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We have a new car.

Well, not a new car, a 'new' car.

A Citröen Saxo. Around 42000 on the clock, which is around 26000 miles. €5000.

The first problem was that the banking system moves slowly and with lots of paperwork. When mom got the Renault 5 many years ago, she went to the bank and asked for a loan...

My adventure started with the website of La Banque Postale. I looked for information on loans ("prêts" in French). You'll find they are all whoo-hoo on home loans and fixer-upper loans, but what if you want a car? What if you want a few thousand for a holiday? There are a myriad of reasons to sign your soul over to the bank, and I'm sorry by the post office website was somewhat lacking.
So I checked the website of the bank mom uses. Now that's more like it, if you skip over the fact that the cost calculator was broken (some scripting error). So we went to the bank to ask what there rates are, he wanted an appointment. We went for that as there was no "haha, you want five thousand?" or even an issue that I didn't bank with them.

So, it looked like the loan was possible. I needed to furnish payslips, a copy of my contract of employment, plus the "bon de commande" (order request) for the car. After lots of stuff being signed, the money was eventually deposited into my account. The next day we went to collect the car, but it wasn't ready...
The day after, it was. A silver thing. Bigger than the Renault 5. And we had a receipt. More paperwork for the bank.

Initial impressions? Whoa - so much plastic! It's a lower end car so very plasticky. And the seat headrests are horrid. On the plus side, there is a lot of room in the car, and it starts quite satisfactorily. Well, mom has problems of start failure as she hasn't quite figured out to wait for the key to authorise itself. It'll come in time.
The car has a whole different set of sounds to the R5. Internally it is quieter, but there are a lot of whoosing-wind noises, I wonder if this one ever got tested in an air tunnel?

Here are the old and new side by side. It's not a bad looking car, is it?

For this, I will be €200 a month poorer for the next two and a half years, but then again I was paying a figure not off that keeping the other heap on the road, plus the R5 was no longer reliable at starting.


R5 start?

It is an odd problem - the car starts okay when the engine is cold, but it doesn't like starting when it is hot. Sometimes a second or third attempt will get it (if you leave a few minutes between tries). Sometimes it just won't go until the engine has cooled, which can take a long time.

Our mechanic offered €50 for it, which I can't be insulted by. There are problems!

So I am paying mom the extra €20 a month to keep it insured. I plan to look deeper into this problem, with the checking and replacement of three things that I have identified using a bit of Googlage and a Haynes manual:

  • Coolant temperature sensor
  • Engline TDC sensor (dirty? misplaced during repairs?)
  • Output oxygen sensor
My logic here is that the car is failing to start because one or other of the sensors has failed and is providing incorrect information to the ECU which is getting the petrol mixture wrong, thus the engine is failing to start.
As it is starting okay when cold but not when hot, I am leaning towards the coolant temperature sensor.
You must remember, this car boiled twice. The first time when the water pump failed, and again when it was realised that the radiator had also failed (so the water wasn't being cooled even as the pump was replaced and working). This lead to open heart surgury as it blew the head gasket. Luckily the cylinder head was not destroyed, but something to do with the valves needed to be replaced (I can't say what, the dictionary doesn't decently translate the word on the repair notice). In any case, it is possible that the temperature sensor has also failed. Well, that's the theory I'll be working on...


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Robin, 12th April 2010, 09:03
This is probably a bit late and been sorted by now, but it could be that the ignition coil is bad and doesn't work right when the voltage is lower during a star when it has been heated over the engine. Another possibility is bad injectors causing the engine to flood a little after it has been shut off, in which case holding the throttle down when you try to start it might help.
Rick, 12th April 2010, 11:41
I'll be getting rid of the car. It is on UK plates still, and the insurance company that looked after it for eight odd years has said that as of May, *no* cars on UK plates will be supported. For a car of that age and value, it's too much hassle to go through all of the stuff necessary to have it plated in France. 
Shame, I never got an opportunity to fiddle around inside it. :-( 
Thanks for your suggestions.
Robin, 12th April 2010, 16:08
Aww, that sucks. I love messing around with cars. 
Still, don't forget to check scrap values in your area, they are pretty high right now. A few months ago an average car was about 120 scrap, and you could get someone to collect it and they'd easily pay YOU 80-100.  
The weight of the car is probably in the manual if you have it(you can use this to calculate approx what it will get on the scales), and you can throw in some other scrap metal you've been meaning to get rid of to help raise the weight when you take it if you want.

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