Our Car Breakdown Misery Continues


This is a post I hoped I wouldn’t have to write and if you have been following my blog in the last week you will know what is coming.

Last week, on Wednesday 30th March my Citroen C4 Grand Picasso broke down on the busy A30 en route to Cornwall on holiday. Panic ensued as I didn’t realise my roadside cover didn’t cover me sufficiently and after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and £260 I finally got home on board a huge recovery truck.

I was on my own with my three youngest children when it happened and was thankful that we were safe, despite missing our holiday and hopeful that Citroen would have my car repaired and back on the road quickly as we had purchased a 36 month extended warranty when we bought the car two years ago from Penton Motor Group, whom was garage we knew and trusted as we have had 4 cars from them in the past.

On Friday early afternoon I got the phone call to say that my car was a write-off and needed a whole new engine. I mentioned in my last post that I was concerned about the conversation and I wrote it all down straight away.

The first thing that Penton Motor Group said to me was “Your car is a write off Madam, we will give you £100 for it as it stands as a trade in”

No information about what was wrong!

They then went on to say that the car was only worth £4,000 if I had traded it in whilst working and that the work required a new engine which would cost £6,000.

The fault, they say, was caused by a faulty injector which was chaffing, putting carbon into the engine and causing it to seize. It also had a blocked oil sump that caused the turbo to fail.

I have spoken to a trusted friend and mechanic, trained as an expert technician with another French car company, that this is the equivalent of being told “your boiler broke down because your tap was leaking”. He also said it makes an awful racket if my car had been doing this and I would have noticed – we drove to London Zoo and back the day previously and my car was fine.

Obviously I was really upset but was still sure that we had purchased an expensive warranty for the car and it would be covered, either fixed or written off to the value of what it was worth.

Yesterday I got the phone call I was dreading, my car wasn’t covered by warranty.

I asked Penton Motor Group to spell out the reason to me what went wrong, and after speaking to the garage where I last had it serviced who challenged them,  changed it slightly.

Now I had 2 injectors chaffing which put carbon into the engine; flame washer was worn and failed; blocked oil strainer at the sump; washer worn and failed.

They are focusing on the injectors though as upon reading the warranty small print, it does not cover any “carbonisation issues”.

As you can imagine we are devastated. We spent just over £9,000 on a car just two years and two months ago which we had saved long and hard for. A car that I need for my work as a childminder and a blogger as well as ferrying the family around.

I phoned Citroen themselves and much as they were sympathetic, they wouldn’t do anything about it as it was outside of their three years manufacturer warranty and apparently “these things happen”.

They are right – these things do happen and very frequently by all accounts. Posting on my personal facebook page and I have been inundated with people this has happened to. My 1.6L HDI engine that is also used in Ford and Peugeot vehicles is renowned for the turbo failing, which I am certain is the real reason my engine seized. Everyone I have spoken to from the three recovery drivers, to mechanics, to the scrap dealers and joe public all say the same.

I put it to Citroen and Penton Motor Group that we bought our car in good faith, upon their recommendation with an extended 3 year warranty. A diesel engine failing at 50,000 miles is NOT good enough. My car was a danger to me and my passengers and NOT fit for purpose. My 3 year warranty is not worth the paper it is written on and therefore mis-sold!

Our car was serviced at regular intervals, Penton MOT’d at the end of September and upon their recommendation I had new brakes and bearings fitted at a significant cost, by them, surely they would have noticed if my engine was making a funny noise.

I want to know how common this issue is as something needs to be done about these engines. A car is probably the second most expensive purchase you will make after a house and should last well beyond 50,000 miles.

I have reported this issue to Motorcodes upon advice from Elaine from A Hint of White whom had exactly the same problem last year with her new and under warranty Citroen C4 Grand Picasso and who is still fighting to claim on her warranty.

Our family has lost its lifeline, we cannot afford a new (or new to us) car. Luckily we still have Hubby’s car, but he needs it for work and we cannot physically fit the family in it as it fits in two car seats in the back at best.

Has this happened to you?

61 thoughts on “Our Car Breakdown Misery Continues

  1. Idaintyit says:

    Oh my goodness what a pain! That is so much money to lose, I don’t even know what I would do, probably just cry and go back to bed lol I hope you get it sorted soon.
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  2. Sonia says:

    Sounds like a total nightmare! Hope it all gets sorted out for you soon x
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  3. This recently happened to me! My car broke down when I was on my way to university. Paid over 250£ to get towed from Birmingham to London. Hope this has been resolved!


  4. Did you pay any part of it on your credit card?

    Even just your deposit?

    If you did then you could speak to your credit card company about claiming under S75 of the Consumer Credit Act whereby a credit card company is jointly liable for the issue. They would ask for an independent assessment usually of whether the car should have lasted longer than it did and if you’re not at fault then they could be liable to repay the whole amount to you even if you only paid your deposit on your credit card x
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  5. I’m so sorry to read this, it sounds like you definitely have a valid claim and I hope that you are able to reach a resolution soon so that you have your freedom back. We’ve recently been through a huge fight with an energy company and the stress was unbearable at times, so I can wholeheartedly sympathise xx
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  6. I really hope this gets sorted out soon. What a nightmare. The whole warranty thing, no matter what it is for, makes me nervous as they will no doubt always find a way out of it and it is so wrong on many levels
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  7. Jenni says:

    I can’t believe your warranty doesn’t cover you, it’s yet another thing we get conned into buying thinking in the long run it will be worth it. A dar should last well beyond 50000 miles. I hope you get it resolved soon x
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  8. What a horror story. Man I hate cars! there is always something wrong with ours 🙁 Hope you get it sorted soon
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  9. i can’t wait till the day I hear you have had this resolved. It’s not right at all. x

  10. This is awful. You think when you take out a warranty there will be no worries should you need it. Shocking service from the garage and Citreon over the matter too. Sorry you missed your holiday.

  11. I bet this has happened a lot. I can’t believe they aren’t being more helpful. But I guess they don’t want to admit there is a fault with the car. I really hope you get this sorted soon

  12. Col says:

    On a different tack – £100 is a pittance, its probably worth at least 15 times that in spares. In your situation I would demand the car back, arm yourself and hubby with his toolbox and dismantle as much as possible from the car and sell as spares on ebay. For instance, a single used headlight cluster on your model could fetch over £100 on its own, rear clusters cost a small fortune as well, then there are other items such as wiper motors, seats, mirrors, instrument cluster etc etc etc. Once you have removed everything possible contact a scrap dealer for the shell and you’d probably get another £100 just for the body!

  13. Sonya Cisco says:

    To me your story is the epitomy of something not being fit for purpose. It is unacceptable for something that expensive to fail long before the end of its expected lifespan. We have a citroen, it is 18 years old with nearly 200,000 miles on the clock. I guess they just dont make them like they used to. I really hope they offer something far better than they have so far as it is completely unfair as it stands.
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  14. Jon says:

    I’ve had many similar experiences which has made me very skeptical of mechanics and warranties (never get them anymore). I always get a second opinion when I need something done to my car and I ONLY accept warranties with a money back guarantee. I share a car with my wife so I know how you feel. Wish your family the best and stay positive! Blessings are always around the corner!

  15. Hi we have had a problem with pentons also paid a lot for a c3 Picasso with 2k miles on had first service fine month later had mot only for pentons to say the ball joint needed replacing and there £400 supposed amazing warranty wouldn’t cover it! These parts should last at least 8/9 years snotty service staff didn’t want to know or help my wife complained so much and spoke to the people who underwrite the warranty who told her it basically doesn’t cover anything it’s a wasters money.called Citroen to find out why they help in the end and got half of the cost back in the end from pentons but they were not apologetic at all didn’t care. We love the car as we have two of them the same but now don’t thing we would ever buy a Citroen again.

  16. Emma White says:

    I am so sorry to hear you are being messed about and it’s an awful lot of money to loose

  17. Grant R says:

    This makes me angry. A car is a lifeline for a family and a massive financial commitment. This design is clearly not fit for purpose. Citroen probably won’t intervene because to do so would be an admission of what we can all see – that they are not willing to fix their bad design.

    Knowing this means I will not buy a Citroen.

    So sorry that this is happened and I hope that someone, somewhere can offer you a solution.
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  18. I am so sorry to hear that they are writing off your car I think it is disgusting how they swindle money off people. It makes me sick.
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  19. becky says:

    check what oil was used when it was serviced as only 1 type of oil should be used in those as others cause it to carbon up

  20. Rachel says:

    Can you take the care elsewhere for another opinion? It sounds totally shoddy to me, though I am no expert and as you at 50k miles it is shocking, my brother bought a car with over 100k miles on the clock and it works amazingly, so why at 50k miles would something so major go wrong, I hope you get to the bottom of it x
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  21. Oh no 🙁 I’ve only been driving a couple of years & the thought of having problems like this terrifies me.

  22. Tori Gabriel says:

    I have yet to enjoy the horrors of car ownership as I haven’t even put in for my test yet. However, I have begun looking for a second hand car and you have just ensured it will not be a Peugeot or a Citreon so thanks for that. X

    What are your thoughts on the Corsa?

  23. Sabina Green says:

    This is such a shame Kara and poor customer service from Citroen, its not like you can be without a car and have bucket loads of money to throw away on buying a new one is it. I would be in the same boat. You are so lucky that you were all able to get home safely but others with a similar car may not be so lucky. Very disappointing xx
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  24. DannyUK says:

    This is horrible, and it doesn’t sound like the car was fit for purpose at all. I’d be screaming if my car broke down beyond repair after 50,000 miles! Keep fighting. Best of luck.
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  25. Emma says:

    How awful. Sadly having had bad experience in the past with both Citroen and Peugeot I would never buy a French car again…. I really hope you can get this sorted :/
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  26. Steph Curtis says:

    So shocked by this story, would definitely make me think twice about buying a Citroen. I expect a car to last a lot longer than 50k, diesel or not! Such a lot of money to lose through no fault of your own 🙁
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  27. Anne says:

    What an awful story, I’m very sad to read this. It’s also terrifying that you can spend so much money on a car that doesn’t last more than two years. I really hope there is a way you can fight this and get a good result. Fingers tightly crossed for you. x
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  28. I’d have to double check, but pretty sure those is what happened to my hubby’s car a couple of years ago!

    I hope you win.

  29. Sorry to hear about your car, its awful isn’t it? Hopefully they’ll be good news soon, or at least something nice happens to sort of alleviate this awful thing. Btw, I thought I’ve commented on this already, must be wrong. x
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  30. Amy Squires says:

    This is terrible and I’m sorry you’re having to go through this. It is very worrying for me also as we’ve got the exact same car. We spent a fortune extending the warranty but it sounds as if they are all worthless as it seems any issues will just be dismissed as things they won’t cover.

    As for Citroen themselves I’m appalled. How can an expensive diesel car just die at 50,000 miles! Like you said if this was wear and tear you would have heard that something was wrong with the engine!

    I hope things improve for you and wish I could do something to help. I’m glad you have shared your experience though and I hope these big company’s open their eyes and see how terrible this is for them to leave you like this.

    • Kara says:

      We seem to be stuck by the fact that we didn’t have it serviced with them and they think they would have picked up the issue and solved it before the engine seized even though I know my mechanic would have picked up on any issues. My advise is keep it serviced by the main dealer and within your mileage timescales (every 12.5k miles). They admit that checking the injectors isn’t on their own checklist but they do it anyway as are aware of these issues!

  31. Sarah Ebner says:

    I am really so sorry to read this next post. I hope you can manage to sort something out as you have been left so in the lurch. You must be furious and upset about it all and that’s totally understandable. Really hope some good news comes soon.

  32. joanna says:

    Oh how horrible i don’t drive but I’d be devastated if this hapoened to me. That’s a lot of money to spend on a car to find out the warranty is an absolute con by the sounds of it. I hope u are able to get something sorted.
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  33. What an absolutely con that warranty is! I have found recently that most insurance companies don’t want to pay out for anything. I would certainly take it further. Maybe even write to Watchdog as all the issues combined are costing people thousands. It’s also very dodgy the car dealer are only offering £100 for the entire car as scrap. The tyres alone must be worth that.
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  34. Sally says:

    It’s really gutting. The downside of diesel engines (in my experience) is that if they go wrong, they tend to go catastrophically wrong and the cost of new engines will often outweigh the value of the vehicle.

    I wrote off a three year old CR-V a few years back, having spent £26k on it brand new – the oil system failed, the engine stopped on the motorway and the new engine would have cost £8k, and the car was worth less than that at that point.

    Our garage offered me £300 based on the weight of the car as scrap, what I actually did was sell it to a local mechanic for £1,000 and he found a reconditioned engine at £4k and fitted it himself (as an aside, it’s worth checking the cost of a reconditioned rather than new engine, it’s usually about half the cost)

    It does seem ridiculous that an issue which I assume the garage missed during servicing isn’t covered by warranty – I would probably check with CAB if it’s worth going after them for failure to identify the issue during the most recent service, if checks reveal that the issue should have been identifiable at that point.

    Good luck with it.

  35. Katy says:

    I’m so glad this popped up in my Twitter feed – we are just about to go test driving this very car!! I am shocked as to how they have treated you and am going to have a rethink about which car to get now. x

  36. Can you get an independent assessment of damage and cause? Clearly your garage don’t want to pay out, and if you noticed no problem then it’s not as if you were purposely driving round with it huffing and clattering and just hoping it’d be okay. I’m gutted for you, I’ve had several engines blow up on me and it’s devastating – and that was in 20-30 year old VW vans and I could just go and get another engine from a scrapped van and swap it!
    Don’t let the garage have it for £100. At bare minimum put it on eBay because the body and chassis are fine. The tyres may be worth more than that. If someone is out there and can replace the engine with an engine from a scrapped car they have a fully functioning car worth far, far more than £100.
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  37. Ninja cat says:

    We had the gears go on our VW bora years ago it was £2000 to repair , it was a known issue which they said dies happen . they said after we had it repaired they would of paid but not when we asked them when it happened.

    Frustrating !!!

    Now we have my husbands company car and don’t have to worry about the repair bills.
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  38. Fingers crossed that you are able to fight this, it doesn’t sound right at all.
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  39. I have had good and bad cars. It’s so hard when you save so long for one and it’s a lifeline. I hope you get it sorted soon so you can catch up on your family time.

  40. This is a total disgrace Kara. An engine that isn’t capable of covering average family mileage when it’s been well maintained and serviced, 50k is nothing. It would certainly stop me even thinking about a Citroen and I’ll be making sure that everyone I know knows about this issue. It’s totally unacceptable and thank god that you and the kids weren’t hurt when this engine failed.
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  41. Erica Price says:

    It is ridiculous isn’t it? We had a major issue with our Toyota at 55,000 miles the other year and it cost more than the car was worth to put it right (it’s an old car with low mileage). We ended up paying for it as we’d had the car from new and up to then it had been reliable. I don’t think major parts should give up so easily. A car should be able to do at least 200,000 and you shouldn’t have to do anything major before 100,000 in my view. I’m shocked by Citroen and the dealership’s attitude though as your car is fairly new. Aren’t they embarrassed by the failure of the product they sold after such a short life? They should really be taking this a lot more seriously. Hard working families (and anyone who buys a car) should be able to rely on them having a reasonable working life – they are far too expensive to be buying too often.
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