Citroen BX - Love/hate them, do tell. - David Woollard

I'm forced to "come out" in one aspect of my life here, I'm an enthusiastic supporter of the Citroen BX.

For my sins I write the monthly BX column for the Citroen car Club magazine. The CCC is perhaps unusual among "classic" car clubs in that they support every Citroen from the early days right through to current models such as the C5.

We have a thriving feedback to the BX column but, by the very nature of one make clubs, our thoughts about the BX are a little "in-bred".

People's opinions of the BX are usually firmly OK or Rubbish. As this site has a broad base of motoring enthusiasts I thought it may be of interest to canvass you views on these cars in their twilight years.

So if you ever owned, had a ride in, maintained, loved/hated a BX or have any stories to tell please post them here. If you have a large submission and think it too detailed for the forum please e-mail me direct.

I hope to publish a selection of these comments in the August/September Citroen Car Club magazine, for those non-members who are interested I'll also post it onto my emerging personal Citroen website.

So good or bad (you won't insult me), do let me have some snippets.

Many thanks,

Re: Citroen BX - Love/hate them, do tell. - Paul Robinson
I was filling in a survey the other day and one question was 'What is the best car you have owned and why?'

After a little thought I wrote Citroen BX TZD Turbo - it was fun! for the four years I owned it I still enjoyed the 'going up' sensation of the suspension, it brought a smile to my face every morning - and that's worth alot!
Citroen BX - As few words as you like. - David Woollard
I bet Brian (of frequent and amusing/thoughtful posts) he would have more than five words on this topic, he says not.

OK Brian. The Citroen BX, in five words or less.

Re: Citroen BX - As few words as you like. - stuart bruce
Noncancelling indicators :-)
THAT speedometer :-(
Re: Citroen BX - As few words as you like. - Brian
Never been in one
Re: Citroen BX - As few words as you like. - David Lacey
David - I had a 1989 BX 17 DTR Turbo for 3 years on a friend's advice and loved the car. From it's spritely performance to it's cossetting ride, I found it to be a great car. It was my first 'real' car after the obligatory Mini/Escort etc
It was a one owner car with FSH but with 110000 miles owned by a local haulage company. I travelled around 35000 miles with it, changing the oil & filter at 6000 mile intervals.
Problems I had were:- Clutch cable snapped - a real nightmare to replace,
Alternator bearing became noisy, Oil cooler coolant hose burst, radiator leaked, battery went kapput, glow plugs replaced (misfire upon starting), tachometer faulty - wouldn't always work - traced to a bad connection on the alternator, replaced all 5 spheres (I enjoyed reading about this on your website!) The anti-roll bar drop links used to rattle when going over a rough road, I used to just tap the ball joint rear cover with a hammer and all would be quiet for another 5000 miles or so! (Must have just tightened up the clearances slightly!)
I always specified Michelin MXT 175/65TR14 tyres - it just seemed to feel better with those. I used to get about 15000 miles or so from front tyres with the rears easily going twice the distance.
The first MOT the car had with me was a little disasterous - it failed on the power steering control valve leaking fluid and corroded suspension pipework up and around the rear suspension!! So, as I was a mechanic (sorry, technician) at the time, I took three days off work, comandeered a ramp and duly stripped out the rear suspension. I replaced all the pipes front to rear together with all the rear pipework. Not too bad a job aslong as all unions undo (metal unions into alloys housings!) TIP:-Go buy a 8mm flare nut spanner from Snap-on before commencing work! The PAS Control valve was replaced (Fairly easily) but cost £200 for the parts.
As many will agree, the word Citroen suddenly makes people think of complicated cars to work on etc, but in my experience, this is untrue. (Excepting clutch replacement on CX25 GTi Turbo models - 12 hrs engine out job!)

Oh and before I forget, there was one last problem - the battery would go flat (yes-completely flat) after a period of 5hrs or so. It turned out that the glow plugs were drawing current with the engine off but intermittantly. It had to be a problem with the glow plug control unit situated on the o/s/f inner wing (Blue box) I took the cover off the box and found a snapped relay spring - the one that holds the contacts 'OFF' I just remade the spring and refitted it back and all was well for evermore. Better than spending £80 or so on a new controller.

Although I had all these problems with the car, I just had to have it right and didn't mind spending just a little extra to get it right. Most of these problems could (and do!) occur on any car at this mileage.

I would also like to point out that the cylinder head has never been removed (Confirmed by the original selling dealer) - this model and many others sharing the excellent (in it's time) XUD (T) engine have had bad press over the years regarding head gasket durability - was I just lucky or was I OTT using distilled water and top quality antifreeze as coolant?

Another point, I don't know if it was just luck, but all Citroen dealers were ever so helpful & knowledgeable. My local dealer was helpful both in general advice and sourcing of parts.
Re: Citroen BX - Cherryade - Guy Lacey
Would you like to comment on the Citroen's ability to run on Duty Free Fuel?
Citroen BX - Cherryade - David Woollard
Lacey Bros,

Used to service a BX 19D for a guy that helped a farmer sometimes. Funny thing in some lights the fuel filter had this kind of pink tinge. Could just have been the Fen sunsets.

Re: Citroen BX - Love/hate them, do tell. - Ian Cook
I had a 1988 TRS for a while and both my wife and I loved it for its comfort and space. Also the car was relatively light, and therefore quite economical for a 2 litre petrol vehicle with spritely performance.

I suppose it wasn't really very well screwed together, but it was cheap and easy to repair. If it had been a diesel I'd have kept it a bit longer and tugged the caravan with it, but it was a bit long in the tooth and I suspected that some b**t*rd had already clocked a few decades off it (it used a bit too much oil).

I really wouldn't mind finding a decent turbo diesel as a hack - I think there's a lot to be said for a car you can maintain with a hammer and an oil can.

Before people castigate them for being French, you have to remember that the French design their suspensions for poor roads which we always used to associate with France and Belgium. They probably mow design them for the British roads, under which I'd like to bury that arrogant b**t*rd Prescott and the unelected t**t Gus McDonald.
Re: Citroen BX - Love/hate them, do tell. - Darcy Kitchin
From reading your postings I suspected you had a soft spot for BXs:-)
I had a 1989 16 valve in which I used to commute 140 miles/day from Yorkshire to County Durham. I got it at 25K miles and serviced it by the book. It had new front disks at 80K miles and seemed to need new distributor cap and rotor-arm every 20K miles. It did 33-35 mpg on 4 star. The exhaust back box lasted until 90K miles, honest! It was extremely fun to drive, a real pocket rocket and could show most hot hatches the way home. I didn't realise what a lovely exhaust note it had until I carried a trampoline home with the hatch open. It never failed an MoT and had an annual splurge of Waxoyl to keep the pipes intact. I found the ride a bit hard and had the spheres replaced with GTi spec ones at 45K miles. I collected a nasty sharp piece of slate in the radiator matrix and kept it going with Bars Leaks for longer than I should have. The rad. finally let go when parking up at an employee's wedding reception, the other guests having to step gingerly over the steaming flood outside the hotel. The light weight and fat tyres made it a b*t*h in the snow. I remember getting into severe trouble heading down a long country hill with a doule hairpin at the bottom, in 2nd gear with the ABS hammering away and speed increasing! I survived by whipping the suspension control up a notch and taking to the verge. The idle control motor failed, but I got another unit from a scrapper for £20. In search of better economy, I passed it on to my wife at 125K miles and bought an XM 2.1 diesel, but that's another story. My wife drove over a newspaper one evening in the BX, except it wasn't a newspaper, it was a lump of concrete. It ripped the exhast pipe off and bent the manifold, fixed by my nice insurance company. She was also present, stationary, when a coach incompetently manoeuvred past her, taking the rear bumper with it. I replaced the broken brackets with aluminium riveted in place, sanded away the scrape marks and it looked as good as new. A fabulous car. I sold it when coincidentally our 4th child arrived, and the back arm bearings needed replacement. We both shed a tear when it went.
As a third car, I now have a BX 4x4 with air-con; a bit of a rarity, and a lovely drive. After the 16v, it could do with a few more bhp.
Used to be a CCC member when I had Ds and CXs.
Re: Citroen BX - Love/hate them, do tell. - Chris

I just bought one. A non-turbo diesel estate. Marvellous car - solid body and brilliant engine. My only option when I come to get rid of it will be a) Another hydro Citroen (Xantia?) or b) Something much more expensive in order to come anywhere near the ride quality. I think I know which it will be. How/why do spring and damper drivers cope with the shaking?

So far just old car niggles - nothing that can't be DIY'd.

(See you on the BX forum...)

Mid-thread summary. - David Woollard
Thanks so far guys, but something worries me....where are those who were brought near to despair by their collapsing BXs, where are those that hated it from day one?

Don't make it up just to keep me happy but I would like a balance.

Re: Mid-thread summary. - honest john
The only BX I ever bought dumped its coolant in the auction compound shortly after. Fortunately just a pipe, which an obliging local Citroen dealer had waiting on the counter for me when I arrived. All of sick squid. Pipe duly fitted, the skies opened up, but the thing ran like a train. Seemed to like being driven in the rain. Spent on new front tyres and a 13 month MOT, but only took about £200 out of her. Oh, it was a 1.9 diesel estate on an 'E'.

Re: Citroen BX - Love/hate them, do tell. - Ash Phillips
I'm currently driving an '86 BX19GT carb(110K) which I bought 6 years ago as an almost non runner with 70K on the clock. Over that time had to do quite a bit - rebuilt 3 out of the 4 calipers, carb, altenator, distributor. Replaced head gasket, nsr trailing arm bearing, front discs wheel bearings and outer CVs, hand brake cables, fuel pump, cambelt and several pipes and so on.

I still enjoy driving it - either wafting over the W Yorks potholes or blasting along the M way. It starts first time although it lives outside year round, 30mph is less than 4000rpm in 1st (ish) and yet it will pull well from 20mph in 5th all the way up to 100+. It never gets washed, apart from what splashes when I clean the glasswork. It is at least 5 shades of red, not counting the copious (yet strangely distributed) patches of rust. Perfect for leaving in all the worst parts of Bradford when in search of a great curry (how many more times can it get keyed I wonder)?

I drove it for a year with a slightly blowing head gasket (over-pressurised cooling system and a several pints a week thirst) making weekly trips from Leeds to Reading and back on the M way at a fair pace, and it ran well. A year or so later, I went to start it after it had spent a fortnight sitting on my parents' lawn, whilst I was catching some rays in the med, and it whirred and promptly ate the cambelt. I eventually fished out 18 teeth from the bottom of the belt casing! An oversight, the original belt was not in best shape (90K +), yet looked great a year earlier when replacing the head gasket. Backing and spine still looked ok, but the rubber on the inside and teeth were well gone. Took quite a while to raise it enough to get the osf wheel off (it had bottomed out on the exhaust pipe on their (lumpy) back lawn so I couldn't push it or even get a jack under!). Took about the same amount of time again to change the belt.

I put 20 quid of juice in and it probably doubles in value (at least) yet it has an unmarked and extremely comfortable interior with PAS, central locking, 4 (working) electric windows, 5 seatbelts, brakes that will put it on its nose (in a straight line), if you want it to, 30mpg round town AND it rattles less than the wife's 4 yo Xantia, in fact it doesn't rattle at all. Two of the tyres are the same ones I bought it with and their age is going to do for them before they wear out. It's the old mark I with PRN stalkless column, but proper dials. You feel like your in a classic sportscar with the semi-reclining driving position with the steering wheel between your knees.

The greatest downside I've found so far is finding information on parts etc. The Haynes BX manuals are hopelessly wrong in so many areas - the 2ed I bought just had different errors to my well thumbed 1st ed. I finally found the carb and engine details I wanted in a 305 manual!!! That, and all the b*st*rd sharp bits hidden amongst the pipes scattered throughout the engine bay. Pleasure and pain ;o).

When it finally goes I'm going to have a hard job finding something as easy to look after and as fun to drive for b*gger-all cash. I rate the fun factor even higher than my late lamented '83 Alfa Sprint which dissolved before my very eyes in just 6 years from new.
Re: Citroen BX - Love/hate them, do tell. - Andrew Moorey (Tune-Up Ltd.)
I have a customer based near Gatwick who runs a guest house. The house is an old manor house at the bottom of a 1 mile rutted and holed track. He uses old CX and BX estates to collect and deliver guests. When I asked him why he runs such old dogs instead of smart new people carriers he said " I can pick up these old Citroens for peanuts, they have far more room than anything else on the road for luggage and it's cheaper than resurfacing the drive! I am inclined to agree with his methods as it takes a full 10 minutes for me in my van to get from the road to his house, he does it in two!
Thanks. - David Woollard
As this thread slips into forgotten history, much like the BX it concerns, I just wanted to say thanks for the interest and comments.

I was quite surprised that the BX is so well thought of by those who posted a reply. I would still like one contribution from someone who had a nightmare of a time with one, just for editorial balance.

I'll post a link to my site in a couple of weeks where you can read the collected thoughts as the Citroen Car Club members will see them.

Worth mentioning that I did ask Martyn for permission to collect this information from the HJ site.

Thanks again,


Value my car