Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi Problems: 6 Common Causes

Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi problems can be tough to stomach, especially when you rely on your van to put food on the table. So whether you’re looking to buy a Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi, or you’re experiencing problems with your van, this article will give you an insight into the common issues that the model suffers from.

Common problems that vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi owners suffer from are a stiff gearbox, clutch judder, the van going into limp mode, worn timing chain, the engine cutting out and central lock problems.

But don’t worry, I’ll cover the symptoms, causes and fixes of these common issues to help you either:

1. Repair your van, or

2. Move forward with a buying decision

Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi interior

Stiff Gearbox

One of the common problems in the Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi is a stiff gearbox. This issue can be addressed by checking for leaks or air in the cylinder.

If you hear a crunch when changing gears, it may indicate a faulty gearbox. In some cases, changing the clutch or checking for leaks or air in the cylinder can solve the issue.

Earlier models of the Vauxhall Combo had issues with the gear selector linkage. This problem may eventually require a new gearbox. Cable tie repairs may work temporarily, but it is recommended to get a new gearbox.

Regular maintenance and inspection of the gearbox are important to ensure smooth gear changes and avoid further issues.

Clutch Judder

If you’re experiencing clutch judder in your Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi, it’s important to address it promptly to avoid further damage.

Clutch judder is on of the most common Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi problems; it tends to occur as the van ages. It is characterised by a vibration or shuddering sensation when engaging the clutch.

The main cause of clutch judder is usually a worn or damaged clutch plate. Other possible causes include a faulty flywheel or problems with the clutch release mechanism.

If the clutch judder only occurs when starting in cold weather, the likely cause is clutch contamination. This could be a small amount of oil that has managed to get onto the the surface of the clutch plate

To fix clutch judder, you should carefully inspect the clutch plate and the flywheel as they may need replaced. Regular maintenance of the clutch system, including checking the fluid levels and adjusting the clutch cable, can help prevent clutch judder from occurring.

Dual Mass Flywheel
Image Credit: Pixabay

Limp mode

Your Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi going into limp mode can become very stressful.

Limp mode is a safety feature that limits the engine’s power to protect it from further damage.

It is usually triggered when the engine control unit (ECU) detects a problem such as faulty engine sensors / valves /components, clutch issues, faulty breaks or even low fluid levels.

When the ECU detects these problems, it may activate limp mode to prevent further damage to the engine.

Fault finding can be performed by using a OBD2 diagnostic tool. Depending on the error code from your scan tool, quick fixes can include:

  • Removing and cleaning at fault sensors
  • Cleaning suspected valves or filters.

If these solutions don’t work, it is recommended to have your Combo inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic to resolve the underlying issue and restore full engine power.

Engine cutting out / misfires / rough idling

When your engine suddenly cuts out or starts misfiring it can be frustrating and worrisome, but there are several common causes for these issues in the Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi:

  1. Fuel system problems: Clogged fuel injectors or a faulty fuel pump can disrupt the fuel flow, leading to engine misfires or stalling.
  2. Ignition system issues: A malfunctioning spark plug or ignition coil can cause misfires or rough idling.
  3. Air intake problems: A dirty or clogged air filter can restrict airflow, affecting the combustion process and causing the engine to cut out.
  4. Sensor failure: Faulty sensors, such as the crankshaft position sensor or oxygen sensor, can send incorrect signals to the engine control unit, resulting in misfires or stalling.

It’s important to have these issues diagnosed and repaired by a qualified mechanic to ensure the smooth and reliable operation of your Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi.

Timing Chain

The timing chain plays a crucial role in synchronising the movement of the engine’s valves and pistons. Over time, the timing chain can wear out, become stretched, or develop slack, leading to engine misfires, rough idling, and even engine failure.

Regular inspections can detect any signs of wear or damage early on, allowing for timely repairs or replacements.

It’s recommended to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for timing chain inspections and replacements.

By taking proactive measures, you can ensure that your Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi engine stays in good condition and avoid costly repairs down the line.

Door Lock Problem

Dealing with a faulty door lock can be really frustrating, leaving you stranded and unable to access your vehicle. However, it’s important to know that door lock problems in Vauxhall Combo vans are not uncommon.

Here are four common causes of door lock issues:

  1. Detached switch: A detached switch can prevent the door lock from functioning properly. To fix, try pulling apart the door panel and feeling for a thin rod that connects to the locking mechanism. Reconnecting the switch should solve the problem.
  2. Failed locking mechanism: Over time, the locking mechanism may fail, causing the door lock to malfunction. If the issue persists after attempting to reconnect the switch, it’s likely that the locking mechanism needs to be replaced.
  3. Disconnected key-lock: The key-lock may become disconnected, preventing it from properly engaging with the door lock mechanism. Reconnecting the key-lock should resolve this issue.
  4. Central locking system reset. Resetting the central locking system by disconnecting the battery and restarting the vehicle can fix door lock problems. However, if the issue persists, it’s best to seek professional assistance.

Remember, addressing door lock problems promptly is crucial to maintaining the convenience and freedom of accessing your Vauxhall Combo van.


What are the most common faults on Vauxhall Combo?

The Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi’s most common faults are a stiff gearbox, clutch judder, engine stalls/ misfires, a worn timing chain and door lock problems. However, these problems can largely be avoided by sticking to a regular maintenance ad service schedule.

Is Vauxhall Combo van any good?

The Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi is a great value small van that is competitively priced and offers comparatively low running costs.

What should I do if my Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi goes into limp mode?

If my Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi goes into limp mode, I would first check for any error codes using a diagnostic tool. Depending on the code, I would address the specific issue, such as a faulty sensor or a blocked filter, to resolve the problem.

Does a Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi van have a cambelt?

No, the Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi engine has a timing chain rather than a timing belt / cambelt.

Is the Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi van reliable?

Yes, the Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi van is a reliable motor. The Combo has been around for over 10 years and has a positive reputation. There are some known faults that crop up as the van ages, however this is expected with every vehicle. With proper maintenance, the Combo 1.3 CDTi should be a dependable vehicle.


I hope you have learned a lot in this overview of the Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi problems.

The Combo 1.3 is a reliable motor with good fuel efficiency, a smooth drive and a strong reputation in the industry.

Overall, these common problems with the Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi van can be addressed with proper maintenance and repairs.

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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