Vauxhall Combo Van Problems: Are They Reliable?

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The Vauxhall Combo was launched in 2012 based on the Fiat Doblo. This small van is good value and has a reputation for being reliable. Popular as a fleet model or for small businesses it comes in three trims and the fifth-generation model is considered to be the best one so far. Despite a good reputation, there are still some common Vauxhall Combo van problems that owners frequently find. 

Are Vauxhall Combo vans reliable?

The Post Office uses Vauxhall Combo Vans across its fleet and a postman reported to me that it is indeed a reliable van. It has come out in industry surveys for the past few years as the most reliable small van. The RAC found many happy owners in their survey, but they did also find some issues such as starting problems.

The good news is that the Vauxhall Combo van problems are reduced by the lack of fancy extras as they instead focus on using reliable Vauxhall parts that increase dependability. So, what are the Vauxhall Combo common problems?

Vauxhall Combo common problems

Since the Vauxhall Combo van has a small payload of just under 1000kg, vehicles that have regularly carried heavy loads are likely to incur more problems. Garages should be familiar with the Vauxhall brand van and most issues can be easily fixed. Let’s take a look at the Vauxhall Combo van problems. 

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Vauxhall Combo Van problems starting

Problems with starting a Vauxhall Combo van are usually caused by a dead key fob battery, a dead 12v battery, corrosion on battery terminals, a bad alternator, a clogged fuel filter, a broken starter, a blown fuse, problems with the immobilizer or a faulty electrical system. 

If the battery can be jump-started, then that is an easy fix but corrosion on the battery terminals will need cleaning if that is the issue. After cleaning and reconnecting the problem should be solved. 

On average a starter motor will last for between 100,000 to 150,000 miles but it may fail sooner if the van is stopped and started more often than average such as when a van is used for local deliveries. If you hear a clicking sound when you try to start your Vauxhall Combo van, then you will need to take it to a dealer for a replacement.

It’s always worth checking the fuel filters in case they have become clogged. If you feel a jerking when you start the car then the fuel pump may be failing and may need replacing. 

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Vauxhall Combo van gearbox problems

Hearing a crunch when changing gears may well be down to a faulty gearbox but it may be solved by changing the clutch. If renewing the clutch doesn’t solve the problem, then it’s worth checking to see if the cylinder is leaking or drawing air. Bleeding it may solve the problem. 

Earlier models of the Vauxhall Combo were known to have a problem with the linkage especially as the mileage goes up. Temporary cable tie repairs may work for a short while but eventually, you will need a new gearbox.

Vauxhall Combo van clutch problems

Many Vauxhall Combo owners report a problem as the van ages with their clutch and changing gears, especially in colder weather. It may be worth following the ideas for solving gearbox issues such as bleeding the cylinder but if the clutch is still sticky it could be time for a new clutch. 

Since the cost is mainly labour it is worth changing all three parts (basket, plate, thrust-bearing/slave-cylinder) to make sure the problem is fixed completely. 

Vauxhall Combo van turbo problems

A mechanic who looks after vans reports that often the turbocharger itself is not the direct cause of turbo problems as they are usually very reliable. A common problem with the Vauxhall Combo 1.7D is that it is prone to carbon or exhaust soot deposits. This makes the EGR valve stick and will quickly cause damage to the turbocharger. The best way to solve this problem is to remove the exhaust manifold and check for carbon or soot build-up then clean or replace the EGR filter. 

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Vauxhall Combo van alarm problems

Many Vauxhall Combo Van owners have reported issues with their alarm system going off randomly. This is often a sign that that the battery in the power sounder is failing. You should get a warning beep before this happens but once it fails the alarm will go off all the time. You can disable it to allow you to get to a garage. Disabling the power sounder will not disable the alarm or immobiliser so your insurance remains valid. 

Vauxhall Combo van side door locking problems

If the side door fails to open or close, then it is likely that the switch has become detached or the locking mechanism has failed. You can often sort this out yourself by pulling apart the door panel and feeling for a thin rod that connects to the locking mechanism. The key-lock itself is usually held on by a thin flat round washer which may have slipped out too and the key-lock will no longer be connected. 

It is also always worth trying to disconnect the battery and restarting to reset the central locking system.

Vauxhall Combo van steering problems

A common steering problem on the Vauxhall Combo is the lower UJ bolts to the rack in the footwell. There is quite a gap between the joints on the steering column that seems to take quite a battering after 4 years of driving. A simple tightening of the bolt can solve the irritating clonking sound. 

Vauxhall Combo van brake problems

Failing brakes is a dangerous and scary problem to experience. Some owners have experienced a problem with their brakes suddenly not operating even when pressed hard. This seems to be an issue with the servo. A vacuum leak may cause the fault and can be easily solved by a mechanic. 

Vauxhall Combo van indicator problems

Failing indicator lights may be down to a relay problem. You can identify this by going to the relay box in the nearside bulkhead area and identifying by elimination which relay is linked to the indicator that isn’t working. Replacing the relay with a good model will usually solve the issue. 

How many miles can a Vauxhall Combo van last?

Diesel vehicles are often considered to be no good after 100,000 miles but the reliable engines on a Vauxhall Combo van mean they can survive high mileages. Of course, you will need to change the belt again after 160,000 miles. 

You regularly see working Combo vans for sale with over 250,000 miles on the clock proving that these indestructible little vans will keep on going for a very long time if well looked after. 

Despite some common Vauxhall Combo van problems, they are a great little vehicle for small payloads that will last for many years. If your annual mileage is small, then buying an older van with high mileage may be a cost-effective purchase.