Xantia Problems and Servicing - PhillipD

I have a Citroën Xantia 1.8i 16V Desire which was made just before the 1997 facelift. On the whole I quite like it but there are a couple of niggles that are now starting to annoy me! The biggest niggle is that of it using oil. I have noticed that on long journeys if I venture anywhere near 4000rpm for any length of time the oil will start to be used - in fact since March 2002 I have gone through about 3 litres of oil. For example, doing a 165 mile journey from Surrey to Nottingham caused it to use around 300-400ml of oil. (I had to top it up as I get a bit fed up of the dipstick warning light otherwise!). Is this a Xantia feature?

Also, the Speedo has started to stick occasionally, on one occasion it from 0mph straight to 50mph and then back down to 15mph which is what I was actually doing (I was only in second gear). Any ideas what causes this and could it be an expensive job to fix?

As a side issue I took it for its 40,000mile service in March this year and it cost me a whopping £650 and that was after the Bristol Street Motor 12 month warranty deducted £500 and gave me a 10% discount on everything else. All sorts of things had to be replaced - front brakes, spheres, tracking you name it - it had to be done and it is only 6 years old! Can I expect future servicing to be this expensive? It had a complete service history as well! (Which Citroen have now lost!)

Xantia Problems and Servicing - oldtoffee
Much more knowledgeable people will be along soon but you seem to have been charged for work some of which I'd associate with a 140K mike car not 40K. Have you had the car from new?
Xantia Problems and Servicing - M.M
Know what you're thinking Neil but so many maintenance items are age related as well. This car is 6yrs old and as such may be needing equivalent work to one with 72K plus recorded.

Phillip I'd ask as well if you've had this from new and know the mileage is correct. If it is 40K is very low for a 6yr old...short journeys? Also what has been the oil change frequency?

Sadly many garages are capable of emptying your wallet on these cars. A decent small specialist may cut costs.

One Xantia I was talking about last week was quoted at over £600 for a timing belt, service and two front spheres. A smaller guy could have done the work to a proper standard for little over half that.

The percentage of the car's value they have spent this time is daft for routine stuff. What was the warranty part of the job?

Xantia Problems and Servicing - Aprilia
As you are discovering, these cars are not well designed or well built.
A neighbour in the road where I live has a 'P' reg. Xantia. It has only 60k miles and I have helped him do a number of jobs on it, including replacing brake discs/pads and most of the steering components (including a leaking rack). I have a large workshop, compressor, 'pit' etc. and so often get asked by various neighbours if they can put their car over the pit to have a look underneath - then one thing leads to another...
The main problem with this particular Xantia was trying to get it through the MoT emissions test due to the fact that it was burning so much oil (high HC reading).
He got parts from GSF car parts - much cheaper than the dealer.
He was trying to sell the car recently, but gave up. Apparantly petrol cars are almost worthless (I think book price was £300, or something crazy like that) - only the diesels sell.
Xantia Problems and Servicing - Hugo {P}
I currently have two Xantias

1 L reg 1993 2.0 VSX 16v 72K
2 P reg 1997 1.8 LX 16v (similar to yours) 99K

The L reg is genuine from new in that it has the original engine etc. The P reg is genuine mileage but has had a replacement 18000K engine within the last month or so. I shall probably sell one of them soon, though I don't know which one.

Neither have developed the oil leak fault, and although I have been advised to replace the accumulator sphere (about £40 plus 1/4 hr labour I'm told) in the 2.0 Litre, I have not experienced the need for such drastic work in either of them to date. I should qualify that by adding that I have not had the P reg one long, but the L reg 2.0 litre has been mine since Feb 2001 and has returned 18K since I've had it.

The engine in the P reg was replaced due to the no 1 piston disintegrating, caused in turn by the water pump failing (so I am told) I was given the car in this condition so I didn't take the knock for the engine. Although I understand that the car was fautless until this happened.

I suggest that assuming you can verify the mileage, you have been very unlucky. In addition, I suggest you get to the bottom of that oil leak PDQ incase it leads to ther more serious faults.

In Principle, I agree with MM. With a car of that age, you don't need to do a lot to it to make it cheaper to replace it. A point in case was where a friend paid £1200 to have his cylinder head completely rebuilt on an L reg cavalier Diesel, A month later he bought a 2nd car at saltash auctions and saw cavalier diesels going through, better than his for around a grand.

Xantia Problems and Servicing - Vagelis
Hi there, PhillipD.

As I had posted on another thread about an Audi consuming oil like a fish drinks water, my father-in-law has a Xantia with the same engine, which is about the same age with yours.

Well, maybe PSA has an issue with this engine's oil consumption because you have the same symptoms with my FIL. He discovered that the piston rings had scratched the cylinders and oil was coming up to the combustion chamber. Big $$$$$!

Xantia's also seem to require new suspension spheres every now and then, and although they don't cost a fortune, it's plain stupid to change them so soon - my FIL has changed them twice in about 7 years!

I would suggest that you get rid of this car...

Xantia Problems and Servicing - Mondaywoe
My last car was a Xantia 1.8 SX (8 valve petrol)I bought it new, kept it for 9 years / 105,000 miles and it never had a new sphere (checked by Cit specialist who said they were still perfectly OK)The car never used much oil and had very few repairs (nothing costly) I traded it in for the C5 last year and got £1350 - not bad for a 9 year old car with that mileage!

My sister has an N reg Xantia. It has the 16v petrol engine. Yes - it does use a bit of oil - always has done, but again it hasn't had new spheres yet and nothing costly has ever raised it's ugly head. Her current mileage is about 46,000 miles. I think she said she might need a new back silencer soon - still the original!

My C5 has now done 21,000 miles (2.2 diesel) Again, nothing significant to report. I've twice had to disconnect the battery and count to ten to make the electric windows reset themselves and um....well that's all.

I still think that there are one or two rogue Citroens that cause no end of trouble, but the vast majority are excellent cars. Don't pay dealer repair prices, though. There are some excellent independent specialists. Better still get a Haynes manual and try a spot of DIY if you can. I haven't touched the C5 yet (3 year warranty) but when it's up, I can't wait!
Xantia Problems and Servicing - M.M

Far too sweeping to say the Xantia is poorly designed and built. Put them beside a Ford/Vauxhall/Renault of the same age and they start to look very good.

The main reason they get in a muddle is owner neglect, poor dealers and missed maintenance.

The oil consumption issue is one the 1.8 petrol can suffer from, but often due to skipped oil changes.

Xantia Problems and Servicing - rg

Having been initiated into the Citroen Owners Faith last November, and monitoring a number of forums, I do concur with "C5 Owner" above. There seems to be a pattern; that a few "friday afternoon" cars, along with neglected ones, spoil the image. Others seem to run faultlessly for years. Yes, even XMs.

Xantia Problems and Servicing - Galaxian
My last two cars have been Citroens.

First, a great BX 1.7 TZD which I had from 40k to 110k over 7 years.

Second, a Xantia 2.0 16V. It was a 96P which I bought at 13k in 1998 for 11,000 pounds (just before the second hand car price crash) and traded it in for 900 pounds two months ago after its ABS light came on - no MOT, no chance of MOT without spending lots of money. The problem with the ABS was never tracked down exactly, but it was electronic and not the ABS ECU - which was checked.

I now have a Laguna II 1.9dCi which I'm hoping will be a longer lasting car ...

Like many other products these days, their complexity is increasing and cost pressures must be leading to lower reliability in the long run.
Xantia Problems and Servicing - M.M

You rather confirm my point. Your Xantia was given up on because of a mechanics failure to simply repair the ABS. A thoughtful couple of hours labour and perhaps a £60 component would likely have sorted it and you'd have still owned the car now.

Xantia Problems and Servicing - Galaxian

I kind of like 'x2l', thanks :-)

In my case, quite a lot of time was spent on trying to track down the ABS problem.

I local specialist checked the error codes from the main ECU and it seemed to suggest that the car was doing 60kph and 98kph at each of the front wheels (sensors were ok) and the ABS unit was unable to detect the brake pedal being pressed. I also sent the ABS ECU for repair. The person I sent it to specialised in such things and checked the ECU and found no fault - and returned my ECU free of charge (he returned the cheque I sent to cover the cost of the repair !)

As far as changing cars, I suspect that I would have changed in two years anyway, but was disappointed that it packed in the way it did. I guess that after the service that I had from my BX, the Xantia seemed below par - much safer car I grant you!

Both the BX and Xantia were serviced by an experienced Citroen specialist who always did a good job and never did any unnecessary work - not a dealer!


Xantia Problems and Servicing - M.M

As I clicked Post I guessed it wasn't going to be that clear cut in your case...but I think you know what I mean. It is so often the case that *we* let down our cars in turn causing *them* to let us down.

Actual example....

Very smart Xantia here today for sphere change to improve ride. Purchased by new owner at well above top retail last week from a large town dealer (non-franchise). Seller made it quite clear they would do the major 80K service that was due plus change the timing belt as part of the deal. Car delivered with service book stamped for this work.

A check by myself reveals none of the fixings to do the timing belt had been touched since the car was built! The seller took it back and replaced the belt...of course leaving out the hard to reach cover bolts!!

Also I find that the fuel filter, air filter and oil filter are all the old ones, plus that the transmission oil level plug has never been touched. The coolant is due at this interval but again no evidence of any change. It appears the service comprised of stamping the book!!

So had it not been for a coincidental visit here the new owner could have happily taken this car to the next service interval with all these important items wickedly overdue.

Just think about it....

Engine wear from old oil/filter.
Cooling system, heater matrix and head gasket faults from old coolant.
Possible running faults due to blocked fuel filter/old air filter.
Snapped timing belt.
And of course all the safety related items that should have been checked.

Failures related to any of these areas would have looked like Xantia unreliability but in fact all beeen down to to the dealers fraud/neglect.

I see far more cars affected like this that you would believe.


Xantia Problems and Servicing - Aprilia
Your absolutely spot-on MM - proper servicing is important. However, I still maintain that most Citroens are not that well designed or constructed.
In my youth I spent time spannering on all manner of cars. We used to get some DS coming in for service work and they were complex, but really well engineered.
When Citroen joined up with Pug. I think the accountants got hold of the company. The BX was built like a balsa model. I dreaded having to remove any trim because it was so flimsy it invariably snapped. Bulbs used to go in the instument panel and the 'side switches' used to fail - I hated dealing with them beacuse the whole thing was like a Hong Kong toy and took ages to get apart/together without breaking anything. The bodyshell was very weak too - I towed one or two in after accidents and they would always be badly crumpled. The suspension *was* good though - and seldom seemed to give trouble.

Thankfully I've long ceased to work on the shop floor and so don't have that much experience of the Xantia. I did get talked into changing the little plastic link between the clutch pedal and the cable though. According to the Cit. parts guy they fail quite regularly. An amazingly bad piece of design! The dealer says the dash much be removed (about 10 hours labour!!) but we managed to do it in 2 without removing the dash.
I still don't like the design of the car and it feels cheap - I've no idea what the NCAP rating is, but when working on the car the body and trim feels flimsy.
OTOH, I can see why people would buy them secondhand, they are comfortable and very cheap.
Xantia feels cheap??? - M.M

From your posts I understand you speak from a position of experience and would not intend to throw about the meaningless \"pub talk\" type comments on various vehicles.

However bearing this in mind I find your comments on the Xantia so far out from my own experience. Of course knowing I own/work on loads you could say I\'m biased...not at all. I chose to specialise in the range because I\'ve found them nice to work on, well above average for their target market...a pleasure to deal with really.

As briefly as I can in reply...

The DS was magnificent but we tend to forget almost every body panel would often rot out in well under ten years. Now the BX may have felt more flimsy but there are plenty about at 14yrs plus with no rot at all. And of course you know the job of the body is to crumple so the damage looks alarming but controls the forces. Ok they are not a Saab 900 though.

Yes there were many aspects of the BX interior that *felt* flimsy and yes the dash bulbs do fail. However again there are many with totally intact and smart interiors, at 14yrs plus. In fact the TZD/GTi seats, trim and carpet materials will often clean up like new even at 200K and over.

That plastic link does break from time to time on the Xantia but usually because folks avoid fitting the new clutch that is needed. Xantia clutches indicate end of life by getting very heavy more often than by slipping. So many times I hear of them on their original (stodgy I\'m sure) clutch at 130K...but with their owners moaning that they are on their third plastic clip. Well do the proper job and fit a clutch, don\'t moan about the car!

I really can\'t beleive you think their design is bad and they feel cheap. Remember their target market.

A few specifics, and do remember to compare like for like.

Compare the underbody condition of an early Xantia (1993 perhaps)and a Renault of the same era. Likely the Renault will have every nut, bolt and body seam covered with rust...the Xantia will have none.

Compare the bodywork/paint of this 1993 Xantia with a Cavalier. The Xantia will have no rust but the Cavalier is likely to have seriously eaten rear wheelarches and other areas.

Stand an early Mondeo besides a Xantia and open the doors. Look at the way the hinges are made, look at the rough edges to the Mondeo door trim and its fixing with cheap exposed screws. Look in at the dash and see the way the Mondeo colours vary across the different material types. Feel the plastic materials and then tell me the Xantia is the one that feel cheap, I think not.

Now take the same two cars and open the tailgates. Handle the Xantia parcel shelf, it has a strength and feel that make the bit of flimsy pressed card on the Mondeo feel like junk.

Pull a 1997 Xantia next to a Rover 400 of the same age. Wind down the drivers electric window in each. Nothing much happens on the Xantia apart from the window moving. On the Rover both the outer door skin and the inner trim panel move out of shape as the window reaches the ends of its travel...the power of the motor overcomes the strength of the body! This is actually true of many mid-range cars.

The other week I happened to drive a 1999 Xantia TD back to back over the same demanding bumpy route as a 2003 V40 TDi and a 2000 2.0 petrol Vectra. The Xantia was far and away the nicest to drive and travel in. A combination of steering feel, handling and suspension comfort...yes and even overall refinement unmatched by the other two.

OK you might say these details are somewhat obsessive but they are the very differences that the quality car makers spend fortunes on achieving. Think to the whole series of VW ads that raised this very obsession with the tiny details that build into an overall picture of quality as perceived by a buyer.

Of course I do work \"hands-on\" with cars but also have an interest in/experience of these finer points that, unlike sean, I will not even allude to.

Xantia feels cheap??? - Baskerville
Bravo M.M

I had the good fortune to travel in a Xantia taxi a couple of weeks back, sharing it with a couple who are obsessed with buying expensive "quality" cars every other year and with grumbling about depreciation.

When we stepped out of the car they both started rattling on about it feeling plasticky, trim being loose and tatty and so on. I had noticed that the recorded mileage was 308,000 and told them it was hardly surprising it was a bit worn at that mileage and nine years old. This chap then went so far as to chase after the taxi which was waiting at the lights to confirm it. I doubt he'll buy a Citroen next time though.

Xantia feels cheap??? - Aprilia

You make many good points. You are right that Cit's don't seem to rust too badly. You're also right about windows in comparison with Rover 400 etc.
Don't know about the plastic clip business - the one I fixed had done about 60k, I think there was a lot of life left in the clutch.

I do think the BX's were very fragile. Like I said, we recovered a few after minor accidents and they seemed to crumple up very badly (bear in mind I got to see a lot of damaged cars in those days, so I had a bit of an 'eye' for this sort of thing at the time). I remember the bonnet and tailgate were plastic (?) because they always seemed to be in 1000 pieces.

I also agree with you that the Xantia is nice to drive. I was lent a turbo diesel a few years back and thought is very smooth and quiet.

You'll never turn me into a Citroen fan though!
Xantia feels cheap??? - Gregory P
M.M. Glad you pointed those things out about poor servicing. So many main dealers fail to service cars properly and so breakdowns are a way of life for many now.

Whenever I have a service (car or motorcycle), I write down what service it needs with a list of items to include in the service (together with the official schedule). I then check they are carried out by say checking the colour of oil, or undoing the screws or clips to the air filter, steering, coolant, transmission oil etc etc. I was amazed that at some garages they never carry out the work I wrote down to have done. For example, I wrote to have the carburettor in my motorcycle cleaned and the mechanic just didn?t do it even though I wrote it down.

What does seem strange is that I hardly ever seen mechanic who lubricate ?all moving parts?. It is such an easy job and not doing this causes many problems. Also, they seem to never lubricate cables which then rust and need replacing after some years. It only takes seconds and saves a lot of money in the long run. It even says on the service schedule to carry out this simple work.
Xantia feels cheap??? - rg
Yes, well done M.M.,

Sure, I'm a Citroen convert, but I would make the following observations:

I see more and more Xantia taxis around these days. I guess that the owners don't buy cars to "tinker with", but to earn money seven days a week. A good recommendation?

I'm trying to be careful here: I read much about main dealer neglect of Citroens (allegedly..). There is a suggestion from an XM specialist (www.xm-centre.com - see section "what the press says")that misunderstanding, along with a few (minor) surmountable design and manufacture problems seriously damaged the XM's reputation in the UK. It never recovered. Hence I could pick 28K's worth of R-reg unique car for 6K last year. This had fortunatly been serviced by an indy from early days, hence appeared to have been treated with care.

Missed LHM changes, missed ATF changes send cars to an early grave. Aged spheres rupture and send bits of rubber travelling around the system. The accumulator sphere gets neglected and the main pump dies. And the policy of "let's just swap expensive bits out until the problem goes away" rather than intellegent diagnosis unfairly marks the car as "moneypit".

Xantia feels cheap??? - Hugo {P}
Whilst working away from home a couple of years ago I got to drive a number of hire cars under 6 months old, including several mondeos.

We're talking X reg 2001 here.

When I changed to a 1993 Xantia at 54K I was surprised to find that it was just like driving the 2001 mondeos at 2K odd. Infact the ride was better due to the design of the suspension.

Although my L reg is now worth pants I am reluctant to change it because it is so damn reliable.

So the moral of the story is - if you're going to buy a xantia, get one that has been looked after and you will not usually go wrong.


Value my car