1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

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Phil Peters
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1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Phil Peters » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:04 am

Hi all,

I've been struggling with a cooling issue on my car for a while and I'd appreciate a second (or third) opinion from the BXperts.

I've done a lot of reading around on previous forum threads and although I've gleaned some really useful stuff, nothing seems to be pointing me in quite the right direction with this issue.

The basic symptom is that the car is chucking coolant out of the escape hole underneath the radiator cap. It's been doing this for a while and at first I thought the radiator cap was duff so I replaced it with one from one of the main parts factors (I think it was GSF). This didn't solve the problem and in fact the cap didn't seem to fit particularly tightly so I decided to replace it again with a "proper" one from my local Citroen dealer.

Unfortunately this didn't solve the problem either as I got the Yellow Light of Doom™ after driving for about 15 - 20 minutes. Fortunately I was just pulling into a carpark when the yellow light came on so I was able to shut the engine off after just a few seconds and wait for it to cool down. I had to stop again on the way home though as I got the Yellow Light of Doom™ again on the return trip. At this point I decided that the car had to come off the road completely until it was sorted and it's been stuck in my garage ever since.

Having replaced the rad cap twice, the next stop was the thermostat which I removed and tested in hot water. It opened up fine but while I had the housing apart I decided to change it for a new one anyway.

I then did a compression test and all cylinders were within 5-10 PSI of each other which I understand is within the permitted specs for this engine.

I also tested the fan by putting a jumper wire between the connections on the plug that goes to the fan switch. Incidentally, the fan switch itself has been replaced within the last 12 - 18 months too as a precautionary measure.

Once I'd buttoned the car back up again, I filled it up with (distilled) water and let it run up to temperature. However, before the fan even kicked in, it started to throw coolant out again just as before. The radiator was pretty much cold all over so I suspected that it was clogged or silted up.

I removed the radiator this evening (single-use hose clips, oh how I hate you) and back-flushed it. I expected to get loads of rusty water and / or crap out of it but the water came out clear with no suggestion of a blockage.

I re-fitted the radiator again (with some proper stainless steel hose clips to boot) and I'm now wondering if there's anything else I should try before filling the system back up again? I've tried to address the issue methodically but I'm beginning to run out of ideas. I'm not seeing any other symptoms of head gasket failure, no water or steam out of the exhaust, no mayonaise and the compression test didn't seem to indicate any gasket failure either.

I've got the front end of the car on ramps to hopefully aid the bleeding process but is it possible that I'm just not bleeding it properly? I haven't tried the trick of using an old plastic bottle in the radiator neck - to be honest I've never understood how it could make an effective seal against the top of the radiator filler - but I'm willing to give that a try if it's reckoned to work?

Cheers,

Phil

1992 BX19 TGD (aka Maurice), N/A diesel, silver with Zenith trim.

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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Tinkley » Fri Jun 12, 2015 4:58 am

I've had the 'float' part of the water level switch/warning light (in side of rad) go walkabout in both 1.6 petrols...... :wink:

Just possible you have too, and it is blocking a passageway? Never did find the 'floats' or bits of them either even draing the system fuly. I suspect the water pump chewed them to pieces or they just disintegrated. I now have the warning light on permanently as I've been too lazy to get a new float... :wink: cooling system works OK, though I now have a duff thermostat which WILL get replaced.

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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Jaba » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:36 am

Mmmmm. I would suspect head gasket failure. Is the water getting pressurised ?? As in, there is still pressure in the coolant when cold or even cooling down.
All HGs fail eventually on these engines.
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Thread Bear » Fri Jun 12, 2015 10:39 am

Gasket aside

Sounds like an air block again. You need to be sure you have got the heater system bled out.

These systems are always more difficult if some rad weld has been used prior to your ownership. The system can check out clear, when in reality it can be bunged up and frozen so. If you had the benefit of a spare rad you could compare the volume of water to know that your rad was, indeed, clear. Cool spots on rads in service are suspicious. I have had rads that have no apparent clag in them, but on comparison can take only 2/3 the water. This is enough for them to fail in traffic or hard use and is walking the tightrope to overheating. Maybe someone can give you the data of coolant to be expected in the rad. Likewise, and published I think, will be the total coolant capacity of the engine. If that amount will not fit in from empty, there is a problem beyond bleeding or some failure/hotspot.
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Tim Leech » Fri Jun 12, 2015 12:00 pm

Had a similar issue with my TZD Turbo, it was the head gasket, I replaced the rad cap, bled it carefully but in the end it needed a new gasket, sorry.

Engine running and rad cap removed if you can see bubbles that's a sure sign, its very rare for oil and water to mix on these engines, BX diesel have been known to carry on with failed gaskets for many miles unless some lesser cars!
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Thread Bear » Sat Jun 13, 2015 9:03 am

Perhaps wrong of me, but. I had a Merc 200 Estate back in the days when Mercs were built to last. Its performance was never quick. In France it suffered a bit of a fit, then carried on, a bit slower. It did the same coming over the Winchester bypass. Carried on after a check over on the hard shoulder. I sold it to a mate who wanted to change the camshaft, which had done some quarter of a million miles, and was the known weak spot. With the head off he called me over. There were two cracked pistons, yet the car still worked. The theory is that the guy who sold it to me had filled it with petrol and choose to leave much in and burn it off through the engine. He never admitted as such but clearly something had happened and he had decided to lump it into me, a dealer at the time.
Some cars are just willing to serve, carrying an injury. Others will not, like most moderns. Finding those good designs is one secret to better motoring. I do not think BX are especially prone to head gasket failure. It was the boneheaded marketing of a car without a temperature gauge, that I feel is more responsible. That and bangernomics.
Miguel - 16 TRS Auto S, light blue, 43k miles - £450
Pluto - 14 E S, White, 105k Miles - in work
Egbert - 19 16v Gti, White, A/C & Leather, - Keeper
Walt - 17 TZD Turbo S, graphite, 70k miles, good op extras - Keeper
Scraper- 17 TZD Turbo E, blue, 208k miles - parts
Homer - 19 TXD E, Red, 189k miles - £250
Gary - 17 TZD Turbo E, 118k miles - in work

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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by rutter123 » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:22 am

Are you bleeding the system via the small bleed screw near the rocker box? A brass type thumb screw. This is the highest part of the water system in a n/a diesel so should be bled from here, or failing that cos sometimes they are seized you can bleed it via the top right bleed screw on the rad, best to use this approach or you will only get about a litre or two in tho appearing full which airlocks and can pressurise the rad, you didnt mention whether you had any oil residue in your coolant?

Have you checked your water pump isnt leaking or poss your radiator or any hoses.

Unfortunately sometimes the yellow lamp of death does exactly what it says on the tin as many bx owners found out, this is the exact reason why all my bx's have been fitted with a temp gauge.
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Kaapelimies » Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:15 pm

And you are 100% sure you installed the new thermostat the right way? It fits also wrong way and then it does not open when the water gets hot. Don't ask how I know it #-o .
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Defender110 » Mon Jun 15, 2015 1:21 pm

Thread Bear wrote:Perhaps wrong of me, but. I had a Merc 200 Estate back in the days when Mercs were built to last. Its performance was never quick. In France it suffered a bit of a fit, then carried on, a bit slower. It did the same coming over the Winchester bypass. Carried on after a check over on the hard shoulder. I sold it to a mate who wanted to change the camshaft, which had done some quarter of a million miles, and was the known weak spot. With the head off he called me over. There were two cracked pistons, yet the car still worked. The theory is that the guy who sold it to me had filled it with petrol and choose to leave much in and burn it off through the engine. He never admitted as such but clearly something had happened and he had decided to lump it into me, a dealer at the time.
Some cars are just willing to serve, carrying an injury. Others will not, like most moderns. Finding those good designs is one secret to better motoring. I do not think BX are especially prone to head gasket failure. It was the boneheaded marketing of a car without a temperature gauge, that I feel is more responsible. That and bangernomics.
And so he should as the 200 is a petrol engined car?
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Thread Bear » Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:36 pm

Defender110 wrote:And so he should as the 200 is a petrol engined car?
Ooh, eck. Getting technical.

I think it was a 200D, known as S123 120 in Merc's alternative world. Cars so good they named them twice. Over 11/2 tonne of green steel sporting an earth shattering, alleged uprated, 60 BHP from a four pot diesel. I believe the engine was coded as OM615.940. Fast it wasn't, but it was incredibly reliable and ate miles of road. Not unlike the BX 1.9D, but so different. The 300D is still seen about occasionally and then they managed to get a turbo on the RHD cars making them perform.

Best Merc I had was a 280CE pillockless Coupe. So I think otherwise known as a C123.053. That was the classic 6 cylinder petrol engine. It would never do more than 23 mpg, but it was a lazy driver that seduced like an expensive girl friend. It too never went wrong and covered quarter of a million miles on just services, unlike an expensive girl friend. I used to get folk coming up saying this car was one of the last true bullet proof Mercs. I agree it was, before they lost their way with Chysler parts poisoning the fruit.

Great to reminisce. I have been lucky to have had some great cars, as well as making some of the worst cars made for the the British market after the war work on the road. I really should write a book about it.
Miguel - 16 TRS Auto S, light blue, 43k miles - £450
Pluto - 14 E S, White, 105k Miles - in work
Egbert - 19 16v Gti, White, A/C & Leather, - Keeper
Walt - 17 TZD Turbo S, graphite, 70k miles, good op extras - Keeper
Scraper- 17 TZD Turbo E, blue, 208k miles - parts
Homer - 19 TXD E, Red, 189k miles - £250
Gary - 17 TZD Turbo E, 118k miles - in work

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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Phil Peters » Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:58 pm

Thanks for all the replies.
Tinkley wrote:I've had the 'float' part of the water level switch/warning light (in side of rad) go walkabout in both 1.6 petrols......Just possible you have too, and it is blocking a passageway?
I'm not sure if Citroen used more than one type of water level indicator but on mine the switch has two metal prongs that protrude into the expansion tank on the side of the rad. It seems to work okay as the dashboard warning light correctly illuminates when the level gets too low. So I'm not sure if there way a float section which has come adrift?
Jaba wrote:Is the water getting pressurised ?? As in, there is still pressure in the coolant when cold or even cooling down.
I think there might be Jaba. I'm going to fill it back up and do the standard test of running it from cold again for 50 seconds and then see if any pressure has built up.
rutter123 wrote:Are you bleeding the system via the small bleed screw near the rocker box? A brass type thumb screw.
I've been bleeding the system from the nearside top of the rad and also from the top of the thermostat housing. My car has what I understand to be the earlier style alloy thermostat housing which takes the larger style thermostat. I haven't come across a brass type thumb screw :?
Kaapelimies wrote:And you are 100% sure you installed the new thermostat the right way?
Yes, the hose from the thermostat to the radiator starts to get hot just before it starts spitting coolant out so I'm pretty sure the thermostat is opening properly.

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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Tim Leech » Mon Jun 15, 2015 7:08 pm

Come on guys, face upto the fact it's the headgasket! It's not such a bad job and easier on a non turbo.
1963 VW BEETLE 1200
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1980 Morris Marina 1.7 HL
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Defender110 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:14 pm

Tim Leech wrote:Come on guys, face upto the fact it's the headgasket! It's not such a bad job and easier on a non turbo.
Yup, desperation doesn't alter the facts.
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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Defender110 » Tue Jun 16, 2015 8:16 pm

Thread Bear wrote:
Defender110 wrote:And so he should as the 200 is a petrol engined car?
Ooh, eck. Getting technical.

I think it was a 200D, known as S123 120 in Merc's alternative world.
Would have been a 240D would it not, the 200 was a petrol wasn't it?
Kevan
1987 Citroen BX MK1 diesel estate.(Currently in dry storage)
1997 Mercedes C230 W202 - daily driver.
2010 BMW X1 SE 2.0D Auto - Her indoors daily driver.
2003 Land Rover Discovery Series 2 Facelift TD5 - Daily driver / hobby days and camping.
1993 Land Rover Discovery 200tdi Series 1 3 door - in need of TLC

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Re: 1.9 N/A diesel cooling saga

Post by Tinkley » Wed Jun 17, 2015 10:10 am

Phil Peters wrote: I'm not sure if Citroen used more than one type of water level indicator but on mine the switch has two metal prongs that protrude into the expansion tank on the side of the rad. It seems to work okay as the dashboard warning light correctly illuminates when the level gets too low. So I'm not sure if there way a float section which has come adrift?
Yup two prongs AND a hollow sliding float which falls and creates contact with the switch or acts like/or is a reed switch. Either way you need the 'float' part to be there for it to work properly. Now can you tell me why I have lost two of these? the prongs are there..... :wink:
However on the petrols the loation is in the vertical part of the radiator as neither my 1.4 or 1.6s' (same rad btw) have expansion tanks......