Vauxhall Agila Problems: Causes and Solutions Discussed

The Agila is an affordable city car that was popular with drivers in the UK. However, like any vehicle, it has its common mechanical issues. In this article, I will discuss some of the most frequent Vauxhall Agila problems that arise in these cars and how to fix them. Whether you already own an Agila or are thinking of buying one used, knowing its problem areas will help you stay on top of servicing and repairs.

Engine Issues

Vauxhall Agila engine
Photo Credit: Auto Car UK

One of the most well-known problems with the Vauxhall Agila centres around the engine. Here are some of the most common engine troubles:

Timing Chain Failure

The 1.0 and 1.2 litre petrol engines in many Agila models often have timing chain failures once they go over 100,000 miles. The timing chain helps the camshaft and crankshaft spin together properly. When it stretches or breaks, it disrupts the engine timing. This can cause less power, misfires, or even complete engine failure in some cases.

It is a good idea to replace the timing chain and tensioner at around 100,000 miles to prevent problems. Although it is an involved repair that requires taking part of the engine apart, it costs a lot less than fixing an damaged engine.

Oil Leaks

Oil leaks are common problems reported for high-mileage Vauxhall Agila engines. The seals and gaskets tend to deteriorate over time, allowing oil to slowly escape. Motorists may notice oil stains on their driveway or smell burning oil.

Though some oil seepage is normal in an older engine, any serious leaks must be fixed right away before oil pressure is affected. Regular oil changes and checks for new leaks can help address this issue early. Replacing worn gaskets and seals will be required to stop major leaks.

Vauxhall Agila Clutch Problems

Vauxhall Agila Clutch
Photo Credit:Auto Doc UK

The clutch in a manual transmission Vauxhall Agila takes a lot of wear and tear over the years. There are several common symptoms that indicate clutch problems:

  • Difficulty shifting gears – If the clutch isn’t disengaging properly, it will make shifting between gears very stiff and notchy. This gets progressively worse as the clutch material wears down.
  • Clutch slipping when speeding up – When speeding up, the clutch slips and the engine revs go up without the vehicle speed going up as much. This causes less power and acceleration. The slippage gets worse until the clutch fails completely.
  • Burning smell from the clutch – The friction material burning up due to too much slippage makes a distinct burning smell. It’s a clear sign the clutch needs replacing straight away.
  • Increased clutch pedal effort – As the clutch wears away, you’ll need to push the pedal harder to fully disengage the clutch. The pedal almost dropping to the floor shows worn out parts.

Ignoring these symptoms puts more strain on the clutch parts leading them to fail completely. It also damages the gears and flywheel from too much heat and slippage. Replacing the clutch kit with a new disc, pressure plate, and throw out bearing will get things shifting smoothly again.

Vauxhall Agila Starting Problems

Vauxhall Agila in blue
Photo Credit: RAC UK

When an Agila won’t start, the problem is usually:

  • A discharged battery – The battery provides power to start the engine. An old, weak battery may lack enough charge to turn the starter motor. Attempting to jump start or charge the battery can determine if it needs replacement.
  • A faulty starter motor – The starter motor physically turns the engine when you turn the key. If you only hear clicking or nothing at all, the electric starter motor requires repair or replacement.
  • A bad ignition switch – Inside the ignition switch, electric contacts send power to the starter motor. If these contacts are worn or damaged, power doesn’t reach the starter even with a good battery. The ignition switch will need replacement.
  • An immobiliser or alarm fault – The engine won’t start if the immobiliser cuts the ignition or the alarm system malfunctions. Have the system checked and codes reset to permit normal starting. Read our best OBD scanner guide for 2023 to help you check and reset fault codes.
  • Damaged starter wiring – Fraying or rust in the starter motor wires prevents enough power from reaching it. Check wires and clean up or replace any damaged connections.

Identifying the precise cause avoids wasting money and effort. Simple battery or connection checks can detect that problem. For issues that persist, more electrical testing confirms if the starter, switch or wiring is at fault before replacing parts.

Vauxhall Agila Automatic Gearbox Problems

Vauxhall Agilas with automated manual transmissions (AMTs) can experience the following issues over time:

  • Harsh, jerky gear changes – Faulty sensors and actuators cause rough shifts instead of smooth ones. Slow responses when shifting gears can also contribute.
  • Gears slipping – Internal clutch packs start to slip as they wear down. This allows the engine to rev higher without a similar gain in road speed when accelerating.
  • Error codes stored – The transmission control module spots issues using speed sensors and sets related error codes. Codes indicate which sensors, solenoids or actuators need repair.
  • No power or movement – Total transmission failure if internal parts are badly worn or synchronisers break down. In that case, you’ll needs an expert inspection and possible overhaul.

If your Agila is experiencing any of these problems, you should have it checked out by a qualified mechanic. Continuing to drive with ongoing issues speeds up wear and damage.

Manual Vauxhall Agila Gearbox Problems

Manual gearboxes also have common faults:

  • Difficulty shifting gears – Worn shift bushings and linkages make shifting stiff and hard. Lack of lubrication causes gears to drag and shift stiffly.
  • Gear grinding – Worn synchronisers don’t match gear speeds right during shifts. The grinding means parts need replacement.
  • Noisy operation – Worn bearings cause whining sounds. Chipped gear teeth also make audible chatter when gears mesh.
  • Gearbox leaks – Worn-out seals and gaskets let gear oil leak. Loss of lubrication speeds up internal wear.

These signs mean the gearbox needs service or overhaul to fix worn parts. Catching issues early cuts repair costs. If left unfixed, it can often lead to needing a complete gearbox replacement.

Vauxhall Agila Steering Problems

Vauxhall steering wheel
Photo Credit: RAC UK

The Agila’s steering components naturally deteriorate over time. Here are some signs of potential Vauxhall Agila steering problems to monitor:

  • Loose steering – Excessive slack in the steering wheel, requiring extra input to change direction, indicates worn steering components.
  • Steering vibration – A shaking sensation through the steering wheel when braking suggests warped brake discs. Drive shaft vibrations can cause a similar feeling at certain speeds.
  • Car pulling – Uneven tyre wear or misaligned wheels will cause pulling and uneven steering effort. A wheel alignment will correct the issue.

Spotting steering issues early allows for simpler, more affordable repairs. Lubricating ball joints, replacing worn tie rods, and fixing alignment problems helps prevent bigger, costlier issues. Ignoring the signs leads to more significant problems and higher repair costs.

Vauxhall Agila Electrical Problems

There are two main electrical problems that have commonly reported by Vauxhall Agila owners. These are:

Relay and Fuse Box Failure

Problems with the Vauxhall Agila’s relays and fuses failing can be extremely frustrating. When these parts fail, it can lead to various electrical faults. Warning lights coming on for no reason, equipment suddenly stopping working, and strange electrical behaviour usually means there is a faulty relay or blown fuse.

Battery Drain

Another annoyance is coming back to your Agila to find a flat battery – especially if left for a few days. Often it is simply because lights or accessories were left on by accident.

However, if the battery goes flat even when care is taken, a parasitic current drain is probably the cause. Using a multimeter to test for amperage draw with everything switched off can diagnose any problem circuits. Disconnecting the wire causing the problem stops the power drain until it can be fixed.

In bad cases, a new battery may be needed as well as wiring repairs to prevent continued battery drain. Using a trickle charger helps keep the battery working if the car is not used for a long time.

Minimising Vauxhall Agila Problems

While the Agila is not without it’s issues, most cars have their weak points. The key to cutting repair costs and keeping an Agila running well is proper maintenance and fixing issues quickly.

Focus on regular servicing, oil changes, checking for leaks or damage and minor repairs as soon as problems start. Learn to spot emerging issues like gearbox slips, electrical faults or steering vibrations. The faster you can diagnose and repair problems, the less likely major damage will be.

With some basic mechanical knowledge and attention to maintenance, an Agila can exceed its average lifespan. Don’t let the common Vauxhall Agila problems discourage you – with care and diligence, the Agila makes a practical and affordable city car.


What are some common issues with the Vauxhall Agila?

Common issues with the Vauxhall Agila include problems with the engine’s cooling system, gearbox issues, and electrical faults. However, these issues can vary based on the car’s age, model, and maintenance history.

How do I fix gearbox problems in my Vauxhall Agila?

Fixing a gearbox issue can be complex, as it could stem from multiple factors. It could be a worn clutch, damaged gears, or even a software issue. It’s best to have a professional mechanic diagnose and fix it to avoid further complications.

Are cooling system problems frequent in Vauxhall Agila?

Yes, it’s common for the Vauxhall Agila, particularly in older models, to have problems with the cooling system. It’s generally caused by issues such as leaks, blockages, or faulty radiator fans. Regular maintenance can help mitigate these issues.

How can I fix electrical faults in my Vauxhall Agila?

Electrical faults in a Vauxhall Agila could be due to several factors such as a faulty battery, damaged wiring, or issues with fuses. A professional car mechanic would be best suited to identify and address these electrical problems.

Can regular maintenance reduce common Vauxhall Agila problems?

Absolutely! Regular maintenance and services can significantly decrease the occurrence of common issues. It’s recommended to follow the manufacturer’s service schedule to keep your Vauxhall Agila running smoothly.

Dave Marlow
Dave Marlow
Dave has been a petrohead since he can remember. He worked as a mechanic for 12 years before transitioning into automotive content writing. His dream car is a classic Red Ferrari 458.

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