Overheated 300Tdi engine

This blog was originally supposed to be about what’s going on in my workshop. However, this post is about what’s going on in someone else’s workshop – the garage which is currently working on my Land Rover. I’m putting it here because it’s an interesting engineering lesson.

My Land Rover’s 300Tdi engine is very badly broken, and apparently it’s all because of the failure of the ‘P gasket’. This part, which costs £3.24 according to a web search I’ve just done, forms a seal between the engine block and the mounting bracket which holds the water pump, alternator and various other things. It’s supposed to play its part in keeping the coolant inside the engine where it belongs. Trouble is, sometimes it doesn’t. And when the cooling water escapes on the motorway, the engine overheats before you’ve even got time to look at the the temperature gauge. This is an object lesson in the damage an engine can do to itself when it overheats badly.

The first I knew about it was that the engine suddenly lost power and then died altogether. I was only able to drift to the hard shoulder in a cloud of steam and smoke. Once cool, the engine would restart but ran badly, making an odd tapping noise, and the Land Rover’s top speed was about 40mph. It’s no racing car, but it’s not supposed to be that slow.

Cutting a long story short, the head is now off the engine. Here are pictures of what’s inside.

Firstly, cylinder number 4. I think this is the reason that the engine stopped: the piston got so hot that it started seizing in the bore, scoring it badly. The score lines are more than just visible, they’re perceptible with a fingernail, too.

2013-12-05 10.39.12The other cylinders look OK, but one bad one is enough.

Sadly the head gasket has also failed, between cylinders 2 and 3:

2013-12-05 10.39.39That would explain the loss of power. Considering that only one out of the four cylinders was in anything like normal condition, it’s amazing that it still ran at all.

I’ve now spoken to several people who’ve said that if a 300Tdi engine has been overheated this badly, the head will be wrecked as well. The search for a replacement engine is now on.



1 thought on “Overheated 300Tdi engine

  1. mud4fun


    I thought I would be in a similar situation the other week after a HGV put a stone through the rad on my jap pickup and I’d driven quite some distance before noticing the temp gauge off the top of the gauge. Made worse by the fact the RAC man wouldn’t tow me to the nearest motorway services as my truck was too heavy for his silly little VW van so I had to drive the truck 3 miles up the motorway with no water in it. Amazingly the B2500’s engine seems to be running well again now with seemingly no damage afte new rad fitted and oil change. I think the B2500 uses a cast iron head and has a large oil cooler so is less susceptible to long term damage from overheating,

    It concerns me that the 200TDi going into my Series 2 has an alloy head, they are getting rare and expensive to replace.


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