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Head gasket
#1
Hello Everyone

My wonderful berlingo had to be towed to the garage yesterday.

I am fairly certain the head gasket as gone.

I have owned the car since new in Feb 2001. It has been looked after and is reasonable tidy condition. Is it worth repair I have no idea about cost and understand this to be a big job?

It happened coming up a long steep hill. The stop light came on with a beep. I let the car cool and a really nice householder gave me warm water. It only took about half a litre. I drove less than half a mile and it did it again. I got towed from there. The breakdown chap took the thermostat out and that seemed ok. No visible sign of water loss and hoses all seem fine.

This years MOT only gave advisory for 2 back tyres. It needed a new Lamba sensor to get through the emissions test.
The car has done about 120000 miles.

It has been running really well. 2 Saturdays back it did the return journey from home to Birmingham in one day covering about 520 miles in a day with a lot of that on motorways.

Thoughts from you all would be appreciated.

Thanks
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#2
Which engine?

I assume you've compression-tested it to verify that the gasket is shot?

I've only done this job on the 1.4i, but besides requiring a new tool(the bolts needs to be torqued first to a certain force with a normal torque wrench, then turned another 240degrees exactly, so you need a gauge to measure how far you've turned it), but who doesn't like adding new toys to the wall of their garage?
You may also require a new pipe for the bolts as they're not exactly 'hex nut'.

Some may say that you can reuse the bolts, but any decent gasket kit comes with new bolts, so why risk it?
(On the 1.4i, you may strip the threads from the aluminium body, or snap them off... )
Old bolts can be measured, and if they haven't stretched beyond a certain paint they should be safe.

Since you'll have to remove the cam belt, it may also be a good idea to renew that(it's generally a bad idea to reuse this belt) and possibly the other belts and the water pump while you're fiddling with it.

The 1.4i has the additional problem of a manually adjusted cam-belt tensioner, though, and getting it exactly right can be a bit of a pain...
(Unless you have specialised tooling, the recommendation is to set it 'tight enough' and make the first trip be to a Citroën expert)

All in all, it's not all that difficult, especially if you get hold of all the parts, tools and consumables beforehand. A day's work at most, really. (Still, only have experience with the 1.4i)
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#3
to Gadgetman

Thanks for that.

I am not intending to do the work myself. I use a garage run by a coach company. One of the mechanics has owned a 1.4i like mine and does all the inside engine stuff. Yes I had thought about the belt. If the engine is open it is the time to do it.

I trust the garage to do the work well and not invent or neglect issues. I would just like to be better prepared for the bill versus useful life left in car question.
I believe I have read somewhere that because the vehicle is basically a van it is built for high mileage. Any ideas?

thanks again
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#4
Mine has 200.000Km on it, and a techie I talked with claimed that with proper care, that engine should be able to do double or triple that.
(you won't find a more proven aluminium body engine in any car)

A modified version of it was used in Citroën Rally cars after all...

A good mechanic, with all the toys to his disposal should be able to do the job in just a couple of hours.
Parts cost?
£50 for cambelt and pump(often sold as a kit)
£30 or so, for a gasket kit with head bolts. At least a kit on eBay won't cost you more than that.
Add the auxilliary belts (alternator and servo pump) for extra ease of mind, new oil, some anti-freeze and you should be set.
Of course, the garage may source their parts from other channels...

No, the Berlingo was not built 'as a van'...
First off, the underside is mostly Citroën ZX, so that hails from the 'small car' industry. The upper part is a 'leisure activity vehicle' and really, the ancestor for that is the 2CV!
This is made even more clear on a Berlingo with a Ragtop sunroof.
(you CAN bring your surfboard in a Berlingo with a sunroof... )
The fact that it's also a capable van is just plain luck.
If they really intended it to be driven with a full load all the time, they might have been smart enough to fit proper suspension and brakes.(hydro-pneumatic suspension and rear disc brakes. Trust me, that suspension makes a difference. I miss my old BX estate sometimes when I have a long drive with a heavy load)

Then there's the naming convention.
Citroën tends to 'stay with a theme', and the other two vans are 'Jumpy' and 'Jumper'.

I'll admit that it's a more capable van than the VW Caddy that I drive at the office, though. You sit a lot higher in the Berlingo, so you get a better overview, and I believe the ceiling-height is a bit better back in a Berlingo than the Caddy.
And the Ford Courier looks as if the designers didn't even try to get it right...
[+] 1 user says Thank You to Gadgetman for this post
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#5
What exactly makes you think the head gasket has gone ?
Did the engine temp gauge indicate a rise in engine temperatures on these two occasions ?
Check the engine oil and brake fluid levels, these bring on a stop light on my MK2
I'd not jump to big works just yet. Others more knowledgable than me will be along with some good advice.
[+] 1 user says Thank You to geoff for this post
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#6
The easiest way to see if the Head Gasket has gone is from the tail pipe, If it blows black smoke or white smoke and I mean really dark or white then its gone. the black smoke comes from the Cylinders burning oil and the white smoke comes from burning water with anti freeze. I know this as mine went at Christmas 2012 on a trip to the snowies and I was 200k outside of Sydney and had to get towed back the day before xmas eve. Mine blew white smoke as the head had wrapped due to over heating as the radiator had shot one of its bleed valves
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#7
Hello to all

The first time the stop light came on I had been driving up a long steep hill. The engine temperature went very quickly from normal across into the red. Second time I was watching the gauge. It went from cool to normal which on my car is about the middle of the gauge range and continued to about 3/4 and then very fast into the red.
There has been no other signs. No smoke from exhaust, no smells and no noises. The radiator does not seem overly hot - well able to touch it with my hand.
The oil cap comes off with signs of emulsion and there are a few bits of froth in the water. But to some small extent this had been present for some time. The garage mechanic thought at that amount it was not important. The engine has not been using much oil and only about half a litre each month in water.

Tomorrow Tuesday will be my first oportunity to talk to the garage about the car. Thanks to the comments made I do feel better prepared for that.
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#8
Check your thermostat...
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#9
Hello everyone

The driver of the breakdown vehicle checked the thermostat. It could easily be seen to be moving in the colder atmosphere out of the car system.

I have this evening spoken with the mechanic. It will be pressure tested first. He is doubtful that it is the head gasket. He is wondering about a water pump fault or even something blocking the radiator or circulation system.

He did start the car and made the point that it sounds good and nothing obvious to see. The oil on the dip-stick has no sign of emulsion although there is emulsion inside the oil filler cap.

Now I will have to wait a few days to get his suggestions.

I will return with the outcome.

Thanks to all,, J
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#10
Tell him to also check the radiator cap.
(The normal procedure when pressure-testing is to replace the cap with one that has a pressure-gauge and pump attached.)

The cap has a relief valve built-in which is supposed to vent if the pressure rise above 1.4Bar. If that fails, weird things can happen.
A quick heck is to squeeze rapidly on the top radiator hose(when the engine is cold... ) and listen. If you hear air escaping, the cap is toast.

There's not much that can go wrong with the water pump that doesn't leave 'rather visible' evidence. All from a wet spot under the engine to the tattered remains of a cam-belt and a completely messed up engine.
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