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
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 Â£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 Â£300 or Â£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
Thanks in advance for any help,