Holden Commodore Problems

No car is perfect, but we've gathered everything relating to the Holden Commodore reliability here to help you decide if it's a smart buy.

What transmission box do I have in my 2007 Holden Commodore VE?

Answered by CarsGuide 19 Jan 2021

It all depends on what engine is fitted to your car, Karen, as Holden used a range of gearboxes in this series of Commodores. If your car is the base-model version (the Omega) it will be fitted with a four-speed automatic (code-named the 4L60E). If your car is an SV6, it will have either a five-speed automatic (5L40E) or a six-speed manual (the Aisin D173/AY6 unit). If your car is a V8 Commodore, it will have either the six-speed automatic (6L80) or a six-speed manual (Tremec T56) fitted.

Of all those transmission options, the five-speed automatic was the odd one out as it was only used from the launch of the VE until the first facelift in 2008 when it was replaced by a six-speed automatic.

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What oil goes into a 1998 Holden Commodore?

Answered by CarsGuide 25 Nov 2020

Assuming your car is a V6, I’d recommend a quality brand of oil with a viscosity of either 5W30 or 10W40. Provided you buy a quality, known brand, it will have all the additives that make modern multi-grade oils so much better than the oils that went before them. If your car runs on LPG (as many Commodores do) then you need to buy an oil that’s designed for use with this fuel. Fundamentally, though, the same rules apply: Stick to the correct grade and weight of oil and only use a quality brand, not the generic-branded supermarket stuff.

The actual oil capacity for a V6 Commodore of that vintage is 5.3 litres, so if you buy a six-litre pack, you’ll have enough for tops-ups between oil changes. Don’t forget to change the oil filter, too. While some mechanics reckon changing the filter every second oil change is enough, the wisdom of putting nice, clean oil through a dirty filter is beyond me, especially considering an oil filter costs only a few dollars.

Changing your engine’s oil is probably the best engine insurance you can buy. But you need to do it properly, so a workshop manual is probably a good thing to have as well as it should walk your through the process (important the first time). You also need to be able to dispose of the old oil and filter in an environmentally responsible way, too. But this is a great first maintenance job for the budding home mechanic and can really save you some money over the years. Good luck with it.

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Why is my 2005 Holden Commodore overheating?

Answered by CarsGuide 25 Nov 2020

There are many, many things that can make a car overheat. A faulty radiator, collapsed radiator hose, jammed thermostat, blown head gasket, low coolant level, incorrect ignition or camshaft timing, faulty fuel injectors, the list goes on and on. So you need to have the car scanned electronically to see if a fault code is offered up that could be the cause or part of the problem. First, though, I’d have a close look at the obvious stuff like a leaking radiator or blown radiator hose to make sure that it’s not a really simple fix. Even a faulty radiator cap – as simple as that sounds – can lead a car to overheat.

To be honest, a 34-dgree ambient day should never be enough to make a modern car overheat, especially not one like a Holden Commodore which was designed here to easily cope with our weather and temperature extremes.

It’s interesting to note that you bought the car from a dealer, so it would be worth going back and checking the paperwork to see if the car was sold with any warranty. It’s doubtful, however, as a 2005 model car falls outside the boundaries of Victoria’s statutory warranty legislation (generally a used car must be less than 10 years old and have travelled less than 160,000km before a statutory warranty applies from a licensed car dealer). A good mechanic who knows this type of car should be able to sort it, but have it checked soon; continuing to drive it with an overheating problem is a sure way to make small problems bigger ones.

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Will a column-shift auto from a 1999 Holden Commodore ute fit into a 1996 model?

Answered by CarsGuide 18 Sep 2020

I can’t see why not, Peter. The 1996 and 1999 are more or less identical cars so there should be a high degree of interchangeability. While manual versions of the Commodore Ute form this era did, indeed, change gearbox types as the years progressed, the automatic version stuck with the same unit, so the gearbox and all its ancillary bits and pieces should be a straight swap.

And how good is a ute with a bench seat for three and a column-shift? Car makers should revisit this layout as it makes so much sense.


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What type of differential is fitted to the 2001 Holden Commodore?

Answered by CarsGuide 16 Sep 2020

The standard differential on this vehicle was a non-LSD (non-limited-slip) unit with a final-drive ratio of 3.08:1. Some owners changed the gears in the diff for more acceleration, although this was more commonly done in V8 models where owners were chasing performance at the expense of a little fuel economy.

If you’re in doubt, you can put the car on a hoist, mark a spot on the driveshaft and then turn the rear wheel a full revolution. By counting the number of times the driveshaft rotates during that process, you’ll know the ratio. In this case, one full rotation of the rear wheel should equal 3.08 rotations of the driveshaft.

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Holden Commodore 2010: Does this model suffer from the timing chain issue?

Answered by CarsGuide 7 Aug 2020

The early VE model Commodore V6s certainly had all sorts of dramas with stretched timing chains that could run into thousands of dollars to fix. Holden changed the design of the chain and while it did help, we’ve still heard of later post-2008 model Commodore V6s exhibiting the same problem.

The problem is made worse (accelerated) by poor servicing, so if the vehicle in question doesn’t have an absolutely up-to-date service handbook with evidence of every scheduled service being carried out in full, we’d be walking away. Same goes for a car that rattles on first start-up, won’t idle properly or has a check-engine light illuminated on the dashboard.

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Should we replace our Holden Commodore with a Subaru Outback?

Answered by CarsGuide 27 Jun 2020

A car with a little extra ground clearance is great for camping as it often allows you to get a little farther away from the masses in their caravans who tend to huddle around the shower block at bush campsites.

The Subaru Outback is a good, solid choice and if you can find an independent workshop to service it, you’ll avoid the cost of dealership prices. And you’re right, the all-wheel-drive would be great for gravel roads. Another vehicle to look at would be a late-model Ford territory diesel which is big and clever inside and has the option of all-wheel-drive. The diesel engine is a plus on the bush where that fuel is more readily available (in really remote areas) and gives you more range for big holidays in the mulga.

Don’t rule out things like the Mitsubishi Pajero, either, which won’t be as around-town friendly, but is a proven quantity and is absolutely tremendous off-road. The same goes for a Toyota Prado or Nissan Pathfinder prior to the current model (which is a bit less hard-core adventure).

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Holden Commodore 2002: Engine misfiring

Answered by CarsGuide 9 May 2020

A problem like this could be caused by any number of things, James. Electronically interrogating the on-board computer is a wise first step, as the error codes that will result will possibly lead you straight to the offending component.

In cars like yours with electronic fuel-injection and engine management, there’s an array of sensors that need to send the correct signal to the car’s on-bord brain for everything to function properly. Replacing these sensors one by one until you fix the problem is a very time and cash consuming way of proceeding. Have the car scanned instead and see what fault codes show up.

Meantime, if I had to venture a guess, I’s say the problem sounds ignition related. An engine will often idle properly with no load on it, but when you select a gear, there’s suddenly load applied and, if the ignition system is not spot on, the engine can suddenly do all sorts of crazy things, including dropping cylinders. The other thing that occurs to me is that your battery might be low on charge. Injected engines absolutely do not like a lack of volts.

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3027 Holden Commodore: Fuel-injector failure.

Answered by CarsGuide 7 Mar 2020

These late Commodores (the very last of the locally-made Commodores, actually) do, in fact, have a history of fuel injector problems. Holden has claimed that poor quality fuel is the cause, but some technicians disagree, arguing that it’s a problem inherent in the injector’s design. Some owners have been told that it’s better to run these cars on 95 or 98-octane fuel, even though the LS3 V8 is rated to run on 91-octane ULP. But it seems even cars that have been run on the pricier brew are still recording problems with the injectors.

The faulty injectors send the engine into a potential lean-mixture situation, at which point the on-board computer intervenes and sends the car into limp-home mode to avoid engine damage. That’s why you’re seeing all those warning lights on the dashboard, while the injectors themselves are what’s causing the rough running you’ve reported.

There’s been no recall on Holden’s part, but the word on the street is that a Holden dealer will replace the injectors free of charge if you present the car at the dealership with the symptoms in evidence. Holden’s announcement that it will cease to trade in Australia should not affect this situation.

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Holden Commodore 2002: How can I fix a broken interior vent?

Answered by CarsGuide 25 Oct 2019

Something has possibly broken in the vent. Remove the vents from the dash and check, or have a mechanic do it for you if you’re not confident of doing it yourself.

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