Question Re C5 - "The Reluctant Car" with the AL4 Auto

JAJEA

Member
We purchased our 2004 Series 1 C5 Wagon (one previous owner with under 90K kms) with that alleged dreaded AL4 auto. Over the past 14 years, we've been hearing about that "shit box" auto that many have been complaining about and could not understand why when ours apart from one incident of solenoid change has been operating faultlessly.
So, every day over the past 14 years we have been expecting it to pack up and at 296000 plus kms, the time may be near as the "Automatic Gear Fault" comes up on occasions but too often that it is unreliable - it won't move when that happens.
After the 17 years, the 296K+kms it covered and the hard life it has been subjected to (always loved but that wagon became a sort of a "tradies' ute"), the time has come to park it up as most of the front plastic components are just holding on (thanks to Gaffa tape), the underneath shróuding wheel arching broken /missing and with the original windscreen still on it (we've been going to replace it years ago but why do so when that gearbox is going to drastically fail) not worth passing on.
The dilemma that's arisen is that (was that) whilst Citroen has no replacement for the most under rated Citroen, Peugeot does.
Peugeot's 508 GTi Wagon fits the bill of not being a 4WD / SUV and hence one is on its way but not scheduled to arrive till later this year notwithstanding that since it's so late in the year, we have the option to we wait to see what the MY2022 is all about.
The question is that we have a period of being a one car family even though club plated cars are available and I'm wondering is the automatic gear fault simply solenoid related and if so, what would that cost for a workshop to do?
I'm recuperating from major back surgery and in no position/condition to undertake.
Advice greatly appreciated.
Joh
 

deesse

New member
Hi Joh,

I have a 2003 C5 wagon with 2l petrol engine with 180000kms on the clock. I have also had mine for 14 years but haven't been so lucky with my áuto gearbox. It failed and I had it rebuilt at about 137000kms at the cost of $2750 and after a year was still not right so the people who did the gearbox did it again blaming the converter. It has been good up until about a month ago. It is clunking quite violently into 2nd and 3rd for the first few changes when getting going in the morning then seems to get stuck in 2nd gear. The Automatic gear fault light comes on. I have it booked in to the mechanic next week to see what is up but if it is more than $1000 to fix then it is going (I don't know where old cars go these days). I really like the car and I will be sad if it has to go but I can't see it lasting much longer if I don't want to spend money on it. I will be buying an EV next but may have to wait a while for some more variety.

I will let you know what the mechanic says.

cheers Tony
 
You could check the fault codes for a pressure modulation fault. That may suggest the main electrovalve is suspect - #5 in diagram. The position switch can also let you down - you could try rowing the stick back and forward if you suspect this.

Re-tensioning the valve block bolts could also help.

AL4_Bolts.JPG


AL4_ElectroValves.JPG
 

JAJEA

Member
Hi Joh,

I have a 2003 C5 wagon with 2l petrol engine with 180000kms on the clock. I have also had mine for 14 years but haven't been so lucky with my áuto gearbox. It failed and I had it rebuilt at about 137000kms at the cost of $2750 and after a year was still not right so the people who did the gearbox did it again blaming the converter. It has been good up until about a month ago. It is clunking quite violently into 2nd and 3rd for the first few changes when getting going in the morning then seems to get stuck in 2nd gear. The Automatic gear fault light comes on. I have it booked in to the mechanic next week to see what is up but if it is more than $1000 to fix then it is going (I don't know where old cars go these days). I really like the car and I will be sad if it has to go but I can't see it lasting much longer if I don't want to spend money on it. I will be buying an EV next but may have to wait a while for some more variety.

I will let you know what the mechanic says.

cheers Tony
How did you go Tony,
Hi Joh,

I have a 2003 C5 wagon with 2l petrol engine with 180000kms on the clock. I have also had mine for 14 years but haven't been so lucky with my áuto gearbox. It failed and I had it rebuilt at about 137000kms at the cost of $2750 and after a year was still not right so the people who did the gearbox did it again blaming the converter. It has been good up until about a month ago. It is clunking quite violently into 2nd and 3rd for the first few changes when getting going in the morning then seems to get stuck in 2nd gear. The Automatic gear fault light comes on. I have it booked in to the mechanic next week to see what is up but if it is more than $1000 to fix then it is going (I don't know where old cars go these days). I really like the car and I will be sad if it has to go but I can't see it lasting much longer if I don't want to spend money on it. I will be buying an EV next but may have to wait a while for some more variety.

I will let you know what the mechanic says.

cheers Tony
How did it go Tony? Have you still got the C5? And I hope that Sims Metal has not got it.
As for my C5, I've done nothing about it as I'm in no condition to really do anything but I'm certainly recuperating nicely and with the lockdown - no need for 2 cars notwithstanding the Club cars.
John
 

JAJEA

Member
You could check the fault codes for a pressure modulation fault. That may suggest the main electrovalve is suspect - #5 in diagram. The position switch can also let you down - you could try rowing the stick back and forward if you suspecttv uh this.

Re-tensioning the valve block bolts could also help.

View attachment 136509

View attachment 136510
David, sorry I've been quite as I'm not upto playing around with motor cars at the moment.
Nevertheless I have plugged in my Aldi special OBD2 analyser with no effect.
What else is required to obtain "error codes" from the OBD2
No idea what I had done with the operating Manual of thst Aldi OBD. And to gain access to the electrovalves, is that achieved all under the C5 notwithstanding that I'm in no position to do so?
Best regards
John
 
You might expect to find something like '06 - pressure regulation fault' if there is an electrovalve problem. The fault codes will help you determine what the car thinks is wrong.
The valve block is inside the steel 'pan' at the front of the gearbox case. There should be some threads on here about working on the AL4/DPO valve block.
The Al4 can last a long time, but often didn't. A family member managed 430K in an early C5 HDi.
 

jaahn

1000+ Posts
David, sorry I've been quite as I'm not upto playing around with motor cars at the moment.
Nevertheless I have plugged in my Aldi special OBD2 analyser with no effect.
What else is required to obtain "error codes" from the OBD2
No idea what I had done with the operating Manual of thst Aldi OBD. And to gain access to the electrovalves, is that achieved all under the C5 notwithstanding that I'm in no position to do so?
Best regards
John
Hi JAJEA :)
A possible reason your OBD2 scanner did not work is this. When you plug it in it 'lights up' because the port is powered, but to actually make a scan you must turn on the ignition so the ecu etc is working. The engine does not have to be running for a code read only but it must be switched on. It should read the ordinary codes if there is an ordinary common fault like 06 ;).
Good luck jaahn
PS I often made that mistake to forget to switch the ign on.
 

JAJEA

Member
Hi JAJEA :)
A possible reason your OBD2 scanner did not work is this. When you plug it in it 'lights up' because the port is powered, but to actually make a scan you must turn on the ignition so the ecu etc is working. The engine does not have to be running for a code read only but it must be switched on. It should read the ordinary codes if there is an ordinary common fault like 06 ;).
Good luck jaahn
PS I often made that mistake to forget to switch the ign on.
Thanks jaahn.
Tried again and this time it gave me a choice of vehicles and upon choosing, the System Status found one (1) code and this related to the Engine.
The other area of codes are (I believe are in Module #24 but no codes within this module (or was it unable to read?)
The Engine code came up as P1352; with details pertaining to: Ignition Coil A Primary Circuit Malfunction.
Do diesel motors have "Ignition Coils"?.
When ignition was turned on (a number of times of course playing around with OBD) there was No "Beep Beep" that the auto was at fault, Moving the gear stick around, everything was perfect. Whilst I did not take it for a drive, I'm sure that it would not have been "reluctant to go".
So, I reckon it's a intermittent electronic fault as if the gear box had died, how can a gearbox die intermittently?
John
 

seasink

1000+ Posts
The first (left) number is 1, so it's a manufacturer's code, not a universal one. The code is very common, and is a power fault on the glow plugs.
 

JAJEA

Member
The first (left) number is 1, so it's a manufacturer's code, not a universal one. The code is very common, and is a power fault on the glow plugs.
And seasink, there's no malfunctioning in the engine compartment as far as we are concerned. Just the auto AL4 gearbox.
I could understand of no faults found as it is an intermittent fault. I would believe that the diagnostics pick up and records actual real faults.
John
PS: The Toyota diesels that I had driven in the past had a waiting period before fire up as you had to wait for the "glow plugs" to do their thing before fire up.
Does the C 5 Series 1 have glow plugs?
 

dimistyle

Member
All PSA diesels I've scanned all show the same error code for the glow plugs relay power bla bla bla...not too concerned in QLD as never gets cold enough to need the use of glow plugs.

I'm guessing the neutral switch on top of the AL4 has been moved for the oil change and is causing the intermittent error code and no drive.
 

seasink

1000+ Posts
The glow plug error is stored in most HDIs. It isn't a transmission fault.

The Toyota wait was for preheating. It is longish with separate combustion chamber engines.
 

jaahn

1000+ Posts
Hi JAJEA :)
Well you have made some progress. Possibly you have a intermittent fault or a wiring fault or as Dimi said the starter inhibiter switch position needs resetting.
If you had a more extensive scanner it might look at the stored faults and the real time history. Of course the Lexia/Diabox tools will do all that and more.
Just on the glow plugs question. The old indirect injection engines had them and needed glow time to get started. The newer direct injection engines do have heaters and do use them under ECU control to make them run better from cold and reduce emissions at cold start but can start OK without any. Also used when there is snow on the ground too o_O which is not common in QLD. {But with climate change who knows ??:rolleyes: }
Jaahn
 

JAJEA

Member
All PSA diesels I've scanned all show the same error code for the glow plugs relay power bla bla bla...not too concerned in QLD as never gets cold enough to need the use of glow plugs.

I'm guessing the neutral switch on top of the AL4 has been moved for the oil change and is causing the intermittent error code and no drive.
Very, very likely / probable dimistyle if that switch can cause "gearbox fault". With the relatively recent 3 x auto oil changes and losing the filler plug and jostling things down there it may be it.
However as I'm in no condition/position because of surgery to be bending over engine bays I'll need to take it to somebody trustworthy to advise.
If anybody is interested in what can be done on the human spine, or requires the services of a good neurosurgeon send us a PM.
John
 

deesse

New member
Hi Joh,
Unfortunately my car has not been fixed. The mechanic said it needs 2 new solenoids to give it hydraulic pressure or some such thing and said it would cost me about $750 so I gave him the go ahead. After fitting them along with fresh fluid he told me that it hadn't fixed the problem and the car is still behaving the same. He also told me that he has done a few of these gearboxes and said it works nine times out of ten. He said he could source a second hand box for $1100 plus about $1300 to fit so I said no. He only charged me for the parts which was kind of him. Anyway I drove the car home and have it advertised for $500. It is a sad way to finish my time with the C5 but the economics just don't add up. I will how ever keep my eyes open for a really low mileage example to pop up on carsales.

good luck with yours.

cheers Tony
 

JAJEA

Member
Hi Joh,
Unfortunately my car has not been fixed. The mechanic said it needs 2 new solenoids to give it hydraulic pressure or some such thing and said it would cost me about $750 so I gave him the go ahead. After fitting them along with fresh fluid he told me that it hadn't fixed the problem and the car is still behaving the same. He also told me that he has done a few of these gearboxes and said it works nine times out of ten. He said he could source a second hand box for $1100 plus about $1300 to fit so I said no. He only charged me for the parts which was kind of him. Anyway I drove the car home and have it advertised for $500. It is a sad way to finish my time with the C5 but the economics just don't add up. I will how ever keep my eyes open for a really low mileage example to pop up on carsales.

good luck with yours.

cheers Tony
Very, very sad to hear that Tony.
Did you go back to the gearbox rebuilder with the $2750 charge. It's worth having a go. For it to last 40K odd kms is not good enough.
Nevertheless, that's the problem we are faced with these exotic French cars and that is the importance of Aussiefrogs. Without which ours would have gone to Sims Metal by now. It has achieved the near 300K kms without unreasonanle maintenance costs and I'm sure that our intermittent problem at the moment may be relatively minor.
As I'm in no position to look at it now and follow suggestions by David x 2 and others, it needs looking at by I reckon a Citroen workshop that has the expertise.
I'll be chasing up the closest Citroen Dealer to scan error codes to start with and go from there.
By the by, it is time for a new car anyway and as Citroen have no replacement for the C5 wahon, boy that Peugeot 508 GTi Wagon looks good and has all the bells and whistles in this modern era of the automobile. Bells and whistles that we now need unlike when we were young, we did not even opt for parking sensers. Now, apart from audible sound, the 508 has 360 camera vision!
John
 

JAJEA

Member
The "Reluctant Car's" update.
Notwithstanding that I did not seek the services of Citroen dealer, a mechanic friend offered to check it out and i took up that offer.
On firing it up it went spastic with all of the error codes that it has experienced over the last maybe 10 years being spat out including the the dreaded AL4.
However, (not sure of technicalities), he listed current faults and what appeared, sorry don't remember but unequivocally not an issue - keep on driving, nothing to worry about.
Today, went back there as whilst no problems in the mean time, as wife refuses to drive it, I was keen for a further diagnostic check. He checked it for further faults and nothing came up. Upon a detailed analysis of the auto gearbox, again nothing wrong with it.
As previously advised by others "others refer to them as brains trust - I reckon that they are just nice knowledgeable people" the problem of no power / drive with our C5 with the AL4 was with the neutral limiting switch that I disturbed upon the number of oil changes.
I feel confident that the alleged "dreaded AL4" is going strong - nothing wrong within its "guts" - there could not be anything wrong within as it has been performing spot on.
Smooth gear changes and at around kms 58 into 3rd and 78 into 4th notwithstanding that I'm sure that there were not too many opportunities to travel to the 80 kph limit.
There'll be a C5 available soon (notwithstanding not worth re- registering it) as the Peugeot 508 GTi Wagon is "on the ship".
 

Whippet

Member
The "Reluctant Car's" update.
Notwithstanding that I did not seek the services of Citroen dealer, a mechanic friend offered to check it out and i took up that offer.
On firing it up it went spastic with all of the error codes that it has experienced over the last maybe 10 years being spat out including the the dreaded AL4.
However, (not sure of technicalities), he listed current faults and what appeared, sorry don't remember but unequivocally not an issue - keep on driving, nothing to worry about.
Today, went back there as whilst no problems in the mean time, as wife refuses to drive it, I was keen for a further diagnostic check. He checked it for further faults and nothing came up. Upon a detailed analysis of the auto gearbox, again nothing wrong with it.
As previously advised by others "others refer to them as brains trust - I reckon that they are just nice knowledgeable people" the problem of no power / drive with our C5 with the AL4 was with the neutral limiting switch that I disturbed upon the number of oil changes.
I feel confident that the alleged "dreaded AL4" is going strong - nothing wrong within its "guts" - there could not be anything wrong within as it has been performing spot on.
Smooth gear changes and at around kms 58 into 3rd and 78 into 4th notwithstanding that I'm sure that there were not too many opportunities to travel to the 80 kph limit.
There'll be a C5 available soon (notwithstanding not worth re- registering it) as the Peugeot 508 GTi Wagon is "on the ship".
Good to hear your C5 is now resolved with a non intrusive repair.

Enjoy your 508.
 

JAJEA

Member
Good to hear your C5 is now resolved with a non intrusive repair.

Enjoy your 508.
Thanks Whippet, certainly will with all that wizardry but still disappointed at Citroen/PSA for dropping the C5.
May put some Chevrons on it - I'm sure they won't look out of place.
John
 
Top