1. Matthew Byrom

    Matthew Byrom Newbie

    Hi guys,

    Recently purchased a little Trabbi to restore to health.
    Took a test trip out to check all was well, mechanically.

    I know this sounds silly, but I felt the Trabbi was down on power.

    Along a gentle incline the car started slowing to a crawl. A road with a gentle incline (you'd think it was flat) saw me in 2nd/1st.
    Heard a knock from the engine infrequently under load. Very infrequently, but enough to make me wonder.

    A steeper incline saw me in 1st gear - walking pace.
    From what I've read, this should not be the case even with a Trabant.

    I was wondering where first places to start would be on a Trabant to make sure the engine was running normally & in good health? The engine is of unknown service history & I'd like to give it a thorough check over/service/overhaul etc.
    I can happily spanner away on anything, but I lack the experience to be able to effectively diagnose issues.

    Any advice appreciated.
  2. tricken

    tricken Loyal Comrade

    sounds like a head gasket, also look at plugs wires and spark
    you should have power to climb small hills in 3rd with no issues
    RogerDerSchrauber likes this.
  3. mati0921

    mati0921 Loyal Comrade

    Easy to test, 0-100 in about 30 sec. and tops out at about 110 on flat land and no wind, if not, something is wrong. :D
    Check sparkplugs/cables. (probably worth replacing if you dont know how old they are.
    Check ignition timing
    clean out carb.
    Check compression. (cant remember how much is good, but should be about the sameon both cylinders)
    remove heads an clean top of piston for carbon and mount new headgaskets.

    it will easily keep up with normal stop and go traffic. a couple days ago i had the speedo needle in the middle of the blue high beam lamp. (on a long downhill) :D
  4. Matthew Byrom

    Matthew Byrom Newbie

    Fabulous! Thanks for pointing me in right direction. I'll start with spark plugs & progress through to head gasket.

    The car's been sat for months before I got to her. Think I'll drain the fuel tank as a courtesy too.

    I knew these little cars could do better than that....
  5. Wartburg353W

    Wartburg353W Loyal Comrade

    If one plug is oily check the wire and the coil.
  6. Austinpowers

    Austinpowers Loyal Comrade

    I would suspected head gasgets, my trabi suddenly went down on power not long after I bought it. There was no obvious noises to indicate a blown gasget. But sure enough once I removed the heads you could see that they had failed. My trabi had been sat for six years before I got it on the road, so mybe they don't like being sat for so long and then suddenly started up. The knocking noise under full throttle could be pinking, I would check the timing. My other trabi had a habit of knocking when going up hills. With it set to 2.5 mm BTDC it now storms up hills no problem and doesn't make any rattling sounds.
  7. Matthew Byrom

    Matthew Byrom Newbie

    Thanks for the advice. I'll start work on her this evening. I have a small motorbike that I need to prep for it's MOT beforehand.
    I'll check plugs first. Order a new set - I have no idea how long the old ones have been in.

    I'm guessing Trabantwelt to be the best place for new parts.
    Am I better of with the regular ignition cables or have people found better results with the more expensive brands?

    I also saw on Trabantwelt 2 different types of head gasket - Regular head gasket for a couple of Euros, & a gasket "special" for 9.90
    Is there such a massive difference, or am I better off staying with the regular gaskets?
  8. mbeamish

    mbeamish Loyal Comrade

    Before you start ripping the engine apart and ordering parts do this simple test . With engine warm and running remove a plug cap using insulated pliers . The engine should slow . If there is no change that cylinder isn't firing. If the engine dies completely the other cylinder is at fault . It sounds like the car is running on one cylinder . It might be a head gasket but is most likely a bad plug/lead/coil. First check for a spark and then swap components from one cylinder to the other to find out what has failed . No need to order plugs ,coils and leads etc from Germany . English ebay will be cheaper and faster
  9. kev the builder

    kev the builder Loyal Comrade

    You can get coils,plugs and caps from a good motor factors of the shelf no postage or waiting,you can get good quality plug caps from a motor bike shop as well
  10. Matthew Byrom

    Matthew Byrom Newbie

    Thanks for the tip, mbeamish. I think you were right about the one cylinder.

    I didn't have much time to spend on the Trabbi this evening, but I did discover the following.

    I thought to remove the spark plugs to check condition before anything else. Passenger-side spark plug looks as pictured. Undid as you would expect.

    The driver-side plug I found was rattly loose. I could unscrew it easily with my hand. No effort. Before removing it completely, I tried to screw the spark plug in more securely to see if it even tightened. It didn't. At all. I could turn it easily with my hand.

    Looks like the threads are stripped completely on the driver-side head. I'm guessing this might affect performance.
    I'm not entirely sure how this might have happened, though.
    I took a photo to show the driver-plug condition too.

    So first job on the Trabbi will be to repair that stripped hole. I can see kits available to repair the existing head, so I might try them first.

    Attached Files:

  11. mbeamish

    mbeamish Loyal Comrade

    I think you could helicoil it or a good used head from german ebay might be just as cheap as buying the helicoil kit . Maybe try a wanted advert on here you might pick a head up in UK. Sounds like you have found the low power cause.
  12. mbeamish

    mbeamish Loyal Comrade

  13. Matthew Byrom

    Matthew Byrom Newbie

    Thanks for the links there. Yes, for those prices a reconditioned Head might make more sense.

    Really appreciate all the help & advice I've received from you all.
  14. Austinpowers

    Austinpowers Loyal Comrade

    I had a sparkplug pop out the head a couple of months ago. The thread had stripped completely. Lucky I had a spare head I could swap over.
  15. kev the builder

    kev the builder Loyal Comrade

    You can have it helicoiled easily my plug stripped on my motorbike my local machine shop did it in situ it took 10 mins and was still good when I sold it 5 years later all for £15
  16. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Loyal Comrade

    Don't exclude there also could be multiple factors making your car run badly, such as, additionally, crud in the fuel tank upsetting the fuel flow. Check the fuel filter underneath the tank. I removed mine in my first 5K servicing and was amazed by how much foreign matter had built up in the "water bell" (fuel filter housing) that when I cleaned it and put it back on (gently, not too tight) the car ran a lot better, no more hesitation and coughing.
  17. Matthew Byrom

    Matthew Byrom Newbie

    I think I will definitely clean out the fuel filter & get rid of the fuel that is currently in the tank. I'm just not sure on age of the fuel/mix etc anyway.

    I might have a chat with a local mechanic. See if someone is prepared to touch the car & do a helicoil job. Not sure if there's many round my way that will do it for £15. :) I'd love it if they did.

    I'll find out.
  18. turbofiat124

    turbofiat124 Loyal Comrade

    I've had several mishaps since I've owned mine. This may not always be the rule of thumb but here are some situations:

    If the engine runs fine at 30 mph at part throttle, then while going up hills or full throttle for about one minute, the the engine starts backfiring and blowing puffs of smoke out the exhaust, then stalls but restarted after 30 seconds, suspect a clogged fuel filter.

    If the car runs fine in 1st and 2nd then starts back firing in 3rd, suspect loose screws on the breaker plate causing the timing to wander.

    Engine will not idle at 700 rpms but has to be cranked up to 1200 rpms before it will idle and still stalls at times, suspect a blocked idle circuit in the carb. The engine is trying to idle and run off the main circuit.

    I once had the cap for the breaker plate fall off but was still "hanging on" causing it to short out one of the points, running on one cylinder. In this case, the car would not make it up a hill!

    I'm trying to think of other situations. In every case, I was able to fix the car and make it home. Knock on wood, I've never had to have the car towed home. I've managed to fix it along side the road.

    One time the return spring on the throttle broke and the engine went full throttle and had to shut it off . Luckily my co-worker was behind me and stopped and gave me a ride home and back so I could grab a pair of pliers to bend a new hook it to get me home.
    Matthew Byrom likes this.
  19. RogerDerSchrauber

    RogerDerSchrauber Loyal Comrade

    Any mechanic who has experience working on small older Continental cars will have zero problems with a Trabi, esp. when you download and print the repair manual in English for him or her that is found on this site. As a mechanic in town told me, this is a very easy car to work on- there's not much to it.
  20. mbeamish

    mbeamish Loyal Comrade

    If you go the helicoil route I would remove the head first .It's only a few minutes on a trabi . However careful you are doing it in situ I would worry about swarf and metal particles falling into cylinder . Doing it in situ is understandable if it's a days work to remove the cylinder head ( most modern cars) but not worth the risk when you can remove a trabi head in minutes

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