Problem with Heater Matrix
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  1. #1
    Tadpole RickVTR's Avatar
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    Default Problem with Heater Matrix

    Has anyone every had problem with their Heater matrix (the heat exchanger inside the car which heat the interior during winter)?

    My sister Xsara's heater matrix has been replace and it seems that my Xsara also has the same problem?

    They say its a big job to fix...

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  2. #2
    1000+ Posts TroyO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickVTR
    Has anyone every had problem with their Heater matrix (the heat exchanger inside the car which heat the interior during winter)?

    My sister Xsara's heater matrix has been replace and it seems that my Xsara also has the same problem?

    They say its a big job to fix...
    Leaky heater matrix? Yeah, it seems to be common with some models, like the Xsara and Peugeot 306.

    Yes it is a big job, the dash has to be removed. We had to do it on my dads 2000 model Xsara a few weeks ago. Took the 2 of us 3 days to get it done, but we got everything back together ok (and that was using a Haynes manual).The dealer reckoned it would be an 8 hour job but they would have more experience in doing it on that model than us.

    Troy.

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    Is your coolant leaking, soaking your carpet? I had an issue with a leaking hose going into the heater matrix. Dealer was aware of this problem. Hose was replaced under warranty but my heater matrix was fine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickVTR
    Has anyone every had problem with their Heater matrix (the heat exchanger inside the car which heat the interior during winter)?

    My sister Xsara's heater matrix has been replace and it seems that my Xsara also has the same problem?

    They say its a big job to fix...
    There are several threads on this little joy if you want to go hunting and not too many answers about the "why"..... There's no doubt some of them are failing, maybe due to coolant neglect sometimes. We had two fail on our 306 in the first 4 years and none in the six years since. My Xantia is nearly 10 years old and no problems so far.

    Depending on the age of the car, I'd lean a bit on the dealer if you bought it new or from a genuine dealer. Personally, I reckon this failure is just unacceptable, given the inaccessibility of the heater matrix.

    It's not a nice job but as Troy said "can" be done at home. I'm very impressed by anyone who tackles it....

    There's also a few discussions (check the newly renamed Andyspares forum too, if you wish http://www.frenchcarforum.co.uk/ ) about old-fashioned Bars Leaks treatments. AlanS has some positive comments to make on that approach, which I doubt any of us would have made a few years ago. I'm neutral on that score, but am not faced with the problem at present....

    Good luck.

    JohnW

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    1000+ Posts TroyO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juan M.
    Is your coolant leaking, soaking your carpet? I had an issue with a leaking hose going into the heater matrix. Dealer was aware of this problem. Hose was replaced under warranty but my heater matrix was fine.
    The problem in our case was there was a matrix leak, but the only clue was a coolant smell when the heater was turned on. All the leaking coolant was trapped in the heater unit, so there was no soaking of the carpet. But we could only confirm that once we had the matrix out.

    The matrix fits into the heater unit and connects onto the firewall. The heater hoses are on the engine bay side only.

    Troy.

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    Rick, FYI a lot of Pugs and Cits from the 80's and 90's design era had this issue. My 405 has, too.

    I can now confirm after a couple of months since the Bar's Leaks treatment that my heater still has a coolant smell, and the coolant still needs topping up. HOWEVER, it is much less of a smell, and the coolant requirement is probably about a third of what it was. So, I rate it a temporary fix that can buy some time, which I suppose is what Bar's Leaks is designed for!

    I am certainly going to investigate a non-original matrix (custom? adaptation?) if I have to do the 'big job'. However, I think it's just too specialised and only a direct replacement will work effectively.

    You'd think replacement ones would have been sorted in design, wouldn't you?

    Cheers

    Stuey


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

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    Tadpole RickVTR's Avatar
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    I tried to cliam the problem under waranty, but it was rejected because apparently my coolant wasn't the genuine "citreon approved" coolant, which apparently cause the seal to fail.

    Which is something I can't understand. What is so special about the genuine citroen coolant?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickVTR
    I tried to cliam the problem under waranty, but it was rejected because apparently my coolant wasn't the genuine "citreon approved" coolant, which apparently cause the seal to fail.

    Which is something I can't understand. What is so special about the genuine citroen coolant?
    Don't know about Cit coolant but there are about three different coolants i know of depending on make of car, ie. metals in the system.
    It's not only Froggy cars having this problem. Some weeks ago i changed the heater matrix on my brother in laws Audi 80 V6 '94. Simple job, you just have to move the dash out. Audi part was $300 or something, the part from an independant was a bit less than $70.-. So worth shopping around a bit as the Audi system is a VALEO in any case. Maybe the Cit is the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RickVTR
    Which is something I can't understand. What is so special about the genuine citroen coolant?
    Nothing; it's just their way out of it. By the way, the Cit stuff isn't expensive - you'd get away with a complete fill for about $35.

    Note to others - if there's a chance of a warranty fix, change the coolant to genuine stuff!

    Stuey


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuey
    Nothing; it's just their way out of it. By the way, the Cit stuff isn't expensive - you'd get away with a complete fill for about $35.

    Note to others - if there's a chance of a warranty fix, change the coolant to genuine stuff!

    Stuey
    Exactly. Advice to all owners is make sure the approved coolant is used during warranty period (and thereafter for obvious reasons). Who knows whether it's better (probably much the same as some other quality coolants in protective ability) but that just isn't the point. They'll decline warranty if other coolants are used, and I don't entirely blame them.

    I had the same idea, about a custom core that is, Stuey. I haven't followed up because we haven't needed to (yet..). I can't see why an old fashioned copper and brass, soldered unit wouldn't do the job, using jubilee clips instead of fancy "O" rings. I know I've said this before, but our R8 heater is 40 years old!! If you go that way, I'd be interested to talk, as may a few others.

    JohnW

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    John, you'll probably get people saying that the 'incompatible' metals would be a problem, but even if a core similar to an aluminium oil cooler, with continuous piping, were used it would surely be OK. Apparently the end cap has individual O rings on each pipe, or something like that. Big Al told me once, but I can't remember exactly. Anyway, I'm sure I can find a cure...

    Stuey


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuey
    John, you'll probably get people saying that the 'incompatible' metals would be a problem, but even if a core similar to an aluminium oil cooler, with continuous piping, were used it would surely be OK. Apparently the end cap has individual O rings on each pipe, or something like that. Big Al told me once, but I can't remember exactly. Anyway, I'm sure I can find a cure...

    Stuey
    You're right. Of course the coolant is designed to mitigate the electrolytic issues with the various metals linked around the cooling circuit. But the R8 has just as many, if not more.....

    Anyway, we'll still be discussing this one in ten years' time.

    Cheers

    JohnW

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    They say its a big job to fix...
    Masive more like it. Many hours to complete!

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    Tadpole RickVTR's Avatar
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    okay, it obvious that citroen not going to fix it

    And I definely can't afford the $2000-$3000 bill that they are asking just to fix this leak.

    So how do you fix it? is it possible to do-it-yourself? what are the pitfalls? And what is it exactly do you look for and what are the steps to take?

  15. #15
    IWS
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickVTR
    okay, it obvious that citroen not going to fix it

    And I definely can't afford the $2000-$3000 bill that they are asking just to fix this leak.

    So how do you fix it? is it possible to do-it-yourself? what are the pitfalls? And what is it exactly do you look for and what are the steps to take?
    Rick,

    I had to have the heater matrix replaced on my 2000 Xantia at the time that I bought it about six months ago. My independant Cit mechanic here in Melbourne (http://carsoffrance.com.au/) quoted me circa. $1,000 to replace it and the purchase price for the car was discounted by that amount by the dealer. From seeing the job in progress (as others have said, whole dasboard has to be completly removed) it is both a big *and* an expert job. Certainly not a DIY I reckon!

    Sugest you get some prices from independant Cit people in your area and compare with the 2 - 3 k you are being quoted (which sounds excessive to me). Also, my mechanic used a replacement matrix made up by someone here in Melbourne - not the original parts item and made up in aluminium not the (I think, possibly, plastic?) construction as the original. He reckons these replacements are much better than the orginal. May be worth an email to him to get details - or ask if he can supply the replacement to you in Sydney to have fitted there?

    Ian.

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    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    DIY should be OK, quite a few people on Andyspares have done it.... The trick is you MUST pull everything out though, so set aside a LOT of time to do it.

    I certainly wouldn't pay someone to do it, then again I am a tightarse

    seeya,
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    Quote Originally Posted by IWS
    Also, my mechanic used a replacement matrix made up by someone here in Melbourne - not the original parts item and made up in aluminium not the (I think, possibly, plastic?) construction as the original. He reckons these replacements are much better than the orginal. May be worth an email to him to get details - or ask if he can supply the replacement to you in Sydney to have fitted there? Ian.
    Ahhh, Ian, can you provide details? If you see my post above, I've been thinking about his - that the ideal replacement would be a matrix that's sort of like one of those all aluminium oil coolers. I understand the original is aluminium with plastic end caps, and what leaks is the O rings that seal the end caps to the aluminium part. This smacks of pure production engineering where it's designed for quick, cheap assembly.

    It'd be good to find out who does them for him.

    Stuey


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

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    IWS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuey
    Ahhh, Ian, can you provide details? If you see my post above, I've been thinking about his - that the ideal replacement would be a matrix that's sort of like one of those all aluminium oil coolers. I understand the original is aluminium with plastic end caps, and what leaks is the O rings that seal the end caps to the aluminium part. This smacks of pure production engineering where it's designed for quick, cheap assembly.

    It'd be good to find out who does them for him.

    Stuey
    Stuey,

    Your talking about the plastic end caps rings bells. I think that that is what my mechanic told me failed and that the all-aluminium replacement is stronger.
    Suggest you could get in touch directly with him as he does supply parts interstate. His web address is in my original post. He is a very helpful guy. Does this help you? If not PM me.

    Ian.

  19. #19
    1000+ Posts TroyO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuey
    Ahhh, Ian, can you provide details? If you see my post above, I've been thinking about his - that the ideal replacement would be a matrix that's sort of like one of those all aluminium oil coolers. I understand the original is aluminium with plastic end caps, and what leaks is the O rings that seal the end caps to the aluminium part. This smacks of pure production engineering where it's designed for quick, cheap assembly.

    It'd be good to find out who does them for him.

    Stuey
    Not sure about the 405, but the Xsara one is aluminium with a plastic end cap on one end only. And the leak as wasn't at the plastic end, it looked like from one of the pipes. Must have been pin prick though.

    Troy.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Problem with Heater Matrix-heatercore1.jpg   Problem with Heater Matrix-heatercore2.jpg  

  20. #20
    IWS
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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleChevron
    DIY should be OK, quite a few people on Andyspares have done it.... The trick is you MUST pull everything out though, so set aside a LOT of time to do it.

    I certainly wouldn't pay someone to do it, then again I am a tightarse

    seeya,
    Shane L.
    And, from reading your posts, you have the technical expertise to handle a DIY of this complexity

    I do some basic work on cars myself but I reckon I'd be mad to attempt something like this job!! How much expertise would you think is required to handle this job (allowing for a few things to go wrong - as they invariably do whenever i attempt something mildy complicated...)

    Ian.

  21. #21
    1000+ Posts TroyO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RickVTR
    okay, it obvious that citroen not going to fix it

    And I definely can't afford the $2000-$3000 bill that they are asking just to fix this leak.

    So how do you fix it? is it possible to do-it-yourself? what are the pitfalls? And what is it exactly do you look for and what are the steps to take?
    It is a BIG job, but $2000-$3000 seems way too steep to me. Have you tried ringing around

    The dash and centre console has to come out (to get the bottom dash bolt), and the wiper motor has to come as well to get to the where the dash bolts onto the firewall.

    The advantages we had in doing ourselves were.

    1. My Dad is a retired automotive mechanic, so he has experience and time to work on it.
    2. I was on leave at the time
    3. We had a manual to work against. Haynes do a manual for the Xsara Mk1 (pre Mux), I can't guarantee it's accuracy with the newer models though (like your VTR), electricals would be different with the introduction of multiplexing, and probably other bits as well. Car makers like to changes things all the time.

    We found it important to label all the electrical connectors to indicate what they did since there were so many. It also paid to study the connectors before trying to disconnect them, to avoid breaking them. We also bagged all parts into separate bags based on whatever section in the Haynes manual were at, so that we didn't lose any bits or get left with any bits once we had reassembled everything (gee, I wonder this bolt's for).

    You should be able to get it fixed by a specialist for a lot less that $2000 though.

    Troy.

  22. #22
    1000+ Posts TroyO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IWS
    I do some basic work on cars myself but I reckon I'd be mad to attempt something like this job!! How much expertise would you think is required to handle this job (allowing for a few things to go wrong - as they invariably do whenever i attempt something mildy complicated...)
    Not being an mechanic, I too would be hesitant to attempt this sort of job myself. Too many plastic bits to break.

    Troy.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyO
    Not being an mechanic, I too would be hesitant to attempt this sort of job myself. Too many plastic bits to break.

    Troy.
    You can always do as the "pros" do and use SuperGlue

    As regards supply of a custom made one, has anyone tried Paul Weel the V8 Supercar driver from Miami/Mermaid down the Gold Coast?
    He is the one who makes the majority of the cooling systems for the V8s and when we made up the aluminium radiator for the CX Gti, the guy who was giving us some advice was an ex-Newman Hass pitcrew and he pointed us at him. Not the cheapest but then again, I think that might be what you have now, so may be worthy of dropping a line to. Check out the Yellow pages if nobody here can give you a name. (PW Cooling components?????)
    You may need to either supply the old one to get made up or at worst send them the old one as a sample.


    Alan S
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  24. #24
    1000+ Posts TroyO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan S
    You can always do as the "pros" do and use SuperGlue
    Suprisingly, the only things that got broken were

    1. One clip holding part of the wiring loom across the heater. That was repair by using some cable tie.

    2. ALL the clips holder the trim below the windscreen and covering the wiper motor. The clips where on so tight that we had to break them just to get it off. The dealer charged $2.20 per clip (none in stock , they had to be sent over from Sydney, how unusual ), and the trim need 5 of them. We used modified some cheap christmas tree clips bought from Supercheap Auto for about $3 for 5.

    My dad commented on how well all the trim fitted back together. It was a major improvement on Fiats he had worked on in the past.

    Troy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TroyO
    Not sure about the 405, but the Xsara one is aluminium with a plastic end cap on one end only. And the leak as wasn't at the plastic end, it looked like from one of the pipes. Must have been pin prick though.

    Troy.
    Ahhh, that's interesting! Given the amount that go kaput, it must be either inferior aluminium, poor manufacture, or the original coolant doesn't work very well! That is, rather than a design fault, like with the O rings thing that Alan S experienced. So it looks bad all round...

    The thing is that just about all matrixes are made like that and some, like say the R12, last longer than 30 years. I wonder if it's lack of flow on the uppermost bend which leads to a slight blockage, then internal corrosion. Cut it open, Troy, go on! You know you want to!

    Cheers

    Stuey


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

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