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Head Gasket issue - used car


Adojay
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Hi All,

 

Am trying to get opinions from members on the car issue am currently having. On 14th December 2013, I bought 2003 reg Peugeot 307 1.6L with 101,200 miles on the clock for £1,000 from a car dealer. I saw the car on Autotrader. It fitted what I wanted in terms of look and price. I test drove the car and was satisfied with the drive. I paid with my credit card and took car home. The car came with 3 months warranty for maximum repair worth £200 with Halfords. For me this was only an extra, as I would still have bought the car even if it didn't come with any warranty.

 

On the 28th of December, on a very cold morning I started the car but it didn't start as smoothly as it used to. It then gave me Catalyst converter and anti-pollution fault. When it started it was misfiring, but everything returned to normal when the car was warm enough. I googled the issue and found it was a common issue with Peugeot cars. I had planned fixing the problem myself as soon as I had the time to do so.

 

On 3rd January 2014, another cold morning, I started the car but it won't start. I called AA, and the rep examined the car and concluded that the head gasket was probably the issue and advised I take it back to the trader, as it had warranty on it. I decided not to take it to the trader, but to take it to Halfords who are the authorised auto centre for the dealer. The guys diagnosed the issue and called me to say it was bad news. They confirmed the head gasket was gone, and that it would cost me £900 to repair. They said that it wasn't worth the effort, seeing that I only just bought the car (done 336 miles as at now), and for only £1000, and advised I go back to the car dealer to let them aware.

 

I have now written to the car dealer informing them of the incident, stating that under the Sale of Goods Act and in line with Reverse Burden of Proof, have asked them to either repair or replace the vehicle. The letter was sent today by Special Delivery.

 

I believe the dealer was aware of the problem before the car was sold to me. They told me at the time of purchase that car only arrived as part ex. From my experience, before car traders P/X cars, they thoroughly examine cars to ascertain if any underlying issues exist, and based on that arrive at a figure they are willing to P/X the car for. Anyway, that's by the way.

 

Considering the fact that it is still 3 weeks since car was purchased, I feel I have a case for the trader to repair or replace the car. I am not really interested in a refund unless it is absolutely the last resort. I just want the head gasket replaced.

 

Any advise from members?

 

 

Adojay

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This isn't a head gasket fault, it's a No 4 injector fault, number four being at the front (by the engine pulley) as opposed to most other manufacturers who call it No1. It's a classic miss diagnosis by a bunch of Muppets.

 

Fix costs about £25 plus half an hour labour. Root cause is water dripping though from the vent on the bonnet or the washer jet leaking. If the head gasket was changed it wouldn't fix the problem.

 

It's a well known problem around this mileage. I own a car with the same engine and have had to change this injector twice, both around the 100K and 200k mark but put this down to routine maintenance as the injectors have a finite life.

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This isn't a head gasket fault, it's a No 4 injector fault, number four being at the front (by the engine pulley) as opposed to most other manufacturers who call it No1. It's a classic miss diagnosis by a bunch of Muppets.

 

Fix costs about £25 plus half an hour labour. Root cause is water dripping though from the vent on the bonnet or the washer jet leaking. If the head gasket was changed it wouldn't fix the problem.

 

It's a well known problem around this mileage. I own a car with the same engine and have had to change this injector twice, both around the 100K and 200k mark but put this down to routine maintenance as the injectors have a finite life.

 

Now I am confused. Honestly, am rubbish at car diagnosis except for the obvious faults. When the AA rep said head gasket was suspect, I took it with a pinch of salt until the Halfords mechs said they had confirmed it as well using two different systems. Anyway, the idea of Halfords was not mine but the choice of the dealer in line with the terms of the warranty. If they are in doubt, am happy for them to carry out another tests to confirm whether or not the issue was with the head gasket. I wish the issue was as Helios has described it. I am ready to fix my car myself. I have always bought older used cars but never had any issues anywhere near as serious in such a short period of time. Fingers crossed, I'll see how the trader progresses this.

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Tell me what two systems they used?

 

One of the things with this engine is that the mapping of the cold start is not brilliant and because of this the trigger level that registers a code is not good. What's significant though is the post about the non starting when cold and the subsequent clearing of the issue when warm. If it was head gasket then it would be worse but in fact it would overheat.

 

The cat sensors are the biggest clue though and the way you describe the fault. It's a classic !

 

I'd suggest the best way forward for you would be to tell them to park the car outside and then start, let idle and I bet it will go down on 3 cylinders. Then get them to read the codes. It will show either the cat code, possibly no 2 sensor, or the injector 4 code. Then feed back the codes here or goofle them.

 

No way is this head gasket.

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Thanks helios. I don't know which systems they used to diagnose the problem. They only called me in to inform me of the news. The best I can do is to take the car to my own tried and trusted mechanic to re-diagnose. I wouldn't want him to carry out any repair works until I have heard from the dealer, and know how they plan to progress it. Obviously, if it is confirmed fault is not head gasket, and subsequent fault is not covered by the warranty, I will go ahead and take it to my own mechanic to fix. I am seriously hoping it is not head gasket, as am not prepared for the wrangling to follow. Keeping fingers crossed.

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I'd do just that. Take it to a mechanic you trust and ask him to read the fault codes. If the distance from Halfrauds to your mechanic is over 5 miles then you can probably safely rule out Head gasket failure as it would overheat big time.

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I'd do just that. Take it to a mechanic you trust and ask him to read the fault codes. If the distance from Halfrauds to your mechanic is over 5 miles then you can probably safely rule out Head gasket failure as it would overheat big time.

 

Talking about overheating, is that the only sign that head gasket is gone? This is because I've not noticed the car overheating as of yet. The only thing that happens is that car is sometimes hard to start under very cold condition, and when it does start it vibrates, and the engine management light comes up the dash indicating Catalytic converter and anti pollution faults. If I leave it for a while or stop and restart engine it disappears and car runs okay.

 

My mechanic is only 2 miles away from my local Halfords centre. As long as it is only for diagnosis, I'll take it there and ask him to read the fault codes for me. I wouldn't want him to do anything until we are certain of what the issue is.

 

Thanks helios for all your contribution.

Edited by Adojay
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Yes, if the head gasket has gone it will overheat and very quickly. What happens in your case is that due to water ingress the injector shorts to permanently open and it squirts fuel in continuously. Because of the quantities it soon upsets the cat which tries to adjust the mixture so the car is running all over the place. Hence the cat code. I'm not sure why it doesn't record the injector fault. One way to get over it is to start the engine and keep it running at 1500rpm for about 5 mins. It'll be OK all day then. It's also sensitive to registering coil pack faults. Again, if you buy wisely they are cheap as chips as well (if chips could be considered cheap nowadays!). Don't use euro car parts if you can help it, use flea bay. Injectors and coil packs are colour coded and are not interchangeable.

Apart from these two items which are high time in service, if looked after and serviced regularly are bullet proof and uber reliable!

 

I expect Conniff will be along to discredit the engine shortly as it's French!!!

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Helios, the long and short of it is that I should look at sourcing Peugeot 307 injector, coil pack or both?

 

Another thing I noticed is that the coolant keeps going down. Is that also a sign consistent with injector and coil pack failure? Or anything to do with head gasket?

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Perhaps both for the reliability point of view.

 

Coolant loss is a factor of a head gasket failure but so are many other factors. This is why it's important to get a proper and thorough diagnosis.

 

Ask your mechanic to download the codes stored from the OBD 2 connector and also ask him to pressure test the system. He will need to do this at engine operating temperature and with the heater setting to full. 307's also have a habit I believe of the heater matrix leaking which is evidenced by wet floor mats and condensation on the inside of the screen. The rad is also prone to weeps as is aluminium alloy and can corrode. If you look at the rad and there are areas alongside the vertical black plastic sides which show more white "powder" then it's probably weeping.

A lot of this depends as well on the amount of coolant being lost. If it was the head gasket going then you would see a lot steam from the exhaust as well all the time as well as a misfire all the time, not one that clears when it's at it's normal operating temp.

 

Have you noticed any smell that could be described as "curry" like?

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Am afraid, I haven't noticed any smell whatsoever so far. I suppose the car needs proper diagnosis to ascertain what exactly is wrong. From your posts so far, it doesn't seem like a head gasket issue. I will ask my mechanic to carry out diagnosis on the car, and hope the dealer does the same as well so we can come to a quick and concise conclusion of what the real issue is.

 

helios, I cannot thank you enough for your time.

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Took my car to my mechanic this morning. I intentionally didn't give him any heads up on how far I had gone so far with any diagnosis. I just asked him to check what the issue was with the car. He told me the head gasket was the problem. He even went further to show me where water was leaking out from in the engine. It looks like a crack, and while I was revving the engine, he could see coolant leaking from there. He said that was why I always had to top up coolant every few miles of drive. He said he didn't need to use the computer to diagnose, unless he wasn't sure what the issue was.

 

Now I have same information from 3 different sources, AA, Halfords and my own mechanic. All concurring that the head gasket is the issue the car is having. I will now wait to hear from the dealer on how they want to progress it.

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Good way to go Ado. Can you see a physical crack in the head? This is a very unusual failure mode as the engines a pretty bullet proof and if a head gasket has gone is usually an internal failure. It might go someway to explaining why it did not overheat. Be prepared though at some point for that no 4 injector fault as it's a classic and many get caught out that No 4 is at the front of the engine by the front pulley.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Having not heard back from the dealer, I decided to write to them again, this time threatening legal action if they do not get back to me within 7 days. Surprise, surprise, within 2 days of the last letter they have now written to me, asking I bring the car to their repair shop so their mechanic can take a look. I have now booked appointment to take the car to them by Tuesday next week. Hopefully, they will see what the issue is, and resolve it amicably. Fingers crossed.

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Thanks helios. I did not personally see water leaking from the top cylinder (if that's what it's called). While I revved the car, the mechanic was the one watching the water pressure. All he did was show me where the leak was escaping from. It's like a little crack. If I can, I will look for it and post.

 

Am happy the dealer has agreed to take a look. It would be interesting to see what their own mechanic make of the issue. All I need is solution. I have since continued to top coolant after only a few miles (25 - 30) trip despite the cold condition. Surely something must be responsible. What intrigues me is the statement in their letter that head gasket issues are normal with cars of that age (10 years) and mileage (101,100). I think it's more to do with how one looks after one's car. I normally buy cars well over 10 years, and have never had this kind of issue. If the issue is truly head gasket, I believe the car dealer was well aware of it when they took the car as p/x. That's my own opinion though. Truth is why would I have to pay for a car with bad head gasket? I think it's not just right.

 

I hope the dealer can sort the issue for me. If not, I will pursue my credit card provider for a refund, citing car not fit for purpose. Am hoping it won't get to that.

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  • 1 month later...

Update on this thread. Dealer was not helpful. He asked me to take car to their mechanic (close relations I must add), mechanic told me he could find nothing, except for blockage in the hose that connects into the head gasket. He said he would clear that up, and hopefully it would clear the sludge that appears when the oil cap is opened. I made him understand that was not why I am having issues with the car. As a matter of fact, that was the first time I had even noticed the sludge was building up when the oil cap is opened. He made a note of my coolant level, and asked me to drive it for the day and return car next day so he can ascertain how much coolant is lost. Coolant level was at max, and I returned the car with the level below minimum after doing 15 miles. Still, the dealer called me to say there was nothing wrong with the car. He even went further to try to bully and harass me into getting scared, insisting I should go to court if I wanted.

 

Well, I wasn't going to go to court anyway. I simply informed my credit card provider about everything, providing them with all the correspondence between dealer and myself. I told them I was claiming refund under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. They told me to stop further communication with dealer, saying they would now deal directly with them. They wrote to dealer, but after one month heard nothing back from them. They have now offered me full refund of my money, under condition that I scrap the car and send them the receipt so they can deduct whatever value I am able to scrap it for from the value they owe to me. I am happy to scrap the car, but not sure how to progress it. It would be painful to me that a car worth about £1,000 at least, that would have been repaired for £400 max would be scrapped for peanuts. I would have loved to fix the car and keep it, but not sure about the legality of such an action.

 

Any ideas of how to deal with the situation?

 

Ideas are welcome.

 

Adojay

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