I just broke down and had to get pulled.

Car stopped moving mid drive and wouldn't start, the starter would turn but make a strange higher-pitched noise than the usual one.

The guy offered to either take me and the car to my destination or get a second hand starter and fit it. I went for the second option. Turned out the starter was fine and the Belt was busted. He opened the cover and showed me how there was no tension to the belt and it was freely moving in there.

He then proceeds to explain that it's a gamble to even try and fix it as there's quite a big chance for the valves on the pistons to be bent. Some engines have a bit of clearance for the vales to go in just such occasions, some don't. Which one is mine ? Is it worth to even call mobile mechanic to change the belt or my valves busted ?

Citroen C4, 2005, 1.4 V16 Petrol Manual.

I am aware that any mechanic with 15 minutes would be able to tell me but the car can't get to anyone at the moment and budget is tight. Thanks for any help, very much appreciated!

1 Answer 1


You probably have the ET3 engine which is the 16-valve version of the TU3 with variable valve timing.

Unfortunately I believe it is an interferance engine. http://www.saxperience.com/forum/showthread.php?t=206199

Since you were driving at the time the belt broke it probably has bent some of the valves although it could have just bent the rocker arms which is a less costly repair since it only requires removing the valve cover to replace. Either way this is going to be quite an expensive repair.

The cylinder head can be repaired, but will be expensive depending on how many valves have been bent.

Here's a list of parts that may need to be replaced:
16 valves
Head gasket set
New cam belt kit
Water pump
Aux. belt
New cylinder head bolts if your engine has stretch bolts
Engine oil and filter
Labour charge at local rates
Cylinder head machining
Then you need to weigh up the cost of having a second hand or reconditioned cylinder head and compare the prices
Pistons would normally be fine, but would need a check on removal of cylinder head

Considering all the labor & parts involved it may be less expensive to purchase a similar used car.

  • To be precise I was doing about 5 miles per hour or even less, when it broke down... Jun 3, 2017 at 20:32
  • 1
    When the valves impact a piston you would hear a loud noise. It's possible for the belt to have only slipped a few teeth, in which case it would be okay. Since you probably ran the starter with the belt loose, I'm guessing there will be some valve damage.
    – willpb
    Jun 3, 2017 at 20:44
  • I don't recall any loud noises but yes I did try to start it few times while waiting for recovery... Jun 3, 2017 at 20:52
  • You were right, at least half the cylinders were affected by the belt issue. I'll almost, not so much, break even when I scrap it. Thanks for your input :) Jun 8, 2017 at 21:09

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