My daughter has a 4 year old Punto 1.3. It's done around 35,000 miles.
In past few months, it's stalled about once per fortnight when the engine is
warm, and she's slowed down and stopped in traffic. Worse it was quite
hard to restart she says, not firing for some 30-40 seconds (I assume not
because it was flooding, but that is possible).
Took it to a maintsream Fiat dealer to be checked, and they said that a
"sniffer test" had shown some evidence of oil in the engine coolant,
therefore meaning the head-gasket was on it's way out - though they added
the contaminaton was not bad at this point. They charged me £35 for the
diagnosis, and quoted nearly £500 to fix this, and claimed that would be the
I then asked another local garage, who felt uncertain that such a problem
would cause stalling, and offered to check it for me, as well as check the
idle jet was clean.
They confirmed the sniffer test result, and said that was NOT marginal, so
it needed doing in a few weeks. They kindly charged us £75+ for this test
and jet clean (they said it that was OK though), so we've now spent £110 on
two diagnosis's :-(
Their quote was £350 to replace the head gasket, including skimming the head
and doing a pressure test afterwards, but said they'd give us some kind of
credit towards the £75 spent.
Not really sure we've gone about this in the best way; and really don't know
how best to proceed now. My daughter is loathe to spend up to £350, but
then now feels nervous about using the car in case it seizes. Is that
likely? Is this likely to be the cause of the irregular stalling? Is
there a better solution that anyone could suggest?
When the headgasket is going, better nog drive too long anymore, you
can cause engine damage in the end ...
For my (old model) Punto it was a known complaint that headgaskets went
But i never heard that about the newer types?
Anyway, oil in the coolant is never good ofcourse, and the stalling...i
had that too, but that was because coolant was coming in the engine
itself (a lot of white smoke from the exhaust, like you see on a cold
winterday when your engine is cold).
Garages love to do jobs, that is how they make a living. Any local
well recommended self employed mechanics? Irregular stalling sounds
more like engine management. I'd be hesitant about the diagnosis.
Is there water in the oil (cream coloured mousse in the filler cap) or
water getting into the cylinders ("substantial" clouds of white smoke
when starting)? These are the laymans guide to cylinder head
problems. A simple compression test, and a look at the plugs,
which most self employed mechanics will do for a few pounds
reveals a lot about an engine. It is unlikely to seize up, Don't
run it pedal to the metal, normal driving shouldn't hurt. If you
can confirm either problem, engine management or head
gasket, get several quotes, as mutch to judge how competent
and knowledgable the mechanic is, as to compare prices.
Long term it is not a good idea to leave problems unrectified,
particularly with catalytic converter engines.
Engine management is linked to stalling, it delivers the
wrong mixture, if the car runs like a kangaroo, surging and
dieing, think lambda sensor, fouls the plugs until one
stops firing and you are running rough on three, think
MAP sensor or engine temp sensor. Either way its an engine
management that's causing problems. If you do have
the head done think about replaceing the cam belt when
the engine is reassembled. Heard of a Cinq with a similar
problem, cost several hundred in fruitless diagnosis,
until the right RAC man appeared, claimed it was an
intermittent fuel cutoff switch, after about a year of
problems it was finally fixed. Can't however confirm what
was referred to as the cutoff switch, didn't think Cinqs had
impact switches to cut the fuel in an accident.
If oil or exhaust gases are getting into the coolant in any
substantial way, because the system is pressurised,
you lose water as the engine cools, hence the white smoke.
And of course you have to keep topping the radiator up,
with anti-freeze mix in this weather.
Hope this helps.
on the Uno the predecessor to the punto there was a common fault on the
engine management system which never showed up in computer fault finding but
none the less caused the intermittent stalling problems described here
...... I can't remember what the component was called exactly but was the
electronic variation of a coil .... the 'coil' sat bolted to an
aluminium plate through which it was earthed .... now as we all know,
aluminium is a very good conductor and in theory is ideal for the job ....
what most mechanics don't realise is that aluminium oxide ISN'T a good
conductor and is in fact an insulator .... by unbolting this component
from it's aluminium plate and lightly 'dressing' the plate with a fine wet
and dry paper to remove the oxide then applying a very thin film of vaseline
to the both surfaces, your car should run well till kingdom come ....
sorry I can't be a little more explicit in the exact name of this part but
perhaps a look into your engine bay and a little head scratching will let
you discover it ... good luck and don't forget your feed back as it
may well help others in the future
I had all of these symptoms with a car of mine that blew the head gasket,
including the stalls. It happened to me whilst travelling at about 40mph and
For about 500 miles before the failure, the engine was running extremely
cold... no warm air from the heater at all and the dashboard gauge was
barely above zero. About 10 miles before the failure, the engine was revving
uncontrollably by itself. When the car finally died, the temperature was
obviously extremely high. Fortunately, I was able to fill it with water and
get it home, and then refill it to take it to the garage, who immediately
identified the problem.
Once the gasket finally goes, the car is completely unserviceable. Your two
options are (1) fix the problem, or (2) buy a new car.
When the head gasket goes, there are three things that can happen.
1. cylinders get access to water channels
2. cylinders get access to oil channels
3. cylinders get access to each other.
Number 2 is very uinlikely as there is only one or two oil channels run
fron the top to the bottom of the engine. The sniffer test is looking
for Carbon monoxide and other combustion products and not oil. It is
the same test used for MOT exhaust emissions.
Number 1 is the most likely as each cylinder is surrounded by about 6
water channels. The cylinder will suck water in and expell it is steam
out the exhaust. The water level will drop, you will lose the heater
as the water level drops and the engine will overheat. Also, the
cylinder pushes combustion products into the water channels on the
upward stoke. If you take the radiator cap off, you will see it bubble
like a hot spring.
Number thee results in a loss of compression and difficulty
starting/rough running. The only way to verify this is to have a
compression test done. All cylinders are about 110 and big differences
between them are a sign there is a problem.
If you have a combination between 1 and 3, you will have a sick engine.
The only damage is letting the engine overheat. Most garages will
change a gasket - it is not a specialised job - ring around for plenty
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