2004 Holden Barina XC 1.4 from Australia and New Zealand


Nothing but problems


I bought the car privately, and I only had it 3 months, and I needed a new engine. The engines are hard to come by, & are very, very expensive.

The cat converter burnt from the inside out.

Problems with indicators working sometimes and sometimes not, and sometimes when you put the left one on, the right one comes on but doesn't blink.

The gear knob broke, so had to replace that; so hard to do.

And now it's leaking mostly on the driver's side, and because there is so much water, the carpet is wet all the way to the back seat. And no it's not the windscreen; had it checked and replaced it.

Now my reverse lights don't work, and it's not the globes. I read somewhere that if the cigarette lighter isn't working, then it relates to that. So I went to replace the fuse, and when you look at where the fuse goes into, there is only one side (contact), and it looks like it's fallen out. How do you remove the fuse box??

Please help if you can. Thanks Susan.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd August, 2014

20th Aug 2014, 19:46

Hi. So glad to hear some of you have had no problems with your Holden Barinas. I bought my brand new Barina in Aug 2004, drove her right off the showroom floor. I have always trusted Holden Australia to take care of me and my family. Now I am alone and disabled, I decided to get a small car for me to get around to see the doctors and do it cheaply, so the Barina would be a great idea. I remember starting the car for the first time and listening to it run, as I sat on the showroom floor. OMG I said, it sounds like a diesel... is it a diesel? No (laugh) said the car salesman, it's unleaded, it just sounds that way, they all do. It's an Ecotec, and they just sound that way.

My first problem with my car was my fading paint, as I very rarely leave the house, maybe once a fortnight for 2 hours maximum. I couldn't understand why my paint was fading so fast; she is always in an enclosed garage. I took her to the panel beaters to find out what was happening. Oh it's the tint he said... it's that paint... he showed me a truck they have in the same colour, it's parked in the sun all day and they repaint it every 5 years. Mine's inside all the time I said, ahh take it back to Holden. Holden said yes there is a problem with that paint colour and the tint, but it's now 6 months out of warranty, so we can't help you with that... Thanks Holden...

That was at 5 years 6 months old. All the work on my car had always been done at the same workshop where I purchased my car new.

9 years old... the diesel tick is getting louder... They still service my car and tell me it's fine, nothing wrong, it's how it sounds.

9 years 6 months... driving home from doctors, my car sounds like it's struggling to run. In fact she sounds like she has lost a piston... as rough as guts... so she doesn't sound right...

Back to Holden I go and catch the service boss just closing up for the day. Wow, what has happened to your car (?) I said. You tell me, it just started doing it... I came in last week, said my lights were dimming up and down, and I was told not to worry, it seems okay now... and here I am, my car sounds like it's blown something. He drove it into the workshop and said he would call me in the morning. I waited with bated breath.

I call, and they say my timing chain is stuffed, we have to get that fixed, then we can run a diagnostic on your car. Okay, how much is that? Well the chain is $1,200 to start with. Okay, so fix that then, so that was organised. Two days later, another call. The top end is buggered, best we can do is fix it at around $5,500 or so... but we won't know if that will be the only problem you have. I asked why... he said well we can't do a diagnostic on your car without that timing chain. So get one; I said that two days ago. Yes, but now the car won't turn over... WHAT! (I said)... We need to fix the top end and the timing chain, then run a diagnostic... well by this time I'd had enough.

My Step Dad and I went right in to see them, the car turned over fine... ran rough still, and my Step Dad said should you be running it? The guy said yeah we have been, it's okay. My Step Dad said so she needs a new timing chain and top end? The mechanic working on the car said ermm no... we need a timing chain so we can do a diagnostic and find out what if anything is wrong with top end... I looked at his boss... you told me I need a top end! His reply was well you might... My Step Dad said fix the chain, then call us when you know what is happening...

Two days later another call; can't do anything, the car won't start at all, the pistons are bent and you need a new motor. It's best that you trade it in on a second hand car; we have a nice one here for $5,000. We can offer you a small loan for that. But we cannot fix your car, for under, well we are looking at lots of money now, $7,000 or more.

I spoke to my family and they suggested I pick it up and get a second opinion. The next day I call Holden, they say they can put it back together and I can drive it out of there tomorrow. Two days later, I get a call, my car is running and I can pick it up again (now they have had my car for 9 days). I go in with a friend, come to pick up my car, and I say thanks for all the work. I get my bill of $151.80 from the front desk (for all the looking at my car they did).

Head out to the back with boss and he leaves me with the young guy. I jump in my car and turn the key... nothing... I turn it again and she sounds like a lost cause. Noises that I have never heard from any car; bashing and grating sounds. The young guy walks over... I can start it for you... He then tries to jump start my car... rolling back, bang into gear. She hops and nothing... He rolls her forward, bang into gear... A few hops, nothing, and each time the noise is getting worse and worse.

I scream at the young guy STOP! OMG please stop. I can see it will not start, please stop, I grab the keys and head to hire a car trailer. I come back and go to get my car. A different man comes up and says to me the car won't start because the timing belt came off at the bottom early last week when they were trying to tension it. I see (said I). He said sorry and helped push the car onto the trailer.

I took my car to a mechanic that was recommended to me by many people; I had never been anywhere except Holden, so all new to me. Two days later he called me. The car has been run with the timing chain loose and it has bent the pistons. The head doesn't look good at all, and the timing belt has been so stretched out of shape it needs a new one. I said so if all this was wrong, how did I drive it into Holden 11 days ago ? He said you couldn't have... that's why it won't start. I assumed you had taken it in on a trailer (he said)... No, I drove it in. Holden must have kept running it then to try and work out what the problem was (he said). I guess so because I drove it in sounding rough and lights dimming. They gave it back sounding like it was about to blow up... and not starting.

He fixed my car and charged me $2,947.00 to fix everything... gave me a $250 discount. When I picked up my car 7 days later... I cried so hard it hurt. I turned my car over and it started first time... but that wasn't what made me cry. I asked him what has happened, what have you done? The car isn't right... the diesel noise, where is it? Balling my eyes out by now... I thought oh no not again... he looked at me puzzled... diesel noise? (he said). I explained I bought my car in 2004 and it sounded like a diesel... he was very angry and said IT NEVER should have sounded like that ever! And he suggested I go to Consumer Affairs.

I found more info re the timing chain recall in Europe and USA on the Opel Holden. Found many complaints here regarding that diesel noise... the Holden Barina should NOT sound like a diesel... it was never supposed to, and Holden did what I thought they would do. The chain is not guaranteed... because it lasts the life of the car. A steel chain they never need to change, never need to look at, and so it's not covered... that is my responsibility. If I thought the chain needed work, I should have told them.

So please if you are reading this and your Barina sounds like a diesel... take it in and spend the money on getting a NEW timing chain done NOW... please do not let Holden lie and cheat you as they have me. I don't want this to happen to anyone else out there. I know I had to struggle through it alone and unaware of any lies they were telling me. I ended up in hospital 3 weeks later with a mild heart attack. I am still paying the credit card debit off for fixing the car. And to those who have no diesel noise... thank your lucky stars. Maybe it was changed for you before you bought it... please take care and thank you all for listening to my advice. Get that noise checked, please.

2004 Holden Barina SXi 1.4 petrol from Australia and New Zealand


Comfy, sporty, reliable, economical, great standard features, and stylish


Intermediate steering shaft uni excessive movement.

General Comments:

Standard equipment level on the SXi is perfectly chosen for the era of the car. Whilst there's no Bluetooth and the CD doesn't play MP3, these technologies were not common at the time. Electric windows, manual mirrors, height-adjustable driver seat, power steering, A/C.

The 6 speaker Blaupunkt stereo is a kicker, requiring no real need to update to an aftermarket solution, and it links well to the additional steering-wheel mounted controls.

Leather steering wheel with airbag, standard mag wheels and low-profile Pirelli P6000 tyres. Matching bumpers and "Ecotec" TwinPort engine. Four-wheel disc brakes and remote central locking as well!

This car has all the modern standard features you'd expect, at a fraction of the cost of a newer version without the same fit level, such as drum brakes on a modern car? Ridiculous.

The elastic nature of the accelerator pedal is frustrating when mated to the manual transmission. Designed to reduce fuel consumption, it artificially reduces throttle control for the sports and/or hypermiling driver.

Power drop when the air conditioning compressor is running effects acceleration significantly, requiring the driver to adjust timing decisions between A/C and non-A/C mode. For example, when crossing traffic at a T intersection with the A/C on, bigger gaps in traffic are needed to compensate for the reduced power.

Fuel economy is good-to-very good. A recent 250K round trip in city, freeway and highway conditions consumed approximately just 13 litres with no passengers and a very light luggage load.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd March, 2012