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Old 31-01-07, 23:38   #1
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VL Buyers Guide

Now this is my preliminary write up. There is a heap to be added and changed so please post up with your suggestions/criticisms/comments. Most of this was stolen but i plan on modifying it over the next few days at work

Car Security
* The VL was always a high theft risk and a good one is now even higher as expensive parts fail. When buying try and ensure that you get all keys for the car from the Previous owner as well as alarm remotes. There is no way to guarantee this but do try. After purchase change locks to Solex and possibly change alarm/immobiliser

* Check the colour of the Coolant in the Radiator and the overflow bottle. If it is milky, stay away, as this could mean a cracked/split head gasket or head, which can turn expensive. Some people only use water for their radiator most use Coolant. If something is amiss you should see it pretty quickly

*Check the colour of the oil, it should be a consistent golden color. If the owner tells you it’s changed every 5000Km’s then it should look like new. You can tell a lot by a car by looking at the oil and coolant.

* A Clean engine bay does not mean a Bay clean of oil leaks. They could have easily cleaned the car just before you arrived. Take it for a good test drive and see if there is any drips from beneath the car.

* Electric fuel pumps as fitted to the VL depend on plenty of fuel in the tank to keep them cool and free of dirt. Owners who run on empty or run out of fuel will quickly destroy them with many already noisy and on the way out.

* The fuel injection system's expensive air-mass meter is now failing, causing rough idle and plenty of black exhaust smoke. A failed O2 sensor can also cause excessive fuel consumption. Cold start injection components and distributor electronics are now common failure points.

* The VL auto is long lived but lack of servicing will cause failure, starting usually with a slipping overdrive clutch that breaks up and destroys the rest of the transmission. A rumble that shows up at 60-80km/h during a slight incline or any other hint of auto malfunction requires immediate attention before it turns into a $2500 repair. Non-genuine auto parts can save costs but are not always successful so check on warranty terms if the auto has been overhauled.

* When at a complete stop, changing through the gears you should hear the auto engage them in less than 2 second intervals. If moving from P to R or R to D takes longer than 2 seconds to engage between gears there could be a problem. Get it checked further by a proffesional.

* The live rear axle depended on voided rubber bushes inside the locating arms to allow the suspension to move up and down but they can soon tear under the VL's power. Some aftermarket bushes that resist the grunt will also lock up the rear suspension and cause the wheels to leave the ground for lethal handling in the wet. Stiff rear dampers can also generate bump steer in the light rear end. Worn Panhard rod bushes are also common and generate unpredictable rear steering. A worn center tail shaft bearing and broken suspension bushes can generate vibration under power.

* Each Commodore has certain front suspension and steering parts specific to engine and model. Some aftermarket items that don't differentiate between these can generate serious handling and steering deterioration. Rattly steering racks, sloppy rack ends and worn front upper strut pads can cause the car to steer on its own.

* Quality tyres are vital with the power and light rear end. Make sure the Tyres are not re-treads. If the car comes with a RWC make sure the tyres used in the RWC Check are the ones coming with the car

* The VL's rear drum brakes are often filled with brake fluid from failed wheel cylinders caused by neglected fluid changes. Front disc rotors are often undersized and a soggy brake pedal usually means a master cylinder is ready to fail.

* Superficially-repaired insurance write-offs and recycled stolen cars are a real trap. Some of the worst VL examples are so bent that the bonnet has been kinked up to clear a strut tower that sits 50mm higher than it should. A vehicle security check won't be enough to uncover a stolen car that is wearing the identity of a wreck so look for any inconsistencies in specification and history.

* Holden's old single-stage acrylic paint process may still be holding up in the solid colours but neglected metallics are now dull and porous, and ready for a respray. Watch out for repairers who have used modern two-pack paints generating a huge difference in shine between original and repaired panels. Replaced plastic bumper sections and side strips will not match in colour.

* The VL Commodore's boot section, despite the big plastic bumpers, will collapse with surprisingly little impact and generate rust in the rear section around the boot opening and near the pillars. Unless a tow bar is reinforced up to the rear axle, even moderate towing can distort the rear bodywork. Look for a poorly-fitting bootlid or tailgate ready to generate lethal exhaust leaks and water leaks generating rust under the luggage mat.

* Non-genuine lights and panels are rife. The genuine headlights and tail lights vital to the VL's appearance might be expensive but faded and water-logged replicas are no substitute especially if they fall apart internally and catch fire.

* Basic places to check for Rust: Around Windscreen and rear window, behind spare wheel, under Boot Carpet and under front passenger carpet.

* The VL Commodore had bonded front and rear screens with poorly prepared metal underneath, a problem worsened by sloppy windscreen replacement. Breaches in the screen bonding can generate serious water leaks and rust which may require the metal supporting the screens to be cut out and replaced at substantial cost. Watch out for missing screen metal that has been bogged up for sale. The really bad ones will have rotted parcel shelves and floors.

* Some cabin plastics and switch gear verged on the shoddy so check all interior fittings. Earlier square backed front seats were replaced by the VN's rounded seat backs late in 1987 as a running change. Odometers almost without exception failed between 70,000km and 110,000km so any assurances about a speedo reading need to be backed up by genuine records.
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Old 19-02-07, 10:54   #2
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Do you want to add this to the wiki? so that it has your username as the article starter?
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Old 19-02-07, 14:31   #3
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Doesn't bother me if it has my user name as the starter. I think the site should just open with a Giant picture of me and my Giant Testicles....

But i suppose this will do. I just need everyone to add their experiences into this because it isn't that good
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Old 19-02-07, 14:38   #4
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we can add it on the wiki as we go along

added --->

Last edited by SirGeo; 19-02-07 at 15:15. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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Old 13-03-07, 19:43   #5
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BUMP need some more pointers guys and gals
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Old 18-09-07, 00:15   #6
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heres a tip, dont be a tool like my m8 and buy a vl that came with tyres so bald youd think they wer slicks for the F1 and comes with 4 extra stockies and you think your gettin a good deal

decided id edit it and put something useful in, check the rear quater windows for signs of previous break in's as someone might come back to finish the job, have a good look in the rear guards for signs of rubber from previous owners fun, unless u want to shoot a rod 2 days later after buying it like the vl i stated above

not much but thats about all i could think of

Last edited by [FLY-BYE]; 18-09-07 at 00:22.
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Old 19-09-07, 12:47   #7
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Check that those damn heater controls work! Chances if someone has "removed" it (and I use that term loosely; my Calais had the centre of the dash all cracked and ruined because of someone practically ripping out the heater controls. Needless to say, they were retarded), they haven't put it back in properly.

Check the heater works on ALL positions through ALL vents (a vent with no air on any setting is a sign of it being dissconnected from the fan, or it being crushed), and check that the air con gets cold. If it doesn't, it may need a re-gassing, or theres a problem with the compressor (check to see that the clutch actually starts to spin).

Also check bonnet release operation. Theres nothing worse than buying a VL with a bonnet thats a bit hard to open (by the lever). Especially once you get it home and the first thing to break is the cable. Its a sign the bonnet needs to be re-aligned, or the catch oiled/adjusted.

Oh, and super stiff rear manual windows. Means the backseat has probably had little use (yay!), but those bad boys need some serious lubrication. Before they get stuck down in the city on a Satuday night.
Thats all for now.
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Old 19-09-07, 18:56   #8
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check with vic roads to see if it is stolen or written off
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Old 20-09-07, 22:03   #9
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Check that damm return line union on the fuel tank as most have corroded by now and only a small force breaks it free, also checking the quality of the fuel running into and out of the filter can quickly verify any of the owners assurences.

Finally inspecting the plugs (particularly Cyl 5) and o2 sensor will show up if a turbo VL has been running lean or not.
Although you cant really check these things in the owner’s driveway, still a couple of hot spots.

All I could think of at the moment
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Old 21-09-07, 19:15   #10
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check engine when its cold more noises can be heard on start up (if it puffs blue smoke could be valve stem seals or rings
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Old 16-10-07, 15:32   #11
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Check the engine and chassis number and that they match the papers.

Use a fridge magnet and use it ontop of the popular rust spots, if the magnet sticks then its got no rust, if it doesnt stick then its bog.

Take a whiff of the exhust, if it smells like petrol then its running rich, if it smells oily then its burning oil and might have faild rings etc. if it smells kind od like corn then it might be coolent or water getting into the exhaust and this could be a crack in the head or somthin.

check for play in the steering wheel, to much slop could indicate a faulty rack r pump.

go through all the electricals ie: lights, indicaors, heaters, horn, interior lights, wipers etc checking for earth problems.

check the connections in the engine bay like teh cas plug, afm plug etc.

check for bauldging in the radiator hoses

inspect the gaskits (head, thermostat, exhasust manifold etc checking for leaks and corrosion.

thats all i cant think of ALL from past expeience LOL
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Old 18-07-08, 19:03   #12
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check chassis rails in engine bay for oil leaks.

check for melted fuse rail (common but fixable)

if the seller claims a car is s2 check the engine for the plugs, and small interior parts eg air vent surrounds and that the s2 does not have a badge above the radio.

check inside of tyre for wear (not just outside think camber wear or bad offset)

check calais bootmoulds and taillamp surrounds are held on correctly (not by sickaflexwhich would be indicative of a repair)

check under spare tyre for rust in the wheel well. (common, also common to find these bashed in from hitting gutters)

if the owner claims it has a forged bottom end check for reciepts! in fact check for reciepts no matter what has been done.

if you buy from a dealership expect to pay more for the car but also expect it to be in rwc (unless it is sold as is) with all panels touched up where needed and the car fully detailed.

on a final note remember that duco and interior condition are indicative of how well the car has been looked after. also if you intend to buy but want to get an racv test first be prepared to lay down a deposit and write a contract of sale (signed by the vehicles owner not their son or partner) stating the conditions of sale.

for selllers -
never meet potential buyers at your home (car could get stolen)
get drivers licensce before allowing a test drive.
establish that buyers have the finances to buy the car before allowing a test drive. if they don't have finances ready then tell them to come back when they do.

thats all i can think to add at the moment. - Mitcham
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Old 15-03-09, 10:41   #13
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every vl has its bad bits, you just gotta choose what you can put up with
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Old 25-01-10, 13:09   #14
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If buying a "genuine" vlt there is a few things that can ensure u that it is, firstly check engine number ends in a8 not a6. Engine number is on the block on the driverz side 3/4 of the way down at the front, some times the engine number can b coroded and un readable. Other things to check is the brake booster, the genuine vlt item is skinnier an quite noticeable when u know what ur looking 4. Also check for disc break rear end. And after that if ur still not sure grab the vin number and run it through the vin checker on this very site and it wil tell u exactly what it is!
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Old 27-01-10, 15:09   #15
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Originally Posted by SIroller
if the seller claims a car is s2 check the engine for the plugs, and small interior parts eg air vent surrounds and that the s2 does not have a badge above the radio.
these parts break easily and dont be detered if it doesnt have this item VL Plastics after 20 years are very fragile.

Check rear tail lights if they sit flush nice and square and if there is any weld spots on the car in the rear, this will show if it has been hit in the rear end

Exhaust quick look underneath to check for holes and drive it around and listen for a whitle exhausts arent cheap.

Bouncy ride, Muzza Spec Ride Height, Super Low could be a result of Chop Springs or Shot Shocks, Also cost abit to make roadworthy

Make sure the car Stops when you drive it, if not it may need new brake pads and Discs.

With a Calais The POP UPS have Control Arms and when someone Sits on your headlights will break these arms Making The Eye Lid Sit Crooked or in some Cases Not even Open. These arms are hard to get by as people dont want to sell them separately and rather sell the complete front end whole.
The VL Disease
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Old 28-01-10, 16:30   #16
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If the car has a sound system installed check holes behind speakers if any cut have been done correctly & not butchered, mainly on the parcel shelf as can get expensive to fix & in general modifications to this area are illegal as its structural.

Last edited by jbonez; 28-01-10 at 16:51.
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Old 04-03-10, 19:07   #17
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agree with s1roller, i baught a vl that didnt even start saw it at the auctions and interior was mint and tyres were new . bay was fairly clean i replaced the fuel pump and got it regod . and its one of the smoothest and quikest n/a's ive ever seen. interior will deffinetly tell u if the car has been respeced and not thrashed like most vls
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Old 10-07-10, 00:05   #18
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I believe that SIroller has gone to London.
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Old 15-08-10, 20:36   #19
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Sometimes, the chassis rails rust out under the drivers and passangers feet if the drain holes have been blocked. i have had this problem with one vl i have owned before, but this car was a costal car too.. the best thing about the vl is the rb motor, sadly if it didnt have the rb30 and had a 202, it would no where be as popular as it is !!

Many problems include
Rust, boot, boot jams, under windows (front, rear) above opera windows
Leaking headlights and taillights
Faded lenses in headlights
Electrial problems, dash, central locking, enging loom
Crank angle sensors constantly failing (due to reving hard)
Head gaskets, and cracking heads
Rear traling arm bushes failing (old age)
Heater not working (I have only ever owned one vl that the heater worked in)
Steel hooks in the drivers seat coming undone and breaking through seat and poking you
Cracks in the floorpan from front seat rails (Back bolts)
Leaking from everywhere (Front leaks can be fixed by removing front guards and sikka flexing the sheet metal joints up)
Dodgey body kits !!! (Home installed jobbies)
Various auto problems, kicking back all the time, taking off in second
Manual problems, noisy main input shaft bearings

You can still buy decent vl's that have been looked after and that arent crud boxes that are full of problems, but you have to keep in mind that they are 22 to 24yrs old, and any car that age will have some problems
WRECKING:- VL CALAIS, BERLINA'S. Many parts available, just send me a PM or you can shoot me a text to 0432659900.

Last edited by ovq01; 15-08-10 at 20:38. Reason: Spell check lol
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Old 04-10-10, 18:54   #20
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i wish i found this thread before i brought my vl

---------- Post added 04-10-10 at 19:54 ----------

one more thing, do not buy the first VL that you come across!
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Old 13-02-11, 21:01   #21
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this is a good thread!

like "timo" said, use a fridge magnet to check for bog, i didn't buy a hq monaro coupe because of a fridge magnet, bog was literally holding all the bottom of the car together lol
the germans designed it, the aussies built it, the japs got it moving and the wogs got it dosing...
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Old 28-07-11, 11:04   #22
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i just went and checked my car over. the boot doesnt close properly so i figure its the tow ball thats stretched the rear a bit. can it be fixed without costing lots of $$$$$, and i check to see if it was a A8 i would have cried if it wasnt.

wish i read this earlier
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Old 28-07-11, 11:31   #23
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Just undo the latch and move it around a bit - that's usually all you need.
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