1995 Peugeot 306 XTdt

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Here I describe the problems I had with my Peugeot 306 and for most of them, how I fixed them.

Alarm, February 1998
The car came with the standard Peugeot alarm (with ultrasonics) and immobiliser. It seemed to trigger ok and immobilise the engine.... but no sound. I checked the keyswitch under the bonnet which can be used to disable the alarm wasn't stuck in the 'off' position but no. I then checked the connections to the siren module under the near-side front wheel arch. Still no joy so I figured it must be the siren module itself and so I took it off the car and took it apart. It was then I noticed the plastic 'jelly' used to keep the whole thing waterproof was burnt around one of the transistors. I figured this was most probably the reason for the siren not working. I figured if I had a little electronics knowledge I might be able to replace the transistor but the simplest solution was to buy a new siren module. I think I was quoted around £100 but I managed Ashton Lyne Motors (who I bought the car off) to go half with me. With the new siren fitted, triggering the alarm did trigger the siren.

My problems with the alarm didn't end there though. I did sometimes get false alarms - not very often but they were annoying. This went on for over a year until I had the car's battery replaced in January 2000 (see below). This seemed to solve the false alarms problem and I've heard that this has fixed other people's false alarm problems too.
 
Exterior Temperature Sensor, April 1998
This appeared to be working when I bought the car but then occasionally started misreading. I figured something was wrong when one evening in April it showed 25C. Now, I know it was starting to warm up around then but not so much! Anyway, by May it was reading in the 50's and by June it had given up and just showed --C. I looked for faulty connections to the sensor which is in the bottom of the near-side door mirror (and not the driver's door mirror like it says in the handbook!) but there was nothing obvious. Peugeot charged around £50 for a new sensor which I'm sure is just a standard thyristor in a moulding. Nice little earner that Peugeot!
 
Sunroof rattle, April 1998
Now this was annoying until I realised just how really easy it was to fix. There's a little metal wind deflector which pops up automatically when the sunroof is slid back. What was happening was this wasn't retracting quite enough when the sunroof was slid forward again and so it was rattling against the glass. Solution: Slide back the sunroof and put a little bit of blu-tac on the top side of the wind-deflector in the middle. You'll never know it's there but it will stop the rattle!
 
Blaupunkt radio - Volume died, October 1998
Something went inside the radio a couple of months back. I don't know what but even with the volume turned to max, I could only just hear anything whilst driving. B&H Electronics in Bury charged me about £100 to replace the circuit board.

Another radio problem below
 
Radiator leaking, April 1999
I first saw the low coolant warning light in the dash was as I pulled off the motorway after a 400 mile round trip to London. I figured it was the low coolant warning lamp but I wasn't sure. I tried to look it up in the car's handbook but there was no mention of it. However, once home and upon removing the radiator cap I saw that the expansion tank was empty and the bottom of the radiator was damp.

This was late Summer, 1998 and I managed to fix it then by adding some Barrs Leaks radiator sealant. This you just add to the coolant and it plugs the leak. It worked for about 8 months and got me through the winter but at the beginning of April I noticed the warning lamp once again and decided the only permanent fix would be to replace the radiator.

I'd replaced a radiator once before on my Ford Escort and hadn't found it very difficult. After reading the Haynes Manual on the subject, I thought it didn't sound that much more complicated so I'd give it a go. But first I had to find a radiator supplier. After a few telephone calls it became obvious that Peugeot hadn't just fitted one type of radiator to their 306's - there was a whole list of possibilities which could have been fitted to my car. I rang Bury Radiators in Bury since this was where I got the replacement radiator for my old Escort. They said there were 8 possible radiators and could only be sure which one I needed by looking at my old radiator once it had been removed from the car! I didn't fancy that idea - How would I get down to them without a radiator in my car? What would happen if they didn't have a replacement radiator in stock? They quoted £80 + VAT but I didn't go there. I rang my Peugeot dealer - they quoted £250 just for supply - I didn't bother asking if that included VAT! Then I rang OpenShaw Radiator Services in Openshaw, Greater Manchester and they confirmed that there were a few possibilities but after chatting to the guy there he seemed pretty sure which one I needed. He even faxed me a diagram of the radiator so that I could go and check with the one in my car. I was 99% sure this was the right one and told him to order it and agreed the price £125 + VAT. The next day I picked it up and the radiator was identical to my original - same manufacturer - everything! The guy there also gave me a few tips about fitting it and said I could ring him if I ran into any problems. I was very impressed.

So back home I began following Haynes' instructions for removing the old radiator. The instructions were very good but I thought Peugeot's layout under the bonnet could have been better. In particular - you have to remove part of the engine's air intake to make room behind the radiator and the nut holding that in place was very hard to access. But anyway - I got the old radiator off with few problems. I then had to set about transferring stuff from the old radiator to the new. Things like the coolant temperature sensor (I presume), the low coolant sensor and the tube and wire clips. This was all fairly straightforward.

The new radiator went in quite easily but the hardest bit was securing a hose to the bottom radiator outlet. The radiator's outlet is right in the corner of the engine bay and the hose disappears almost immediately into the wing and there's little access behind unless, I presume, you remove the front bumper and the washer bottle. But it is possible if you're careful and I managed it. The other hose reconnections were easy and that was it. Refill with coolant and you're away!

Addition: July 1999
I did actually have a slight leak from that fiddlely lower radiator outlet when I first did it. When I disconnected the hose again to investigate the problem, I discovered that I had accidently cut the O-ring in half as I had reconnected the hose. Since I didn't have another O-ring around I had to attempted a makeshift fix with some gasket sealant in place of the O-ring. This almost worked but after certain trips, I noticed a few drops of water from the joint so I decided there was nothing else for it except to fit a new O-ring. These were approximately 80p each from Peugeot. The next weekend I was able to drain the coolant, disconnect the hose, clean off the failed gasket sealant, slip on the new O-ring and reconnect. By now I was getting quite familiar with that bayonet fitting - it really isn't that tricky once you understand how it works. And a good tip that I was told by the guy at OpenShaw Radiators was to apply some washing-up liquid to the new O-ring before attempting to reconnect - that really did help. So that was it - job done - no more leaks. Shame I didn't replace the O-ring with the radiator like you are supposed to :-)

Addition: February 2003
That replacement radiator lasted pretty much just 3 years. Doesn't sound a lot but I gather it's about right for a 306 radiator. During 2002 I started seeing the low coolant light coming on just after I started the car. A quick check of the coolant level confirmed it was low. A quick top-up of diluted antifreeze would normally keep the warning light off for about a month but then it would return. I did check to see if I could spot a coolant leak but I couldn't. Not suspecting the radiator I replaced the thermostat and radiator cap but still this didn't solve the problem. Then, as winter approached, the frequency of the warning light and visible signs of a leak from the back of the radiator confirmed the problem. I could have used a radiator sealer additive but from previous experience I figured this would only delay the inevitable. Also I was worried that those kind of additives might block up other parts of the cooling system, for example the heater matrix.

So I ordered a replacement radiator from Andy's Spares for £80 + £6.95 delivery + VAT and it was delivered the next day - Great service! I already had a new O-ring for the bayonet hose fitting left over from the previous radiator change and so after buying some more antifreeze, I began the installation. Everything went fine until I tried to reconnect that bottom radiator hose. But could I get the hose connected over that O-ring? I tried over 2 days but in the end I had to admit defeat. I reconnected the hose without the O-ring and refilled with coolant and limped the car down to a local garage who managed to fix it - but it was tricky even for them! But everything's fine now and no more topping up coolant.

But the moral of this story is maybe it's best letting a garage replace your radiator for you.
 
Broken Bonnet Hinge, May 1999
Whilst I was having to repeatedly top-up my radiator because of the leak (see above), on one occasion I heard this dull snap as I lifted the bonnet. It turned out to be the driver's-side bonnet support snapping. The bonnet supports on 306s are a lever assembly consisting of short pieces of metal pivoting on rivets. One of the rivets in this assembly had just sheared away. Fortunately, this turned out to be easy to fix - just take out the bracket (easily done because it's just bolted to the car's body), drill out the failed rivet and replace with a couple of nuts and a bolt. Just keep an eye on it to see if its working loose. If you have a 306 - apply a little oil to these brackets now to prevent this happening to you!
 
Faulty Battery, January 2000
This problem kind of sneaked up on me. Very occasionally when I tried to start the car, all the dash lights would go out, there would be no noise from the starter motor and the alarm's siren would go off. I immediately persuaded myself this was probably bad battery connections :- when the heavy current was drawn to turn the started motor - the connection would fail and result in an open circuit - hence no power. This analysis was reinforced since I would pop the bonnet and waggle the battery connections and I could hear the siren suddenly become louder as the connection to the battery was found again. I'd then be able to start the car no problem. This occurred about 4 times throughout 1999.

At the car's service in January I mentioned it to the dealer and was surprised when they said it was a dud battery. They seemed pretty sure of this and sure enough, since the battery was replaced, the problem disappeared.

What I think is confusing is that the power from the battery appears to go straight into a control unit. I've no idea what's in here but guess there's a few beefy relays and stuff. When a big current is drawn from the battery I think this control unit decides if the battery is 'up-to-the-job'. I think this decision is made by whether or not there is sufficient power to drive the relay - you can hear this relay - especially if the battery is really low because you can hear it flickering - it sounds terrible and surely isn't doing it much good. But this is the tip - if you hear this flickering of the relay from under the bonnet it's worth getting your battery checked out.
 
Rev Counter occasionally not reading, February 2000
This is another annoying little problem. Occasionally the rev counter just dropped to zero as you were driving along. It would be dead for a couple of minutes and then spring back to life. The problem seems to occur more often in damp and cold conditions. I did mention it to a Peugeot dealer and they diagnosed a faulty sensor unit. They said it would cost about £50 for them to fix it. I said don't bother!
 
Blaupunkt radio - Missing Display Segments, May 2000
I remember when I was considering buying my 306, the original radio had a few segments missing from the display. Sorting out these missing segments was part of the list of things I asked them to sort out before I'd buy the car. This, to their credit they did - by replacing the radio! However, from about May 1999 onwards I noticed the segments on the replacement radio were starting to go too.

First the segments would just be a bit dimmer, then they would go out altogether. Anyway - I lived with the problem for a year but it was annoying - and a bit dangerous trying to find a station when you weren't sure if you were at 91MHz or 97MHz!!

So anyway, in May 2000 I finally decided to get it sorted. Took it to B&H Electronics in Bury and they diagnosed a faulty display. They replaced it for just under £50 and now its as good as new.

Another radio problem above
 
Occasional rainwater leak, August 2000
This was an annoying little problem which I'd had ever since I bought the car. When the car was out in a really heavy thunderstorm, water got in and dripped down the passenger door and onto the floor - I kept having to remember to go out and mop up! But it only happened in really heavy rain - and when the car wasn't moving. I could drive through a waterfall (not that I did) and no water would get in. There were suggestions that it was a faulty passenger door seal, a leak through the sunroof or the radio aerial mask but never via the windscreen seal. It turned out to be latter when I had to have my windscreen replaced and when they were removing the old adhesive they noticed that a 2inch length of the old seal above the passenger seat that had not stuck. Ever since the windscreen was replaced - no leak!
 
Brake Judder after changing front discs and pads, January 2001
In January 2001 the car went into to a local Peugeot dealer for it annual big service (P2/12,000miles). They rung me to tell me it needed the front brake discs changing. Now, since they had been mentioned on a few earlier visits I decided to let them do it - cost, an extra £170.

All was well until about a month later when I noticed a judder on braking from high speeds. The judder was getting worse and worse to the point where the judder was noticeable when braking to a stop. So I took it back and they suspected faulty discs and replaced them free of charge.

Again this fixed the problem but again, within about a month I started getting the judder back. I rung the garage and this time they booked it in for investigation. They removed the discs, cleaned the hub flanges but still the fault was evident. So then they suspected that the offside hub needed replacing. Estimated cost - another £200!

Obviously at this point I was a bit cross with the garage since none of these problems were apparent before the car had gone in for the original service. So to cut a long story short, and after threatening to contact Peugeot HQ, the garage agreed to have another go at fixing the problem free of charge. Now don't ask me why but they wanted to replace the brake discs a third time!!! I let them since I knew this would at least get me another few weeks of judder-free driving.

Addition: March 2002
That third set of brake discs did seem a lot better. I no longer experienced the obvious juddering that accompanied braking from high speeds. But I do think something is still not right because when slowing the car from very slow speeds with the brake you can feel different levels of braking as the discs turn.

Anyway - I think I can live with this and the car passed its MOT first time in January, but not at a Peugeot dealer. That little experience with the Peugeot dealer was the final straw and I have given up going to them. I think they just think of any car over 3 years old as a 'cash-cow' and just keep milking you whenever you visit. Also, my car is now over 7 years old and I don't think it's worth paying Peugeot main dealer prices.

But on a positive note the car still drives fine and still feels refined and luxurious and so I am not looking to replace it for a while yet. Even with nearly 140,000 miles on the clock!
 
Failed Glow Plugs, June 2001
This turned out to be a nice little job. I had noticed that occasionally on damp or very cold mornings the car ran a little rough for a few seconds. Just like it was running on only a few cylinders. And there was also an embarrassing puff of black smoke out of the exhaust - even in summer!. But very soon after starting the car, it would run as well as always. Obviously a glow plug problem - one or more cylinders were not being preheated and hence the rough running and unburned fuel and black smoke. I went out to buy 4 replacement plugs. I had heard of differing quality of glow plugs and so bought a good name - Bosch. A bit more expensive but hey! you don't replace glow plugs every year. I followed the instructions in the Haynes manual for replacing the plugs and this wasn't difficult. The only tricky bit was replacing the glow plug on the far left (when viewed from the front). It was right behind the fuel pump and access was difficult. I considered leaving this plug but since I hadn't noticed any problems with the glow plugs I had managed to get out I was reluctant to give up. Eventually I managed it and I was rewarded. The hardest plug to replace turned out to be covered in black soot. This was obviously the failed glow plug. Never had any rough running or black smoke on start-up since!
 
Rust, September 2001
Now rust isn't a problem you normally associate with Peugeots and for good reason. But don't be caught out. There was a bubble of rust under the paint just to the side of the sunroof and right where you saw it just before you got into the driver's side seat soon after I bought the car. Not quite sure what had caused it but I wasn't confident about being able to do a good repair... so I left it. I left it for over 3 years - occasionally just touching it to see if it was getting worse. In September 2001 when I was checking it, my finger went through the outer skin of the roof. Oh dear! Straight away I set about cleaning it, filling it, priming it and top-coating it. Took me about a month to get the paint, apply the coats of primer - wait for it to harden and so on. I've now got it pretty much finished. Top coat and lacquer is on but it still looks a bit amateurish. I'm hoping I can level up the colours in a few weeks when its all hardened. But the moral of this story is treat your rust spots!

Addition: November 2002
Unfortunately my amateurish repair wasn't up to the job. Within a few weeks the rust started bubbling up again but with winter approaching I didn't have chance to have another go at the repair. Fortunately, it didn't get too bad over the following months but then in the summer of 2002 I noticed more rust. Another spot of paint work started bubbling up just in front of the sunroof and on the drivers-side of the aerial. Why? I don't know. Also, since I'd had the windscreen replaced, the paint work around the seal was flaking away and the metal below starting to rust. So now it was starting to look messy and I was beginning to worry about water getting in so I took it to a local bodyshop and got them to do a professional repair. It cost me a bomb - £400+VAT but now it's as good-as-new and they tell me it'll never rust again. We'll see.
 
Tyre Wear, 2002
2002 was a bad year for tyre wear on my 306. Both in March and November I had to replace a front tyre because it had worn unevenly. The first time the tyre was replaced I didn't get the tracking checked. Big mistake. By November the new tyre was worn in just the same way as the previous one - just on the inside of the tread. Another £51 Kwik-Fit 185/60H14S + £4.50 balance + £2.49 valve + £0.80 tyre disposal and this time £19.95 for adjusting the tracking. Moral of this story is don't skimp on getting the tracking checked and keep a regular eye on the front tyres for early signs of uneven wear.
 
Exhaust Smoke, March 2003
I don't believe that diesels smoke unless there is something wrong with them and late last year I was horrified to see smoke coming out of the exhaust whilst pulling away from a roundabout. I kept my eye out for it happening again but I didn't notice anything until early this year when it started doing it again, more frequently.

It appears to happen when the engine is NOT cold and when the engine has either been stopped or idling (for example whilst stopped in queuing traffic) for 5 minutes or so. When you next accelerate (doesn't have to be particularly hard) you get quite a lot of smoke being generated. As soon as you burn off this oil the smoking stops. The smoke is never accompanied by a change in engine performance and I have not noticed any change to fuel consumption.

Word on the street is that it is my turbo's shaft seals which are failing. This requires the turbo assembly to be removed and the turbo reconditioned which sounds expensive. Also, I read somewhere that failed turbo shaft seals are indicated by oil in the inlet area of the intercooler. When I get chance I'll take a look at this and confirm. At the moment, it doesn't seem to be smoking too much or loosing any oil so I'll just wait and see.
 
Key fob stopped working, April 2003
This is apparently a common fault. The rubber buttons on my key fob, over the years got progressively more and more worn. It was becoming increasingly difficult for me to use the fob to lock the car (and arm the alarm). I knew that things had took a turn for the worse when new batteries inserted in January ran out in April!

Upon inserting another set of new batteries the remote began working again. This suggested the battery connections and the circuit board were both ok. However, I suspected the batteries were being discharged prematurely by either 1) dirt or moisture entering the fob via holes around the now very worn rubber buttons or 2) the buttons were being pressed accidentally whilst the keys were in my pocket.

After a bit of searching through the internet I heard of a guy who had been allowed by his local Peugeot dealer to salvage a replacement key fob case from a box full of faulty key fobs. This I thought would be the ideal solution for me! So I rang my local Peugeot dealer and found out that you can buy a brand new key fob case for only £4.42 inc VAT (rather than the £75 for a complete replacement key fob)! The metal key part of the key fob is only held in place by a screw and along with the circuit board are easily transferable to a new case. Problem solved! or so I thought....

Addition: March 2004
This did not turn out to fix the problem. Even with a new case, the keyfob still drained new batteries within a couple of months. I did find a cheap online source of new batteries though. £4.85 all inclusive for 5 new CR2025 batteries from Battery Force Ltd.

I had become resigned to the problem until I remembered that I had another keyfob. I'd not used this keyfob much because its case was in a worse condition than the first. But now suspecting the original keyfob's circuitboard might be the problem, I transferred the second keyfob's circuitboard into the new case and gave that a go. That was in January - now at the end of March and we're still on the same batteries! Looks promising.

Addition: April 2005
Someone emailed me saying how they suspected that a worn keyfob case had resulted in them frying their keyfob's circuitboard: "I can strongly recommend changing the casing the case if the rubber buttons have disintegrated. My rubber buttons had long gone. I stepped out of the car one day and a zap of static electricity killed the electronics and I ended up paying 65 pounds for a new one rather than 5 pounds for a new case. Incidentally, I've seen a few cases and complete keys on ebay". I wonder if this is what happened to my first key fob's circuitboard.
 
Leaking rear brake cylinders, September 2003
I had this problem once before back in January 2002. I had noticed over the preceding few months that sometimes one of the rear brakes felt to be sticking after the car was left, say overnight. I was quite willing to live with this until I returned from a three week holiday to find I could hardly move the car. One of the rear wheels had seized solid. It was only after some aggressive manoeuvring that I was able to free it and get the car to a local garage. They found that a leaking brake cylinder had caused the shoes to bind with the drum. The brake cylinder was replaced and the problem was solved....

...until now, nearly 2 years, 30,000 miles later. Same problem. For the past few weeks I'd again noticed the rear wheels sticking. And now I notice a damp spot behind the rear wheel where the brake fluid is dripping onto the floor. I hope to get the brake cylinder replaced soon.
 
Clutch cable snapped, March 2004
The only warning was a couple of minutes before it snapped I heard a little click each time I pressed the clutch pedal. Then suddenly there was a thump and somehow I just instinctively knew what it was. Fortunately I was in 3rd gear doing about 30mph at the time and was able to just drive into a layby and use the brakes to stop. Unfortunately, not knowing what I know now, I didn't first push the gearstick into neutral or turn off the ignition and so I had to use alot of braking to stop and stall the torquey 1.9TD engine!

At first I thought I'd have to be towed to a garage but I eventually found out that I could start the car in 1st gear and then change gears without the clutch. I was surprised just how smoothly you can drive like this (although I am not suggesting you do it unless forced to). I am full of praise of the 306's gearbox which allows you to quite easily push the stick into neutral and possibly select other gears when the gearbox is not under heavy load and which also appears to only allow a gear to be selected at just the right revs, so long as brute force is not used. This enables gears to be selected without hardly any grating noises.

Whilst I could quite easily change up and down gears without the clutch, I found selecting 1st and even 2nd difficult if road speed dropped too much. Consequently when coming to junctions where it was not possible to see that it was clear, it was safer to just select neutral, brake to a stop, turn off the ignition, select 1st and then restart only when it was clear to continue.

Anyway. The adventure's now over. Had a new clutch cable fitted today at a local garage for approximately £90 all inclusive. It's a swine to fit apparently but the car's now as good as new.
 
Brave Servo Pipe snapped, March 2004
Out one day on a drive through the hilly terrain around Huddersfield, I became aware of varying brake performance. Sometimes the brake pedal would have to be pressed very hard in order to get the required level of braking. This seemed most apparent when descending steep inclines... just when you needed good brakes!

After a little investigation I found the problem. The connection between the engine vacuum pump and the brake servo is a combination of flexible hose and rigid metal tubing. The metal tubing runs across the back of the intercooler and had snapped. It hadn't snapped completely which explained the varying servo performance.

A repair was fabricated by replacing the broken section of metal tubing with a small length of vacuum hose held in place with jubilee clips.

If your 306 has a problem which I didn't have personally, check out my Q&A page where I describe how I tried to help people solve problems there were having with their 306s. Alternatively, review the posts in my Peugeot 306 forum.

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