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French Trip car starting issues

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FCM   
Mon Sep 17 2012, 06:29pm
Joined: Apr 15 2012
Member No: #866
Location: North Yorkshire
Here's my report of events and experiences during last week's trip to France - the first substantial trip for my C6 since its purchase.

Car very impressive cruising down the A26 autoroute from the tunnel, smooth and impressively quiet. Main problem keeping speed down to around 130 kph (speedo etc re-set to metric, even including the total "mileage" odometer).

Stopped for a comfort break at sn aire de repose. Almost didn't switch off at all as only one passenger needed facilities.

Did so however - unfortunately! On trying to re-start, absolutely nothing - no starter motor, just silence. Though this odd, tried all obvious things, gearbox not in N or P, foot not on footbrake in P but nothing, left to cool down (car and me) a bit but still no good.

Eventually called RAC breakdown - very helpful, English speaking - had to call autoroute assistance though as first priority seems to be to get vehicle off the autoroute and its service areas etc. So, man with breakdown truck arrives in c20 mins and, after having a go himself, decides car must be off to the garage.

Intersting ride in C6 on back of truck then followed (passengers in cab with driver), through all sorts of "secret" ways off and on the autoroute through various locked gates. Eventualy arrive at depot for breakdown service ( not garage itself) and, lo and behold, car starts (whilst stick on truck).

After being downloaded back to ground and trying again, starting takes place about 3 or 4 times out of 10 tries. As no chance of proper Citroen attention until Monday (this being Sat eve and need to collect someone at Orly airport next day), decide to risk driving on to planned overnight stop. So tell RAC and pay the unpaid toll to the breakdown service as now off the a'route.

Don't turn off until at destination. Eat, sleep, wake-up and get ready to leave in some trepidation. Car starts first time. Same again at Orly. And after lunch break. And next time for about 20 or so times. Four days later same problem after problem after a short journry of 30 km or so. Go have lunch again. Back to car. Starts.

This time go to Citroen dealer. Helpfully plugs car in and prints out (is this the Lexia spoken of here?) - nothing wrong.

Tests battery, shows only about 50% charge. This seems strange in view of relatively long runs but garagiste doesn't seem to think (at least in my understanding of his French) that either battery or alternator fauty. Some talk of eco mode but don't see why this stops the "ignition" (if a diesel has that) from working, rather than everything else in event of low battery.

Anyway, decide no option but to take risk of re-occurence and drive on. Which I did and have had no problem since, including on 540 mile trip home.

Anyone have any thoughts? I'd be most grateful to hear them! I have acopy of the print-outs from the garage but they are .pdfs which the Forum seems not accept.
FCM

PS : in all other respects, car absolutely fine and impressive.
1 User said Thank You to FCM for this Post :
 Daifaylo (30 September 2012)
michaelb   
Mon Sep 17 2012, 08:43pm
Joined: Nov 17 2009
Member No: #14
Location: London
It does sound like a battery problem. It is possible for a battery to fail at three years old.

Best get it to your local (English speaking) garagiste and see what they think of the battery's and alternator's health.
2 User said Thank You to michaelb for this Post :
 FCM (18 September 2012) , Daifaylo (30 September 2012)
Gobxoy   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 07:21am
Joined: Jan 20 2012
Member No: #786
Location: Essex
Hi FCM you can just take a pic of the printout and post it as a jpeg.

When I all the warning lights come on and the BIG RED STOP, AA came out and the first check they did was voltage check, so agree with michaelb. Here's a link to the AA about batteries - Click Here - I didn't realise that it can take 240 miles to fully charge? I think I'll be checking the voltage with a multi-meter. With heated seats the battery's going to take a pounding over winter grrrrrr.

12.66 volts 100% charged,
12.45 volts 75% charged,
12.24 volts 50% charged,
12.06 volts 25% charged.

1 User said Thank You to Gobxoy for this Post :
 FCM (18 September 2012)
gmerry   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 08:16am
Joined: Dec 11 2009
Member No: #21
Location: Scotland
Hi all, from what I know about automotive starting batteries, 50% discharge means that the battery will never be in any good, ie kaput. Only a purpose designed "leisure" or "traction" battery, with its thicker plates, will be any good for 50% discharge.

Anyway, what were the symptoms when it wouldn't start. Was there no power in the car at all, would the starter motor turn the engine, what was the dashboard saying?

Regards

PS, I posted earlier this year on the trials and learnings involved with buying and fitting a replacement battery. My vehicle was manufactured new in 2007 but not sold new until end 2008 - I just bought a new battery rather than waiting for the old to give me grief.
FCM   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 12:36pm
Joined: Apr 15 2012
Member No: #866
Location: North Yorkshire
gmerry wrote ...

Hi all, from what I know about automotive starting batteries, 50% discharge means that the battery will never be in any good, ie kaput. Only a purpose designed "leisure" or "traction" battery, with its thicker plates, will be any good for 50% discharge.

Anyway, what were the symptoms when it wouldn't start. Was there no power in the car at all, would the starter motor turn the engine, what was the dashboard saying?

Regards

PS, I posted earlier this year on the trials and learnings involved with buying and fitting a replacement battery. My vehicle was manufactured new in 2007 but not sold new until end 2008 - I just bought a new battery rather than waiting for the old to give me grief.


Many thanks! Just typed a reply which I seem to have "lost". No time to do again now but the essence was that the starter motor never ran but everything else seemed as normal.

A further thought was that, if it's a charging problem, how much electrical power does the diesel engine consume as it has not sparking system?

In other words, would a long run with defective charging run the battery down only rather slowly but eventually to the point of not leaving power to re-start?

Will return later but any input meanwhile would be appreciated.

FCM
pclark   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 01:01pm
Joined: Oct 08 2009
Member No: #3
Location: North Yorkshire
Diesels don't of course have an ignition system but modern diesels with electronic injection systems consume considerable amounts of electrical energy. There are also all the other electronic systems on the car that are common to both petrol & diesel that need to be powered.
1 User said Thank You to pclark for this Post :
 FCM (18 September 2012)
michaelb   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 04:05pm
Joined: Nov 17 2009
Member No: #14
Location: London
FCM wrote ...

In other words, would a long run with defective charging run the battery down only rather slowly but eventually to the point of not leaving power to re-start?


Quite likely. Don't forget the Hydractive stuff and the air conditioning are drawing a lot of power, also you have the infotainment (horrible word), daylight running lights (perhaps) and other ancillaries.

If the battery isn't charging properly there is more debit than credit going on.
FCM   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 06:28pm
Joined: Apr 15 2012
Member No: #866
Location: North Yorkshire
michaelb wrote ...

FCM wrote ...

In other words, would a long run with defective charging run the battery down only rather slowly but eventually to the point of not leaving power to re-start?


Quite likely. Don't forget the Hydractive stuff and the air conditioning are drawing a lot of power, also you have the infotainment (horrible word), daylight running lights (perhaps) and other ancillaries.

If the battery isn't charging properly there is more debit than credit going on.




Thanks Michael. So, given that the problem arose after a long run, albeit with the a/c, suspension, diesel injection system, etc running, and not after standing still in the garage (as it had done the week before and started perfectly), seems to suggest a charging problem causing a net drain on the battery, rather than the battery not holding charge when the car is sitting doing nothing. Thoughts, anyone?

FCM   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 06:35pm
Joined: Apr 15 2012
Member No: #866
Location: North Yorkshire
FCM wrote ...

gmerry wrote ...

Hi all, from what I know about automotive starting batteries, 50% discharge means that the battery will never be in any good, ie kaput. Only a purpose designed "leisure" or "traction" battery, with its thicker plates, will be any good for 50% discharge.

Anyway, what were the symptoms when it wouldn't start. Was there no power in the car at all, would the starter motor turn the engine, what was the dashboard saying?

Regards

PS, I posted earlier this year on the trials and learnings involved with buying and fitting a replacement battery. My vehicle was manufactured new in 2007 but not sold new until end 2008 - I just bought a new battery rather than waiting for the old to give me grief.


Many thanks! Just typed a reply which I seem to have "lost". No time to do again now but the essence was that the starter motor never ran but everything else seemed as normal.

A further thought was that, if it's a charging problem, how much electrical power does the diesel engine consume as it has not sparking system?

In other words, would a long run with defective charging run the battery down only rather slowly but eventually to the point of not leaving power to re-start?

Will return later but any input meanwhile would be appreciated.

FCM


What I said in the "lost" message was that the starter motor never ran at all, there was not even the "click" one used to get when the starter solenoid stuck, the instrument panel looked as normal, except taht the warning lights that go out when the engine sarts stayed on, the rest of the electrical kit seemed to work but I probablyI turned the audio off so as not to be distracted by it. The only thing that I recall happening that was different was the central display switching to the "Citroen" logo, but it seems to do this at random times anyway!
Cheers
FCM
cruiserphil   
Tue Sep 18 2012, 06:50pm

Joined: Jan 24 2010
Member No: #38
Location: Celbridge
FCM,

It could be a starter beginning to act up. We had a starter fail without warning. When it failed there was no click from the motor and because it was not engaging at all, there was no pull on battery e.g interior lights dimming when you turned key to start. It's a hard one to pinpoint unless it fails for long enough. In the case of poor battery charge I would expect to see your dashboard illumination and electrics disappear when you engage the starter and then reappear when you release the key.

Regards,

Phil C.
gmerry   
Wed Sep 19 2012, 08:21am
Joined: Dec 11 2009
Member No: #21
Location: Scotland
Hi all, next time the fault happens, an additional battery & jumpers would help eliminate this as a cause.

A check on the system voltages (data logger into car interface) would give assurance that it is not a charging issue.

Given that the fault has been intermittant and in each case the starter does not even click, does this not point to a problem with the engine fuse board (ie not even supplying the starter solenoid). I had this problem with a C4. What I did there was identify the starter solenoid wire and tapped into this wire. Directly applying 12V to the starter solenoid wire got the starter motor spinning on demand, then we traced the fault back to a loose harness connection.

Regards
G
1 User said Thank You to gmerry for this Post :
 cruiserphil (19 September 2012)
FCM   
Wed Sep 19 2012, 04:41pm
Joined: Apr 15 2012
Member No: #866
Location: North Yorkshire
gmerry wrote ...

Hi all, next time the fault happens, an additional battery & jumpers would help eliminate this as a cause.

A check on the system voltages (data logger into car interface) would give assurance that it is not a charging issue.

Given that the fault has been intermittant and in each case the starter does not even click, does this not point to a problem with the engine fuse board (ie not even supplying the starter solenoid). I had this problem with a C4. What I did there was identify the starter solenoid wire and tapped into this wire. Directly applying 12V to the starter solenoid wire got the starter motor spinning on demand, then we traced the fault back to a loose harness connection.

Regards
G


Thanks G : actually something on the lines of a blown fusecwas my first thought, for the raesons you give. I checked the relevant fuse whilst waiting for the depannage in France but found it intact (interstingly though the spare of the same amperage was missing). Another thought I and the depannagiste (?) had was that it was the interlock that prevents starting in D R, etc, as the effect is, I think, just as hapens when one tries to do that.

BTW, what exactly do you mean by "data logger into car interface"? Is this the same as Lexia of which people here talk, or something simpler that perhaps I could obtain/use?

Cheers

FCM
C6Dave   
Wed Sep 19 2012, 06:03pm

Joined: Oct 01 2009
Member No: #1
Location: Northumberland
FCM wrote ...

BTW, what exactly do you mean by "data logger into car interface"? Is this the same as Lexia of which people here talk, or something simpler that perhaps I could obtain/use?



Basically yes. You can use a generic OBII code reader to see what, if anything, is in the error log, but Lexia/Proxia is preferred and more useful
Website
gmerry   
Thu Sep 20 2012, 06:43am
Joined: Dec 11 2009
Member No: #21
Location: Scotland
FCM. I have a hunch that there is an intermittant fault within the engine fuse box or the wiring to the starter which is causing your problem.
What I was suggesting was identifying the wire that runs to the starter solenoid. Then break into this wire (do it yourself or get an autoelectrician to provide a properly insulated connector) then you can run a supply to the starter solenoid from any suitable 12v supply (ie, the jumping connection). This is a relatively cheap thing to do, much cheaper than changing out starter, alternator, battery etc. Next time the starter refuses to work, open the bonnet, connect the lead to the 12v supply and the starter will operate (obviously with the ignition on). 1/ This will get you home in an emergency, 2/ Will rapidly point to where the problem lies.

If you rummage through the wiring diagrams on this site, I'll try and help you identify which wire you are looking for.

On the question of the data logger, a generic aftermarket one will be much easier to use compared to the trials of getting Lexia up and running (especially here as you want to log system voltage as you use the car). Having a laptop on your front seat with wires everywhere (as in Lexia) is a pain in the proverbial.

Regards
G


PS, I've consulted the wiring diagram Electrical Starting 2.7HDi and that clearly shows that terminal 2 on PSF1(Engine Fusebox)which is connected via "JN" is the +12V supply to the starter solenoid. If you look at the separate drawing for the Engine fusebox it shows the physical location of connector "JN" on the engine fusebox (from memory lower right connector but check yourself). Its a matter of removing JN connector, then with a strong flashlight check the pin out terminal designations. Then trace the wire back from the terminal and snip the wire (at least 4" away from connector). Then solder or crimp an insulated connectors (observing polarity, ie insulated female should be + 12). Now you have a direct connection to starter solenoid which you can use to get you home in emergency and progress diagnostics.

Regards
G
FCM   
Sun Sep 23 2012, 06:33pm
Joined: Apr 15 2012
Member No: #866
Location: North Yorkshire
Thanks to everyone for their helpful comments and suggestions. The car's booked in at Sportif Chalfont to be checked out so we'll see what they make of it. They suspect the battery, BTW.

Attached for the record are the Lexia and battery check printouts from the garage in Montlucon.

Cheers

FCM


1 User said Thank You to FCM for this Post :
 cruiserphil (24 September 2012)
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