Reliability and driving style
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  1. #1
    SMM
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    Default Reliability and driving style

    Recently I heard that the person who bought my 2006 C5 2 years ago has had a run of bad luck. About 6 weeks after I sold it, the AL4 gearbox needed replacing. This was a real surprise to me because in 50,000km and 5 years it had never missed a beat. It had full service history etc and was working perfectly. The gearbox was replaced with a reconditioned unit at great expense at his local Citroen dealer. I have heard that the gearbox has failed again - less than 18 months after the transplant!! It was replaced again under warranty.

    I know the AL4 gearbox has had a checkered service history but I would have thought any weaknesses in my old car would have come to the surface in 5 years of driving to and from work in peak hour trafffic. I got to thinking as to how this could have happened. Still serviced at a Citroen Dealer, milage has dropped off - how could it happen? I know from experience the guy isn't the smoothest of drivers, but could driving style have such an impact on a car?

    Ideas, comments....

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    SMM

    Current Citroen - : 2012 C5 HDi Exclusive; C4 Cactus (Mrs SMM)

    Previous Citroens: 1997 Xm Exclusive Series II, 2007 C4 VTR, 2006 C5, 1991 Xm Series 1, 1999 Xsara 1.8, 1988 Bx TRI

  2. #2
    Too many posts! JohnW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMM View Post
    Recently I heard that the person who bought my 2006 C5 2 years ago has had a run of bad luck. About 6 weeks after I sold it, the AL4 gearbox needed replacing. This was a real surprise to me because in 50,000km and 5 years it had never missed a beat. It had full service history etc and was working perfectly. The gearbox was replaced with a reconditioned unit at great expense at his local Citroen dealer. I have heard that the gearbox has failed again - less than 18 months after the transplant!! It was replaced again under warranty.

    I know the AL4 gearbox has had a checkered service history but I would have thought any weaknesses in my old car would have come to the surface in 5 years of driving to and from work in peak hour trafffic. I got to thinking as to how this could have happened. Still serviced at a Citroen Dealer, milage has dropped off - how could it happen? I know from experience the guy isn't the smoothest of drivers, but could driving style have such an impact on a car?

    Ideas, comments....
    It is a fair question, isn't it. We sold a Renault Caravelle once after two years of careful driving and the clutch lasted 4 weeks with the new owner - I'd not detected the slightest problem but had been careful with it.
    JohnW

    Renault 4CV 1950 (R1062)
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    Renault Scenic Series II 2006 (daughter's)
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    CitroŽn CX Pallas 1980 (moved on to new custodian)

    National Co-ordinator, Renault 4CV Register of Australia

  3. #3
    Fellow Frogger!
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    With all these reports relating to the early failure of the AL4 gearbox after a supposed rebuild, questions must arise about the knowlege and ability of those so called "rebuild specialists" to undertake such work, and why they continue to be patronized so. It seems like a pretty poor show all round, if one can believe the forum, does it not?.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW View Post
    the clutch lasted 4 weeks with the new owner - I'd not detected the slightest problem but had been careful with it.
    I've had to replace a clutch 2 weeks after buying a car - it wasn't due to my driving style but it was because the person who was driving it didn't know what they were doing.

    A lot can be said for mechanical sympathy in keeping a car going for a long time - even if it is meant to have problems.

  5. #5
    Fellow Frogger! Andy N's Avatar
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    Great topic JW and I've thought about this much myself. If I'm honest I would admit that my car's have suffered worn front suspension components due probably for my joy of finding some really great bumpy roads to really test the suspension out...and the way I speed up for speed humps. Isn't that why they are called speed humps?
    Other people thrash the hell out of engines/ gearboxes/ clutches and the list goes on.
    I'm not getting all weird here but it helps to actually work with the car...really listen to what it needs or can tolerate, push it when it can take it and give it a rest when it or you need it.....then it will look after you. I've really gotten close to cars before, felt like I really know them and it is hard to let go of those ones even when they are falling apart...like my GS it is almost undriveable but it still feels great sometimes but I'm taking the decision to dry shed it for a while until I can do a major rebuild.

  6. #6
    JBN
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    I am not the kindest driver of cars. I had 2 BXs that I thrashed for 10 years each and about 200,000 kms each. On one I replaced the ZF auto at 280,000kms before giving it away. On the other it started to leak between the ZF gearbox and engine so I gave the car away.

    As hard as I drive, I have never had to have a liquid cooled Citroen engine refurbished. I did break the timing belt in each of the BXs, but was lucky in both cases in that no valves were damaged.

    However, I do refurbish 2CV aircooled engines fairly often. Their working life is usually spent between 90-100% of maximum revs, so I get my moneys worth.

    Mechanically I thrash cars. Given the low mileage I get out of the front tyres, the suspension gets the treatment as well. However, I rarely have problems in that area.

    With Citroens, it is the dodgy electrics that get me everytime. Out of 2 CXs, 2 BXs and a Xantia, I can count the days that aircon has ever worked. With the BXs and Xantia, I am glad the electric windows work as the blower heater fans have never been any good. None of this seems to bear any relationship to my driving.

    Maybe the theory needs a lot more study.

    John

  7. #7
    1000+ Posts Greg C's Avatar
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    Back to the AL4. 50,000km in 5 years is a bit low. In that case it should have been serviced, fluid changed more regularly. In the old days, driving in city traffic was regarded as a severe operating environment requiring more maintenance. I don't think it is these days, but still should be.

    We bought our Xantia in 2004 with 60,000km on the clock and it is at 199,000 now. That is an average of 17,500 per annum, more like 20,000 pa when my wife was working. Her drive to work was about 35 mins each way so the whole drive train got very thoroughly warmed up every drive. I am sure that has helped the AL4 do its stuff without issue. That and a fluid change every 20k/year has also helped. It has put itself in limp mode twice in the last 6 months and confirmed the pressure regulation solenoid needs replacing. The next service will be a big one.

    In city traffic I don't think there is any point/need to thrash the car, fuel economy is paramount. When working the average was 8.8l/100km, it is now sitting on 9.3 as it is not driven as far.

    I have heard of a few instances where a car has had a low use regime for several years, and then a new owner takes over and starts covering a much greater distance and then the box throws in the towel. Also it seems we have a few repeat problems after repairs, so do the gearbox guys know the AL4 well enough. I know of one dealer who did AL4 rebuilds themselves, they had a mechanic who was very good on gearboxes and build up knowledge very quickly as they didn't do any ZFs just AL4.

    Bottom line though is maintenance. The AL4 is regarded by the factory as sealed for life. Rubbish in my book. Change the oil with the right stuff every 20k or annually whichever comes first
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