QOTW #79 – Is it true a sports shift can leave me stranded??

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Welcome to BamfordRose and its question of the week time. This week is a question about V8 Vantage 4.3 or 4.7 sport shift gearbox. And this will be useful for those of you new to the Aston world because perhaps you’re reading on forums or Facebook groups, anywhere, talking about the 4.3 automated shift manual system, “can it really leave me stranded?”

Because you read lots of times where someone gets in the car, they can’t select gear. It just stays in neutral or maybe the engine isn’t allowed to start at all because there is a transmission fault. So, for those of you new to the cars, you know what’s that all about, why are people writing that the car is just leaving them stranded.

So, just to recap, the 4.3, 4.7 sport shift gearbox is a manual gearbox. The automated shift manual has all of the same components as the conventional manual but just has a hydraulic actuator pack, which is moving the selector shaft forwards, backwards, side to side and engaging, disengaging the clutch slave cylinder to operate the clutch.

If you think of a conventional manual, when the clutch is starting to wear, then the pedal is going to bite all the way at the top. You’ll press the clutch pedal and when you engage first or second at that maximum wear state, then you’re probably going to be experiencing a certain amount of drag and that’s going to mean a clunky gear shift because the engine and gearbox is not being properly separated by the clutch. On a manual, you can just keep going and going and going. You know I’ve seen some customers having to put the car into first gear when the engine was stationary and then start up to be able to get in first because the clutch was dragging so much that it prevented them from selecting first with the engine running.

The sport shift system prevents you from doing that by the computer realizing that you’re at a maximum wear limit, which would be the same as the clutch biting at the very top of the pedal travel range. When you key on, and it selects neutral and starts the engine, the computer has calculated that it’s at maximum wear and it will not allow you to select first gear or any gear. So, this is most likely the condition which results in people on forums commenting, help! I’m stuck. I’ve got no drive. It starts, but I can’t select gear.

Other reasons could be a loss of fluid in the hydraulic system, maybe a piper split, maybe the seal on the clutch slave cylinder has split. It’s lost all its fluid and it can’t build up pressure. Therefore, it can’t select any gears or operate the clutch. This could be another reason for being stranded.

It could be some communication issue with the transmission control module or any other can communication hiccup across the car and a simple key cycle resets that problem.

So, another common question I also get asked is how do I prevent this happening to me? The answer is that all of these wear states whether that be in the clutch, whether it be pipes that are on the verge of leaking, absolutely everything that could risk the robustness of that gear shift system can be detected and brought to your attention at point of service. Just like a lot of aviation hiccups are often pilot error, many breakdowns are a failure at the prior service to detect the onset of them, report that to the owner in the chance of doing something to correct a problem and alleviate a breakdown.

It would take about 30 minutes with a laptop and the car on a ramp to understand clutch condition, gear pack, pump condition and mechanical condition of pipe work. So, if you’ve owned a car for a long time it should always be your prior service inspection that told you of any looming problems, or if you’re new to the car, just seek out a quick health check on the gear shift system. Both of those nine times out of ten will prevent an unwanted breakdown.

Hope that helps prospective owners understand the gear system on the sport shift Aston Martin a little bit more. As ever, it really helps us if you can subscribe to our channel, comment about your experiences on sport shift, and we’ll see you on the next question of the week.

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