Citroen Xantia auto gearbox problem - Clanger
My father-in-law runs a '99 Citroen Xantia 1.9 diesel automatic with about 35K on the clock and regular service history. It is used for a mixture of short and long runs and towing. A fault recently developed while he was on holiday in France while towing a small caravan severe wet weather. The car became very sluggish to set off in first or reverse. When towing he could hardly get it going at all. Up hills solo; the same. At some point in the story the gearbox went into "fault" mode where the gear indicator lights flash, but that particular symptom has gone away.

Yesterday I drove the car and saw what he meant. When I last drove the car, it was fairly quick off the mark at anything more than tickover. Changes up and down the box were scarcely noticeable. The car behaved exactly as I would expect a modern 4-speed automatic to. Yesterday, having checked that the box wasn't in "snow" mode, the car was very sluggish setting off in first or reverse. Flooring the throttle didn't seem to make any difference to engine speed unless it was in neutral when the engine revved freely. Once it got moving and changed into second gear, it seemed completely normal. Acceleration was, in fact, better in second than first. It was similar setting off in "sport" mode, but it hung onto the gears longer as I would expect. It was just the same when I selected gears individually.

The car has visited a French Citroen dealer who pronounced it OK and correctly filled with fluid. It has visited the Citroen dealer in Huddersfield who suggested to f-i-l that he take it to the local auto gearbox specialist if he wasn't prepared to stump up the cash for a new gearbox. He wasn't, so he had the mystifying experience of said specialist telling him there was nothing wrong. This on a car that, until it reaches 10 mph or so could be blown into the weeds by an athletic snail.

I've done a search and the only thing that fits is low oil level. Yesterday we couldn't find the handbook and I couldn't find a dipstick under the bonnet to check the level.

Any clues anyone?

H.

Citroen Xantia auto gearbox problem - M.M
Hello D, how are things?

I think you'll find you have the later electronic auto on this car and there is a filler/level plug like a manual gearbox, but no dipstick.

Unusual for a Citroen dealer and a specialist both to say it's OK when it's not....unless they both are trying to punt the job away because of the replacement box cost and inevitable customer grief.

Are you sure this isn't stuck in Snow mode when Normal is selected? Certain you can hear gearchanges because this has an ECU limp-home mode of using third gear only? Can you hear the torque convertor "slipping" as it should as you move off? Could the torque convertor have stuck locked up as it does in 3rd/4th? Could the selector cable have slipped in its setting?

With ECU control, a gearbox ECU that is "coded" to the engine ECU and various sensors this is the stuff nightmares are made of.... unless you are really experienced with these autoboxes....and I'm not!

About all I would think of is to drain and re-fill the auto fluid, a very slim chance of an improvement and its colour plus any particles contained therin could give some clues.

M.M
Citroen Xantia auto gearbox problem - frustratedmondeo
I'm no auto gearbox expert, but you mention your Father in Law uses the car for towing. This is usually the kiss of death for an auto box unless it is fitted with a decent oil cooler (rather than the factory one which runs through the radiator). Has the car had an auxillary cooler fitted? Sometimes they are necessary even if the car manufacturer doesn't recommend one.
Citroen Xantia auto gearbox problem - Clanger
Fine, D, and you? Thanks for the reply.

"Are you sure this isn't stuck in Snow mode when Normal is selected? Certain you can hear gearchanges because this has an ECU limp-home mode of using third gear only?"

Yes I can hear it changing gear. And it's the same when I go through the box manually. It's definitely not stuck in 3rd.

"Can you hear the torque convertor "slipping" as it should as you move off? Could the torque convertor have stuck locked up as it does in 3rd/4th?"

It sounds as if it's slipping as it should. Don't know how it would behave if the TC is locked.

"Could the selector cable have slipped in its setting?"

Don't think so, without looking, but it will go up and down the gears between 2 3 and 4 on the lever and it feels OK.

FWIW when I first got the phone call describing the incident (and loads of other things besides) I suggested getting his garage to drain & refill the box, keeping in mind the car is used for towing. The car is 75 miles away and I am not in control of the situation. Don't you just love it when folk ring for advice and then ignore you?


H.

Finally ... - Clanger
This had developed into a saga involving several weeks and several garages that I don't think will interest Back Roomers but the car has been to a diesel specialist who has altered the fuelling on the diesel pump. Father in law says it's now fine. I haven't driven the car since it was fixed.

As a post-script, I feel F-i-L is slightly miffed that I couldn't diagnose and fix his problem on the basis of several rambling phone calls and a 5-minute drive.




Hawkeye
-----------------------------
Stranger in a strange land
Citroen Xantia auto gearbox problem - Clanger
Sorry to revive this but it may help someone.

Having repaired relations with F-i-L over a pint or two I subjected him to a bit of light cross-examination about the Xantia. We concluded that the French garage, ignoring the temporary gearbox fault brought on by severe wet weather, tried to fix the problem by messing with the fuel injection. This would account for the lack of performance when setting off and the need for adjustment made to the injection by the local garage.

Still haven't driven the car but have seen it set off smartly like it used to.


Hawkeye
-----------------------------
Stranger in a strange land
 

Ask Honest John

Value my car