The Corsa B GSi was equipped with Vauxhall’s C16XE – and the later X16XE – engine. A 1.6-litre inline-four boasting sixteen valves, multi-point fuel injection and a notoriously restrictive induction system, the unit’s power output is quoted as being 107bhp with 109lb/ft torque.
After early problems with sticking valves on low mileage cars, Vauxhall’s ‘belt and braces’ fix was the recommendation of cylinder head removal and valve guide modification, but when it came to cars showing minor symptoms, many dealers opted for the less severe remedy of dumping a can of engine flush into the twin-cammer before giving it a damn good thrash!
Of course, given the age of the GSi, it’s unlikely you’ll find one suffering from sticking valves today, but it’s a condition worth knowing about in case you find unexplained paperwork highlighting cylinder head work not long after the car you’re looking at was first sold.
As is the case with most older engines, checking the GSi’s beating heart from cold and allowing the unit to get up to temperature is a must. Listen for any evidence of uneven idle and/or misfires. Look for smoke at the rear. Head gaskets can fail, although this complaint can be easily identified by excessive build up of pressure in the cooling system, white smoke from the exhaust and severely discoloured coolant. Oil leaks are common from the sump and cam cover gaskets. Fortunately, replacing them is a straightforward – if somewhat messy – task for anyone au fait with a basic tool kit.
Oil leaks from behind the timing belt usually signify weeping camshaft seals. It’s another inexpensive fix, albeit one that might seem daunting if you’re only used to carrying out basic servicing. If you do think there’s a fault here, it’s worth spending time replacing the timing belt and water pump, especially if the car’s history suggests the job’s 40k-mile service interval is drawing near (despite Vauxhall recommending 80k-mile timing belt intervals for the majority of its engines in the 1990s-2000s, a high number of Griffins were returned under warranty due to snapped belts, leading to a change in the published recommended frequency of the work being done).
As a minimum, oil changes should be carried out every 10k miles, although we’d recommend halving
that number. Refreshing the lubricant is one of the cheapest and easiest jobs you can do on your Vauxhall, and one which will ensure its engine remains in rude health. Evidence of fresh, clean fluids is a sign of a caring owner, and suggests the car has been looked after.
Many drivers fail to consider fuel injectors when it comes to routine maintenance. Injector nozzles can become blocked with the accumulation of dirt which causes erratic fuel spray patterns. Ultrasonic cleaning and servicing of your car’s injectors is cheap (from £12.50 per injector), highly effective and can be done by mail order through Injectortune ( injectortune.co.uk).