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Old 13-04-2006   #1
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After fitting a Head Gasket

Hi, I was wondering if any mechanics or anyone in the know can answer this question for me please.

My wife bought a second hand Fiat Punto Mk1 from a used car dealer a few weeks ago who said he had fitted a new head gasket and skimmed the head 'just to be sure' because he thought the old one was leaking. After he fitted it we asked him to just give the car a run before we got it back to make sure everything was alright with the car - when we got it back he had clocked up around another 100 miles on the clock! - bit of a pi*s take and the mrs wasn't very happy with that.

Anyway the brakes didn't feel too good on the car so I too the rear drums off and see that at some stage the drums had been got at which what looked like was an angle grinder, they where really scored badly and the brake shoes were on the last legs. So she decided not to use the fella she bought it from but another mechanic who is nearer to us to get him to replace the 2 rear drums and set of brake shoes for the back. Whilst it was in she said that the car idled quite lumpy and there was a strong smell of petrol when the engine was running like it was rich and he said he would check timing and the mixture whilst it was in for her.

He phoned up today and said the rear brakes had been done and that he checked the timing and that was OK. Then she asked about the rich smell of petrol and the lumpy idling and he told her that when you have a new head gasket fitted that it takes time to bed in and seal properly and something about the carbon building up to seal it and he said after driving it for a few thousand mies the new head gasket will bed in and those problems will go and the engine will idle better and not smell of petrol so much - is he correct in saying this or is it a load of old BS?

As far as I know he doesn't have any connection with the fella that sold her the car so I cant see why he would be BS'ing like this if he is, it just sounds a bit fishy to me. I am not a fully trained up mechanic though so I am doubting whether he may be correct that Punto's will be lumpy for a while after just having their head gaskets replaced - what do you reckon?

Also if you do have a head gasket replaced should not all the head bolts be tightened initially and then the car be run for a few thousand miles and the the head bolts checked re-tightened again or am I wrong on that one as well because the mechanic who put on the head gasket didn't say anything about bringing back the car after a time for the head bolts to be checked tightened again.

Be very grateful for answers if you can help. Thanks in advance.

Andy.
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Old 13-04-2006   #2
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

I think they both go to the same pub.

Sounds all a bit weird to me.
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Old 13-04-2006   #3
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Quote Originally Posted by andyr

Also if you do have a head gasket replaced should not all the head bolts be tightened initially and then the car be run for a few thousand miles and the the head bolts checked re-tightened again or am I wrong on that one as well because the mechanic who put on the head gasket didn't say anything about bringing back the car after a time for the head bolts to be checked tightened again.
that was on old iron heads, dont need that on a punto. headgasket bedding in is man cow poo poo, it should not smell of petrol.
brakes were probably worn down to the rivits that scored the drums.
it may run a bit strange at first as the battery should have been disconected so the ecu will need to re set its self up.
keep eye on coolent level as the guy may not have bled it right.
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Old 13-04-2006   #4
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Quote Originally Posted by dave
...brakes were probably worn down to the rivits that scored the drums.
No, it was a round swirly score marks like either a grinding block was attached to a drill or they had used an electric hand held grinder. I know of the other line type score marks that are left on the drums where rivets have worn down because I have come across them before. These were heavily scored circular ways, with some gashes as well. - That must of put them all out of balance as well being 'ground down' like that as well.
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Old 13-04-2006   #5
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Quote Originally Posted by Oldschool
I think they both go to the same pub.
and both in cloud cuckoo land
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Old 13-04-2006   #6
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

just to reiterate what has been said, head gaskets don't need to 'bed in' - that is rubbish.

what timing was he checking, and how was he checking the mixture? Its a fuel injected engine, the ECU controls the ignition timing and the mixture.

If the cam timing was out a notch, it'd run a bit off and might smell of fuel.

As dave has said, keep an eye on the coolant levels and also the engine temperature. The engine is essentially the same as the one used in the cento sportings, take a look at this thread about head gasket issues - see if any symptons match

https://www.fiatforum.com/cinquecento-seicento/1841-head-gaskets.html
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Old 13-04-2006   #7
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Quote Originally Posted by arc
just to reiterate what has been said, head gaskets don't need to 'bed in' - that is rubbish.

what timing was he checking, and how was he checking the mixture? Its a fuel injected engine, the ECU controls the ignition timing and the mixture.

If the cam timing was out a notch, it'd run a bit off and might smell of fuel.

As dave has said, keep an eye on the coolant levels and also the engine temperature. The engine is essentially the same as the one used in the cento sportings, take a look at this thread about head gasket issues - see if any symptons match

https://www.fiatforum.com/cinquecento-seicento/1841-head-gaskets.html

Thanks for that - now I might have to tackle him and tell him that I don't think they have to bed in, that shall be fun! - he was definitely saying to my wife that 'once the carbon builds up around the head gasket this will seal it fully!' and once it is bedded in after a few thousand miles it will be OK!

I must say that after the original car dealer replaced the Head Gasket the water in the expansion tank has not slipped down past the maximum mark so it doesn't seem to be loosing any water, if anything after a run of about 8 miles I lifted up the bonnet after turning off the engine and the coolant had gone quite a bit over the maximum mark but I suppose thats how it should work with the water expanding when hot. When the engine cooled down it went back down to the Maximum mark again.

The temperature gauge seems to bee a bit wonky so I don't know if I am getting a proper reading or not. When we are driving along it does not seem to get to the halfway normal temperature mark but sits on the one mark/notch underneath normal temperature like its not reaching normal temperature but the heater inside the car when knob is turned to hot gets extremely hot inside the car.

When he replaced the head gasket he said he put in a new thermostat and a new temperature sender unit but the gauge is still reading one notch under the middle normal mark. So he said the only other thing it could be is a dodgy water temperature gauge on the dashboard.

Last weekend I got my wife to sit inside the car and look at the temperature gauge as I took of the wire leading to the engine coolant temperature sender unit and I briefly touched it to earth on the engine and the temp gauge shot up to maximum mark, now if it was a dodgy gauge I would have said that it would not have gone up to the top like that would it have?
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Old 13-04-2006   #8
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

As far as im aware all mk1 puntos run on the quater line on the temperature gague or the first line up as you say. Mine runs on this line all day normally and when stuck in traffic it will get to just under a half and the fan kicks in. Just keep an eye out for normal HG failure e.g mayo under the oil cap, heating packing in and loss of coolant. you should be ok. Also enquire with the guy if he sold the car to you with a warrenty (which is now law for traders as far as im aware).
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Old 13-04-2006   #9
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

half way is normal on a punto mk1, usually if they only go to a quarter the thermostat is not fully opening
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Old 13-04-2006   #10
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Ah, that gives me some bother then After fitting a temp gauge and rev counter etc, my temp gauge only goes up to the quarter line on normal running. I thought maybe fiat had sorted me out with the wrong sender. New stat then I guess!
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Old 13-04-2006   #11
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

you would think if the stat wasnt opening fully then the temp would be higher not lower
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Old 13-04-2006   #12
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Quote Originally Posted by pid119
you would think if the stat wasnt opening fully then the temp would be higher not lower
Yes, couldn't it be the other way round that the stat is opening too early or stuck open? - that sounds more feasible
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Old 14-04-2006   #13
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

my sisters mk1 only goes to qurter been like that for years.
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Old 14-04-2006   #14
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Quote Originally Posted by thefishdude
my sisters mk1 only goes to qurter been like that for years.
I have owned numerous Corsa's, Ford Escorts, SEAT's and various other cars overs the years and they have all reached normal temperature mark (apart from if the sender units or thermostats packed up) so I wonder why the Punto's don't?
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Old 14-04-2006   #15
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Re: After fitting a Head Gasket

Quote Originally Posted by arc
If the cam timing was out a notch, it'd run a bit off and might smell of fuel.
One thing is that if the timing was out a bit would this not cause the car to misfire or 'pink' or flat spot when going at speed? - I took her Punto out for a good run yesterday and and around 30,40 & 50 Mph was running beautifully smooth and lovely and responsive and at 60mph still wanted to accelerate some more, if it were a timing issue or head gasket still playing up would the car perform this good at normal driving?

But as soon as I pulled up and stopped and idled at the traffic lights it was Idling like a tractor, vibrating through the car and chugging. The only other thing I can think of is checking the Idle Control Valve (ICV) on the throttle body but I cannot get the blasted torx screws off - they seem to be screed in so tight and all I am doing is just burring the screw heads trying to get them out!

One other thing I did notice is that when it came back from having the head gasket done I see the mechanic had put a shiny new exhaust inlet manifold gasket on the engine but it looked like he used the old one for the inlet manifold gasket, which doesn't look too healthy, if this had a little leak somewhere could this cause chugginess of the engine when idling or could I have an air leak somewhere around the throttle body?

Thanks.
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