Citroën CX

CX re­turns to the work­shop with a few leaks

Practical Classics (UK) - - CONTENTS - James Wal­she ■ james.wal­she@prac­ti­cal­clas­

Un­less you are from Ja­pan, you wouldn’t be ex­pected to walk off the plane at Haneda Air­port in Tokyo with the abil­ity to speak flu­ent Ja­panese. Sim­i­larly, most me­chan­ics are not ex­pected to un­der­stand how to fix a big Citroën but once the lan­guage of hy­drop­neu­mat­ics is learned, the myths are busted. Talk to any well-versed Citroën spe­cial­ist and they’ll tell you the work in­volved isn’t es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult or com­plex. It’s just dif­fer­ent.

You may re­call just a few months ago in th­ese pages, my mate James Jef­fer­son and I re­placed the en­gine in my CX. We did so with one sus­pi­cious eye on that ex­ten­sive nest of pipework, which wrig­gles away from the en­gine bay to dark and mys­te­ri­ous places within the CX’S body­work. More ac­cu­rately, it van­ishes into an ex­otic sound­ing place called ‘The Longerons’. The car’s uni­tary body sits on a lon­gi­tu­di­nal frame with sub­frames de­signed to not only fur­ther iso­late oc­cu­pants from the road, but the as­sem­bly car­ries much of the CX’S clever tech – in­clud­ing all the pipes. What joy then, to dis­cover a big pud­dle of green fluid on the work­shop floor one Sun­day. The car has been stand­ing around for more than a year, so I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly sur­prised to re­mem­ber that rub­ber per­ishes and metal cor­rodes.

Back to the work­shop

Hav­ing only just vic­to­ri­ously fit­ted the en­gine, Jef­fer­son and I put the car back up on the ramp and found the source of the drip to be a slightly corroded low pres­sure re­turn pipe – one of many pipes fixed to the rear axle tube. We ex­changed wor­ried glances and picked up ‘The Barry Phone’. Within hours, my mate and fel­low Citroën en­thu­si­ast Barry An­nells turned up with son Pete for a cup of tea and we sheep­ishly watched as a sec­tion of the 3.5mm pipe was chopped out and bridged with a union. It was progress to my learn­ing, I rea­soned, to ob­serve what seemed to be a very sim­ple job. Need­less to say, the spares box in my boot now con­tains

a small sec­tion of spare pipe and a union.

This small hic­cup has en­cour­aged me to get my skates on and make a big­ger ef­fort to un­der­stand how the pri­mary ob­ject of my car en­thu­si­asm works. The reg­u­lar Citroën Car Club meets would prob­a­bly be a good start. In­stead of stand­ing around eat­ing ba­con sand­wiches and swap­ping sales brochures, I need to get more in­volved with fel­low mem­bers who spend time at th­ese events tin­ker­ing with each other’s pipes.

Cool run­nings

One fi­nal job re­mained. When the old en­gine cooked it­self af­ter a spell in traf­fic, we had de­duced the cause was a shot head gas­ket com­bined with mal­func­tion­ing ra­di­a­tor fan switch. I had pre­vi­ously no­ticed the area at the front of the en­gine was over­crowded and the ra­di­a­tor (in­stalled two years ago) was a poor fit. It was a unit from a dif­fer­ent model – likely built for the in­creased coolant de­mands of a CX diesel. The fan switch block con­nec­tor had been rub­bing up against the top of the king lead on the coil, caus­ing it to slip off, while there were scuffs at the base of the ra­di­a­tor it­self, where it was rest­ing hard against the ac­cu­mu­la­tor sphere. The only so­lu­tion was to source a re­place­ment ra­di­a­tor of the cor­rect size.

Wal­let re­lieved of £200, a brand-new item ar­rived and, once fit­ted, the en­gine bay was now clut­ter-free, with fan switch, coil and other items far more ac­ces­si­ble and fac­tory stan­dard once more. It was time to start us­ing the car prop­erly for the first time since en­gine fail­ure back in April 2017. Fol­low­ing a deep clean – in­side and out – and a half-day of rust pre­ven­tion treat­ment, I am now us­ing the car reg­u­larly and it is ex­actly as I’d hoped. The re­place­ment en­gine is smoother than the old one ever was and the feel­ing of glid­ing on a bed of ni­tro­gen, the hy­draulic hiss of the ef­fort­less steer­ing and ra­zor-sharp brakes con­firm the CX as my favourite car of all. What­ever clas­sic you drive, I’m sure this is the kind of lan­guage you un­der­stand very well.

‘I need to spend more time tin­ker­ing with my pipes…’

Tiny hole in hy­draulic pipe trig­gered warn­ing light.

Dr An­nells Jr. sticks his hand into CX’S hy­draulic heart.

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