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!

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.

Getting ready for Baby 3.0

I took a holiday this week so that we could focus on getting the house ready for Baby 3.0 who is due to be born sometime after 20 January 2011.  We didn’t want to get to the end of December and suddenly panic that we’d not done anything.

We had three big tasks:

  1. Buy a bigger car.
  2. Buy some furniture for Baby 3.0’s bedroom..
  3. Drive to Dunoon to collect a cot from Jane’s sister.

It’s now Tuesday evening and we’ve completed all three tasks.  How efficient are we?!

1. Buy a bigger car

Citroën Grand C4 Picasso
Citroën Grand C4 Picasso (photo from AllWorldCars.com)

We currently own a Vauxhall Vectra Estate.  It’s a massive car.  It’s black and it looks like a hearse.  It’s great for getting Reuben and Joshua’s car seats into and the boot is the size of a small country which makes it perfect for carrying the Baby Jogger double pushchair.  But it’s not big enough to carry another baby seat.

What we need now is a Compact MPV and from what we’ve read and tried out already we’re going to need a 7-seater in order to accommodate three children under three years old, a double buggy, and whatever luggage we also need to cart about with us.

So, armed with research-she’d-done-on-the-internet Jane went out on Saturday afternoon with Joshua to check out a couple of car showrooms in Dundee, while Reuben and I stayed at home and played with cars.  Toy cars, that is.

On Sunday afternoon Jane took me to see a light blue Ford S-Max.  It was lovely, the test drive was fun and the price was about £3,000 too high.  So we walked away but with details of a similar model in Armadale.

On Monday afternoon we drove away from Armadale having bought a Citroën Grand C4 Picasso that we’d test driven.  It looks like a nice car, it’s practical, it’s the right size and it was also the right price.   By trading in the Vectra we’ll also get about £500 back which can’t be bad.

I also discovered that the car salesman had lived in my hometown of Selkirk during the 1980s.

2. Buy some furniture for Baby 3.0’s bedroom.

Wardrobe and chest of drawers
Wardrobe and chest of drawers in Baby #3’s room

Ikea was wonderfully deserted late on Monday afternoon We were in and out in no time, and managed to get out without buying something that wasn’t on our shopping list.  Not even a bag of Daim bars.

I built the furniture today while Jane …

3. Drive to Dunoon to collect a cot from Jane’s sister.

… drove to Dunoon to collect a cot from her sister.  In fact, she’s just got back so I’ll go and say hello.  I’ll unpack the car in the morning.