Having poked enough rust holes in one vehicle to leave me ashen-faced the other one – the backup, no less – has decided to have a major hiccup too…

As mentioned previously on the blog the return of the Wagon All-the-Rs was the first step in curing some of the JDMny’s rust issues which, as far as I was aware, amounted to some grumbly bits around the rear seatbelt mounting points and a smattering of surface corrosion on the boot floor. At the end of August I took the JDMny off the road and by mid-September I’d cleared out the back to start scraping and prodding, the plan being to tidy up the internal surfaces before tackling the seatbelt mounts from underneath the car. Unfortunately things were a lot worse than I’d anticipated…

The boot floor is a known weak point on all Jimnys and I’d already treated the underside a few years back but this hadn’t seemed to have slowed the onset of rust much at all. Most of the rear portion of the boot disintegrated with a quick prod of the rust-finding screwdriver and, to make matters worse, many of the other spots of “surface rust” turned out to be more serious too.

At this point I felt I was on the brink of crossing a bit of a repair > restoration threshold, the former being doable within the time, skills and money available and the latter… well, not so much. I figured that the solidity of the sills would probably make the decision for me – you can therefore imagine my emotional state when the screwdriver disappeared into those too.

Despite such an obviously poor prognosis my head and heart still fought it out for the next couple of weeks and, perhaps partially blinded by my love for the little Suzuki, my heart was edging the win. I really wanted to get the JDMny back up and running and even with the other lingering pre-MOT jobs it might just be possible. And then the Wagon All-the-Rs broke down.

As we cruised through the Lake District on the way to a short break in Keswick the Wagon’s Blitz R-VIT bleeped a coolant temperature warning, then stopped. As we neared our destination the warnings became more and more frequent – even though the highest readings had yet to move the needle on the dashboard gauge – and by the time we parked up I was no longer convinced that it was simply the result of some heat soaking from a prolonged stint on the motorway. In the morning a check of the car revealed that the coolant overflow bottle was brimmed and the radiator a few hundred millilitres down from normal – not great when you’re 150 miles away from your garage and tools. In the end we cut our holiday short, limping back down the motorway in the middle of the night at HGV speeds with one eye fixed on the temperature gauge and our ears pricked for the coolant temperature warning which, thankfully, only began beeping just a few miles from home.

A full diagnosis is a little difficult to arrive at so far. It seems as though the water system is being pressurised enough to create a light foam in the radiator filler neck when running and, as we saw on our holiday, push water out into the overflow bottle during extended use. It might be a head gasket issue, though I’d have expected that to get increasingly worse over a relatively short period of time, which has not been the case, but could also be related to the water pump or even the oil cooler, though in the latter’s case I’ve not seen any “mayo” on the oil cap to suggest oil and water are mixing.

So there it is: the car with the easily diagnosed problem (ALL THE RUST) is also the one with the most difficult and time-consuming fix, whilst repairing the other car would likely be relatively straightforward if only I were able to positively identify the issue. There is, of course, great pressure to resolve this situation as quickly as possible – I still need to get to work after all – but with such deep attachment to both vehicles (the JDMny in particular) all I want to do is drag my heels and put off any difficult decisions on the horizon.

Cars are not much fun right now, that’s for sure 🙁