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2007 semi-automatic Astra won't start, various lights showing

Make: Vauxhall/Holden/Opel/Chevrolet/Saturn
Model: Astra
Engine size/type: 1.6l petrol semi-automatic
Year: 2007
Mileage: 70,000

As my car is an automatic, I have to press the footbrake and turn the key to start the car.

The car had been fine for the 6 months I’d owned it.

A month ago, my car randomly did not start. The following lights were on the dashboard:

  1. Engine oil/pressure
  2. Handbrake
  3. Battery/Alternator
  4. Footbrake/Easytronic

Regarding the fourth one, my foot is on the footbrake when I try, so that made little sense.

I have checked the brake lights are all working (as the car can fail to start if they’re not), they’re fine.

Whilst this issue is occuring, when the key is in and turned and the above lights are showing, the car always defaults to first gear. I can not select reverse, manual etc. It appears “stuck in gear”. Due to this, the front wheels are locked so it can not be pushed.

I had the car towed home.

I then booked a diagnostic appointment at a Vauxhall dealership for the next day.

The next day, the tow truck came for the second call-out (to take the car to the appointment) but the car actually started without any issues.

I drove the dealership appointment (with the tow truck following, in case of a brake down issue).

The dealership, after me paying the £51 diagnostic charge, could not find an issue. There were no relevant fault codes.

The car has worked fine since the issues last month but it has happened again this morning, so it’s clearly intermittent.

I have the tow truck taking me to the same dealership (they’re, again, the only dealership near me that can fit me in in the next few weeks) in three days time.

The tow company said this is the last time I can use them without charge so this time around, I’m not going to attempt to start the car (just in case it randomly starts working like last time), in the hope that, when it’s towed to the dealership in a few days time, the car will arrive in the “broken” state, which will hopefully help diagnose the problem.

I have a horrible feeling the dealership won’t find a fault again, leaving me in trouble.

Can anyone think what it could potentially be?

You said the car won’t start. What happens when you turn the key? Is the engine turning over, do you hear a click click clik, silence…or what?

It doesn’t turn over, I just hear a single click from somewhere under the bonnet/hood.

Assuming that your battery is in good condition, I suspect you are having starter or starter-solenoid problems.

If it was a bad starter, can u change it? Or would u have a shop do it?

I’ll see if I can get the starter looked at.

Another symptom that I’d forgotten about:

There is a Sport button in the car, which is used to change:

• Damping
• Steering
• Throttle application
• The shift point for Easytronic and automatic transmission while driving

A more detailed description:

Damping and steering become more direct and provide better contact with the road surface. The engine reacts more quickly to accelerator movements. With Easytronic and automatic transmission, the shift times are shortened and shifting takes place at higher revs.

Basically, when engaged, it appears to stay in 1st and 2nd gears for longer, which gives the car more “pull”. It makes the engine noisier as it stays in the higher revs for longer.

Anyway, about two weeks ago, the car started staying in 2nd gear way too long, even when the Sport button is not engaged. This means, at 30mph, the car is making a lot of noise. Whereas normally, by the time the car hits 30mph, it’s in 3rd gear.

I feel it may be related.

I think ypu are right and that information will probably be useful to whoever fixes it. When the key is on and the engine is not running it is normal for the warning lights on your dash to be lit.

Why is your transmission called a semi-automatic? we have not used that term in the US since there were Chrysler fluid drive cars with a clutch pedal. That was just a few years before and after WWII.

Wikipedia: A semi-automatic transmission (SAT) (also known as a clutchless manual transmission, automated manual transmission, trigger shift, flappy-paddle gear shift, or paddle-shift gearbox) is an automobile transmission that does not change gears automatically, but rather facilitates manual gear changes by dispensing with the need to press a clutch pedal at the same time as changing gears.

Found in many cars. Labeled such as “paddle-shift”.

In the UK, you have:

• Manual
• Semi-automatic (automatic (i.e. only accelerator and footbrake pedals) but the stick has, in addition to the automatic controls, + and - for manual gear control)
• Automatic

Since the footbrake light comes on when your foot is on the pedal and you are trying to start the car… maybe the footbrake sensor switch is intermittently failing to make contact. Typically it is a plunger-type switch under the dash and touching the brake pedal arm itself. Pushing the brake down allows the switch to extend and make contact turning the brake lights on and sending a message to the car’s computer. They can get sticky refusing to extend. It is cheap enough to replace that you might just try it and see if that solves your problem.

Not sure if that explains the second issue, though.