Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift


I wonder if anyone could help a complete novice please. We have a 2006 Vauxhall Astra Club with 70.000 miles on the clock, owned from new.

About 2 weeks ago, my Husband noticed some oil on the road when parked up, so took it to our local garage to get it checked out. They said it was a gasket that had gone, and it needed a new timing chain with gasket. Whilst doing the repair, they said upon examination, it need a new water pump too, so we had this repair done also.

Since then, my Husband has been checking oil etc regularly. A few days ago, he noticed the creamy substance on the oil filler cap, and also the water level had dropped. he oil itself was fine.

He took the car back to the garage, and was told that it was unlikely to be the head gasket, as this car has a metal gasket (excuse me if I have described this incorrectly.) He said it was probably condensation, and maybe an air lock? He topped up the water, told us to run it for a few days, and if the level dropped again, to take it back.

Well 2 days later it has happened again, more creamy substance, and level dropped. My question is, is this likely to be the head gasket? It is just a little odd that the car never had these other symptoms before, but since the original repair, this has started!

Any advice welcomed.

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - SLO76
What engine is in your Astra Sharon?
Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift
What engine is in your Astra Sharon?

Now there's a question haha. It's a petrol, 8 this the info you need?

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - RT

The Vauxhall 1.6 8-valve engine was infamous for over-cooling and generating large amounts of the white deposits - made worse when only used for short journeys, as many of these were due to their low power, especially if oil changes are infrequent.

Get the oil & filter changed - get the white deposits cleared out of the engine - consider blocking the top radiator grill all year round and half the bottom grill in winter.

That sounds drastic but the grill area was enough cooling for the most powerful OPC/VXR Astra's. My own 1.8 16v automatic needed the top grill blanking despite being used for towing duty, at it's towing limit.

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - SLO76
Is it a late previous generation car known as the Astra G then, these were the last to have the 8v engine and were belt driven not chain? The later H 1.6 is a 16v engine and chain driven. I wouldn't like to think you've been overcharged for a belt change which would be a good bit cheaper.

Is it used for a lot of stop start local driving? It's very common to get a milky deposit around the filler cap on these if it's not getting a chance to really heat up but pretty rare for a head gasket to fail. But the water is going somewhere either it's leaking or hasn't been correctly refilled after fitting the new pump and there is an airlock.

As for the new water pump, it's standard practice with any competent garage to replace it when you're replacing the t/belt or chain. They should've told you this at the start instead of just offering to inspect it. It might have looked ok only to fail 500 miles later necessitating another costly strip down. I'd suggest looking for a new mechanic.

Edited by SLO76 on 06/01/2017 at 13:57

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift

Please please excuse me. I told you I am clueless!! I have just spoken to my Husband as he's at work, and he's taking the car to the garage now. It is indeed a Vauxhall astra club petrol - but 1.4 16v. Definately a chain driven engine.

So you think it is unlikely to be the head gasket? We do feel a little fobbed off by the garage, and I agree about they should have offered to replace the water pump when the original repair took place.

I will see what is said when he returns from the garage. The last thing we need is another expensive repair bill, when we've just had one a few weeks ago!

Edited by sharon swift on 06/01/2017 at 14:11

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift

Head gasket has gone :(

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift

Last question. Is it worth getting this repair done do you think - or just scrapping it. I don't want to pay out for this, after paying hundreds just recently, if it's just going to be a never ending drain of money.

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - SLO76
An 11yr old Astra 1.4 with 70,000 miles is worth £600-£800 if it runs ok, isn't too tatty and has a reasonable Mot. If it's rough with a short Mot it's next to worthless.

I'd get shot of it to be honest, it's really not worth doing if the head gasket has failed and any attempt to do it on the cheap usually ends badly.

I would however get a second opinion and I'm also suspicious that it may have failed because the engine has overheat because of the garages failure to properly replace the water pump. It's not a common problem on Astras and it's very likely it happened as a result of the work they've done. However it would be very difficult to prove. I certainly wouldn't use them again.

The problem is do you want to replace it with another cheap older car you don't know or will you be prepared to spend more to buy something newer? You might otherwise be buying another money pit if you're not careful.

Edited by SLO76 on 06/01/2017 at 15:31

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift

Thank you, this was my thoughts exactly.

When we picked the car up after the repair a few weeks ago, there was LOTS of black smoke coming from the exhaust. They looked bery embarrassed by this, and said they thought some water had gotten into the exhaust or something :/

They have just said they will do this repair for £400 as a 'favour' as it would normally cost quite a bit more. This seems odd to me.

Is there a specific test that would be done to show that it is definately the head gasket, as they just checked the oil and said that's what it is.

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - SLO76
"Is there a specific test that would be done to show that it is definately the head gasket, as they just checked the oil and said that's what it is."

There are a lot of Quick methods to check the Head Gasket.

Coolant leaking externally from bellow the exhaust manifold
White smoke from the exhaust pipe
Overheating engine
Bubbles in the radiator or coolant overflow tank
White milky oil
Significant loss of coolant with no visible leaks

If required you could ask a garage to carry out a compression test, which will check the amount of compression in each cylinder - a failed one will be much lower as the air will be escaping but to be honest it should be picked up with the above.

£400 is cheap for the job but if there's an underlying reason why it failed in the first place and they don't fix it then it'll just fail again. I'd bin it.
Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift

Hello again.

We decided today to take the car to a very reputable local garage for a second opinion.

After having a good look, and doing the compression test, they said it isn't in fact the head gasket!

They said they are nearly 100% sure it's the timing chain gasket that has gone, which is the job we've just had done!!

We took it back to the original place, and they said it must of been a faulty gasket that was fitted, (sounds odd to me, is this usual?) and they'll do the job again at no cost.

Hope to god this sorts it out.

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - elekie&a/c doctor

If it is a 1.4 16valve engine,then it is the same unit you would find in a Corsa.There is a critical gasket that sits behind the water pump and connects to the engine behind the timing chain.Unlikely to be a faulty gasket,more likely it has not been fitted correctly.If the alignment is not correct,you will get coolant loss.

Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - SLO76
I'm glad you got a second opinion. If you hadn't your garage would have either unnecessary replaced the head gasket and not fixed the original problem or more likely they'd've realised and fixed their mistake, hoovered another £400 off you and told you they'd done the head gasket when they hadn't.

Either way make sure they fix it without charge and don't use them again! They're either incompetent or sharletons. The job they did wasn't carried out correctly and they tried to con more money out of you to fix their mistake.
Vauxhall Astra Club - Head gasket? - sharon swift

Just want to thank you all for your help. I had a niggling feeling that it was something to do with the original work that was done. There were quite a few signs pointing at NOT being the HG, and with some of your helpful advice, I'm very glad we decided to get a second opinion.

And I most certainly will not be using them again.


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