Technical Has girlfriend lunched the seicento sportings engine

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Technical Has girlfriend lunched the seicento sportings engine


New member
Oct 17, 2007
First off hi and great forum.

Have a slight!!!! problem. Just got a 1999 seicento sporting abarth with 37000 miles on the clock. All seemed to be fine with her, well apart from the fan coming on quite a lot (in traffic and sometimes when driving) thought this was a bit strange but read that sportings do run hot so this could be the norm.
Anyway, stupidly i did not check the water level in the expansion level, did check it when i got the car along with oil (very clean) etc.
Well my girlfriend was driving it and arrived home saying that there was a terrible burning small coming from the engine and that it had been like that for the last 2 miles, she had got to the top of a hill and the engine stopped (oh yeah, burning smell means just keep on going!!!)
Had a look at the engine and it was very very hot and smoking.
The bottom radiator hose had split and there was no water.
I let it cool down and then filled it up with water (this is when i noticed the split radiator hose)
When it had water in again i started it up. She ran ok and there were no dodgy noises from the engine (i only ran it for 30 seconds)
Today i replaced the radiator hose (£55 ouch) and filled it it up.
When i started the engine there was a squealing noise from the timing belt area (i think it was from there) when i reved the engine it went away, then it came back.
I thought i would take her down the road for 100 meters, she squealed in 1st and 2nd gears.
Ok we have a problem. Turned engine off and joined the fiat forum.
I am thinking that the burning smell was from the timing belt. The engine starts and revs, so is not siezed.
There is no smoke coming from the exhaust, but there seems to be some oil leaking from the rocker cover gasket (there was a little before) it is not bad.
What damge do you think has been done.
I am thinking of changing the timing belt and bearing.
Could this be the problem (it is due for replacement)
When the engine gets this hot what components do you think would get damaged, would the timing belt get so hot it would melt?
Thanks in advance for your help.
yep your right the sei and cinq does run a bit hot and as for the oil leak i wouldn't worry about it that much if it is leaking a little as i have change my rocker gasket and it still leaks a little.
The first thing i always change on a OHC engine is the cam belt and on your sei even though it has only done 38,000 mls i would still change it with a new tensioner, i think most people do at 45,000 anyway even though fiat recommends 60,000 odd miles if i can remember.
Have you taken off the cam belt cover and check? as i would think it maybe your water pump that knackered.

oh yeah welcome to the club(y)

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Cheers for the reply Ricky
Well it is definately the rocker gasket, it's the one you can see yeah, the head gasket is lower down.
Would the overheating ruin the rocker gasket?
I guess the waterpump would take a battering if there was no water to keep it cool.
Do you sugest i check the timing belt 1st or just check the water pump
yeah it is the one you can see and i very much doubt it would ruin the rocker cover gasket.
To check the water pump and the cam belt you will have to take off the top and bottom cambelt cover and this will involve taking off the alternator belt and the crank pulley, by doing this you will see the water pump and whole of the cam belt.
to have a quick look at the condition of the cam belt you can take the top half of the cam belt cover off.
to change the cam belt and water pump there is a very good guide on the forum, this will show you how to do this step by step

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oh yeah i just read your thread again, if the engine was running very very hot there maybe a possiblity of warping the head, thus needing the head skimmed. did you drive the car for a long period of time without water?

the squeal is probs from the fan belt. mine used to do that. maybe it got water on it. its a bit annoying, should go away, unless you wanna buy a new one. make sure its running correctly on the grooves though
Ok Ricky
If i remove the top cover and check the belt do you think it will be visably damaged.
Also, what do you think the burning rubber smell could of been.
Would the water pump smell like that
Do you think that the head gasket might have gone.
and...finally when i have changed the belt and/or the water pump, should i change the oil/filter or anything else.
Ahhh Dr Hillman
I think i did spill some water into the engine bay when i filled the expansion tank, maybe that's it.
But when i ran the engine earlier it smelt quite hot!
Do you think i should go for a drive to see if the squeak stops.
Ricky, i guess she would have driven a 1 or 1 1/2 miles, how would i tell if it had a warped head (please not the warped head, i already have onne of those)
Dr hill man is right the squealing is probably the fan belt, they are cheap and quite easy to replace. however you can easily check it for any crack, split or as mentioned before water on the belt.

As for the burning smell, tell the truth i am not sure, however i remembered before my alternator was knackered that was squealing and there was a burning smell from the belt where the alternator bearing was beginning to seize.
As for the oil change etc, do you have any idea when it was last changed??

Undo the two bolts holding the expansion tank on to gain more access to the belt cover, otherwise it gets a bit tight. Waterpump may have gone from the heat and lack of water like said. I've never heard one go myself so you would need to use your own judgment to determine what it is that's squeeling.

If timing belt hasn't been done, it's an hours job for the average spanner wielding person. Run a compression test and see what you get. Did the overheat light come on?
Well i just went for a little drive for about a mile.
When the engine started there was no noise, then as i went up the road the squealing started, it is very high pitched.
I have had fan belts go before on my cinq and it is a different sound (try to describe a sound haha)
The thing is the squeal go'es up an down in pitch even though i am not accelerating...bit strange that.
I thought that if i ran her for a bit it might dry the alternator belt out, but after a mile there was no change.
Engine smelt ok after though.
Guess i will take advice and start with an alternator belt examination, then move on to removing the top cover of the timing belt.

Oh and i'm not sure about the temp warning light as i was not driving, girlfriend seems to think that it did not., only that a light came on when the engine cut out (guess that was the ignition light)
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Not sure if i have an spi or mpi engine. i think that that is a spi.
It is a 1999 t reg and has the non digital mileometer.
Will do Ricky. Thanks for your help, fingers crossed it's the fan belt.
Will do the timing belt anyway.
Oh and i'm not sure about the temp warning light as i was not driving, girlfriend seems to think that it did not., only that a light came on when the engine cut out (guess that was the ignition light)

the temp sender(s) are in the water, in the head. If you have a sudden loss of water, they may show normal or even drop in temp! The only way they will heat up is through the metal of the head, then through the sensor. SO it may have been really hot, yet not showing it.

The sqeal could be anything if it got really hot. Pump, crank or cam bearing seizing, pressure on cam due to warped head. It could be something nice and simple though.

Go outside, start it, generate a sqeal, stick a short hosepipe in your ear, and go hunting for the sounds location (y)

Also a long bar pressed against your ear and against engine parts.

hope its easy to fix and nice and cheap! £55 for the hose....ouch, I would have bodged a normal one, or gone to a scrappy personally ;)

cheers Kristian
Will try all of the above
You can be sure i checked all the scrappys after finding out the price of a new one.
unfortunately no one had an undamaged hose...lots of front end smashes.
Big split in hose so thought i'd give the bodge a miss.
Am hopeing it's a simple problem, all of your potential reasons sound very scary.
Lets face it the engine got very hot. This could be enough to allow the rocker gasket to start to weep, and the burning smell might have been oil from the weep getting on the exhaust.

If you've got away with it, the engine has been under more stress than its designed for. If you don't know the history of the belt, change it, its got hot. Likewise, while you're in there change the water pump. It could have been the pump leaking thats caused a loss of water causing the increase in pressure thats found the weak spot of the hose.

By the way, apparently its never the woman's fault. Just say sorry, its bound to be your fault.


Hi D
Yup of course it was my fault, as is everthing else in the world:mad:
Maybe the pump was on it's way out, that could be why the fan was coming on a lot.
The hose split down at the bottom of the radiator (the largest part) seems strange for the hose to just get a 1/2 inch split for no reason.
Could be right about the burning smell from the rocker cover oil leak.
Do you have any idea about the squealing noise.
I think i will change all that you mentioned (to be on safe side)