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Am I wasting my time?


Dobloseven
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On Saturday we were returning from our annual family camping and caravan get together in mid Wales. I was towing the van with the Korando on the M6 when I got a call from Mrs Dobloseven who was following about 30 mins behind in the Renault Kangoo with the dogs to say she'd broken down on the M54 and was waiting for the RAC. Apparently the car had lost power and smelt very hot with steam or smoke from under the bonnet and temperature light plus engine management lights on. Eventually RAC man arrived, diagnosed possible head gasket failure and elected to tow car home on a two wheel dolly that folded out of the back of his van. With the car at home we could see it had lost a lot of water and the engine would spin over vigorously but not even attempt to fire. Oil leve was OK though oil very black. I'm very wary of spending much money on it as it's 9 years old with 120k plus miles. However it's stuck outside on the road completely immobile. Oldest son came round yesterday and we used an Aldi faullt code finder which gave us a glow plug module error.Son has another gadget which uses a phone app and got the same result. Removed cover and with a multimeter found there was power getting to the plugs, but all four had failed. They came out easily enough but can't see why the engine wouldn't attempt to fire with them having failed Son disagrees and thinks the engine will know not to try to start if they're faulty. Too late to get any anyway, so we tried to find where the water was going. Eventually tracked it to a leaking seal on a plastic housing for, I think, the EGR cooler. Bit tricky to access, but doable. Been and bought some glow plugs and ordered the seals. With some coolant the whole lot came to just under 50 quid, so here's hoping......... While I was in the local Renault dealer ordering the seal I saw a Dacia Logan in the showroom, so a possible planB if things don't work out. 

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Good luck, although using a generic code reader only gives you a tiny bit of the story and many older diesels show an ‘engine fault’ via flashing glow plug light - I suspect this is what the Aldi reader is picking up as four failed plugs wouldn’t cause the issues you describe.

 

I think your RAC man is closer to the mark.

 

Its worth trying for £50 though - Logan’s are a very capable car, not ‘good’ as such (although not ‘bad’ either) but for the money you can argue with them.

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Were there any fault code numbers listed (P codes) as this can help in narrowing down which area to start looking. I doubt whether the failed glow plugs would have caused the problem but would make the engine reluctant to start. My money is on the water leak has led to an overheat and partial seizure. This can result in a loss of compression as the piston rings jam in their grooves therefore a no start situation.

the failed glow plugs would not be seen by the PCM as a reason to prevent starting by the way.

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Since you have all the parts it is worth seeing if you can now get the engine running.

 

If you have not deleted the fault code you should be able to look at the freeze frame data that will have been stored when the fault was generated. This could give a clue as to whether the non starting is due to the glow plugs or something else. The power loss may be the engine put in limp mode due to the fault code when it overheated. Was the engine run for long once the overheating started, if it was then maybe you could do a compression test to see if the head gasket or anything else was damaged. If you do get it running then an oil and filter change will be worth doing.

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Ain't looking good. Put the glow plugs in and cleared fault code. Engine spins over but no sign of even attempting to fire same as before. Admittedly theres some air pipes not fitted that we removed to access the leak and the cooling system is open as I'm waiting for the seals, but I was hoping for it to fire up and then to switch it off quickly. I appreciate the heat hasn't done it any favours, but surely not all the cylinders can have failed completely. Hopefully the seals will come tomorrow and I'll stick it all back together and refill it. If I could at least get it running, however badly, it'd make getting rid of it a lot easier. 

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If you do not have it full of coolant I would not even attempt to start it since if it does you are likely to cause a lot of heat damage. Air pipes not fitted could be preventing sensors/actuators working so would not help, especially if they are not allowing full compression.

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10 hours ago, Dobloseven said:

Ain't looking good. Put the glow plugs in and cleared fault code. Engine spins over but no sign of even attempting to fire same as before. Admittedly theres some air pipes not fitted that we removed to access the leak and the cooling system is open as I'm waiting for the seals, but I was hoping for it to fire up and then to switch it off quickly. I appreciate the heat hasn't done it any favours, but surely not all the cylinders can have failed completely. Hopefully the seals will come tomorrow and I'll stick it all back together and refill it. If I could at least get it running, however badly, it'd make getting rid of it a lot easier. 

Give it a squirt of easy start, that will confirm if its a fuel issue or not, also shows valve gear, compression etc is ok.

 

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36 minutes ago, AJGalaxy2012 said:

Give it a squirt of easy start, that will confirm if its a fuel issue or not, also shows valve gear, compression etc is ok.

 

Good thinking!

There is, of course, a distinct possibility that the RAC guy was correct.

One very old fashioned, but pretty good, test for a head gasket is to fill with water and spin over on the starter.

If the water level changes or it blows bubbles the head gasket has gone, end of. This would be my first test. 

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Well we fitted the new seals, put everything back together but no sign of firing. Rapid pressurisation of cooling system though, so looks like head gasket. Still couldn't see why at least one cylinder wouldn't fire though. Removed a pipe and sprayed easy start straight into manifold but still no sign of firing. Decided to call time for now. Have got it off the road. Will probably use the old Fiesta we keep as a family spare car till I can sort something out. Ironically I aquired that as a non runner with an engine problem and got it going again. Thanks for all the good advice. Feel very sad because it's been such a good car over the 8 1/2 years and120k miles we've had it. 

Edited by Dobloseven
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Having overheated to the point of failure with head gasket gone, there could be all sorts of issues such as multiple failure of the head gasket, warped head or burnt valves. Only a full strip down will reveal the truth.

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16 hours ago, Dobloseven said:

Still couldn't see why at least one cylinder wouldn't fire though. Removed a pipe and sprayed easy start straight into manifold but still no sign of firing. 

If the head gasket has gone the pressure might not be getting high enough in the cylinders for it to fire, unlike a petrol engine where it just needs a spark to ignite the fuel.

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