Our Cars : Xantia refreshed
‘Stat’s the way to do a winter service
Bangernomics – the thinking person’s mode of transport. Chewing and messing on outside your house till late at night or when your better half unplugs the lead lamp from the mains – it’s what petrol headed life is all about. Fitting Marina gearboxes in the snow or changing a clutch on the eve of Christmas eve – welcome to my world. I complain and moan about my aches and pains as a result of rolling around on cold damp tarmac and its a fact that I have the onset of arthritis in my hands and knees, but I kind of reckon I will end up as a modern day Welsey Pegden – I just love an old knacker.
When I put Keith onto the southpaw Xantia a little while ago, we both thought it would make for some interesting writing with the occasional and usual French idiosyncratic or patchy quality causing one or both of us to end up with a flat forehead through wall banging frustration.
How disappointing to once again report that the tatty looking hatchback continues to bumble away with no real worries whatsoever… well, kind of. The PSA group XUD engine in my opinion is one of the finest oil burners ever produced, its nice to work on, reasonably refined and providing they are looked after routinely – dependable in the highest order.
As we are all well aware, the weather has drawn in with some pretty nippy cold snaps as of late and as the cold mornings get colder, the turbocharged 1905cc engine takes on an even punchier character taking full advantage of the cool dense air. Ever thought your car seems to go like the clappers on icy days? well it does – its all about physics. Uncommon to many diesel engines, the Xantia warms up fairly quickly but as of late, the running temperature has been dropping ever so slightly. Compared to the 75 of mine, the heating system is pretty average but after today’s tinkering – I might need a skin graft.
I borrowed one of those rather nifty ‘point n shoot’ laser temperature guns recently to see what was going on with the cooling system, suffice to say it was running well under temperature showing a miserable 65-70 degrees on the dial. The fact that the temperature would drop even quicker than SAAB’s resale values as you drover faster was more than enough conformation that the thermostat had seen better days. I guess its better for a thermostat to fail in the open position than closed – anyone who has suffered ‘stat’ failure with anything A series powered will fondly recall the day their Mini turned into a Turkish Sauna.
Also, I noticed a little while back that the anti freeze concentration was next to nothing, fine when the car resided in Spain but not so clever here in blighty. A trip to a local branch of a National chain who sell bikes, car wireless sets for the discerning chav and two shelves of car parts actually proved fruitful as they had an XUD series thermostat on the shelf – not without the usual rigmarole I may hasten to add. As is often the case and my usual bloody luck, the application chart was missing so I had no option but to solemnly ask the android on the parts counter.
Well after re-booting him three times and thumping him sideways with my palm like an old TV set with a dry solder joint, I was told it would be a dealer part or one he could order in specially. Reckoning his response to be a load of Horlicks, I supplied the reg number to an old Peugeot 406 LX TD I once owned and a few minutes later I was skipping towards the counter armed with a thermostat (same part) and my trade card held aloft. Previously, I had bought a new oil and fuel filter so a winter service beckoned, besides.. its a wee bit overdue for an oil change.
One feature of the Xantia I adore is the fact no jack is required to drain the oil – simply slide the suspension setting into hovercraft mode and there is almost enough room to use the underside as an emergency gazebo. Obviously, a pair of axle stands were kicked underneath just in case and the coolant/thermostat and oil change makes the Xantia fit for the winter weather. What a difference the thermostat has made. Instead of barely reaching a quarter of the way up the temperature gauge, the needle happily sits around 85-90 degrees and the heater quite literally, burns your arm and wrist on face vent setting.
This can only pay dividends in fuel economy, not that the Citroen is a juicy car to start with, but an engine running at optimum temperature burns fuel cleaner, quicker and with less smut and smoke. A casual glance around the car in general found no nasties or for the future tinkering apart from a slight brake judder during hard or prolonged braking. Hand on heart, I can say with utmost loyalty, its the best car for the money spent I have ever come across.
I just wish I’d kept my fizzog shut and bought the ruddy thing myself!