Opel is one of the most popular brands on the US and UK aftermarket. Even the newer models do not lack very solid engines.
When starting the search for a used car, many people are guided by their dreams – they are trying to buy a car that is as strong and well-equipped as possible. Dreams do not always stand up to reality.
After reviewing the ads, it often turns out that you need to spend a large amount of money to buy a top version in good condition and with a documented history.
In the case of Opel, the need to look around for “common sense” engines is not a problem. They are readily available, simple and cheap to repair, and some of them perform well.
Below we present our proposals of engine versions for people who are looking for a used Opel for everyday driving, and at the same time do not want to spend too much on the purchase and operation of the vehicle.
Read Also: The Best 2.0 Diesel Engine: Powerful And Reliable
5+ The Most Reliable Opel / Vauxhall (GM) Engine
1. 1.4 Ecotec 16V – A Solid Basic Power Source
In smaller Opel models (eg Corsa, but also Astra) it is very easy to find a 1.4 Ecotec engine marked with the code Z14XE. This is a very good choice. Users of such cars report that they traveled without serious engine failures, often 0.5 million km.
One of the disadvantages of an engine is that it can burn large amounts of oil. Sometimes there are defects in the control electronics. It is worth asking the seller if he replaced the throttle or the catalytic converter.
The first one has an integrated stepper engine, the second one is built into the exhaust manifold, which significantly increases the cost of repairs.
On the other hand, the costs associated with the maintenance of the vehicle are significantly limited by the possibility of installing a gas system – valve hydraulics solves the issue of the need for periodic control of valve lashings. The engine is characterized by high work culture and evenly delivers power.
However, you can not count on outstanding performance. Opel users with Z14XE engines should remember to replace the timing belt. However, it is not found in the newer 1.4 Twinport [Z14XEL (75hp) and Z14XEP (90hp)] engines – also equipped with hydraulic valve lifters and also burning a lot of oil.
The condition of the center must be checked, deficiencies supplemented and periodically replaced – neglect shortens the durability of the timing chain. Also in newer engines, Opel decided to integrate the catalytic converter into the exhaust manifold and use two lambda sensors.
The upgraded A14XEL (87 HP) and A14XER (100 HP) engines are also a safe choice. More serious breakdowns are limited to the coils and throttle. Oil burning is sometimes observed. Opel users with Z14XE engines should remember to replace the timing belt.
Also in newer engines, Opel decided to integrate the catalytic converter into the exhaust manifold and use two lambda sensors.
2. 1.4 Turbo – Flexible and LPG accepting
Based on the successful 1.4 16V naturally aspirated engine, Opel engineers built a supercharged version in 2010 – marked with the codes A14NEL and A14NET. The timing chain drive has decent durability. One of the most expensive potential failures is a crack in the turbocharger body.
Unfortunately, it has been integrated into the exhaust manifold. The plastic intake manifold is also a problem – it can crumble, there are failures of the check valve (the so-called red mushroom). The collector can be replaced or regenerated for less than $87. Coolant and oil leaks are sometimes reported.
Potential repairs will increase the cost of using Opel with the 1.4 Turbo engine, but it will remain attractive – for example against the background of Volkswagen group cars with more capricious 1.2 / 1.4 TSI engines.
What is important, In Opel, the combination of hydraulic valve lifters and indirect fuel injection translates into excellent operation of this engine on LPG (models with factory “gas” were available). The engines develop 100, 120 and 140 HP – the weaker ones after electronic tuning begin to match the stronger ones.
Attention! The A14 engine should not be confused with the 1.4 Turbo EDIT introduced in 2015 (codes B14 / D14) which have direct fuel injection. In this case, it is not necessary to install the gas installation, there are also reports of cracking pistons.
3. 1.6 Turbo – For Those Who Value Good Performance
In 2006, Opel engineers created a supercharged derivative of the 1.6 / 1.8 engines. This means that despite the fuel supply by indirect injection, the engine cannot be considered optimal for the installation of LPG systems. All because of the valve clearance, which is regulated by glasses.
The designers, however, prepared the engine well to develop considerable power – hence the water oil cooler, sodium-filled valves and the spray of oil on the piston crowns. According to Opel users, it is a good, but not armored engine, which, if properly handled, will easily cover over 250,000 km.
The key to success is proper service care – including regular oil changes and checking its condition, because the lubricant is sometimes burned (often due to oil-permeable valve seals).
After purchasing the car, it is worth checking the efficiency of the lubrication system. There are known cases of oil pump failure. The newer A16LET engine is a development of the Z16LET with modernized accessories.
4. 1.6 / 1.8 Ecotec – Simple, Solid and Dynamic Enough
A structurally simple, naturally aspirated engine introduced in 2005, the only “extravagance” of which is a system of variable valve phases. Attention! It does not mean that this engine is ideal for the installation of LPG installations.
The 140 HP engine marked with the code A18XER or Z18XER lacks hydraulic valve lash adjustment – it is made of glass. Who would like to enjoy a roadworthy car for as long as possible and avoid burnout of the valve seats, should check the valve clearance every 40 thousand. km (if the car does not run on gas, the first clearance is verified after 150,000 km).
It is worth combining this with candle changes. Practice shows that the treatment significantly increases the service life of ignition coils that are many times more expensive.
You should also remember to periodically replace the timing belt drive. We will meet the engine, among others in Astra, Vectra, Insignia or Zafira. It also appeared in the Alfa Romeo 159 and Saab 9-3 II.
The typical problems of a properly serviced engine include increased oil consumption and defects of the valve timing adjuster (its durability can be increased by cleaning the oil screens in the head, some decide to dismantle them). Virtually all of this can be applied to the 1.6 Ecotec (A16XER / Z16XER) engine.
5. 1.9 CDTI – Diesel Better Than 2.0 TDI PD
One of Opel’s most successful engines is the well-known Fiat diesel. It appeared under the hoods of German cars in 2004. Who is looking for a really “armored”, and possibly cheaper to repair a engine, should be interested in the 1.9 engine with an eight-valve head, that is in variants developing up to 130 HP.
Stronger 1.9 16V are more complicated – they have been equipped with an intake manifold with flaps, the mounts of which are deformed. The only thing left to do then is replacing the collector (about $218 + almost twice as much for labor due to the considerable amount of work involved) or removal of the flaps.
As in other diesels, also in cars with 1.9 CDTI engines you need to prepare for replacement of accessories – including EGR valves, DPF filters, dual-mass flywheels and injectors.
Compared to engines of competing brands, e.g. Volkswagen group and the diesel 2.0 TDI PD available at that time, the 1.9 CDTI engine performs more than well. If the seller is unable to document the timing belt replacement, this must be done (ideally with a fluid pump).