Vauxhall/Opel Zafira Faults
The Vauxhall Zafira is one of the longest-running MPV models available in the UK. It was first introduced in 1999 and has gone through three generations, the most recent having been launched in 2011. The car is sold under one of the most popular British brands and has been a consistent good seller for Vauxhall. Unfortunately, it has also been consistently unreliable, recording below-average scores in most surveys of Zafira owners.
The Vauxhall Zafira is available with either an automatic gearbox or a conventional unit. Most of the reliability problems in this area affect automatics, as the lack of smoothness in early manual clutches should no longer be an issue. There are two particularly serious potential issues with automatics. Firstly, some overflow pipes are not of the correct dimensions, which leads to the gearbox being starved of oil. Secondly, coolant leaks from broken heat exchangers are not unknown. Both these can be so expensive to fix as to make the car a write-off.
Vauxhall Zafira reliability issues often centre on diesel engines, especially the older 1.9 litre CDTi unit. This has been blamed for a variety of problems, some of which can result in large repair bills. One of the most serious is a broken timing belt resulting from a faulty water pump. This is likely to cause such extensive damage to the engine that it may be a write-off. Diesel particulate filters also frequently become blocked, and this problem also affects the newer 1.7 litre diesel.
In many cases, the Zafira's electrical problems are more annoying than disastrous, but they can still mean unwelcome bills and time without your car while it is repaired. Radios can have niggly problems that range from failure to hold a station's signal to unexpected drop-outs of power. Interior lights, especially the courtesy lamps that illuminate when you open the doors, are also prone to problems. More seriously, the xenon headlamps fitted to some higher-specification Zafiras can stop working, and this may mean a repair bill that runs into four figures.
Heating system problems
One of the most serious reliability problems to affect Zafiras hit the headlines in 2015. More than 200,000 vehicles had to be recalled because of a fault with the heating equipment that in rare cases could even cause the car to catch fire. Although most cars have been fixed under the recall, it's still necessary to check with your local Vauxhall specialist. There have also been occasional reports of the car's heaters (or climate control if fitted) being unable to maintain a consistent temperature.