Amsoil MTG 75w-90 Gearbox Oil

Spec sheet for Amsoil MTG Gearbox Oil (Click on Image to view PDF):

Amsoil MTG Spec

Amsoil MTG Spec

Gearbox oil designed to work at high temperatures and still offer good protection, essential oil for the M32 gearbox.

Trackday Snetterton 20 February 2015

It was great to get back out on track for the first time since November at the MVS Trackdays ( organised track day at Snetterton on the fantastic 300 circuit. This was an outstandingly good value for money trackday at just £99 for the whole day, open pit lane.

For this trackday a few of us got together for the day sharing a couple of garages and between us we had four modified Astra VXRs and a modified Corsa VXR. Track conditions were damp for the morning session, which led to a few red flag stoppages due to unfortunate ‘offs’, but the car performed faultlessly as it thrives on damp/wet conditions. A dry line started to appear from mid-morning and for the afternoon the track was dry meaning grip improved greatly further enhancing the enjoyment of the day.

Pictures from the day by MSVT Photography.

KW Clubsport First Track Test

It was great to get back out on track for the first time since November and it was also a chance to experience the new KW Clubsport suspension properly for the first time.

On the road the set up is very good to drive, the car rides with a degree of comfort and the solid top mounts are fine to love with but the whole reason for fitting it to this car was specifically for its on track capabilities.

The previous set up with the B8 dampers/DAP Race springs was a great set up and worked well. With no damper adjustment I was able to run with the rear bar on a medium hard setting (position 3) and this gave good feel and balance. The KW Clubsport kit however is on a completely different level and a huge step up.

To begin with and to evaluate the new set up I began by running with the KW Clubsports with the rear bar backed off to the softest setting (position 1). Initially on the slightly damp track the back end feel a little loose and unpredictable. There was little confidence in rear end feel and grip levels felt uncertain. I stuck with it to see if increased tyre temperatures helped but after about 20 minutes felt that something needed to be done to improve things.

The KW Clubsport kit has rebound and compression adjustment on both front and rear dampers. Now with the rear bar fitted this gave less grip at the back end upon first test. With the damper adjustment available I could have altered the settings to dial back the grip with the bar fitted. But the bar adds weight, and if the car can be made to handle without the rear bar, then not only will the handling be better with the KW Clubsport kit, but the weight of the bar can be removed as well…. win win.

When KW developed the clubsport kit they did so on a standard VXR/OPC chassis without any aftermarket add-ons, and KW maintain the excellent handling can be achieved without a rear anti-roll bar. Knowing KW and the development that they put into their kits there would be no reason why they would not be correct.

So after the first session it was back into the pit garage to remove the rear bar, check the damper settings and head back out on track.

Immediately the whole car felt more controllable, the rear felt more positive and the handling, even on a slightly damp surface was fantastic. Over the course of the day on a drying track the new set up was brilliant. The KW Clubsports performed beyond all expectations. Corner speeds were much higher than with the previous set up. So the handling has been improved with the new KW Clubsport kit and the rear bar is no longer needed to balance the chassis meaning an additional weight saving over the previous set up by removing the bar.

Having driven a lot of suspension set ups on the Astra H I can confidently say that this has to be the best out there, especially for track day use.

So as far as suspension is concerned it has to be KW all the way; Clubsports for trackday cars and for road use KW Variant 1,2 or 3.

First Trackday 2015


This year’s first trackday is booked for Friday 20th February at Snetterton, another MSV Trackdays organised event on the 300 circuit.

Photos will follow.

New CIM Fitted and Programmed

In time for next week’s first trackday of the year the new CIM (Column Integrated Module) arrived today. The temporary ‘slave’ CIM used for diagnosing the fault was removed having first been reset on Tech2 so it can be used again and the new CIM fitted. It was then programmed to the other modules in the car and the keys were reprogrammed to the immobiliser. Programming using Tech2 is pretty straight forward, you programme the High, Mid and Low Speed CAN configurations, enter the VIN, programme the keys (both of them – the spare is often forgotten about!) and enter the key number.

Torque figure for the steering wheel to steering column is 30Nm, using blue threadlock.

Astra H CIM

Astra H CIM


Power Steering Fluid

When the replacement engine bed was fitted and the power steering rack was swapped over from the original engine bed to the new engine bed, I decided to replace the power steering fluid as well. The ZF steering rack takes a special hydraulic fluid which is Pentosin CHF202. This is OE to many manufacturers including GM/Opel/Vauxhall, BMW, Audi, Porsche, VW, Volvo and Ford.

Pentosin CHF 202

Pentosin CHF 202


I had to remove the rear light clusters recently, not for the first time however, but that gave me another opportunity to make sure even the unseen areas are kept clean and tidy. A quick wipe clean, touch in the areas where the lights had rubbed through the paint and a coat of sealant for good measure. Some might say this is a little excessive, but you would be surprised how much dirt and grime can gather behind the rear light clusters.

Left Rear Light Housing

Left Rear Light Housing

Right Rear Light Housing

Right Rear Light Housing

Astra H Electrical Gremlins.

Towards the end of last year, occasionally at start up the dials would drop out and then do their ‘VXR’ reset sweep and various dash lights would come on. Then once it had ‘reset’ itself everything was fine. Also from time to time the car would not turnover, not recognising the key, and so would not start. It didn’t cause any issues but was something that would need further investigation at some point.

That point has arrived with the instrument panel now resembling Blackpool Illuminations almost all of the time…..

Various dash lights illuminating either at random or all at once, rev counter dropping out and then carrying out the ‘VXR’ reset sweep and returning to normal opration, fuel gauge dropping to empty, headlights coming on with the headlight switch in the ‘off’ position, headlights coming on as expected when switch on but then failing to go off when the switch was turned off, rear lights coming on at random, indicators sometimes refusing to work……. Additionally sometimes the car would fail to start and the management light would flash, indicating an immobiliser problem which is part of the CIM module.

A quick check on Tech 2 listed many communication errors between all of the modules on the car (see post below for DTC’s) – CIM (Column Integrated Module), REC (Rear Electrical Centre), UEC (Underhood Electrical Centre), ABS/ESP (Anti-Lock Brake and Electronic Stability Module), and ISP (Instruments) which meant tracing the problem would be down to systematically checking the common error codes on TIS and working through and checking each module to eliminate them one by one.

Where to start?

Initial thoughts…. It was the CIM playing up, not uncommon on Astra H. While swapping one isn’t that difficult to do, it is quite involved so due to all the trouble codes it was worth checking the other modules first.

UEC: Water Ingress in the UEC can cause issues, but after unplugging and checking this was all ok, so the contacts were given a clean and grease to prevent any future problems.

REC: There were few DTC’s relating to lack of communication between the REC and UEC, REC and CIM and REC and ABS/ESP. The REC is easy to change as there are only 6 electrical plugs to remove and a single bolt holding it into the car. I had a spare REC to hand so it was worth trying it to eliminate it. The original REC was reset on Tech 2, battery disconnected and then removed and the replacement REC fitted. The replacement REC I had was from a later 2008 car but compatible as it was in the same ident range. The new REC was programmed on Tech 2, VIN entered and coded and all worked fine, however after some testing the same DTCs were present suggesting that the problem lay elsewhere.

CIM: As stated earlier the CIM units are known to cause issues, so having looked at the UEC and REC the next option was to try a replacement CIM module. The occasional loss of communication between key and CIM suggesting an immobiliser issue pointed strongly towards the CIM unit as well. Slightly more involved to replace unlike the REC and UEC as the airbag and steering wheel have to be removed to access the CIM and it needs resetting prior to removal and reprogramming again (using Tech2 or similar), but I had a spare second hand CIM to try so it was swapped onto the car, and after reprogramming all the troublesome DTCs had gone and the instruments appeared to be functioning normally.

A brand new CIM unit has been ordered (thankfully they are not too expensive at trade price!) and will be swapped over before the first track day.

Electrical Issues – DTCs

With the instruments doing really weird things (see post above) these were the trouble codes read by Tech2:

Stored in DIS – Info Display:
U2141 Can Bus No Communication with REC
U2140 Can Bus No Communication with UEC
U2100 No Communication with Can Bus Low Speed

Stored in REC – Rear Electrical Center:
U2140 Can Bus No Communication with UEC
U2116 Can Bus No Communication with IPC
U2113 Can Bus No Communication with SDM
U2100 No Communication with Can Bus Low Speed
B3089 Pane Breakage Sensor Rear Window Heater Circuit Open or High Voltage
B1375 Switched System Voltage (Ignition On) Not Plausible With CAN Signal
B0655 Brake Light Switch Circuit Incorrect Signal
B3916 Alarm Siren Battery Voltage Low

Stored in UEC – Underhood Electrical Center:
U2141 Can Bus No Communication with REC
U2139 Can Bus No Communication with CIM
U2116 Can Bus No Communication with IPC
U2100 No Communication with Can Bus Low Speed
B1375 Switched System Voltage (Ignition On) Not Plausible With CAN Signal

Stored in IPC – Instrument Panel:
U2139 Can Bus No Communication with CIM
U2140 Can Bus No Communication with UEC
U2141 Can Bus No Communication with REC
U2100 No Communication with Can Bus Low Speed
P0460 Fuel Level Sensor Circuit Range/Performance
P0115 Engine Coolant Temperature Signal Range/Performance
P0654 Engine Speed Signal Range/Performance
P0500 Vehicle Speed Signal Range/Performance
P0550 Mileage Circuit Range Performance

Stored in CIM – Column Integrated Module:
U2141 Can Bus No Communication with REC
U2140 Can Bus No Communication with UEC
U2116 Can Bus No Communication with IPC
U2100 No Communication with Can Bus Low Speed
B3977 Wrong Environment Identifier Received UEC
B3929 Wrong Environment Identifier Received REC
B3925 Wrong Environment Identifier Received IPC

Stored in Engine ECU:
P1616 CIM Wrong Environment Identifier
P1614 Wrong Transponder Key
P0136 No Plausibility between O2 Sensor Bank 1 Sensor 1 and O2 Sensor Bank 1 Sensor 2

Stored in CDC (Computer Damping Control) which has been disabled:
C0000 Damper Mode Switch Info Via CAN BUS Incorrect Signal

Chassis Alignment.

Chassis Alignment Time Again.

Having had the new engine bed and KW Clubsport coilovers fitted it meant it was time to have the chassis alignment carried out again and have the front camber and toe adjusted. The rear settings are fixed from the factory and cannot be altered easily without shims, but for trackday use I have found that the factory rear settings are suitable providing they are within spec when aligned to the front end.

The car went to a local specialist who have Hunter 4 Wheel Laser Alignment equipment and who have carried out chassis alignment on the car previously for me. Once on the ramp and set up, initial measurements were taken. Camber was at about 2.5 degrees negative each side and the tracking was 1.0 degree toe in each side, which was not surprising given the changes that have taken place!

After the starting measurements were obtained the front camber and toe settings were altered to my preferred requirements which are designed to give a positive chassis feel. I choose to have both caster and toe and increased over the factory settings, but are not too aggressive that they will cause high tyre wear. The chosen settings work for me.

Chassis set up is very much a personal preference. What works for one person may not suit another. The best advice is to choose a base setting and run with it, and evaluate the chassis and how it handles. From that point it is then possible to start altering settings to fine tune the chassis to suit each individual driver.

Astra VXR Sprint.....

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