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  1. #1
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    Default Xantia auto boxes.

    G'Day all,
    I can't help noticing the number of Xantias for sale that look like REALLY good value.
    Whilst I would love a GSA or BX 16V, I am currently looking for a comfortable, budget country commuter.

    It would seem that as soon as the auto boxes give trouble, it's curtains, as the cost of fixing them is more than the car is worth.
    I would be capable of replacing an auto box, but not overhauling it.
    It seems as though the ZF-type boxes suffer from running too hot due to only being "cooled" by the radiator coolant through a heat exchanger. This, coupled with the "filled for life" philosophy, seems to mean they have a VERY finite life.
    I just don't want to spend $1000 on a "cheap" commuter, only to be stuck with a $6000 bill after 2 months.

    Any thoughts would be welcome.
    Merci beaucoup!

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    Fellow Frogger!
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    If you are buying as a country commuter why don't you buy a manual?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dave_R16TS View Post
    If you are buying as a country commuter why don't you buy a manual?
    I'd be more than happy with a manual, but they seem pretty scarce in the lower price ranges. :-)

  4. #4
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    This is in SA, $2k.. bargain! (not mine btw nor do i know the vendor)

    1997 Citroen Xantia VSX

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    Or this one in Qld? I wonder if it's an Activa too? (Series 1 shape)
    97 Citroen xantia ct turbo ,cheap car $1000 ONO on Gumtree http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/1056489586
    Citroen C5 II manual '05; C4 Exculsive '07; Citroen CX2200 Pallas '76; CX2400 C-matic Pallas '78

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    Fellow Frogger! IE23's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dave_R16TS View Post
    This is in SA, $2k.. bargain! (not mine btw nor do i know the vendor)

    1997 Citroen Xantia VSX
    Problem solved. $2k and no auto worries.


    Adrian

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    Thanks Guys.
    I might take a look at the Qld CT. The SA VSX looks good from the low mileage, but DOES have damage on nearside.

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    Don't touch an auto
    They do break and are expensive to fix
    I have 3 V6 autos ( now for parts anyone)

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    1000+ Posts Bruce H's Avatar
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    I have a ZF auto Xantia SX that at 213000ks has an auto still exhibiting no problems whatsoever. Eventually it no doubt will, but all mechanical things do fail eventually, mistreat them and they'll do it even faster. Just ensure you buy something with a service history that didn't work on "sealed for life" principles, and test it out thoroughly.
    I also have an AL4 auto Xantia bought with transmission problems at 136000ks, but at a scrap metal price I can't complain. I bought it on the possibility that it can be fixed or converted to manual.
    Given how cheap they now often are, I reckon any Xantia is worth taking the risk and possibly getting many kilometres of great touring out of it. The problem is that when it goes bang you'll probably be hooked and be tempted to either fix it or get another one.

    Xantias are brilliant country tourers - just completed another segment of Tasmania I haven't seen before today, the road from Copping to Orford, via Rheban, as part of a couple of hundred kilometre day out.


    Via the aussiefrogs App
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    JBN
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    I have a 1995 Xantia VSX with a ZF auto box. Prior to that I had two BX 19TRi's with the same ZF auto box. On the BXs, one auto box went at 250,000 kms. I bought an ex-Xantia replacement from the Citroen wrecker in SA for $1,500 and fitted that with the help of two friends. The other box lasted until about 275,000 kms, at which stage I junked the car (it was 20 years old).

    I reckon the setup of the ZF autobox in both BX and Xantia is amongst the best autobox setups ever. With eyes closed on a dark night, start the car, push in the release button and pull the stick all the way back (you are now in first). Release the button and push as far forward as you can (you are now in drive). Show me a car that is as easy to operate as this. Then drive the car. When slowing down the engine brakes quite well on the transmission (thank the stepper motor). On the open road, say descending from the Blue Mountains, hit the stick back without pushing the button (you are now in third). You only need to touch the brakes for the hairpin and any other clowns in their crappy autoboxes with their foot riding the brakes for the whole descent. When there is no further need for engine braking, push the stick forward without pushing the button (you are now in drive - 4th). This technique is excellent for sharpish corners on the open road where you want to lock in 3rd gear, and it can be accomplished far quicker than with a manual.

    The ZF is very easy to service. Undo the two Allen keyed drain screws (one for the gearbox, one for the transmission. You should drop close to 2.4 litres. Regardless, you refill with 2.4 litres of Dexron II (I use Castrol Transmax M). I do that every 10,000kms when I change the engine oil (I use Mobil 1 5W-50 - the original one).

    The real problem with Xantia autoboxes is the later AL4, sealed-for-life, which true to its name, lasts the life of the oil and then dies. The thing that kills a ZF is substituting Dexron III for Dexron II.

    John
    Last edited by JBN; 23rd September 2014 at 10:35 PM.

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    1000+ Posts Greg C's Avatar
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    I agree they have a very good auto box. My daughters VSX is at about 290,000km and unfortunately has developed a problem with the governor stuffed. Problem presents that it changes at such low speeds you have to change gears for it. She is loath to spend the money on it so it is still driving it like a manual with no clutch. It is very likely a split o-ring in the governor so the gearbox will likely last for a lot longer as long as you look after it.

    Our SX has the much maligned AL4 currently with 230,000km on the clock. We have had the change two of the solenoids which is not that difficult.

    The secret as JBN and many, many others on the forum have said is regular oil changes. Every 10k for the ZF and every 20k for the AL4 (fully synthetic oil). I am glad a manual Xantia has been found, but when you drive in the country you rarely change gear, this goes for the auto as well which should aid their long life.
    Mine

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    In the family

    Xantia SX

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    Thanks again, everyone, especially those that took the time to explain their reasoning - I hope someone does YOU a favour soon. :-)
    Given my current impecunious state, I will probably take the "safe" option and go for a manual this time...... I am certainly not ANTI-auto - the motoring writer LJK Setright had some VERY solid reasons for liking them. I'm with him on that one. This was despite the Poms' mania for manuals in a stop-start driving environment (??!!).
    Down the track, even an auto XM appeals. What box do they have?
    Thanks again,
    Chris

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    A cheeky post. I still have my series 1 Xantia wagon (aka Zaphod) for sale. (See cars for sale)

    The ZF auto in it is silky smooth. Very cheap car!

    Just saying.

    Cheers, Pottsy
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    WRB
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    I have a briliant low milage xantia (155,000K) manual for sale. New clutch, clutch cable, tyres, sus spheres etc. Absolutely no leaks.
    and a number of new spares (extra cost depending on price)
    PM me....

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    If you're skint, a 306 would be a better idea. Enough around to keep one alive on a diet of slightly better used parts. A Xantia by now needs every hydraulic return line and junction replacing and this is better tackled as an "anniversary project" than feeling dejected when one bit breaks, then another.

    For the record, I probably have THE most abused AL4 on the forum. It drives decently.

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    This has been interesting reading given I've just taken possession of a late model Xantia SX with the supposedly suspect auto. There seems to be variable experiences. I live in a hilly region and in the very short time I've driven the car it seems likely I'll use the sports mode. The car seems more comfortable changing in that mode. Are there any views on comparative longevity of the auto in sports versus standard drive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by almostfrench View Post
    Thanks again, everyone, especially those that took the time to explain their reasoning - I hope someone does YOU a favour soon. :-)
    Given my current impecunious state, I will probably take the "safe" option and go for a manual this time...... I am certainly not ANTI-auto - the motoring writer LJK Setright had some VERY solid reasons for liking them. I'm with him on that one. This was despite the Poms' mania for manuals in a stop-start driving environment (??!!).
    Down the track, even an auto XM appeals. What box do they have?
    Thanks again,
    Chris
    If you want cheap and cheerful, consider a S1 Xsara as they are simpler than any hydropneumatic Citroen. You can find a 2.0 16 Valve 5 speed manual for not a lot now. The early 1.6 has a potentially suspect engine ECU and the facelifted cars have the BSI systems, which you can't easily fix DIY. A Xantia is fine, but you have to be on top of things like the brittle hydraulic lines and the front strut tower rubber tops. XM is the same in that respect and some parts are becoming a problem or are just expensive. At present, there are plenty of cheap Xsara and Xantia wrecks for s/h parts. There are a couple of decent options mentioned in this thread already.

    There are a few different gearboxes creeping into this discussion:
    Early Xantia and Xsara and some 8 Valve facelift Xantia use the ZF 4HP14 gearbox. The BX used it too. All hydraulic control.
    Later / facelifted Xantia and Xsara 4 cylinder used the AL4 auto. Electronic control and fuzzy logic. Much maligned, but not at all always a disaster.
    V6 Xantia ZF 4HP20. Electronic control. Generally lasts much longer than an AL4, but the filter is inaccessible in situ and they do fail, usually due to the pump failing.
    XM V6 12 Valve used the ZF 4HP18. Similar to the 4HP14, but you can get at the governor without slitting the case. They can last a very long time.
    XM V6 24 Valve from 1997 used the 4HP20 and is very similar to the Xantia V6 drivetrain.

    The AL4 is certainly capable of very high mileages and I know of a few C5's with 300K+ on the original gearbox. However, it can be a lottery and a dead AL4, or any auto really, on a car costing $1K is simply not economic to repair unless you plan to keep it.

  18. #18
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    If you want a throwaway car for a $1000 then throw it away when it goes bang. But buy a car for $1000 that you want to love and enjoy club events with, then repairing it for a few grand is well worth it. If the car costs $5000 after repairs and you use it for the next 10 years then it's well worth it.

    I put a new clutch in my 2007 V6 Triton costing $1300 and screamed at the cost, but i have to be real and say at 300,000 and working it 8-10 hours a days 5 days a week it did a bloody good job, i now have a clutch for the next 300,000 kms.

    My BX TRI Estate auto had it's auto rebuilt by the previous owner, not because of how much it cost, but because he loved BX Estates,
    But 4 years later at 86 he handed in his licence and i obtained the car.

    Spend $ on a car you love and your smile will lead the way.

    After all having something special makes a happy chappy.
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    - 1990 BX TRI Estate Auto. (Traded In)
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  19. #19
    JBN
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    Could't agree with you more. The dollars that you talk about is what a new car buyer loses the moment their car is registered in their name and they drive from the dealer's.

    Thereafter it depreciates enough that they throw up their arms in disgust and trade it in for another new car, presumably expecting a different result. Meantime, the guy that keeps his classic going has quite likely got an increasing asset (if one can use that term in regards to a car).

    Owning an old car with very little value means that you don't worry about petrol price nor consumption. The difference in a tankful of petrol bought at the cycle low compared to the cycle high is less than the interest others pay for their new car's higher purchase.

    John

    Think different. Drive the wrong way down a one way street and marvel at how many people know you. They are all honking their horns and waving at you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by almostfrench View Post
    Thanks Guys.
    I might take a look at the Qld CT. The SA VSX looks good from the low mileage, but DOES have damage on nearside.
    You are talking about buying a well-engineered car for the price of an upmarket washing machine. Just because the sale prices are ridiculous for what you get, don't expect no maintenance costs. I'd pay more and get a good one, manual for sure personally. They are good for 300,000 km or so without major failures but clutches, heater radiators, and odd things (cambelts, spheres, hydraulic return lines and odd things) will need work from time to time. Xantias are very good but I'd advise not to compare running costs against the unreasonably low Xantia purchase cost. Compare maintainance costs against what you'd pay to buy something equivalent. Our Xantia is worth nothing of course, despite excellent condition, but to replace it with something secondhand that is a known quantity and as reliable and satisfying would cost $10,000 at least. So for me, a $5000 repair would be worthwhile, but not if compared with the $2500 I might get if I sold it.

    Just one perspective.
    JohnW

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  21. #21
    1000+ Posts garyk's Avatar
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    A reasonable Xantia is a GREAT car.

    Myself, and friends, have owned and operated them, and I agree that for a"cheapie" they are
    excellent value. Spending a few more bucks for a better one is ok too, especially if the more costly
    maintenance items have been done, otherwise even basics (brakes/discs/spheres, muffler, etc) can add up.

    Some models of the autos are very pedestrian in terms of performance, but still fine solid cars.
    The hotter versions are fun: I've owned my Activa since new 1998 and the interior is as good as the day it left the showroom.
    Highly underrated cars IMHO, and great value.

  22. #22
    Too many posts! JohnW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBN View Post
    Could't agree with you more. The dollars that you talk about is what a new car buyer loses the moment their car is registered in their name and they drive from the dealer's.

    Thereafter it depreciates enough that they throw up their arms in disgust and trade it in for another new car, presumably expecting a different result. Meantime, the guy that keeps his classic going has quite likely got an increasing asset (if one can use that term in regards to a car).

    Owning an old car with very little value means that you don't worry about petrol price nor consumption. The difference in a tankful of petrol bought at the cycle low compared to the cycle high is less than the interest others pay for their new car's higher purchase.

    John

    Think different. Drive the wrong way down a one way street and marvel at how many people know you. They are all honking their horns and waving at you.
    That's it exactly. There's no capital tied up in a Xantia and that means either no loan or the money being used elsewhere that doesn't depreciate in the same way (i.e. fast). Under those circumstances (mine exactly), fuel costs are irrelevant.

    I did try the one way street trick in Zurich once. I have more Swiss friends than I realised, but the policeman didn't wave.
    JohnW

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    Quote Originally Posted by almostfrench View Post
    Thanks again, everyone, especially those that took the time to explain their reasoning - I hope someone does YOU a favour soon. :-)
    Given my current impecunious state, I will probably take the "safe" option and go for a manual this time...... I am certainly not ANTI-auto - the motoring writer LJK Setright had some VERY solid reasons for liking them. I'm with him on that one. This was despite the Poms' mania for manuals in a stop-start driving environment (??!!).
    Down the track, even an auto XM appeals. What box do they have?
    Thanks again,
    Chris
    And there are even a few offers for you in this thread!

    You know of Setright! Wonderful. Do you have a reference to what he wrote on autos or where it is? That would be a good read I've no doubt.

    Good luck with your forthcoming purchase. Every time I hop into my Xantia and take it somewhere, I smile. Good as it gets.
    JohnW

    Renault 4CV 1950 (R1062)
    Renault R8 1965 (R1130)
    Renault Scenic Series II 2005 (wife's)
    Renault Scenic Series II 2006 (daughter's)
    Renault Scenic Series II 2007 (mine)

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    National Co-ordinator, Renault 4CV Register of Australia

  24. #24
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    Xantias,especially the turbos,are a very fast car yet happy to toddle along in traffic. Once on the open road they put a smile on your face with their excellent unfussed handling and comfortable ride;a true successor to the "D" Currently have 3;2turbos(1 for sale) 1auto 1cx25ie 1c5 and a ds21 bvh efi21,Andy.

  25. #25
    Fellow Frogger! Inspector Clouseau's Avatar
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    Reading this thread has been somewhat depressing as I've just paid far too much for an auto Xantia S2. Mind you it only has 25K kms on the clock. Time will tell........
    Seemingly no Citroen purchase is made with resale value in mind.

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