Our Citroën Grand C4 Picasso needed a software upgrade

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso (with optional twin roof accessory)

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
  • Service

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!

Deep breath.

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
Surcharge: £4.68
VAT @ 20%: £39.94
TOTAL: £239.62

I drove it home in this evening’s gales and despite being buffeted about the engine certainly felt much smoother and more responsive.


Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

8 thoughts on “Our Citroën Grand C4 Picasso needed a software upgrade”

    1. Sorry for the lack of reply, I was out of action for months with a couple of trapped nerves in my neck. Our car was a 06 plate. It turns out, in the end that the problem was to do with a dirty fuel filter. Once that was replaced we didn’t experience the same problem again.

  1. I have the same issue with mine. It’s been jerking with lack of power when driving at a constant speed or when accelerating or braking and actually stalled when going into first so i have been suspecting the gear box. Tonight she had the clunk and lack of power with the battery light showing briefly, then over the course of about a minute the various warning messages popped up – ASR ESP failure – hand brake failure – then gear box failure and then tge car revved as it was out of gear and stalled, wouldn’t start first time but then fine. Garage tomorrow morning as on 30 days 1000 mile warranty I hope they can ipdate the firmware and change the fuel filter. When I picked her up she was on the Fuel Too Low warning. 2007 Exclusive 2.0

  2. My car is doing the same thing my local garage can’t do anything so I am going to Citroen on Monday to hopefully get this corrected
    My plate 08

  3. My car is the same we have had it to 2 garages and then took to citroen on Friday 07.02.14, They have done diagnostics but advised what they thought was wrong however they cant guarantee that repairing the parts they have suggested will fix the handbrake fault but did ask for over 700 pound to try this. Car is still the same

    1. We had all the failures in ours too straight from the garage 2nd hand… All in quick succession we had handbrake, transmission failure, then the engine cut as no transmission. Looked like it was systematically killing the various systems. Started off with loss of power intermittently or kangaroo petrol if you like. Garage flashed a new firmware and replaced the fuel pump. This is a diesel btw. It has been fine since, but when it was happening the failure would occur daily. Car is also 2007 model 2.0litre 138 bhp. A little while ago in low revs the ride would become a bit jerky again, had the fuel filter and oil replaced at service time and fine again… So fuel filter seems to need replacing regularly, and firmware was needed…. Hope this helps, would be interested to know. Thanks.

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