Doctor Diesel

Doctor Diesel: Spring is sprung!

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Hi Doc.

Letter five (4)_cropped1

Do you know if the current model Citroën Berlingo Multispace has a diesel particulate filter (DPF)? I’m just now looking at the 1.6 HDi 90 and it will be a used one, probably one of the first of the new models.

Have you received any negative or positive reports from your readers on this model? It’s the first time that I have bought your magazine, but I will be a regular from now on!



You may be sure that all current new diesels now have DPFs fitted, since Euro V emissions regulations came into force. I certainly don’t hear of any specific problems with the Berlingo or HDi 90 engine and, being a relatively low-powered engine for the weight of the vehicle, the engine works fairly hard, which helps.

So problems should be minimal, or non-existent, if you manage to get fairly frequent runs of ten miles plus. Even better if you live in a hilly area, where the engine gets some regular exercise on the inclines.

Engine speed is the key though, rather than road speed, so try to keep your engine up in the 2,000 to 2,500rpm area, which will be helped by not having a sixth gear – a feature which is really only beneficial in high speed dual carriageway or motorway cruising.

Let me know how you get on. Glad to hear that you have enjoyed your first Diesel Car, and I hope that you stay with us!


Doc Diesel

Dodgy Audi advice?

Dear Doc, reference ‘The Big Question’ (Issue 310, putting petrol in the diesel tank).

I seem to recall that, whilst employed as Service Manager at a VW/Audi dealership in the early 1980s (before winter diesel fuel was available), the manufacturers approved a 25 per cent addition of petrol to avoid waxing in the very cold weather. I do hope this does not result in a somewhat rude reply!

Elpful Arfur

My memory is fading a bit Arf, but I’ve never heard of any advice on using such a mix, and certainly not manufacturer approved advice. Maybe an illegal 25 per cent paraffin blend (paraffin is duty-free!) but surely not a petrol mix?

I’m a touch surprised when you say that winter diesel was not available back then as well though. Whilst maybe not so many cars were running on diesel, plenty of HGVs and public transport vehicles were, although possibly such bulk buyers would add the de-waxing agent to their own bulk tanks…? Not sure about that though.

Having said all that, I’ll confess to an episode from a seldom mentioned phase of my career when I spent six months as a sales executive at an Audi dealer, back in the 90s. I sold very little and I packed it in after a while, and put it all down to gaining experience.

I think I was quite a nice man then (I’ve only soured with age!) but undoubtedly I was a very poor salesman! Anyway, while there I had an incident when I topped up the tank of an early A4 TDI demonstrator with petrol, eventually conking out about half a mile away, and was at first totally puzzled as to why the TDI engine was playing up!

Of course you could get away with such abuse when injection pumps were far less sophisticated and expensive, and I think the workshop just drained the tank, filled it with diesel, and stuck it back on the road! Blame it all on the Service Manager!

Sorry that I can’t think of anything rude to say about Service Managers – I’ll keep my thoughts to myself! All the best, and thanks for writing!


Spring is sprung!

Letter seven1I had an unusual occurrence with my 2008 Peugeot 4007 last week.

I started up the engine in my carport, drove forward probably less than a metre, and there was then a very loud bang! My first thought was that I had hit something, but not so; the front offside suspension spring had snapped for no apparent reason.

My Peugeot dealer said it is not unusual for a spring to break when the handbrake is released, and in some cases such a broken spring can go unnoticed until an MOT inspection. However, although the car had covered 55,000 miles, Peugeot paid for the replacement of both front springs.

I learned from my dealer that, subject to a satisfactory service record, Peugeot will pay for spring replacement on all their vehicles, up to an age of around ten years.

I am pleased to say that, in over 55 years of motoring, I have never previously been aware of a broken spring. Although for a number of years I have been driving Citroëns with hydropneumatic suspension which might be the reason!

What do you know about broken springs, Doc?

John Austin

Hello John. Thanks for your letter. I think that Peugeot treated you very well in the circumstances, and they deserve something of a pat on the back.

Your low-speed experience is far from unusual and, apparently, strangely, springs often seem to fail when relatively unstressed, although in reality the damage has probably been done on the previous journey, or more likely the stresses have been generated over many thousands of miles.

The perceived wisdom is that road springs are often relatively badly/cheaply made and that a combination of this and a progressive deterioration of UK road surfaces and proliferation of speed bumps cause more frequent failure. One respected opinion suggests that Japanese and Korean springs are better manufactured than European ones, although that has to be something of a generalisation, and one would certainly hope that springs from major quality European brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover etc., are of an appropriate quality.

In fact, there’s no real excuse for any manufacturer to save money on such a critical item. The failure reports seem to come most frequently from the high volume European manufacturers. Apart from correct heat treatment, and corrosion protection, good quality springs should be carefully ground and finished to sit comfortably in their seating cups and have their ends tucked in neatly and flattened to spread the load pressure.

This is not always the case. Other opinions are that manufacture using cold forming and subsequent low temperature tempering, followed by shot peening, is inferior to hot winding followed by tempering, as used in the past. I’ve read up on this and am quite convinced that there’s no support for this argument.

Looking at prices for replacement springs, I can see price variations for a BMW 320d 2010 front spring from £35 for an unknown brand to £95 for a Sachs branded spring, most probably of OEM quality, which rather tells the story.

I’m quite sure that cheap springs aren’t made as well, and don’t go through the same quality checks and finishing that the best quality springs get.

Best regards,

Doc Diesel

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