17th Jun 2011, 00:58

The 'S' is NOT sporty mode, but SNOW mode. The car takes off using higher gears so you don't slip/spin the wheels in snow & ice. (we really need this in Australia). Just read your handbook, it's in there.

17th Jun 2011, 19:23

Isn't the "SNOW" function of the gearbox activated by the snowflake button?

23rd Sep 2011, 21:46

I purchased a 1996 SB Barina Swing with 69000 Kms on it. Same problem almost exactly. IT'S NOT NORMAL to have the engine running at those temperatures. I had the auto electrician check the fans and relays, no problems there. My mechanic replaced the radiator temperature switches and flushed the radiator. All fine for a couple of weeks, then did the same thing, overheated.

I took matters into my own hands and replaced the thermostat; not that easy to do on a Barina with power steering, but found I could get it in without ripping the power steering motor, timing belt and water pump off. It now runs at 92 degrees and never goes above 96 degrees. All up I spent 850 dollars at the mechanics, and ended fixing myself for 14 dollars, plus a 10 dollar bottle of coolant concentrate. Turns out the old thermostat would open sometimes then lock shut, so the overheated water didn't reach the radiator temperature switches (located at the BOTTOM of the radiator) thus the fans didn't turn on. I know this reply is probably too late to help you, but it may help somebody else with this problem. P.S. IT'S NOT NORMAL.

1st Dec 2011, 01:29

Hi, my 96 model Barina is flashing the S as well, and you scared me, because I don't have that sort of money to fix it. I haven't had anyone look at it yet?

9th Feb 2012, 05:00

Hi. I have recently bought a 98 Barina Swing, and for the first time today, I noticed the temp gauge hit nearly 100 when I am stopped at lights or pulled over. This concerned me too. The fans would kick in at this point, and the temperature would drop quickly, so this is normal??? Thanks.

3rd May 2012, 20:34

Hello, I am currently having the same problem with my car as well.

Could you please tell what the problem with your car ended up being?

2nd Jun 2012, 02:57


I am having the same problem with the (s) light flashing, then the car losing power, but if you change gears manually, it runs fine until you put it back in drive. In my mother's 95 Holden Barina Swing auto, I have changed plugs, oil and filter (oil and fuel). I have only just started fixing it for her, but would appreciate it if someone could let me know what the problem is, to save me the stress of figuring it out myself.


2nd Nov 2012, 18:51

I just got a 96 5 door hatch.

For the first couple of days, it was OK, then the earth wire was about to snap, which it did. The battery was too big, hitting the top of the bonnet, and making the car cut out. I put a bit of cardboard on the positive terminal to get me home. Went to my mechanic, and he made me a new earth wire. Had to get a new battery; the one in it was the wrong one, plus it was too high, hitting the bonnet. The car now goes much better, and the problem is solved.

Hope this helps people with the same problem.

My mechanic comes to your house. He's a very good one and a straight shooter; very rare for a mechanic. He's coming on Thursday to put in new front brake pads and do a service, so if anything is wrong, he will notice it and tell me.

Other than that, it's a great little car, that goes very well for what it is.

5th Dec 2012, 04:36

Hey, just fixed my Barina. Same gear problem as yours. Up at the top of the engine bay, driver's side, there is a relay pack and it's held in place by some dicey plastic nuts. Well they broke and the relay pack is no longer earthed. Replace the nuts with real ones, and replace the third fuse on bottom row (20 amp), and Bob's ya aunty, it solved my problem.

5th Mar 2013, 00:26

Hey mate, where exactly is the thermostat housing? I can't see it.

15th Jun 2013, 21:27

I would love for you to explain to people how you did this, as it would benefit heaps of people, one being me, as I believe there is an easier way like you have said. Also, is there a way to replace the cooling sensor without removing the radiator with air con, as it's a big job, but I reckon if you can loosen bolts, connections etc, there should be enough room to do it?

Kind Regards, Macca.

12th Jan 2014, 20:40

Read your comment about Barina thermostat problem and found it extremely helpful. You wrote "found I could get it in without ripping the power steering motor, timing belt and water pump off". Only problem is you didn't mention how you did it. It would really help me out if you could explain the way you went about replacing the thermostat. Thanks, really glad I came across your comments.

4th Feb 2014, 02:12

Hi all, just bought a 1996 Barina City with 30,000 km. Yes, that's right 30,000 km (!) for my daughter on L's. Love it, it runs beautifully and does run to 100C then cools down with fan assistance. Has heavy steering, not powered, and I'm thinking I have been spoilt. Do they all have this heavy steering thing going on?

8th Jun 2014, 03:39

Thanks heaps for comment. I have the exact same problem; trying to find that wire, pulled it all apart, my wires seem to look OK. Is it actually in the shifter itself?

26th Jun 2014, 05:50

I am curious, did anyone ever post a solution. I have a 1993 SB Barina Auto, and the S light flashes and the car won't drive in D. Have to turn off the car and start it again.

1st Jul 2014, 23:41

Hi mate, sounds great. Can you please tell tell me which sensor is that? Is it closer to the driver, or the far ones from the driver? How much did the sensor cost?


28th Jul 2014, 10:14

Hi, I write as you say you are a car computer programmer. Somewhere I have read that the SB Barina has been detuned from the factory. Do you have any idea about this, and if so can you shed some light on the above?

Many thanks, Laurence.

27th Aug 2014, 07:41

Hi guys.

My '98 Barina SB Swing loses power and runs like a dog when it rains. It's obviously electrical, but my mechanic can't find the issue. Does anyone know where I can find the fuel management module, as I suspect water is intruding into the part, causing the drama. Also, does anyone have the same issue???

Cheers, Harry.

14th Jan 2015, 01:08

98 Barina Swing.

The check engine light comes on, the speedo needle drops back to zero, and as soon as car pulls to a stop, the engine stalls. It will start right up again, and do it when you pull to a stop again.

31st Jan 2015, 08:32

My 96 Barina, bought primarily as a cheap economic work car, has been a nightmare, constantly overheating. Twice the fan electrics have failed and I have had to bridge wiring to stop it from self destructing. And now with a rebuilt engine, new water pump, thermostat, radiator and hoses, it continues to run hot. I live in the desert and think it's just not designed to handle 45 degree days. And yes in the winter it won't start in the cold or wet, even with new coil leads, plugs, distributor etc.

With the new engine due to a broken timing belt and the above, I'm too deep in to stop now. The next step is to set the fans to come on a little earlier and/or a different thermostat. Hopefully that will stop the slow loss of coolant.

I didn't know about the oil until today, so that will have to be changed.

As for damp starting, I've checked everything. The only thing that I could come up with was that I would never ever buy a Holden again. I wouldn't even take a free one. The way the cooling system is wired, combined with the engine's inherent weaknesses, makes engine failure inevitable in Australia's hot temperatures and often dusty climate. What an absolute joke. The worst car I have ever owned, and I have owned just about every brand of car you could think of. As soon as I can find a decent replacement, I will dispose of this car immediately; to the tip with it. It would be cruel and dishonest of me to sell it even for a carton of beer.