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Changed your clutch, removed the engine? Let us know the pitfalls and what to watch out for


Postby jord294 » Tue Feb 10, 2009 6:24 pm

i came across this while browsing tinternet. makes interesting reading. written a few years ago i think :lol:

309 Buyer's Guide

So ya wanna buy a 309, do ya? Here's some things that you need to be looking out for when you go to view a prospective purchase -


For some peculiar reason, 309s tend to suffer from rotting bodywork. Like it's stablemate, the 205, the 309 body is constructed from galvanised steel sheet, which should resist rust extremely well. But they don't. It's hardly ever serious, but check the sills, (especially on the inside in front of rear wheels) wheel arches, front subframe mounting points, the lip of the boot and the boot floor for rust (all 309's leak through the tail light units, so the boot floor and boot carpet always cop it). If the leak is really serious, check the rear seats - they can be stained and rotting.

As always, look for signs of accident damage and bad repairs. Contrary to popular belief, it's rare that a GTi or Goodwood will have been stolen. The somewhat "Darby and Joan" image of the 309 meant that the GTi wasn't such a target for theives as the 205.

The tailgate can be a problem area. It plays a major part in the structural rigidity of the car, so make sure that the glass is sound. Also look for signs of the rear window heater being in tact and also that it works properly. The cable connectors are easily broken off.


Depending upon age, petrol models tend to get a bit smokey and noisy. Always check that the engine is cold when you arrive to view the car. Have a friend stand behind the car when you start it. Blip the accelerator, and if the friend reports blue smoke from the exhaust - run away! The 1.9 engine as used in the GTi can have excessive oil consumption, but as long as the engine isn't burning any (hence the blue smoke) this shouldn't be a problem. Top end clatter on the 1.9 is normal - one of the rare cases where the "they all do it, sir" excuse actually holds water. Cam lobe wear may be a problem on particularly high mileage examples - but then you don't want a very high mileage vehicle, do you? Check that the timing belt has been replaced every 48,000 miles.

Diesels don't suffer many problems. Peugeot-Citroen diesel engines are supremely strong, and with 5,000m oil changes and 50,000m cambelt changes, should chug along for ever.

Gearbox and Transmission

Not much to look for, but when driving, excessive play in the gear lever means that the linkages are badly worn. These were made of string and plasticine, so heavy abuse means more expense. OK, so the gearbox isn't going to be as silky-smooth or tight as a new but there is reason in everything.

Very early gearboxes (1986 only) use multigrade engine oil, not gear oil or else they will become stiff and clattery. Clutches are bombproof, unless the engine has been heavily modded for power, in which case a race-spec clutch is desirable. Difficulty engaging reverse or slipping when accelerating in fourth gear (GTi) will usually mean that the cable needs adjusting or replacing.

Steering & Suspension

Rear end noise means either you've been eating beans or the damper bushes are shot at. Or it could be the rear axle (bounce the car on the rear if you can, for movement. if it's solid, chances are you'll need a rear beam re-building)
Clunks and bangs from the front end are usually caused by the bushes for the anti-roll bar drop links to the front struts being in need of replacement, but this is not too difficult a job. Or it could be the track rod ends. Either way, nothing major. On models with power steering, check for whining noises on full lock, which would indicate a knackered power steering pump.


Never any major problems, but with the GTi, judder through the steering wheel when braking is often indicative of warped front discs. Rear calipers can also seize on the GTi - check the rear discs for signs of bad scoring or overheating. Be careful when ordering replacement parts, as a number of different manufacturers of brake components were used.


Electrics are generally sound, but the airflow meter on injection models can cause problems - check for hesitant pickup, incorrect fuelling and a rough idle. AFMs are fiendishly expensive to replace and set up. Distributor wear can also cause poor running.

Check the earthing block (inside of the front nearside wing) for corrosion - this can lead to lights, indicators, etc. going haywire

What to Pay

Sound early cars go for as little as £500 - any less and it's bound to be a dog.

Depending upon condition, age and mileage, a GTi and Goodwood will go for between £600 and £1500 and sometimes beyond. Something tells me that GTis will keep gaining classic status in a few years, so don't be afraid to go for a good one lavish a bit of TLC on it.

Diesels retain their value better than petrol models - a surprising paradox is that you can occasionally pick up an early 306 diesel cheaper than a 309! However, with the 309, you'll still get a good price when you come to flog it on.

Best Buys

Believe it or not, the 1.6 injection cars (SRi, pre catalyst) offer the best all round package, with surprisingly good performance, good economy and low insurance grouping. Phase II models (Oct 1989 on) are worth a bit more as the build quality was much improved.

Don't buy - 1.1 petrols (big car, small engine, no go); XE's; GE's; anything beige unless you smell of wee and don't know what day it is; any "Limited Editions" except Goodwoods. Don't buy a diesel without a full history.
'88 205 gti 'LONG TERM PROJECT ON TWIN 45s'
[b]'96 106 XN 55mpg 'DAILY HACK'

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