Quick Tips


Hot Hatch Hunting
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SS1 Overview
My Zetec Turbo Engine
Quick Tips
Stripping an SS1


Little snippets of info to keep your SS1/SST/Sabre going..


Dumping the Coolant when warm

Check the water expansion bottle, and specifically the bleed pipe from the radiator to the small pipe on the top.  This pipe stub has a pressed metal sleeve inside it which rusts up and blocks the flow of air and water from the radiator.  Remove the rubber hose and drill the sleeve out with a 3mm (1/8") drill, then re-attach the hose.  If you're lucky, you'll save the headgasket in time..

Erratic/non-running Ti MODELS ONLY

Water in both cases..first one is water entering the airflow meter as the Reliant air filter housing has a funnel built in (the lip around the top) to allow water onto the hot wire airflow sensor.  Either seal it properly with either a good rubber seal, or even silicone.  I've seen plastic bags over the top as well.  Don't forget to dry it out first..

Second is water in the ECU thanks to the placement of it (passenger footwell).  Remove, dismantle and dry it out (airing cupboard is about the best place).  Clean any residue/deposits from the PCB with a Printed Circuit Board Cleaner (DON'T USE WD40), available from the likes of Maplin.  If you're lucky, it'll live.  If not, find another Ti one, or from a Nissan Sylvia.

Erratic running (all models, but especially 1300/1400/1600)

Water in the petrol tank causes all sorts of poor running issues.  But how does it get there?!?!  The petrol filler sits in a recess in the bodywork and this recess should have a small drain hole to let water out.  Alas, this tends to get blocked up such that water collects and finds its way through the filler cap into the tank.  Its not uncommon for a gallon or so of water to end up in the tank.  Keep the drain hole clear (or make another with a 3mm drill), or fit a aero-style cap instead, flush mounted to the rear deck panel.

Strange clunking noise from the front suspension

Not always apparent from a cursory glance, and only visible when jacking the offending corner up is the death of an anti-roll bar link.  These are still available new, so don't bother looking for a Chevette - they die on those as well!  Why isn't it easily visible?  Compression of the front suspension keeps the bits in place.

The front top wishbones are a known SS1 weak spot and can crack around the balljoint mounting.  Check yours now as replacements are getting thin on the ground.


Also known as a twitching when driving straight ahead (steering feels notchy when making small steering adjustments in a straight line).  Whilst normally associated with excessively wide wheels/tyres, the 185 section tyres on an SS1 puts a bit more load on the steering rack than the 155's on a Chevette such that the rack gets a bit slack.  Recon steering racks are still available through usual sources

CVH Engined SS1's lacking "oomph"

The CVH engine used in 13/14/1600 SS1/T and even some Sabres are known for their cam wear issue - alas another design "feature" masks the problem to an extent, this being the hydraulic tappets.  Valve lift should be a tickle over 10mm (1600) or 9.5mm (1300/1400) on each valve.  Note that the deflection visible on the top of the tappet might not all be translated to the valve as the tappets might be getting lazy and compress a bit first...  Cam changes aren't possible with the head still in place on an SS1, so "off with its head"..

To save a lot of copy and paste, have a look here for the good, the bad and the ugly about CVH heads...

Wishbones and Trailing Arms

I could go on for quite a while here, but check both the top and bottom ones for rust and cracks - there are more and more horror stories of broken and rusted wishbones.  The lower front ones are standard Vauxhall Chevette; the uppers being a modified and strengthened Chevette one.  The rears are alas Reliant only..Check yours now but here are some quick pictures to keep you on your toes:

Front upper wishbones:

and shortly followed by

Or trailing arms..

CVH Rocker Cover

Next time you're anywhere near a scrapyard, locate a E to K reg 1.8 Sierra and relieve it of its rocker cover.  It's a straight swap and allows the oil filler to be accessed much easier, plus its silicone rubber gasket doesn't leak or crack with age.  A 10 minute swap

Shown here mounted on my 1.8 EFi-T engine - for sale...

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This site was last updated 07/03/09

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