1988 Vauxhall Carlton GLi 2.0L from UK and Ireland


Excellent car for the time


Fuel hoses busting within first couple of weeks of purchase.

Gearbox failure after a year.

Cassette deck had broken drive pulley.

Rust appeared in 2000.

New shocks in 2000.

New brakes in 2000.

General Comments:

This car was bought at a good price and I also used it for company business, taking me to Scotland, Ireland and the North East.

It was pretty reliable, but fuel hoses were a problem - eventually all rubber fuel hoses were replaced.

The gear box lost 3rd gear after a year and the reconditioned replacement was slightly noisy, eventually started playing up so I part exchanged for an Omega.

The car was comfortable and reasonable reliable, but not as easy to work on as some cars I have owned.

It went very well for a car of its size not surprising as it is only 1200kg.

Handling was good, until the rear dampers wore out.

It was a very good car for driving long distances in, but was too hot in summer, with no air conditioning and only an engine driven fan (the later Omegas were fitted with 2 electric fans).

The boot was quite large and the car was aerodynamic enabling over 30mpg on a run - without going slow!

The sun roof and light coloured fabrics made the car feeling light and airy.

It was a very good car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th August, 2002

1988 Vauxhall Carlton DIAMOND 2 LITRE from UK and Ireland


Good value for money


Starter motor is on it's way out.

Handbrake is useless!

General Comments:

Only had this car two weeks and despite the starter motor not disengaging it seems a very comfortable and reliable work horse.

Car was originally bought by a soldier and used in Germany and then imported to England in 1993.

I'm only going to keep it as a runabout until my Mi16 conversion is complete.

I'm very surprised how much torque it seems to have considering it's only a 2 litre in a very big body shell. I imagine the 3 litre version must feel very quick.

The Carlton is very solidly built and I imagine would be safe in a crash despite not having any modern safety features such as impact protection bars or airbags.

High ride height - looks like it's on stilts! Great for speed humps, but I think the handling suffers as a result. Though I suspect the suspension is very worn what with the 129000 miles on the clock.

All in all I can't complain - came from a retired owner with 6 months Tax and 12 months MOT, and I paid £340. Not bad, not bad at all!

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

Review Date: 21st June, 2002

1988 Vauxhall Carlton CDi 2.0 from UK and Ireland


Comfortable, capacious and solidly made


Minor welding to rear chassis rails at 95000.

Sealed open front chassis rail to wheel arch panel joints under wheel arch to prevent water ingress and rust (was rusting on o/s; this seems to have arrested it - no visible change in 6 years).

Head gasket at 130000; faces were not corroded or damaged. This was preceeded by months of slow water loss. Metal rings in gasket around bores were circumferentially cracked, no other damage - fatigue?

Front discs replaced when car acquired and twice since.

Exhaust at 95000 and 167000.

Alternator at 135000 and 165000.

Split heater and bypass hoses at front of engine connection (next to alternator) at 140000 and 150000.

Coolant warning float became neutrally buoyant 140,000! Would float when cold, but sink when hot - very disconcerting!

Front anti-roll bar links replaced at 15000.

Rust in rear wheel arches where doors shut. First noticed at 150000.

Wiper motor crank came loose at 100000. Repaired by cleaning metal debris from shaft serrations, plus super glue for good measure, and new locknut. No recurrence!

Wiper frame later came adrift at driver's end (while on holiday). Nylon nut insert had split, releasing screw. Temporary repair with soft iron wire held for long enough to get home. New nylon insert (both replaced) was modified design.

Wet under front carpets found at due to leaking connection to heater at 130000. Seal ring had been snagged during original (probably factory) fitting. May have leaked since new. New seal rings fitted. (Accessible without any dismantling of dash.)

Rear dampers (pump-up type) replaced at 160000, expensive (leaking).

All breather hoses at tank (all 2m) replaced at 160000. Tank has to be dropped, but easy job.

Tank found rusted through bottom in one place, where in contact with support strap. Petrol weeped from bottom of rust pit after abrasive removal of rust. Repaired by sheathing the area in GRP. Strap re-fitted with soft sealer (Dum-Dum) between it and tank to fill any gap and exclude water.

General Comments:

Very comfortable motorway mile-eater.

Overall average (full records kept) 26mpg, but can do up to 40mpg on long trips. (Very high gearing- 30mph/1000rpm - once convertor locks at 52mph).

Plenty of room inside - cavernous boot. Seats 4-adult family with ease (and all their luggage).

All the electrics continue to work, except the heater blower now only has two speeds. Switch was replaced, so must be resistor pack.

Electric sunroof sticks if fully slid open - then needs manual assistance for a mm or two.

Has never failed an MOT.

Brake disc replacements were due to vibration. Discs appear to wear very fast and develop uneven thickness. Suspected that stiff caliper slides could be the problem, but latest discs exhibiting mild vibration when braking at around 60mph despite attention to this, after 20,000. Luckily discs are quite cheap (from motor factors). Previous discs caused vibration at around 40mph.

Temperature is normally 90 (on gauge) but rises to 100 on long step climbs and when idling - could be normal, but wonder whether viscous fan actually works!

Pump-up rear dampers invaluable with heavy loads. Have had 4-up plus luggage plus four bikes on towbar mounted rack. Pump-up the dampers and its still level!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th May, 2002

1988 Vauxhall Carlton CDX 2.0 petrol from UK and Ireland


An uncomplaining workhorse or speedy stallion


Nothing major other than fair wear and tear over the years. Has passed every MOT first time with no problems. Oil never needs topping up between changes. Gives 32-37mpg.

General Comments:

The best car I've ever owned in 40 years of motoring. Everyone remarks on the high level of comfort. Tremendous bottom-end torque, but will accelerate very satisfactorily. Handles well and surprises many boy-racers. The car feels solid and safe, but is not stodgy or slow. It's a pity this model isn't made anymore as, by all accounts, the Omega isn't a patch on it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st July, 2000

10th Aug 2001, 18:20

Your quite correct - the Omega really has spoiled the Spirit of a great car. It is underpowered, handles like a bungalow, and the steering is the worst I have ever had the misfortune to use. I have never owned it though, it was a loan car while in Germany for a week.

1988 Vauxhall Carlton GLi 2.0 from UK and Ireland


Very good solid car


The car was pretty bad when I got it, and I have hardly done anything to it and is still running.

General Comments:

Great cars, searched everywhere for a good Diplomat.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th March, 2000

1988 Vauxhall Carlton GL 1.8i from UK and Ireland


Head gasket failure.

Piston rings.

Electric windows.

Loses water, but not sure where from.

Excessive heater fan noise.

Mist and condensation in winter - heater can't clear screen.

General Comments:

Very comfortable and spacious family car with excellent economy - up to 40mpg on a run. Smooth and enjoyable to drive with good handling. Low levels of engine noise. Poor acceleration, but cruises very well. Spoilt by reliability problems. This is my second Carlton, and both have been nice to drive but unreliable - especially electrics.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th January, 1999