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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
This car was running fine until it went in for a timing belt change. It came out running as rough as guts.

I took the vehicle back to the garage and they said ""it is nothing that we have done". An interesting coincidence.

It was also interesting that on both occasions they had it it went in with a full tank of fuel it was returned with the odometer reset and the low fuel light illuminated. It must have been a very long road test but I digress.

I checked the plugs, found they were not the correct grade and replaced with the correct grade. Result - about a 98% improvement.

However whilst it starts cold or hot with ease and initially will idle beautifully, after a couple of minutes it becomes ever so slightly lumpy. Curiously this disappears instantly if I put my foot on the brake or turn on the air conditioning.

Additionally, hot or cold, it also has a slight flat spot upon initial throttle opening. It feels as if someone has blocked the exhaust. As the car is an automatic it occasionally delays a gear change slightly. However it still accelerates normally and top end appears unaffected.

There are no codes.

In addition to the plugs I have also replaced the coil pack, MAF sensor, the valve that goes to the fuel tank (I forget what it is officially called), replaced the fuel filter and air filter. Cleaned the throttle body, idle air control valve and the various hoses.

I had it subsequently examined by two mobile mechanics (on seperate occasions) - whilst they confirmed what I was saying they could not identify the source of the problem. However neither appeared particularly interested and both were gone after no more than twenty minutes (still billed for one hour's labour however !).

Any suggestions ...?

Thanks,

Arthur
 

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Had this with mine when timing chain was done. Checked it with my own one to time up cams and it was out. There tool was not correct. After setting up on my own tool no flat spot and runs as did before. Can make a card boat cut out of the tool from hynes manual it’s correct size as checked with Vauxhall tool that’s around £100. Also did not put washer on that’s a spacer. As said was not in the timing kit. But you take it off the old bolt. Only takes a few mills to be out and retard engine.
 

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Not 100% sure on which engine you have?
If its the Z14XE (cam belt) (ours doesn't have a MAF, instead it has a MAP and Air Inlet temp sensor. also no idle control valve as that's done by the throttle being fly-by-wire) Then the cam timing can be checked by removing the upper belt cover and you will see lines on the cam pullies which either line up with each other or are both at 12 o clock (been a while since i did the cam belt) and the bottom crank pulley also has a mark to line up with timing case.

The Z14XEP (timing chain engine) can also have the timing out or be out of phase with the cam sensor phase ring as Rubber Duck said. Also it is possible to fit the cams in the wrong side (inlet/exhaust) this will also put the phasing out but still run almost ok. The cam lobes on No1 cylinder (timing chain end) should both be pointing inwards with the timing bar locking the cams together. Timing tool kits are pretty cheap these days £17 ish.

You may also have a small vacuum leak on the brake servo line, try spraying brake cleaner on the vacuum line (taking care not to get it on the exhaust!) with the engine running, if revs go up this indicates a leak as the brake cleaner is being sucked into the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
I did consider the possibility of the cam timing being out but rejected the idea on the basis if the cam timing was out why would it initially idle fine only becoming slightly lumpy after a minute or so ? If the timing is out it is out - i.e. it would be out when the engine is started so why would it take a minute or two for the issue to appear ? Initially I returned the car to the the garage in question and they had it for three days They were kind enough [sic] to reset the odometer and use a full tank of fuel whilst they had it.

I did perform the test for vaccuum hose leaks (servo related and otherwise) as did one of the mobile mechanics, but without any result. I should have mentioned that it has since passed an MOT. I've had another vehicle fail for that very reason - i.e. leaking servo hose - in the past. In that particular case, despite being no larger than a pin hole, it was also clearly audiable (even more curiously it was not present the night before the test - but that's another story).

As I mentioned - it also idles / runs fine with the air conditioning engaged.

It was the Air Temp Sensor I replaced. My apologies for any confusion. The point was as it appeared to be the original and the replacement part cost £15 I changed it, just in case someone's grubby hands had contaminated or otherwise somehow damaged it during the process.
 

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Having AC on up’s the idle normal settings on ecu as pump would stall engine if it did not do that. Usually when putting brakes on should drop idle for milli second then go up to 1 mark higher for 30 seconds. Ecu uses brake peddle has 2 switches one for ecu and other for brake lights. Some models have a clutch switch for ecu. Do you have an op com ob2 reader ? This would help diagnose a problem with the air intake sensor etc. Also usually puts engine light on if they faulty. But remember as engine warms up metals expand. Timing chain as well. Maf cleaner can clean oil off sensor if it has been touched but leave to drip dry before fitting again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your input - much appreciated.

It has a timing belt not a chain.

It is an automatic - so no clutch switch for ECU.

I do have a code reader. As I mentioned in my original post- no codes.

Once again - my thanks.
 

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Aah I see. Auto. (Clutch switch is only on some models) was the automatic put in park when battery removed do you know. Also think on the auto box there is a point that has to be lined up with timing marks. Could be wrong but the automatic unit gets signal from ecu. You really need something like op com to do a live data. There could be something just not lined up or giving a missed signal that won’t give any codes. Could even be sticking valve. Live data can help a lot.
 

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On start up they over fuel slightly and run a bit faster so any slight idle faults are often masked, same goes for having A/C on as Rubber Duck said, the rpm is raise slightly. I would be checking the timing is spot on and that the cam shaft sensor is clean and aligned correctly.
 

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Was the timing belt adjuster replaced when belt was changed and the followers. On my old x20 timing was always a problem with the adjuster. Cheap makes would never stay were they were meant to. Moved about when engine running. Replaced with genuine one and would stay on new belt line as it should. But it’s more easier on rear wheel drives to check that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Was the timing belt adjuster replaced when belt was changed and the followers. On my old x20 timing was always a problem with the adjuster. Cheap makes would never stay were they were meant to. Moved about when engine running. Replaced with genuine one and would stay on new belt line as it should. But it’s more easier on rear wheel drives to check that.
I honestly have no idea but I did have the water pump replaced at the same time.

I returned it to the original garage and they had it for another three days.

Mobile mechanic number two did remove the covers and inspect. He made no comment regarding anything being amiss. I wondered if he would find it rude or disconcerting to have the vehicle owner watch him work so I watched discretely from inside our house (only a few feet away). Nevertheless I could (broadly) see what he was doing.

He had some very impressive electically power ratchets & screwdrivers but was in rather a hurry. This probably accounts for why he left the airbox disconnected and one fastner absent from the top belt cover ! Consequently I don't think I shall use him again.

Mobile mechanic number one did check for vacuum leaks (that was about all he did).
 

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Did he not show you what he replaced. Cheap option is just belt and water pump. But should replace the adjuster and rollers as well. Also the water pump seal not just stick sealant around it. Comes off over time and blocks up over time somewhere in the engine. Should of shown you the parts as you paying for them. Should also have a bill of parts ordered. Spring in the timing belt adjuster do go weak and can line up perfectly on hand turning engine. But when engine is running the torque on the belt is higher.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I have been driving since 1970 - I have never, ever, had a garage show me the old parts. On a couple of occasions, out of genuine interest, I have asked to see them but without success. Technically, one still owns the parts after removal, but that is just my experience over the past fifty plus years of motoring. I have friends (it's true), some of whom are Her Majesty's Counsel, and they have advised me of similar experiences (although they tend not to drive Vauxhalls !).

I would add that, when I asked, mobile mechanic number two confirmed to me that the timing belt and water pump appeared (to him) to be new.
 

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That’s not good. You pay for the parts. Should always get a brake down bill it’s your right. When I have something done at my garage I get a brake down bill.
aprox time
Parts list and price and vat.
also shown me old parts. Had rear spring passenger side last year.
use this for my records. As some parts come with 5 years warranty. Most 12 months. And used come with 3 months to 6 months warranty. You must request itemised billing when some does a job for you. Not that you don’t trust them it’s just for your records. If something happens accident etc you need proof that if it was that part changed was actually changed.
 

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Having worked in automotive and mostly Agricultural engineering for 30+ years it is normal to offer the customer the old parts back after fitting new ones. Usually before the start of the job I will ask if they want to keep or see the failed items or do I bin them. 2 reasons for this, 1 they belong to the customer and 2 saves waste disposal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That’s not good. You pay for the parts. Should always get a brake down bill it’s your right. When I have something done at my garage I get a brake down bill.
aprox time
Parts list and price and vat.
also shown me old parts. Had rear spring passenger side last year.
use this for my records. As some parts come with 5 years warranty. Most 12 months. And used come with 3 months to 6 months warranty. You must request itemised billing when some does a job for you. Not that you don’t trust them it’s just for your records. If something happens accident etc you need proof that if it was that part changed was actually changed.
Thank you for that. I am a Law graduate and it will be the same day Satan uses ice skates to get to work that I do not request an invoice and a receipt.

I still have the invoice and receipt in question. The invoice states (from memory) that the cam belt, water pump & spark plugs were replaced with a sub-total. It then adds VAT and there is a total. IIRC it was in the region of £250. I still have the invoice and receipt in a dedicated folder somewhere.

We had some plumbing work undertaken last month - replace the ball valve in the loft water tank. We received the same type of invoice - it stated Replace Ball Valve" - £60 + VAT @ 20% = £72 total. It did not detail the make, model, serial number of the ball valve in question. Had he done so then terrific but I was not going to insist and potentially alienate a tradesperson the services of whom I may well need in the future. I apply the same principle to invoices from garage services and elsewhere.

As we now live in a world where one can easily purchase items via eBay and Amazon etc I suspect the intent may be an element of 'smoke & mirrors' so that the customer does not know the actual parts cost lest he or she discover they could have bought the item(s) in question at a cheaper price. In those dark and distant times pre-eBay /pre PC ( even pre-colour TV in my case) I suspect it was simply a more expedient way of invoicing.

Ultimately, it seemed a reasonable overall price to me. Whether I paid £150 for parts and £100 for labour or vise versa is essentially irrelevant. The invoice and receipt are my evidence of a contract although it does not necessarily prove the work was actually undertaken - only that I might reasonably believe so. When it became obvious, after having the vehicle for another three days, that they were unlikely to resolve the issue, then contract or no I decided to seek alternatives.

They did put a sticker on the engine bay with the date & mileage of the timing belt change. The sticker ostensibly displays the brand of aftermarket belt used. A quick web search revealed that manufacturer appears to only sell kits including the extra items. Looking at the cost of a cam belt kit and water pump on Amazon at £60 plus a set of plugs around another £20 the total cost still appears reasonable to me.

Although tensioners are included in the kit for all I know they may have left the old ones but either way they would have relase and re-tension the belt. Presumably if mobile mechanic number two had thought tension (or lack of) was an issue he would have remedied it in order to increase time spent on site and earn a bit more. He seemed to like money (who doesn't ?).

It was disappointing that the two mobile mechanics I subsequently employed also displayed little interest in solving the issue. I am not prepared to employ another and so it will remain a mystery. As this is likely to be my last car (I wish I still had the first) it is a mystery that will likely pursue me to the grave ......!

Have a good weekend.
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Having worked in automotive and mostly Agricultural engineering for 30+ years it is normal to offer the customer the old parts back after fitting new ones. Usually before the start of the job I will ask if they want to keep or see the failed items or do I bin them. 2 reasons for this, 1 they belong to the customer and 2 saves waste disposal.
This may well be your policy but it has never been my experience in some fifty years of motoring (longer if we include my motorcycling days).

On two occasions I did ask to inspect the parts in question - I forget why but it was not for contentious reasons - on both occasions (within a couple of hours of the work) I was told they had been irretrievably disposed.

On one occasion I actually stated at the time of booking and also delivering the vehicle I wanted the old part - as before, not for any contentious reason. When I collected the vehicle the parts were unobtainable.

I would point out that none of these parts were 'exchange' parts.

I have lived a long time, in several places, owned some ten cars and used many garages and that is my experience to date.

I did once overhear a conversation about me at a garage. One member of staff asking another - "He's not a copper is he ?"

It transpired I had left a couple of legal text books on the rear seats. As it happens I am not, never have been and never will be a police officer. At the time I was studying for the bar.

I mention this encounter in case it offers an explanation for my experience as this contrasts with your policy and the experience of other posters to this forum. I do seem to be mistaken for person with authority on a fairly regular basis. I have no idea why - perhaps it's my ever expanding waistline and love of fine English tailoring. Ultimately, we will never know for certain but perhaps this may provide an answer to the mystery.
 

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All I can say is that I don’t think the timing belt adjuster was replaced and that’s the problem. You can do a search on faulty timing belt adjuster and symptoms. Should be done videos on the device. The adjuster is just a bearing and a strong spring. With metal with new and old line markings new belt on compression stroke should stay at new over time should move over to old or removing and re putting back on should be on old marking. If it’s moving all over the place with engine running the timing will be out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I have solved the problem.

It transpired that the plugs I had fitted were also the wrong grade - despite being stated as correct for my engine by the databases of two separate suppliers.

I was fortunate in locating online a manufacturer's data sheet that listed the correct grade as Bosch FLR8LDCU. I fitted a set of these yesterday with the result the car now runs / idles absolutely fine. The cost was £15.95
 
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