Our cars : Alexander’s Citroën XM – 22,000 miles on

Although the XM is not yet a classic in legal terms, it certainly is rare here in Germany – very rare in V6 Estate guise. But that is no reason to save it from the daily plights. In fact, it is such a nice car, that it would be a crying shame not to use it. So, in between my regular (let’s say annual) updates, it has seen plenty of action, carrying me, family, work colleagues or endless stuff across half of Europe.

A nice cosy garage – no thanks. It has got its own roof, can create hot or cold air as you wish and can whisk you 300 miles down the autobahn before you even realise your not in the armchair in the living room anymore.

So, from being caked in crusty salt (above) to the heat of the Mediteranean coast (see temperature reading right) or towing hefty weights (below), the XM took it all with ease.

Was it reliable? Oh yes, totally.

Did it need servicing and re-airs? Yes, too.

After the cambelt change at 290,000kms, miles piled up – until last summer when the exhaust note changed. The original exhaust system started to split in multiple places. As replacements are not available at all (tailpipe) or cost an arm and a leg (main pair of silencers) a little weld-athlon was started and the exhaust put back together using a couple of meters of welding wire. After that, the car soldiered on until crossing 320,000kms (200k miles) just after New Year’s eve.

Increasing noises from the front suspension and an occasional flicker of the brake pad warning light had me schedule a service – a larger one at that. New brakes up front and some new suspension components saw braking power restored and the clonks nearly eliminated.

A month and about 1000kms later, though, and the XM failed to get us to our destination for the first time. On the motorway, a water hose split – not totally, but the leak was considerable. With some water and a little care, we drove home, so at least we were not left stranded on the side of the road. Here is the downside of the V6: spotting the leak took nearly one hour, replacing the hose – which was, of course, not available (NFP is PSA-language for NLA) – took about 4 1/2 hours including the manufacture of a replacement.

Sadly, there was more to come: a small drip from the main pressure switch of the Hydropneumatic system changed into a proper leak. On dismantling, it revealed a bodged repair from one of the previous owners (see right), basically using an angle grinder on the housing to withdraw a circlip. The introduced edge caused a crack to develop – quite amazing that this lasted over 80,000kms in my hands alone. €50 for a second-hand spare and again 4 1/2 hours of work and the loss of green fluid is gone.

Over the last four weeks another 4000kms have been covered – all back to normal, the bonnet did not need to be lifted at all. All in, not too bad considering the car’s age and mileage.

Okay, granted, running and taking care of an XM V6 is not bangergnomics. There are cheaper to run cars out there. However, there are not many cars out there which offer the same combination of comfort and practicality – and style!

Alexander Boucke


  1. XM Estates – still one of my all time favourite cars (having owned three of them between 1994 and 2002). Great to see one kept in regular use, especially the V6.

  2. Surprised – and disappointed – that Citroen no longer provide a parts supply service for their older models!

    It is understood other manufactures (Jaguar?), offer/support a “Classic Parts” operation.

    • The “higher-end” brands like BMW and Mercedes have a very good parts supply for older cars and now JLR have woken up to that too.

      The more common brands, such as Ford and Vauxhall, couldn’t care less about older cars as they are generally built with so much obsolesence that the manufacturers are stunned as to why/how anyone would want to keep them going past the legal parts supply time of 10 years.

      • Rover or before BL/BMC really spoiled us with excellent parts supply! PSA has a long tradition of not really caring about supply once the original stock was gone. The rear silencer is a bit special: This was only fitted to this combination of engine and estate body – with less than 400 cars made…

        • It’s probably because Rover was unusual in still supplying news cars decades later with the same part as an ancient one! 😉

      • I found parts availability for my Mercedes discontinued in 2012 not good whereas struggle to find anything for my 2005 Rover which I can’t get hold of.

  3. The Japanese tend to be best at parts supply, not that they are as often required as other makes… My 1990 Toyota is one of only 16,000 made and not officially sold in the UK but parts supply is still very good.
    FWIW, Unipart made a hash of Land Rover parts supply in the day (1980’s) so it was brought back in house but has gone through various changes since then.

    • Our 1997 Toyota Celica was very hard to get parts from Toyota dealer. Parts department manager told me 7 years was Toyota support policy once production ends. Basic service items and consumables all available but trim parts, clips, interior and rubber seals impossible. Rear light lens was in stock however for a ridiculous £130.43 I got one off eBay for £15 thankfully.

  4. I work for Multipart who were once part of the British Leyland empire & we sell Land Rover & LDV parts.
    Comes in useful when you have a car with an L-Series Diesel engine in it.

  5. Great to see such use and enjoyment! However I would suggest you consider changing every hose in the cooling system. When one hose goes, it indicates the rest are also worn or soft and will fail sometime soon, potentially cooking your motor. At this age they are typically failing internally and a split is inevitable. Having had 2 x Jaguar XJ12’s over the years, I have learnt the hard way!

  6. Anyone know why the big Citroens never really took off in Germany as they were reliable cars if maintained correctly? I will admit being over in the old West Germany 30 years ago, French cars weren’t very common, although for some reason Fiats seemed a familiar sight, and their quality and rust protection was still poor.

    • I never found the big Citroens to be particularly rare here in Germany. At least until C6 and the “Germanised” C5 they sold reasonably well – much better than any British counterpart. The more conventional offerings from Peugeut and Renault did less well. By now the XM is rare – even in France.

  7. I wouldn’t care that original exhaust parts no longer available for any car. Probably only mild steel and 3rd party supplier part. Perfect excuse to have a custom stainless steel exhaust made and fitted by one of the many local fabricators dotted around the UK and Europe. I can’t wait for my Volvo S80 exhaust to fail so I can get a better quality stainless steel one fitted.

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