Holden Cruze Gearbox & Transmission Problems
Why is my 2013 Holden Cruze revving and losing power?
If the engine is revving but the car is not moving, you probably have a transmission or gearbox fault. If the problem was a broken driveshaft or CV joint, the car would just roll to a stop and not move again. But since it gradually lost drive before finally refusing to move, it’s more likely to be the gearbox that is the cause of this.
Sometimes, this sort of problem can be as simple as a leak from the transmission which has led to a low fluid level. And since it’s the fluid in an automatic transmission that actually provides the drive (by transferring the torque) this can bring on the symptoms you’re seeing.
At the other end of the catastrophe scale, you could be looking at a gearbox that has failed internally and comprehensively. And I’m afraid to say that this model Cruze did have a reputation for just that occurring. Sometimes the problem could be traced back to a torque-converter, valve body or sensor error, but other times complete transmission failure was the diagnosis.
Holden actually acknowledged this problem by extending the transmission warranty to 150,000km or five years after the date the car first went into service. Unfortunately, that ended in 2018 for your car. It would still be worth contacting Holden’s customer service department, however, but don’t be surprised if financial help is not forthcoming.
Does my 2013 Holden Cruze have a transmission control unit issue?
Yes, it could be something to do with the way the transmission is behaving. But it could also very easily be any one of a hundred other things. A faulty transmission can cause a car to surge while stopped, but so can a fault with the fuel, ignition and any number other systems found on a modern car.
But work backwards for a moment. Did this new problem occur immediately after the plugs and coil-packs were changed? Or was there a full week of normal driving before the new problem set in? I’d be checking the connections on those new plugs and coils and making sure that nothing has been left loose. A poor earth connection can be the source of many problems that seem like something else initially. From there, I think an electronic scan is probably the best advice as this will help pin-point what’s going wrong. The car’s own computer should have a very good idea of what’s amiss and can alert you to it quickly.
How do you check transmission oil in a Holden Cruze 2009 and where is the fuel filter located?
It used to be the case that you could simply, quickly and easily check a car’s transmission fluid by looking at the transmission dipstick. In the case of the Holden Cruze, that’s not the case and clearly, the manufacturer doesn’t want anybody unauthorised attempting to check the fluid level. That and the fact that a transmission without a dipstick is cheaper to make.
Without a dipstick, the fluid level is set when the transmission fluid is changed as part of a service. The transmission when refilled is then warmed to a pre-determined temperature and a small bung removed from the side of the transmission near the driveshaft. If the level is correct, there should be a drop of two of fluid leak from this hole. Clearly, this is not a job for the home mechanic, but that’s how a workshop does it.
On the diesel-engined Cruze, the fuel filter is located in front of the driver’s side rear wheel, under the floor and next to the fuel tank. You may have to remove the plastic under-floor panels to gain access to the filter. In the petrol version of the Cruze, the filter is located in the driver’s-side rear wheel arch and, in either case, you’ll need to get under the car to change them, so make sure the car is safely supported.
What can I do if the transmission in my 2012 Holden Cruze has failed?
I’d definitely be talking to Holden’s customer service department. I agree that 92,000km is a long way short of what I’d consider to be the lifespan of a modern motor vehicle, even if it has taken you more than five years to reach that mileage. In any case, nobody will be buying new Holdens any longer as the brand no longer exists.
Meanwhile, you’re right, transmission failures are a well known fault with this make and model and Holden did extend the factory warranty on them to 130,000km. Unfortunately, the five-year limit also applied which is where you’ve run out of time. I would hate to think that Holden’s demise as a brand will leave existing owners high and dry, but I can imagine that’s just how you’re feeling. Without an active factory presence in Australia, though, it might be difficult to get much joy from Holden.
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.