My Holden Cruze is Stuck in Gear


Hello, I was hoping you have some advice for me. My 2012 Holden Cruze automatic has problems with the transmission. (It has only done 16,000 km.) While transmission problems with the Cruze seem to be quite common, I haven't read about my particular problem when browsing the internet.

Yesterday, after I had done around 20km, the automatic transmission only ran in first gear (about 5000rpm at 40km/h). When I changed it to manual, the display told me that the car was in fourth gear while it still ran in first (I could also not change gears in manual mode).

I was not able to change the car out of first gear, even after I stopped and turned it of and on again. I drove another 8km to my destination in first gear. When I was ready to drive back 30 minutes later the transmission worked again and I drove 30km home without a problem.

I drove the car again today and it worked fine. The same thing happened two weeks ago but then the automatic worked again after switching the engine of for one minute. The car has another six months' warranty. I will go to Holden tomorrow but, most likely, the car will work when they drive it and they will say that there is no problem.

Do you know of this problem and do you have any advice? Thanks,  Esther


Sadly Esther, the Holden Cruze is one of the worst built cars on the road today - a complete disgrace. They've clocked up an incredible eight or nine official safety recalls on that car - as well as many more reliability defects not officially listed as a safety problem. It's a complete lemon. If Hyundai or Kia built a car that bad, the press would savage it and dump its body in a shallow grave. But Holden is, apparently, a protected species.

I've heard of this problem before. It is absolutely essential that you document everything from now on - in writing, preferably in a diary, either online or on paper - but the important thing is that you take contemporaneous notes of what happened, when and where. You must also communicate this to the service department in writing, by e-mail, so that there is no doubt that this problem is documented as having commenced under warranty - because it is going to be an expensive fix. It will be a new transmission, or a new transmission control computer, or both.

You need to be assertive when you talk to the dealership. You're not imagining this stuff - it's happening. It's not acceptable. (There is a default attitude in many dealerships that they plug the car into the diagnostic computer and if it doesn't tell them there's a problem, they tell you there's no problem. This is, of course, ridiculous - when you're driving along stuck in first gear, there damn well is a problem regardless of what the diagnostic computer says.) There is no way it's safe to have a car doing this - what if it happens on the freeway next time? It's absolutely not safe to drive at 40km/h with cars whipping past at 110km/h.

Do not let them brush you off - this is a serious problem that you need fixed under warranty. Be assertive.

Because of the age of the Cruze (almost out of warranty) please think about getting rid of it. The problems will only get worse. Replace it with one of these far more reliable cars:

Left to right, above: Toyota Corolla, Mazda3, Hyundai i30, Kia Cerato