Vauxhall Combo Van Problems: Are They Reliable?

The Combo is a popular van in the UK because it is inexpensive, dependable and versatile. However, these vans often have some common issues.

I’ll discuss the major Vauxhall Combo van problems that customers report and provide some repair tips.

Whether you currently own a Combo or want to buy one, this guide will help you know what Vauxhall Combo Van problems to look for.

Engine Problems

One of the most common issues in the Vauxhall Combo is the 1.3 CDTi engine stalling or losing power. See our Vauxhall Combo 1.3 CDTi problems article for more specific details on the popular engine variant.

One common root cause for the loss of power is a blocked EGR valve. The EGR valve sends some exhaust gas back into the engine to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Over time, the EGR valve can get clogged up with carbon build-up.

Cleaning the EGR system often fixes the problems with stalling and lack of power, however replacement is sometimes necessary. It is best to have a mechanic do this work, as the EGR valve is very close to the turbocharger.

Other root causes of your Vauxhall Combo struggling to start are:

  • Weak battery – Will make the engine turn over slowly or not at all. Check the battery’s voltage and condition.
  • Faulty starter motor – Starters can wear out internally and fail to spin fast enough to start the engine.
  • Bad ignition switch – The switch wears out over time. This can result in the engine failing to start intermittently.

If the engine turns over but will not start, here are some common causes:

  • Crankshaft and camshaft sensors – These sensors send important timing signals to the engine computer. Faulty sensors will need replacement.
  • No fuel pressure – Could mean a failed fuel pump not delivering enough fuel for the engine to start.
  • Failed ignition parts like spark plugs, plug wires, or ignition coils. Checking these parts can find issues preventing the engine from starting.

Replacing the specific failed part is key to getting a troublesome Combo engine running well again.

Vauxhall Combo Van Clutch Problems

The clutch on Vauxhall Combos has been reported to wear out quicker than normal. Issues like a slipping clutch, difficulty changing gears smoothly, and clutch judder are fairly common.

  • A slipping clutch usually happens because the friction surfaces on the clutch pressure plate and flywheel are worn down. Replacing the clutch kit and resurfacing or replacing the flywheel can fix this.
  • Problems changing gears smoothly can be caused by a worn release bearing or pilot bearing that needs replacement. Adjusting the clutch linkage may help for a short time.
  • Clutch judder is caused by hot spots or runout on the flywheel friction surface. Replacing or resurfacing the flywheel remedies this.

Repairing these clutch problems requires removing the gearbox on these vans. It’s best to use a skilled mechanic who is familiar with Vauxhall Combos.

Dual Mass Flywheel
Image Credit: Pixabay

Electrical Problems

Common Vauxhall Combo electrical problems include:

  • Warning lights illuminating on the dashboard for no obvious reason.
  • Electric window and central locking failures.
  • Infotainment and dashboard display problems.

Diagnosing electrical problems requires careful checking. Technicians first check fuses, then relays, switches and wiring to find the source. Replacing blown fuses or faulty parts fixes most electrical faults. Water ingress can corrode connections, needing wiring repairs.

Suspension and Steering Issues

The front suspension and steering on Combo vans endure a lot of stress from delivery work. We frequently see them in the workshop for loose steering, clunking noises over bumps, and a bouncy ride, indicating worn parts.

Here are the main Vauxhall Combo Van suspension problems:

  • Ball joints – These critical pivot points become loose and need replacement.
  • Control arms – Bushings wear out and become sloppy, requiring new control arms.
  • Shocks and dampers – Fail from age and mileage, should be replaced in pairs.
  • Wheel bearings – Worn bearings make a rumbling noise and need replacement.

After Combo suspension repairs, a wheel alignment is recommended. This ensures proper tyre wear and straight steering.

Brake Problems

Combo brake problems are often caused by the vehicle use rather than any manufacturing faults. Here are some common issues:

  • Warped discs – Heat cycling causes discs to warp and vibrate when braking. New discs are the solution.
  • Leaky callipers – Age and corrosion cause fluid leaks. Calliper rebuild or replacement stops this.
  • Spongy pedal – Indicates air or fluid leak. Bleed the system and check the master cylinder.

I recommend flushing the brake fluid when doing major brake work. New fluid helps prevent further corrosion inside the system. For any major brake repairs, use quality parts and ensure proper bed-in procedure. This maximises brake performance and safety.

Vauxhall Combo Van Turbo Problems

On turbocharged Combo diesel models, two common issues may arise with the turbocharger:

  • Overboosting – The turbocharger provides too much boost pressure, risking damage to the engine.
  • Lack of power – A blocked intake side reduces boost.

These problems usually happen because the turbocharger has failed in some way – things like a stuck wastegate, damaged gaskets or a dirty intake side. Rebuilding or replacing the turbocharger is needed to restore boost function.

It’s important to diagnose over boosting and lack of power problems quickly. Driving for too long with a failed turbocharger can cause major engine damage.

Vauxhall Combo Van Reliability

Although some common issues affect the Vauxhall Combo, it is a highly dependable van trusted by thousands of business owners.

The key to maximising the reliability of a Vauxhall Combo van is staying on top of regular servicing and fixing any mechanical issues quickly. Combos that are poorly maintained and driven recklessly will develop major problems sooner. Finding a reputable mechanic familiar with these vans to do repairs using quality parts is recommended. With care and attention, a Combo can be a tough and affordable work vehicle.


In summary, the Vauxhall Combo van is generally a solid, affordable commercial vehicle. Knowing the most common Combo van issues gives you the best chance to keep your vehicle in top health.

Pay attention to early symptoms and fix them quickly. With proper servicing and prompt repair, a Combo van should reliably last many years.


Why does my Vauxhall Combo van lack power and stall?

If your Vauxhall Combo van lacks power and stalls, the most likely cause is a blocked EGR valve. The EGR valve can get clogged with carbon buildup over time, which restricts flow and causes stalling. Replacing the EGR valve and cleaning out the EGR system is usually effective in restoring normal engine performance.

Why do the brakes on my Combo vibrate when I brake?

Warped brake discs usually cause brake vibration or judder when braking in a Vauxhall Combo. The brakes undergo high heat cycles, which can warp the discs over time. You can stop the vibration and restore smooth braking to your Combo by replacing the warped discs with new ones.

What causes electrical problems in Vauxhall Combos?

Electrical problems in Vauxhall Combos can be caused by blown fuses, damaged relays or switches, corroded wiring and water incursion. Fixing seals and replacing damaged components will address most electrical problems.

Why does my Combo have suspension and steering problems?

The front suspension and steering components on Vauxhall Combos can suffer premature wear from heavy use. Ball joints, control arms, struts, and wheel bearings typically fail first. Replacing worn components and performing a wheel alignment will restore ride quality and stable steering to a Combo exhibiting suspension and steering problems.

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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