The C word

November 9, 2016 12:04 pm

The main vulnerability to be aware of with the XU10J4RS engine is it’s appetite for Cambelts. Because the engine is whats known as an interference engine, if the timing belt snaps and the crankshaft turns independently of the camshafts there will almost certainly be internal engine damage. There have been countless occurences of cambelts snapping over the years, and despite Peugeot initially rebutting any problems they lowered the service interval from 72000 miles to 36000 miles. Yet even this interval has proven too long for a few individuals who ended up nursing a damaged engine. The main theory for the cause of the snaps is due to the RS’ heavy valvetrain with double valve springs and a relatively high rev limit putting added strain on the belt. There have been occurences of belt snaps as low as 10,000 miles after being changed, but these tend to be from incorrect fitting or a failure to replace the belt tensioners and/or water pump as the same time as the belt. If a tensioner is excessively worn it can disintegrate, seize and throw the belt. Similarly a worn water pump can also cause the belt to jump, hence why for the relatively low cost it is recommended to replace both when doing a timing belt change. An interval of 30,000 miles or 3 years seems to be a figure that most people feel confident a properly tensioned belt should last.

Pirelli P6000s – why you should ditch them before they ditch you

October 5, 2016 1:17 pm

The Pirelli P6000 was a tyre manufactured in the late 1990s, fitted as standard to the Gti-6, Audi TT as well as some Jaguars and Vauxhalls.
In some respects the tyre has a lot of merit – it is very hard-wearing with reports of some tyres lasting well over 50,000 miles. It also produces adequate grip in dry conditions for most run of the mill cars.
However wet conditions are another story – The P6000s have a fearsome reputation in wet weather – producing understeer and scary snap lift off oversteer, even when driving fairly sedately. Browse any review site on P6000s and there will be countless stories of vague feedback, scary handling, and often a reports of cars pirouetting in the wet!
They also lack a progressiveness present in other performance tyres – when the car does lose traction and slide it struggles to regrip, and when it does, its liable to snap violently in the other direction.
The P6000s are old tyre technology now and the game has moved on so much in the past 20 years. These tyres have a well earned nickname of “ditchfinder” across the whole motoring community despite still being fitted to many cars on the road.
With the Pirelli’s legacy of 306s ploughing through hedgerows littering farmer’s fields, isn’t it time you ditched them before they ditch you!

Tapping engines

October 28, 2014 10:10 am

With even the latest GTi-6s now reaching 15 years old, many cars are now exhibiting a tapping noise from the engine. This noise rises as the revs rise and can often sound like a sticky tappet. However more often than not the cause is more sinister;

1. Bent Valves following a Cambelt snap
Because of the GTi-6’s XU10J4RS appetite for snapped timing belts, a common cause of the tapping is in fact down to bent inlet or exhaust valves in the cylinder head. This occurs when the cambelt snaps and the pistons hit the valves as the XU10J4RS is an ‘interference’ engine.
The garage doing the repair may visually inspect the valves and decide they are fine to reuse without checking them in a lathe or similar. They can be very slightly bent, and that is all it takes to make the engine tap. These bent valves won’t show up on a leak
down or compression test as the double valve springs are very strong, the only way to diagnose is by someone with experience with these engines or by removing the cylinder head again and inspecting them.

2. Damaged valve guides following a cambelt snap
Another potential cause of tapping can be the bronze Valve guides that may get slightly damaged when the belt snaps and the valves hit the pistons. These are an interference fit in the head so need need changing by a machine shop.

3. Valve to valve contact
The third cause could be when timing up the cylinder head, the camshafts have been turned independently. When this occurs it is possible for exhaust valves to touch inlets as they overlap slightly. This ‘touch’ is enough to bend them and a few engines have become ‘tappers’ this way.

4. Crankshaft pulley slippage
A common problem that occurs with the crankshaft pulley is that due to its construction, the timing hole used to set the engine timing can slip round from its original position. This occurs through hundreds of heat cycles, torque stress and age as the bonded outer ring of the pulley moves in relation to the inner ring. Since the timing hole is on the outer part of the pulley its position can move. Thus if the pulley has slipped and is used to set the timing on the engine, after a cambelt change for example, the timing can be out and piston/valve contact can occur. It is essential to use a known good pulley to time the engine. A triple check would be to check the pistons are at half height in the cylinders and as a rough guide the woodruff key is pointing to 9pm (if you visualise the engine as upright not leaning back in the engine bay). Many people use a lighter solid crank pulley to eliminate this problem and reduce some of the rotating mass.

There are cases of ‘tappers’ dropping a valve after operating fine for thousand of miles. The valves may be weakened from being bent/impact with pistons and decide to snap, decimating the engine, often requiring a new engine block.

Some people decide to replace the whole engine to save on costs but there is no guarantee, the engine you’re buying is in better condition than the one being replaced. Generally speaking the best way to solve the tapping is to replace all the valves and guides in the cylinder head and have it replaced by a competent mechanic.

5. Loose spark plug

To end on lighter note, not all causes of tapping are expensive to fix – it may be caused by something as innocent as loose spark plugs. Simply removing the coilpacks and re-torquing the plugs can stop the noise.





Heel and Toe

December 18, 2012 2:19 am

“Heel and toe” Heel and toe downshiftingis a driving technique that can be used to reduce strain on the transmission when changing down gears. This skill is a roadcraft that helps synchronise the gears to road speed when changing down the gearbox and braking. It sounds complicated but in reality isn’t. Normally when you change down the gearbox when braking, you brake, dip the clutch, select a lower gear and bring the clutch back up. When the clutch is reengaged there is a ‘shunt’ that unsettles the car as the synchromesh in the gearbox matches the gearspeed to the speed the wheels are turning.

You can elminate this shunt by rotating the heel of your right foot when braking and press the accelerator with the clutch depressed. This will raise the revs slightly and the lower gear will slot straight into place. As the revs already match from pressing the accelerator, the gearchange is extremely smooth and you can get straight on the power again. This is useful on track when approaching a bend but is equally satisfying to use on the road.
Practice makes perfect this skill seems difficult at first but is easily picked up. Some car pedals are positioned so that heel and toe is very difficult as the brake is much higher or lower than the accelerator pedal, and different throttle pedals has varying levels of resistance requiring you to press harder in one car than another.  The GTi-6 pedals are perfectly placed to allow heel and toe braking to be used to it’s full effect. When mastered, this technique is a great addition to any driver’s skillset whether on the road, or the track.

The GTi-6

May 13, 2012 8:05 pm

Hot hatch heavenThe 306 GTi-6 is a popular 90s hot hatchback / Popular with the motoring press for it’s excellent chassis, sublime handling, practicality and outright grunt, the GTi-6 won plaudits as a ‘grown up 205 GTi.’ While not as fearsome in reputation as the 205 GTi widowmaker, the ‘6’ could still lift off oversteer on demand – quite at odds with many modern hot hatches that tend to quell any such antics with electronic aids and a chassis that understeers.

The 2 litre engine is torquey and feels muscular with one of the best 4 pot soundtracks there is. Revving to 7250rpm as standard and producing 167bhp, it hauls the ~1200kg hatchback forward with impressive speed, even by today’s standards.

The GTi feels at home on the Motorway with it’s 6th gear, yet longs to be reunited with it’s home turf, the B road. With pedals perfectly spaced for heel and toe, and a fantastic gearbox that really makes the most of the revvy engine, the 306 can set a devastating pace cross country especially on twisty roads. The chassis inspires confidence allowing you to carry high speeds through corners – even more so with modern tyres. Indeed those owners of more expensive machinery can testify that you have to work hard to keep up with a well driven GTi-6 down a country lane, whatever car you’re in.

With these cars now nearing the bottom of their depreciation curve, theres never been a better time to pick up a bargain and discover what a proper driver’s car feels like.


March 29, 2012 9:15 pm

Welcome to! Over the coming weeks and months we aim to build this site into a valuable resource for any would-be purchaser of Peugeot’s fantastic 90s hot hatch as well as provide informative information for existing owners. We will offer a buyers guide, detailing what to look for and potential pitfalls to ensure you buy the best possible example of a GTi-6 you possibly can. These cars are renowned for their fantastic handling and muscular engine even when measured up against the likes of today’s hot hatches.

In the meantime until we are fully up and running, enjoy these videos of the GTi-6 in action.