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Thread: Stuck: front suspension stuck on high

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    Default Stuck: front suspension stuck on high

    In a sticky spot: elsternwick with front suspension rock hard on high. Can I drive home 7km like this?

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    We are not too far from you, St Kilda if you need to leave it overnight to cure problem. I can probably run you home for tools LHM etc.
    Hotrodelectric likes this.

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    Wait 'til later when the traffic dies down, then keep it very slow on rough sections. The tyres will take up bumps without damaging things up to an inch or so. If you have to cross tram tracks, about walking pace won't worry it.

    What Cit is it?

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    Many thanks - have had a great response from froggers. Currently sorting issue with cccv member.

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    Upshot is a suspect rebuild on a front sphere that was replaced this afternoon. A bit weird - the front suspension was stuck on high (the rear was working just fine) and the bleed screw was not enough to "relieve" the system.

    At first we suspected a height corrector problem, but decided to remove the rebuilt sphere given the coincidence. It was very difficult to remove, even aftersome leakage of LHM "released" the suspension and everything had dropped. When the sphere did eventually come off, it did so under a lot of pressure, with LHM going everywhere.

    We spun the previous temporary CX sphere back on, and everything then pumped up and rose just fine, and I went home. Even then there was some real roughness about the travel and ride (rattles etc), so I am not sure what to think. We will check out the suspect rebuild this week to see if the diapraghm has failed and go from there.

    thanks again for various froggers for calling in and offering assistance. I owe a lot to a particular cccv member for giving up a couple of hours of his saturday evening...

    AM

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    Quote Originally Posted by ajaxvte View Post
    Upshot is a suspect rebuild on a front sphere that was replaced this afternoon. A bit weird - the front suspension was stuck on high (the rear was working just fine) and the bleed screw was not enough to "relieve" the system.

    At first we suspected a height corrector problem, but decided to remove the rebuilt sphere given the coincidence. It was very difficult to remove, even aftersome leakage of LHM "released" the suspension and everything had dropped. When the sphere did eventually come off, it did so under a lot of pressure, with LHM going everywhere.

    We spun the previous temporary CX sphere back on, and everything then pumped up and rose just fine, and I went home. Even then there was some real roughness about the travel and ride (rattles etc), so I am not sure what to think. We will check out the suspect rebuild this week to see if the diapraghm has failed and go from there.

    thanks again for various froggers for calling in and offering assistance. I owe a lot to a particular cccv member for giving up a couple of hours of his saturday evening...

    AM

    Typically when this happens, and one cannot find a mechanical problem with the HD and/or control rod, the cause can be traced to a failed sphere (front suspension or main accumulator) that has released some rubber particles into the fluid. As the front suspension units pass fluid back to the main reservoir via the HC those rubber bits can seriously clog up the return line from the front HC. Inside that line, about 6 or mm from the HC end the factory inserted a wire to slow down the flow of fluid from the front suspension units. Its purpose is make the car settle at about the same rate front and back when the heights are change via the selector lever.

    Even after replacing the affected sphere(s) the car will still have problems as front suspension pressure is incapable or only very slowly returning to the main reservoir. During driving every time the front HC calls for more pressure it goes in, but cannot escape. The result in a gradual raising of the front end and stiffing of the suspension.

    One can sometimes clean out the line after removal from the car by forcing fluid under pressure from the non HC connected side. Other times the line has to be replaced.

    Steve

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    That explanation is certainly consistent with the behaviour of the system today, after having replaced the suspect sphere ie. fine at first, having released all the pressure from the system, but the front does not settle and becomes increasingly hard with pump cycles. Of course, it could still be a height corrector problem, but i am assuming that doesn't explain the hardening.

    My sense is that the answer at this stage is to 1. remove, retest and if necessary rebuild the front spheres, and 2. isolate, remove and repair or replace blocked front end return lines. Aargh. Will have to find professional help.

    In the meantime, a tiny hole developed at the top of the heater core, where the supply hose from the radiator/water pump joins, with a fine mist of coolant showering everything, just to add to my woes. That plus an exhaust leak in the flexi pipe between the manifold and the muffler. The car seems to be thumbing its nose at me at the moment. At least the hubcap that flew off last night was miraculously undamaged, having travelled across two lanes of nepean hwy traffic on its own.

    living the dream...

    ps many thanks to greenblood, citroenfan, scotfrog for phoned or PM advice and esp to petermelb for active assistance which got me home...
    Last edited by ajaxvte; 1st December 2013 at 10:14 PM.

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    Ah, best not to have too many days like that.

    Best of luck sorting it out. The heater core would be the worst of it I suspect!
    JohnW

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    Likely to be the heater valve, not the heater core.
    The valve is plastic, fragile and quite often inadvertently broken by people leaning toward the engine bay.
    The slightest pressure on the valve and it cracks, near the base.

    I've seen this happen more than a couple of times, unfortunately.

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    The hole is in the metal at the top of the heater matrix box, just above the join from the pipe. At first i thought it was a loose pipe connection, but i was wrong. Who knows, maybe we did split the join by accidentally leaning or pulling on the pipe when struggling to get the sphere off in fading light last night.

    The heater doesn't work, and it is not a job that i have been thinking about! Might have to be now...

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    You can simply disconnect the 'in' and 'out' hoses and insert a piece of tube of the correct diameter to bypass the heater matrix. Mine has been like that for some time. I've a replacement heater matrix control valve but haven't bothered to reinstall it as I rarely need the heater. It hasn't got to the top of the list of things to do! ;-)
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    I note still, the complete lack of clarity as to which model of CitroŽn is involved.

    If someone is going to raise a problem and invite suggestions to remedy, this surely forms a part of relevant information for anyone researching similar issues in the future. If it's more a diary of misfortunes, perhaps it belongs in a blog - not a shared resource of knowledge (good examples of these, being posts six and nine).
    UFO likes this.

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    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Check all the linkages, a blown sphere will NOT affect suspension height, it will make it rock hard though. It'll likely be because you messed with the height lever to change the spheres. If you don't move the suspension height lever often, the rods under the car can become seized and displace if you force them to move.

    DO NOT GET UNDER THE CAR WITHOUT IS SUPPORTED, even if you think it is stuck up high and can't drop .... It CAN if you touch height corrector likages

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    Well, excuse me. 1975 D Special. Yes I should have stated it upfront.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleChevron View Post
    Check all the linkages, a blown sphere will NOT affect suspension height, it will make it rock hard though. It'll likely be because you messed with the height lever to change the spheres. If you don't move the suspension height lever often, the rods under the car can become seized and displace if you force them to move.

    DO NOT GET UNDER THE CAR WITHOUT IS SUPPORTED, even if you think it is stuck up high and can't drop .... It CAN if you touch height corrector likages

    seeya,
    Shane L.
    Hi Shane,

    Actually they can and do . Has happened with two of my cars over some 50+ years of ownership and driving. However it does not need to be a suspension sphere that causes the problem. As I mentioned previously the exhaust line connected to the front HC has a flow restriction wire inserted. Its purpose is to prevent the front of the car from falling like a 'stone' when the manual height control lever is moved. What can happen - though it is somewhat rare - is that rubber 'crud' from either a blown front sphere or main accumulator gets into that exhaust line. If it does not pass though it will clog up that exhaust line and prevent the front suspension from going down. During driving as the front HC calls from more pressure the fluid goes into the suspension but it cannot escape or only very, very slowly. The result is a gradual lifting of the front and stiffening of just the front. In most all cases the front suspension of the car will still be pressurized even after many hours of sitting where as the rear of the car will deflated. This is exactly what is a happening with the car in question.

    The only 'cure' is to remove the front HC exhaust line and try to clear the obstructing debris via pressuring with fluid from the back side or replacing with a good used line. In the case of my cars I would up being able to clean one, but had to replace the other.

    Steve

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    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citroenfan View Post
    Hi Shane,

    Actually they can and do . Has happened with two of my cars over some 50+ years of ownership and driving. However it does not need to be a suspension sphere that causes the problem. As I mentioned previously the exhaust line connected to the front HC has a flow restriction wire inserted. Its purpose is to prevent the front of the car from falling like a 'stone' when the manual height control lever is moved. What can happen - though it is somewhat rare - is that rubber 'crud' from either a blown front sphere or main accumulator gets into that exhaust line. If it does not pass though it will clog up that exhaust line and prevent the front suspension from going down. During driving as the front HC calls from more pressure the fluid goes into the suspension but it cannot escape or only very, very slowly. The result is a gradual lifting of the front and stiffening of just the front. In most all cases the front suspension of the car will still be pressurized even after many hours of sitting where as the rear of the car will deflated. This is exactly what is a happening with the car in question.

    The only 'cure' is to remove the front HC exhaust line and try to clear the obstructing debris via pressuring with fluid from the back side or replacing with a good used line. In the case of my cars I would up being able to clean one, but had to replace the other.

    Steve
    Interesting, everyone that doesn't respond to height changes that hasn't been linkages that I've ever come across.... Has been simply the height corrector is so full of crud, the rod through the center of it seizes and can't move ... so you get no height correction and a car "stuck" at a height.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
    'Cit' homepage:
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    Proper cars--
    '85 Series II CX2500 GTi Turbo I
    '63 ID19 http://www.aussiefrogs.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90325
    '72 DS21 ie 5spd pallas (last looked at ... about 15years ago)
    '78 GS1220 pallas
    '92 Range Rover Classic ... 5spd manual.

    Yay ... No Slugomatics


    Modern Junk:
    '07 Poogoe 407 HDi 6spd manual

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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleChevron View Post
    Interesting, everyone that doesn't respond to height changes that hasn't been linkages that I've ever come across.... Has been simply the height corrector is so full of crud, the rod through the center of it seizes and can't move ... so you get no height correction and a car "stuck" at a height.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
    Hi Shane,

    With LHS cars that was a somewhat common problem - though with LHM cars that particular problem was pretty much eliminated. The tip off, at least for me, was that the front spheres were just recently replaced and then the problem started. In the case of my parents 61 it was because the RHS front sphere blew and about a day later the problem came on. With my 68 ID19B (LHS - USA car) it happened on a trip when the main accumulator sphere crapped out. With the 61 my Dad and I were able to salvage the line by capping off the line end from the rear suspension return and then forcing fluid back through the front HC end. With my 68 I had to unbraze that line from the junction and put a new line in. As I did not have any wire to insert the front of the that 68 would drop like a stone if the manual HC lever was put in the lowest position .

    It is a somewhat rare problem - and typically one would first look at the linkage(s) - but if the slide valve on the front HC moves and there is no pressure loss from the front suspension that return line does become the main suspect.

    Steve

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citroenfan View Post
    Hi Shane,

    With LHS cars that was a somewhat common problem - though with LHM cars that particular problem was pretty much eliminated.

    Steve

    Steve
    I fully agree with everything you say ... Except this. LHM correctors get full of black sludge, especially on D's and CX's (most likely 'cos there older). Brake fluid ones get seized up with crystalised brake fluid and corrosion. The black sludge in LHM correctors can lock them almost solid.

    However once you have cleaned the black sludge out of an LHM height corrector there easily picked for the brake fluid correctors.



    Pick the LHM height corrector (it was full of black sludge), the brake fluid ones were full of "yellow" stuff.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
    'Cit' homepage:
    Citroen Workshop
    Proper cars--
    '85 Series II CX2500 GTi Turbo I
    '63 ID19 http://www.aussiefrogs.com/forum/showthread.php?t=90325
    '72 DS21 ie 5spd pallas (last looked at ... about 15years ago)
    '78 GS1220 pallas
    '92 Range Rover Classic ... 5spd manual.

    Yay ... No Slugomatics


    Modern Junk:
    '07 Poogoe 407 HDi 6spd manual

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citroenfan View Post
    Hi Shane,

    Actually they can and do . Has happened with two of my cars over some 50+ years of ownership and driving. However it does not need to be a suspension sphere that causes the problem. As I mentioned previously the exhaust line connected to the front HC has a flow restriction wire inserted. Its purpose is to prevent the front of the car from falling like a 'stone' when the manual height control lever is moved. What can happen - though it is somewhat rare - is that rubber 'crud' from either a blown front sphere or main accumulator gets into that exhaust line. If it does not pass though it will clog up that exhaust line and prevent the front suspension from going down. During driving as the front HC calls from more pressure the fluid goes into the suspension but it cannot escape or only very, very slowly. The result is a gradual lifting of the front and stiffening of just the front. In most all cases the front suspension of the car will still be pressurized even after many hours of sitting where as the rear of the car will deflated. This is exactly what is a happening with the car in question.

    The only 'cure' is to remove the front HC exhaust line and try to clear the obstructing debris via pressuring with fluid from the back side or replacing with a good used line. In the case of my cars I would up being able to clean one, but had to replace the other.

    Steve
    Why doesn't the rear fall like a stone then? I have seen the DS fall like a stone, and I assure you it has nothing to do with that wire.

    Via the aussiefrogs App

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    Interestingly, it transpires that the sphere we removed is ok, after testing it today. So to my mind that points to a couple of scenarios: that (1) the other front sphere has blown, and that the diagnosis suggested by Citroenfan still holds true (also noting the possibility that the issue is related to previous diaphragm fragments), or (2) that it is much more likely that the height corrector linkages have failed and need cleaning etc. Or, of course, a combination of the above.

    All of which presumably leads to a process of elimination, by checking the other sphere and the HC linkages, before moving onto the return lines.

    Thanks for all the views and comments. I hope and trust I am sticking sufficiently close to the original subject matter...

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    Would you not expect to see some rubber strands caught in the damper plates and/or in the cylinder if the diaphragm has failed in the way you expect?

    If the sphere diaphragm has failed as opposed to simply being flat, then you would expect it to feel a little heavy due to the amount of LHM trapped inside. It might also keep draining LHM when a good sphere wouldn't.

    Wouldn't the most likely situation be debris in the HC? Have you been able to check this? If not, you'd be amazed at how much rubbish accumulates there. I've certainly seen this behaviour with a Xantia where the debris eventually rose above the oilway connecting the two sides.

    When you mention the suspension becoming 'harder' as it rises, is this because it's up against the bump stops? I can't think how else it could become 'harder' as it moves provided the suspension travel is not being limited.
    Last edited by David S; 4th December 2013 at 12:25 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David S View Post
    Would you not expect to see some rubber strands caught in the damper plates and/or in the cylinder if the diaphragm has failed in the way you expect?

    If the sphere diaphragm has failed as opposed to simply being flat, then you would expect it to feel a little heavy due to the amount of LHM trapped inside. It might also keep draining LHM when a good sphere wouldn't.

    Wouldn't the most likely situation be debris in the HC? Have you been able to check this? If not, you'd be amazed at how much rubbish accumulates there. I've certainly seen this behaviour with a Xantia where the debris eventually rose above the oilway connecting the two sides.

    When you mention the suspension becoming 'harder' as it rises, is this because it's up against the bump stops? I can't think how else it could become 'harder' as it moves provided the suspension travel is not being limited.

    Place any D in either of the two aux driving positions and the ride becomes progressively firmer the higher the car is off the ground. The reason is the change in the relative position of the suspension connecting linkages - a simple matter of geometry. And is the reason that proper setting of a D's 'normal' ride height is critical to ride quality and the reason why the factory's 'proper' ride height values changed slightly over the years as overall tire diameter changed. Typically a change on the order of 6 to 8mm or so is noticeable.

    As to the problem being encountered. The first thing one checks is the mechanical movement of the HC's slide valve. If it responds to movement from the manual control lever that means that it is not the HC that is the problem. The flow control wire that is forced into the front HC's exhaust line provides very little clearance - on the order of only a few thousandths of an inch. The normal reason a sphere fails is that a tear develops allowing gas to escape into the cars fluid. These tears typically occur at the sealing interface in the sphere between the fluid and gas sides of the sphere. It is also the area where the diaphragms are subjected to their greatest mechanical stress. When rubber diaphragms go they can slough off almost microscopic rubber particles along the tear line. Does not happen all the time, but when it does they will pass through the gaping, by comparison, clearances in the HC and can, if just large enough, get logged in that return line. If not they will pass through and hopefully be filtered out in the reservoir.

    A quite easy way to really determine if that exhaust line is clogged is to place the car in its highest suspension setting. Place an aux. line in the front HC's exhaust port as well as a suitable length of clear plastic tubing over the exhaust line. Run both to a large container. Put the car in its low setting. If fluid comes gushing out of the aux. exhaust line and nothing comes out of the line normally attached as the rear of the car settles - the exhaust line in the car is clogged.

    With all of the spheres I have rebuilt over the years (in the hundreds) I have yet to see a 'shredded' diaphragm that would have released filaments or 'chunks' of rubber into the system. OTOH have lots of rebuildable spheres that have 'bubble gum' inside where a rubber diaphragm use to be

    'Chunks', on the other hand, come from the reuse of sealing sleeves. And those can cause catastrophic results if they occur between the pump and pressure regulator.

    Steve

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    Hi Shane,

    Here in the US, at least in my experience, have yet to see an LHM compatible HC that got 'locked' up with black crud from dissolving diaphragms. I suspect the reason might well be that the majority of LHM cars over here did not have LHM (LHM+) in their system for a really long time. It was hard to get and very expensive on top of that. The mil spec and ATM fluids that were/are in a lot of US cars have, I believe, a much stronger detergent action that LHM does. Hydraurcincage is basically a thinned out version of ATM.

    I have, on a shelf, over 40 HC's that I have salvaged over the years. None of the LHM ones were covered, internally, with the black 'gunk' you show in your photo.

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citroenfan View Post
    Hi Shane,

    Here in the US, at least in my experience, have yet to see an LHM compatible HC that got 'locked' up with black crud from dissolving diaphragms. I suspect the reason might well be that the majority of LHM cars over here did not have LHM (LHM+) in their system for a really long time. It was hard to get and very expensive on top of that. The mil spec and ATM fluids that were/are in a lot of US cars have, I believe, a much stronger detergent action that LHM does. Hydraurcincage is basically a thinned out version of ATM.

    I have, on a shelf, over 40 HC's that I have salvaged over the years. None of the LHM ones were covered, internally, with the black 'gunk' you show in your photo.

    Steve
    Did you take apart 40 height correctors to verify that? I have seen them that way in the past.


    On to the subject at hand: You can remove the splash panels to expose the height correctors. With them exposed, you can pry the slide valves in and out with a screwdriver while the pump is running to verify that the height correctors are working. The car should go up and down, just in the front or rear, depending on which end you are messing with.

    Before you try my suggestion on the height correctors: Open the bonnet. With the hydraulic system set to low height and all pressure off the suspension cylinders, you should be able to rock the spheres around (by hand) in their mounts. They are supposed to move. If they are tightly fixed, the cylinder can bind causing the car to get stuck in high, stuck in the middle, etc. If you set the car on jack stands, with the wheels hanging in the air, the cylinders should rock in their mounts.

    All of which presumably leads to a process of elimination, by checking the other sphere and the HC linkages, before moving onto the return lines.
    the bleed screw was not enough to "relieve" the system.
    Methinks you may have a bound up cylinder which is easy to test, or a sphere with a pinhole leak and no gas, which will bind up a cylinder because it is still under pressure.

    A sphere with a pinhole leak in the diaphram will take fluid in under high pressure and become rock hard. The sphere cannot expel the fluid rapidly as there is no opposing force to cause it to do so as there was when it filled with oil. That residual pressure will make it difficult to remove, which is an obvious clue that something isn't right. After you do manage to remove it, it will leak fluid, sometimes for days afterward.

    To quote one of big dogs well known for his experience with the hydraulic cars: "Always look for the simplest explanation first. That is usually the problem."

    Only look for the obstructed wire after you have exhausted all other diagnostic methods and try not to lose sight of the forest through the trees.

    Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by daffyduck View Post
    Did you take apart 40 height correctors to verify that? I have seen them that way in the past.
    Yup - 28 LHM and 12 LHS ones + a few more just lying around in some bins that came from Baders when they closed. Not to say that some of the LHM ones did not have a black coating inside - they did. But nothing that would cause one not to function as it should. The LHS ones were a different story - over 8 were stuck solid from just sitting. Out of those 12, 10 are quite useable after they were cleaned. No pitting of the slide valves and no measurable wear. Of the 28 LHM ones about 16 or so are useable. The rest show signs of wear to the slide valve of around 0.00005" to 0.0001" (measured with a Mitutoyo MDH high precision micrometer in a temp stable environment). The couple with the 0.0001" wear leak like a sieve when pressurized to 1800 psi or so.

    Steve

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