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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
My first post here, apologies if I miss anything.
A few weeks ago I bought a second hand 207sw from a reputable trader. Its 1.4 petrol, on an 08 plate with 87k miles and a 3 month warranty.
A couple of days after collecting I was showing some pals around the car and we noticed the coolant was empty. Thinking it had just been an oversight by the trader we topped it up and thought no more.

Two days later and the car wont start. The coolant header is yet again empty, no sign of any oil/water mixing but theres a complete lack of compression and a lot of backfiring and popping. I fetch out the RAC and they tell me its a head gasket, they recover the car back to the trader to carry out the repair under warranty.

I dot around in a courtesy car for a few days and the trader then calls to tell me that the head gasket is fine and it was a leak from a temperature sensor. I’m dubious given the RAC diagnosis but regardless I agree to collect the car and keep an eye on the levels.
On first impressions all is ok, its starting and driving fine.

The next day I’m half way up the M6 and I notice my water temp has hit 3/4 full and my oil temp is tickling boiling point.
On stopping I notice the coolant is empty again. This time there is visible oil and gunk in the header tank.
The car is returned to the trader and there it remains, its now been a week since I last saw it. I’m assured that when its back in my possession it will be fully repaired this time.

My concerns are these, and I appreciate all advice:

1) How much potential untold damage has been caused by the trader not repairing the fault the first time round, eg with my oil boiling to compensate the lack of coolant, could this have starved the crank of oil or anything and caused dangerous wear? I can't vouch for how much the car has been used by the previous owner, or by the trader, with empty coolant.

2) Where do my rights lie with respect to the warranty, its now nearly a month since I bought the car and all told I’ve had 4 days use of it, the rest of the time spent in a courtesy. Thats nigh on a month of my warranty used up already and still no sign of the car back and no guarantee they will actually stick to their word and fully repair the car? Effectively this means that any mileage I could have accumulated during the warranty period to spot any issues, will now be spent accumulating out of warranty leaving me with an expensive mess if its still not repaired correctly this time.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I should point out, I hadn’t checked any of the levels when I first collected the car, the trader assured me it was “recently serviced” on purchasing. However, looking back, there stands a high chance that the coolant had been laid empty for quite some time, if nobody there had checked it, it could have been out on numerous test drives, etc. Worst case scenario is that the previous owner could even have run it empty of water, for however long, before it even arrived on the forecourt.

The trader has promised to "bend over backwards" and indeed so far has provided a run-around which he wasn't obliged to do under the warranty terms. I fear his patience will wear thin and if my car begins to cost him a lot of repair money, this may be withdrawn. Infact last time we met he labelled the whole situation as "frustrating" although I'd personally have said it's more "embarrassing" on their part and "frustrating" on mine, having paid over two grand on a car I can't drive.

I'm reluctant to "formally reject" the car under my legal rights. I like it, I've had a 207 before and it served me well until it was written off by an idiot in a box van. In the few days I had the luxury of driving the car I've paid for, I'd also spent money and time on some small repairs of my own, like having reverse sensors wired in, replacing the worn out key fob, and some other odds and ends which have yet to arrive from ebay.
I know I'm within my rights to simply return it, but my morality tells me that this problem would only end up in the hands of another future unfortunate buyer, and I feel inclined more to have the trader carry out the proper repairs and compensate me with an extra months warranty, am I overstepping a line if I suggest that?

I've made it clear that I wont be fobbed off, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the first time the car went in for repair, it was simply a case of "fix it again only if it breaks again". Obviously I'm still concerned that there may have been deeper damage done by now, and replacing the gasket and giving the head a skim is just superficial. What implications are there for other parts if the oil temp reaches almost boiling point?

I'm an electrician by trade, I know only dribs and drabs, and what the interworld tells me when it comes to engines.
 

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Gut feeling here is not good. :nono: The problem the car has is clearly still unaddressed.

Firstly, the boiling point of oil is far higher than the gauge can measure. Hundreds of degrees!!! So it might get hot but it isn't boiling. Nowhere near. Don't worry about that.

It's your shout. Replacing the head gasket may well sort all its problems but understandably it's not a good start to new ownership for you.

Most people would walk away from this one. Plenty more fish in the sea. If it was me? Well, I'm an idiot. I would get the gasket done and know that it won't need THAT doing again and drive the thing into the sunset.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Likewise, I'm still more swaying towards keeping the car and not having to worry about a head gasket for a while (although it seems this is a common point of failure in this engine because of the types of metal used?). I've read a few comments around the web about valves coming unseated and the timing chain stretching through sheer heat caused by the lack of coolant.

I'm hoping that if those things become apparent while they have the head off, that those will be addressed too. But what if those issues arent apparent, and are simply in the beginning stages of manifesting, perhaps another 500 miles and those may begin to cause issues.
You're right, they could replace the gasket, give it a skim and that may well be the end of my problems. On the other hand, it could be the beginning of many more issues that might slowly begin to arise as my warranty expiry date draws closer.

I dread to think what the final bill for the head work will cost the trader, I know ultimately that isn't my concern. What is my concern is the £500 warranty claim limit which I stupidly overlooked when buying the car. He's said that I can forget the limit and he'll bear the entire cost, but perhaps won't be so forgiving if there is a "next time" and I have to return the car again for issues caused solely as a result of this whole situation.

I think a little bit of driver faith has left the building to be honest. But, still I'm loathed to give up. I was never expecting an 87k mile car to be like new, but conversely I'd expected a little reliability for at least the warranty period.
 

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...I was never expecting an 87k mile car to be like new, but conversely I'd expected a little reliability for at least the warranty period.
Mileage has to be a factor but some points to mention:

Timing chains don't fail because of 'sheer heat' - they fail because of the stresses and strains on them. Low oil will kill them and the rapid spin-up of the turbo version also stretches them. Poor early tensioner design that caused them to flap about killed them too. But overheating? no.

So, it's a car with 87K on the clock. If it hasn't had the timing chain done then it would be a good idea to do it while the head's off. Unfortunately, your dealer might only do the gasket just to get the car out of their hair. If you get them to do the chain too then that engine will likely last the life of the rest of the car (note! not JUST the chain but new tensioner and dephasers too).

These cars really are solid lumps of metal apart from the weaknesses we all know of. I don't believe she's been killed by the previous owner and if you get a car with new head gasket and timing chain kit for a couple of grand I'd be throwing a party.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, I feel at least a bit of fear has been alleviated. My worry really was the extent of potential unseen damage. I get the principles of the head gasket, and how they fail, owning a turbocharged A-series for years taught me a lot. Sure, theres completely a need for a skim given that after all this time there’s bound to be a large crater between bores somewhere, but having little knowledge of newer engines I’ve been mentally unable to plot the domino effect.

I’ll stick with it. My fancy new stereo is on the way with a stalk adapter, the latter of which wasnt cheap for what it is, a bundle of wires and a microcontroller in a black box which I probably could have designed myself for pennies. I’ve ordered other new stuff too to replace minor niggles, like the window switch panel, seems the previous owner had troubles with the original and has replaced it, only with a LHD version so the driver and passenger window buttons are reversed :confused:
 

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remember a hg i did once, she had driven it overheating like mad until it just gave up. We managed to start it when cool and the oil/water mix came out the header tank like a living creature, wish i had filmed it.
Anyway, head did not need skimming, put a new gasket on and car was fine for many years.
Just give it some hard driving and keep a eye on it to start.
 

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Mileage has to be a factor but some points to mention:

Timing chains don't fail because of 'sheer heat' - they fail because of the stresses and strains on them. Low oil will kill them and the rapid spin-up of the turbo version also stretches them.
Poor chain lubrication because of low or degraded oil will hurt any chain.
But how does a turbo cause a timing chain to stretch?.
It drives the camshaft(s) via the crankshaft, the turbo doesn't put any extra load on it.

Roger.
 

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Poor chain lubrication because of low or degraded oil will hurt any chain.
But how does a turbo cause a timing chain to stretch?.
It drives the camshaft(s) via the crankshaft, the turbo doesn't put any extra load on it.

Roger.
The stretching I'm talking about is a very subtle thing! It's more to do with the fact that the THP (turbo) version spins up faster than the NA (normally aspirated) engine.

Any moving engine components that quickly change speed will experience stresses more than components that slowly change speed. Although the resistance to turning a camshaft is exactly the same on the NA and the THP engine, the rate of change of speed is potentially more on the THP simply because of the way these cars are driven.

That's all I'm jibbering about. Just that THP engines stress their components more than NA engines...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
So after nearly 3 weeks the car is back from the garage.

The mechanics insisted that the head gasket is fine, and that I had a leak from a "plastic housing on the back of the head", I dont know if that makes sense to any of you?

I'm a bit peeved that it's took this amount of time and two attempts for them to work this out, but so far so good.

The trader has agreed to extend my warranty for a month past its expiry. A nice gesture, but having spoken to CAB consumer line I've discovered that a warranty is only black and white dots on paper, and infact my statutory consumer rights actually have more weight, and, are statutory not just for the warranty period but for the next 6 years.

I was a little disappointed on collecting the car that the last thing the mechanics said to me was "just keep an eye on it". It was worrying to think that after all this time and having apparently test driven the car for several miles, that they still arent at a totally confident point with the repair.

Still, having had a long chat with the trader and airing a few gripes, I think both parties are a little more "at one" with the situation and they are fully aware that I know my rights.

Time will tell...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've been keeping my eye on the water level and it seems to be holding, its just over minimum when hot and just about half way between minimum and maximum when cold.

However, I've just been out to check again after a long run, and its the first time I've checked it in complete silence, theres usually other background noises. And I've noticed something odd. A fizzing, hissing type noise, which seems to fluctuate without physically moving anything. It's high pitched, almost musical. And it eminates from the header tank.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I have the feeling this is steam escaping? It's hard to tell exactly where it's coming from, I've wiggled the thin black hose at the top of the tank and that doesn't affect it, I've tightened the top cap as hard as I dare without wanting to shear the plastic thread, and the noise is still there.

If steam is escaping this would surely account for a drop in coolant? As I mention, superficially it seems to be holding, but I guess this weird noise could be intermittent, maybe it's only happening when it's really really hot and not just through local town driving?

I'm a bit loathed to send the car back to the mender's and lose it for potentially another couple of weeks if it's something relatively simple, a whole header tank can't cost me much if that's what it takes? My head will fall off if after all this messing around it's something as simple as a worn seal somewhere easy to access.

On a side note, the car has also started throwing antipollution faults randomly, but now I can't get my OBD to pair to even fetch the code off. I'm led to believe its a generic fault display for several different codes but I'll cover that in another thread if that becomes another story.
 

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It may be a crack in the header tank it may just be the cap not sealing well as sometimes they just dont seal no matter how tight the pipe fittings hae rubber seals on them these can leak too.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
It goes on. It's taken a week, but the header is yet again empty.

This time when I removed the lid to refill, I found a large quantity of K-Seal in the tank.

There are only two scenarios why this would be there.

1) The garage have absolutely no idea where the coolant is escaping from, and so are now clutching at straws and throwing in the radweld.
2) The garage are aware there is a critical leak and the trader has advised them to keep it cheap.

Nonetheless, I have been to see the trader and this time under my statutory rights I have refused a 3rd repair and stated I wish to return the car. He's agreed, and this leaves me with two options.

1) Accept a "like for like" replacement. This wouldnt cost me anything, however it wouldnt be like a "new contract", I'd basically be showing acceptance under the original contract, and thus my consumer rights would stem from the initial purchase, meaning that if the replacement then failed, I'd only have limited choices for recompense.
2) Accept a full refund and start over with a new car. My consumer rights would then restart under the "new contract". However, this would incur costs if I choose another vehicle that is more expensive.

There is a 207SW, diesel sports pack, on the trader's forecourt right now. It's 200 quid more than the screen price was on my current car, but identical in pretty much every other way, mileage, year, and it actually has a single previous owner and a full history. I've expressed that I wish to view this as an alternative, and then decide whether to accept as a replacement, or whether to refund and rebuy.
I'm dubious about the "accept as replacement" idea, I'd prefer to refund and rebuy outright. I'll have a better idea once I've viewed the alternative.

Just a little update for you there. The trader is willing to help, and appears (superficially) as concerned as I am about the practices and reliability of the garage they use. However there is a family tie between trader and garage, so I'd have to accept this would be the same case with a new vehicle from the same trader.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
An update here, I did give the car back to the trader in the end. I have no idea where it went from there. Auction, or onward bound to next victim, I don't know.
I took the like-for-like and ran away. Had no reason to contact the trader after that, and even with the warranty in place I've opted to iron out niggles myself as I really can't be doing with the delays the trader thought were acceptable, nor do I wish to be in a courtesy car for days on end, or paying for a car I'm not using.
 
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