So, for the last 6-8 weeks my BLS has been in the workshop. A couple of weeks to long but the story goes:
I heard a really disturbing screeching sound when I started the car about 8 weeks ago. Haven't heard that before and when I stepped out of the car with the engine still running, a nasty burning smell occurred as well. I opened the hood and thought that I had located the sound to the generator belt. "Has one of the pulleys stuck again?" I thought and called my local workshop. They thought so too just from what I told them and adviced me to take the car to them on a tow truck. So I did, because this had happened once before cutting all electrics and leaving me totally immobilized in the dark. Didn't hear from them in over a week so I called them and asked them how it went, I just assumed they started to fix the pulleys and what now, giving the bill to the insurance company in the end. They said that the screeching sound and smell came for the timing belt and that the engine might be a total write off. I drove over there and saw it with my own eyes, the timing belt had a couple of millimeters torn/shaved from the side.
The workshop guys said that they had to inspect the engine to see if e.g. the valves hadn't taken any damage. A couple of weeks went and didn't hear from them more than that the insurance company sent a guy to check damages. Later on they told me they checked with a camera and couldn't see anything being damaged. Good, I said, let's get cracking with changing what is being needed to be changed. They said they couldn't do that, they had to dismantle the engine and check "manually". Alright, do that I thought, but I guess the insurance company won't be that happy with a lot of extra working hours.
A couple more weeks later, I called them AGAIN, since they do not call me back at all, and said: "Well, the engine is a complete write off. We've ordered a replacement engine and should be here in a week or so." Holy SH*T, was it that bad? The engine turned over and pulled as usual when I drove it before this happend, but oh well, I guess they know best... I went there today to check when the car will be ready, two guys were hauling in the new engine which has ca. 27 000 km on the clock. The old engine had about 92 000 km so I was glad about the relatively low milage.
I haven't heard what actually made this engine failure happen, but a costumer reciever told me that it most certainly was the water pump which failed and draged the timing belt with it. So, when you guys are doing a service on you BLS's next time, might be a good idea to let them check the condition of the water pump and so on.
These Fiat engines (that's what I heared that they are, the 1.9 TiD) are apparantley so badly constructed it's very common in the Saabs as well to fail. The insurance companies, at least in Sweden, most often cash out to the owners than repairing. However, I'm all for diesel engines, love the torque, love the lower fuel consumptions etc etc. I have an other diesel car that have just over 335 000 km on the clock, had it since new (2001) and NEVER (knock on wood) a problem with that engine except for a mass air flow sensor failing. If I remember correcty, that was about 50€ or something like that, no biggie.
However, this drivetrain in the BLS with the Ferrari... sorry Fiat engine, is a nightmare. Don't be scared of diesel engines, just be aware of this engine.
Although I love my BLS, this is starting to get on my nerves with the mechanical errors. Who is responsible for this? I want my money/time/sweat/tears/aggression back. Or atleast my money and time Next car I'm getting after selling the BLS is a BMW straight six petrol or diesel. Arrivederci.
I appreciate the problems some have had with their diesel engines, but I think it is a little unfair to believe or have the perception that the Fiat/GM engine can be nothing but trouble.
I've had my own car now for 27 months and admittedly, I've only covered 22,000 miles (35,405 km) in it from when it was sold to me as a 'new' car when it was already almost two years old with only 44 miles (70 km) on the clock. The car was built in May 2008 and effectively sat around at the dealership for the best part of two years before I bought it.
I've done plenty of reading on people who have had mechanical issues with their 1.9 150bhp diesel engine, plenty of Vauxhall/Opel Vectra and Saab stories can be read on the WWW, but I wonder sometimes too if some of this can be attributed to a lack of servicing? I'm not suggesting that people on this forum aren't servicing their own vehicles regularly, but my own has been serviced twice (at Cadillac main dealers) at low mileage intervals, first at only 6246 miles and second at 15863 miles, the difference between the two being 9617 miles. This in some owners eyes may seem like 'over servicing', but I would personally never leave a vehicle service up to 18,000 miles irrespective of what it says in the handbook, in my opinion, that is just barmy. I estimate that I'll only cover another 2000 miles before my next service in August, so again, only 9000 miles between that and the last service. I would like to state what I've said in previous posts though, my car has failed, stopped dead twice due to ridiculous electrical issues which could only be sorted out at one of the only Cadillac service centres in the UK, which is still over 60 miles away from where I live. It is a good job that Cadillac supplied a good three year warranty package, my only annoyance being that when I had to collect the car to return home, Cadillac would not pay for my return home fuel which in my opinion is unfair as I did not ask/expect my car to break down due to something not attributable to me!
I think the Fiat engine is fine. I've just covered a thousand miles over the last week, which is a huge mileage for me because I had to visit two areas of the country I don't usually travel to. The car behaved impeccably, the engine smooth and eager to just run and run and I averaged 52.3 mpg at 70 mph throughout both of the trips I did, so I definitely can't complain. I did notice that the DPF carried out a regeneration whilst I was on one of my 400 mile round trips the other day, seemingly the first regen in quite a while.
One question which appears to crop up often with this engine, is 'when should the timing belt be changed?'. Well, again, after doing some reading, it has been suggested that this should be considered when the vehicle has covered only 30,000 miles or 48,280 km. That may seem like a ridiculously low mileage, but something I am already considering getting done next year when the car will be 5 years old. I estimate my own car will still have only covered 34,000 miles (54,717 km) by next year, but the relatively minor expense of having the belt, tensioner/idler and water pump replaced, compared to the horrendous cost of a wrecked engine if the water pump does fail, seems worthwhile. Don't forget, irrespective of the low mileage, at 5 years old, the belt will most likely have started to degrade anyway and of course, I've no idea what if any corrosion inside the water pump, has already taken effect. I'm not going to get the job done yet, as I still have 5 months of my Cadillac warranty remaining. If the water pump fails between now and November, Cadillac can pay for it! I guess though I might be having it replaced just after Christmas this year!
Due to the prohibitive servicing costs of main dealer servicing, I have now found a good, honest Saab independent mechanic who can and will service my BLS for a fraction of the cost of what my first two services have cost me whilst still using genuine GM parts. He's already carried out a full brake fluid flush in accordance with the manufacturer stated interval, well in fact, six weeks before my vehicle's 4th anniversary from build date, for a fraction of the cost of what other mechanics were trying to charge me.
Anyway, to those few of us who are running a BLS, I hope you don't suffer further problems and I hope you do as I do, and enjoy the car and the attention it gets!
I just remembered this morning that I have an Alfa Romeo specialist who has a workshop only a quarter of a mile away from where I live. I took my BLS round to him this morning. I think initially he must have thought I had found the wrong garage! Anyway after he had got over the inital reaction of 'Oh, I haven't seen one of those before!" I explained that the engine was the Fiat unit and I was wondering how much a timing belt and water pump change would cost. Again he looked at me with slight suspicion before asking me to pop the bonnet whereupon he said 'Oooh, it is the Fiat engine!' He noted that the plastic engine cover is obviously different and the cooling is piped a little differently, but said he would be more than happy to do the job when I needed it for 250 quid plus VAT using genuine GM/Fiat parts. In fact, he would be happy to service the car full stop also noting that the braking system is pretty much the same too. I think he was quite taken aback too, that I knew of the water pump upgrade from 2009, though he was eager to point out that the 1.9 diesel is a good engine and he had personally not seen too many problems with them. He also stated to me that he always advises his customers with the 1.9 diesel, to change the timing belt and water pump every 40,000 miles, though as he also pointed out to me, it is the customer's choice!
And so I've found someone who is more than familiar with this engine and after doing some research, he has a good reputation and the bonus is, I can drop the car off and walk home when the time comes for servicing.
The thing is, I've serviced the car about each 20.000 km (12.500 miles), even though the car didn't "need" it. I really love the car when not at the workshop, it's great to drive, get's reasonably low consumption and it's a great looking vehicle. But, I think it's more than enough when the generator pulleys fail, the fly wheel has to be changed, the water pump has a failure and drags along the whole engine and results in an engine replacement - it's just to much without a hunch of a warning and not the least, not a direct user fault. Service intervalls specified by the manufacturer are, or at least should be, considered with regard to the whole package - with safety factors! My other car I mentioned in my second post in this thread has as I mentioned covered about 335.000 km (210.000 miles), with none of the above mentioned problems (with waaaaaay longer service intervalls).
Of course some things fail and everything isn't perfect, but this is kind of getting on my nerves. Love the car A LOT, but, the love is put to stress with these, in my opinion, unnessecary faults. My problems aren't me-specified, they seem to be a part of a significant crowd, even folks at this forum. I just don't think it should be the costumers necessity to service or do check ups on a car more than at specified service intervalls. Or course some things fail irrespective of exact service intervalls, but things like this - faults that have occured on my car - are WAY worse than what should be expected of a car from the 21th century. That's my opinion.
There isn't anything I disagree with in your post, you are absolutely right, we shouldn't be getting the sorts of issues that appear to be cropping up. I agree, it isn't acceptable for any car built so recently to suffer the sorts of issues you've experienced.
The disappointment I felt when my own car just stopped due to the silly electrical faults, really got to me. Ok, I didn't have to pay to get the car fixed, but the huge inconvenience of having the car recovered to a dealer over 60 miles away, is just ridiculous, but on the other hand, I guess I knew what I was letting myself in for when I bought the car and I did save a huge amount of money on the cost of the purchase of the car, almost GBP 10,000. The trouble is, there was one else able to fix it because no one else locally has the TechII diagnostics to diagnose and repair the faults. I phoned my 'local' Cadillac dealer only a couple of days ago asking about software updates. My car apparently had several anonymous updates applied to it in 2010 when the car had its first service. I read a couple of days ago that the Saab 9-3 had some software updates released this February http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/saab/9-3-2007/ Cadillac can't tell me if this update is applicable to our own vehicles, simply they say, 'bring the car along, we'll hook it up and if it needs updates, we'll apply them. I guess the point behind the last couple of sentences is, how many people who bought these cars and haven't had them serviced by Cadillac, have had any software updates applied at all? Probably none I'd guess. Anyway, in a couple of months time, I'm going to make a point of driving over to my Caddy dealer and having the car hooked up to see if any further updates need doing and if it costs me a few quid, so be it, but at least they'll have been done.
I've always been one for preventative maintenance and concerning the service intervals, when it comes to mileage, on the newer cars I've owned with seemingly ridiculously lengthy service intervals, well, I've personally given that a good ignoring anyway. 12,000 miles between services for me is the limit. These days, I'm lucky to cover 10,000 miles per year anyway. At the sort of mileage I cover, I would hope that regular changes of oil etc, would lengthen the car's life anyway. My car's third service is due in August and trust me, my local Saab independent will be going over the car with a fine tooth comb so if any warranty related issues arise, they can hopefully be fixed before the warranty is up. So far, apart from two (quite expensive) dealer services, the car hasn't actually cost me much in running costs. The only job I've had to do, is replace the rear brake discs and pads, but I did the job myself anyway and saved a small fortune in the process. I've also had the brake fluid replaced for a reasonably small fee by a Saab technician.
So back to the engine. I have decided that I will replace the timing belt and water pump the very next day after the warranty expires which incidentally is the same day as the car is due it's first Ministry of Transport road safety test. The low mileage the car will have done is irrelevant. Apparently, it is a mileage or age related job anyway, either 72,000 miles or 4 years. My car is now officially four years old (from manufacture), so getting the belt and water pump changed even at 30,000 miles is probably wise. The engine is at least 5 years old anyway looking at the time stamps on the alloy castings so the timing belt is becoming aged. As I mentioned previously, my very local Alfa Romeo specialist is going to do the job for a very reasonable fee considering the work involved and he's used to working on Alfa/Fiat cars fitted with the same engine as our own. At least it will also have new coolant/anti-freeze for winter 2012/13. I'm also going to replace the EGR valve (easy job to do myself) just before the car has its MOT test. The valve has been superceded from the one fitted to my own car anyway, so changing it won't hurt and it'll probably just make the car run even better anyway. It'll certainly help with the emissions test.
I'll update again once I've had the jobs done later in the year.