2003 Holden Combo Van from Australia and New Zealand - Comments

24th Sep 2012, 14:51

Hi, just read your query... I added a comment to a question raised in earlier correspondence... (see 2nd August 2009); check the block behind the speedo... I reckon this is your problem.

I've read all the negative comments about this vehicle... it's a pity... as it's a great design... high doors for driver and great access. I've still got mine... luckily I haven't had the same mechanical issues... yet!

10th Nov 2012, 20:11

Hi,

I saw a little Combo van on the side of the road. I have fallen in love with it, it is perfect for what I do, and I am a small person who does not want to be reaching in far to get gear out of a vehicle. But alas, I will now continue on with my trusty Toyota ute, and leave the money in the bank for a couple of years until it is time to replace the ol' Toyota with another one.

Cheers, and good luck Combo owners, my heart goes out to you.

24th Nov 2012, 16:47

I bought a 2005 Combo 3 years ago, and it is fantastic.

I have a bad back, but find the seating is great, even on very long trips.

Fuel economy is like nothing else I have ever owned, and it goes forever on a full tank.

The large side mirrors are a bit of a safety issue, but you do get used to them and take extra care when pedestrians are around. I have only had to replace the usual things; battery, tyres and the alternator died last week, but these things go on any car - just the normal things that have to be replaced. Great for camping, moving house, going to the dump, sleeping in... a great little van... I love it, and will buy a brand new one when this one has done its time.

Don't be put off by the bad reviews... there are lots of good ones around... just have a look at how many businesses have them.

3rd Feb 2013, 21:03

I just replaced the gear box in my mother's Combo van. She owns her own local transport company out in Roma, Queensland, and once I finished it, I re-checked everything from top to bottom twice.

I just started it, and the clutch hits the ground. Now I'm not one that knows a lot about hydraulic clutches, and I have no clue whatsoever on how to fix it. Any advice? Besides burning it down.

Thanks, Jarred.

9th Feb 2013, 18:56

I agree, my 1996 Combo goes well. I have put a rear camping room and awning on, but yes there are issues, and I hope I can sort them out. As a female, I need it running right. I am going to replace the rotor cap and a few minor things before I go away again. Lorry.

19th Feb 2013, 19:50

Very informative and helpful. Saved me considering a dud.

11th Mar 2013, 06:00

The courier company I work for has two 2009 models, which myself and another driver drive. I have been with them for just over 2 years now. When I started there was around 78,000k's on both. The previous driver drove it for a year.

So far I've been through 5 ignition packs and 1 oil sensor switch. Ignition packs seem to last only 6 months, and get replaced under warranty to our mechanic's disgust (they don't get paid to replace them).

The other driver was unlucky, and lost his transmission and also 3 ignition packs over that period.

We are both sitting around 193,000k's currently. The vans get used twice a week to deliver mail and catalogues that exceed the carrying weight capacity. Definitely a strain. They run 12-14 hours each time. Regularly serviced every 15,000k's (previously 10,000k's), and our mechanic hates them!

Now my clutch is rattling around and there is very little feel/pressure on the pedal, and sometimes it crunches into gear and my indicator stick locks on when turning left. All-in-all, we've really put these vans through their paces.

They're a great idea for a small van, but mechanically they are somewhat dodgy. Holden should re-think this model, and come out with a better performer, because I really like the size and convenience of this van.

13th May 2013, 18:44

Thanks to all these comments, I will now not buy one of the Combos. Saw one for sale cheap and it looks good, but no thanks now.

2nd Jul 2013, 21:13

Are some Combo models better/worse than others?

It seems from reading reviews, that there have been several different countries of manufacture; Turkey, Spain, Germany, and maybe even Korea.

I have just bought a 2001 SB model, made in Germany I think, with 203000 km on it. It seems in great condition, and has plenty of zip, and none of the previous faults/issues yet.

So I am wondering if this model has a better reputation, or if I should bail before the troubles start?

I'm a pensioner, so a bit concerned about being able to pay out for continual repairs.

13th Jul 2013, 23:44

Have owned a 1996 Combo for many years, and have 260000ks on the clock now. I do all my own maintenance, and change the oil at 6 to 8 thousand km with Nulon oil additive. The car is still going strong, but I think the design is absolutely appalling. The gear linkage needs constant adjustment (the gear change is terrible), and the thermostat is located behind the timing belt. The lights in the dash stitches are built in, and the whole panel needs replacing to replace them. The timing belt is so flimsy that it is recommended to be replaced every 60,000km. I have been lucky with the electronics to date, but have had to replace all the seals and clutch.

Spare parts from Holden have proved to be prohibitive, with the worst being $500 for an engine mount, so go after market where possible.

My son had the misfortune to buy a later model Barina from his grandfather. The car had already been through 3 clutches in 40,000k. The car then did a coil pack (Holden wanted $800 to fix, it cost $260 for the part and 10min to fix), another clutch and a timing belt, which destroyed the top end, so stay away from these rubbish cars.

3rd Aug 2013, 20:22

I get the feeling people like to rant about dud cars, while those with the good ones are blissfully unaware and never bother searching through the net for an opportunity to vent.

I have a 2003 XC model 1.4L, and I think it is one built in Spain. Have done 10k+ in 6 months, and touch wood it has not missed a beat and does not give me that 6th sense that something will go wrong like so many other cars I have had.

So I can't say for sure whether these are lemons or not, but I'm convinced they are pretty good. I can tell you some things that are definite:

- It's slow. What do you expect from a sub 1.4L van? If you need more power because you need to move lots of tools, you're looking at the wrong van. I do need to say though, driving it at 100 - 110km/h, the motor seems amazingly relaxed, just don't bother trying to overtake something, m'kay?

- It's bloody cheap to run. I get 650kms from a tank, usually about 43L to fill. Sometimes I get 680 - 720km a tank, so your driving style, load and especially the quality of petrol will determine if the fuel economy is great or amazing.

- 12 month/ 15,000 service schedule, which makes it cheap to maintain provided nothing else goes wrong in the meantime. Sure it is a good idea to change the oil every 5,000, but I ask you - how many Toyota's officially allow such a generous service schedule?

- Yeah the mirrors are a little large and can SOMETIMES pose a hazard at roundabouts, but consider how many people would complain if it were fitted with smaller mirrors. Changing lanes on a 'blind' van with little mirrors is certain recipe for a crash/ death.

- On the subject of the van being 'blind' as standard, there are plenty around with side windows. If it doesn't have them, it's an easy job at $200 - $500 a piece depending where you get it done, and whether you opt for standard ones or nicer looking ones that are flush to the body work.

- Regardless if it is blind or have side windows, go to an auto shop and get a couple of blind spot mirrors. First thing I did when I got mine.

- The indicators can be dicky. I can't hear mine operating, and I leave them on by accident if they don't self cancel. I have examined the assembly, and there are 2 springs inside which look like they came off a Biro. One of mine is broken and it still self cancels. If yours never self cancels, remove the assembly and slide it back in again, making sure the top and bottom lugs of the assembly both slide into the guides.

- The stereo is bloody brilliant. MP3 standard on a 2003 car? And tweeters recessed into the door frame, also as standard? On a lowly van? OMFG!

- The cigarette lighter socket is useless - it's far too short. I rigged up some better ones which run off it and rigged it up on the cargo panel between the seats.

- Gear linkage... while I was rigging up a decent cigarette lighter outlet, I noticed that the gear linkage on mine is a bloody thick metal shaft. Seeing the gear change on this van is good and sturdy, make sure your 'plastic' one gets changed to a metal one if it breaks.

Re- mounting of the computer. Yeah the location may seem a bit daft, but it's technically a more ideal location close to the engine. Also consider that an engine computer is nothing like your desktop computer, and is designed to withstand heat and vibrations no matter where it is mounted. So those that have failed, I call it bad luck rather than bad design.

Well that's about it. I think I got a good one and I reckon thousands of others that haven't piped up on this forum have a good one too. Touch wood, nothing goes wrong, but I will pipe up if it does!