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 2CV BUYING GUIDE 
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Firing on two.
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Joined: November 29th, 2008, 10:05 pm
Posts: 9259
Location: West Sussex, U.K.
Post 2CV BUYING GUIDE
This buying guide is aimed at the novice 2cv buyer, it covers the most common areas that can cause problems in 2cvs and areas that could be expensive or problematic in the future. It may be handy to print this out and take it wih you, comparing the photographs to the vehicle you're viewing, and checking off the parts mentioned.

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First of all, lift the rubber mats up and look at the front of the floors and the toe board across its whole width, welded repairs are common here and the toe board is the first bit that rusts. If any repairs have been done (and it's pretty likely) its better that it's the entire board that's been replaced, but as long as its solid it should be ok. But, watch out for toe boards which have been welded to the chassis. It's a part of the car that gives a lot of strength and therefore you need to satisfy yourself that any repairs have been done well. A lot of so-called restorers didn't, and still don't repair the flat section that sits on the chassis as it can't be seen, a risk when buying any 2cv but patches upon patches of pigeon shit welding and filler/bathroom sealant do not indicate a good job has been done.

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While you're there, check the bottom of the door pillars and the lower door hinge mountings, they're tucked away a bit but commonly rot out, along with the front of the sills.

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On the opposite side of the door pillar the bolt that holds the bottom of the front wing usually comes loose when the spot welds holding it to the inside of the sills rust. It's worth taking a 19mm spanner and trying to undo them. Not a horrific thing to fix, but usually a sign that it'll want at least the first foot of the sills replacing in the future.

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Whilst you're there, check the condition of the front wings, they rot at the trailing edge.

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Not a problem to repair or source good second hand wings but, a good bargaining point. Also, some fast fit centres etc bend the inner wings around when replacing the front "cowhorn silencer" which can leave the inner wings deformed and fouling and they have been known to slice the central driveshaft gaiter. Easy repair but, an MOT failable item these days.


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Check under the front of the bulkhead as best as you can, behind the steering rack/axle tube. It may be evident that the outer toe board has been replaced, as of the cars had a chassis this part usually gets done at the same time. Don't be afraid if it's got repairs here, just make sure you're happy with the standard of them. Lots of lumpy spot welds and messy application of seam sealer might be hiding a bit of a mess.

Check the seatbelt mounts behind and in front of the B post, it can stay damp there and cause rust although it can be hidden behind the reels, again not a tricky thing to fix but means replacing the sill and probably the floor.

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While the rear door is open, just make sure the rear door piano hinge has not broken it's spot welds and is attached to the door. Usually the bottom foot or so can come adrift. Again, not a big problem as it can be repaired in no time, it might be a good bargaining point though.


Coming to the C pillar, this is where a lot of grot can manifest itself. The rear seat box ends where they meet the sills rust behind the sills, give the triangular panel a press towards the bottom. There should be no sealer in this join, and the panel shouldn't move.

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It probably will, however, and if so check under the rear wing at the heel panel which is immediately in front of the tyre. It could be grotty, along with the entire underside of the sill panel.


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Also check across the join between the rear of the floor and the seat box. Both underneath and inside the car, it should be a neat join.

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Further up the C pillar, where it joins the inner wing near the rear seat belt mount you may well find its rusty up the whole length, the seat belt mount is highly likely to have been repaired and if so make sure it's done well, both inside the car and under the rear wing.

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While you're under the wing, if you can see it behind the wheel the bump stop can rust and fall off or be subject to poor repair work. Check the same area inside the car.

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Open the boot, remove the spare wheel and check the condition of the boot floor. It can rust at the very front where water collects, water can get trapped between the chassis and the boot floor so rust along these areas is common. Check right at the back of the boot floor where it is bolted to the chassis. (note, on the car pictured the bolts are missing)

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Commonly these bolts are holding nothing but fresh air, not tricky to fix, but again, a good bargaining point.



On the outside of the back panel, the sweeps down each side of the rear light panel should have a nice, defined seam free from seam sealer or filler. It's common to find no seam evident. It may well be full of filler or have been welded flush, neither is ideal, but in the lower price ranges, you have to expect this kind of thing but bear in mind obvious bodge work could indicate a lack of knowledge or effort has gone into the car in general...

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Below the rear lights and number plate panel there should be a seam running across the width. This can usually end up full of filler and the seam missing altogether. Any rot here is likely to be evident by looking underneath or in the boot. This seam should be very well defined and the original spotwelds are likely to show. if it's too smooth, or doesn't look crisp enough it could be hiding filler.

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While the boots open, have a look up at the rear window apertures, they rust from the inside under the rubber, and whilst not always evident externally you can feel the blisters starting under the windows.

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At the front, have a good look round the windscreen for any blisters under the rubber. The bonnet hinge should be clearly a separate panel from the screen surround. It's not unusual to find that somebody has filled right over it to hide any rot. Open the bonnet, check the top of the bulkhead by the seam. Make sure the bonnet hinge is in good order by sliding the bonnet out and checking it's hinge. Bonnets are expensive and are hard to come by in very good condition secondhand.

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While you're in the area, look at the "vent flap". They rust and leak. Not particularly expensive or difficult to fix but, they're a relaitevely time consuming job. Bargain away again! If no vent flap is fitted and the entire area has been filled over, the cars probably been at the hands of a nightmare bodge artist.

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Check the bonnet at the other end where the catch holds it. They can rust away completely and allow the bonnet to come open without warning.

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The headlamp bar can rust away at the bottom where it meets the chassis. The headlamps themselves can lose their silvering. In the case of the rectangular 1970s headlamps, this can be a problem as they are hard to get hold of now and there's no easy way to have them resilvered.

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If you can jack the car up, check for play in the front wheels, it could be kingpins, wheel bearings or track rod ends. None are expensive to fix but a good way of knocking the price down. Make sure the suspension arms have no play in their bearings. The dampers should be fitted the right way round, and if they're not it can make the ride shuddery and harsh. It's worth giving the car a bounce, creaks and groans from the spring cans are nothing to worry about but lumpy or restricted movement of the suspension, or dampers that allow unrestricted bouncing need more attention.

Check all of the electrics, the wipers are likely to be slow if the screen is very dry, so make sure the washers work and apply them before you test the wipers.

Seats that have collapsed are easily fixed, although covers can be expensive.

Whilst you're inside the car, give the steering wheel a gentle tug, it's not uncommon for the pinchbolt at the bottom of the column to be worn and allow some vertical movement. Not expensive to fix but, another possble bargaining point.

Also from the drivers seat, check the gearchange. The bushes in the gearslide. People have been known to drive their cars forever with these bushes gone. However, the reaality is that they make THE most annoying noise in the world. Tricky but inexpensive to fix. A stiff gear change may be due to the cardboard heater tubes fouling the gear linkage under the bonnet, so check that first.

If its had a galvanised chassis, it's likely to be from the cheaper end of the market. A lot of these use bolts instead of studs to hold the dampers on which is an inferior method to the original Citroen studs. These bolts are known to break frequently and are very difficult to fix when they have. It may well have the makers name drilled into it at the front under the gearbox if so. Certain makes of these cheaper chassis can crack where they kick up at the front, easily welded and reinforced but worth checking for. Ask which brand of chassis it is if it's not evident. At the bottom end of the price range it's likely to be a cheaper galvanised chassis and you will probably have to put up with that. It won't rust, however, and repairing it and strengthening it is simple, and will probably only require doing once. cheaper chassis can often flex and wobble due to inadequate penny pinching 'pile it high flog it cheap' manufacturing mentality. Don't assume, simply because the car has a galvanised chassis that you'll never have chassis trouble.

If the car has an original Citroen, or pattern style chassis, and it hasn't been well looked after it could well have a limited lifespan. Citroen were replacing 2cv chassis on warranty in the latter years. The first place to check is around the axle bolts, espescially at the front. Any blisters, bubbling or welded patch repairs, when visible from the outside are highly likely to be hiding advanced corrosion of the internal structure.

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Around the area of the front axle, check carefully for signs of warping and distortion.

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The A panel, between wing and bonnet, often show signs of advanced chassis collapse by bending outwards, causing paint to crack. The chassis is highly rot prone along the rear legs under the boot floor., check carefully along the seams at the edge of the chassis for signs they are bulging with rust from within. The chassis edges here are something like 4 thicknesses of metal sheet sandwiched together, so when it bulges it can be obvious but hard to repair.

Once a original style chassis has started to rust, it's pretty much got a one way ticket to the scrap bin. They can be repaired, but it's unlikely to be possible with the chassis on the car and it's unlikely to be worth doing when compared to the cost of a replacement. Cars that lean to one side slightly, have heavier than normal steering, that have bulging A panels are all likely to require closer inspection to the chassis.

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When under the car, give the chassis bottom panel a thump in a few places. If you can hear rusty flakes rattling about inside (More than likely if it's got evidence of welding) then, again, it could require replacement. soon.make sure nobody has 'repaired' the chassis by welding it to the bodyshell. this is common from either the top, inside the car or underneath, everywhere the chassis and body meet.

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Consider the age of the 2CV and how many kilometres/miles the 2CV has done. Most A models begin to show sign of worn out engines and boxes together with all other mechanic after 2 or 3 decades naturally related to total number of kilometres/miles and how well the car has been service. Buying a lemon can be catastrophic and drain your wallet quickly

Engine:

It is almost impossible to see the condition of the internal parts but listen to the engine. Does it knock badly, rough running etc.
Bring your compression tester to get some idea of piston, barrels and valves. Does it blow blue smoke from the exhaust?
Also do a vacuum test using a water manometer, easy to make.
Turn the starter key and observe when the oil pressure lamp goes out (+ removed form the coil)
Look at the carburettor main spindle, too much sideways play?
This should give you some sort of idea of where the engine is but except that a rebuilt is on the cards sooner than later if some or all these point above are no good.
Any history of service and repairs. Ask for invoice showing what’s been done or rather what’s not been done.

Gear box:
Here is important stuff to look at. All most all gear boxes past 100.000 clicks + needs work done. The gear box is the most neglected item on 2CV’s as many folks does not know how to care or look after it. Not much you can do, except test drive and listen to noise going through all gear gently feeling the synchromesh. Look out for crunching gears and noises taking the car to top speed. Also listen to noise taking the load off engine and gear box by letting go of the accelerator. Ask the seller if the rear cover has been removed to tight the 2 rear shaft nuts. Nearly 10 out of 10 gear boxes have these nuts loose. Ask if the gear box top lid has been removed to lock the selector ring on the 2nd -3rd sliding pinion.
Don’t be fooled ignoring a noisy gear box thinking that plenty of used gear boxes are available and one can just fit another if needed. Most boxes you find around are in need of rebuilding.
My advice is, bring a competent person with you inspecting the car or take it to a garage for inspection, again by someone in the know.
Make a list of tings to do and think about it before committing to the 2CV

Happy Ducking


(The red section above is from Peter Fosselius, http://www.2cviking.eu/catalog/index.php?language=fr )

maybe a mention of play in the steering rack, as that's neither a cheap or easy repair for most owners. ( Rock steering wheel from side to side, while watching to see if the inner ends of the track rods move in and out. My MOT station check that every time. )

As Viking has advised, It's amazing how many people are willing to buy a car without a test drive, so it's only afterwards that they start moaning about worn syncromesh ( esp. 2nd and 3rd on an A series), a juddering clutch ( which might need work on the gearbox as well as a new clutch). fumes through the heater ( a top end stripdown needed), smokey engine ( spanners out once more), flickering oil light once the engine is at working temperature ( game over?), brakes which pull to one side or pulse,


(The blue section is by Ken Hanna)


Check the middle of the fan, they can crack and fatigue, evident by a rusty crack about 50mm diameter around the centre boss. While you're there, have a good look at the oil cooler behind the fan. Is it clogged with black oily fluff and dirt? If so, it could show that the car's suffered poor maintenance, and a blocked oil cooler encourages overheating. Some people swear by electronic ignition and yellow 'Harley' coils, although it's not uncommon for these to be fitted to overcome misdiagnosed running problems. Take a good test drive if you can, and satisfy yourself that the car drives properly and performs well when hot and cold.

It should be worth noting that certain areas that can make the car look tatty are easily fixed. The bumpers, vent flap and roof can all devalue a car or make it look less desirable but aren't expensive or hard to fix or replace yourself. Also, given the choice it's far better to buy a rusty car that's never had repair work than a rusty car that's been repaired in the past. If the repair work was done well in the first place, it shouldn't have rotted out again so readily.

The last point to make is simply that shiny paint and 'just restored' claims are worth approaching with caution. In most cases it's impossible to restore a car *properly* including a shiny respray and make a profit on it. Well known traders are as guilty of this as anybody else, so don't be taken in. Speak to your local 2cv club and ask if anybody can help you when viewing a car. Corner cutting, fibreglassing repairs, filler and the such like are all indicators of an ill-maintained car.

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Compiled with thanks, from advice given by:

Ken Hanna
Peter 'Viking' Fosselius
Sean Lyon
Will Waldron
Jono Holmes
Jon Clewer.

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April 22nd, 2012, 8:51 pm
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