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Z16XE / P0136 / P0303 Zafira A / Astra G In Depth…

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A bit of a diagnostics walk through today, my Dad’s car (Zafira A) sprouting some confusing problems…

First things first, if you own a Vauxhall and have an engine light on do yourself a favour and get a live data retriever like what you see above. Why pay more for a garage to scan the car once when you can have a £20 reader that will probably outlast the car.

So it all started with the exhaust system, the factory down pipe flexi had failed and was blowing a lot. Purchased a new down pipe and a new o2 sensor to save the hassle or removing the old one out of the original down pipe. Everything was replaced pretty easily though once the car was started we had two codes: P0170 and P0136…

P0170 – Lean Exhaust

This code was not too tricky, and since the middle silencer and muffler had only been replaced by a garage on the last MOT I was not expecting this at all. After a few minutes I found a hairline leak from the welded side seam off the middle silencer, so a very poorly made silencer right here ! Luckily I was able to seal this defect using VersaChem.

P0136 – O2 Sensor 2 Open Circuit

This one was a bit trickier, I got an open circuit issue now ? somehow ? First things first and that was check the sensor itself. The first thing you can do on the four wire o2 sensor is check continuity and resistance in the heater circuit, which are the two white wires off the sensor:

Set multi meter to “ohms resistance” and connect to the white wires at the four pin terminal connector, you should be able to get a confirmation beep and numbers around 04.5Ω.

Next you will check the voltage range of the sensor, this is typically 0.2 to o.8 volts as you apply heat to the sensor (best done with a blow torch).

 

Here I recorded a video to demonstrate how you go about doing this, you will go into “Volts DC” for the meter and connect up to the grey and black wires at the terminal this time. Apply heat to the end of the sensor and see if you get a steady voltage climb, as you can see this was not the case for me, so the sensor was faulty !

Since I researched how to check the harness I will also highlight on this:

z16xeecuconnector

Before you go any further make sure your vehicles ignition is off !

For the Zafira A / Astra G (Z16XE) the engine ECU is located on the right side of the cylinder head next to the battery, and you should see two rather large black connectors coming off it. You have the upper harness connection and the lower harness connection, you need to unlock the top connector (known as connector X72). You simply do this by easing out the plastic slider (no.48) and then the big metal hinge will unlock for you.

We need to create a circuit testing ohms resistance with the meter connected to the X72  and then right down to terminal 3 on the o2 sensor connector (wiring harness side). You need to use a fine needle probe to pin 62 on this plug, so just two along from 64 as you see on the diagram. To connect to terminal 3 you will obviously need longer wires, speaker cable is pretty ideal especially combined with block connectors (look at the you tube video above to see how I did my “DIY” leads).

Once connected you should get a low reading of around 0.3Ω and confirmation continuity beep.

A few final tests can be carried out at the 4 pin o2 sensor connector (harness side):

o2 sensor disconnected: Ignition On / Terminal 4 (black) Harness Side to Ground = 400-500mV
o2 sensor connected: Ignition On / Terminal 4 (black) jumper Harness Side to Ground = less than 50mV

This sums up all the testing you can do, other things are if you have a live diagnostics reader go into the measuring blocks and see what kind of mV readings you are getting. The sensor should change every second, and on this bad sensor it was always stuck at 447mV or 453mV so definitely an issue. There is always the unlikely case your ECU is at fault, it is rare but it is known for them to fail since it’s effectively attached to the engine and experiencing a lifetime of noise, vibration and changing temperatures.

With the work carried out you would think that would be the end of it, but not in this case. A day after the car developed a bad misfire out of nowhere and we had codes:

P0300 – General misfire

P0303 – Cylinder 3 misfire

It seemed very strange that this would happen, and I initially thought it might be linked to all the wiring tests I had been doing. It turned out the car battery was failing, only delivering 7volts when cranking which is not ideal for any car. The sealed Vauxhall battery was at least 10 years old so that was replaced, I swapped the spark plugs out for some spares and no joy, so it was onto the Coilpack:

 

Here is a good video for testing the coilpack, and after replacing the unit the car was all good again, finally fixed !

Photo: Helios 44-2 First Impressions…

 

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Just checking in with a lens update, the Helios 44-2 58mm to be exact.

So why did I get one of these ? Truth be told I had been meaning to get one for a very long time, and since their value is beginning to creep up it was the right time to pick one up.

Because of YouTube these lenses are becoming well known for what they are capable of, and for a good insight I recommend this video if you want to know more:

 

There are many of these lenses out there, literally millions produced and they do tend to vary. The one I have in particular is a fairly early example with the white and red colours, but you can also get green and yellow highlights as seen in the video and the more sought after “zebra” which has a silver/black focus ring.

This lens is some sort of copy of the Carl Zeiss Biotar, and I cannot compare but the feel of this manual lens is really just great. I decided to go with an M42 converter without all the AF confirm chip stuff to avoid confusion, just simply screw the lens into the converter and it’s ready to go onto my camera.

Despite the lack of any focusing aid it’s still easy to operate, and switching to “live view” tends to be the best option over the viewfinder for a change. This is one of the first photos I’ve taken with the lens just in the garden, the unique “bokeh swirl” is there but it was a very dull day, so I know the results can be a lot better on a good day !

helios-44-2-first-look

If you were looking for a budget lens for some creativity I think one of these is a must have, and if you want the “bokeh swirl” models then go for the 44-2 with eight blade AF internals. There are some other models like the 44-4 etc. but most of these are revised and won’t create the same results. I would say this lens does a lot better on full frame cameras, but even here with my APS-C it still yields good results even if it’s a little constrained.

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