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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, most grateful for any advice.

Car had been serviced 10 days or so previously and also replaced batteries in car keycard recently due to low battery messages. Also, prior to service, the car had been run with low fuel warning light came on after a long journey. But car had been driven daily since and no problems until going to start car one morning after being parked up overnight - the starter motor was turning the engine over but engine didn't fire. Tried again a few times both with keycard in slot and out but wouldn't start. Everything else seemed normal - electrics/lights/dash/unlocking the steering lock etc.)

Called RAC and patrol "had a look" and advised thought it was starter motor and he could tow it to a garage to get checked. Our drive and the road has a slope and so he started rolling the car towards his van for towing when he attempted to "bump-start" the car and there was a loud crashing noise like a bag of spanners being emptied onto the floor and also failed to start the car and so it was eventually delivered to the garage.

The garage advised the starter motor isn't the problem. There's no compression in any of the 3 cylinders and the timing chain/belt has "jumped". They've inspected the cylinder bores and appears to be no damage, then removed rocker cover to inspect valves etc but again "appears" no damage. Due to cost of stripping down engine further and likelihood of requiring a new engine anyway they've advised to replace the engine at a cost of about £3,500 fitted including VAT.

My concerns are:
1) the RAC patrol by attempting a "bump-start" caused the timing chain to jump leading to loss of compression and damaged the engine (the garage have said this would have done it but grateful for any view if it could have happened otherwise - if it had been while being driven wouldn't the car have broken down immediately?) and;
2) What could the original reason be for the car not to start - fuel line blockage due to low fuel or is there a fuel cut-off switch / engine "kill" switch? Could it be due to replacing keycard batteries even though it was driven afterwards? Something else if anyone has experienced the car not starting?

If anyone has any ideas/comments or advice we would be most grateful.

Thanks.
 

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Can't imagine why RAC bloke said it was the starter motor if it was turning the engine over.
Also don't understand NO compression,I assume garage used an endoscope to inspect the top of the piston for valve impact marks and the valves for correct seating. Rocker cover off and all "appears ok",no valves sitting low due to bent heads. There should be some compression unless you have massive holes in the Pistons or the valves are visibly bent and off the seats,low but still compression. Had a quick google and it appears the 0.9tce engine has a timing chain,problems can occur with crank end drive sprocket due to poor servicing/oil changes,leading to premature wear. Tensioners can also fail. I suspect you would have heard the chain rattling if the tensioner were faulty.
One other thing. Was the garage your car was recovered to your choice,are they a reputable place you would choose and trust? If yes,all well and good. If no,I'd get my car moved to a reputable garage to have the work carried out.
 

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I agree with baldyman, also look around for a car dismantling firm you can get a low mileage engine from a good dismantler for about £1500, but you must check them out, it would be a good idea to have the rac check the engine at the dismantler, they offer this service
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I know regarding the diagnosis of the starter motor. The garage used an endoscope and, like you, I don't understand not having any compression in all 3 cylinders other than if there was a major failure and that's the sort of thing that would happen if the chain snapped while driving isn't it, not parked overnight on the drive. The garage have come back and said when hand-cranking the engine, it seems to "tighten up" and they get some compression but then back to none so I was thinking maybe chain stretched / jumped due to bump-start or a problem with the tensioners like you suggest too but hadn't been aware of any rattling. And thank you for the advice re the crank end drive sprocket too.

We don't have much prior experience of garages in the area but other people we know have said the one it's gone to has a good reputation just not a Renault specialist. It just seems baffling.

Thanks again - your advice is much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I agree with baldyman, also look around for a car dismantling firm you can get a low mileage engine from a good dismantler for about £1500, but you must check them out, it would be a good idea to have the rac check the engine at the dismantler, they offer this service
Thanks - I got a couple of quotes on-line for reconditioned engines to get some idea of cost to compare with the garage the car's with. But thanks for the tip regarding a dismantler and about the RAC service - didn't know they did that so that's useful to know (perhaps they could check my engine out).
 

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I've never heard of a timing chain jumping when attempting to bump-start a car... cam belt yes, but chain no.
No compression on all cylinders is really unusual (for chain-driven camshaft). If the timing has gone way out then the valves may be open when they should be shut, hence no compression. If the starter motor was turning it's unlikely to be a starter fault unless there was no mesh with the ring gear in which case you get the horrible high-pitched whirring sound. If everything appeared normal but the car would not fire, it could be a problem with the immobiliser, fuel system or ignition system ... but unfortunately it is now too late to see from the state of the plugs if fuel was getting through or to check for a spark.

It would appear that unfortunately you either have to pay for a strip-down to find out what is wrong, or settle for a new/used engine. Have you reported what the RAC patrol did to their customer service number and asked for advice/contribution to repairs if it turns out that the bump-start inflicted major damage? The RAC should be insured for these events... do you have legal cover on your car insurance to get advice on how best to proceed?

Really sorry to hear of your woes and I hope you get it sorted soon. I have my own problems to deal with at the moment including having to rebuild part of my kitchen floor after the washing machine drain sprang a leak under the kitchen floor..... at least all the damp, rotten wood has been removed from the house even if the washing machine now sits "outside" of the worktop causing a bit of an obstruction (top put it mildly) in the kitchen
 

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Just wondering on reflection.... car serviced 10 days previously..... by whom? Did they put enough oil in, did the oil filter seal correctly? Has no/low oil resulted in something seizing in the engine and/or the camshaft breaking?

Also - how many miles has the engine done, and how long have you had the car?
 

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If the pistons/bore are ok surely head off,recondition head,fit new cam chain/sprockets,refit head. Or don't they do that these days and just fit a new engine? When hand cranking an engine,on the compression stroke of a cylinder,it becomes more difficult to turn over(tighten up?)due to the act of compressing. A compression gauge should register and retain the reading which should be within the criteria for that engine for all cylinders. Throttle must be held wide open during this test.
If,as Ivor says,the chain has jumped enough that the valves are open when they should be shut,resulting in loss of compression and there are no collision marks on the piston,it is probably not an interference engine and just needs a new chain,sprockets and tensioners. Does anyone know if it is an interference engine? I've had a quick google but can't find out.
 

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If you can find an engine specialist they might even collect the car and sort it,look in Honest john.
 

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Just had another Google,still cannot find out if it is an interference engine. However....
Did find an article on the Honest John website,apparently the 0.9 engine has a "lifetime" timing chain. Someone had written in having suffered a chain failure and Renault were willing to pay 75% of the repair costs.(Car was out of warranty). Providing the vehicle has full service/oilchange history. Might be worth going down this route if it is indeed a cam chain/sprocket failure. The website "expert" said Renault should pay 100%,the law is on your side. But would you really want the hassle and delays it would cause fighting to get them to cover the costs?
 
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