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It had to happen sooner or later...
...and now it has.

My 1.4 petrol baby has has a "slight oil leak not serious" for some years according to the MOTs.
But the oil and water showed no signs of contamination, so I left well alone.
Clearly another example of the 'badly designed front corner of the gasket' story.

I treated it to a full service and new cambelt & water pump for its MOT last Nov.
At that time, the water and oil were still fine.

Booked it in for a speedo repair on Wed just gone; the first thing they pointed out to me was a sump literally slathered in dripping oil, frighteningly close to the new cambelt! The dipstick showed empty (it was full a few days earlier), and the water expansion bottle had thick cruddy black layers in it.

Oh dear - the gasket has finally given up. But at least it seems to have been caught fairly early.

Been quoted £700 ballpark if the heads are okay, by a garage which specialises in PSA cars. TBH I was expecting them to say a bit more than that.

It took maybe 30 mins of weighing up the investment I've put into this low mileage car against the prices of dubious old banger Berlingos online, to decide that a new gasket is the best way to go.

I could probably get it done cheaper by a local chap, but the peace of mind factor makes me not bother.

It's booked in for the w/c 21 Feb - first week which suits both them and me. I will add updates when I can.
Current: 2003 1.4i MS MPV - Lucifer Red
Prev: 2003 1.6 MS Desire - Blingo Blue
Sorry to hear about your head gasket, hope it gets fixed ok.
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to cancunia for this post:
  • Gryffindor
Interim update: as I was 'sailing' my truck through the storms on Friday, the garage phoned me and cancelled the planned head gasket job. The wind had taken the roof off their workshop!

In case anyone else is in the process of finding a Citroen specialist garage, these chaps are the ones in Welwyn Garden City.

I'm hoping they will be up and running again very soon so I can rebook it in; failing that I will have to find a local anycarmake garage to do it.
Current: 2003 1.4i MS MPV - Lucifer Red
Prev: 2003 1.6 MS Desire - Blingo Blue
(20-02-2022, 06:19 PM)Rasputin Wrote:  In case anyone else is in the process of finding a Citroen specialist garage, these chaps are the ones in Welwyn Garden City.

That's not Chevronics then? (think they're in Hitchin, so not far from Welwyn)
Work van:     2020 1.5 BlueHDi 100 Enterprise Berlingo
Spare van:    2001 1.9 600d Berlingo
Nope. Hitchin is just a bit too far from me. Sad  WGC is bad enough, especially in traffic.

These are the WGC lads:
Current: 2003 1.4i MS MPV - Lucifer Red
Prev: 2003 1.6 MS Desire - Blingo Blue
I was looking through some of the cars for sale at Chevronics and found a forum member's old commercial vehicle:

These always make me think of the TV ad with the high-speed puncture and two oncoming trucks.......
Work van:     2020 1.5 BlueHDi 100 Enterprise Berlingo
Spare van:    2001 1.9 600d Berlingo
[-] The following 1 user says Thank You to notsofast for this post:
  • Gryffindor
Did the "slight oil leak" that you had for years not show up on the outside of the block?  I was told a couple of years ago that my M49's head gasket was going, though, similar to your situation, the oil and water have both looked fine (and there's no white smoke from the exhaust). However there's been a noticeable leak of oil around the block generally for years, which seems to have got slightly worse recently, so that's got me wondering.
Work van:     2020 1.5 BlueHDi 100 Enterprise Berlingo
Spare van:    2001 1.9 600d Berlingo
Yes it did, there were slight signs of dribbles on the front edge, but as with you, the oil and water were not cross-contaminated. They always looked old and never seemed to be freshened, as it were, and all the advice was to leave well alone. You will find threads on here, and this was confirmed to me by the garage I asked to do the gasket, that the 1.4 engine gasket has a design flaw. Maybe the same for the 1.9 gasket?

At one point, one of the openings for the oil system is too close to the outer edge of the gasket. They often fail here, allowing oil to leak out of the block BUT it does not leak into the water system or vice versa.

Just remembered: the garage mech told me this opening has a rubber washer or ring around it which perishes causing the issue.

I think what kept my car going for 3 years is my gentle driving style. As a truck driver I found out some years ago that keeping to about 53-55mph knocks about 30% off the fuel consumption - enough of a saving for me to do it on almost all motorway trips.

Then the other week I booked my Bee into a Citroen specialist about 25 miles away, to have the non-working speedo and mileometer diagnosed and fixed. I was late leaving, and the route involved the M25 and A1M in heavy morning traffic, so for once I floored the car and must have been doing 80+ once or twice along the way.

I now think this is what blew my gasket internally as well as the old external leak, for when I got to the garage and they got the car up on the lift, the first thing they showed me was the bottom of the sump literally soaked in dripping oil. Yet there have never been leaks on the ground where I park the car up at home, so the leak must have only just happened.

Plus, since there have been slight leaks in the past, this also suggests that the gasket does not leak even to the outside of the block until the engine gets hot. Whether than means a bit warm, normal running hot, or thrashing the car hot, is open to guesswork.

So to summarise, gentle and even maybe normal driving was not an issue, and the car kept happily going.

I can't say much about actual temp gauge readings, except that it usually read around 80 degs in normal use and rarely went higher, but on the last 2 or 3 days of using the car with the gasket blown, the temp went up to 90. I didn't go more than ten miles or so, so I can't say whether going a longer distance would just raise the temp a bit more but nothing else, or would have had more dramatic consequences.

This general photo isn't much help, but the old signs of leaks were about where the green dots are.

So yours may be on the way out then. The garage I booked with quoted about £850 and 2 days if the heads were fine, or about £1k and another few days if they needed skimming (they couldn't be sure how long because the skimming would be subbed out).

I decided that was worthwhile because it could be done without me losing work shifts, and because my car was otherwise in good mech condition for its age with new cambelt, good tyres, low mileage and so on.

But my hand was forced when the garage lost its roof in the recent storm, leaving me in the lurch in terms of commuting transport, so I had to replace instead of repair. Very expensive!!

Use the time you still have to research whether to repair or replace while you still can.

Current: 2003 1.4i MS MPV - Lucifer Red
Prev: 2003 1.6 MS Desire - Blingo Blue
You've replaced the vehicle? Or the engine?

Yeah I also drive very gently - might be why I'm still on the original clutch after 162,000 miles - though when the garage said the gasket had gone (or was going), they also said I might get a couple of years out of it anyway.  If it has gone, it's perhaps not a surprise - for years I drove around without a working thermostat (nobody could find what was wrong) which meant the cooling fan never came on and I had to compensate by driving with the heater on full blast in summer, to suck some heat away from the engine. And I haven't changed the coolant often enough (I didn't realise it had anti-corrosion properties that wane over time).

At the time of the diagnosis I enquired at (I think) four places about the cost of doing a head gasket change, and only one would do it. Did you also find that places weren't keen?  Cost for me would've been £700-ish plus unknown extras regarding skimming etc (like in your case, this would be contracted out).

Trouble is, I've had the vehicle since new (21 years) and don't want to wave goodbye to it - I'd like it to be a sort of working hobby vehicle on which I could gradually repair all the failing bits, then maybe customise it with a respray etc.  Will see how it goes once I (hopefully) get this cambelt saga sorted out (as per my other recent thread).
Work van:     2020 1.5 BlueHDi 100 Enterprise Berlingo
Spare van:    2001 1.9 600d Berlingo
Vehicle. I now have a C4GP. I still have the Bee too for a bit - too good to just scrap.

I didn't look round too much for people willing to do gaskets - a local garage couldn't fix the speedo issue so, as I said, I booked it into a Citroen specialist further away to get a proper job done. They immediately diagnosed the gasket problem, and I asked them without committing to anything what fixing it would cost, ball-park. There and then, they said about £700, plus ?? if skimming was needed. In my brain, that read as probably about £1k at the end of the day.

I had already decided that I wouldn't trust such a job to the local guy who couldn't fix the speedo. He might have been fine doing it, but I will never know.

After thinking about it overnight (including looking at all the dodgy old bangers for sale within my emergency no-notice budget), I phoned them direct the next day and booked it in. They had meanwhile checked prices properly and told me that the gasket would actually be about 850 (IIRC) and about another 180 (IIRC) for skimming. This garage charge 60ph+vat for labour, BTW.

All this suggests to me that not many garages of any kind get asked to do Berlingo head gaskets these days, and those that do, don't get asked very often. To my mind, this must be because of the cheap price of second hand cars that we were all used to up till a year or so ago, but now that old bangers cost what seem exorbitant amounts to me, I suspect that repairing might once again be gradually on the rise, rather than replacing.

I suggest you put a shout out here for any Citroen specialists in your area, and go to the old faithfuls not the generic places.

One point I picked up from the garage; they seemed to think that skimming might not be needed because this had been caught quickly. So there may be wisdom in getting it done in reasonably good time anyway, rather than waiting for further signs of degradation, especially if like me you have invested too much in the car to just scrap it.
Current: 2003 1.4i MS MPV - Lucifer Red
Prev: 2003 1.6 MS Desire - Blingo Blue

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