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Wednesday 2nd November 2011

PH Fleet Update: Ford Puma

Riggers is finding it tough to trust with his new Puma



Rather like someone entering a new relationship, having previously been cheated on, I've been finding it hard to trust my new automotive squeeze, the former Shed of the Week Puma and latest addition to the PH Fleet.

But it's not the sleek silver coupe's fault, oh no - I blame the gentle disintegration of the head gasket on and subsequent scrapping of my previous runaround, an E36 BMW 328i Touring, for my trust issues. Despite (touch wood) an entirely reliable performance from the Puma, I still find myself breathing a tiny sigh of relief when it starts up, or when I complete a journey, while even the tiniest unusual noise from suspension, drivetrain or engine has had my heart thumping.

Mind you, the Puma hasn't been entirely blameless. A few weeks into my time with the car, after a particularly spirited (and thoroughly brilliant) drive down the Meon Valley (A32, Hampshire - highly recommended), the water temperature gauge began to throw a miniature wobbly. For a chap now hyper-sensitive to symptoms of head-gasket death this was particularly worrying.


But despite periodically shooting to near the red section on the dial, the needle never actually hit the danger zone. So I wasn't too worried about it being head gasket-related (especially since the previous owner head that done less than 5000 miles ago). But the car did begin to smell very hot. Worrying. A quick trip to the local spanner-wielder would clearly be required.

I duly dropped it off with the affable chaps at S&J Motors just down the road from PH's Teddington HQ. Having spent the morning with the car they called me and, to my great relief, declared that it was definitely not the head gasket - nor even a dicky thermostat - but nothing more than some bubbles in the cooling system.

Better still, the wallet damage for half an hour or so of labour and a few hundred millilitres of coolant was less than £30. Yes, a competent chap could probably have done that himself, but I wouldn't even count myself as half-competent mechanically, so I was pretty chuffed with the result.


Since then, the little Puma has performed faultlessly, though an occasionally crashy ride on the front left reminds me that the suspension on these cars is a little weak, and a whining clutch bearing plate reminds me that the clutch is a little elderly. Still, what do you expect on a 105k-mile car?

But despite the clonks and whines I'm beginning to learn to trust AX51 GGA a little more - the only thing now is to prevent the onset of rotting rear arches, the first trace of which is beginning to rear its rusty head...



Rust - how to stop it?
Rust - how to stop it?
...Answers on a virtual postcard, please
...Answers on a virtual postcard, please

 

Riggers
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Author Discussion

RoseyG21

Original Poster:

1,491 posts

76 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Good write up Riggers. I have always fancied a Puma 1.7 and its good to read about ownership of a 'well used' example!

As for the rust...i would have thought some wire wool/file type treatment then some sort of halfords rust prevention oil stuff plus paint etc would stop the rot?

I am very much a bodge tape man though! I await the more handy bods opinions...

jakesmith

616 posts

58 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Looks like a fun little disposable go-kart to me!!

MiltonRX

66 posts

41 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Cheers for the update Riggers.

I was just thinking this morning what I could persuade SWMBO to change her 1.0 Corsa for as I'm using it as a daily driver at the moment (and for the foreseable future).

I'm taking this story as a sign that I should aim for a Puma as I can't think of much else that could compete at sub £2k. I'm guessing it wouldn't be much worse mpg wise?

Anyone got any other tips for convincing her?

buzzeh123

83 posts

59 months

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Lovely little cars, great handling down the twistys. Shame about the arches but that happens on pretty much all fords.

The 1.7 engine is really good when you ring its neck, so much so ive got a 140bhp one in my mk5 fiesta! makes it a right laugh smile

JohnGoodridge

319 posts

82 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Great to hear your experience; these are such great value, very tempted.
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slikrs

113 posts

75 months

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My Mum has had one for years, the suspension has always looked too high, the ride is OK but it never handled like my 106, the seating position is too high, her throttle is sticky and the rear visibility is comical.

Other than that and usual age related issues it's a fun car with good engine and gearbox.... Dad has shod it in winter rubber so he'll have some fun...

And that Rust can't be sorted without replacement metal, it's rusted through from the inside. Arch replacements or go wide arch - aka Racing Puma.... It's always an issue with these cars, tbh it was always going to be - when you fold metal over in a particularly wet and salty area you create an ideal rust trap!


Gizmo!

18,105 posts

96 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Why is it that the arches rust so badly on these? Thin metal? Insufficient rustproofing? Holding water somewhere?

Someone should have taken a mould of one a while back and started making them in GRP.

Kitchski

3,107 posts

118 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
That temp gauge reading high briefly won't be bubbles, it'll be the heater valve starting to jam. It can play all sorts of havoc when it starts to play up, even defying logic at times.

They're only about £30 from the main stealer. It sits on the top of the bulkhead. Easy to change and worthwhile too as there have been about 7 different revisions of it and they've only just managed to make one that works properly. rolleyes

Sebo

1,553 posts

113 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
I had a 1.7 Puma for 3 years or so - the arches went. Otherwise, a great, clean car.

NiceCupOfTea

22,993 posts

138 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
All of the above, plus some carpet in the arch to keep the moisture in.

As said, only way to sort it is to weld in new metal. Anything else will last a few months, so don't waste your money on anything other than a proper job.

They are great cars, watch out for the heater control valve failing and dumping your coolant though. Don't gamble on the cambelt either!

johnpeat

4,287 posts

152 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Yeah, the big problem here is that the arches problem isn't really soluble short of welding in new metal - and that's why most Pumas will be scrapped long before the rest of the car needs to be...

AFAIK it's rusting from the inside (there's a lip which traps water?), so any cosmetic repair is totally pointless.

£200-300 of welding (per side) will get you another 6-8 years tho - you just have to ask if it's worth that ...

damci

906 posts

105 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Kitchski said:
That temp gauge reading high briefly won't be bubbles, it'll be the heater valve starting to jam. It can play all sorts of havoc when it starts to play up, even defying logic at times.

They're only about £30 from the main stealer. It sits on the top of the bulkhead. Easy to change and worthwhile too as there have been about 7 different revisions of it and they've only just managed to make one that works properly. rolleyes
+1

The exact same thing happened to my Puma, followed by a loss of coolant. I would replace it asap it's an easy DIY job.

y2blade

54,388 posts

102 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
these updates are too few and far between frown


jebus

252 posts

62 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
I had one a year or so ago, ace car quite a step up from my 980cc fiat Cinq. IT only lasted a month though, i was convinced buying a car from auction with the milage not stated was a good idea, ended up getting 137k example, that had been seriously messed about with, turned out to be fubar when the the cat when and rings had gone, so fubar that the service manager of the ford dealer only charged me for an hours labour even after they had it in for about 5 because it was pointless them doing anything to it.
I am planning no getting another one though again soon, had a Vectra and a Navara since then, got a started biking again and crashed after 2 weeks frown still suffering with that cant walk yet, and currently have access to girlfriends mum's motorbility car which she can use just now, not bad a 2010 1.6 tdci focus, all the cars i've liked and bike was great fun but the puma was amazing quite comfy, handled nicely and even my half dead example was pretty fast, and the fact they are so small inside made it feel like a proper little sports car, cant wait to get one again.

If you go over to pumapeople or pumabuild owners club/forums online you will find everything you need on the heater issues and how to banish the rust

Riggers

1,851 posts

65 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Kitchski said:
That temp gauge reading high briefly won't be bubbles, it'll be the heater valve starting to jam. It can play all sorts of havoc when it starts to play up, even defying logic at times.

They're only about £30 from the main stealer. It sits on the top of the bulkhead. Easy to change and worthwhile too as there have been about 7 different revisions of it and they've only just managed to make one that works properly. rolleyes
I know the HCVs are a weak point - but it hasn't been a problem since. Still, I would quite like to replace it. How many Haynes spanners are we talking, though - because I daren't tackle anything with more than 1! wink

johnpeat said:
Yeah, the big problem here is that the arches problem isn't really soluble short of welding in new metal - and that's why most Pumas will be scrapped long before the rest of the car needs to be...

AFAIK it's rusting from the inside (there's a lip which traps water?), so any cosmetic repair is totally pointless.

£200-300 of welding (per side) will get you another 6-8 years tho - you just have to ask if it's worth that ...
SWMBO loves it so much that it might well be worth it, but I think it's probably worth waiting until it's a bit worse - it ain't too bad at the moment...

y2blade said:
these updates are too few and far between frown
Too true. Sorry. I guarantee they will be more regular from now on...

0a

13,312 posts

81 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
The old man has one, great cars! However he says the brakes are some of the worst he's had - is this a common fault or is there a common upgrade? He's comparing to a similar era focus estate, so no supercar expectations!

I'd second the thought that more updates would be great.

Stew2000

2,770 posts

65 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
The high suspension makes it good for a rallycross.

NiceCupOfTea

22,993 posts

138 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Riggers, it's easy, less than hour including tea drinking. Full guide on pumapeople.

Riggers

1,851 posts

65 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
NiceCupOfTea said:
Riggers, it's easy, less than hour including tea drinking. Full guide on pumapeople.
Sounds like the gauntlet has been well and truly thrown down... think I might man up and give it a go smile

johnpeat

4,287 posts

152 months

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Wednesday 2nd November 2011 quote quote all
Riggers said:
SWMBO loves it so much that it might well be worth it, but I think it's probably worth waiting until it's a bit worse - it ain't too bad at the moment...
The thing is - it's the sort of job you won't do if you leave it too long because the car gradually 'owes you less' - the good news is that once it's showing, the rust will usually be really really bad in the space of 1 good winter and we appear to have one of those right here!!
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