Hello all,

Does anyone know if it's possible to take both cylinder heads off a V6 engine (Series 2 XM Estate) with the engine still in the car? The reason I ask is that my car's been using a little water for some time now; little enough for me to think it was evaporation loss via a slightly weak pressure cap on the header tank. This evening, I drove from Kirriemuir to Ullapool and back. It needed topping up about every 30 miles (red collant level warning light came on) and after a stop in Aviemore it would not start; starter motor turned the engine a little but then locked up, as if one cylinder had something solid in it. My guess is that the head gasket has failed, allowing one cylinder to get enough water in it to lock up on the compression stroke. After a couple of hours the car started (just enough water drained past the pistom rings or up through the valves?) and I managed to get home. There is a smell of exhaust gas in the header tank.

The engine is basically sound; clean oil and despite problems on this run I got an average of just over 31 mpg, but if the engine has to come out for the heads to come off, I'm going to have to do some serious thinking. Should I try to locate a really good low milage V6 engine and pay someone who knows what they are doing to swop the engines over? The car is quite rare; it's a V6 auto Exclusive VSX Estate and it would appear that only 28 were ever registered in the UK. A genuine practical classic. I reckon it's got to be worth looking after, only just maybe by someone who knows more about XM's than I do.

Best Regards,