In this episode, a catalogue of parts failures almost culminates in the final curtain for the our correspondent’s C6… that was now over five years ago.
The suspension has been the main area of issues with the C6. Drop-links at the rear, bearings at the front, lower wishbones at the front, stub-axles as well as the two struts have all been replaced. In addition, the car has had a total of four new ABS sensors over time, which, when they go on the blink, cause havoc with the electronic handbrake and the SatNav as well as the ABS system itself.
Another sensor which controlled the fore-aft levelling of the car also ceased to function, meaning that, when I returned to the parked car, the front was jacked up, the rear on its bump-stops – the nose pointing skywards at about 40°. Finally, an emergency replacement of a tyre led to a split hydraulic fluid tank as the technician did not set the suspension to the full-height before lifting the car up to replace the tyre.
The hydraulic power steering pipe also perished and needed replacement; the way this item is packaged around the engine in the engine bay means it is an absolute sod to replace, involving (from memory) 6 hours of labour. In fact, a number of the jobs on the car require many hours work; for example, those ABS sensors are at the rear of the car above the fuel tank, necessitating the latter to be dropped in order to get the failed unit out and the new one in.
Brake-pad wear is better than I feared from a such a heavy car, although, like the tyres, they are not cheap items. Writing of tyres, I have found myself experiencing Michelin Pilot 3s which wear very quickly, Yokohamas which are pretty good, but the best have been Avons which were quiet, excellent in the wet and dry, and lasted the best part of 30,000 miles, as well being much cheaper than the Michelins.
On the advice of Adam who, if you have followed this tale from the outset, you recall was the guy who sold me the car, I have always put the C6 on winter tyres, and again, can highly recommend them in general, but especially those from Avon, which are also great value. The first winter I experienced driving to Banbury and back was a very cold, icy and snowy one, and the C6 was made fantastically sure-footed on the winters and by making use of the snow function on the automatic gearbox. I saw many RWD BMWs, Mercedes and Jaguars stranded on the Welsh Lane in particular, whilst the Citroën marched imperiously by.
Engine-wise, the turbos have gone AWOL briefly on two further occasions, both when the engine was still cold, but when I asked the guys at BL Autos why it did that, they kind of shrugged and suggested that the very occasional fault be lived with. Otherwise, EGR valves have been replaced twice, the cam-belt and fuel pump replaced at 110,000 miles, and Particulate Filters replaced at least three times now (and some kind of particulate container replaced once).
Most of this has been in line with servicing expectations, so I’d give a steady thumbs up to the Ford/ PSA developed unit. The Aisin-Warner gearbox is advertised as sealed for life, but the boys at BL Autos have no truck with such rubbish and triple flush it with new oil for me every couple of years, with pleasing results.
At this point I will stress the excellence of the team at BL Autos. Robert is the recognised C6 expert and he must have dealt with more than anyone in the country, but they can all handle the ‘6’ very adeptly. There is no doubt that I would have given up on C6 ownership if they had not been there. When the COVID lock-down first hit, I called them to ask if they were managing OK, partly to be nice and also partly out of self-interest because they are that vital to my ongoing stewardship of the car. Going there is a real treat too. The chaps are very friendly and always happy to stop for a chinwag about my car, their cars, anyone else’s cars.
Barry (the founder and Dad of the team) still puts his hand in, and is the owner of a gorgeous SM, and there are always examples of DS, SM, XM, CX, Ami, Xantia, BX, etc. to take-in. On one occasion, I noticed there were something like 5 or 6 beautiful looking SMs in the workshop, and it was explained to me that someone well known in the SM community had unfortunately passed-on, and the owners of the vehicles wanted to have their cars in full working order to attend his funeral; it brought a tear to my eye.
Ironically, I first went to BL Autos when the C6 had been excused from its daily commuter journeys. Evans Halshaw was very convenient for me in the way it was a 10 minute walk from the office, hence why I always used them (drop off in the morning, collect in the evening), even though the cost and quality of some of the fixes proved unsavoury on more than one occasion.
Now that the C6 had taken up more of a hobby-car status, I could afford it the luxury of specific journeys to Welwyn Garden City so that BL could look after it. This was late Spring 2015. Having topped 90,000 miles by then, and with the C6 becoming increasingly fault-prone (I think the last straw was when the IP and Infotainment screen just went black on one journey home), I decided that I needed something more reliable and cheaper to run. This was where the Mazda3 Fastback came in (about which I wrote a number of Long Term Test items here a few years ago).
The plan was to part-ex the Citroën for the Mazda. This became another of those memorable landmarks in my history with the C6. I took my family with me to test-drive the Mazda, and whilst I loved the 3 to drive and loved the exterior looks, the rest of the family were not impressed. My son thought it was like one of the ordinary hire cars we experienced every year on our Easter vacations to France, and my daughter hated the high window line and gloomy rear accommodation.
Although I was very keen, there was a discernible sense of rebellion growing in the ranks. Most moving of all, when we all sat around the salesman’s desk, discussing part-ex terms, I realised my 12 year-old daughter had quietly gone all teary. We promptly left to think about it after they had offered me… £2,500 for the C6. Having driven home, I was subsequently ambushed by them all and strongly recommended to buy the Mazda AND keep the Citroën. I don’t think I have done anything so knowingly financially reckless in my life, but that’s exactly how things ended up.
So, with the Mazda taking the strain, the C6 was sent off to its equivalent of a spa-day (actually, three days) at BL Autos where it racked up a £1,600+ bill to put right a number of wrongs. It has to be said, as one might hope or expect, it came back running like a different car: quieter, smoother and, as such, more confidence inspiring. Good job too, because not long afterwards I ruptured my Achilles tendon and could only (just) drive an automatic car, which put the Mazda on the drive and the C6 back ploughing the route back up and down to Banbury again for a good six weeks or so.
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