AL4 Auto: Especially in Xantia
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Thread: AL4 Auto: Especially in Xantia

  1. #1
    Tadpole
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    Default AL4 Auto: Especially in Xantia

    I've read through many forums on this gearbox, some people have been to hell with it and others seem to have had no problems.

    Is it really a car killer? Should I (we) avoid the plethora of low Km Xantia's with AL4s now for sale?

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  2. #2
    Contented Peugeot Driver addo's Avatar
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    The naysayers are mostly people who either haven't learned to make it work for them or just bad-mouth it because they can. Shanadoo doesn't like how they are made, but can fix them, so I reckon he's earnt his right to a critical opinion.

    I prefer its behaviour to the 4HP20. What kills these cars is the simple desire of a local market for newer stuff than came with the AL4, and silly prices for repair - combined with insurers who prefer to write off a vehicle, rather than warrant a fix.

    Not for one moment am I saying this is a brilliant transmission, but it has been for me over 160000km: Reliable, cheap to repair, easy to drive once understood, and durable in the face of very unreasonable loads.

  3. #3
    Fellow Frogger!
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    From my observations, their life can be long & reliable if they have had regular oil changes, if they've NEVER been filled with Dexron 3, & with the later valve block fitted.
    Generally the ZF 4HP18 in the pre '95 Xantias is more reliable, but more primitive in it's operation.

    Richard

  4. #4
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Usual issue with any used older car. Any automatic gearbox issues will far outweigh the value of the car to repair. There is many thread on this forum of people that have spend many thousands of $$$ on the AL$, and never end up with something decent too drive. However some seem to just work and do high milages How many times did Hakon rebuild the gearbox in that last one he had .... and did a manual conversion in the end in desperation.

    My opinion is, why buy one when they sold manuals I'd rather change a clutch cable/plastic clip than an expensive gearbox.

    I've never owned or driven an AL$ Xantia. I've driven several different poogoes/citroens/renaults with that gearbox and IMO the only thing all the cars had in common was the gearbox sucked. It's like there's a random number generator in the bloody thing to choose which gear it's going to be in. The 4HP14/18 was much nicer to drive to me if you must have a slugomatic. Eariler Xantias have a 4hp14 gearbox. One of these I have owned, it was quite ok to drive. Anythign with a wheezy 8vlave 2litre petrol motor bolted to a slugomatic gearbox is never going to be exciting to drive though

    Actually the 8valve VSX Xantia I had was a brilliant car to drive.... Way better in pretty much every way than the XM that replaced it.

    seeya,
    Shane L.
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  5. #5
    Fellow Frogger!
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    My C5, 2001 year, with the AL4 box has been working fine. Only ever had a leaking seal @ 98000km, which was replaced with the gearbox out. At that time renewed the oil, refitted the box and have been driving happily ever since, now @ 156000km
    I suppose like most things mechanical; some work, some don't. But I believe that people usually only write to a forum when there is a problem/complaint.

    Michael
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    shanadoo likes this.

  6. #6
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    They can last a long time, but not always. I know of a few early C5 HDi's with 300K+ on the original AL4 gearbox. Some of them develop problems but stay like that and keep on going for years as is, often a thump on the 1-2 upchange. If it slips, then it will not last long, but the odd harsh change is not a big concern. The main issue is to avoid buying someone else's unresolved expensive problem.

  7. #7
    Fellow Frogger!
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    If you're interested, drive it on as varied road conditions as possible, make it go right through the range of up and down gear changes, in auto and manual, if it changes fine without any thumps or slips then it should represent a decent buy. Stay Lucky.

  8. #8
    1000+ Posts Bruce H's Avatar
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    Make sure that in your testing that the transmission has warmed up - my recently acquired Xantia AL4 performs almost perfectly when cold, but bangs and sometimes slips when hot. I'm not using it much and have no service history for the car, so other than changing fluid twice I haven't yet investigated other fixes.
    Bruce H

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  9. #9
    Tadpole
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    This is all very good information, just what a prospective buyer needs before letting the "demon AL4 gearbox" fear put them off an excellent Xantia.

    It does appear that the problems with the AL4 are magnified by fact that they most often get referred to the forum when things go bung.

    I summarize from the posts that you can tell if the transmission is suspect by simple perfomance guidelines and that the AL4 autos may have their vices, but can and do offer substantial long term reliability when properly cared for. This certainly includes using the correct fluid and in the correct quantity; unfortunately there is a lot of misinformation on this topic, even from the (gearbox) manufacturers.
    --------------------------
    My reasons for asking are twofold: Firstly, I am re-considering owning a second Xantia (forum followers will know why). Second, too many are going to the crusher - perhaps if the AL4 anxiety was put to rest, more would survive.

    And for Shane, yes the 5 speed is really good, but there are a lot of auto's out there too, some very low Km.

  10. #10
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    The reason that Xantiae are being scrapped is that they are old cars and worth very little. In this respect, it's the new BX and early C5's are creeping up on it as they become uneconomic to repair. The large supply of newer cars for not a lot of cash means that many people will prefer to update before spending money on a car that might let them down again next week. The situation is complicated when some parts are either NLA or hard to obtain. That is becoming the case with the Xantia and XM, with many parts marked NFP, i.e. NLA. With the youngest cars at almost 15, that's the commercial reality.

    You will have to plan ahead and carry out preventative maintenance to keep them reliable. A case in point is a 16 Valve AL4 car owned by a friend. Not a bad car overall, but we couldn't initially work out how it could lose 2 litres of LHM in one week and not be dropping it. The brake valve dumped it into the carpet of course. Although it is not an expensive part, other rubber parts really would benefit from replacement on the grounds of reliability if it could be justified. It was suggested to him that last rites should be delivered. You can see why most people would just get rid of it with this sort of unwanted problem.

  11. #11
    Tadpole
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    This is a bit off topic, but hey!

    Quote Originally Posted by David S View Post
    The reason that Xantiae are being scrapped is that they are old cars and worth very little.
    ....
    You will have to plan ahead and carry out preventative maintenance to keep them reliable.
    This has been touched upon in several threads, and I think my gist is more in line with Greg C's comment in one of those, to paraphrase, 'what can you replace a Xantia with? IMHO, nothing newer'.

    They're old but I'm on the path of attempting to somewhat "future proof" my Xantia and considering a second. Mine is a bit ill, but it's a 2 owner 160k car, always maintained and will need $$, owned for 10 years. They are, after all, only machines when we fix them, but a lot more when it comes to our motivation for owning one.

    To me, my humble '95 SX is the car I was hoping for when I bought my very used '59 ID19 in the '70's. It's my 4th Citroen (squillionth French car - by ownership or association). It is sure footed, has (had) exceptional suspension which allows the car to actually handle but divorces you from all but the worst roads. It always starts, it stops as a Citroen should and has plenty of power, even in auto form.

    When I get out of the city, it cruises with the comfort of a much larger car but with the composure only Citroen seem to have mastered. It uses more fuel than a "modern" car but less than a standard Aussie 6, and certainly less than almost any urban 4WD tractor. The 8v 2.0i is the same as the BX's, a bit crude but good torque, (but not a CX 2400). The only electrical failure so far is the backlight on the clock. It also doesn't rust.

    I understand the economics, and unfortunately, not feeling comfortable with working on them myself despite several full-car rebuilds, I believe I should be able to get another 10 years daily drive without too much problem. If I get a second one, I'd like to keep it 'till I can run historic plates (actually, I may be out by then!) A viable, no-expense-required, low-cost replacement in any make will be $15K to $20K minimum, so some spending now is still quite economic. (Oh boy, I just bought a new Kia...nah)

    Hence my interest in the AL4, the only apparent stumbling block in a low KM series two ownership.

  12. #12
    1000+ Posts BIGRR's Avatar
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    Feel free to "Google" AL4 Problems! Also count how many posts you end up with (Worldwide) and let us all know.


    We bought an immaculate one owner very low km 2000 model Peugeot 306 Xsi AL4 auto for my daughter. We found out why the owner parted with it, gearbox problems. We spent over $2000 on it at a recognized Peugeot dealer, yes it ended up a bit better but not good, we got sick of taking it back after about 5 trips. It still plays up and the car has only covered about 120k km now! Gearbox clunks, holds gears and goes into limp mode regularly (just turn ignition off and restart and it is OK for a couple of weeks!!??

    The mechanic at the Pug dealer told me that they had replaced the AL4 gearbox in an early 308, 3 times under warranty!

    A mate up the road (3km away) bought his daughter a very low km 207 AL4, would not listen. Guess what happened within 2 months!

    A couple of years ago at the end of the 207 model Peugeot were selling the Sportium AL4 at quite good rates. My wife needed a new car. I enquired if the auto was AL4, I was told yes and they had completely rectified the problems. I asked if they would give us an unlimited 100k km warranty on the gearbox:- Strangely NO they would not.

    I don't really think there is much hope for anyone that wants to buy a car with the AL4 gearbox.

    Yes there are one or two owners that I have heard of that claim they have had AL4s without problems. I also remember the Melbourne cup winner that came in at 100:1 too!!

    Good Luck
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  13. #13
    Fellow Frogger!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce H View Post
    Make sure that in your testing that the transmission has warmed up - my recently acquired Xantia AL4 performs almost perfectly when cold, but bangs and sometimes slips when hot. I'm not using it much and have no service history for the car, so other than changing fluid twice I haven't yet investigated other fixes.
    Sorry to hack the thread, but unfortunately that sounds like a rebuild kit will be on the books if the car is driven on a regular basis. I would lay a bag of doggy doo to a week in Paris France that the internal seals have become hardened. However as I keep on saying, do the gearbox a favor and add a bottle of Lucas Stop Slip, it'll give it that little bit of extra life. Uncontrolled slipping is a disaster for an AL4. Cheers.

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