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205 XE intermittent issues

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I have no idea if this is in the right forum - please do tell me if its not fitting.. 

This is a bit of a lengthy post but I’m seeking some advice about my little Peugeot 205 (XE 1987, 1.0 petrol). 


There are a few things going wrong and not quite right, might be connected but might also be individual issues. 


Before lockdown the car was running really well, always started really well with the choke out and almost always started for the rest of the day without the choke. During lockdown I had a few starting issues which we eventually diagnosed as the starter motor. This was sent to a restorer who replaced a part that easily explained the issues it had been having. 

Ran okay for a few weeks but then started the same issue until it eventually completely died, we were able to establish that it was the solenoid and we swapped it over with my other Peugeot 205 (XL 1986)’s solenoid. It started fine and this seemed to be the issue. 


It went through the MOT fine with a few minor issues.


Prior to the starting issues, quite a few months before, I noticed that my car was losing water. It was picked up in my MOT last year as suspicious.  The car shows absolutely no issues that could point to the head gasket, and in the recent MOT this year, they checked it and concluded (in every way short of taking the car apart) that there were no symptoms that this was an issue. It ran well without overheating and there were no visible leaks when put under pressure. No gunk in the oil, no white smoke etc. So just losing water mysteriously.


Since I have kept a kind of ‘car diary’ to see how rapidly it’s losing its coolant, and roughly estimate that it’s about half an inch every 200-ish miles. Not long after we have found a leaky core plug near the underneath of the carburettor which is directly above where we had noticed water was gathering in the engine, it’s ‘seeping’ rather then pouring out. I’ve been told by my mechanic that this seems fitting with the water loss, and that the amount I was losing was very slow. And that this explains how it didn’t show up when they put it under pressure. 


Since the MOT and to be honest, since the starter motor went. It’s had some difficulties starting. It’s become much more difficult to start - it starts absolutely fine in the morning, but almost seems to be progressively harder to start the more it is started through the day, regardless to how long it’s been sitting. This seems almost entirely randomised though, as sometimes it literally roars into life after being sat for 4 hours, other times I’ll have turned it off literally to put petrol in and then have trouble starting it again after. It always does start with some revving and experimenting with the choke. 

 It turns but doesn’t quite have the power to actually start for a few minutes (max 5). Again, this is usually only after the initial starting, it starts up fine in the morning 9 times out of 10. 


I have another issue that happens intermittently too. This is when it starts badly, and then struggles to run for the first few minutes or so that it is running. Basically I’ll be driving and very shortly after starting it, it’ll start to hesitate. It’ll be pulling fine one moment, then for a couple of seconds (sometimes minutes) it’ll be as if it loses power and stops pulling. It still goes, and it doesn’t feel like it’ll stop. 


It feels like a hesitation, or, as if I’m trying to go too fast in the wrong gear, and the car physical cannot pull anymore. It hops back and forth between this quite a few times, sometimes lasting my entire journey home (around 20 minutes) but mostly only for a few minutes just after starting. It’s difficult to get up to a good speed because the hesitations essentially hold it back.This never happened prior to the issues with the starter motor and happens very very intermittently, I again kept a diary (initially I suspected it was a fuelling issue because it coincided with low petrol a few times, but this was quickly proven wrong when it happened when I had almost a full tank) and it happens very very randomly. Sometimes it’ll happen twice in a week and sometimes it’ll have a stint where it doesn’t do it for almost 2 weeks. 


The only other issue the car has is that the radiator doesn’t blow hot air, this might be completely unrelated but thought id mention it just incase. 


I’m going to replace the spark plugs, and my mechanic suggested I check the distributor. But I’m skeptical that it won’t be either. I’m sorry for such a long winded post, but I absolutely love my car to bits and I want to do everything I can to fix the issues, does anyone have any suggestions of what may be causing these issues and what I could do to fix them? 

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Ignition Is the place to start - plugs, rotor arm and distributor cap are cheap enough to replace and could all give the symptoms you describe.


lack of heat from the heater could well be an air lock if you have been loosing coolant - there will be 1 or 2 bleed points to let air out of the system which you carefully do with the engine running whilst making sure the coolant level doesnt drop too low.



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Its a simple old car.


As I'm sure everyone's telling You, it could be many things.


Cheapest way is  to not randomly chuck parts at it.


I`d start with a decently equipped  long established local garage, with someone  fiftyish + years of age and get him to look at it.


That`s likely to be quickest.




1 Eliminate the head gasket/cooling system being at fault. There`s no point wasting cash  fixing anything else first.


2 Check :  air delivery,  fuel delivery,  battery voltage,  battery connections,  main electrical earth points,  choke flap free movement,   HT spark present on the coil,  ignition timing,  tappet clearances  etc  i.e. basic necessities and parameters are present and  correct for an engine start.


3 Check over all the wiring/switching/earthing/fusing etc involved  for damage/bad connections/corrosion/short circuits/broken circuits etc.




Assuming all the above check out as fault free It sounds like a fuel/ignition/electrical fault or faults causing Your problems.


Temperature variable faults are all possible with things like: the coil, the carburettor, the distributor, the tappet clearances and other sub-systems involved.


It wont be hard to find for someone experienced in  the  technologies involved.

















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