Citroën BX – BE3 Gearbox teardown

2 min read

One of my biggest problems with using the Citroën BX as a daily driver is the high RPMs at cruising speed. Noisy and on a steep part of the torque band makes for a less than enjoyable experience. Can I salvage enough pieces in a gearbox teardown to improve my drive?

BX16Valve Gear Ratios

At around 65 mph, the stock BE3 gearbox in the Citroën BX 16v is hammering along at 3000rpm to 3500rpm. It’s noisy and just starting to pick up the power and wants to go go go. It makes the car pretty hard work to drive over any significant distance.

The most common solution is to change the 5th gear set in Citroën BX 16Valve to use gears from a turbo-diesel car, typically dropping the cruising RPMs by around 500rpm. Fortunately, I have an old BE3 gearbox from a 309 DTurbo to pull apart and salvage the gearset.

BE3 Gearbox Teardown

5th gear set destined for the Citroën BX gearbox
5th gear set destined for the Citroën BX gearbox

I’ve had a donor gearbox for many years, taking up plenty of space. I finally caved and decided it was time to strip it down, get the parts I needed out, and dispose of the rest. Of course, I didn’t need to strip the whole thing down, but it was very satisfying.

erm, how does this gearbox go together?
Erm, how does this gearbox go together?

I’m glad I don’t have to try and get it back together. There was a lot of hammering involved in getting this to bits. It’s both stress relief and learning all at the same time. Given the intensity of some of the hammering, I would have expected some damage too. But I’ve ended up with the diesel gear set. I need to improve the Citroën BX drive when I get around to it.


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  1. you probably know this, but the 5th gear cog set from the 16v box can be reused in an 8V BX GTI to get a similar result.

  2. That’s an interesting one, I didn’t know that.

    I understand something needs to be machined on the TD gear set to go into the valver. This unknown is rather putting me off making the change. Well that and the BX hasn’t really got over 60mph in the last 3 months as it never goes on dual carriageway/motorway.

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