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“Service Vehicle Soon” (SVS) – Fault finding in Vauxhall Astra – Part Two

Following on from the initial fault finding success, and changing a glow plug (SEE PART ONE), I continued to be alerted with Vauxhall/Opel’s catch-all dashboard message “Service Vehicle Soon” (SVS) on most journeys that were more than a few miles long.

I thought it was worth regular checking of the ODB error codes with my cheap handheld reader… just in case I could catch something that was resetting between uses… “No Fault Codes” was a reassuring if unhelpful result.

After a while I thought that I noticed that, on regular journeys, it became possible to predict which part of the journey the message would appear, depending on how the car was being driven… It took longer to appear when the engine was cold, and if being driven really gently… and, of course, sooner if engine already warm, and driven more, er, energetically…

The one common factor in all these occasions was that it was when the car was decelerating that the SVS message appeared… Stopping at traffic lights, slowing for roundabouts, etc… I didn’t know what this meant, but I thought it was useful information to note!

After a few weeks of thinking, cleaning of various sensors, and generally keeping my fingers crossed, I gave in and asked a local independent garage to plug the car into their much more expensive fault code reader. It does annoy/disappoint me that Vauxhall/Opel, and presumably all other manufacturers, hide error codes from commonly available readers. It seems counter-productive and unhelpful.

However, several tenners lighter, and one technician that I had to explain to that “Service Vehicle Soon” didn’t mean what it said, later, I now had a clue… Error code P2297 – Oxygen Sensor Out of Range During Deceleration Bank 1 Sensor 1… That sounded like it fitted perfectly…

Back to Google to see if it was something I could solve myself rather than paying for someone else’s time… I appreciate that, particularly at an independent garage, most technicians are unlikely to spend quite as much time looking into possible causes of problems before they just spend a fortune and change parts. It’s not their fault, they need to work on many different makes and ages of vehicles. I, on the other hand, can concentrate on the one or two vehicles I drive at a time… and then forget it all when the next one comes along!

Anyway, it would seem that this fault code is triggered by the sensor (which I found down the front of the engine on the exhaust manifold) giving unusual signals about the O2 (oxygen) levels in that part of the exhaust system. A quick visual inspection suggested that the plug was connected properly, and that the cable wasn’t damaged… Always a good start.

Before going any further, over a cup of coffee, I investigated the price of a new sensor? Here is where some more fun starts…

Getting the correct part number was the first issue… The one mentioned by most sources was unavailable or over £240 from all normal sources…

It was at this point I took out the sensor, gave it a good clean, and refitted it, hoping that a layer of exhaust grime off might make it all come good… It didn’t!

However, whilst it was out, I noted the part number that I could almost read etched on the side. It was similar to the part number I thought I wanted, but not quite the same… Had the car had a previous problem and been fitted with the wrong part? That’d probably give the computer a few odd signals?? Or had I been looking for the wrong part?

So, the search continued… The independent garage I frequent couldn’t get hold of one, (they “knew what they were looking for”) and would have to order from the local Vauxhall dealer, again at over £240…

I ordered one from an Ebay seller, at a slightly more reasonable price, only to have them come back the next day saying that they couldn’t get one either…

This is where I did even more online research, wondering if anyone else was commenting on this… I wasn’t the only person driving an Astra… I’m sure I’d seen others on the roads…

There was nothing obvious, but I did stumble across a spreadsheet on Bosch’s (the sensor’s manufacturer) website about the different versions of their O2 sensor… It was all in technical German, but a short session with Google Translate later, I established what it was telling me… The part that was fitted to the Astra when it was built has now been superseded (“Ersatzartikelnummer” – Replacement Item Number should you need it!) by a different part number…

This part I found much better availability for, but prices still varied right up to the £200+ mark again. Almost as a last resort, I wondered about Amazon, they sell everything else, so why not car parts!! A mere £77 later, Amazon was whisking a “BOSCH 0 281 004 417 Lambda/ Oxygen Sensor” to my door…

(For info: Original part “0 281 004 175”, or 0281004175, replaced by “0 281 004 417“ or 0281004417.)

(It is also worth noting that the Amazon system didn’t think this was the “correct” part for this Astra, presumably because it thought the older part number WAS correct…)

Once this had arrived and was swiftly fitted, for several days I drove “normally”, expecting to hear the ping and see the message appear…

Fingers-crossed, and touch wood, etc, so far, and I’ve driven a few thousand miles since, the SVS message has not reappeared. A victory? For the moment, yes…

Until the next vague message appears… Hopefully not too soon…

2012 Astra 1.7 cdti 131 s/s
Engine type: A17DTF

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