Sensodrive problem linked to temperature

If you have Automatic gearbox problems or issues that would only affect an Auto, please ask here.

Please provide as much information as possible including photos you have taken and uploaded directly to the topic.
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Think: Auto not changing up or down, snowflake/sport flashing, flappy paddles, actuator fault and sensodrive not changing gear.
My Name: Stanleysteamer

Experienced Member
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:59 pm
Model: C3 Pluriel - with or without roof
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.6 (16v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 50000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: SensoDrive
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU5 16-valve (110 PS)
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Hi All,

Sensodrive problems will be nothing new to you, but we spend the 6 hottest months of the year in France, at altitudes up to 600m and the 6 coolest months in the UK at nearly sea level. In France my wife's Pluriel 1.6 16v started having the usual "-" * issue and we rapidly learnt to get the vehicle moving again by removing the ignition key, plip-locking then unlocking the car until it started and drove again. It always seemed to happen on particularly hot days, and/or in traffic on v warm or hot days, or on Mways, at toll booths. Always when the car was stopped and the engine was ticking over.
But in the UK, there was never a problem.
Ever since owning the car we have noticed a slight coolant smell, but I watch the level like a hawk and it does not drop much at all.
I am pretty sure that the fault is linked to temperature. The car has only done 50000 miles and most of them on motorways, so I will have to go a long way to think it is Clutch and actuator problems. Although it is behaving in a very similar fashion. But if this was the issue, then it would be there ALL the time wouldn't it? And getting worse?
I am interested in other members ideas about things like temperature sensors. The electric fan works fine. But I am now reduced to knocking the car into neutral every time I stop with the engine running and even turning the engine off at lights or toll booths. Driving in Manual or Auto seems to make no difference. And I even put the heater and fan on whenever the temp gauge gets to the third bar, until it drops to the second bar. Looking forward to seeing your comments. And yes, I have reinitialised the box. I do all my own servicing puntiliously. cheers John
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My Name: C3driver52

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Posts: 1868
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:40 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (03)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 79984
Trim Level: VTR+
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
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Hi Stanleysteamer
Stanleysteamer wrote:Ever since owning the car we have noticed a slight coolant smell,
This is not a good sign, you should never smell the coolant and you may have a problem there. It doesn't take a very small leak to reduce the pressure.
Stanleysteamer wrote: And I even put the heater and fan on whenever the temp gauge gets to the third bar, until it drops to the second bar.
You can do this with the engine running? If you can, there is a problem with the cooling system,

I would be looking at the thermostat.


This should cycle and it sounds like its not.

If the gearbox ECU shuts the gearbox down then you can diagnose this with a lexia tool from Amazon - click here and read up about using lexia, here.

But I would get the cooling system sorted first.
My Name: Stanleysteamer

Experienced Member
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:59 pm
Model: C3 Pluriel - with or without roof
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.6 (16v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 50000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: SensoDrive
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU5 16-valve (110 PS)
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Hi C3driver52,
thanks for your interest.

This is my wife's car and she hates me "playing with it" as she calls it. Although she is perfectly happy for me to service it, get it MOTd and do tons of stuff on our other vehicles. I've also repaired both electric rear windows and mended broken plastic on the parcel shelf and a bit of side trim. But she has not been keen on me looking at what she does not see as a problem!

She's changed her tune now!

The interior of the car tends to smell a tiny bit of coolant, and when we were looking to buy a Pluriel, we test drove a few and they all smelled of it, some worse than others and with some the smell was obvious under the bonnet, which ours is not.

The smell is not always there and I think it goes away once the engine gets hot, so I think it is a combination of a tiny weep on the heater, probably at a hose connection, which closes up once it gets hot, and possibly a thermostat. But I cannot say the stat does not work, it obviously does work pretty well but whether it works perfectly or not I cannot tell. I could remove it and try to test it, but I have never found it an easy thing to test. In the old days, stats were so cheap, once removed it was easier to simply replace it! It is right at the top of my list of things to look at so we are both in agreement there.

I also agree that any form of leak is not a good idea, no argument there, but I doubt I have even added a pint of water in the four years my wife has owned the car.

About the fan, I am talking about the heater fan, switchable obviously from the cockpit. My wife is sufficiently aware of what's going on to notice that whereas the car used to run more or less always on two bars on the temperature gauge, it now runs more often on three. But the heater, or driving normally out of town, tends to bring it down, at least in this country. As I understand it, three bars is seen as normal, so I have not been unduly bothered about this yet. The engine fan behaves normally, as far as I can tell.

Today I had the battery tested, as it appears a weak battery can cause these problems. The target seems to be 12.5 volts. It reads 12.54 volts but the guy said it was a bit low on current. He suggested I put it on a charger, saying that a charge brings voltage up first then brings up current. Not being a physicist or an electronic engineer, this seems a little bizarre, especially as the car gets a good run every time I use it, but I'll give it a go and get it tested again.

I also intend to check earthing points, to find the clutch actuator and lubricate it with a long squirt of WD 40. I'll also check the connectors to the gearbox ECU, if I can find it. The problem with the Pluriel is that there is no Haynes manual for it. Not that they are as good as they used to be. So I am stuck with the manual for Citroen C3 2002 to 2009 which does not cover the Sensodrive at all. So finding these things is not as straightforward as I would like, so I will trust to my experience and commonsense.

Things are complicated by my wife being in hospital at the moment and our other car crucially awaiting return of a part needing repair before I can get it mobile again, after drilling out a stud or two. One moment both were running and made a journey of 600+ miles in two days, although both needed attention. The next, I start work on one, and then other one comes out on a sympathy strike!

But I will keep watching this to see if anyone comes up with any ideas and will keep you up to date, as we all hate the way this gearbox causes such pain and expense.

Thanks again for your interest.
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My Name: C3driver52

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Posts: 1868
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 7:40 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (03)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 79984
Trim Level: VTR+
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
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Sensodrive ECU

Image

Image

Some diagrams to show the location of major electronic parts of the sensodrive control .
My Name: Stanleysteamer

Experienced Member
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:59 pm
Model: C3 Pluriel - with or without roof
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.6 (16v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 50000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: SensoDrive
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU5 16-valve (110 PS)
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Thanks c3driver52

I have read tons on all sorts of forums about the sensodrive system and am very grateful for your pics.

Too busy at the moment to progress this further, wife just out of hospital and am on full time nursing duties etc. But will get to it eventually.

Thanks again and will keep you all posted if I find anything of interest.

regards
Stan
My Name: Stanleysteamer

Experienced Member
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:59 pm
Model: C3 Pluriel - with or without roof
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.6 (16v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 50000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: SensoDrive
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU5 16-valve (110 PS)
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 3 times

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Hi All
Wife now out and about. Had to get the car thru MOT, still needs retest on lights rolleyes!
Eventually managed to lubricate the Clutch actuator with silicone spray, had second thoughts about replacing the battery once I got it tested again, it is in fact a lot better than I thought and I am reluctant to replace a working battery with another at £70.
Problem is, the missus wants to use it and I do not trust it, as, before I lubed the actuator, it was being silly as soon as it got warm. Her being not me, and handicapped, I am unwilling to let her drive it until I am sure it is fixed, even temporarily.
In my guts, I do not think it is the actuator, it seems to be far more likely it is the gearbox actuator, as all the indications are that the ecu gets mixed up about which gear to select and just has a helmet fire, throws its toys out of the pram and forces the driver to stop the car, take the key out, wait till the lcd goes blank, then restart it, then hopefully drive off. It is definitely linked to heat., having the exhaust at the front of the engine does not help.
My missus is really fed up of it so I am getting it in the ear big time. She talks of scrapping the car, giving it to a Citroen garage and throwing money at it, you name it, she's threatened it! I understand her frustration. She either has to be ferried about or drive my automatic Land Rover, which is too big to park easily in towns. Wish I had the time and fewer other things to do.
If anyone else has any other suggestions, I'll take them on board.
You can tell I have not had the time to do all I intended to do. I will do it.
Cheers
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My Name: Arfur Dent

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Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:47 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (52)
Engine Size: 1.4 (16v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 100000
Trim Level: Exclusive
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
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Stanleysteamer wrote:She talks of scrapping the car, giving it to a Citroen garage and throwing money at it, you name it, she's threatened it! I understand her frustration.
You could just trade it in for something else?

It seems like a lot of hassle for a 13 year old car that is worth very little by now and sounds like it's going to cost you more in time, money and hassle than its going to cost to replace it?
You can add an avatar to your account - Avatar or change your vehicle details - Car Bio or even add a signature to your posts - Signature. But this is not all you can do in the User Control Panel :)
My Name: Stanleysteamer

Experienced Member
Posts: 68
Joined: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:59 pm
Model: C3 Pluriel - with or without roof
Year: 2004 (54)
Engine Size: 1.6 (16v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 50000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: SensoDrive
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU5 16-valve (110 PS)
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Been thanked: 3 times

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Hi Arfur, you're not wrong and we have discussed it. The problem is she loves the quirkiness of the car and in the southwest of France where it spends nearly sixth months across the summer, the ability to take all the roof bits off is great. It also carries a surprising amount. So there is a big emotional investment in it. If we did manage to sell it, then, as you correctly say, we wouldn't get much for it. But it has only really had two owners and is low mileage for its age, 50k. This gear problem is the only problem, really. I've already dealt with the two rear side windows and a few other little things, but they really have been little. If I had the time, I'd find a hatchback model with a normal autobox in it and transfer the whole engine gearbox, loom the lot, into this car. As the problem is they never did a Pluriel with a normal autobox. Temporarily we have solutions, and I have found a company, https://www.ukprodiagnostics.co.uk/pages ... 101604.cfm
who do a diagnostic thing that is not only cheaper but also compatible with more modern computers, so we may get it.
I want the codes read, understood and cleared, I also want the ECU updated, but I guess Citroen will have to do that. I will make every effort to check and clean all connections and also try and find the gearbox actuator and see if anything can be done about it.
Then I will just drive round and round a test route I use until the whole thing is really warm, then simulate sitting in traffic, crwarling forward and see if it reoccurs. But I think you'll agree, intermittent faults are a real sod. We are willing to pay for having a new clutch and actuator fitted, but if that doesn't cure it then we'll be forced to do something more distasteful.
My Name: Maloparac

Member
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 3:19 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (03)
Engine Size: 1.6
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 125000
Trim Level: NA
Gearbox: SensoDrive
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: LHD (Europe)
Engine name: TU5 16-valve (110 PS)

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Hey Stanleysteamer, can you maybe tell me what was problem on the end if you managed to solve it?

I have quite similar problem, we changed Clutch Actuator, also complete clutch and car battery too :)
During winter there was no problems at all but now when nice weather started, problem started appearing again.

Problem was that we changed all those parts on last days of summer and we could not confirm 100% that it was fixed.

Cheers
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My Name: Ozvtr

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Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (53)
Engine Size: 1.4 (8v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 80000
Trim Level: Other
Gearbox: Automatic PRND
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
Location: Brisbane, Australia.
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Hi Maloparac and welcome to the forum.

While there are a few areas that could fail on the Sensodrive system, the biggest culprit is usually the clutch actuator. However you could try cleaning all the electrical connectors with contact cleaner.

Can you go through exactly how you installed the 'new' clutch actuator? Did you set the quadrant gear? Have you done a re-initialization of the gearbox?
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