Disaster strikes. Again.
PART TEN: Having clocked up 1400 miles in our Insignia, the engine suddenly stopped running. Rob Hawkins puts on his overalls once more.
We honestly thought that once the tripmeter had passed the 1000-mile mark, we’d got the better of our Insignia and fixed all its problems. Then it well and truly bit us on the behind one day, when the engine simply cut out and raised a traction control error on the dashboard. The engine would freely spin over on a twist of the ignition key, but refused to fire back into life.
Green Flag came to the rescue and transported the lifeless Insignia back to our local garage, MJ Motors, who have been involved in the resurrection of this project vehicle from the start. Both Green Flag and the mechanics at MJ Motors plugged in their diagnostic equipment, but nothing was pointing to the reason for the engine not running.
Confident that there was diesel fuel in the tank and that it was getting to the engine, we decided to check the timing. We got stuck into removing the timing belt cover and offside engine mount to be able to check the timing marks, but everything appeared to line up correctly.
The next suggestion was that the rockers could have broken. With the two camshafts located inside the rocker cover, the valves are opened and closed via 16 rockers. So, the injectors along with their fuel pipes, wiring and other associated parts were removed, before the bolts holding down the rocker cover could be accessed and undone. Once the rocker cover had been removed, we thought we had found the cause of the problem. Four rockers were indeed broken – but there was more… We then discovered the exhaust camshaft had snapped in two, close to where the timing belt sprocket is attached.
Armed with a new set of rockers and an exhaust camshaft, we thought we’d got the better of the problem. Once the engine had been reassembled, we tried to manually rotate it, but it refused to move. Dan Smith at MJ Motors remained calm and day four of this disaster saw his two-post ramp occupied by a dead Insignia. After some exploration, Dan found the culprit.
The crankshaft timing cog was damaged where a cut-out on the inside allows it to be located on the crankshaft by a woodruff key. That cut-out had been enlarged, so there was movement in the cog, which meant the timing was incorrect. We suspect this problem was the reason for the timing belt renewal in July last year by the previous owner.
Undeterred by these setbacks, everyone involved has remained keen to keep this Insignia alive, and we’ve succeeded once again and are clocking up the miles once more. The costs may be spiralling into the stratosphere, but there’s an important lesson to be learned here: when you skimp on routine maintenance, eventually there will be a price to pay.