I bought a 5 year old Alhambra Stylance 1.9 TDI 130bhp in April 2010 in order to start up my own airport transfer business. I read up about the known faults and the recalls (dual mass flywheel), but comparing this car to others in its class (Sharan, Galaxy, Peugeot 807/Citroen C8), it was a no brainer based on price, reliability, and specification. I had previously owned a Seat Leon, so was familiar with the brand.
The car has gone from 40k after 5 years to 120k after 6 years, and I have had no major problems whatsoever. It's funny how people have issues with their own car and suggest that the whole range is problematic!
I did 40k on my first set of tyres, budget Sunew's, which I was impressed with. I changed to winter tyres in Nov 2010 just before the snow hit, and often found I was the only vehicle ploughing through the snow, and they did 20k with hardly any wear, so will do another season at least. I am now on another budget brand, which cost £55 a tyre, and there is hardly any wear at all, although I am aware some people have problems with the rear wheels toeing in and wearing sometimes.
I find swapping front and back wheels prolongs tyres massively.
The air con packed up recently, but it turned out to be a simple pressure switch - don't get conned into having a new compressor, as often these still work with a live feed into them.
The only gripe I have is with the number of fuses and bulbs it seems to blow, but then I am doing 1500-2000 miles a week. I go through tail light bulbs and side light bulbs regularly, and more recently brake light bulbs as well. Otherwise, electrically the car is absolutely fine.
I have it in for an oil change and filters every 10k, and changed the cambelt when I bought it, and again just recently after another 80k. The only other sign of wear in the engine had been the fanbelt, so we replaced that before it pinged.
However, I have been informed there are rubber particles now visible underneath, which suggests the dual mass flywheel is on the way out. I had previously read that my model had a massive recall, but had been informed that my own had NOT been recalled, yet at 120k miles it appears to have packed in. Am I able to get any assistance from Seat UK on this, as it suggests to me that if they had a partial recall, it should have been a total one?
I'd just like to add that if people actually take care of their cars, service them regularly and when they need it, and take the necessary precautions such as changing belts etc, they should find the car runs for a long long time. I have been informed by my mechanic, a small back street workshop who specialise in VAG group cars, that this should last me to about 300k miles without any major issues.
Internally, the car is mint. I keep it that way. But many 2nd hand I saw were worn out badly, especially in the final row of seats where kids had obviously been allowed to spill drinks and wipe their grubby little hands!
For an MPV it drives well. 130bhp is no monster, but it pulls well, particularly when loaded with 6 passengers and a trailer full of luggage weighing around 120 kilos! I have to say I've been really impressed with the car, and the only upsetting thing for me is the massive stone chips on the bonnet - £200 for a respray can wait a while though, as it will only get more of the same.
I test drove lots of other cars in this class, and the Seat drove so much better than all of them, including the VW, which felt wobbly and like a canoe. The Stylance does have a better ride, and the engine is responsive enough. I hated the lack of power in the French cars, and the cost of replacing the electric doors that are known to fail was too much to bear, so I opted for the Seat with its higher spec than the VW models.
The only thing that irritates me is the creaking I get from the rear seats when I have passengers in them. Not all, but a couple of them. I've tried greasing the feet, oiling the springs and mechanism that folds up when you remove them - no change. It really does make it sound as if the passenger is overweight and putting pressure on the seat!!! Anyone got any ideas for this issue?
I'd recommend the car for anyone looking for a reliable spacious and comfortable MPV, but be prepared to service and look after it regularly and not scrimp on the maintenance that so many people put off. False economy I am afraid. But try and find a Stylance, as the other's level of trim is quite bland and dull. My passengers all comment on how comfy the seats are.
I have a Seat Alhambra 2001 1.9 TDI.
I have some of the problems everyone else has, but not too bad.
I like it!!
The problem with the power lagging is most likely the air flow meter; a child could replace it. £45.00 new, £20.00 second hand.
Don't connect the back window washer. The water floods the foot well.
Keep an eye on the front grille; the screws rust through.
Check the pipe that supplies the rear window wash; you will find this at the bottom of the door ledge. The pipe blows open, usually when in a big freeze...
I have problems with the brake light bulbs popping, and I must get thru about one bulb every three months. I have read the posts above and below, and I am quite worried as it doesn't eat tyres etc, and it is about the best car I have ever owned.
It is now due its first clutch at 80000 miles, which I don't think is bad!!!
I have also experienced this flying grille issue, and if unexpected, it can be a shocking wake up call. I hope it's not the bonnet next.
I've had a W reg Alhambra 2L petrol for a couple of years now. Generally a good car, great for space and drives well, but has had a few problems so far:
1) All the plastic speaker grilles on the doors had to be replaced, as the standard ones were too flimsy and were all broken.
2) The electric window regulators (cables in the doors) are prone to snapping. The window will make a grinding noise and stop moving - The broken cable needs to be replaced. I've had this happen to both of my electric windows.
3) The insulation on the cables inside the rubber grommets in the doors and tailgate go brittle and crack, so the wires short and cause odd electrical faults. I had to solder mine back together, but the wires are colour coded, so it wasn't too hard.
4) The car had random loss of power on acceleration at about 80 000 miles, then random cutting out of the engine while driving. Eventually the car just cut out all together. The starter motor would turn, but the car wouldn't start. This was due to engine speed sensor G28 (The crank shaft sensor behind the oil filter at the front of the engine) shorting out. This last fault was a real pain to fix, as it caused the ECU to cut spark and fuel to the engine (which was pretty baffling, as everything else seemed fine). I needed to use a VAG code reader to find the cause of the fault.
Despite these faults, I'd still say it's a good car, as it has high mileage, and it's mainly just the electrical stuff that lets it down, rather than the mechanics of the car.
Had the same problem; radiator and radiator hoses staying cold no matter how many miles were done. The temperature gauge never went above half way, and didn't think it was over-heating until I was driving around the hilly lanes of Cornwall, obviously getting the engine quite hot. The piston rings started pinking, engine was bubbling and the engine management system cut the engine out (with no loss of coolant) and wouldn't start, until the engine had cooled down a bit, yet the radiator remained cold and the temperature sensor never read above half way.
I realised the thermostat was not opening, so I removed it and tested it to find it was jammed closed (faulty), so I put a new one in and everything is OK now! Water is circulating, and the radiator and hoses are getting warm. The reason the gauge only reading to half way is because the temperature sensor is on the radiator side of the thermostat, and is picking up warmth from the engine by conduction without any coolant flowing.
Hi there. In answer to your problem, poor start up can be caused by a sticking EGR, which is on top of the engine connected to your inlet manifold. It can either be replaced or remove the carbon with a thin screwdriver and some carb cleaner. Hope this helps.
James Taylor Mobile Mechanic Servicing
I own a 2000 Seat Alhambra 1.9 TDI SE engine code AVG.