Holden Cruze Problems
No car is perfect, but we've gathered everything relating to the Holden Cruze reliability here to help you decide if it's a smart buy.
Why won't my 2009 Holden Cruze auto change gears?
The six-speed automatic in your car has experienced a lot of serious problems, Linda. Various components have been blamed, but the symptoms include failure to select Reverse which sounds like the problem you’re having. Other symptoms include flaring between gears, loss of drive, inability to select forward gears and a warning light showing up on the dashboard.
You might be lucky and simply need a top up of transmission fluid, but going by the history of this gearbox, you need to have the car electronically scanned to know what’s really going on.
What are the known problems for a 2012 Holden Cruze?
Thanks for getting in touch. As we've outlined in earlier questions about the Cruze, the automatic in cars built between 2011 and 2013 has been an issue, and so the subject of recalls, repairs and/or full transmission replacement. If it starts to shudder, take its time shifting up under acceleration or not go into gear at all, then there's a problem.
If a Holden dealer carried out the repairs, then they should honour the warranty under Australian Consumer Law for a minimum of five years or 150,000km unless the car is then neglected and/or abused, given that the transmission and coolant system (known problem areas in Cruzes) are major components and thus come with a reasonable expectation of reliability and durability since they're new.
Unfortunately the Cruze has a reputation for unreliability beyond these issues as well, including ECU (engine control unit) and PCM (power control module) failures (often due to water ingress), positive crankcase ventilation (PCV) valve failure that makes the car perform sluggishly, and rough engine running due to faulty ignition coils.
As most of these problems have already been dealt with in the car you're considering, we reckon you might at least have a few years of reliability given the warranty work performed under Holden.
We hope this helps. Good luck.
Is a 2012 Holden Cruze likely to have a faulty gearbox?
The six-speed automatic transmission in the Cruze built between 2011 and 2013 was, indeed, a bit suspect in some cases. Unfortunately, that puts the vehicle in question right in the middle of things. Holden instigated a fix which was applied when a car with gearbox dramas was brought in for repairs. Sometimes individual parts of the transmission could be replaced, at other times the transmission was replaced as a whole unit.
Any Cruze with a gearbox that flares during shifts, shudders, refuses to select a particular gear (including reverse) or loss of drive was covered by this special service directive. When fixed, Holden was extending the warranty of the transmission to five years or 150,000km. That won’t help you now, but it would pay to check whether the car you’re looking at has, in fact, had this work carried out. A car with these repairs carried out would be a better choice than one that hasn’t.
Holden Cruze 2010: Failed transmission
As the vast majority of Holden Cruzes sold were automatics, finding out information on the manual version is not so easy. But I have heard of a few cases of this model suffering transmission faults where the gearbox becomes jammed in gear (and won’t come out) or jammed in neutral (and won’t select a gear).
If that’s the case, then it could be a case of a broken or faulty gear-selector cable or mechanism and may not mean the entire gearbox is toast. Either way, I’d expect more than 120,000km of service in a modern car before the gearbox died. But you haven’t told me the symptoms, so it’s hard to know what’s going on. Is the clutch okay? Is it a case of the driveshaft (rather than the gearbox itself) having failed?
As for replacing the gearbox with a brand-new one, I think that finding a good used unit from a wrecking yard would be a much more wallet-friendly exercise. The exception would be if the problem affected all manual Cruzes, at which point, a second-hand replacement would only be postponing the inevitable for a second time. But since the value of the car wouldn’t be more than the cost of a brand-new transmission, the equation comes down to whether you like the car enough to keep it. Is the rest of the car in good condition? If not, you might be better cutting your losses and finding something newer and with plenty of life left in it.
Holden Cruze 2011: Radio in a constant boot-loop
I believe that General Motors in the US did, in fact, issue a technical service bulletin (like a recall, but not a safety related issue) for a batch of Cruzes with dud negative battery terminals. Apparently, the cables were poorly made and could, over time, stop conducting electrons to the point where major systems, including the radio, could go to lunch. But it sounds like you’ve already replaced that component. The thing is, if the cable was replaced with one from the same batch, it could conceivably also give problems. The fact that your radio worked for some months before going on the fritz again, makes me wonder if that’s not the case here.
If the unit itself is at fault, you’re either stuck with finding a specialist who can repair it or replacing it. The good news is that you don’t have to buy a genuine Holden replacement. There are oodles of aftermarket replacement units out there that cost a fraction of the $2000 you’ve been quoted and can upgrade the Cruze to include Bluetooth connectivity, Android and Apple CarPlay and even add a reversing camera for extra safety. That’s the way I’d be going. Especially since Holden is very unlikely to cover the cost of a replacement unit in a car almost a decade old.
Holden Cruze 2011: Fast flashing red light
Car alarms have a really bad habit of draining batteries. Aftermarket ones are the worst, but even the factory alarm can cause a run of flat batteries if it’s not working properly. The faster flashing red light on your dashboard is the clue that something has altered in the alarm or its settings.
An auto electrician can be your best friend in these cases. By the way, not all scanners are created equal and some of the cheaper, online versions don’t cover all the functions of a modern car. A Holden workshop will have the proper scanning tools to make a coherent diagnosis.
Holden Cruze 2010: Drop in power going uphill
It sounds to me, Michael, that your repairer is not being entirely scientific about the diagnosis procedure. Changing things because they might fix the problem is an absolute hiding to nowhere in modern cars, purely because there are so many sensors and systems that can cause all sorts of problems.
While your repairer is correct that a diesel-particulate filter problem can cause a loss of power, so can a faulty intercooler, a dirty MAF sensor, leaking injector O-rings and a leaking boost pipe. Okay, so those things have all been fixed, but which one was causing the problem?
The smart way to go with a vehicle like this is to plug it into a scanner and download all the fault information that has been logged by the on-board computer. Only once you know what components are dodgy can you make an informed decision about what bits and pieces to replace. Beyond that, you’re stabbing in the dark and forking out big dollars every time a mechanic says "let’s try this…".
So, no, you’re not stupid in thinking that all the possibilities should have been considered before work began, and I’d be having that very conversation with the workshop involved. It may be that all those components that have been replaced were, in fact, faulty, but replacing things until the problem goes away is often a very expensive way to tackle a problem.
Holden Cruze 2013 or 2010: Are they worth buying?
The big difference between the two Cruzes you’ve nominated is that the earlier car was built in South Korea while, from 2011 on, production moved to Holden’s Australian production facility in Adelaide where it was built alongside the Commodore. There’s a school of thought that suggests the locally-made versions would be of better build quality than the Daewoo-made version, but in reality, there’s not much in it.
That said, we’d go for the later, Australian-made car, as these had a much better range of engines from which to choose. Specifically, the locally-made Cruze could be had with a 1.4 or 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine either of which was smooth and pretty zingy. Or, you could opt for the two-litre turbo-diesel or the non-turbo 1.8-litre petrol as seen in the early, imported Cruze.
The diesel is very frugal and offers a relaxed driving experience, but the two turbo-petrol engines are the pick of the crop for smoothness and performance. The one to avoid? The non-turbo 1.8. It was breathless, noisy and generally unpleasant.
Holden Cruze 2014:
It’s hard to say what has happened, but you’d have to think something behind the panel was damaged, perhaps shaken loose in the crash.