GM motors, launched in the mid-90’s, one of the only premium cars in India to reign the roads, the Opel Astra. It was a duopoly back in those days, with the only competition it had was the Ford Escort. It wasn’t a surprise that Opel Astra ruled the roost in those days and was a major draw for the motoring enthusiasts of those times, albeit small in numbers. But the tables have turned a long time ago with the launch of the Maruti Baleno, Mitsubishi Lancer and the Honda City giving it a run for its moolah. But again it has only helped to highlight the merits of the Astra with respect to safety and durability. Even to this day, a well-driven and a well-maintained Used Opel Astra gives an aura which is as new as a brand new car and it comes with an additional prop, it is dirt cheap. Hence, even a second hand Opel Astra is a good bet in the pre-owned market.
Lets start with the good things about a used Opel Astra . It has got a body structure which can only be described as robust which holds its fort remarkably even after many years of use. This attribute of the Astra makes is less susceptible to damage in the long-term. The Astra used to be equipped with the 16LZ2 engine in the launch period which was subsequently replaced by the 16NZR in 1997. Hence the prices of Astra fluctuated wildly even in its early days and it continues to follow the pattern.
Along with the machine, there were changes made in the gearbox, the clutch was made more smooth and effortless by optimizing the ratios.
A stereo-typical thoroughly used Opel Astra should be clocking anywhere near the mark of 12,000 km/year, hence it would be a wise decision to check the ball joints and the steering rod.
One of the most critical areas that one must look into is the washer board which is below oil reservoir for the brake where it is sitting on the master cylinder. Dust which has been collecting the oil makes the whole place darker and is a sign of leakage of brake oil. Even a lower than normal level of oil indicates a potential leakage.
Now let’s ponder a bit upon the weak links in a second hand Opel Astra. The weakest link of all was the air conditioner. Although it did cool the car adequately but was prone to corrosion due to which the evaporator would leak. The only remedy to it is a replacement, an affair that would cost a hefty Rs 10,000. Cars which use to ply the road in the coastal areas were particularly prone to this phenomenon. Hence this merits a good look at the air conditioner. A simple exercise would be turning on the A/C with full speed and check the flow of air through the vents. If your curiosity is not satiated then don’t buy this vehicle unless the problem is rectified.
Serious accidental damage is not rampantly found on Astras, but nevertheless you need to look for them. Weld marks are a testament if the car has been through a accidental repair job. Look out for them on the apron, under the body, firewall and below it. A second hand Opel Astra is usually found in a good shape. Reason being that their owner had cared well for them. The suspension of the Astra lasts up to 50,000 km and by that time there is hardly a sign of body corrosion. With a bit of shampoo wash the interiors will look as good as new and it has one of the best sound systems installed in it.
If you are a big ticket buyer with an inflated budget you can choose the Astra which were launched later as they come along with loads of additional features. One last word to part with, a used Opel Astra is a cheap buy but it’s costly to maintain. The fuel economy of the car is not something to boast about and also the spares are a dime too costly, so beware. The used Opel Astra price from the 2000 batch would be Rs 1.15 lakhs whereas an older one would go anywhere between Rs 60,000 to 80,000.