Enter stage left…a decent Peugeot dealer!

Yes I know, how can I utter the words “Peugeot dealer” and “decent” in the same sentence. It defies everything I know and have experienced over the last 14 years! But truly, I’ve not gone mad or senile and it’s true. You don’t believe me? Here’s the story. 

As some of you know I’ve had my brakes fixed a couple of times since 2014. I won’t list all the links, just do a search on my blog for brakes and all the sorry stories will come up, including having the brakes rebuilt front and back, and having the rear brakes checked and adjusted several times in the UK and Austria. Yet here I am driving along with poor brakes that need to be pumped to get them to work, and no handbrake. I had started collecting all the spare parts for the entire braking system last year in Canterbury. If all these garages could charge me all this money and still not give me working brakes I may as well do it myself. 

I had been given some screenshots and advice by a Peugeot mechanic on a forum and given my history of DIY mechanics since I was 17 I decided I’d do it myself. I had got a couple of extra parts from a dealer in Penrith when I was working there some weeks ago so one day I set out to fix them. I quickly found I could do nothing as when I took the offside drum off, the adjuster actually fell out. Literally fell onto the ground. I could see some of the return springs were old and damaged so I replaced them but the adjuster was clearly damaged too. Where the sear hits the knurled wheel for auto adjustment…there was a 4 mm gap lol This partly explains why I have no rear brakes. 

I checked with a dealer and the adjusters were £84 each so I bought a pair from ebay for £32 the pair lol However faced with difficulties of where to park to get the job done, in the end I booked it into David Hayton’s dealership in Penrith. I’d already bought an EGR valve and pipe from them and had good advice while there, and although they charge £105 an hour the guy seemed to know his stuff.

The brakes were in a disgusting condition and I was pleased I had the parts I’d bought over the last year as we used most of them, which saved extra cost and of course time waiting for them. The guy showed me what he was doing and I even helped out a little where I could and after 2 and a half hours they were done. He even put copper grease and stuff here and there which a lot of garages don’t bother with. And some ceramic grease on the edge of the shoes. I wish I had taken lots of photos but I was too busy helping to get them done. 

So, once finished he put the van on the rolling road and the left front and rear brakes passed, but the right front and rear failed. How odd. However he said they would take time to bed in so not to worry and the same test in a week would probably show a pass. Once I got to drive it though it was amazing how efficient the brakes were and I now have a working handbrake!

Now I recall all the times in the past when I’ve driven out of a garage and the brakes seemed fine only to get worse over the next few weeks, so I am not counting my chickens just yet. But I do have a good feeling about it his time so…fingers crossed!

Germany, an update.

Nothing much has been happening here, but then everything has! 

I spent some time up north with family and friends and it was a wonderful time. I think I value them more as I don’t see them every day and it’s bitter-sweet to leave. I popped in on my way south to see my friend in Ulverston as usual so I put the van into the garage there for it’s MOT so it won’t expire while away.
They had to replace the support strut that the radiator rests on due to corrosion and a tyre that had a split in and I’m unhappy about that, as it’s not long since I got new front tyres, and as there was 3 good ones left I asked the fitters to put the 2 best ones on the rear. Grrr. 

Never mind the bill was £350 and the work all done although they now say the rocker cover gasket is not needing replacing so they didn’t do that. Everything else…apparently…is fine. Although it quickly became apparent that the engine was still using oil so clearly everything isn’t fine. *sigh* Also in my humble opinion, the rocker cover does indeed need replacing.

It was suggested in a Facebook group that my cylinder head gasket may be to blame. So I’ve checked online numerous times in loads of places and I have not one single, solitary symptom of a blown head gasket. So off I popped across the channel to head for that Norway trip that I’ve long wanted to do. 

A few days later I pulled in to a layby near Munster. The engine was rough, it was using oil still and when I got out the stench of hot rubber was strong. I checked the brand new rear tyre to find it was really hot. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, I think it’s just cheap rubbish. I wish I’d asked them to put Michelin Agilis on as they are excellent on the front.
Anyway I struggled but finally found a garage to look at the van in Munster. They were called Lowen Centrum.

Dirty oil streaks left on my door
Dirty oil streaks left on my door

After several hours their diagnosis was…blown cylinder head gasket. €2000 to replace it please! I was pretty stunned not just at the diagnosis but at the price! I said I’d best head back to the UK to get the work done there and he warned me the van might travel 100 or 1000 kms but then would surely fail and I would be in trouble. When I returned to the van I found it covered in greasy handprints both outside by the door, on the door, on the bumper, and the steering wheel was also filthy with dirty oil.. Yeah Peugeot main dealers charge more because of their higher standards eh? Well even 2 weeks later I can’t get these cleaned off!

I spent the next week trying to find another garage. I contacted 6 in total by email including the English text but also a German translation done in Google translate, and only one contacted me back. I took it along and he did not even put it on the ramp. He said it sounds fine and he could see no smoke when I revved it and feel no air or other sign that the cylinder head gasket was gone. He found a perished vacuum tube which he replaced for free but I gave him a few Euros as a thank you and he said the turbo might have a problem which would explain the oil usage, but he wasn’t sure. I left there none the wiser and wondered at this fabled German efficiency which tbh I have seen no indication of whatsoever. 

So, here I sit, near Fussen, wondering what the hell to do now. If I go on I risk catastrophic engine failure. If I manage to get back to the UK I risk yet more garages who have no clue what’s wrong or how to fix it, and waste my time on  a fruitless exercise. 
Oh the joys of motorhoming! 

 

Update: 

17th September and the other day I was coming down the motorway and realised that plumes of black smoke were coming out of the exhaust. I stopped as soon as I could and took the vacuum pipe off the EGR valve which disabled the valve from working. As far as I know if it’s disabled it’s permanently closed and that cured the black smoke almost instantly. A few good revs at 3500 rpm and clouds of black smoke for a few seconds, then it drives nice and clean again. 

Now, black smoke is a sure sign of unburned fuel. The injectors have just been professional refurbished and the fuel return pipes all replaced, those are things that might cause black smoke. I know what the EGR valve is for and what it does and how it works, yet I can’t find a rational explanation as to how disabling it would prevent black smoke, and yet it does. 
So, I’ve given up totally on garages because not only are my brakes sticking, and they’ve now been supposedly overhauled 3 times, but there’s still excessive oil being used and black smoke coming out if I enable the EGR valve and no clarity of why in the year I’ve been visiting different garages including Peugeot dealers and independents. 

I am now going to teach myself diesel mechanics, and try to find the solution myself.