advice on a c3 purchase
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  1. #1
    Tadpole
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    Apr 2012
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default advice on a c3 purchase

    First of all, i would like to thank you all for a most entertaining evenings reading I've loved browsing through many of the threads, soaking up your wisdom and advice ... particularly 'Stalled' and the adventure that led to purchasing his sister a "snot green" C3

    I could draw some very distinct paralells between his sister and myself - I'm looking for a small, economical car to zip about (Melbourne) in, and i find myself very much drawn to the Citroen c3 (2003-4 vintage) for both it's style, character and downright awesomeness!

    ....But I also have the protective brother throwing spanners in the works aka questioning the actual practicalities of such a purchase I'm in a happy bubble of anticipation and excitement right now - but *if* that bubble must burst, i would rather it happen now rather than after purchase...

    I like both the Exlusive and the Panoramique, but am not keen on the sensodrive (even more so after reading some of the comments here). Having always driven a manual, i like the idea of continuing the tradition, but i am becoming more open to the idea of a straight up automatic ... particularly if it comes down to a choice between a manual Japanese-mobile and an automatic Frog-mobile!

    I currently have my eye on a c3 that may or may not have had it's first service until 35,000k (but dates in the log book suggest the first stamped service was done around the one year old mark). Is this likely to create a problem, and if so, how much of a problem and why?

    It appears to have had not missed any other log book services - and is due for it's 8th year one soon. It is under 104,000k on the clock ... but i'm not sure if that really means much - i'm guessing previous drivers driving style would be more important than any actual number? yes?

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    I'm also interested to hear from anyone who has purchased a c3 and encountered issues that warning me about could be helpful ... i know there are many threads on this, but maybe newer members have something to say and haven't wanted to comment in the older threads ... or maybe Stalled has some observations he (or his sister) feel deserve an airing now the car has been in the family for a while?

    Also, are there any particularly common failures? As an ex-404 owner who always (out of necessity) kept spare fuses to hand, i couldn't help noticing that the door to the fuse box in both the cars i looked at were .. erm.... wobbly - one was just holding on with one connector. Is this because stuff in the glove box hits and damages it, or do the fuses blow and need regular changing? Info on any such quirks would be much appreciated!

    What is the deal with spare parts these days - is using genuine Citroen parts the norm, or are generic (not sure of the correct term here) OK to use now? Either way, are they easy and affordable to obtain?

    My brother ran a log book services cost check at carservice.com and it appears that (over the first 10 years) the c3 is only going to be around $200 extra per year to maintain compared to the popular Japanese cars in the same class, so i'm guessing the answer to the above question will be a happy one?!

    I'd also love to hear Melbournites recommendations on where i could take a c3 for a pre-purchase inspection, and later for servicing.

    I eagerly await your replies
    Thanks!

  2. #2
    1000+ Posts dogboy's Avatar
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    Default C3

    The C3 is a great little car and very reliable generally...Def buy a manual version...sensodrive is nice but can be problematic and be expensive to fix.
    I just bought a Pluriel (convertible C3..sort of) and was looking at C3's and renault Clio's (another fantastic reliable car)
    you won't go wrong with a C3 or Clio...
    make sure the cambelts/& tensioners have been done and if not budget to do that straight away !!!
    I buy most of my parts online as local suppliers are not competitive..
    ie coil pack for Clio..need 4...local price $980....UK price for all 4 delivered $86 !!!!!!!
    as usual....research and you will be rewarded....
    good luck with it..
    Rev. Dogboy


    1969 DS21 Pallas BVH with leather
    1970 Renault 16TS
    1967 Honda S800 cabrio
    Citroen 1966 ID Safari (with 23 running gear)
    1975 VW Kombi poptop
    Porsche Boxster S manual
    1988 Vespa PX200E

  3. #3
    Good Sport danielsydney's Avatar
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    Default

    I have had my C3 1.4 auto for many years now and last year replaced my starter motor(well i didn't Colliers did). It is a very reasonable car to get serviced and maintain. I would have another one any day. the 1.4 auto C3 is a different beast to the C2 1.6 sensodrive. You will need to do your homework. They are reliable cars though. I wouldn't touch a Japanese if you have worked out those sums already....

  4. #4
    Sans Pond. STALLED's Avatar
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    Default

    Square Wheel,

    "Vertie" the lime green C3 is now up to 40,000km and in the past 12 or so months, has been a very reliable little car!

    Things we like about it:

    - Cheap to run, with parts easy to obtain either through the dealer network or AF Forum sponsors!
    - Reliable (touch wood) nothing has gone wrong with it
    - Easy to drive, I alway forget how bloody small it is to park and it has a fantastic turning circle.
    - Safe, with a good EuroNCAP crash rating, good brakes and predictable handling
    - Practical, will seat 4 people and their luggage.

    Things I don't like about it

    - Gearbox, we have an automatic, which is shockingly bad. Please, get a manual. It transforms the car.
    - Can be a bit underpowered at times with the A/C running and with passengers.
    - Interior trim looks good, but feels cheap.

    Other than that - general pointers include getting one with a service history (inclusive of timing belt and tensioners). The belt job isn't expensive to do, due to the amount of access to the engine bay. Other things which can go wrong, include Sensodrive gearbox actuators and a Panoramique roof cassette which can play up.

    There were some limited editions including the 80th Anniversary which came with a CD Stacker, parking sensors and body coloured mouldings in a 1.4 8v spec. Keep your eyes peeled for the Panoramique which came with a glass roof and nicer interior trim - these are 1.6 Sensodrive cars from memory!

    Some are high spec, with climate control and leather!

    Let us know if you have any more questions!

    Joel
    2005 Renault Clio 182 Cup

    2011 Renault Megane 250 Cup Trophee - Sold

    1997 Peugeot 406 2.0 Manual - On Loan

    2004 Citroen C3 1.4 80th Anniversary (RIP)

  5. #5
    Good Sport danielsydney's Avatar
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    Joel,

    I pretty much agree on all that except the turning circle. It really is shocking when you try and turn the car right on a tight lock. I have no idea why. I park in a spot in my garage and have to basically do a 90 degree turn and it just doesnt happen. It is bad. Apart from that I would have another C3 any day. Im very interested to hear from people that have the current C3 though with the sliding roof.

    They look fantastic and they still have the AL4 from what I have seen. Id like to see what improvements they have made to them in relation to the engines and gearboxes.

  6. #6
    Tadpole
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    Apr 2012
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default

    Hey all ... i'm back, but still hunting I had hoped to make a triumphant return waving some keys about ....

    Anyway, to the point - i have looked at a 2003 exclusive and the clutch takes up almost at the top of its stroke (versus the bottom of the stroke when your foot is against the firewall).

    Is the fact the the clutch only takes up at the top of its stroke a problem? Does this automatically mean that the clutch is worn out? Could it be that the clutch is worn out ....

    Co-incidentally Joel lol, the car ... she's GREEN

    Any help much appreciated!

  7. #7
    Fellow Frogger
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    Default

    Drive a couple of others and see if it seems normal. The cables can bind up with age and make the clutch a real pain to use. That's very common on the Berlingo, but also affects other models as they mostly use a cable. I find that a number of Citroen models have the clutch pedal in a different plane to the brake and accelerator, but that may just be me.

    If you have to put your foot almost to the floor to disengage the clutch or it feels very heavy and hard to control, that may suggest a problem with the clutch. If you need only quite light pressure, the pedal moves smoothly and the take up point is not too far from the start of the pedal travel, that probably suggests it's OK. There is some adjustment for the cable, so the take up point is probably less of a guide in this case than the feel of the clutch, if that makes sense.

    Also listen for noises (squeals and excessive whining, for example) from the gearbox as that can indicate bearing troubles. Find out if the car has had a clutch change already. The release bearing that pushes on the clutch spring fingers is what usually causes problems first. Reverse gear is nothing special, should not be rammed into gear and can make quite a noise in normal use.

  8. #8
    1000+ Posts
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    Default C3

    Hi-There are three people I can recommend to look @ a potential purchase.
    Melbourne is a big place so most of us will be in the dark as to your location but hope following will assist.

    Dave Cavanagh -French Connection-Airport West-9338 8191.

    Joe @Sims motors -Brunswick-9381 2366.

    Colin @ Alpine Affaire-Ringwood-9879 1961.

    Dave & Joe may know of a car for sale-Colin may even have one in stock for you to compare or whatever.

    I have known these guys & the prior Business Owners for a total of well over 100 years & so I know a 'little' about them.

    ALWAYS WISE TO SPEAK TO THE PREVIOUS OWNER/S.

    I always reckon if you have PEACE in the situation you will be on the 'Right track'.

    Good Hunting.

    Pekay.

  9. #9
    Tadpole
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    Apr 2012
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Default

    Thank you David!! That does make perfect sense, and you have given me a bit of peace - there is no problem at all with the clutch, merely a preconceived idea from the Peugeots I used to drive, which all engaged much sooner

    WOW Pekay!!! Thank you so much for these names ... and roads to travel if the one i'm on dead ends! I've got a deposit on the green car i mentioned, so it would feel a bit underhand to be checking out other cars at least until i know if i end up with these keys or empty handed Sadly i have none of the peace you talk of ... i believe the car is great little specimen (near perfect when some work is done) but the people i've spoken to regarding it - they have muddied the waters to swamp factor 10

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