Vauxhall / Opel Meriva (B: 2010-2017)

Used, grey Opel (Vauxhall) Meriva B on OEM alloy wheels.

The Meriva B was produced by General Motors and sold under two brand names – Opel in Europe and Vauxhall in the UK.

 

Reliability & common problems

This section covers the potential reliability issues that you might have with the Meriva B. Click on the buttons below to read more about typical problems that fall outside of the scope of routine maintenance.

M32 gearbox bearing failure

Some Vauxhall Meriva B models are fitted with the infamous M32 gearbox. A typical problem with this 6-speed transmission is bearing wear. In particular, the 6th gear bearing.

When this bearing starts wearing out, the gearbox becomes noisy when driving in 6th and 5th gear. If not fixed, this problem leads to total gearbox failure (a hole in the gearbox).

The M32 gearbox is used in so many vehicles and bearing failure is so common in high-mileage vehicles, that I’ve dedicated a full page to the M32 gearbox bearings.

Follow the link above to learn more about the symptoms of bearing failure, the solution to the problem and how much it costs to fix an M32 gearbox with bad bearings.

 

The M32 gearbox is used in the following Vauxhall / Opel Meriva B models:

  • 1.4 Turbo (the 120 PS variant was also available with a 5-speed gearbox, which is better)

  • 1.6 CDTi

  • 1.7 CDTi

Easytronic transmission failure

The Easytronic is an automated manual transmission. While I’m not a fan of this technology, the Easytronic is one of the better automated gearboxes used in mass-produced cars.

The gears and the clutch are operated by three electric motors. There are no hydraulics (apart from the master & slave clutch cylinders), which makes this transmission simpler and more reliable than Fiat’s Dualogic/Selespeed automated gearboxes.

The Easytronic is pretty much the same thing as the Durashift EST transmission used in the Ford Fiesta Mk5. Both gearboxes have nearly identical clutch actuators and gear selector motors (just in a slightly different arrangement to accommodate different manual gearboxes).

While the Easytronic is a light-weight and efficient gearbox, do not expect it to be as smooth as a conventional automatic transmission because it doesn’t have a torque converter to cushion the gear changes. It is, after all, a manual gearbox with actuators attached to it.

When buying and test driving a car with the Easytronic gearbox, look out for the symptoms of malfunction:

  • Flashing “N”  or “F” letter appearing on the dashboard instead of the gear number

  • Car refusing to start (blown brake light bulbs may cause this too)

  • Clunking noises when changing gears

  • Excessively hard gear changes

  • A sensation that the clutch is slipping (worn clutch)

  • Juddering when taking off from a standstill

  • Car dropping out of gear while driving

  • Car refusing to engage gear when trying to take off from a standstill

While the Easytronic is reasonably reliable, below are the two things that you should know before buying a used Meriva B with this transmission.

I. If the transmission fails, you will have a problem (unless you can fix stuff yourself).

The Easytronic uses brushed electric motors to operate the gearbox.

The brushes in these motors will eventually wear out, and the transmission will stop working – it’s one of the most common reasons for Easytronic failures. Replacing the brushes is fairly easy and inexpensive if you can do it yourself, or when you find someone experienced with these transmissions. They aren’t common though, so it may not be that easy.

If you go to the dealership instead, they will most likely offer to replace one of the actuators for something like £1000. If they don’t replace the right component the first time, there goes another £1000.

Trying to fix a faulty Easytronic box is often expensive, which is the norm for automated and dual-clutch transmissions. This is unless you can diagnose problems yourself or know a garage that’s experienced with these transmissions and can fix the actual problem (as opposed to replacing half of the transmission). They are actually fairly simple once you understand how they work.

 

II. The Easytronic has a standard dry clutch, which is a consumable item, just like in any manual transmission.

The Easytronic cannot creep like a traditional automatic transmission because it doesn’t have a torque converter. Taking off and crawling at very low speeds is achieved by partial clutch engagement (slipping), which makes it wear.

Don’t treat it a like regular automatic gearbox because it’s not. You should always let the clutch engage fully in 1st gear when you are crawling in traffic. Also, don’t use the gas pedal to stop the car from rolling backwards on an incline.

1.4 Turbo – PCV valve failure

Before I get to the point, let me briefly explain what the PCV valve is.

The positive crankcase ventilation system (PCV) is present in every modern vehicle, and its purpose is to evacuate crankcase gases generated by piston blow-by. These gases are fed back into the engine through the intake manifold, and without the PCV system, the engine crankcase would pressurize.

The PCV system is usually made of pipes, channels and chambers that separate oil from the blow-by gas. The only moving part is the PCV valve, which is just a one-way valve that controls the amount of gas being fed into the intake tract.

One important thing to know is that in petrol engines, the intake manifold is under vacuum when the engine is idling or under low load. This is because of the throttle plate that restricts the amount of air entering the engine.

At low loads, the throttle plate is mostly closed and the engine is trying to pull more air than it is allowed to, which generates a vacuum between the throttle body and the engine itself. This vacuum sucks the crankcase gases through the PCV valve.

There is also another air pathway between the engine and the air intake. This one is connected to the intake before the throttle body and its where the blow-by gasses go when the throttle plate is open (full throttle) and there is very little vacuum generated in the intake manifold.

In a turbocharged engine, the PCV system is more complex because the turbocharger generates boost pressure. Hence, the intake manifold is pressurized when the turbocharger is doing its thing.

In these conditions, blow-by gasses are fed into the intake duct before the turbocharger. However, when there is no boost, the system operates exactly the same as in a naturally aspirated engine.

I hope I made this reasonably clear. Now, let’s get to the point.

The PCV valve is usually a tiny, £20 part attached somewhere near the engine valve cover. The General Motors 1.4 Turbo engine has two PCV valves – one is integrated with the air intake manifold and the other one is at the turbocharger inlet.

There is also a rubber diaphragm inside the valve cover that regulates the flow of gases. To sum up, there are thee key components in these engines – two PCV valves and the rubber membrane in the valve cover.

The intake manifold PCV valve in the 1.4 Turbo engines is a rubber membrane that resembles a… nipple. It covers a series of small holes. When there is no boost generated by the turbocharger, the membrane gets pulled away from the holes and lets the crankcase gasses enter the intake manifold. Under boost, this valve is closed and the one at the turbo inlet opens.

The problem is that the PCV valve inside the intake manifold sometimes gets detached and swallowed by the engine. A detached PCV valve isn’t going to damage the engine because it’s only a little piece of rubber, but the boost pressure entering the engine valve cover and crankcase will quickly damage the diaphragm in the valve cover.

In other engines, replacing the PCV valve is a 10-minute job and a new valve typically costs £20 or less. In this case, you have to replace the entire intake manifold when the PCV valve inside fails. If it’s the vacuum regulating rubber disc in the valve cover that failed, you will need to replace the entire valve cover (luckily, it’s not expensive).

If you are experiencing any problems with the PCV system, it’s important to check all three key components – both PCV valves and the membrane. A PCV valve failure will cause the valve cover diaphragm to fail soon after. When inspecting these parts, also look for air leaks.

Typical symptoms of PCV system failure:

  • excessive oil consumption, blue smoke may be coming from the exhaust pipe

  • hissing sound in the engine bay (valve cover sucking in air through an opening where the membrane is)

  • intermittent Check Engine light, possible error codes: P0106, P1101, P0236, P0107

  • rough, unstable engine idle and poor performance

  • oil leaks (boost pressure entering the engine can force oil past engine seals)

Luckily, it’s relatively easy to check if the PCV valve and the membrane disc in the valve cover are okay. First, you need to remove the plastic engine cover. Then, with the engine running, check if the engine doesn’t suck air in through the valve cover membrane housing. If it does, you will need to replace the valve cover as the membrane in it has failed.

As for the intake manifold PCV valve, with the engine off, remove the hose going to the PCV valve in the manifold. Shine a light inside the manifold and see if the PCV valve is still there. If you can see the nipple, it’s fine. The locations of these parts are marked on the photo below.

General Motors 1.4 Turbo engine with cover removed, location of PCV valve and membrane marked
1: Location of the PCV valve – remove the hose and look inside 
2: Location of the membrane disc – there is a small opening facing the front of the car

Apparently, the intake manifold was updated in 2011 to improve the reliability of the PCV system, so if you’re planning to buy a 1.4 Turbo Meriva B, look for a 2012 or newer model – one with the updated M32 gearbox as well.

1.3 CDTi  – timing chain failure

The 1.3 CDTi was an engine designed by Fiat and General Motors (mostly Fiat) when the two companies formed a partnership. It’s not a bad unit since Fiat is the godfather of Common Rail diesel engines. In Fiat cars, this engine is known as the 1.3 Multijet. “Multijet” stands for multiple fuel injections per combustion cycle.

The only major problem with this little engine is the timing chain.

The camshaft in this engine is driven by a single row timing chain not much bigger than a bicycle chain. In my opinion, it’s not a very robust design and an area to watch.

Generally, when a timing chain is used, the intention is for it to last the “lifetime” of the engine (very roughly 200k miles). Therefore, there is no replacement interval specified for the timing chain. As I see it, trying to reach 200k miles on the original chain and tensioner is very risky.

If the chain wears and elongates (stretches), or the tensioner stops working properly, the typical symptom that develops is a chain rattle that lasts for a couple seconds after a cold start. In severe cases, the chain noise may remain for longer after the engine has started. The “Check Engine” light may appear too.

Here’s what timing chain noise sounds like:

 

Any chain stretch symptoms should not be ignored in the 1.3 CDTi, regardless of the mileage. If the timing chain jumps some teeth, you will be looking at valvetrain damage. You may choose to replace the timing chain preemptively like you would with a timing belt, or you can wait until symptoms develop.

In my opinion, engines that have done more than 100k miles will probably qualify for a full timing chain service (new timing chain, guides, tensioner and gears).

If you are looking to get one of these cars, make sure there is no chain rattle after starting the engine. This needs to be a cold start when the car has stood still for a couple hours (ideally overnight). If the chain rattle is persistent, it means the chain or the tensioner is on its last leg.

Summary of problems & additional information

  • There are reasons to celebrate – the M32 gearbox received an update in 2012. With larger bearings and extra oil channels, the cycle of twitching gear levers and bearing replacements is finally over. Long live the updated M32 gearbox! I don’t know if I have to state the obvious, but if you are planning to buy an Opel / Vauxhall Meriva B and the model you like is fitted with the M32 transmission, make sure you get a car with the updated gearbox.

  • The following engines were mated to the M32 gearbox: 1.4 Turbo1.6 CDTi and 1.7 CDTi. However, the 120 PS 1.4 Turbo was also mated to a more reliable 5-speed transmission.

  • As for the Easytronic transmission, it’s not bad but it might be expensive to fix when it fails because it isn’t common. Not many garages have experience working with them, and going to the dealership with a faulty Easytronic gearbox will most likely result in a large bill.

  • All petrol engines in the Vauxhall / Opel Meriva B have variable valve timing (VVT). When buying a petrol-powered Meriva B, look out for camshaft adjuster rattle during a cold start. Read the article about timing belts and chains for a more detailed explanation.

  • The 1.4L Turbo is a good unit. A timing chain is a bonus (provided you buy a car in good condition that doesn’t rattle when started). The only issue with these engines is a complicated PCV system with too many plastic and rubber parts. As these rubber and plastic parts age, we are likely going to see more PCV system failures.

  • There is no physical difference between the 120 PS A14NEL/B14NEL and the 140 PS A14NET/B14NET engines. The extra 20 PS comes from a different engine map.

  • As for the 1.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engines, they are simple and a bit outdated, which is a good thing for reliability! If you just a want a reliable commuter car and don’t care about acceleration, these are the engines to get.

  • Follow this link for an article that might help you decide if a Euro 5 diesel engine, like the CDTi, is the right choice for you. Because the Opel / Vauxhall Meriva B was released at the time when Euro 5 emission standards came into force, all diesel engines have diesel particulate filters (DPF).

  • The Fiat 1.3 Multijet… I mean the 1.3 CDTi may have problems with the timing chain in higher-mileage cars. Other than that, it’s a good engine. Unfortunately, it was mated to the Easytronic transmission which is a questionable second-hand purchase.

 

Vauxhall / Opel Meriva B specifications

This section contains Vauxhall / Opel Meriva B specifications. You will also find technical information regarding the engines used in these cars. Press the buttons below to display the specs and engine technical details.

Petrol engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.41398 cm³ / 85.3 cu in100 PS / 74 kW130 Nm / 96 lbf⋅ft2010-2017, engine codes: A14XER (Euro 5), B14XER (Euro 6)
1.4 Turbo1364 cm³ / 83.2 cu in120 PS / 88 kW175 Nm / 129 lbf⋅ft2010-2017, engine codes: A14NEL (Euro 5), B14NEL (Euro 6)
1.4 Turbo1364 cm³ / 83.2 cu in140 PS / 103 kW200 Nm / 147 lbf⋅ft2010-2017, engine codes: A14NET (Euro 5), B14NET (Euro 6)

Diesel engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.3 CDTi1248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in75 PS / 55 kW180 Nm / 133 lbf⋅ft2010-2013, engine code: A13DTC
1.3 CDTi1248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in95 PS / 70 kW180 Nm / 133 lbf⋅ft2010-2014, engine code: A13DTE
1.6 CDTi1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in95 PS / 70 kW280 Nm / 206 lbf⋅ft2014-2017, engine code: B16DTC
1.6 CDTi1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in110 PS / 81 kW300 Nm / 221 lbf⋅ft2014-2017, engine codes: B16DTE or B16DTL
1.6 CDTi1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in136 PS / 100 kW320 Nm / 236 lbf⋅ft2014-2017, engine code: B16DTH
1.7 CDTi1686 cm³ / 102.9 cu in100 PS / 74 kW260 Nm / 206 lbf⋅ft2010-2011, engine code: A17DT
1.7 CDTi1686 cm³ / 102.9 cu in110 PS / 81 kW280 Nm / 206 lbf⋅ft2010-2015, engine codes: A17DTC (2010-2013), A17DTI (2013-2015)
1.7 CDTi1686 cm³ / 102.9 cu in130 PS / 96 kW300 Nm / 221 lbf⋅ft2010-2013, engine code: A17DTS

Petrol engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingFuel deliveryDMFInlet flaps
Legend:DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
VVT - Variable Valve Timing
EFI - Electronic Fuel Injection
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel (does not apply to auto. transmissions with torque converters)
1.4L: A14XER / B14XERInline-4, 16 valvesNoTiming chain, DOHC, VVTPort injection (EFI)NoYes (Twinport)
1.4L Turbo: A14NEL / A14NET / B14NEL / B14NETInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHC, VVTPort injection (EFI)YesNo

Diesel engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingInjection systemDMFDPFSwirl flaps
Legend:DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
DPF - Diesel Particulate Filter
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel (does not apply to auto. transmissions with torque converters)
1.3L CDTi: A13DTC / A13DTEInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHCCommon RailYesYesNo
1.6L CDTi: B16DTL / B16DTC / B16DTE / B16DTHInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHCCommon RailYesYesYes
1.7L CDTi: A17DT / A17DTI / A17DTC / A17DTSInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming belt, DOHCCommon RailYesYesYes

 

Vauxhall / Opel Meriva B wheel sizes

Press the button below to see the original equipment manufactuer (OEM) rim & tyres sizes for the Vauxhall / Opel Meriva B. These are the original wheel sizes that were fitted by the manufacturer.

TyresRimsCentre BoreBolt PatternComments
195/65 R156.5Jx15 ET3565.1mm5x110
205/55 R166.5Jx16 ET37 or ET3965.1mm5x110
225/45 R177Jx17 ET3565.1mm5x110
225/40 R187.5Jx18 ET3765.1mm5x110Different tie rods required to limit steering angle

 

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