Fiat Punto Melted Piston - Chris

Here is what has happened to me recently. I wonder if anyone agrees?

Bought Fiat Punto 60S 1997 in August 2000 with 38000 miles on it.
Drove it up to July 2001 no problems.

Had about 58000 miles on it by then. I had travelled alot in it.

Started getting the following symptons in August:

Whining noise when starting from cold for about the first ten miles.
This was intermittent so I didnt think much of it any stupidly left it.

September - Car Engine Temperature sensor light starts to come after a longish drive.
Then car starts misfiring when the light comes on.

Take it to Fiat garage.
They say that the problem is my Thermostat and Cooling sensor.

They fit new Thermostat, Cooling Sensor, Spark Plug, Oil etc and say it is sorted.

First 2 days after i get it fixed I notice the sensor light coming on again. I speak to the Fiat garage and they say that the coolant level may not be filled up. (You would have thought they would have checked that).

I check the level and sure enough the coolant level was very low. I fill it up to the max level and do not get any more lights coming on.

Last week I was driving home and my engine starts to make a grinding noise and loses power. I pull over to the hard shoulder and loads of smoke is pouring out of the exhaust.

The engine cuts out, the engine is steaming, smoke everywhere.

Get it towed to a garage.

The guy tells me that the Piston has actually melted, and head is warped and some serious damage has been done and I need a new engine.

Question is, have i got any comeback to Fiat about what has happened.?

Any replies would be helpful.
Re: Fiat Punto Melted Piston - ChrisR
If they changed the thermostat they must have drained the coolant, so it's their fault if it wasn't filled up. On the other hand, they could argue that the dead thermostat caused some damage to the head gasket before you took it to them and that's why the coolant was low when you checked it. It finally blew altogether on your way back from work. Can you actually melt pistons? I can imagine them seizing in place when all the oil disappears, but even under normal conditions they must have to endure some very high temperatures.

You'll have to put it down to bad luck, I reckon, and keep an eye on your coolant in future.

Another whining punto owner - Jeremy
Hi Chris

I also own a 97 Punto 60S that's done 70,000 miles. Round about August it also developed a whine in the first few miles.

In September the engine started to run oddly and it overheated.

I was towed to a Fiat garage. New head gasket, new thermostat, new water pump, new cam belt, new plugs - seven hundred quid!!!
[search under whining punto (23/9/01) to read the story]

Car now runs well, but it still whines when accelerating hard in the opening few miles. Also I note that the coolant level fluctuates - sometimes I look under the bonnet & its close to max, sometimes its close to min.

Took it back to the fiat garage who charged me sixty quid to say they couldn't find anything wrong, couldn't hear the noise - they'd pressure tested the cooling system & it was fine - they said the coolant level does fluctuate. They suggested spraying alternator belt with WD40 - I did, no improvement.

They assured me it wasn't cam-belt tensioners, and that everything was OK in the engine department

But still it whines. Your story fills me with horror that something is still very wrong. Can anybody help????
Re: Another whining punto owner - Adam Going (Tune-Up Ltd)

Can't say I have heard of anything similar on Punto, but you could try removing the alternator belt and driving the car a short distance from cold - if the noise is still there it ain't the alternator belt ! If that is the case the cambelt tensioner would be high on my personal list of suspects, but there are lots of other bearings too, even, possibly, transmission related. Noises in cars, and engines in particular, are an absolute s.d to diagnose sometimes, even when you can hear them, which is difficult over the net !!

Best of luck, Adam
Re: Another whining punto owner - honest john
If the head gasket was leaking coolant into the combustion chamber, that pot would run extremely lean and extremely hot and would melt the piston. It's a problem with VW VR6s which have an unusually wide head gasket.


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