Good afternoon Doctor. Imagine my surprise when I got to your column in the latest copy of Diesel Car. Wow, I’m there in big bold print (Issue 336) with my Grand Picasso automatic transmission problems. I have an update for you, and it is all very sad news. I got the car back (with its new transmission fitted. Doc) after a three day stay at my local Citroën garage (Wilmoths Citroën, Ashford, Kent) and the initial tests were very promising. Fuel economy was instantly back to 44mpg, as it was in the early days with the first engine and no gearbox problems. There was no torque converter misbehaviour, but, of course, last week we had very warm weather (up to 20 degrees Celsius here in Ashford). The following morning, with the temperature a very sunny 14 degrees, the problem was again not present – the engine was energetic and not sluggish at all, with no torque converter problems. On Saturday we popped in to Wilmoths to collect a cushion that I had forgotten in our courtesy car, and guess what? The temperature was 11 degrees Celsius, and the problem was back in full swing. Very sluggish acceleration and free-wheeling when I took my foot off the accelerator. I mentioned this to the service co-ordinator at Wilmoths and with a very sniffy voice he told me, as if, maybe I had broken something “Well, we tested it and it was perfect”. Yes, quite probably, but they tested it after spending two days working on it with the car indoors at 15 to 20 degrees. Fuel consumption was down to 39mpg after two one-mile drives with the problem and 15 miles of A-roads and motorways.
My opinion, which is mostly based on my lifetime of electronics and computer engineering skills, tells me that the problem is being caused by something to do with the engine replacement, because the problem was most definitely not present before the engine was replaced in October last year, but became noticeable within a few days of the unit being switched. The problem is temperature-orientated and most definitely electronic. This is now the second gearbox in this car, and the problem persists. So the gearbox itself is not likely to be the problem, so maybe it has to be something to do with the new engine, and maybe the engine control unit (ECU), if that was replaced, or the engine controller if it has a separate unit from the main ECU. Unless you have a better suggestion, we are now going to reject the car, and emphatically demand a replacement car (we love this car except for the problems it has suffered) or a full reimbursement.
I still really feel that there is not a particularly complex answer to this problem, but Citroën UK and your dealer seem unable to diagnose what it is. Someone, somewhere, could sort this out, I am quite sure. Naturally Wilmoths are a bit cheesed off with the whole issue. They have not been particularly helpful, but then of course it has cost them time and money, so I’m not too surprised at their reaction after this last revelation.
One possible solution, or route if not necessarily a solution, would be for Citroën UK to take your car back to base, identify the problem, sort it out, and hopefully then return the car to you. But is that likely? Possibly it might show some flexibility on your part if you were to propose this possible route of action as an alternative to outright rejection? It might just tip the balance in terms of them trying to give you an acceptable solution. Otherwise, it has to be money back, less fair depreciation, or an identical new replacement car, less a fair contribution from you for depreciation (All taking into account likely discounts available on list price). You should expect at least a very fair interpretation of depreciation, and/or also some financial recognition of your inconvenience and suffering. I’m so sorry that things don’t seem to have worked out better. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a silver lining somewhere down the road? Keep smiling! Best regards, and thanks for keeping me updated on everything.