with CPS, and the longer one is on those without it, but structurally they are similar. Attachment to the engine shield is not very successful, but the construction is evidently forged in the fire of old engineering school. I mean, optimized for minimum production cost, weight and acceptable life.

The CPS on the Granta is an add-on for the steering column, and there are two variants. The domestic gearless one from “Avtoelektronika” from Kaluga pleases with the quality of steering, and the Mando from Korea is simply more reliable due to the better torque sensor, but it can jam at the most inopportune moment. Unfortunately, it is difficult to combine the advantages together, and even the last versions of Kaluga’s ESR suffer because of not very good soldering, including the torque sensor stub, and in 2014 Mando was abandoned at all after the scandal with jammed steering wheel on the cars for journalists. And it is true: it is better without reinforcement than with a permanently jammed steering wheel.

But in fact, you can find Korean boosters on later cars as well: for example, almost all Granta Sport is equipped with them. By the way, many owners of cars with CPS are advised to lubricate booster gearbox, adding new grease with grease nipple through the hole of one of the bolts. According to reviews, it noticeably improves responsiveness in near-zero zone.

As for the rest, it is necessary to note regular problems with universal joints, low service life of tie rods and lugs (but how smart nuts are tightened on factory options). And also low cost of all expendable elements.

Transmission
General problems.

All the cars are strictly front-wheel drive, and the only thing to watch out for is CV joints. They are not eternal here, but it is possible to count on 150-200 thousand of service life with any engine. The main thing is not to drive in reverse and not to pull trailers. Well, check constantly the integrity of covers – they are weak, clamps on them rot during 5 years.

Mechanical gearboxes

The main types of gearboxes on the Granta – are 2110, the old box with the drive rods, and a new 2181 with the drive cables. Structurally they are very different in the first place due to the transfer of the gear selector mechanism upwards in the new box and a completely new housing. Unfortunately, the old soviet way of economy is used here: to optimize so, that there would be no safety margin at all, but to save 50 grams of aluminum. And fancy imported bearings turned out to be not so good as planned. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Transmission 2110 1118 is strongly disliked by everyone who has got down from forward-drive VAZ to something better. It has permanently slack gear selector mechanism, constant leaks and missed oil level, and there is no stock strength of bearings, shafts, synchronizers and, what is especially sad, body too.

The design essentially goes back to the 2108 box, which was calculated as a maximum for a 1.5 carburetor motor. The lower location of the gear selector and the splash lubrication system make the box rather large, with a lot of oil seals at the bottom, poorly compatible with subframes. In addition, the manufacturing equipment was badly worn by the time of the Granta, so that the geometry of the housings and even the shafts are floating.

As a result, howling, unpredictable service life, eternally killed synchronizers of the second and almost certainly the third gear. And also gear stick backlash with very approximate understanding of what gear you shift and vibrations. You can drive it, but the service life up to the first overhaul is about 100-150 thousand km maximum, you need to watch the oil.

Not only everything can be well repaired in MCP. It is an unexpectedly difficult task, if it is necessary to control body geometry – there is banal lack of tools. And just rebuilding with new parts of unknown quality usually leads to a second repair almost immediately. It is necessary to have a good understanding of the design and spare parts, have a good set of tools to ensure that the repair is successful. And it is even better to buy a new complete set, thanks to the fact that there are a lot of them and they are again inexpensive.

The new 2181 series box is formally better even than the Renault JR5 from Logan: less backlash, more compact, no strange decisions. Moreover, it was originally made for larger flywheels and clutches. In practice the body was made without safety factor for perspective motors, imported bearings didn’t help to solve the problem with howling completely, but the failures of bearings and shafts became more frequent. But two tasks definitely succeeded: it became quieter in the cabin with the new bearings, and the cable drive transmits much less vibration and howling to the cabin.

“Reinforced” second gear synchronizer until 2016 paradoxically failed more often than the unreinforced old one. Some boxes were reworked to match the old design. Later, the quality of the synchromesh was corrected.

Ina closed type bearings were suddenly not as good as hoped. Interestingly enough, at the first sign of a whine, greasing into the bearing helped. Well, and then replacement was the only way to get the bearings assembled, thanks to the fact that the sizes are quite popular and can be found in the nomenclature of almost all bearing brands.

A broken pin in the gear selector mechanism is not the biggest problem, luckily the mechanism can be bought as a complete unit. As, however, and the box. The price of 18-20 thousand rubles for a new against the background of 200 or more for foreign cars and even Logan – just a gift from heaven. Many owners of old versions of the transmission are changing them to 2180 and 2181, and not only on the Granta, and on everything up to 2108.

Automatic Transmissions

The automatic transmission here is the most full-fledged. Renault-Nissan allocated quotas for the old gearbox Jatco JF414E. The unit is rather venerable, a design – it is actually lightened concerning more “powerful” automatic transmission Jatco RE4F03A from the 90-ies, but formally the box is rather new, it has been manufactured only since 2010. And it was put not only on VAZ and Datsun, but also on the latest Nissan Almera, and March for the Japanese market with engines 0,9-1,6 liters.

On the Lada Granta the most problematic element at first was the front bearing of the shaft 56h85x25mm, also KBC F-846067.01, and the rest suffered, including the bearings of the differential. The gearbox was assembled on ball bearings to increase efficiency. It would seem, excellent, but the unit was assembled in China, with Chinese hands and not always qualitative bearings were chosen and installed correctly.

To be fair, the situation was corrected fairly quickly, cars produced after the end of 2013 did not get into mass repairs with bearing already. But it is worth to watch the sounds of the box and amount of chips on pallet magnets very carefully. If the box is overheated or the oil is heavily contaminated, the chances of damaging this bearing are high. The replacement work is rather complicated, the box is dismantled and disassembled almost completely. And if you pull it, the rest of bearings suffer – they are of open type, and also all speed sensors and hydroblock solenoids.

The second weak spot is the cooling system of the box with a heat exchanger, it allows overheating of the oil up to 130+ degrees, which leads to its rapid aging and clogging of the internal filter already by 100 thousand mileage.

The control unit for the automatic transmission is behind the left headlight, on the fender shelf. Actually, in wheel arch. As to the quality of wiring, one should repeat the thesis from the first part of the article: the person who designs wiring for VAZ is obviously a double-crosser from Hyundai, as the wiring is in untight corrugation, and even is wrapped with the rag non-waterproof tape over connectors. As a result everything rots there that can rot off in the contact block, though the wires themselves hold well: you do not meet such troubles, as on VW, when a wire rots in the middle. Only if there are visible signs of fraying, there will be problems with the conductive core.

If you change oil at least once in 60k and don’t allow overheating, the box will run more than 250k. The lining of GDT lockup is almost not wearable here, in mechanical part, except the bearing, only friction clutches can be scorched by too brisk starts. Fans of their cars put an additional radiator for decrease of oil temperature, especially if the engine is forced.

Less popular are the versions with AMT robot. It is essentially a variant with the 2181 series manual transmission, but with automatic shifting. The experience of operating such a system on the Lada Vesta showed that the system is quite working, but you should not demand from it the abilities of the classic automatic transmission with a torque converter.

The reliability of such solutions is unexpectedly good both in terms of clutch life, and the life of the actuating mechanisms. Clutches usually run more than a hundred thousand miles, and the transmission itself serves even longer than the “manual” version, except that the synchronizer of the second gear fails more often.

The main thing is not to forget to add grease to the clutch actuator gearbox more often, initially it is almost absent there, and the squeak appears very early. It is necessary because the spring rubs against plastic dryer, the guide, dampers and joints rub, the worm of a reducer creaks. Too much grease is harmful, so you have to repeat this operation every 20-40 thousand km. And it is better not to remove the actuator together with the bracket, in this case you will have to “teach” the clutch because of the change of interlocking point. You will need a scanner, which can do it. In principle, there is free software, but not very well implemented like ddt4all and other projects from fans.

“Tuning” in the form of a grease nipple embedded in the housing is found, but an abundance of grease can have a bad effect on the plastic, and in winter, plastic grease will interfere with the mechanism to work. In addition, the procedure of greasing removes products of wear, but this way they will not be removed from the working area.

At last it is necessary to add, that the control block of automatic transmission is located in the same place, as in hydro-mechanical gearboxes, and a bouquet of problems is approximately the same.

Motors
General problems

The main problem with the Grant is the service style. Use of the cheapest possible components and fluids, service literally in a garage “at Petrovich”, bypass technologies and not only.

And one can safely say about any VAZ motor, that it is very good. The maintainability and service life are high, especially if you service it as carefully as the foreign ones and keep an eye on the control system. The maintenance and repair costs are minimal.

The construction itself is very simple and has no frankly weak points. Almost all regular problems are because of not very successful components, but not because of the construction. Well, relatively often there are engines with clear defects – for 40 years the quality control system has not been fully established.

“Small” troubles with electrics are present in its entirety – from unsuccessfully laid wiring to fans and sensors life, weak under-hood connectors and crooked radiators. Even firm thermostats have to be replaced according to schedule, every second year, often together with expansion tanks already after first 3 years of exploitation. And if you are not lucky, then even at once.

Eight-valve engines

The bulk of cars are equipped with eight-valve engines of 11183 and 11186 series. The simplest motor 1183-50 in practice is one of the most resourceful. And let the factory declares that it only runs 200 thousand, but in practice, the life is usually not less than 300, and that with widespread twisted odometers (most likely on the market a lot of copies with a real mileage “over 500”). With any decent oil and at almost any load, except extreme.

Unfortunately, there are disadvantages here, too, and a lot of them. Almost all of them are familiar from past generations of VAZ cars. The engine regularly leaks on the valve cover, it has a low life of the ignition modules, low life of the DICV, a simple ECG, it constantly requires a small hand application, because the attachment requires regular checks. The fasteners either get stuck or unscrewed, the valve clearances go off rather quickly by today’s standards, it needs to be checked once in 30 thousand, revs are floating, and the roller collector is rough and cracking.

The engines of the 11186 series are the product of a deep modernization of the 83rd family. There is a new piston group from Federal-Mogul, new T-shaped pistons and lightweight connecting rods, as well as new liners. New sealed timing hood so the belt can go 120+ thousand miles. New thermostat mounted right on the cylinder head. Throttle is now electronically controlled. It is all optimized, lightened and… as a result, it is more sensitive to oil change intervals and oil quality, and after 200 thousand it easily falls into the sin of oil consumption.

True, there is usually no piston group wear, and cracking helps great. It has more delicate ignition coils, and it is worth changing spark plugs more often. The valves get bent at timing blowout, and the timing mechanism has not become superreliable, it just works a bit quieter, but the belt is better to change every 60 thousand, for up to 90 it can not live, and up to 120 it will not live for sure, the more so that the pumps are not much better quality.

The new thermostats are not of better quality than the old ones, but they are more expensive. The “chuckle” with replacements begins at mileages up to 100 thousand. A temperature sensor in the thermostat body had a bad habit of leakage at first. The problem was fixed quickly but the sensor is still being “lapped” in the thermostat housing.

The new gasoline pump and power supply without “return” is a bit easier than the classic scheme, but the PDT is in the tank, on the pump bulb, and any replacement is a lot of trouble. And the quality of PDT is not at all foreign, fuel pressure is noticeably floating even on the new cars. Later versions have upgraded “no-intake” pistons and the same specifications, but the rest of the drawbacks are still there. From the unambiguous pluses – the engine is significantly quieter, and the fuel consumption is lower than the 1183 family by almost a liter on average. In general, it is not a bad variant of the eight-valve development.

16-valve engines

16-valve engines are represented by 98 horsepower variants 21126, which are also available for cars with automatic transmission, and the newer 21127 (only cars with automatic transmission). The newer engines are not only slightly more powerful (as much as 106 powers), but also have a significantly revised design with a new adjustable intake manifold, a new control system with an absolute pressure sensor, as well as minor changes on the attachments and cylinder head.

Motors 21126 is a very successful “Priorov” motor. With good power, a reserve of forcing and is quite resourceful. Like all 16-valve engines, it is equipped with hydro-compensators, and there is a “Federal” piston group and optimized timing mechanism.

Actually, the disadvantages of the engine are an extension of its advantages. Bad oil drain from the pistons and easy coking, high-temperature thermostat as much as 104 degrees, timing mechanism with a thin stud, not very resourceful rollers and pump and thin belt in combination with “plugged” pistons cause a lot of dissatisfaction.

The motor requires quality and regular maintenance, good oil and inspection. With mileage of 250+ and typical Zhigul service, the oil appetite can’t be written off to leaks any more. Timing needs to be watched constantly, quality of components is very unstable, belt breaks happened at runtimes of 40,000, and one should not ignore pump or roller whine, even if a car is brand new.

You can use 85 degree thermostat, STK valves-free pistons, quality pump and reinforced belt – these are the main areas for improvement, besides firmware upgrade. The latter, by the way, is not of the best quality in principle, in terms of driving pleasure. With appreciable lags on work with traction, and the consumption is not so low, especially with automatic transmission. As a result, characteristics of the engine can be appreciably improved and risks of serious breakdowns are reduced.

“Chesnari” is noticeably more difficult and expensive to operate than 8-valve variants, but the difference in power is well noticeable. In addition, the shortcomings are quite fixable, and tuning fans love it. Since July 2018, the piston group has been updated, there are pistons from 21129, and the valves are no longer bent when the timing phase is violated.

The engines of the 21127 line are newer, they have better GVW, lower consumption, and the build quality has been noticeably improved in recent years. A more complex intake manifold has made the engine significantly more torquey at low revs and a bit more powerful, now the engine is more tractive than the old eight-valves.

The control system with an absolute pressure sensor is almost immune to aging, while the DMRV is highly dependent on the purity of the intake air, and the Bosch thin-film sensor is almost impossible to clean without opening it up. Otherwise, it has the same disadvantages and advantages as the 21126.

To buy or not to buy?

As you see, purely constructively, the Granta is an excellent car. Endurance, simple, as much as possible cheap. Disadvantages have already been mentioned above: the poor quality of parts, flaws of the assembly and low culture of service. In 2021, the chances to find a well-maintained Granta is very high, and keep it in decent condition for many years is not burdensome at all. From a complete set, strangely enough, the cars with automatic gearboxes are more reliable, especially – with hydromechanics. The unit is more complex, but essentially stronger than the VAZ’s mechanics designed for 70 hp engines of old Samars. So if you are not embarrassed by the Spartan environment and the prospect of solving a lot of cheap but annoying problems, the used Granta – an excellent option for anti-crisis car.

 

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