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What would you do? (More engine probs)


Well-known member
14 Apr 2013
So my 2003 C4s has done 76k miles. I've had it 3 months now and spent £5k on it with respray, new Kline exhaust, suspension refresh, rads and condensers etc.

Up until the last week I have cleaned the car every 5 days. The cars performance is absolutely spot on.

After 10 ish days of using the car daily and not cleaning it I noticed that the near side exhaust tip is slightly more sooty than the drivers side... :frustrated: there is no smoking at all and no tapping.

Now I know 75% of these engines will develop scoring at some point. And I know that the breather pipe is fine. Therefore this is scoring.

I have been offered £13k from webuyanycar.

Whatever happens, at the minute I am not wanting to spend any more money at the moment.

Do I 1) drive it until it smokes and slaps and then spend £4-10k on a rebuild etc (thereby obligating me to keep the car for another couple of years +/- wait for sorted 996 prices to rise once the rest of the 75% of engines have gone pop). Ideally I wanted to go for a 996/7 turbo next year.
2) see what I can get as a part ex and chop it in for a 987 3.2s (not the 3.4 due to bore scoring) and keep the change (if any) and put it towards a turbo next year. Or swap for an m5/6 or something of this ilk for 6-8 months.
3) flog it privately and live with the guilt?
Options 2-3 are only available whilst the car has no symptoms. Option 3 isn't really an option.
4) other ideas

You can see my dilemma....

Advice please!
I would get a borescope inspection done to see if there really is an issue first.

Sounds to me like you have spent alot of money getting her where you want and haven't had a decent enough amount of time to enjoy it. Get it checked out and if it turns out your fears are correct I'd speak to Hartech about your options
In view of how much you have already spent i would be inclined to carry on using the car and try to put £250 a month to one side for when you need to do the repair.
According to Hartech all of these engines will succumb to oval cylinders at some stage so its a matter of when rather than if.
Is the oil consumption excessive?
Given the short time you've had it and the money you've shelled out I'd get an expert diagnosis done.

Even if your worst fears are confirmed and it costs £5k+ to sort out you'll then have plenty of time to get your money back in :D 's.
I'd clean the car (problem solved) and then start enjoying it! :D
take it to Hartech if its bad news they are the best to sort it, and if its good news you will enjoy the drive back from Bolton. :D
Thanks for the helpful responses chaps.

My friend owns a good local Indy and had a look with his machine. As already mentioned above there is some scoring on 2 of the 3 cylinders on bank 2. Only mild however although cylinder 6 is the worst - and even then is only minimal apparently.

The problem is I have no idea how long this has been there. Because I clean the car obsessively I haven't given it chance to show up on the exhaust tips before now. It could have been like this from 25k miles with no deterioration whatsoever!

A fourth options opens up here and that is to keep running it and check it regularly with the scope to see if it is progressing. If it does then I could go to the above options or look at a turbo if it goes on long enough.

The more I think about it the more I like the 'safe' option of a 3.2 987 (with a cheap ims fix) or an M5, but the C4s is a sublime car. It does so many things so well and it looks the part too.

What I don't want to do is to do nothing. That way the decision will be made for me and I will have a big bill to contend with which will eat some of my turbo fund.

Unless I decide to keep it forever and put 15k Autofarm 3.9 conversion in there......... I think not.
Option 5 - flog all the new parts, part ex them with members for old parts, fit the old parts then sell it to WBAC.

In all honesty if it were me I'd be looking to get at least 12 months driving for my 5k.
On my 3.4l one of the exhaust tips has been balcker than the other one for over 10k miles now with no issues or oil consumption. In the beginning I was very worried like you, but now I just enjoy the car!
Tough one.

You know its got an impending problem, however it could be one month or 5 years before it becomes a real issue. Apparently all the 3.6+ motors will eventually score badly enough to need expensive work, it could be at 50k miles or it could be at 200k miles you never know.

However you know its started and the car has a black mark in your mind - if you can deal with that then just enjoy the car and be prepared to fix it if it happens on your watch. Otherwise trade now for the car you really want that doesn't suffer - a turbo.

Changing for a car you are going to change again in a years time will only cost more money and you could finance the turbo on an interest free credit card right now....

Or get an early 3.4 like mine as apparently they don't suffer from this, something to do with a piston coating that was deprecated for H&S reasons : http://www.pistonheads.com/Gassing/...ore+scoring+on+refurbished+engine+&mid=108085 :D

Regarding the 3.4 and bore scoring - most of the 3.4 engines had a different piston coating that was phased out (we understand due to health and safety reasons) ................... The earlier ones with the earlier pistons we have not seen score any bores but the later ones (or any early ones fitted with later pistons) have but rarely.
ragpicker said:
What I don't want to do is to do nothing. That way the decision will be made for me and I will have a big bill to contend with which will eat some of my turbo fund.

Good news that the car is ok at the moment. :thumb:

I can empathise with the above as I was in the same position myself earlier in the year.

The difference for me was that I'd had my car for three years rather than three months. My dilemma was whether to keep the car to get some use of the £'s I'd invested in getting it absolutely right or to 'bite the bullet' and sell before anything expensive happened to sour the whole ownership experience.

In the end, after changing my mind several times, I decided to make the change. I don't regret it as the Turbo is a whole different experience but I do still wonder what would have happened if I hadn't done it when I did.

I miss the Carrera but I sure as hell don't miss any of the paranoia associated with owning one.

Good luck :bye:
The reality is now that you have spotted it, it will gnaw away at you every minute of the day. It will not correct itself and will deteriorate over time. You are now at the table playing Russian Roulette.

If this is not for you, leave aside the £5k you've spent (put it down to experience) and part ex for a Turbo. I have always maintained that this is an expensive Gentlemen's Club that costs money to join and even more sometimes to retain that annual membership! The shape of the car is seduction on wheels tempting people in.

Hartech site doesn't give a clear indication of cost of the fix - quite rightly because it depends on many factors such as what they find when they go in, what else you want to have done whilst they are in there and so on.
Just talking to people who have had this fix done, there are more who vouch for a bill of £10k than there are people who vouch for a bill of £6k.
As for threads which suggest a bill of £4k-£5k I think this only happens when Mars is on the cusp of Venus and Haleys Comet crosses the night sky simultaneously.

If you enjoy the car and want to have it for (say) 3 years, then have it fixed. Otherwise part-ex for a Turbo. I wouldn't recommend a part-ex for another NA car - you are risking Russian Roulette again unless it has had a Hartech rebuild. Such a car might be an option for you.

I have always found Grant at Hartech very helpful. It will be worth a chat with him over the phone - they may have a salvaged engine they can use for parts making the repair less expensive. For sure once its been through the Hartech treatment and put on their maintenance plan, you have peace of mind and enjoyable motoring with the majoirty of your servicing costs pegged for the duration of the maintenance of the plan.

I empathise with your situation - there is a rock and a hard place somehwhere in there along with astrologers fate.
I was in a similar position earlier this year with my 1999 Carrera 2.

I had to make the decision whether to keep throwing money at it even though I was planning a change later in the year, or get rid of it before the bills really started stacking up. I chose the latter option.

It was a bit easier for me though: I'd "only" spent £2.5k on it but I was faced with essential further repairs that would have brought the grand total to about £5k.

If I'd spent as much as you have already I'd want to keep the car for a while longer.

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