Arg! Have I killed it?

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I have an L-reg Citroen Xantia 1.9 turbo diesel which late last year was over-heating. I understood that this was probably because I'd owned the car the best part of a year & never checked the water, so I topped it up & the
problem seemed to go away, but the water was extremely cruddy and I ended up flushing & refilling the cooling system (bleeding it properly) as discussed in this thread <http://tinyurl.com/2za64x .
All has been well for a couple of months, but late last week the car started exhibiting some worrying symptoms.
It suddenly over-heated again when I was driving - I was able to limp home and pour 2 litres or more of water into the coolant bottle, forgetting to bleed the system (of course). About the same time - I can't say if I first noticed it the same day, the previous or the next - the car started smoking a lot. As the weather is cold and a stuck choke on a petrol car will cause a lot of smoke I initially wrote this off as no big deal, but I'm told this is an excessive amount of smoke and indicative of something more serious. The smoke isn't noticable when driving at speed, but even with a warm engine it reappears in my mirrors when I pull up to a junction. The smoke is very white, and when I park with my engine running & inspect the exhaust I see a lot of water condensing and puddling beneath it.
Finally, around the same period the car has become a litte difficult to start - it has always in the past fired first time, but the last few days it has had to turn over a few times before it will start firing properly. On Thursday & Friday the engine has twice "refused" to turn over - it seems to turn over "halfway" when I fire the ignition and then stops, like a dull cough. Repeated attempts to start the car make no difference, but on each occasion waiting several minutes and then trying again has suceeded. I use my car mostly for short journeys, each day visiting a number customers in my town, so this behaviour is not every time I start the car, just enough to render it unreliable.
So Friday, the day after refilling the water, the car is still overheating a little and this doesn't make sense, seeing as how it should have plenty of cooling in the rad, so I think I'd better check the oil. It's around the minimum mark, nothing to worry about, but I fill it up anyway & check again. This time I find a white "blob" on the dipstick. :(
I had always imagined that water in the oil was very distinctive, yet with two or three subsequent dips I don't see the same thing again. Yet I guess I have to assume that the oil is contaminated? Admittedly when I wipe the dipstick on a piece of kitchen paper the residue does seem somewhat "watery" - around the edge of the black oil there's a "wetness" that soaks into the paper.
At this point, everything sorta fell into place. It might seem obvious to you now reading this, but the earlier symptoms had not been to me. I'm assuming that the engine wouldn't turn over because water doesn't compress the way petrol-air mix does, and I'm uncertain over what period the water had been migrating from the cooling system into the engine.
My big question is "is it knackered?"
I don't mind taking the car to a mechanic (I have a bloke who I use regularly for jobs which are beyond me & he is very helpful) & paying to get it fixed if it's reparable, but obviously it's not worth spending money on it if the crank or gearbox is likely to go next week as a result of the contamination. On the one hand I only paid £175 for this car at the auctions a year ago (so it's not a big loss tif I scrap it), but on the other hand it's a pleasant drive, has anti-lock brakes & power-steering and generally I like the Xantia; getting it through the MOT (10 months ago) doubled it's TCO and only a few weeks ago I spent more again getting the spheres & hydraulic fluid changed (which has made quite an improvement to the handling). Is a new engine / gearbox a realistic possibility? Or uneccessary? Might draining the oil & changing the head gasket solve everything??!?! I guess I don't mind spending £300 or £400 if I think I'll get another year out of this car.
I'd really appreciate any comments regarding the consequences of this. I haven't dared drive the car since Friday - I intended to post earlier but I've been on a bit of downer about this (so comments about what a idiot I am are redundant),
Thanks in advance for any help,
Stroller.
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It would be uneconomic to repair. Undoubtedly from your description the head gasket has failed (or you have another failure which gives the same symptoms) the head will have to come off and fix whatever is needed. A ballpark minimum is 500 quid at a small independent garage. It is unlikely that anything else will have been damaged, but an oil change would be part of the job in any case.
Mrcheerful
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"MrCheerful" < snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com> wrote in message
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I have never known water in the cylinders causing hydraulic lock to damage anything extra, (although it does seem possible), EXCEPT when sucking water into a running engine which totally knackers things, like con rods.
Mrcheerful
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Starter motor in most diesels is perfectly capable of bending rods during attempted starts with a hydraulicly locked engine.
Tim.
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What kind of independent garage are you using?
Certainly using one that costs a lot more than my local bloke.
Stroller..... I recognise the name from a few years ago...... if you're the same person, ISTR you live near-ish Milton Keynes. If so, I know of a bloke who manages to be both bloody good and bloody cheap. I'd expect him to give you change from 250-300 to do a head gasket incl. head skim.
--
SteveH 'You're not a real petrolhead unless you've owned an Alfa Romeo'
www.italiancar.co.uk - Honda VFR800 - Hongdou GY200 - Alfa 75 TSpark
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<snip>
I've always been interested in head gasket failure never asked anyone though, untill now :)
So the head gasket is a sheet of some kind of material between 2 pieces of metal to create a seal right ? so is it just a matter of dismantling the parts and putting a new one between and bolting up in sequence or am I dreaming? then oil change after ?
just curious not anywhere near my capability to do something like that I just about remeber where the wires in a plug go!
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johnbond ( snipped-for-privacy@host.com) gurgled happily, sounding much like they were saying :

Close enough.
The gasket itself is a little more complex than that - there's metal bits round the cylinder bores to keep the bangs in, and umpty-three 'ickle holes for water and oil jackets.
Heads on anything vaguely modern are usually fitted with stretch bolts, which need replacing, and there's usually an important torqueing sequence to go through to hold it down properly.
It's also short-termism to NOT replace things like the cambelt (with any associated tensioners and other consumables) at the same time, and since the cooling system may have got oil in it, it's worth at least changing the coolant and probably flushing it through, too.
The fun'n'games comes if the head's been cooked a bit and has warped - at which point it needs stripping down and skimming (machining to be flat again). I'm sure I recall that 1.9 Turbo XUDs like Stroller's can have a nasty habit of cracking, too. It's always worth having a damn good look at things like the valves and seats, and on an indirect injection diesel like this, the pre-combustion chambers, while the head's off - the extra work to sort 'em is minimal while you're in there.
But, of course, if you're paying labour on something relatively disposable, just whip the head off and lob a gasket in...
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gurgled happily, sounding much like they were

Ahhhhh, I see. I was almost there :)
So when people talk about tuning their engines up does this having anything to do with it or is that something\where elseon the engine.
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johnbond ( snipped-for-privacy@host.com) gurgled happily, sounding much like they were saying :

No.
Depends what they're meaning by "tuning".
"Tuning" in the old krypton-tune sense meant adjusting carb, ignition etc to keep it running properly. Not needed on anything vaguely recent, as it's all done automagically by computers.
"Tuning" in the chav/max power sense means covering the car in superglue and ram-raiding a local Halfrauds.
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gurgled happily, sounding much like they were

Ahhh :-) got you.
What can be done to modern engine to tune them up ? or is absolutely everything taken care of by the computer. Just wndering if I can do some kind of maintenance to improve my golf other than get it to go on a diet or a remap 1.8t lump.
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johnbond ( snipped-for-privacy@host.com) gurgled happily, sounding much like they were saying :

<g>
Just keep it serviced.

Yup. Everything important is monitored and fed back into the ECU, which tailors the ignition and injection to get the correct emissions, particularly.

Trade it in for something that isn't a Golf?
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gurgled happily, sounding much like they were

Wishing I got a seat loen, seriously thinking of ditching the overweight golf. Been thinking along the lines of a seat leon, audi a3 granted its a golf in a short skirt *druel* some kind of hatchback thats fast and sexy. Always liked vw's audi bmws german really :). I'd love a golf r32 smeet ride or a bmw e30 back to earth a seat leon could be a good move. Before I got the golf I knew I should've gone for the seat I was looking at but something just made me go for the golf, granted its a been a good car to me, very little gone wrong, starts in the blink of an eye never lets me down, heck what more do you want from a car :)
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johnbond ( snipped-for-privacy@host.com) gurgled happily, sounding much like they were saying :

But... but... but... that's an even MORE overweight Golf...

Something other than complete apathy...? Oh, and no discernible gravity of its own...
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gurgled happily, sounding much like they were

the big *:but:* its got an engine that can shift its sexy fat body!

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If the car was worth 200 a year back and you're going to struggle to flog it when the head gasket has gone. Unless you get one of the 1000 for anything that can be driven here under it's own steam (literally in your case) deals.
Why not purchase a Haynes manual for your car or buy an online workshop manual. Buy a gasket kit and have a stab at it yourself. You'll probably need a few extra tools, which will probably make the job a tad more expensive than it needs to be (unless you can borrow them). I know it's short term thinking not to replace the timing belt, water pump etc. But a full timing belt kit and water pump will cost a few quid in their own right and you may just stuff the job up and call the scrap yard anyway.
Erm, perhaps I should say I've not done a head gasket myself. But if your cars worth nothing, you have the tools, perhaps an interested mate to work through it and a spare weekend... sounds like fun :D
Regards,
Tim
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Well if the OP really wants to waste money yes, have a go. Tim you say you haven't done a head gasket before, I've done many (I've lost count but probably close to if not into three figures) and I can tell you that this engine is, perhaps not the worst, but certainly not a "first time for everything, lets have a go" example, unless one wants to be put off working on cars for life. The petrol version is bad, the diesel version is hell, not so much getting the head off and on but the valve / injector timing - get it wrong, especially the valve timing, and you can say good-bye to the head and camshaft!
The head will almost certainly need skimming, assuming that it's not to far gone or has already been machined to it's limit (quite possible), quite frankly the OP would be best served by not letting the blind lead the blind and putting 500 quid or so towards funds for another car or even (if the car is otherwise immaculate) sourcing a SH engine from a salvage yard and paying for a engine swap - the cost, less engine, probably wouldn't come to much more than paying to get the head gasket repaired properly.
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Stroller brought next idea :

It almost certainly is a blown head gasket and perhaps some damage to the head. A garage would charge you 250 to 300 to repair that, including skimming the head. On purely financial terms, probably not worth doing, but if you know the car is otherwise sound - better the car you know than another which is an unknown quantity.
--

Regards,
Harry (M1BYT) (L)
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Stroller ( snipped-for-privacy@bigfoot.com) gurgled happily, sounding much like they were saying :

<altogether now> Head gasket. Although, bearing in mind it's a TurboD, it *could* be a cracked head.

You're certainly going to need to pull the head to find out more. If you're lucky, it's just the head gasket. Put it all back together with a new head gasket, and the job's a good 'un The head *might* need/benefit from a skim just to get it good'n'flat.
On the other hand, you might be looking at a replacement head - in which case, you're starting to get close to making a decision on the future of the car.
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Stroller wrote:

Oh dear. Why don't people do basic checks? You could have saved yourself a whole load of hassle just by checking the water and oil. It sounds like the system was sludged up. Having it flushed out wouldn't have cost much either.
--
Malc
You will pay for your sins. If you have already paid, please disregard
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