On Friday morning, as I was driving the 10 miles’ route to work, our 56-reg Citroën Grand C4 Picasso, had what I can only describe as the car equivalent of a Windows Blue Screen of Death. I use that analogy advisedly because what seems to have fixed the issue was a software upgrade.
Technical support for cars
So there I was driving along, listening to a spot of Megadeth on the CD player, when the console beeped, just about every warning light flashed on, the engine cut out and I was presented with an array of messages on the display while I was trying to guide the car to a gentle halt by the side of the road.
Take your pick at the most important:
- Risk of ice
- Handbrake fault
- Anti-pollution fault
- Check oil level
There may have been others but those were the most memorable ones. Thankfully the hazard lights worked so I punch at the button to get those crazy orange flashers working.
Unfortunately the hand brake wasn’t working. Because Citroën in their wisdom don’t provide a standard pull-on-a-lever-that-pulls-a-wire-that-pulls-on-the-brakes. No, they have a button on the dashboard.
And this button on the dashboard did nothing when I stabbed at it, with my slightly shaking, slightly panicking hand.
What do I do now? What do I do? What do I do?
Don’t panic! Don’t panic!
What’s the first rule of technical support? I switched it off and switched it back on again.
It started! The hand brake worked! I pulled away. And broke down again about half a mile further up the road.
Jane phoned the garage in Cupar and booked it in for Monday morning.
Break down again
We broke down again the following day—twice—en route to taking the boys to choose a Christmas tree.
This time we pulled into a petrol station forecourt and, remembering the fault message about oil (that appeared only once), I checked the oil, using a baby wipe to clean the dip stick.
I’m really not very good at remembering to check the oil. I put a litre in. It was Castrol EDGE 0W30 (FST) ACEA C2, C3, which I was assured by a leaflet in our car manual was the right thing to pour into the engine. A snip at £16.38 per litre.
The car didn’t break down again, but the warning light remained on.
As good as new
I got a phone call this morning from the garage. They were confident that they had fixed the problem. The car required a software upgrade. It was probably running Vista.
Here’s what they did:
- Investigate anti pollution light on and car cutting out
- Checked wiring, terminals, connectors, secured all
- Carried out software update
- Contacted Citroën deleted all errors
- Carried out road test all okay
- Rechecked on computer okay
- Customer to run vehicle
Labour and parts: £195.00
VAT @ 20%: £39.94
I drove it home in this evening’s gales and despite being buffeted about the engine certainly felt much smoother and more responsive.