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From my research I know a lot of people probably have similar issues so I wanted to share my experience in the hope it will help others.

As my Astra 1.6 Sxi Twinport Z16XEP aged, it developed a sequence of faults. The first one was that the engine light started coming on when the engine got warm (giving a fan error P1481). I checked all the usual fixes, but couldn't find any issues - given the engine fan still worked at other speeds it didn't worry me too much.

Next the engine started cutting out - the engine would start for a few seconds then stop. This only happened when starting from warm. When cold, the engine started fine. After about 20 minutes of trying, the engine would start again and run fine without problems.

I tried replacing the crankshaft sensor but that made no difference.

The bush fix was to pour some cold water on the ECU (about a cupful)! Which worked instantly. and somewhat confirmed the ECU was at fault.

I tried to fix the ECU myself.

Having tried it, I don't recommend this at all - it's a nightmare as the wires are probably around the size of a human hair (or less) so trying to get a soldering iron in there is tricky, plus cleaning all the gel inside. Leave it to a professional. Don't do what I did and end up breaking wires when trying to test them! In the end I blew up my ECU completely.

I was lucky enough to find a direct replacement for £200 on ebay (matching ALL the codes for the part) in my case it was DYCA 12211330. I made sure I bought the ECU itself, plus the immobiliser unit and associated key. You'll need all these.

Fitting the new ECU and immobiliser was fairly easy and took an hour or so - the steps were:
1. Disconnect the battery
2. Adjust the steering wheel as far towards you as possible
3. Remove the cowling of the steering column (screw at the bottom, turn wheel left to reveal front screw right and turn wheel right to take out front screw left, remove two top screws too)
4. Remove RHS wiper stalk (simple unclip)
5. Remove key barrel (this needs you to insert a tiny screwdriver into a small hole on the barrel nearest to the steering column and press gently while turning the key - it took me a few goes, but comes out easily when you get it)
6. Simple unplug remove and replace the immobiliser unit
7. Replace the key barrel (noting that you need to move a small catch across inside the barrel before replacing)
7. Replace the cowling
8. Unscrew and replace the main ECU in the engine bay (noting that the clips lift up and automatically slide the locks away to release the main plugs)

BUT: After I replaced the ECU I found the car still wouldn't start at all. Or at least it just about started, but not for more than a second or so. I also started to get all sort of coil error codes.

This turned out to be a problem with the immobiliser - I hadn't realised that I needed to transfer the tiny immobiliser chip from the new key to my original key. It was quite straightforward, but you'll need to be gentle to avoid breaking it.

Once I replaced that everything worked perfectly! The original fan error has gone too now.

There was no re-programming needed (although my keyless entry needs sorting). I was told if the specs of the donor car are similar then it should work. It did with mine.
 
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