It is becoming very apparent to us that most of the low mileage wetbelt failures on the Ford Ecoboost and Peugeot engines are caused by poor service intervals and incorrect oil.
Garages are using the correct grade of oil but not with the correct additives (specification) which instead of prolonging the life of the wetbelt is actually causing it to fail prematurely.
We urge anyone who has a car with a wetbelt to check with their manufacturer to see exactly what grade and specification oil is required and make sure their garage is using it, it may cost more in the short term but I can guarantee it will save you money long term.
When your engine oil warning light comes on most people just think the “the engine just needs a bit of oil!” but in some cases it can be a little more serious.
Imagine somebody restricting the the blood flow around your body and how that will affect your performance?
The same goes for your cars engine, if you restrict its oil flow you are causing un-necessary wear and stress on its moving parts!
In the case of any Wetbelt failure what happens is the rubber debris from the Wetbelt collects in the oil and gets sucked up by the oil pump and trapped in the oil pump strainer – watch the video to see what we mean.
Over time the oil pump strainer starts to become blocked causing less oil to be pumped around the engine and the oil pressure to drop.
Most cases the oil warning light does exactly what its supposed to do and warn you before its to late.
That was the case for this Citroen DS3, we got to it just in time before the belt failed completely.
The owner of this car has kept up with its service schedule as required (with another Garage) so all we can suspect is that the wrong oil has been used as it only has 53,000 miles on it.
We are seeing more and more wetbelt problems across a range of different manufacturers, this time it was Vauxhall with its 1.2 litre 3 cylinder turbo engine (Peugeot engine).
This Vauxhall Grandland X came in with its oil warning light on and had low oil pressure.
When draining the oil on the engine it became apparent that the wetbelt had degraded quite seriously as large slithers of rubber were coming out with the oil.
Once we had drained the oil we removed the sump to access the the oil pump, the oil pump pick up was full of rubber debris which was blocking the pump and causing the low oil pressure light to come on.
Luckily in this case the customer stopped driving the car and booked in as soon as the light came on, they had it recovered to the garage instead of driving it (which could have lead to serious engine damage).
After cleaning out the oil pump and pick up we stripped the engine and replaced the degraded wetbelt and tensioner, gave it some fresh oil and a new filter and fired her up, she purred like a kitten.
If you watch the video you can see the cracking in the wetbelt suggesting it wouldn’t be long before it would fail causing serious engine failure.
Specific oil must be used in engines running wetbelts, the oil has additives in it which help prolong the life of the wetbelt and reduce the chance of premature degradation and failure.
We advise regular oil changes to help reduce the premature wear of your belt and help reduce the chance of blocking the oil pump, we suggest at least every 10,000 miles or once a year and to make sure the correct oil is used.
This Fiesta was recovered into us with its oil warning lamp on and a horrendous noise coming from its engine.
Once we had stripped the engine we could see the cause of the noise, the inlet cam pulley had been starved of oil which was allowing excessive free play (variable timing pulley) which as you can imagine is not great when the engine is running!
The cause of the oil starvation was quiet apparent when looking at the oil pump pick up, it was completely blocked with rubber debris from the failing wet belt.
The customer was very honest with us and admitted she had not had the car serviced regularly which would of allowed some of the rubber to be cleaned out with an oil change instead of blocking the oil pump.
This Ford Transit came into us with its Engine Management Light (EML) on and running in Limp Mode, after a quick diagnostic plug in we could see that the DPF soot content was well over 100% and it was unable to carry out a dynamic regeneration.
Vehicles with DPF’s require a long run at least once a fortnight to allow for a Dynamic Regeneration of the DPF.
We cleared the codes and attempted to carry out a static regeneration of the DPF which again was unsuccessful.
By monitoring the voltage of the exhaust temperature sensors we could see there was no change during the whole procedure and the exhaust temperature didn’t go above 170 degrees.
The first thing to check at this point is the Diesel Vaporizer which is located in the exhaust front pipe (normally seized).
Once we had removed the Vaporizer it was obviously blocked (see video).
We cleaned the Vaporizer and made sure the feed pipe wasn’t blocked and also checked the heater element was working by spraying WD40 into the Vaporizer and powering up the heater element with a 12v power probe, the WD40 should start to mist out of the little hole.
Next we refitted the Vaporizer and attempted the static regeneration again.
Success, the voltage of the temperature sensors dropped and the DPF temperature went up to over 600 degrees and you could smell the soot and carbon being burnt out of the DPF.
Lastly was a long road test to make sure it didn’t go back into Limp Mode and no codes returned.
This Ford Transit EcoBlue was recovered into us with a very hard brake pedal and no brakes which sounded like a brake servo fault.
To test the brake servo we removed the vacuum feed to it to see if it was holding pressure but instantly found out that there was no vacuum to it.
Tracing the vacuum pipe back checking for leaks or breakages to the vacuum pump we found no vacuum at all.
After removing and stripping the vacuum pump we could see the plastic internals of the pump had broken up into several pieces.
We replaced the vacuum pump and carried out a road test, everything seemed OK so we handed the van back to its customer.
Unfortunately the customer only managed about 60 miles before the exact same fault occurred again.
Once the van was back with us we removed the new (genuine Ford) vacuum pump to find it had broken up exactly the same as before.
We carried out an oil pressure test on the van and check for oil pressure up to the vacuum pump which all seemed OK.
After speaking to Ford technical services we were told this is know a known problem by Ford and is caused by ‘wet belt degradation‘, bassicaly the wetbelt is breaking up and the small parts off rubber are blocking oil ways and pick ups and intermitantly starving parts of the engine of oil, the main one being the vacuum pump.
Even though this van has only covered 90,000 miles and is a 2017 and Ford recommend the wetbelt to be replaced at 144,000 or 10 years they are now saying they will not cover the warranty of the vacuum pump unless the wetbelt is replaced at the same time.
The first thing we did was to remove the sump to access the oil pump and check for the rubber deposits, we were amazed at what we found, we have been replacing the wetbelts on the Transit EcoBlue and EcoBoost engines for quite some time now but have not seen deposits like this before.
After removing all parts required to carry out the wetbelt and oil pump belt replacement we had to vigorously wash out all accessible galleries, pipes and engine internals.
We replaced the wetbelt kit, oil pump belt, front cover and sump then ran the engine up to see if we still had good oil pressure, which we did.
it is not recommended to use oil flushes with engines that run wetbelts as this can also damage the belt so we ran the engine for 60 miles and drained the oil again to get as much debris out as we could.
If you have a Ford Transit EcoBlue or a Ford car using the EcoBoost engine make sure to keep on top of the servicing and use the correct oil, if you have brought one recently and have no service history get the wetbelt replaced as the consequences are very expensive compared to replacing the belts.
Ignore Fords recommended change interval and aim for 8 years or 80,000 miles, and even if you are not doing massive miles every year still at least have your oil and filter replaced as a preventative measure.