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MOTs and Oil Issues and Warning Lights, Oh My!…

In late June, around ten months after Old Red’s last proper journey, I finally managed to get him into a garage to diagnose his oil problems (amongst other things). I really wanted to take him to a camper specialist, but I was worried that most would be full of vans waiting for work, and we had a trip planned for the end of July. Instead, I decided to use a local garage who always do an excellent job on my cars, and who are always happy to move appointments around to get the urgent stuff done in time.

Red was still SORN, but the garage said it’d be okay to drive him without tax, as long as I was bringing him for MOT testing…which was the first time I even thought about the MOT. Whoops. I bought the Old Boy back in June 2012, so, a year on, I had to consider that besides the lack of tax he probably didn’t have a valid MOT either. And so he was delivered to the yard one Wednesday morning, and there he stayed for quite a few days while they investigated his oil problems, ran the MOT and then set about fixing the

The Oil…

Old Red has had disappearing oil syndrome ever since I’ve known him. The rental garage that I bought him from didn’t notice a “problem” but did tell me that he needs regular topping up. As it went, he seemed to need about a litre of 10w 40 every 300 miles or so, and when I asked on my T25 forum everyone agreed that was a little excessive for an engine that didn’t seem to burn oil or drip it. There were a few spots on the inlet tubes and filter where oil might have been forcing its way out, but other than that it was a complete mystery.

One garage trip later, and my mystery was solved…

Unfortunately, my original “he’s definitely NOT burning oil” diagnosis was utter bull poop, and it turns out that Red has an oil-thirsty engine. It’s not a problem (other than having to pay for oil all the time) and it’s nothing that they can really “fix” (although I’m sure it could be improved with the changing of some seals, the filter, etc.), it’s just that some engines are known to use up a lot of oil, and Red happens to have one of those engines. They didn’t even advise that I think about a new one, although I think this might become an issue if the emissions become uncontrollably high…

The oil light still comes on when the oil is warm and the engine isn’t powering along. The garage didn’t have much of an explanation for this other than the oil pressure drops when the revs are low and so this, along with the relative thinness of warm oil, will make the sensor panic for a second. Most of the time, the light simply flashes as I change down gears and idle in traffic, but when it starts to become steady I know it’s time to pull over, cool down and top up. Again.

MOT…

As you may have guessed, Old Red did not pass his MOT with flying colours, but luckily it wasn’t too expensive to put the problems right.

In the end he only failed on one spot of corrosion (admittedly, it was quite a bad spot) and uneven/inefficient pull on the handbrake. The brake was an easy clean-up job that only cost an hour or so labour, but the welding was more tricky as the butane bottle needed to come out along with some of the sound deadening material so, as well as the welding work, the labour was more intensive (and expensive). I could have saved myself about £10-£20 by going to the garage and removing the butane myself, but in the end I didn’t have the time unless I wanted to wait a few more days to get it done. I would have liked to have saved the money but I just couldn’t afford the time.

He also came away with a couple of advisories in the shape of front shocks and rear bearings. These aren’t urgent, and I’m hoping that they might be something I can attempt with the help of some knowledgeable friends, but that is definitely a story (or two) for another day!

Finally, with the price of the MOT (£45), welding to the outer sill (£120) and VAT etc, this (week long) visit to the doctor cost us a grand total of £255.

And Warning Lights…

After what seemed like months, Old Red came home and we went joyfully out to buy a tax disk so we could take him out for his first proper drive in almost a year…and his first bath in over a year (of which there would be photos, but technology sucks).

As we were on our way to the jet wash, I noticed the coolant warning light switch on. I’d checked the water before we’d left and we would be pulling over in a couple of miles, so I kept an eye on the temperature and carried on going. After fifteen minutes of soaping and scrubbing and blasting all the mud and greenery off the van I checked the fluid levels again and found the water level bobbing happily just below maximum. Weird. We set off again with the coolant warning light on and did a few miles around the local roads, never straying far from home. The light stayed on but the temperature never rose above normal, even when we were stuck in around 15 minutes of very slow moving traffic…on the incline of a hill…

And so back to the garage Red went!

There are two water reservoirs in the T25 and a fault in one of the caps can cause the one at the rear (that you read the level from) to be full, while the other, more interior (more important) bottle, is empty. In my case, both were full and everything seemed to be working fine. The garage diagnosed it as a faulty sensor and ordered said part to be fitted in a few days. By this point we’d lost all hope of booking anything for France and had planned to use my weekend off to visit a local festival instead, but I was so looking forward to going away in Red that I didn’t want to risk even a mini-adventure. Seeing as I didn’t need the warning light (as long as the temperature gauge carried on working, at least) I told them that if they couldn’t fit me in first thing at the start of the week I would take my chances and make the short drive to Loughborough with a faulty warning light.

Monday morning rolled around and the garage called me with good news. It turns out that I didn’t have a faulty sensor at all, I had an air lock, something that commonly occurs in T25s that have been standing for a long time. It was something that a campervan specialist would have known to look for straight away, but at least it was discovered before a part was needlessly replaced. It’s a good job I didn’t just take the van away without letting them open it all up again too, or we’d have spent the weekend camping in the hard shoulder of the M42 instead of a field in the Leicestershire countryside!

Labour and oil (because I hadn’t topped up and they knew we were going away for the weekend) cost us £48…

And we were ready to roll!

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Van Maintenance

 

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Drinking Problem (or, Where’s the Oil?)…

I’ve written a few times about the oil problems that Old Red has. I knew that I’d need to top up a little every journey, but after we reached our destination on our first proper outing I noticed that the level had dropped quite a bit. We’d clocked up just over 300 miles by the time I got home and once topped up again I’d used a whole litre of oil.

As far as I can tell, he’s not burning oil, and there isn’t more than a few drips on the driveway. The only thing I could conclude is that it’s coming out under pressure while I’m moving.

After a bit of advice from my friends at Club 80-90 I sat on the driveway revving the engine for about 30 minutes, watching the exhaust for smoke and waiting to see if the floor would be peppered with drips. Disappointingly, it wasn’t, but when I looked under the engine cover it was clear to see that oil is leaking from a few points on the engine…

Oily inlet pipe…it looks like it’s forcing its way up and out of the pipe.

Oily dipstick pipe…the oil is coming out of where the pipe goes into the engine.

Another example of the puddle near the dipstick pipe.

 

Moisture on the off-side CV joint.

Near-side CV joint is much drier.

Once the oil is warm the light starts flashing every time the revs have dropped, and the longer the journey, the more readily the light will flash. At first it’ll only flash when we’re idling, but after we’ve been driving for about half an hour it’ll flash even as I’m changing up gears. It NEVER comes on while the revs are up. I’m fairly sure that this is indicative of a bad connection somewhere in the wiring…

…on occasion, the horn will peep. It usually happens when I’m reversing. When we were disembarking the ferry home from France, one of the garage guys was helping me manoeuvre round a HGV and Red !HONKED! right in his face, which caused me no little embarrassment! I think it just goes to prove that there’s definitely something wrong with the wiring somewhere.

Anyway…back to the oil. From the advice I’ve had, it seems that the oil is coming out under pressure, so firstly, I need to get the pressure checked. I also need to find out if I still have the original oil pick-up pipe or if it’s been upgraded along with the engine. Apparently, if I still have the original then, as I brake and go round corners with hot oil, the engine will be starved of oil, causing the light to flicker on. This would also mean that the oil level on the dipstick won’t actually match the oil level in the sump, so I could also be overfilling it. That would make sense seeing as an excess of oil would be forced out of all the possible exit routes (like the inlet pipe, the filter case and the dipstick pipe…all the places it is leaking out of). To check the oil level in the sump I’m going to need to drain the system and take off the oil inlet pipe to look into the sump and check the levels visually.

I’m going to need help!

Luckily I know a guy who will come over and have a look over the engine on the drive. Hopefully he’ll not only be able to tell me what’s going wrong, but show me how to fix it so that I learn a little something about the engine as I go.

I’d also like him to give the CV joint a look over too. The helpful members at Club 80-90 think that the amount of leakage on the off-side joint is minimal and not much to worry about, but I think I should get it checked out all the same.

Oil has been SUCH a worry for me this summer. I’ve had to make sure I check the levels and top up every 100 miles or so, and the whole time I’ve been panicking that if I fill it back up I might be over-filling, and if I don’t fill it up I might be running the risk of it dropping too low. I’m certain I’d have had more use out of the old boy if I hadn’t been so worried about the damn engine. This is something I HAVE to get sorted for the new year.

Further updates to come…

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2012 in Van Maintenance

 

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Mission…IKEA!…

I’ve been living back at my Mom’s house for just over eighteen months now, and for that whole time I’ve ‘lived’ in my tiny pre-uni bedroom. I have a LOT of clothes and a LOT of stuff and consequently my bedroom (and the landing outside my door) resembles something off Britain’s Biggest Hoarders…

In the past few months I’ve been feeling far more positive about sortin my life out, but it’s been a hard task to overcome my procrastination. Last night I decided I was going to buy the bookcases I needed to start organising my room and so hit the IKEA website to place an order. Imagine my horror and dismay when I discovered that nothing would be delivered until the day we’re leaving for France (which is actually only next week…eep)!

What’s a girl to do?

And then I remembered that I have a big red hero standing in the driveway. He may be fitted out as a camper, but at the end of the day he’s still a van…and so Mom and I set out on the 70 mile round trip to IKEA in Coventry.

It’s different to the other branches I’ve been to (Wednesbury and Nottingham) in that it’s been squished into a town centre, and so has several floors. The car park is mostly inside the complex and has to be paid for, but Red was far too tall to get under the barriers. Luckily, the parking for high-sided vehicles was free, plentiful and blissfully empty.

Once inside, the lifts will only take you up to the showroom, and then you have to make your way to more lifts/stairs to go down a floor to the market hall. It pained me, but I went straight to the stairs and bypassed the entire showroom! Me, 1….IKEA, 0.

As we wandered through the market I ended up filling a shopping bag with lots of essentials that I hadn’t known I’d needed until I’d set eyes on them (tupperware, cork saucepan rests, storage boxes…all for the van), and eventually we found a travelator that took us down to floor 4 where we could pick up the large goods and pay. It was then I realised that I could have gone straight to floor 4 from the ground, and so I’d effectively been duped into doing extra shopping. One all.

BILLY bookcases are 2.02m tall and so I knew the boxes would be big, but I wasn’t expecting them to be anywhere near as heavy as they are. Mom can’t do heavy lifting and I don’t like asking for help AND I don’t read things properly…and so I had to struggle boxes off the shelves and onto the trolley, and then back onto the shelves again when I did silly things like pick up the wrong models or the wrong finishes. I did rather a lot of swearing.

Eventually we got everything I needed and managed to make it to the tills without knocking down any displays or causing anyone an injury….and then it was time to try and get it all into Red…

The pneumatics don’t work on the boot hatch so someone has to stand and hold it open (avoiding the water that drips out of the bike rack) while someone else packs all the stuff in. A very nice man came to our rescue as I was trying to get the first box up onto the bed, and within a few minutes we were ready to get back on the road again!

Less than four hours after we’d set off and we were home safe and sound.

I still haven’t topped up the fuel tank from Beat-Herder, the mileometer is on just over 400 miles, and the fuel gauge is still above the red. I’d expect my car (1.9 Golf TDi) to do about 420 miles on £60 of fuel, so I’m REALLY pleased that Red seems to do almost as well (if not better!). I do drive my car like a demon though, so Red’s fuel consumption probably owes to my slow acceleration and top-speed of 55-60mph when I’m driving him. I just don’t feel the need to rush around when we off on an adventure together.

I checked the oil before we left and – although there weren’t any drips on the driveway – the oil was a little low. I must be losing quite a bit whilst we’re driving along so I really must check that the filter is on tightly before we set out for Portsmouth next Friday. The oil cap came off really easily (which was nice) and I topped up the oil using a piece of folded tin foil as a makeshift funnel. It wasn’t brilliant but it made far less mess than trying to pour it in straight from the bottle. I need to find a suitable tube to make life even easier – I was going to use one off a fuel can, but they all smelt diesel-y so I didn’t trust them enough to pour oil through them.

I’m sure I put enough in (maybe I didn’t) but I had the same problem with the oil light that I had on our last journey. For the most part everything seems fine, but when I’m approaching a junction and I’m changing down gears and holding the clutch in, the oil light starts flashing. I don’t know why it only does it at this point, or why having the clutch pressed in makes the oil level change, or if it’s just a loose connection. What ever it is I need to get it sorted out before France! I’ve become a member of the Club 80-90 forum so hopefully someone on there will be able to give me some advice.

I also had some issues with the gears. Reverse is INCREDIBLY hard to find and I’m not sure I’ll ever get the knack of it. There doesn’t even seem to be a trick to it…sometimes if I put it down into first and then push it up into reverse and it slides in like a dream, but nine times out of ten it won’t help at all…and sometimes if I depress the stick that’ll help, but most of the time it won’t make the slightest bit of difference. Second gear can sometimes be a bit difficult to get to from first too, and although I didn’t have any trouble on the way there, I kept putting it into fourth  the way home and we had a few juddery moments at traffic lights before I got the hang of it again. I’m hoping these things are only indicative of my crappy gearbox skills and NOT a sign that the gearbox is giving up…

But all in all, another successful trip, and it was lovely to have Mom as a passenger too…even if we were only going shopping.

IKEA…book cases acquired…hotdog eaten…mission complete!

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Random, Van Maintenance

 

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