Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

For reviews / technical discussions on the other car.. using the knowledge of others on the forum
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Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:25 pm

This was originally a quick and dirty first post because I was having an issue, but I'll edit this post with some photos and a nice history later. I've edited it with some history, need to dig some photos out as they're not close to hand! Original post is in the spoiler.

This is the first post of a few more, I'll be doing others individually as otherwise it'll be a HUGE block of text.
Spoiler:
I'm having issues engaging gears when the Vectra is at mid-range to hot engine temperatures (typically when sat in traffic). Pumping the clutch along the full length of travel a few times will then allow me to engage a gear.

My presumption is my gearbox oil is running a bit low and as the car heats the decreased viscosity is not lubricating sufficiently as there's not enough. Pumping the clutch redistributes the oil and allows engagement. Does this sound plausible?
The Introduction, in which Honkytonk goes off on a ramble but brings it all back in the end
This might be incredibly obvious to a motoring forum, but first cars are special things. For some people they may just be a practical thing, a tool to shuttle you to and from work or school. Some see them as a social object, something for you and your friends to gad about in. Me? I'm in the last camp. People who get perhaps a bit more emotionally attached than they should do to their machines because of what it gives them, what it gave them, and what it means to them - independence, even freedom. And how that can affect (warp?) your perception of what is an otherwise unexceptional pile of metal and plastic. Such is my experience with the Vauxhall Vectra. With MY Vauxhall Vectra.

Born out of GM's desire to build a car 'For the New Millenium', the original Vectra hit the market in... 1988. :-k The B model arrived in the UK in 1995 as a replacement for the Cavaliers pounding the Motorways of Britain delivering tie-clip wearing photocopier paper salesmen to every meeting, with a jacket hanging in the back and a carphone in hand. A billion pounds was spent on the Vectra in R&D alone, so said GM, and I'm just going to get that Clarkson video out of the way here first...



All had a chuckle? Good.

Apparently, this one video suppressed Vectra sales in the UK so much that Vauxhall/GM complained to the BBC. Some even point to the closing of their Luton plant as being the fault of Mr Clarkson, (but I think that's little more than the work of Corporate apologists).

'The' Car's History
'The' Vectra was purchased originally in 2001 by my grandparents as a replacement for their White 1985 Cavalier, which after their initial test drive of a Vectra had decided it had lived quite long enough thank you very much and promptly caught fire on the M25 on the way home. Were my grandparents taken in by the Vectra's rakish styling? Or subtle, understated ("cough") performance? Or the fact it was shiny and had air conditioning? Whatever it was, I imagine it was probably also related to the Cavalier being a reliable old bucket (up until the conflagration) and they were replacing it with something a similar size that had the same badge from the same dealer they'd got the Cavalier from...

'The' Vectra had a solid, comfortable, pampered life in the hands of the Grandparents, racking up a healthy 78,000 miles in 13 years, main dealer serviced all the way, with posh tyres and windscreen wipers and the lot, all the way up to 2014. Which is when it entered my life on a permanent basis.

I had, of course, experienced it from a child and into a teenager's perspective many times in those years. Experienced its cloth upholstery, its CD player ("War of the Worlds" was often in the rotation), and its air conditioning. One particularly hot summer springs to mind when I was baking in my mother's '92 Red Sierra estate and had to vacate to the Grandparent's air-conditioned luxury box for my own health.

So, in 2013, during one of the iffiest years of my life, my Grandparents were scouting for a new car. They'd driven the new Astra, and lo, it was good. But the Vauxhall dealer would only give them £300 part ex for the reliable old Vectra that had stood them sterling for so long. They liked the car. They didn't want it to go. And frankly the dealer was having a laugh offering them such a paltry sum. So they offered it to me. Match the price, and the car is yours.

I grasped it with both hands. I hadn't owned a car since passing my test, 5 years before. I'd driven them. Borrowed them. Rented them. But never owned one. I was without transport, in the middle of rural Dorset, and I was digging myself a bit of a rut.

Since that day in 2014 we've been North, South, East, West. It's carried many things the designers perhaps didn't intend for - dogs, sheep, chickens, an alpaca once, as well as surfboards, camping equipment, and band gear (two drumkits on one occasion). I was able to see my other set of grandparents who I wouldn't have been able to see before they passed if it weren't for the Vectra. The car allowed me to get away when I needed to escape the village for a week, or a few hours, it allowed me to start running and building my own business, and it allowed me to clamber out of the rut I was struggling in. It allowed me to meet my (now) Fiance. It took us on dates and holidays. Its moved house with us twice. And it has never, ever let me down - except for the one time a coil pack went in Northumberland, but even then it limped me the 5 miles to the nearest town feeling very sorry for itself on three cylinders until Mr. RAC arrived.

This bargain basement spec, 1.8 petrol, now on 114,000 miles and counting, is, to me, more than the sum of its parts. And you could offer me a Lancia Delta Integrale with dealer miles on it tomorrow and I would turn it down if it meant I had to watch the Vectra drive away for the last time.
Last edited by Honkytonk on Fri Aug 02, 2019 7:21 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty Vectra B 1.8 Club

Post by qwakers » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:30 pm

nope, it sounds more like a typical vauxhall issue.....

if i remember correctly the vectra b has a concentric slave cylinder for the clutch.. my bet is its in process of collapsing.

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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty Vectra B 1.8 Club

Post by Honkytonk » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:37 pm

qwakers wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:30 pm
nope, it sounds more like a typical vauxhall issue.....

if i remember correctly the vectra b has a concentric slave cylinder for the clutch.. my bet is its in process of collapsing.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty Vectra B 1.8 Club

Post by qwakers » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:41 pm

sorry :(

i might be wrong though. my memory isnt what it used to be, but i had a vivaro do exacly as you described, and i ended up having to drag it home behind my laguna, ( fully loaded at 2.8 ton, that was fun :D )

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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty Vectra B 1.8 Club

Post by warpc0il » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:42 pm

The clutch line might just need bleeding but those concentric slaves can be a bugger.

You need a pressure bleeder as you can't get enough pressure just by your foot on the clutch pedal.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty Vectra B 1.8 Club

Post by Honkytonk » Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:19 pm

qwakers wrote:
Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:41 pm
sorry :(

i might be wrong though. my memory isnt what it used to be, but i had a vivaro do exacly as you described, and i ended up having to drag it home behind my laguna, ( fully loaded at 2.8 ton, that was fun :D )
Ha, not your fault...

To replace the slave (a £30 part) I have to drop the front subframe. So the gearbox, engine, clutch have to come out. Thanks Vauxhall/GM/Opel you bunch of British/American/German Donkeys (delete as appropriate...)

Going to go with the bleed it and check fluids option for the time being. It only shows itself as an issue when I've been sat on traffic for a while in the heat and the coolant temps are around 90.
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And my OEM-only Luton Adonis, the awful(ly fantastic!) Mighty Vectra

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Honkytonk's Mighty Vectra B 1.8 Club

Post by GreySilver Beast » Thu Aug 01, 2019 9:19 pm

Look forward to seeing the Photo's of this car =D>

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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by PeteH » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:34 pm

So, when you are offered the Delta Integrale, but decide your £300 Vectra is worth more to you, I'd be happy to offer you £350 for the Lancia. That's £50 in your pocket, right? :whistle:

My parents' first "decent" car was a fwd Cavalier 1.6L. It was the car I learned to drive in. It was the car I used to just sit in when parked and listen to Meat Loaf, because it was the only decent stereo we owned. It was the car I did an indicated 120mph in, obviously in Germany, officer. It was the car whose rear tyre exploded when we were fully loaded on the way back from camping in Northumberland, meaning we had to unload everything on the side of a motorway to get to the spare. It was the car that made me feel like I could really drive, because it was so much more composed than the Cortinas / Sierras / Marinas of the time. After a few years they "upgraded" to a newer Cavalier, and it didn't even come close to feeling the same. Clarkson doesn't truly understand car culture, and has no idea what undefinable thing creates that bond between a person and their car. Some great cars mean nothing to you, and some hopeless cars just worm their way into your sole.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Fri Aug 02, 2019 4:46 pm

No, because I'm then still down a Vectra...

Edit - I realised I only posted that first line rather than the rest of what I wrote, and it sounds a bit dismissive, my bad.

You're right. I like Clarkson for some of the stuff he does, not all, and to be fair he summed it up well when in an episode of Top Gear he described something he was test driving at the time as being one of the most important cars in the world because it allowed him to see his dying father before he passed.

There's that old adage about the journey being more important than the destination, and how do most of us make that journey? In our cars. You can get all metaphorical and apply that principle to "life, man, woaaah", or look at it in a more practical manner that you literally have to move across the surface of the planet and what you use to do that with is where you'll spend most of your time and therefore accrue most of your memories.
Last edited by Honkytonk on Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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And my OEM-only Luton Adonis, the awful(ly fantastic!) Mighty Vectra

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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:07 pm

Centre Fold

Let's get some of the shots out of the way. These are older ones, I need to find some more recent ones (understandably I've been taking pictures of the other car more...)

First photo, is a very young 'tonk (GOD, look at how young I was 5 years ago...) picking up the mighty steed for the first time. (Check out the 'Carbon Fibre' inserts in the back windows, very ahead of its time)

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It looks kind of bowed doesn't it? Don't worry, that's just the 'purposeful styling'. :giggle:

Here's it at the top of ZigZag hill near Shaftesbury after its inaugural hoon. Check out those wing mirrors...
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Image

Vital Statistics

My 99 plate 'Club' spec Vectra came with the 1.8i, 16v X18XE1 engine, mated to a 5 speed manual gearbox, good for 114BHP and 123lb/ft of Torque, which lugs its 1300kg to a top speed of 124mph, and a 0-60 time of 11s (sporty...)

The car was fitted with, as standard (and I'm copying out of the sales brochure here - yes, I went and bought that);

- Air Conditioning (This... doesn't work)
- Anti-lock braking system (This has a warning light)
- Trafficmaster Oracle (This... doesn't work. But will screech at you every so often to say the license is expired)
- Twin full-size front airbags (These have a warning light)
- Front seat side-impact airbags (See above)
- Active Front seat head restraints (I presume these work)
- Front Seatbelt Force Limiters (These work!)
- Three rear head seat restraints
- Remote control central deadlocking (Fuel Filler lock was removed from the system due to a broken solenoid I haven't got round to replacing...)
- Drivers seat height adjuster (It goes up AND down!)
- Front seat lumbar Adjustment (This goes in AND out)
- 60/40 split folding rear seat
- Electronic Engine deadlock immobiliser
- Power-assisted Steering
- Steering wheel mounted audio controls (They're better than the RX8 ones tbh)
- Security-coded RDS stero radio/compact disc player with 10 speakers (this is much better than it has any right to be)
- Tiltable steering column (It goes up AND down)
- Electrically operated front windows (They go up AND down)
- Electrically adjustable/heated door mirrors
- Alloy wheels and low profile tyres (I'm missing a centre cap, it fell off somewhere between Salisbury and Leeds...)

In it's life, it's had a pretty spotless record of services, belt changes, all the nasty stuff, with all the little bits (and some of the big, urgh cambelt...) sorted by myself since I've owned it. Couple of foibles with the car:

1) :abs: oh, it's on. It's always been on. It'll always be on. The car will rust away, the battery will be gone, and the ABS light will still be on. But it's fine. All the sensors have been checked repeatedly by small garages, main dealers, and get checked every 3 months by myself. Once in a while it won't be on. But mostly it is. It's just a nice ornamental light on the dashboard at this point.

2) Servicing is a bit interesting - sparks and oil changes are easy enough, but the bloody Auxiliary belt requires you to lift the engine off one of the mounts to get it off. Which maniac designed this?!

3) Since removing the airbags from the doors to replace a broken speaker cone or two (I don't like the idea of working on electrics with a pyrotechnic next to my face, perhaps that's just me) the airbag light's been on. I've been informed by a mechanic that the airbags will work, just that the light's set and unless I take it to a Vaux dealer and pay them it won't go off.

I'll get some newer photos. Ol' Vectra ain't quite as shiny as she once was...
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by boosted » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:27 pm

I love em, b4 i had mutilpe cars and 1 was poorly id buy a vectra or cavalier for 500 quid smoke it around whilst fixing main car then flog on again for more or same money...dependable donkeys...bit like the first focus ..everybody knows how to fix em and parts are cheap and readily available. Last 1 was 2.2 dti vectra estate. It went like the clappers.

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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Sat Aug 03, 2019 4:38 pm

You can buy the slightly overpowered for the chassis, if horrendously undertuned, V6 model for ~<£500 now with ~70k miles on them. Personally, I'd go for the 1.8 I've got as its got enough power to be useful, does 40-50mpg and is a reliable old lump.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:47 pm

Finally got a chance to take some photos today when there wasn't a car parked up against the old girl.

Image

Image

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She's had a few knocks over the years...

Driver's side dent on the front I received last year, down to some random delivery driver who apparently didn't notice he'd reversed into me at speed and [edited] off up the road before my neighbour could catch the plate.

Passenger side rear quarter has a nice long scratch and dent down to the rear wheel arch due to some daft old man in a car park thinking he needed more accelerator rather than less scrunching against my car when he pulled into the space next to me. I would probably have been less upset at the poor bugger if it hadn't have happend on the same weekend the hit and run above had happened... :evil:

However, marginal improvement has been made on the appearance front today as I received this in the post. Brand spanking new, and only a tenner delivered.

Image

Paired with a new set of locking wheel nuts and I have 4 alloy hubs again!
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Thu Sep 12, 2019 9:04 am

So I fitted the new hub plate (after re-ordering as I realised the one pictured was incorrect #-o ), and it hasn't fallen off! Hooray!

I had the joy of 4 alloy wheels for a full week until I came into work this morning.

Image

Apparently the car just WANTS to have 3 alloy hubs. :evil:

If I don't spot it in the verge on the way home tonight I'll be getting another of those then... :roll:
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:21 pm

So as winter is drawing ever closer (and I needed to head to the mothers to pick up logs for the fire - and she owns a drive and a hose, two things I don't have at home), I decided as it's been about 6 months(!) since I last washed the Vectra she deserved a bit of attention. I only had about 3 hours with on and off rain, so didn't get a chance to do quite as thorough a job as I'd have liked (I'd really have loved to get some magma on there and removed some of the fallout/brake dust, and give it a second wax coat), but I do like to think you can polish a turd. Despite having the unerring habit of coming up pretty nicely in photos, the Vectra is a mess of dents, swirl marks, scratches, as well the obvious body damage, so a bit of a turd she is...

First off a rinse down, and despite 'looking ok', it was pretty filthy when you got up close, with plenty of tar spots, treesap, as well as general crud caught in the window runs/shut lines. Oh, and the wheels were orange.
Image
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One of the things I did want to do was deal with some of the faded plastics. They're probably about 20 years old now and have not really had much love. After I'd given the car a thorough two bucket hand shampoo, I got some linseed oil on them and they drank it up - came up a treat.
Image
Image

I gave the wheels a going over with some of AutoGlyms custom wheel cleaner - the alloys are pretty banged up after many hard years of being a workhorse, but a soft brush and the spray applicator helped bring the faces up nicely. I'm actually really impressed, as I got the bottle as a freebie at Halfords, not thinking it was up to much compared to a bleeding/magma-style wheel cleaner, but it does such a good job shifting stubborn dirt - being pretty non-aggressive, I also used it for stubborn spots on the paintwork too (but probably wouldn't on the RX8...). I could have done a better job in a few places, but the weather was closing in and I wanted to cut some of the scratches from the paintwork with some polish before it started to rain.

ImageImage

After giving the paintwork a cut with some super resin, the metallic fleck was being picked up really nicely and I had a fresh appreciation for the quality of the paint, even if it is on a mass-manufactured GM wagon, it's surprisingly nice and my pictures don't really do it justice.

Image

After the rain had decided it wasn't going to ruin my afternoon too much, I cracked out the meguairs polish and gave the car a coat. I would have liked to do a second, but was already running out of time - I couldn't put all that work in and then not wax the car to seal that hard work in (and keep some of the winter weather out...), so one coat it is for the time being.

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It's amazing how time flies when you're cleaning the car. I find it a very peaceful, relaxing experience as well.

Anyway, boot filled with enough aged ash to get me through winter (perks of having a tree surgeon stepfather), the Vectra carted me home, I parked up to unload, and an old man came over and said "I used to have one of those, it's nice to see a lovely clean one..."

3hrs Work justified! :D

It's carting me up to London for a gig on Monday, so it'll be visiting the grandparents on the way back so they can say hello. 115,000 miles and counting now...
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Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by GreySilver Beast » Sat Oct 19, 2019 10:38 pm

Car looks fantastic Duncan =D>

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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Sat Nov 23, 2019 9:56 am

Obviously displeased by something I'd done, the Vectra decided to throw a code as I was leaving work yesterday.

Image

Mildly worried as she's getting on in years, I hastily whipped out torque. P1555 code popped up which after a brief Google I decided was ignorable as it's a power steering overvolt. We'll just ignore that...

Image

Hasn't reappeared, and after bleeding the clutch with the help of a colleague neither has my random gearbox lockout issue. The fact it's bloody cold now probably helps that, but eh...

I will probably have to sort out the brakes next year as the discs have seen better days, but we'll see if she gets through the MOT, and if not get it sorted. Pads are fine, and she stops on a dime, but it was an advisory last time. The OEM discs and a set of replacement pads are only £45 a pair - benefit of having something so generic!

The fact the Vectra and the 8 have virtually identical MOT dates does terrify me somewhat, but I am slowly pushing the Vectra into February, so at least it's after another payday...
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Mon Dec 23, 2019 10:13 pm

Ho ho ho, merry Christmas, and with Christmas comes braving the general public in car parks. Where stuff like this happens.


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How does someone back directly into the middle of another car you ask? I was waiting behind the black Peugeot waiting for someone else who was waiting for a parking space to be vacated, I see the woman walk past me, get into the car, the reversing lights come on, I go 'Please dont' to myself, she starts to reverse out of the space, hold my hand on the horn, she paused, then continued, I honk again but she just slams straight into me.

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Nowhere I could go evasively as I had aforementioned car in front and an Audi right (and I mean RIGHT) behind me who just shook his head and drove off. Cheers mate.

Happily as she'd literally backed into the middle of my car she couldn't go anywhere as she was blocked in. Didn't stop her from going "I didn't see you, the sun was in my eyes!"

Literally have dashcam footage of her walking in front of my car so not sure how that works. :-k

Now the rage has gone I have a feeling the Vectra will be a lot shinier in the new year as on inspection the damage on that side is more than just a scratch.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Vj4sothername » Mon Dec 23, 2019 11:03 pm

That sucks. Car parks are just a nightmare. Going through insurance I hope?

I had someone yell at me the other day after they walked into the bay I was half reversed into. Apparently seeing a car moving backwards into a space is the best time to wonder through it.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:47 pm

Terrible morning spannering. Wanted to have a good poke about and check before MOT, and bleed my hydraulic system as the fluid looks like this and us probably what's causing my clutch lockouts.

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First annoyance was that I couldn't get any of the wheels off, and due to doing it in the car park, I didn't have access to a sledge and a block of wood as I would do normally to give them some persuasion.

Properly welded on. Sigh.

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Had a quick look at the bleeder valve anyway just go find it and work out whatI will need when I have another crack at it. Glad I did as, second annoyance, it's neither 9mm or 10mm, because some perverted German Engineer decided it would be a specialist size.

Also might help someone at some point - I missed it the first time, but the bleeder valve is located under what looks like an abs retention clip rather than its own unique rubber cover.

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Car had also been whining annoyingly since last week, I figured it was an auxiliary pulley somewhere and lo and behold my coolant level has dropped significantly since I checked it. That'll be water pump then...

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Luckily the water pump is cheap and relatively easy (supposedly, belt and 3 bolts), and will give me a chance to flush my coolant system for probably the first time since the car was bought.

As an FYI, this is what 130k of seepage from the rocker cover looks like.

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Gross.

One of my anti roll bar links has escaped from its rubber grommet as well. I'll get some silicone grease and persuade that back in.

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So list of things I will probably need to do after MOT;

0) get the chuffing wheels off and make sure they don't weld themselves on again
1) brake fluid change
2) water pump replacement
3) good service (plugs and oil overhaul)

And I'm currently waiting for my local chipsaway to be free so I can quote Mrs black Peugeot for smashing into me before Christmas.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Vian » Sun Jan 05, 2020 5:35 pm

For all the stick Vectras get (partly justified), it'll still go down for me as the best car I ever had. It was when I first started my business, and I just needed something cheap, able to lug stuff and reliable. It was superb for that - cost utter peanuts to buy and didn't extract anything much more from my wallet subsequently.

Driving it wasn't exactly a thrill, but I'll defend these things to anyone, so it's given me a smile to see you trying to keep it going.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Sun Jan 05, 2020 6:47 pm

I love that it is almost entirely unloved and just 'beige' in every way, and yet has done everything I have ever asked of it with mild to zero complaint. It's the type of car nobody cares about until there are literally none left.

And at least it's not a Vectra C. Those things are hateful.

OG Vectra massive 4 lyfe.

*Throws up gang sign*
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:17 pm

Now the RX8 has its MOT it's time to think about this old girl.

My initial diagnosis of water pump was thrown out of the window when I found a pinprick hole in the rad which was releasing my water (now fixed), then did the old screwdriver to the head trick on all the aux to find the whine. Turns out it's the AC compressor, which is in some ways good as I don't and have never used it (the AC hasn't worked since before I bought the car - probably why the compressors fooked!), but that whine is an absolute nuisance and just has to stop. The aux belt looks like it's been through the wars too.

Anyone had a compressor changed on one of these before? If it's horrendously expensive I'll get the system safely discharged and then have a crack at it myself as once the scary refrigerant stuff is out of the way it's an easy job.
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by qwakers » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:28 pm

or you could just fit a non-ac aux belt?
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Re: Honkytonk's Mighty '99 Vectra B 1.8 (Club)

Post by Honkytonk » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:33 pm

qwakers wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:28 pm
or you could just fit a non-ac aux belt?
Admittedly, yes, that is an option, smartarse. :lol:
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qwakers (Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:40 pm)
Have a gander at my Diamond in the Rough (Now with extra Orange!) in
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And my OEM-only Luton Adonis, the awful(ly fantastic!) Mighty Vectra

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