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robhearne

To rebuild or not to rebuild...

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...the engine.  That is the question I'm deliberating over.

My '95 Corrado VR6 has been in storage for 7 or so years and I'm seeking to get it back on the road.  It's currently with a specialist garage who took it for an MOT and it only failed on rusty break lines and emissions (quite a few advisories though and some things that were missed completely like an ABS).  The garage have assessed the car and said that it's got a really good body (v.little rust and mostly original paint) and interior (leather) but it does need a whole heap of work (probably 10k if I had everything done, not including cosmetic items such as respray). I definitely want to get the car back on the road but I can't justify throwing £10k at it right now so the work will have to be done in stages.

As I alluded to earlier, my main decision right now it what to do about the engine.  It's done 120k miles and was consuming a fair amount of oil before I took it off the road.  The garage are recommending a full rebuild at £3.5k (assuming the head and block are ok).  There obviously is an issue with the amount of oil that it's consuming, and that's probably the reason for the emissions issue (the CAT could well have been killed by an oil leak), so some internal engine work seems likely to correct that issue, I'm just not sure if it needs to be a full rebuild.  I am planning on using the car as my daily, although that only amounts to only a handful of miles a week as I work from home.  So I doubt I'll do more than a couple of thousand miles a year, but I still need it to be reliable.  Popular opinion seems to be that a VR6 engine will need a rebuild after 150k miles, but I doubt this car will ever see much over 150k miles if I'm only doing 2k miles a year. 

So I'm not sure whether to go with the garage's recommendation of the full rebuild, as that should give me trouble free running (as far as the engine is concerned) for the rest of the cars life (or until they ban big petrol engines), or alternatively see if there's a cheaper route just to fix the oil and emissions issue, but then who knows what could be round the corner next?

BTW, although I don't intend on selling the car, value has to be a consideration.  A rebuilt engine is obviously going to increase the potential resell price, but clearly not to the tune of £3.5k.

Any insight or advise anyone can give would be greatly appreciated.

 

Robin

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You should just look at the money you spend as for your own benefit, and not as a return on investment.

Most elderly VRs will drink a fair amount of oil, without there necessarily being something terribly wrong. Common points are the valve cover gaskets and both bottom seals. I would say chains and clutch should be top of your list at that mileage.

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Posted (edited)

First of all if its a specialist garage and its not Stealth racing then best pull it out because I wouldn't be giving no firm big money unless I knew  they new  engine inside out.  

Secondly oil consumption can be caused by valve stem seals which in general could be a top of head rebuild and chains when its out- other oil consumption can be due to ovulation of cylinder- also to add chains getting old might have your timing out leading to a bent valve or two. 

My advice is get it to stealth and have the top and bottom rebuilt and get it up to a true 2.9 and engine should be good for many years to come with the chains as part of the build - water pump - oil pump - looking around 4 k- but better that then spending that else where for half the work and half the job and knowledge.  You wait after its rebuilt after 500 mile break in will feel like a new car will pull like a train- well worth it. 

Edited by Keyo

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Get it on the road, if you're doing 2K per year and the engine uses 1L every 1K miles 10L of oil will last 12 months and include an annual oil change.

Oil consumption only becomes an issue when it starts to foul plugs. If it give problems after 1K miles have a compression test done, followed by a leak down test to prove where the loss of compression results from.

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If it’s been say for years as you say, it’s probably valve stem seals and such in the head that’s gone all hard. The block may still be good with that mileage and may not need a rebore. Stealth quoted in the region of £1500 for head refurb, chains and guides a couple of years ago. If the block needs work when he opens it up, your car is in the right garage for the work.  Get the crank seals done while it’s in bits either way though. 
It’s well worth asking to speak to Vince and get a quote, he really does know the VR6 and doesn’t waste your money or time. 

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Thanks for the replies guys,  It seems like there's a great deal of trust in Stealth Racing, but they are quite far away from me and it would cost a fair amount just to trailer it up there for a second opinion.  As trust in the garage seems to play a big part in people's recommendations, I figure I'll let you guys know that it's at JMR racing.  I've used JMR before for suspension work (back in 2007) and I believe that John knows his stuff, but I get the impression that he's a bit of a perfectionist and always starts off by recommending the premium option.  I'm a perfectionist as well, but I'm not sure if I can justify the perfectionist price tag 😀

It seems like maybe a top-end rebuild rather than a full rebuild is the way to go,

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JMR, like Stealth, are also excellent.  Jon is (used to be) a regular here and his knowledge is really second to none.  See his 16vG60, which is phenomenal.  I'm sure he will advise you a feasible solution within your budget

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I believe/know he charges a lot more by the hour. It all adds up especially with premium options before you know it you’ve got a £7k rebuild

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1 hour ago, 1xshaunx1 said:

I believe/know he charges a lot more by the hour. It all adds up especially with premium options before you know it you’ve got a £7k rebuild

Take heed to these wise words. 

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On 4/10/2022 at 10:45 AM, robhearne said:

Thanks for the replies guys,  It seems like there's a great deal of trust in Stealth Racing, but they are quite far away from me and it would cost a fair amount just to trailer it up there for a second opinion.  As trust in the garage seems to play a big part in people's recommendations, I figure I'll let you guys know that it's at JMR racing.  I've used JMR before for suspension work (back in 2007) and I believe that John knows his stuff, but I get the impression that he's a bit of a perfectionist and always starts off by recommending the premium option.  I'm a perfectionist as well, but I'm not sure if I can justify the perfectionist price tag 😀

It seems like maybe a top-end rebuild rather than a full rebuild is the way to go,

as per as others are saying i would start with a top end rebuild & get the chains done.  it is possible to inspect the health of the bottom end by looking for the original honing marks in the bores

FYI i had my top end & chains done at approx 155K with vince at stealth & the bottom end was judged to be pretty healthy

also as per what other have said, there will be a number of other parts which would be wise to renew during the work; water pump, aux water pump, thermostat, thermostat housing, temp sensors to name a few

IIRC my work with stealth ended up being around £3.5k as we ended up chasing old failing parts for a short while but i did also add fancy stuff like 263 cams, BMC CDA & a remap

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Posted (edited)

Just to add here - I've never heard a bad word said about Stealth but cannot say the same about JMR if you see the various social media posts cropping up frequent enough to cause me concern. Where there is smoke there is fire and all that and considering labour rates, expertise and customer service Stealth is an absolute no brainer for this type of work. It helps they have done more VR6 rebuilds than I have had hot dinners as well and Vince is an extremely knowledge and approachable chap - he will no nonsense tell you what is needed and what the options are and you never ever feel like you're being taken for a ride. Geniune chap and equally the boys he has working for him are real decent lads as well.

For me I had my top end rebuild and chains done and am at 155k currently. Vince inspected the bottom end and it was fine but of course has done 150k at the time so no guarentees. What I can say is that over the last 1000 miles it has not used a drop of oil and it had 263 cams put in and made 220 hp / 212 Ibft or torque so must be pretty healthy. That said if down the line it started to smoke or show signs of needing repair I would simply remove the engine from the car, use the oppo to clean and paint the engine bay at home and deliver the engine to Vince for magic hands. The top once removed won't need any real work, assuming no catestrophic failure of the bottom so it will be a bottom end job only at reduced expense. I went my particular route becuase my engine had an odd vibration and it turned out the tensioner was battered, I added on the head refurb becuase I wanted a new headgasket to prevent problems. I had to draw the line somewhere so opted not to do the bottom as it wasn't needed.

I dont mind sharing my costs - for head refurb, chains, clutch, new fuel pump, injectors, every single bush, new brakes, new brake lines, all new engine sensors (oem or bosch), new abs pump, 263 cams, rolling road map, new bearings, miltek non res, the bill was £6k INC PARTS. The only original parts left are the steering rack, radiator, bottom end and manifold + cat. As you'll see that is well within in your 10k budget and you could stretch to an engine rebuild if you got the car to Stealth.

The VR6 is a strong engine, 150k isn't the norm for death, it really depends on the history of the engine for mainteance and how it has been used. No reason why it wouldn't last 250k with sympathetic use (i.e. wait till oil is 90degrees before hooning it). The maintenace stretches on to the ancillaries - cooling, electronics - keep them in check and you're mitigating your risk.

 

 

 

 

Edited by MJA

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Posted (edited)

Oh btw - depends how your engine is burning oil. If it's from cold and clears up, during stop strat driving or acceleration from stand still it's likely to be valve stem seals but evenutally clears up a top end rebuild will solve. Your spark plugs will also foul up.

If piston rings, and therefore bottom end rebuild, the car is likely to blue smoke all the time. 

The garage you take the car to, if reputable, will carry out the required leak down and compression tests to advise whether it needs a full rebuild or not. This is what happended for me at Stealth and perhaps JMR did that for you if they are advising a full build - ask/be sure though! Tbh I didn't have a clue at the time but Vince explained it all to me - the whys and what for - so now I know.

 

 

Edited by MJA

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Posted (edited)

If you just start it up Vince will tell you if it needs a rebuild by just sniffing the exhaust gasses/ oil smell  lol. Im not kidding. 

Mine was burning oil you could smell it- took the engine apart and had two slightly bent valves- good way to test this id put the valve end in a drill and spin it and you will see , also slight ovulation of a cylinder- i think the bent valves were caused by timing out from last owner as he got the chains done after the car had issues- mechanics initial report timing miles out- strangely enough my car also had a rebuild at about 60 k by a seat dealers- block now on third re build- I wouldnt say its as bullet proof engine as say an 8V that's for sure. 

Edited by Keyo

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5 hours ago, Keyo said:

If you just start it up Vince will tell you if it needs a rebuild by just sniffing the exhaust gasses/ oil smell  lol. Im not kidding. 

Mine was burning oil you could smell it- took the engine apart and had two slightly bent valves- good way to test this id put the valve end in a drill and spin it and you will see , also slight ovulation of a cylinder- i think the bent valves were caused by timing out from last owner as he got the chains done after the car had issues- mechanics initial report timing miles out- strangely enough my car also had a rebuild at about 60 k by a seat dealers- block now on third re build- I wouldnt say its as bullet proof engine as say an 8V that's for sure. 

sounds like your car just hasn't had the best of pasts mate. I think they're very good engines if kept well maintained. No engine is bullet proof if poorly looked after. That includes regular oil and filter changes and not ragging it to death from cold, but also ensuring the cooling system works correctly. The fact that the valves were bent was down to human error or chain failure, which is the only weak point in that there was no specified service interval on chains and tensioner. Wear is pretty obvious when they become noisy though, so flat out failure is also quite rare. Bore ovalisation is also very rare and only becomes apparent well North of 150k. I can count on one hand the reports I've heard of it happening (not to say there aren't more I haven't admittedly), but it's still a rare occurrence. Lots of people talking about it puts the frighteners up everyone, when the reality is it's not very common at all.

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, seanl82 said:

sounds like your car just hasn't had the best of pasts mate. I think they're very good engines if kept well maintained. No engine is bullet proof if poorly looked after. That includes regular oil and filter changes and not ragging it to death from cold, but also ensuring the cooling system works correctly. The fact that the valves were bent was down to human error or chain failure, which is the only weak point in that there was no specified service interval on chains and tensioner. Wear is pretty obvious when they become noisy though, so flat out failure is also quite rare. Bore ovalisation is also very rare and only becomes apparent well North of 150k. I can count on one hand the reports I've heard of it happening (not to say there aren't more I haven't admittedly), but it's still a rare occurrence. Lots of people talking about it puts the frighteners up everyone, when the reality is it's not very common at all.

It’s true what you are saying - second engine was caused by over due chains I think - car has full service history but still chains should be done at 100 k which owner waited to long - first rebuild been a very late block with stamp on back and not on front we’re famous for been changed out for low miles - have all new now and with oil change at 500 - then oil change at 2500 / followed rev 2500 brake in procedure  - followed by oil change at 5000 this engine is fully on me snd should out  live me I hope . Really is brutally strong now broken in . I did all the mileage as well on motorway and didnt let the car idle on drive . 
 

Edited by Keyo

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Yeah you've done it right and can start from scratch treating it well. It really is pot luck without the rebuild if you're buying in at 150k like I did. I do expect the bill at some point!

It is a bit of bad luck on your engine though, wonder why a SEAT dealer did it? Wonder how much experience they really have on that motor. At least it all behind you now though.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
20 minutes ago, MJA said:

Yeah you've done it right and can start from scratch treating it well. It really is pot luck without the rebuild if you're buying in at 150k like I did. I do expect the bill at some point!

It is a bit of bad luck on your engine though, wonder why a SEAT dealer did it? Wonder how much experience they really have on that motor. At least it all behind you now though.

 

 

 

 

 

I will dig out the receipt later and post - the only thing that worries me is the vsr flap failing and bits dropping in - famous on Bmw variables - they actually use a blanking plate aftermarket as have 6 flaps - must say though the vsr flap looks a lot more beefy snd well engineered then a Schrick flap . Happened to my mates shrick  and bits rattled through block - well worth modding flap on a shrick to beefen  up - Vince has a chap that can do it . There known as butterfly flaps in the automotive world . 
 

pictures illustrates Bmw butterfly and blanking plates . 

F8BDFA58-8C10-4F88-BAF9-5C91702F19BE.png

Edited by Keyo

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Yeah mate I would be worried about that too. I'll pick it up next week, it's for the best  😄 😄 😄

 

 

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2 minutes ago, MJA said:

Yeah mate I would be worried about that too. I'll pick it up next week, it's for the best  😄 😄 😄

 

 

Dream on 🤓

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Not sure this is a second receipt could just be a head rebuild - but it says finish off building engine - could be a missing receipt . 

3E916128-A01C-4CF0-9536-2BBFD4E187B6.jpeg

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1 hour ago, Keyo said:

Not sure this is a second receipt could just be a head rebuild - but it says finish off building engine - could be a missing receipt . 

3E916128-A01C-4CF0-9536-2BBFD4E187B6.jpeg

Finish rebuilding engine - £67.50! Bloody hell, I would have chanced it for that price! Lol

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19 minutes ago, seanl82 said:

Finish rebuilding engine - £67.50! Bloody hell, I would have chanced it for that price! Lol

Could of had a big bill before that invoice not sure . 

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Posted (edited)

This is the next time chains was done - factory - seat 67k -  Austin 156k - now stealth 160k with rebuild . I doubt seat would of used the uprated Mk4 as not even out yet ha ,  glad I got it on my newly built engine - so my car has had four sets in its life ., Note as this point I believe valves were bent all ready so a Damn waste of money by owner - perfect example of why I use stealth . 

271E3CD5-F6E0-4463-B82F-7BF861D498D1.jpeg

Edited by Keyo

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