CX returns to the workshop with a few leaks
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.
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.