I wonder if somebody can help me with some Xantia hydraulic problems? The car
is a 96/97 ish SX 1.9TD model with ~100k miles and has been in the family
almost from new. It is immaculate, comfortable, extremely economical and as a
second car, we like it a lot. It has however developed a problem that I
cannot identify from the many other ‚ÄėXantia suspension‚Äô posts on this site
and I would be grateful for any assistance.
Firstly for a very long time, the rear-end has sunk overnight which I now
believe from reading other posts is a faulty anti-sink sphere. A relative who
had a BX advised that this was a common Citroen fault and we lived with the
Then around 1,200 miles ago after not being used for a year (the car was in
storage while we were out of the country) a fault appeared where the rear
suspension would only lift from its sunken position if the engine was run at
fast idle for 15 seconds or so. If the car had been stopped for a period and
not sunk, as soon as the engine was started, the rear end sunk immediately
and required the 15 seconds of fast idle to regain its composure. Until the
suspension reaches its full height, the brakes barely work at all. When at
normal height, the suspension is comfortable and the brakes are excellent
although I have never really liked the on/off nature of the brakes, the lack
of feel through the pedal and ease at which the ABS modulator cuts in. Is
this another fault?
We believe all spheres are original so would it be sensible to replace all
six of them together and is this likely to fix all three faults?
Many thanks for your time.
Yes, together with a worn brake valve (think master cylinder) allowing
the rear suspension pressure to leak back more easily. The rear brakes
take their pressure feed from the rear suspension, to ensure that the
braking effort is load-related.
It's merely a minor inconvenience and causes a small extra delay in
rising. Nothing serious.
Partially down to the problem above, because the system's losing pressure
more quickly than it should, but it's not helped by a flat accumulator
sphere. Think of the pump as the alternator and the accumulator as the
battery. The accumulator stores pressure, which is then released through
the system. If there's no store left, the pressure can't be supplied as
quickly - hence the slow pump-up.
When the engine's idling and the car's at normal height, how long is the
cycle time? You should hear a psshhht-click-<pause>-pssshhht-<click>. The
duration between clicks should be a minute or so, but can be almost
nothing. The psssht is the pump working to recharge the accumulator.
If you've got a flat accumulator, and the engine cuts whilst you're
moving, you will have NO BRAKES in very short order.
Ummm, you don't drive off until it's fully up.
No. That's down to the fact that your foot isn't creating pressure, like
a normal master cylinder, but opening a valve to release stored pressure
into the system. Expect the pedal to be have in the same way as a normal
one, and you can over-brake very easily. It's not as "bad" in Xants as
earlier hydraulic Cits, because there's a spring in the pedal linkage to
give some artificial pedal travel - but some people never do get used to
it. By the sound of your comment about "on/off nature", you may be one.
The other possible cause is that the brakes need bleeding. That's quite
likely if the accumulator sphere's totally flat, as the little gas left
in it will have been released into the system when the diaphragm
punctured. Whilst the suspension and steering are self-bleeding, the
brakes are a "dead end", so need to be done as on a normal car. Rather
than give a spongy feel, air in the lines on a hydraulic Cit leads to a
delay when you start to brake - during which time, you naturally brake
harder. As a result, when they do kick in after a few moments, they do so
ORIGINAL? After 12 years? They're meant to be replaced roughly every
three years or so... Definitely get 'em all changed. Being an SX, you've
only got the six - the anti-sink's a bit of a bugger to get at, but the
rest are easy. Definitely change the fluid, too. If the fluid's never
been done either, it'll be filthy - change it for flushing fluid -
available from GSF etc. After a thousand miles or so, change it for clean
LHM. The actual fluid change is dead easy - don't forget to bleed the
brakes through fully to get all the old out and the new in.
If you think the suspension's comfortable now, wait until you try it in
full health. I'd be amazed if you don't have several completely flat
wheel spheres, leading to no suspension travel on those wheels.
Thanks for the advice; very much appreciated. I cannot check the accumulator
'psst' noise as I am abroad again, 4,000 miles from the vehicle! Sounds like
I have some work to do when returning in March.
Is there a recommended place to buys the spheres from? I have looked at the
Pleiades website but it jumps to another site which appears to have little to
do with Pleiades!
The Xanita is definitely worth putting some effort in. It was my mother-in-
laws almost from new and is immaculate, reliable (until now!), amazingly
economical and has I'm sure at least another five years of sensible life left
I've been recommended to take my Xantia to this place
http://www.westroen-spheres.co.uk/Prices.htm if/when mine need replacing.
The website was last updated in 2003 ! But I was assured they're still
around, there's a phone number on the site.
If you're anywhere in the Manchester area, they're supposed to be cheap and
It's all 3rd-hand info though, I've had no personal experience.
You pays yer money....
Presumably this is behind my problem as well. My Xantia's back brakes
feel laggy - they come on OK but won't release for a couple of seconds.
Overnight the rear suspension sinks and I have lousy brakes until it
rises (were I silly enough to try, of course!)
Does anyone know where I can get a seal kit for the brake valve and also
for the PAS ram?
Failing that, where's a sensibly priced place for a ram and a valve?
Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
Are the rear calipers lazy? Because they do very little if there's no
weight in the back, they regularly stick. It's worth giving 'em some good
exercise - pads out, plenty of copaslip, exercise the pistons back and
forth with the suspension on high to get full pressure on them, put a
load of weight in the boot for a week or two.
The good test is always to stick the car on full high, and whilst
standing on the brake pedal, put it into full flat. The back end SHOULD
stay up, creaking and groaning, as it tries to sink but the brakes hold
it up - the wheelbase lengthens as the height decreases. Release the
pedal, and it should sink RAPIDLY.
Pleiades will sell you recon ones, don't think they're DIYable.
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