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Looking at picking up an old Berlingo
Hi all,

I'm looking at picking up an older Berlingo to tidy up and make into a weekend vehicle/van. My requirements are cheap insurance and fitting a motorbike in the back which it seems the Berlingo covers both bases.

I have a motorway munching saloon but it's horrifically impractical for large loads, though a small moped fits across the back seat, which is not great for the leather.

I'm not averse to mechanical work and I'm not looking to spend the earth either. For example, I'm happy to replace carpeting with rubber matting as it will be a working vehicle for me. Cosmetics of the van are less of an issue.

Price range is putting me firmly in the 1999-2005ish range, I'm looking at spending as close to £500 or so as possible but that puts me in the territory of the 1.4 petrol and 1.9 diesel. Neither of which I mind as I won't be doing many miles in it.

Are there any common faults with these? It seems they go against the French way and are reasonably reliable and liked by their owners. I'd rather something mechanically sound that'd last me for a few years, but obviously my price range means that may be tougher.

In terms of the 1.4, I don't tend to buy or drive petrols, how is it reliability wise? I had an old 1.4 Saxo filled with electrical gremlins and a thirst for coolant. The clutch gave way by about 70k miles as the previous owners had mostly been learners. I assume the 1.9 is fairly agricultural but bulletproof. The 2.0HDi is also a consideration but the 1.6 HDi seems best avoided.

Essentially, I'm looking to find out whether an older berlingo is a valid second car for weekend use carting stuff around or whether it's liable to be a pit of money.

What are the major service intervals I should try and make sure of? I've heard the multiplex wiring can be a cursed thing too.

Thanks in advance

Edit to add:
How are the Berlingo's to sleep in? I'm thinking of using it as the occasional camper too possibly. I'm quite happy to fabricate bits and pieces to support that. The only real requirement is a half decent night's kip.

Oh and leisure batteries, are there any recommended spots to put them/are they feasible?
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to FollowingGhosts for this post:
  • Art b
Hello & welcome to the forum. Check out the camper section in the forum, it will have plenty of examples for overnighting. For a little more money you could get a 2.0HDi for lower road tax & better performance although there are plenty of 1.9 owners on here who are quite happy.
I use my M59 for very similar purposes as you intend. I have a multispace car with folding passenger seat from a van. Folding the seat gives a lot more length for either a bed or a bike. The only problem I've found is that the modutop which is great for overhead storage restricts the headroom.
Both the 1.9diesel and the 1.4i are robust if treated with respect.

The 1.4i has 75BHp, but in an earlier incarnation (in the AX GTi) it delivered 90BHp, and tuners have pushed it past 130, so there's plenty of margin.
I'd look at the rubber gasket on the head cover to see if it's in good nick and seals properly before even considering test driving it. (it hardens and cracks when it gets old. )
Unless the engine has had extensive servicing done, I'd do a compression check on it before buying it. I'd also check under the oil cap for 'peanut butter'.
Bad compression doesn't have to mean that the engine is a goner, though, just that it needs some TLC.
The engine block is aluminium, and the cylinder walls are steel tubes slotted into place and held down by the head, and the coolant flows freely around them.(It's called 'wet liners' ) So replacing the liners with new ones aren't too expensive, just a bit of a faff.
(You replace the piston rings at the same time, of course)
An oft-overlooked item is the oil seals on the top of the valve stems.
Unfortunately, getting to them is a bit of a pain if you don't have the head off the engine(it can be one, but requires a compressor).

If you can find a 2003 or newer it would be a bonus as they introduced an automatic belt tensioner for the timing belt that year.

The biggest issue with the 1.9(Besides lacking a much-needed turbo...) is needing a valve clearance adjustment at around 100K miles.

Besides that, just check the state of the belts, wiring and for 'moist spots', I think.
Oh, and stay away from cars with steam-cleaned engine compartments.
(You only do that before a car show or when trying to sell a car with a leaky engine)
Sounds like for what you want it for a van would be more suitable than a car, they're cheaper to buy too.

It's really a Myth that French cars are unreliable, much like it's a Myth that BMW's are ultra reliable. You'll find French Diesel engines in Fords, Mercedes, BMW Minis, Volvos - if they were that bad other manufacturers wouldn't buy them.

Where Berlingo's are more reliable is in their interiors, it was designed as a commercial vehicle so while the interiors are a bit more plasticky than cars it's quite hard wearing.
Quote:I'd look at the rubber gasket on the head cover to see if it's in good nick and seals properly before even considering test driving it. (it hardens and cracks when it gets old. )

I would just use this as a bargaining tool, the cam cover gaskets are cheap and take only a few minutes to replace, but they can make it look a mess.
(29-12-2018, 10:22 AM)hawaiianblue Wrote:  Sounds like for what you want it for a van would be more suitable than a car, they're cheaper to buy too.

Unfortunately, anything insured as a van in my area for me is a flat rate of a lot of money. A Berlingo Multispace comes out as a third of that. It also makes getting it on boats and things cheaper.

Re: the 2.0HDi, if it's a notable improvement without sacrificing reliability, I'm quite happy to stretch for one. What things would I need to look out for with one?

In terms of the 1.9, how easy/hard is it to check the valve clearances? I've done it before but admittedly on 2-cylinder engines not 4. And those could be had out with the right tool without removing much else.

What are the timing belt intervals for the 1.4i, 1.9d and 2.0HDi respectively?

Is the rear axle issue common across all berlingos? I had a Saxo that suffered the same syndrome of the wonky wheel.

Thanks all for the input so far.
Road tax for a van will also be higher than a car, plus lower speed limits & you can't open the rear windows for ventilation. You could tint the windows in a car to make the interior less visible, probably a good idea for camping.
AFAIK, the only issue with the 2.0 is the head gasket but I've only seen a few posts about that so maybe not really an issue. Mine had done 130k when I sold it and it showed no signs of trouble.
M49 & M59's all have the same axle weakness, there are ways to minimise the likelihood by drilling grease nipples into the trailing arm.
Torsion bar rear axles do suffer with age, you could get a later Berlingo which has a trailing arm with coil springs.

The old 1.9's are pretty bombproof, they're the legendary XUD9 engine, but they're non-turbo which makes them a bit sluggish by modern standards and while they were good compared to a modern common rail diesel they'll seem a bit tractor like. The valve clearances only need doing every 100'000 miles, so even if you paid a main dealer to do them it's not a big expense across the life of the vehicle.
The 2ltr HDI, is basically a modernised XUD, it offers much more refinement and performance. It's official model name is the DW10, it's still in production now.
Hello FollowingGhost, suggest you do some measuring up to check your bikes will go in.
I carry bikes (bicycles) in my later B9-style Berlingo Multispace, it is bigger inside than the earlier Berlingos but to keep the wheels on, the bikes have to slide alongside the outside of the driver/passenger seat or alternatively remove the central sliding top storage unit. A motorcycle would be a bigger challenge, doable I'm sure but may need to go in diagonally. Hope this helps.
Checking things with a tape measure is a very good idea before parting with any cash. For a small motorbike to fit, the passenger seat will probably get in the way & there won't be enough space behind the driver's seat. I did once see a Berlingo at Cadwell Pk with a full size bike inside, the passenger seat had been removed to make space.
The glamour of getting wet & cold on biking trips has lost it's appeal, I bought my Berlingo so that I could take my camping gear, sleep in the back when needed & take a small scooter for pootling around.
The folding van seat means that there's quite a bit of length along the passenger side and with the driver's seat forward it's possible to get a bed in there too.
I forgot to mention earlier that cars are also a lot cheaper on the ferry than vans.
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to cancunia for this post:
  • Art b

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