Engine: 2.2 engines sourced by Astra have a reliable reputation. Listen for vibration on start-up, because the VX220’s biggest snag may be the timing chain, which is known to pull out at around 60,000 miles. When accelerating, listen for knocks at the rear as it could be the harsh noise of failing engine mounts which could mean a £300 repair bill. The 2.0-liter Turbo unit has a timing belt, which requires a change at 60,000 miles.
Transmission: Shifting is naturally clunky but you should have no problem shifting into first or third gear. If in doubt, be prepared to go because, in the event of failure, replacement gearboxes are expensive to fit and are becoming less common.
Body: It is mostly made of fiberglass and divided into three sections: a front clam, a middle section and a back clam. Although clams can be purchased from specialists, they can be expensive to buy or repair, and many insurers can write off the car even after a low-speed crash. Windshield repairs require the complete removal of the windshield, including the plastic surround, which involves removing or moving the front shell. Paint blistering may occur if the car has been left outside in freezing weather.
Brakes: Although the 2.2 comes with ABS, the units can fail and owners have been known to disconnect them. Check the override switches on the steering column as this may have been installed by the previous owner. Being an older car, it’s worth pumping the brake pedal to get the brake fluid flowing before driving off, especially if it’s not a daily driver.
Interior: When the VX220 came out, the heater was pretty much useless, and many owners upgraded it using a third-party heater matrix. The door sills are fiberglass and if they sit on them they can crack. If a sill protector is in place, it could hide an unpleasant surprise. Look for any water seepage in the trunk as there are a few relays inside, driving various electric gremlins if they get wet.
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