Sunday, 9 December 2007

Hubble, bubble, car in trouble

No, not my car (which is a 1969 Volvo Amazon, by the way) but my daughter's. She's had this Renault Clio 1.9 Diesel for a year and a half, but it's not been the best buy. The worst breakdown was on Boxing Day last year. Jan and I were just finishing the first course of Christmas lunch take two at my parents' house in Essex. The phone rang: it was Alison on the M11 with an overheated car. No seconds, a hasty pudding, and we had to go and rescue her. When we got there and put water in it mostly poured out straight away. Well, we got it going and drove in short hops back to Norfolk, stopping to let it cool down and refilling many times.

As I say, that was last year. We had the radiator replaced, and then a hose, and it seemed OK. Until, that is, a few weeks ago. Same overheating/loss of coolant. This time she'd got round to joining the breakdown scheme (and she was only three miles from home). The car's been sitting in our driveway since then, waiting for me to have a proper look at it. I chose a wet day (yesterday) to finally do something. I removed the thermostat and tested it in a saucepan of boiling water. Works fine. So I put it back - and nipped the gasket as I tightened the bolts. Water all over the place. Fortunately a spare gasket from my Amazon was exactly the right size, so that went on and all seemed OK. Now the explanation of the title of this entry: all the time the engine's running there's a load of bubbling in the expansion tank. I'm told that's a sign that the cylinder head gasket has blown, although there doesn't seem to be water in the oil, or oil in the water. Anyway, I managed to get the engine close to being warm, and, yes, water started flowing into the radiator. But now there's a hissing and spurting - there's water coming from a cunningly hidden hose buried behind the radiator (why is there no room to get at anything in a "modern" engine?). At which point I gave up - it was getting dark and I was wet and getting cold.

I really, really don't want to spend any more money on this car. It's certainly not worth getting the head gasket replaced, but I have come across steel seal on the web for £25 which I thought I'd try. There's a complicated sequence of running the engine, cooling for an hour, running the engine etc. to follow - and instruction to remove the injector of the cylinder which is causing the worst bubbling. But the extra leak when the engine gets hot needs fixing first - and I can't get at it. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!

No comments: