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.

Hoorah!

Coming home to Reuben and Joshua

20110823-reubenoncarroof

When I arrived home this evening Reuben wanted ‘up’. Initially ‘up’ into my arms but then ‘up’ onto the car roof. Who was I to deny his wishes?

I think every car needs a Reuben Roof Accessory™. It would certainly prevent you from speeding!

20110823-joshuaphotographer

Fast forward twenty minutes and both Reuben and Joshua were on my desk with a camera each. Thank goodness for digital cameras: I hate to think how many 35mm films we’d have gone through by now!

They love taking photos, and I love taking photos of them taking photos.

I love coming home in the evenings to Reuben, Joshua and Isaac (who was already in bed when we were messing about with the cameras).

New ‘nee naw car’

Yesterday afternoon and this morning Reuben, Joshua and I have been making a “nee naw car” from the box that Isaac’s new Baby Jogger City Classic pushchair arrived in. Here is the almost-finished article.

Front

Fire engine car made from a cardboard box
Front of the nee naw car

The car was made from a Baby Jogger City Classic pushchair box, painted with Wickes one coat matt emulsion “Victorian Red” (the same colour as our kitchen and dining room).

The word “FIRE” was cut out from a roll of big labels (a little larger than A5) that we bought at the Borders Scrap Store in Selkirk years ago. As were the lights and radiator.

The ladder was made from cardboard from the box.

Rear

Rear of the nee naw car
Rear of the nee naw car

The wheels were made using Microsoft Publisher 2010 and coloured in by Reuben and Joshua. The Pontypandy Fire and Rescue Service badge was sourced on the Web and printed out on our laser printer. I was going to draw it but was being climbed on at the time.

Close-up of front

Fireman Sam sitting next to Reuben and Joshua in the cab of the nee naw car
Fireman Sam sitting next to Reuben and Joshua in the cab of the nee naw car

Close-up of the front of the new, homemade Nee Naw Car (featuring Fireman Sam and Firefighters Reuben and Joshua).

The blue flashing light is made from a Robinson’s Fruit and Barley bottle cut off at the bottom and stuffed with blue tissue paper, with black gaffa tape at the bottom to cover the jagged plastic from my hacking attempt at cleanly cutting it off with a pair of kitchen scissors.

The number plate is “RJ 999” for Reuben and Joshua. The radiator and headlights were also coloured-in by Reuben and Joshua.

Improvements

Improvements to be made based mostly on consumer feedback and rigorous user-testing:

  1. Strengthen area beneath windscreen as Reuben and Joshua hang on to it to climb in and out.
  2. Add a second steering wheel (to stop the fights about who is driving).
  3. Improve the inside of the windscreen / dashboard.
  4. Add silver gaffa tape… not necessarily an improvement, more a request from Reuben and Joshua.

From Vauxhall to Citroën: our new car

Thursday morning

This was the view of our drive on Thursday morning.  Our hearse-like black Vauxhall Vectra Estate (09 plate, 1.9 litre engine) poised, as ever, ready for adventure.

Vauxhall Vectra Estate
Vauxhall Vectra Estate CDTi 1.9

The only problem was that it wasn’t really equipped for the adventure that we’re rapidly heading towards (the birth of Baby 3.0) in as much as it won’t accommodate three infant car seats side-by-side.  Seemingly the law looks disapprovingly on you if you keep one of your children in the boot.

Friday morning

This was the view of our drive on Friday morning.  The gloomy, unaccommodating Vectra has gone, and has now been replaced with a shiny, silver, seven-seater Citroën Grand C4 Picasso (56 plate, 1.6 litre engine).

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
Citroën Grand C4 Picasso

We looked initially at a Ford S-MAX which was looking promising: nice drive, great storage, right size, but it was above our budget; about £3,500 above our budget, which is quite a lot really.

In the end we opted for the Citroën, which doesn’t have quite the same oomph or storage, but we got £500 back on the exchange and we have a car that we’re happy with.

This car will definitely enable us to embark on our next baby-enhanced adventure in January safe in the knowledge that neither Reuben nor Joshua are rattling around in the boot.