1996 Holden Astra TR 1.6L from Australia and New Zealand


Money pit! Avoid!


Where do I begin? I've had this car for 10 months, and it's been the worst 10 months of my life. $3,500 for the car, $1,500 wasted on registration as the car is technically roadworthy, but because of overheating issues that are costing me an arm, a leg and a kidney, I can't drive the car!

I've spent a further $2,000 on repairs so far; water pump, timing belt, thermostat, and a radiator flush (in an effort to overcome this overheating issue). I've replaced brake pads, discs & drums, and arm bushes.

I have a massive water leak, as the air con vent is stuck open; this has resulted in the central locking dying in the car, and getting in the car to find a puddle of water at the driver's feet. I'm looking at $600 to have the leak LOOKED AT, depending on how easy the fix is, possibly more, and a further $200 for the central locking (minimum), and the rocker cover gasket needs replacing as well.

I thought at first that I had just gotten unlucky, but according to pretty much ANYONE with any kind of knowledge of cars, or anyone that knows someone that has owned an Astra, this is just how Astra's are. A disgrace to the Holden badge!

You buy an older second hand car, you expect issues. But you do NOT expect issues to this extent, and you certainly don't when you paid $3,000 for it!

General Comments:

Apart from endless issues, the car interior is dull and boring, the steering wheel has no tilt, so you need to be stick thin and VERY tall to fit under it and still reach the pedals.

Also, when turning a tight corner, it feels as though your body has NO support in the driver's seat; good thing the driver has a steering wheel to hold on to, in order to keep themselves upright!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 28th April, 2013

1996 Holden Astra GL 1.8 from Australia and New Zealand


Good car if the service regime is maintained


Water pump at 230000 was replaced including timing belt, tensioner, bearings and seals.

Timing belt tensioner failed 16000km later, causing 8 valves to hit the pistons. The timing belt tensioner was not a genuine item and was deemed faulty. The mechanic that did the original work provided labour for free, and I paid for parts, but it still cost $800, plus the original $800 paid for water pump replacement.

Plastic rocker cover has become brittle with age.

Drivers seat is sagging with age.

Heavy on brakes and front tyres. All brake discs have been replaced, along with numerous pads.

I got the car cheap as it had been involved in a smash and repaired.

The shock absorbers and springs are worn out, and the car handles like a drunken whale.

General Comments:

Engine and trans are still running well, and the car is serviced by me every 7500km. It has been a good car overall, considering the above faults and the high kilometres. I will keep the car until something major fails and wrecks it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 26th December, 2007

17th Oct 2009, 03:22

I wouldn't particularly recommend one either. A key thing to know about these cars is timing belts must be replaced every 60000 thousand kilometres; these services are not cheap.

For some reason I have had problems with keeping the wheels aligned on mine, but I will say they are nice cars to drive.

For a 1.8L (mine is manual), they have a lot of get up and go, and handle very well, unlike cheaper alternatives like the Hyundais of a similar age. But otherwise they are OK cars if you don't mind the slightly higher servicing costs.

1996 Holden Astra GSi 2.0 from Australia and New Zealand


Absolute total crap of a car


Gearbox leaking not long after initial purchase.

Engine not revving above 4000rpm due to failed crankshaft sensor-now fixed.

..and later same problem due to failed camshaft sensor.

Driver door 'clunks' on rough roads.

Electric windows not working properly.

Windscreen washer motor seized due to corrosion.

Drivers seat belt short stalk fallen to bits.

Handbrake light not working on dashboard.

Interior trim falling to bits all over the place, door trim, sun visors falling off, dashboard distorting, you name it.

Engine overheats because the electric fan doesn't work.

Headlight-left-on warning alarm not working.

Anti-theft system not working.

Central locking not working properly.

Whenever you replace timing belt at 60,000km intervals (note 40,000km less than many other manufacturers intervals) you have to replace all of the guide and tensioner pulleys - these aren't cheap.

Brakes are spongy on pedal - always have been.

General Comments:

I purchased this car at low kilometres naively believing the Astra was a good quality, well built car - this misconception was certainly reflected in the relative higher price of Astra's compared to many other similar sized cars.

I bought the GSi version that had the 2.0lt motor, antilock brakes, and dual airbags. This car is one of the most fun cars to drive. It accelerates to 100km/hr in 8sec, has a top speed of 220kmhr and hugs corners. Unfortunately that is where my praise ends, this car is also the most unreliable, costly and frustrating car I have had the mis-privilege of owning.

I like to believe there is generally rhyme and reason why things happen, and try to stay away from the easy to adopt mindset of criticising a manufacturer because of one or two faults with a car that may have other causes such as harsh driving.

As an example, I believe that the previous owner may have driven this car very hard causing the gearbox leak, but... most of the faults with the car are with systems that are immune to the behaviour of drivers. Like the windscreen washer motor!! This has corroded and siezed because of internal leaking into the motor. This is not new technology! Washer motors have been around for decades and decades and used on millions of cars quite happily lasting for the life of the car! How is it possible that a modern well know car manufacture can botch this up so much? Anyway, take that last sentence and multiply 100 times and you have my sentiments on this car.

Avoid at all cost. I will not be selling this car onwards because I would not be able to live with myself.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd March, 2007

2nd Sep 2007, 17:50

I haven't had problems with it yet.

Bought it as my first car at 70,000K, and now up to 110,00k and still going fine. Not too hot on the corners, but generally it's pretty good.

Took a while to get used to the indicator and reverse gear in different spots than usual!

All in all, it gets you from A to B, and is not too bad on fuel either.