Car Mechanics (UK)
Survival Guide: Skoda Octavia II
Sourcing quality spares.
The current popularity for SUVS and compact people carriers has undoubtedly hit demand for cars such as the Skoda Octavia MKII, so they’re a bargain for those wanting a roomy and sophisticated mile-cruncher with a real quality feel. Even the biggest families will struggle to find enough stuff to fill the cavernous boot, especially with the rear seats folded, and being a hatchback it’s surprisingly practical. Moreover, with a wide range of strong engines, generous spec and excellent build quality, it’s a value-packed offering that lots of buyers will find hard to ignore.
The MKII was launched in 2004, while the even handier estate version appeared a year later. From 2005 there was a 4x4, as well as the VRS, the latter powered by a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol
engine, with a 2.0-litre TDI available from 2006. The hard-as-nails 4x4 Scout version was the equivalent of Audi’s Allroad and featured extra body protection and raised ride height.
Spec started with the Classic and S which were a bit basic, so the Ambiente (SE from 2009) with its alloys, climate control and remote central locking is a better bet. Meanwhile, the range-topping Elegance got cruise control and niceties such as rear parking sensors.
There was a facelift in 2009, when the former 1.6- and 2.0-litre FSI engines were replaced by a more efficient 1.4 TSI, with a 1.2 TSI joining the range in 2010. And there were two special editions in 2012 prior to the arrival of the MKIII: the generously-equipped SE Connect and the VRS Blackline, the latter coming with black Neptune alloys, full leather an Amundsen sat-nav with DAB radio as standard, and your choice of Race Blue, Black or White paint.
As for values, an early, low-specced, second-generation Octavia with plenty of miles under its belt can be found for as little as £850. Ditto all those high-mile 1.9 turbodiesels, which still represent a good, economical and generally very reliable purchase. Post-facelift models are better in most respects.
Less is often more when it comes to engines, which is why those in search of a no-nonsense fuel-sipping Octavia will stick to one with the 1.9 PD BKC engine without the added potential issues of a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Just be sure to listen out for whistling turbos.
The PD170 in the VRS suffered issues with the Siemens injectors and DPF, so is best avoided unless there’s evidence of regular servicing/injector replacement.
The 140PD is a good bet, but the post-2009 version with the common-rail diesel has better power delivery.
The majority of Octavias from this era have a timing belt that needs replacing every 130,000 miles or four years, although the TSI (and some earlier MPI petrol engines) employed a timing chain.
Be sure to use VW507.00 spec oil on diesel Octavias with a DPF, and a good quality VW 504.01 brew in the petrol models. Try to stick to a fixed 10,000-mile or annual filter/fresh oil regime.
Dual mass flywheels can wear prematurely, so beware if you hear a clatter. Engine component prices
Main dealer £10.54 Independent from £6.09
Main dealer £62.54 Independent from £34.49
DUAL MASS FLYWHEEL
Main dealer £694.10 Independent from £464.99
There’s nothing bad to report regarding Octavia brakes and, as you can see below, replacement parts are reassuringly cheap. That said, an ABS warning light on the dash should set alarm bells ringing – chances are it will be the ABS control unit which has failed and replacements are costly from a Skoda dealer.
Brake component prices FRONT BRAKE DISCS (PAIR)
Main dealer £133.40 Independent from £90.98
FRONT BRAKE PADS
Main dealer £77.02 Independent from £42.99 ABS CONTROL UNIT Main dealer £691.82 Secondhand from £50.00
The Octavia’s generous proportions mean that you can expect to replace suspension components on a regular basis. Front console bushes go first –they split – although they’re inexpensive to replace. Then it will be the usual anti-roll bar bushes, front balljoints and droplinks. Some owners reported uneven tyre wear early on, so if you inherit a car with obvious tracking issues, get a laser four-wheel alignment check.
Like other cars in the VAG family, rear springs eventually snap with age, so it’s worth giving them a quick inspection when the car is next on a workshop lift.
Suspension component prices FRONT CONSOLE BUSH (PAIR)
Main dealer £151.34 Independent from £47.90
REAR SPRINGS (PAIR)
Main dealer £170.98 Independent from £147.98
Air-conditioning woes in the Octavia seem to be relatively common, so worry if there’s warm air blowing from the vents when the setting is set for cold. The most frequent causes are compressor failure or holed condensers, the latter being particularly vulnerable to stone damage.
These minor glitches aside, as long as you stay clear of worn-out former taxis, we’d suggest you can buy a Octavia MKII with total confidence.
Other component prices AIR-CONDITIONING COMPRESSOR
Main dealer £573.30 Independent from £339.99
Main dealer £336.62 Independent from £114.99