Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009) At A Glance
The Vauxhall Astra may be a common sight but with good reason. This Astra is a competent family hatchback that's well built and neatly designed. There are flaws with the cabin and the awkward boot is a bit of a let down, but it's cheap to buy and good value for money.
In fact, it's easy to forget how revolutionary the fourth generation Vauxhall Astra was when it was first launched in early 2004. Compared to its predecessor it was a huge step up in quality, design and refinement. And like the previous car it proved hugely popular - as a result the secind hand market is awash with them.
It's such a common sight that the Vauxhall Astra doesn't really stand out anymore but spare a few minutes to take a good look and you'll see that it's actually a decent looking car. There's some nice detailing such as the teardrop rear lights, shapely tailgate and flared arches.
The cabin isn't as successful and the slabby design hasn't aged particularly well, while the controls are poorly laid out, but the build quality is good and it feels robust. There's a wide choice of engines too with the CDTi diesels our favourite, while the powerful turbocharged petrols are enjoyable and quick.
Vauxhall Astra SRI 170 2004 Road Test
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Real MPG average for a Vauxhall Astra (2004 – 2009)
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Ask Honest John
Does mileage have an effect on the value of written off cars?
"I own a 2003 Vauxhall Astra. It's silver, manual with a mileage of 160,000. It;s just been written off and I need to agree its value with the insurers. I've noted a number of comparables for sale around £1000, but mileages with much lower mileages. Am I right to contend that for a car of this age, the mileage is not significant in valuing the vehicle? Does colour and number of owners affect the value?"
If your vehicle was brand new a colour option could have an affect on value, but on a vehicle of this age it wouldn't. Your car is worth around £500. The guides that insurers use will take mileage into consideration up to 150,000 miles. After that, the affect of mileage on value reduces. If you are being offered more than that, they are being very fair with you.
How do we go about driving a classic car through France's clean air zones?
"I was under the impression that the French authorities had banned classic cars - even if they were over forty years old - from entering major French cities. With this in mind, I wrote to the French embassy and told them that I would not be visiting their lovely country any more if I couldn't drive my MGB GT through it. I now have it on good authority that they have relented and changed the rules, presumably because of pressure from other classic car enthusiasts.How would they view a car which does not fit the exact original specification as manufactured, e.g. mine has a new shell and five speed gearbox. Also, how do we go about taking our 2004 Vauxhall Astra into those same cities if we chose to do so?"
French authorities now ask drivers to display a clean air sticker (called a Crit'Air) to enter some areas. Currently, these areas are Paris, Lyon, Grenobille, Lille, Strasbourg, and Tolouse. Some cities can impose emergency measures, banning the most polluting vehicles if pollution levels are already too high on any day. There are six categories of stickers (identified by different colours) and these relate to a vehicle's Euro Emissions Standard. For example, a modern clean electric would get a green sticker, while an older diesel with high CO2 emissions would display black sticker. You can read a bit about it here: https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/news/driving/2017-12/more-clean-air-zones-introduced-in-france/
Let's deal with the Astra first. You'll need to know your car's CO2 emissions - as your car is registered after 2001 but before 2017, you should know this figure as it's the basis for your road tax (or rather VED) but the 1.6-litre is 161g/km while the 2.0-litre is 214g/km. You can always double check the information here: http://carfueldata.direct.gov.uk/search-new-or-used-cars.aspx. Next, apply for your sticker from the official site (beware of third party sites): https://www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/en. You'll need a PDF or JPEG of your registration document (V5C) and the cost is €4.18 (there's a €68 fine if you don't have a sticker). As far as taking a classic car into one of the clean air cities goes, cars over 30 years old are allowed to enter the city - but you'll need a 'grey' sticker. Currently, there is no way to apply for this sticker using the online form. We'd always recommend travelling abroad with your V5C, tax and insurance details and you may well need these to enter a city if there are spot checks. We have asked for an update but haven't received anything yet - if we do hear back, we'll revise this answer with the latest information.
My son's car won't start - does the clicking noise suggest it's an issue with the starting motor?
"I drove my son's car last week, a 2007 Volkswagen Astra (35,000 miles). I heard a loud squeal and then it cut out and I smelled something burning, which lasted 30 seconds. The first RAC guy tried to bump start it by rolling down hill but wouldn't start. It got towed to our house. He said it was the starter motor so we tried jump starting it with a booster pack, still nothing. Second RAC guy says it's the engine - 'something's seized in it'. We can hear a loud clicking noise when trying to start it. Windows still work. Son didn't get service done as had to pay for new coil springs to get it through MoT. Could this have done something or could it be the starter?"
The clicking noise is the relay opening because either there isn't enough battery charge to turn the engine over or because the starter pinion and ring are jammed or because the engine is seized. Did anyone think to check the timing belt?
What are the normal warning signs of failing swirl flaps on a Vauxhall Astra?
"My 2007 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 petrol engine was wrecked by the swirl flaps, with no obvious prior warnings. In last Saturday's Telegraph a garage identified a failed inlet manifold and swirl flaps. How is this possible?"
The reader wasn't very specific so I had to assume that what he meant were the swirl flaps. The operation of the swirl flaps can be checked during a normal diagnostic tune-up.