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Citroën BX – Pre Show Season Maintenance

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I’ve been rather busy with the Mega Shed for the last few months, but my attention has moved as the shed reaches completion and show season restarts. During a busy year of shows in the BX previous year, getting to both the CCC National Rally and FotU had shown up some issues. So if I’m to have confidence that the BX will make it to the Citroen Car Club X-Rally, I want it to have some maintenance first.

The known maintenance list

Two recurring issues plagued me during last year’s show season. The first, overheating, was tracked down to a failed engine cooling fan which had blown a fuse to the second fan. A bodge at the festival of the unexceptional had got me back home. Finally, a more detailed analysis and some part swapping from XPO had the fans working again. The second issue was a continuous droning that had gotten worse over time.

Getting the fans working in September had resolved one maintenance issue.
Getting the fans working in September had resolved one maintenance issue.

I knew from the previous MOT advisory that the rear nearside bearing needed replacing, so I’d sourced a new old stop part. But the worst of the rumbling was definitely from the front of the car. I was sure it was in the drive shaft as the tone changed with the steering angle. So I expected that the intermediary drive shaft bearing had failed. I’ve never had this fail before, but the noise was rather more high pitched than I would expect a drive shaft bearing to be.

The extended list after making some checks

It’s pretty much time for the cars MOT, so I had intended to send the car off to my local independent specialist rather than busting a gut. However, before I got the car booked in, I wanted to ensure I had all the essential vehicle checks ticked off. A basic electrical review showed that the near side front indicators weren’t working. Wiggling some wires, I managed to quickly track down a pair of wires that had been twisted and taped together. Presumably, I’d implemented a ‘get me home’ bodge years before and forgotten about it. Cutting out the grotty wire ends and securing them with a soldering iron and heat shrink should solve the issue for now.

Misreading coolant gauge corrected with a new temperature sensor.
Misreading coolant gauge corrected with a new temperature sensor.

During the previous summer’s electrical fan failure, I’d managed to break off the connector to the water temperature sender. While this produced some pretty comical results on the gauge, it wasn’t especially helpful. So I took a little time to fit a calibrated sensor back into the thermostat housing. It was a battle to get it out, taking a scary amount of force to get the sensor’s brass body free from the aluminium housing. Still, it was worth seeing the gauge working and the fans controlling the coolant temperature. I’m pretty convinced the radiator is underperforming. Hopefully, a coolant flush at some point should sort it out.

Original steering rack gaiter had failed in just 30 years.
Original steering rack gaiter had failed in just 30 years.

And while I was changing the coolant temperature sender, I noticed another issue that might impact the MOT. The steering rack gaiter has disintegrated. This hard plastic cover was the original one that the car left the factory with thirty years ago. It seemed fine last year and looking at old pictures, there was no damage visible. But, unfortunately, it’s now way past best!

Getting to Keith Davis Citroen for some spannering

I hate letting other people work on my BX. While I have a trust issue with some mechanics, I like to know every nut and bolt on the car. I have also had some pretty bad luck with garages in the past. Leaving a hub nut off nearly resulted in premature death for one car. But sometimes, it’s nice to pass technical jobs on to someone I can trust, and I’m fortunate to live near an excellent independent Citroen Specialist.

Genuine SKF bearing in a non-original aftermarket Citroen BX wheel bearing.
Genuine SKF bearing in a non-original aftermarket Citroen BX wheel bearing.

Based near Chester, Keith Davis & Sons is a fantastic place to take a car. Both highly professional and relaxed, I quite enjoy a drive over the Cheshire planes to drop the BX and have a natter. Keith, the owner, obviously knows his stuff but is also super flexible. I can drop the car off whenever suits me, and as I’m never in a rush, the work will be done around the ‘normal’ garage jobs. This level of flexibility makes taking the car over a joy. Keith also knows I have a fair stockpile of parts, so he is more than happy to have me provide replacements than try to chase around motor factors himself.

A new ABS ring might help the 'odd' ABS performance.
A new ABS ring might help the ‘odd’ ABS performance.

In this case, I take the car down with a boot full of new spares, including a new rear wheel bearing. It’s a pattern part but an SKF 446451 EP bearing, and I like SKF. Before taking it over, I’ve flushed out the old dried grease. Also in the boot is a new driveshaft to cure the front end rumble and a set of Delphi steering rack gaiters. Keith is also keen that I leave a steering rack piston, as he’s had recent experience needing an angle grinder to remove the steering rack boot. I’m glad I’m not doing the job!

Post maintenance shakedown

A few days after dropping off the car, I get a call from the garage. It’s mostly good news. The MOT has been passed, and the front end rumbling isn’t the drive shaft as predicted. Instead, Keith’s expert eye has identified the offside front wheel bearing as the culprit. It’s a sunny evening, so running a couple of bearings over to the garage is no problem. I even managed to find a new circlip and hub nut I’d bought from a Peugeot garage some years ago.

Piles of spare parts, ready to send with the car for maintenance.
Piles of spare parts, ready to send with the car for maintenance.

That Friday, the car is ready for collection. So Sunday evening, I get a lift over and, after a bit of a natter, drive my 30-year-old banger home. I obviously can’t tell the steering rack gaiter has been replaced, but the wheel bearings have made all the difference. All cars feel better with good maintenance, and the Citroen BX is no exception.

Working the cooling gauge gives me confidence to know the cooling fans are working.
Working the cooling gauge gives me confidence to know the cooling fans are working.

Bearing noises have meant I’ve put off taking the BX on drives for a while. But now the car is transformed. The vehicle is not just quieter, but with a new MOT and coolant fans and gauge working, I’m brimming with confidence. Knowing that Keith has cast his eye over and seen to the maintenance is also reassuring. Good timing, too, as I have a few car shows to get to over the next month. I didn’t fancy some of the drives with two knackered wheel bearings.

I might go all in and start taking the BX to work again!

M


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