Oil leak!

Oil leakWorrying times as I spotted the rainbow colours of an oil leak on the rain soaked driveway. Further investigation found the dipstick out of place and oil sprayed all over the top of the engine bay as well as down the back of the block.

I topped up the oil which was down by a whole litre, hoping I had not done any damage in the meantime.

There can be several reasons why the dipstick gets blown out:

  • The Positive Crankcase Ventilation (PVC) valve is faulty and not vacating crankcase gases as it should.
  • The piston rings or bores are damaged or worn allowing combustion gases to overpressurise the crankcase
  • The dipstick o-rings are simply worn
  • Not fully replacing the dipstick after a oil check or change

I’m hoping it’s the last option but having recently taken the car on a 3 day road trip using it very hard, i’m wondering if the increased boost from the recent map is causing problems under hard load. I did notice the engine hitting 25psi on the boost gauge recently which is over 1.72 bar – more than I should be running and not a good idea on a standard engine. Whether this is down to the cheap looking gauge not reading accurately or a genuine problem, I’m going to ask the garage that mapped it to find out.

So I cleaned up the engine bay, checked the breather pipes and dipstick and kept an eye on it.

Lo and behold as soon as I used full boost through the gears there was a drip of the black gold on the drive as soon as I pulled up. Yet again the dipstick had blown out, So I’m going to take the car in to the garage for a leakdown test to see what health the engine is in and hoping that worn rings is not the culprit which would leave me with a hefty bill for an engine rebuild.

Watch this space…


Clutch change

Evo 5 clutch change

Standard clutch and flywheel upgraded to larger Evo 8 items

Having enjoyed the extra boost for 2 weeks of post remap fun it was clear the clutch was struggling to keep up with the increased torque. It was starting to slip quite badly under boost. (For those unfamiliar, this means the revs increase without a corresponding increase in vehicle speed, the same as what happens if you were to slip the clutch yourself) Having heard of a fellow Evo owner’s clutch going from slipping to broken in no time at all, I thought it better to get the car into the garage sooner rather than later. I booked into DWR again who changed the clutch and flywheel for a slightly larger Evo 8 item with a very quick turnaround time, given the little notice I gave them. The increased surface area of the clutch and flywheel should mean it can handle up to 400bhp no problem at all.

Something interesting Darren did point out, was how the engine bay had got dirty quite quickly since he last cleaned it and that the manifold may be leaking when warm, causing exhaust gas to vent out. So that’s something to keep an eye on in the next few months. They also spotted a split steering gaiter and 2 worn balljoints that were replaced at the same time.

Good service from DWR and now the Evo was ready for it’s next challenge, 3 of the best driving destinations in England…

Rolling road day

EvolutionSeptember marked a Lancer Register organised visit to Area 52 in Kirby-in-Ashfield for a club Rolling Road day. I was interested to see what power the car was making as well as talking to some other like minded owners.

The guys at Area 52 are very professional and see high powered cars day in day out, so have no problems ensuring the engines are safe whilst on the rollers. In fact one  run was cancelled for one of the owners mid session as the engine was showing signs of pinking (fuel igniting before the spark plug fires).

Evo X

Since Previous garage Wraith Evolutions in Chesterfield had said car was definitely not standard as it seemed livelier than a standard car, I was interested to see what power it would make, as well as ensure the fueling was OK.



It turns out the car was running well down on power at 256bhp and was boosting to 11psi or 0.75bar (standard is around 15psi or 1 bar) which I had stupidly thought was just over 1 bar due to the gauge’s PSI measurement indicator being obscured by the surround. The guys suggested that maybe there was a boost leak somewhere and tightened up the clamps and checked the recirculating valve but to no avail. So all this time I thought it was running slightly more power than standard, it had been a lot less!

First time on the rollers

This made sense as the car felt quick to 60-100 but then didn’t seem particularly savage after that. Also having been for a blast with my brother’s Clio 197 and come up against an Integra DC5 on the road, the Evo didn’t pull away as much as one would think.

The guys also diagnosed the steering issue that has plagued the car since the new suspension; The universal joints in the steering column are binding causing the resistance/no resistance feeling. This will need to go back into the garage to be sorted as they have obviously made a mistake fitting the ARB bushes and let the steering column go loose.

It was a good day out seeing other cars up close and chatting to owners about their mods and cars.


Extractor fan seemed a little excessive

So the day was very useful and now armed with the knowledge that the car was underboosting the next step was to diagnose the problem….

Service and fixing some niggles

With the AYC fluid due a replacement, I dropped the car off to have all the diff oils checked, the mudflap refitted, the non operative drivers window and the knocking noise from the front left investigated.

The window issue was put down to the regulator, strange since this was supposed to have been replaced last year with an Evo 8 model although I’m beginning to lose faith in the work done by that particular “specialist.”

The AYC, rear diff, transfer box and gearbox oils were all changed to fresh fluids.

It was nice to have another comment from the mechanic about how nice this example drove compared to an Evo 7 he was working on recently.

While the car was in the garage I asked them to diagnose a knocking noise, present on low speed bumps from the front left corner. The knocking was put down to the strut and/or top mount. Since the top mount was supposed to have been replaced last year, I’ll be surprised if its that. So I’m on the lookout for a replacement strut on the MLR forum and eBay. I’d love a set of coilovers all round, but that will have to wait for finances to allow it.

Hesitation on full throttle

An annoying problem has been plaguing the car of late; Under full throttle the car jerks and holds back before accelerating. There doesn’t seem to be much pattern to the jerking other than it tends to occur most on WOT. This got me thinking that it was either fuel or ignition related.

Since the spark plugs probably hadn’t been changed in a while, I wondered if they were worn and if the spark was either too weak or being blow out under a lot of boost pressure.

On removing the plugs, they did seem quite worn, so in went 4 fresh NGK BR8EIX plugs from Ross Sport.

I took the car out for a quick test and pleased to say no more kangarooing silliness

Coilpack failure

coilpack was the culpritI was on my way out in the car and pulled out to overtake a Ford Galaxy people carrier and bam! No power! I was just about pulling alongside but barely accelerating. So I pulled out of that maneuver rather quickly and sheepishly dropped back to stop and try and find the problem. I opened the bonnet and nothing seemed amiss but the car was running very badly on what sounded like 3 cylinders.
So I set about the usual culprits, spark or fuelling. I changed the spark plugs for a brand new set but to no avail. So next I bought a second hand coilpack from the MLR forum. I fitted this and the engine fired into life running sweet as a nut again.

Often in this situation, I set about changing the cheapest item first. If you experience similar symptoms the following are usually the culprits in order of the cheapest up to the most expensive:

  • Spark plugs
  • Bad fuel
  • Coil pack
  • Wiring fault
  • Fuel pump
  • Injector
  • Timing out
  • Coolant leak into cylinder often meaning Head gasket failure

Hope this helps!


Door switch fix

Door switchRecently I noticed that I was leaving my lights on by accident more often than not when I got out of the car. This is not ideal as the battery is fairly small and drains quickly. I soon realised this was because the door chime was not working when you open the door with the lights on. This is an easy fix and is down to the small switch on the door with a button that is pushed when the door shuts. A screwdriver and 2 minutes of your time is all you need to replace it (in my case with a second hand one). Unscrew the old switch, unclip the plug, plug in the new switch and replace the screw – problem solved.

Smoking engine

Smoky engineI drove away from the house on this dull, wet morning, and was alarmed to see thick white smoke rising through the bonnet vents. Expecting the worst I quickly pulled over, stopped the engine and opened the bonnet expecting to see oil everywhere. I had a look around for potential causes like the coolant system or burnt oil but the ‘smoke’ smelled like steam and I could see the exhaust manifold was quite wet. It turns out that the heat-wrapped exhaust manifold had absorbed and soaked up the rainfall overnight which has dripped through the bonnet vents. When the manifold got hot, the water turned into steam and made the car look like a steam engine! I must admit it did look comedic when driving down the road, with steam pouring out the bonnet vents. A couple of minutes of driving and and the manifold is dry – no need to panic!

Loose manifold bolts

Exhaust manifold bolts vacate the premisesI was on my way to work when I heard a loud clattering and a slight loss of power. I pulled over to have a look under the bonnet, and noticed how loud the engine was when idling, it sounded like the exhaust or manifold was blowing. I could feel exhaust gas eminating from somewhere in the engine bay. It turns out one of the bolts fitted to the exhaust manifold had come undone and vacated the premises. Figuring I wouldn’t be doing too much damage, I continued to work and back home and replaced the bolt. Unfortunately the cream coloured rocker cover is now discoloured from exhaust gases, so I need to clean that up at some point.

Edit, it happened again! This time the other bolt. I got the garage to replace it and seem to have gained another 0.3bar boost. It seems exhaust gas must have been escaping slightly from the loose manifold bolts. Now the bolts are tight, it is boosting correctly and the fuelling is still fine under load. She feels verrry nippy now. Free power!

Oulton Park trackday

Evo at oulton park Evo corneringWith an Oulton Park trackday booked, I was looking forward to thrashing my Peugeot 106 GTi round, But as luck would have it, the clutch parts I needed from Peugeot were delayed. So with the Evo now being called upon as the track tool of choice, we made our way to Oulton Park circuit in to find an enourmous tree blocking the entrance. The previous night’s gales had brought it down overnight (not to mention plunged the local area into darkness as it caused a power cut)

We attended the briefing at the track with the weather very cold and windy but dry. The wheels were quickly swapped over to the set of track wheels I’d bought recently for a bargain £200 with Toyo R888 semi slick tyres.

I let my brother do all the sighting laps as, having never done a trackday before, and never driven anything more powerful than a 1.2 litre Clio, he needed all the track time possible to get familiar with the car and track.

Sighting laps done I queued up and took the Evo out. I took it nice and easy warming up the tyres, and the temps, then upped the pace a little, trying to learn the lines and keeping pace with a Honda S2000. After a few laps I upped the pace, and was really impressed with the Evo’s track ability.

After an intense 5 or 6 laps leading then following a friend in his awesome 306 GTi-6 track car, the brake pedal got longer and longer, and then the brakes disappeared completely! I slowed the car using the gears and kept pumping the pedal but got nothing! I managed to slow down enough to pootle back to the pits but its a scary feeling when the brake pedal does absolutely nothing to stop the car. It turns out I’d boiled the brake fluid, which in hindsight, I should have been prepared for; With the Evo being a relatively heavy car and having no idea when the fluid was last changed I should have changed it before the day.

We let the car cool down and took it for a test round the car park. The pedal was very long, as obviously air was now in the system from the fluid boiling, but the brakes did work ok.

We decided to limit it to 2 or 3 laps on track and went out with my brother who did really well for a 19 year old with no experience of fast cars or track driving. Oulton Park is such an interesting track, one of the best in the country, in my opinion with some great technical corners, fast straights and chicanes.

All in all for a car on standard suspension with road brakes, the car did very well, you could feel the AYC doing its thing out of corners. We caught a couple of M3s without too much trouble and although we weren’t out for that many sessions we didn’t get overtaken all day.

Compared to the 106 the Evo feels a lot heavier and not as nimble, but you can really take it by the scruff of the neck and push it hard, and it responds so well. Now all I need is a set of coilovers and some new brakes! My wallet’s gonna take a hammering!