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03 1.4 16v ECU failure - Alan-FC

C3 Diesel 1.4, 16v HDi, 92hp. 3 yrs 10mths old 55K miles, looked after, shell diesel fuel only etc.

Citroen UK are 99% certain that the ecu has gone duff. £852 inc vat for a new one!

After my protestations that the ecu is not exactly a 'service item' and should reasonably be expected to last longer, CUK have agreed a 33% goodwill offer discount on parts and labour. I don't think this is enough. I think its pretty poor that CUK are still looking to make a profit on this one, they must ship these things in for £200 or so max.

PS the coil spring on the nearside front snapped with an almighty racket as I was driving on a normal metalled road 3 weeks ago! I've been driving for 30 years in all sorts of sheds but I have never had a coil spring snap or an ecu go, and for all this to happen to the same car in 1 month. Am I just lucky or could I be excused for thinking that the car is a croc?

Based on this, I can never recommend that anyone buys a C3 1.4, 16v diesel, after all the whole point in buying a car like this is for economical motoring.

The symptoms are like trying to start a petrol car with no choke from cold, crank it for ages, tickle the pedal until it eventually catches and starts up in a cloud of white smoke and sounds like a bag of nails with hesitation and cutting out until it warms up.

BTW, no complaints with the main dealer service.

Should I consider myself lucky that I got some concession from Citroen or would it be fair to say that the ecu (and the coil spring) were not fit for purpose as they are not designed to be replaced in such a short time?

all opinions gratefully received.


Edited by Pugugly on 15/04/2008 at 23:08

Citroen C3 ECU failure - LeePower
Coil spring failure is a well known issue on the C3.

Not heard of many ecu failures.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Screwloose

With symptoms like that, I hope they've already changed the coolant temp sensor and the cam/crank sensors. White smoke/rattles might suggest an injector fault too. Like Lee; I've not had any problems with HDi ECUs - every other part, but not the ECU. When/how did this problem start?

Have you considered getting your ECU tested or repaired? If it can be done, it avoids all the expensive security coding hassle of fitting a new one; and having it tested first is a lot cheaper way of finding out that it's not the ECU! [I never like hearing the "99% sure" bit...] Try firms like BBA-Reman and see if they can test/repair it. They can usually pick them up within a couple of hours of ringing them.

Broken springs are an epidemic; it's getting quite common to see a grass-encrusted wreck getting dragged in because the spring has broken and taken out the inner sidewall of the tyre. It used to be a rarity; either springs are getting weaker, or these speed bumps are taking their toll.

C3's are indeed not the best. I think they got a light aircraft designer in specify all the bits. Everything is cheap, flimsy and breaks off; you want to see the state of the lease-company fleet ones when they finally go off to auction. You've almost got to sweep them onto the transporter. C4's are even worse!
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Alan-FC
Thanks for your replies,

The problem first started 3 mths ago, symptoms as described in my first post. Dealer reprogrammed the car and it cured the fault.
1 week ago, fault returned, dealer again reprogrammed the car which cured the symptoms but this time the problem returned within 24 hrs, the next morning.
It has never happened whilst driving, only when returning to the car.

Its as if the ecu keeps dumping the programme.

2 permanent faults were flagged, one about periodic fuelling fault to injectors, the other mentioning accellerometer positioning.

The main dealer replaced all the injectors, (I think this is a Delphi fuel system) and the problem remained, he checked the wiring and connectors, no joy.

Hence CitroenUK saying that they think its the ecu.

It appears to me (layman) to be a fuelling problem, woulod you expect them to check out the coolant tempo sensor and crank sensor if this were the case. They seem to think that it is a capacitor within the ecu which controls the injectors. (unfortunately, the 'ecu doctor' in Devon does not have the facilites to check out and repair this particular ecu.

I am concerned about getting the ecu checked, if it comes back ok, then Citroen are still going to insist I go with their diagnoses, however they did say that if the ecu is not the problem then I wont have to pay.....I should hope not.

Citroen C3 ECU failure - Aprilia
Its a difficult one,isn't it. It does sounds like the dealers are being reasonably thorough. if they are offering a 'no fix, no fee' repair and 33% goodwill on top then I would go for it.

I agree with comments about the general flimsiness of Citroens. I like the look and drive of the C4, but it does feel like its built to last 5 minutes. I don't think they are cars for the long term, keep them till end of warranty and then get a new one.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Screwloose

A "no-fix; no-fee" deal is indeed rare these days. I'd love to know the exact number of that injector fuelling fault-code. The "accelerator position sensor plausibility" one is quite common and not strictly relevant to this.

If the new software update doesn't "take" you'll usually get code P1613. All dealers try and circumvent proper diagnosis by "downloads" these days; as you've found - it doesn't always work. It's not the ECU forgetting it's new settings - it's just that, even with the new wider tolerances, it still can't cope with the underlying fault. I would wonder if they've ever tried a logical approach and tested those sensors.

This is a Delphi system; their ECU's are normally quite reliable. Has it ever been jump-started? Seems to be a " known-issue" on them; see:-


I'd give them a ring; if it's OK, don't tell Citroen; if it's faulty, then it'll be many hundreds of pounds cheaper than a new one. Or insist that your dealer sends it for testing. [Normally £45-ish; sometimes the most cost-effective diagnostic step]
Citroen C3 ECU failure - LeePower
Jumpstarting & PSA multiplexing have never been a good combination.

Seen a couple of 206 HDI owners report ECU failure but its very rare.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Alan-FC
Thanks Guys and to Screwloose for your insight.

I will relay your replies to the service manager on Monday and see what comes of it. From what you say I have been treated reasonably well by the dealer and Citroen UK, so that gives me a warmer feeling. I'll keep the forum posted on the outcome. I would be interested to hear from other C3 owners who have had ecu problems.

Citroen C3 ECU failure - Alan-FC
Well Guys,

You couldn't make it up it looks like Citroen has built a car which can't be repaired!

Service manager has just called to say that the ECU was replaced as per CitroenUK instructions, they were 99% certain it would cure the fault and guess what.....the fault remains. He is at a loss (his words)

I asked him for exact readouts from the diagnostic:-

Permanent fault, cylinder1 injector circuit Acyclism.

Permanent fault, no resetting by accelorometer, no periodic injector resetting.

Fault code P1163

Everthing still points to no 1 cylinder injector fault, but this has been replaced.

A compression check was carried out on all cylinders and everything is fine

A back leak check was done and exact same amount of fuel was recorded from each injector.

He said that all tests have been carried out cold, is there any merit in repeating the tests with the engine up to running temp?

In summary, they have done a full diagnostic check which he said would flag up any faults with the CTS and crank/cam sensor (he said if this item was faulty the car wouldn't even start). They have replaced all the injectors, checked the wiring and connectors, replaced the ecu and the problem reamins. The vehicle still starts up etc as before.

Can any one shed any further light on this please, the service manager says we are back to square one and its already been off the road for over a week, I am well and truly knackered without it!


Citroen C3 ECU failure - Screwloose

Ahh; an injector acyclism; that clarifies things a... Not!

Delphi tend to individually code each of their injectors; could there be a possibility that something [cabling fault/electrical interference?] is causing the ECU to fail to code-link properly to #1 injector?

This injector coding procedure would have to have been done at every new download; maybe the ECU "forgets" where it put #1 injector and then can't drive it accurately? [A very common occurrence on Delphi systems in Mondeo TDCi's.]
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Alan-FC
Thanks for that Screwloose, I'll relay it to the service manager.

We are still no further forward, dealer has had it for 10 days and says he has hit a brick wall and CitroenUK technical have not come up with anything new. we have reached an impasse.

Do I scrap a 4 yr old £10K car with 55k miles because its irrepairable? I have heard of the throwaway society but I think this is taking things to another level.

I am ................rather cheesed off and totally bewildered. Diesel engines, designed with simplicity and durability in mind, Take a quote from Ricky Tomlinsons character in the Royle family.

Citroen C3 ECU failure - JamesQB
I know this topic is almost a year old, but I'm hoping on this forum sending emails when new replies are added because our C3 1.4 HDI 16V has the identical problem and we can't seem to trace the fault.

If the original poster is long gone, can anyone else reveal the magic tonic to make this car work properly again?! On another Citroen forum a chap has recently added a topic with the same fault, so it looks to be a common one.

I would strongly advise people to steer clear of this car. Ours is only a few years old and already on new water pump, plastic interior parts broken, grinding noise on cornering at rear right wheel, grinding front suspension and other niggly problems, along with this bigger fault.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - maxx1
I have a 2003 1.4hdi with exactly the same problem. Just been for the mot and the front nearside spring was also broken clean off. The worst part is the cold starting. Exactly as above, crank it over for about a minute, then it catches with clouds of white smoke and sounding like a bag of nails. The engine then repeatedly cuts out until the first couple of bars show on the ttemp gauge. As soon as the engine is warm it is a dream car with no problems.
Can anyone out there offer a solution?
Citroen C3 ECU failure - MikeTorque
Stop buying Citroen's until they can produce a car that doesn't fall apart, and if something does go wrong then they either fix it properly or replace the entire engine as a goodwill gesture, in which case send the engine back to it's maker who can then figure out what the problem is and ensure it never happens again.

The 1.4 HDi problem, have the garage wire up diagnostics to everything connected with a cold startup. The ECU can be monitored with the right diagnostics software utilities, the sensors can be checked for functioning, the fueling can be checked for flow, the electrics can be checked with circuit tester diagnostics software. If the engine has to be sent back the factory for diagnostics work because the garage can't do it then so be it. In the meantime they should provide you with a courtesy car.

By the way, my wife's previous car was a Citroen Xsara, it developed so many faults we decided to got rid of it, the clutch was still awful after it was changed, and as for the air con forget it. Citroen's may be cheap to buy but there is a reason for that !
Citroen C3 ECU failure - TurboD
sureley citroen is a cheap nasty car and will always be so, you must know that as they discount them so much. try getting a Honda on those terms!
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Miniman
Did anyone get to the bottom of this. Telling me I have bought a cheap and nasty car isn't very helpful. Just covered over 100,000 miles and this is only fault exactly as described in previous posts. Well happy with the car, it just needs an answer to this problem.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - teflonpete
Mine is in with a Citroen mai dealer at the moment with exactly the same starting from cold problem. They say they can find no fault on a diagnostic check and have recommended an injector overhaul to the tune of £1000.
That sounds like a lot of money for a 52 plate car that's worth about £3-£3.5K.
Anyone come up with any answers yet?
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Miniman
Teflonpete. Spoke the the main dealer who has had it this week. They suggest they have fixed it!! Will pick it up tommorrow and see what its like over the week end, and report back on monday or tuesday to you.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Miniman
Teflonpete. My C3 all ok for the past week and a half. Originally after remapping the ecu they said as I was driving nearly 170 miles it would give the ecu time to remap the injectors. that worked for a few days. Took it back a week last monday they remapped the injectors then carried out the correct road test, not just a blip on the trottle in the garage like most garages would do. Apparently according to the procedure the car needs driving at 30mph for so long then 70 mph for so long then back to an idle. mine seems perfect after that. let us know how yu get on
Citroen C3 ECU failure - JamesQB
miniman and teflonpete, it's interesting to see more people again suffering this annoying problem. I've heard of ECU remaps solving the problem, but often not for good, which makes the fault even more confusing.

I recently conducted a back-leakage test on my injectors and one of them is leaking a huge amount compared to the others, 400ml compared to 75ml on the lowest injector. Unfortunately this would indicate I do need at least one new injector, although it really should be all 4 since the back-leakage varies considerably between each injector.

What a cost it's going to be if I do that, for a car worth probably less than 2K now!

miniman, is your C3 still going well without the starting problem and ensuing clouds of white smoke since the remap?
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Armitage Shanks {p}
There is a firm called Reman (Remanufacture?) who repair all sorts of car electronics including ECUs. It is possible to have injectors refurbed for a lot less than the cost of new ones, and with a warranty.

Edited by Armitage Shanks {p} on 17/10/2009 at 16:17

Citroen C3 ECU failure - Miniman
James QB, Yep the car still running perfect after 3 weeks or so. Can i stop holding my breath and just blame all the other mechanics who have not completed the procedure by taking it for the prescribed test drive
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Alan-FC
Sorry about not closing this one off! I was so relieved that the garage eventually sorted it out. Give them their due, they got there and I felt were as helpful as they could possibly be. They did not bill me for anything, which was very good of them.

The problem as it turned out was a faulty vacuum valve that sits behind the engine, between the engine and the bulkhead, sounds simple but what a torture getting there. Things seemed to progress with Citroen after I got the press involved, who were fantastic.

I just could not accept that a 3 year old car with 60k miles serviced by the book, was

The car has been running brilliantly since then and has clocked up 88K miles.

Thanks for all your help and inputs.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - smokey citroen
Had exactly the same problem with intermittent starting and loads of white smoke. Eventually after changing glow plugs, temperature sensor, valves, the problem was sorted by very helpful BT fleet engineers and it was the glow plug relay timer. This cost £25 and I now have a "reliable"C3 after eight months.
Citroen C3 ECU failure - Molkindralisen
Ignition computer failure try snip

If you want to advertise try www.honestjohn.co.uk/advertise/ads.htm


Edited by Webmaster on 13/12/2009 at 02:45

Citroen C3 ECU failure - Lee7Star
Hi Alan, got a very similar with my C3, do you happen to know what the part number for the vacuum or the contact details of your Citroen dealer? Thx Lee
Citroen C3 ECU failure - jc2
Had a problem in the past with a module that kept losing it's programming(not a Citroen) and it eventually turned out that the casing of the module was not "earthing" positively.Made a better earth and it worked perfectly.

Edited by jc2 on 13/12/2009 at 08:24


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