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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,
I've just bought a 53 plate Corsa with a 1.2 engine because I need to drive to my new job. It's done 76000 miles and seemed to be in good condition, but since yesterday it's swallowed the litre of coolant I put in, having only driven 8 miles. It has that mayo stuff on the oil filler cap but not on the dipstick. It wasn't showing any signs of overheating whilst I was driving it, the temps were normal, but I haven't taken it out for a long motorway spin yet. The little remaining coolant is no longer blue and has oil floating on it.
From reading on here it seems quite likely it's a blown head gasket, but potentially could be a timing chain gasket. Are there any other reasons there would be water in the oil?

My question is, if I get a Haynes manual and a head gasket kit can I fix it myself in 5 days? I figure if I take it apart and it turns out to have a cracked head or engine block I'll be hiring a car to get to work on Monday whether I find it or the garage does, so I might as well save the ~£1000 the garage will charge. I have a fair amount of tools already. Do you have any advice? Are any special tools required or anything I cannot do at home? Or should I just bite the bullet and go to a garage?

Any help would be really welcome.
James
 

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I would only get the parts needed to do the timing cover gasket at this stage. Timing chain kit, sump gasket, down pipe gasket, water pump and gasket, oil, filter, cam cover gasket, coolant, thermostat, spark plugs.
It is far more common for the timing cover gasket to go than the head gasket, you need to strip the timing cover off in order to do the head gasket anyway and you would see if this has gone once the water pump is removed. It fails behind the water pump and you can see the rubber in the water ways behind the pump.
The mayo in the cam cover is more likely due to condensation due to blocked breathes in the cam cover and the 2 hoses to the inlet from the cam cover, flush these out well.
2 simple tests to see if head gasket has gone are, remove rad cap to release pressure (careful not to get burnt) replace cap and raise engine rpm, if the rad hoses get very hard quick (within 30 seconds) head gasket or worse has failed. 2, remove the spark plugs and crank engine over on the starter, if coolant comes out of the plug holes head gasket or worse has failed.
I have done quite a few now and only had 1 with a cracked block, never had a failed head gasket or a cracked head. If the head is taken off then get it checked to be sure and refaced. I recently had 3 heads done and it was only £130 for the 3 so its pretty cheap.
The only special tools you need are the timing chain tools but they can be found for £30 or less for the kit if you shop around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok Thanks, that was really useful. I've done those and a compression test, and the pressures were all similar. There was no coolant coming out when I turned it over, and raising the revs wasn't obviously affecting the radiator hose pressure. I wonder if the coolant that disappeared so quickly could have been due to an airlock somewhere? I have since topped it up and driven it that much twice again and the level has not gone down this time. I will take it for a longer motorway drive now to try and determine if it's really leaking. If the coolant had not been filled up for a while is it feasible there could be an airlock of that volume (~1 litre)? I know it had been driven very little in the months before I bought it, so that could contribute to condensation and oil mayonnaise.
Thank you for your help.:)
 

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It could have been an air lock? Keep an eye on the coolant level when you next drive it and take some spare with you in case it drops again. The timing cover gasket can do that when it starts to fail.
The other part that often leaks is the EGR valve water gallery, it either goes into the exhaust or drips down onto the bell housing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, the level hasn't gone down appreciably after a good drive, so it might be ok. I'll keep checking it. I saw the symptoms last night and assumed the worst. It's good to know the timing cover gasket is not too expensive or difficult to fix.
 
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