5th Apr 2007, 19:57

After owning a 2001 Astra 1.8 CD sedan (Z18XE engine) since new, I can provide some insight into these vehicles.

Good on fuel economy, but use premium unleaded for even better running and economy.

ABS works great and has saved my bacon a couple of times.

Now for the problems:

- replace disc pads and rotors with quality non genuine parts. This will get rid of the black crap that goes all over the wheels. Original discs are too soft and pads too hard for them.

- replace timing belt on time at 60K intervals and install full cam kit which includes belt, tensioner, idlers and new crankshaft bolt.

- with idle problems such as hunting whilst stopped at traffic lights etc, clean throttle body (TB) and in particular the butterfly valve. Vacuum lines to the TB should also be checked for blockages and contamination.

- the Ecotec plastic engine cover can rub and cause wear to some of the rubber hose lines, particularly the TB cooling line that tucks in under the RHS front cut out of the cover

- the ignition switch is known to freeze up and it can mean a tow if it fails. This can happen on very hot days. Mine was replaced under warranty after only 12 months, but is starting to tighten up again. I believe locksmiths can perform a permanent fix and this is worth a phone call or two if this problem occurs.

Other than these problems a nice car to drive, but keep on top of this maintenance.

30th May 2008, 03:39

Hi All. I have a 2002 Astra 1.8lt and have been advised today that the ECU computer needs to be replaced for $1500 (quoted by Holden of course). As you can imagine I was flabbergasted that after 6 years the whole computer in my car needs to be replaced. Is it reasonable to expect to have to replace the computer every 6 years or is this a fault with any Astra's that were made in 2002? Has anyone else had this problem?

The symptoms are that the light with the car and spanner comes on, the engine starts running rough and can cut out during travel. Bunny hops are also a symptom.


8th Dec 2010, 10:54

I own a 2004 Holden Astra Classic TS sedan. It has done 74,000km. I have replaced 2 tyres in years. 8 months ago the alternator had to be reconditioned, as I was driving along and all of a sudden lost all power, including the power steering (not a nice experience), this cost me $680.

I am about to go on a trip around Australia and have decided to have the timing belt changed which I was advised is to be changed at 90,000km I have only done 74,000km. My thinking better to be safe than sorry. This will cost $800 approx.

Other problems I have had is when changing from 2nd to 3rd gear it will sometimes grind.

The emission control light would come on and go off a few days later, this was fixed by resetting the computer about 3 years ago. I have had no problems since.

Overall I really like the car, it handles well, is great on fuel, still getting 1000km a tank on the open road and 700km in the city. It is still very quite and comfortable to drive in the city and on longer trips. Interior is still in perfect condition no sign of wear on carpets or seats, this is with 4 children under 15 as passengers on a regular basis.

I normally upgrade my car every 5 years, but I see no reason to do so with this car as it still runs like new.

8th May 2011, 23:44

I have exactly the same problem - I suspect it is the "start in snow" traction control function locking on. Did you fix it?

28th Nov 2012, 06:20

I think that these Astra's (2003 model) have a common problem with the car staying in third gear when the car is put into drive. This appears to be some kind of traction control, which stays on all the time. Does anybody know how to turn it off? I suspect that the ECU switches it on when required by allowing the transmission fluid to bypass the transmission governor on the output shaft, so that full transmission fluid pressure is provided to the shift valve all the time, so that the transmission is always in third gear. It's hard to obtain any information about how the transmission is controlled for the purpose of traction control. Does anyone know where this information can be obtained? This will make it easy to figure it out, so that it can be disabled. Who really needs it anyway in a city such as Sydney in Australia, where we don't have precarious conditions such as icy roads etc.

20th Dec 2012, 01:14

I've recently purchased a 2003 Astra for my daughter. Same problem when in drive; seems to take off in 3rd gear, but only from a stationary position, and only about 50% of the time we drove it, so one day it would do, and the next day it wouldn't.

Check engine light was always on.

Codes were all supposed to be reset when we put it in for a service, but the idiots who serviced it decided to hand me back an undrivable car, due to leaving the air flow meter and vacuum gauge off for the engine management system. This set 7 codes off, and I'm still fighting them for my $$ back, after they told me the car had to be towed because they had no idea.

Check engine light is now off, but it now takes off like that all the time. Going to try disconnecting the battery for half an hour tonight, and see what difference it makes, then off to get codes checked again next week.

Good luck with yours; we are getting rid of this car as soon as it runs fine.

25th Jul 2013, 08:41

This is called limp home mode: so you can get the car home or to a garage to check the codes.

15th Jun 2014, 00:51

My TS Astra was blowing smoke at start-up sometimes. When I changed the cam belt etc, I noticed the one in the car was one notch out on the crank pulley. Made sure the new one was right (my e-mail is spud199@hotmail.com if you want some advice) - no more smoke! I assume oil was slipping into the motor if the engine stopped in a way that a valve or two were left slightly open.

I also had some bad running problems once - plugs were done-in. New ones fixed it.

Then it was close to stalling when the engine was "blipped" in neutral. Had no idea that the air flow mass sensor needs a good spray with a special cleaner every so often. Whilst at it, I tied a knot in a clean rag, then tied on a bit of string and then stuffed it down the throttle body, and then gave it a good go with TB cleaner and a tooth brush (the rag was to ensure not too much of the cleaner got down there, potentially making it hard to restart the engine - the string to ensure it did not get stuck down there). I was quite surprised by the amount of gunk down there and around the assorted associated pipes. Worked a treat. Make sure you clean the air filter, or change it if grotty.

A really good car if you can do some personal "tinkering".


7th Aug 2014, 21:13

I am having the same issue, and coincidentally my name is Amy also... I have a 2004 Holden Astra with the same issue and have been advised of the same course of action - to replace the computer. Any advice?

8th Sep 2014, 04:44

Same problem with my 2002 Astra. Have had it at mechanics for a month now and to no avail. So I have to bite the bullet and take it into Holden. A lot of money to spend, but I need a car grr.