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Robert, UK Qualified Car Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 4716
Experience:  Fully qualified / self employed garage technician in the UK
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Hi, Sorry to bother you but hoping you could help me with

Customer Question


Sorry to bother you but hoping you could help me with something...

I have a Vauxhall Zafira 04 plate DTI. Recently I've noticed that the ECU "spanner" light has been coming on sometimes while driving and sometimes when I start the engine. I've noticed that the car is pulling back in some gears, it loses power. Yesterday the light went off all day and the power was back but now the lights back on and the same thing.

To complicate matters I checked under the bonnet for oil and water a few days ago. The water was a little low so I added a mix of one part blue IAT antifreeze with three parts water just enough until the level was a little above the line. I'm now kicking myself as I've read you shouldn't mix this antifreeze with the orange stuff that was in there. The engine sounds normal it's difficult to tell. I don't know if it's paranoia but to me the engine doesn't sound quite as steady as it did before. As I say it might be paranoia.

I spoke to a local mobile mechanic and he said it should be fine as long as I added a small amount of mixed antifreeze only, which I did only about 100ml. But you read some horror stories online about the possible engine damage you can cause. I've driven about 50 miles in the car since I added the antifreeze.

I would really be grateful for your advice firstly on the possible cause of the light and loss of power and whether I should get the coolant system flushed and coolant replaced. Am I likely to have done any irreversible damage already?

Self confessed imbecile with cars I work in IT!

Many thanks if you can help :-)
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  Robert replied 3 years ago.



Hopefully i can help..


First as per the antifreeze - you are correct in what you say that you shouldnt mix two differant types colours..but it shouldnt cause any real concern this very early on if anything - usually if you do see the level kind of low is just to top it off with distilled water as there should be enough antifreeze in the system already..If prefered if its never been done for a good while a coolant change on that car then it would worth doing so anyway..As per the the spanner light a power issue..the spanner light is not a service light- if this the car with spanner through it that will be a engine managment light..whch means the cars ecu has detected the fault and will have stored the relevent fault codes to tell which part of the engine /sensor/ecu controlled monitored components is causing the power fault..there maybe several things on the DTI that would cause that from clogged or sticking/faulty EGR valve which is very common on the DTI engines..failed or failing Mass air flow meter,or intake pipe work after that meter is split/ split or loose vaccum lines these are the small lines that go around the engine with the rubber ends to the solnoids these tend to rip or split and can cause issues like that..But as above a simple diagnostic test on the car should reveal exactly what need to be checked as per the P fault codes the car has stored..I do hope this helps..if you need to ask anything else or include anything further the just continue before you rate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thankyou for your swift reply!

This all makes sense - when you say distilled water can you buy this as I used bottled water rather than tap in the absence of an alternative? Would you say I should still get the flush and replace or am I worrying too much?

I'll get the car taken for a diagnostic re the other issue...I've been reading the forums and lots of possible causes are mentioned but I appreciate having a definitive view from yourself.

Expert:  Robert replied 3 years ago.

Hi..there thanks for your reply..


Yes bottled water is fine if you live in hard water can get pre mixed coolant in the correct spec/colour if you like from the likes of halfords or any other local car supply factors..and just add that in..then just top off the remaining with the water..upto KALT mark on the expansion tank or the seem on the tank..try not to over fill..these cars are self bleeding...In all honesty its not really a great issue to worry about - it usually when you start getting into the colder weather should you think about getting it replaced before hand as antifreeze tends to loose its strength - there a special detector/measuring tool antifreeze tester for drawing out a small amount of coolant into it and it will tell you wither it needs done or not- you can also get small test strips too...But like i say it hasnt been done for quite sometime since you owned the car or no note of it being done recently in a service documents then it might be worth getting it done..But yes the diagnostic route would be the best way forward for the other problem and see whats found and take it from there.I do hope this helps further

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for this - very clear and informative.

One last engine temperature gauge seems stuck below the minimum lights. I don't know when this started but it's evident today. Even after 10 mins the needle stays put. Is this likely to be related to the coolant issue we've been discussing?
Expert:  Robert replied 3 years ago.



Sometimes they do take a while to reach operating temp before you do see the needle creep up might be worth keeping an eye on it or it could be failed temp sensor or wiring as thing to check maybe would be the connections anyway if loose or corrosion etc on the thermostat housing thats on the left hand side corner front of the cylinder head - you'll see the large coolant hose connected to it - forward of that you will or should see two sensors screwed into that housing - there is usually two on the same housing one for the guage/dash single pin if i recall the other is ecu montiored like engine coolant temp sensor 2 pin sensor slightly larger then the other sometimes if that loose been removed at somepoint and not fully connected may cause the ecu to pick that up as fault,but would imagine it would cause the power issue to be honest..maybe have check of those to ensure they are fully connected need to remove the black plastic cover to see properly..

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks Robert. More than anything I wanted an indication I'm not dealing with a serious problem and you've given me confidence that all this can be sorted without too much trouble.

Your advice has been invaluable and reassuring. I'll get the car booked in to get this sorted.

Kind regards,

Expert:  Robert replied 3 years ago.
Hi..there..thats no problem all - glad to help...Also if you ever need to ask anything further then just ask for myself or continue on this post..which you can do even after you have rated my assistance..But do hope you get it sorted out anyway..Regards Robert