Opel Astra Common Problems & Complaints

Written By Nick Harris

Are you in the market for a new car and considering a used Opel Astra K? The fifth and most recent generation of the Astra, the K model, has been in production since 2015. While the Astra K is generally a reliable car, it’s important to know about the potential issues before making a purchase.

Key takeaways:

  • The Opel Astra K is the latest generation of the Astra, produced between 2015-2021 on a GM platform.
  • The main issues with the Astra K are related to electronics, particularly with cameras and instrument panels.
  • While there were some problems with the Astra K, it is a reliable car overall, and the upcoming release of the Astra L suggests that Opel has addressed these issues.

We’ll explore the common problems that Astra K owners have faced and offer advice on how to avoid or address them. From engine issues to electronic malfunctions, we’ll cover the most significant concerns you should be aware of, so you can make an informed decision when buying a used Opel Astra K.

Opel Astra H (A04) | 2004 – 2010

The Opel Astra H (A04) is a compact class sedan produced from 2004 to 2010. A facelift was introduced in February 2007.

Timing chain issues

The 1.4 Twinport engine (model Z14XEP) has a timing chain, which can be problematic due to frequent short trips, which are common for a compact car like the Opel Astra H. This can lead to premature elongation of the timing chain, potentially causing a catastrophic engine failure.

Diesel engines have more issues: the EGR valve can become clogged and remain open, allowing too much exhaust gas to enter the intake tract, resulting in engine roughness or stalling at idle. The affected models are the 1.3 CDTI and 1.9 CDTI, which use Fiat engines.

The Hitachi alternator installed in the 1.7 CDTI is prone to premature wear and may need to be replaced after only 140,000 km. The coolant hoses on this model can also become brittle relatively quickly. Additionally, stone impacts can cause the oil pan to leak.

The 1.9 CDTI can experience problems with both the alternator and swirl flaps, especially in vehicles built before 2005.

Issues with the 6-speed manual transmission

The Opel 6-speed manual transmission (M32) is known for bearing problems. Due to excessive preload, the surface of the tapered roller bearings can fracture, eventually leading to transmission failure.

If there are jerky movements of the gear lever during acceleration and braking during a test drive, transmission failure may be imminent.

Our tip: go with 1.6 with 5-speed manual transmission

For the Opel Astra H (A04), it is worth opting for a facelift model from February 2007, as most of the initial issues have been resolved by this time.

The gasoline models are relatively trouble-free. The only potential issue is the timing chain in the 1.4 Twinport engine, so it is advisable to listen for rattling noises during (cold) engine start before purchasing. The 1.8 provides slightly better performance than the smaller 1.6, but the significantly higher fuel consumption, which is around 8 liters, is hard to justify. The 1.6 Turbo strikes the best balance between performance and fuel economy.

The Astra H was offered with two automatic transmissions: an automated 5- or 6-speed manual transmission called “Easytronic” and a traditional 4- or 6-speed torque converter automatic. The former is sluggish, shifts roughly, and is nothing more than a manual gearbox without the need for a clutch pedal. If possible, it is advisable to opt for the tried-and-true torque converter automatic, which is much more comfortable.

The adaptive IDS+ suspension provides electronically assisted suspension control, but it is also much more maintenance-intensive. Whether a vehicle has this suspension can be determined by a message that appears on the dashboard when the ignition is turned on.

Rust is a rare issue for the Astra H, but some vehicles may experience it along the trim strip on the rear hatch.

Opel Astra J (P10) | 2009 – 2018

The fourth generation of the Opel Astra (P10) is designated as J and was produced from 2009 to 2018.

Known engine weaknesses

The 1.4 Turbo is generally reliable, but can develop problems with the crankcase ventilation (KGE). A common symptom is high oil consumption, which can result in a bluish smoke cloud, uneven engine running, and loss of power. The 1.6 Turbo EcoFlex model also experiences soot and carbon deposits in the intake tract and combustion chamber due to direct injection, which also affects the injectors. This leads to increased fuel consumption and decreased performance.

The smaller non-turbocharged and non-direct injection engines (87-115 hp) do not have these weaknesses, but can develop problems with the timing chain. Normally, there are no replacement intervals for timing chains, as most manufacturers consider them maintenance-free.

However, many short trips and late oil changes can cause the timing chain to elongate, resulting in catastrophic engine damage. In addition, the turbocharger can wear prematurely due to increased fuel entry into the engine oil.

The 1.3 CDTi model is also affected by this problem. Other diesel-specific weaknesses are the diesel particulate filter and the injectors. However, those who address these issues should have a trouble-free vehicle for a long time.

6-speed manual transmission continues to be frustrating
As with the previous model, the 6-speed manual transmission M32 can cause problems. It is used in all turbocharged petrol engines (from 1.4 Turbo) and diesel models. The 5-speed manual transmission (F17) is less troublesome, but is only available with the smaller engines.

Those who prefer automatic transmission will be well served by the tried and tested 6-speed automatic transmission. To further increase the lifespan of the automatic transmission, it is advisable to have the transmission flushed immediately after purchasing the vehicle.

Other defects and recalls

The Opel Astra J had several recalls. Vehicles from model years 2010 to 2015 with hill start assist and electric parking brake may give the impression of a pulled handbrake due to a software error.

Furthermore, the cover of the starter battery can become loose, fall off, and block the radiator fan, resulting in a fire hazard. This affects petrol engines from model years 2009 to 2011.

In the TÜV report and the ADAC breakdown statistics, the Astra J only scores average. The handbrake often performs poorly in the main inspection, and occasionally the suspension springs are also criticized.

Opel Astra K (B16) | 2015-2021

The fifth and most recent generation of the Opel Astra is designated as the K model and has been produced in both England and Poland since 2015. A facelift was introduced in July 2019. The Astra K is the last generation to be built on a GM platform.

The main issue with the Astra K is the electronics. In contrast to its predecessor, the Astra K is equipped almost exclusively with direct injection engines, which can lead to soot and carbon deposits as well as turbocharger problems. Apart from that, there is little to fault with the petrol and diesel models, which are generally recommended.

The electronics, on the other hand, cause considerably more problems: a fogged-up windshield can impair the function of the camera mounted in the upper area, leading to the failure of numerous assistance systems (e.g. lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition). In addition, there may be occasional sudden failure of the instrument cluster, which can be remedied by simply restarting the engine.

In the diesel model 1.6 CDTi with a manual gearbox, the braking performance can be reduced due to a faulty master cylinder. Model years 2016 to 2017 are affected. In addition, the 2016 model year is affected by defective airbags.

Otherwise, the Astra K has largely remained free of major issues. With the imminent launch of the Astra L, it can now be assumed that no further weaknesses will be revealed.