Buying a used…Citroen Dispatch

Date: Monday, March 25, 2013

From a potentially dodgy steering rack to a differential whirring, there are several issues to keep an eye out for when considering purchasing a second-hand Citroen Dispatch, as Steve Banner reports.

Unlike its predecessor, where one size had to fit all, the current Citroen Dispatch is marketed with three different load cubes. They range from 5.0m3 for the SWB standard roof L1H1, 6.0m3 for the LWB standard roof L2H1, and 7.0m3 for the LWB high-roof L2H2. Gross payload capacities range from getting on for 1000kg to around 1200kg. 

Two different engines were on offer in the Dispatch when it was first launched, both fuel-frugal HDi common-rail diesels. Listed were a 90hp 1.6-litre married to a five-speed gearbox and a 2.0-litre married to a six-speed gearbox at either 120hp or 136hp. In more recent times Citroen has marketed it with 2.0-litre HDi diesels at 95hp, 125hp and 160hp. All take six-speed ’boxes.

If you are looking to acquire a second-hand Dispatch then there are a number of considerations to bear in mind, according to website Used Van Expert. Check the paperwork, it advises, and the mileage in particular. If it is approaching 70,000 miles then the steering rack is likely to require repair work in the not-too-distance future. Play in the steering will give the game away, which merits a £300 discount to cover the repair cost. Remember that if the work is not done then your Dispatch could fail its next MoT, Used Van Expert warns.
Also check to see if the cam belt has been changed on schedule, especially if you are examining a high-mileage model. If it has not been swapped and the van has seen more than 100,000 miles of service then the job needs doing asap to prevent serious engine damage. Get £200 knocked off the asking price to get the belt replaced.
Open both of the standard load area side doors. If either refuses to slide cleanly along the full length of the runner then it will need swapping, so push for a £100 price cut says Used Van Expert.
Start the engine from cold and let it tick over with the cab door open. Can you hear a peculiar growling? If so, the exhaust is on its way out, and a replacement won’t come cheap says Used Van Expert. It’s a £500 job.
Leave the engine running, nip out of the cab and open the bonnet. Then don some nice thick gloves as the engine will be hot and try to squeeze the fat rubber pipe that runs into the radiator. Is it rock-hard? If it is, then that is an indication that the head gasket has failed and needs replacing – enough to justify another £500 price drop.
While looking down at the radiator check it for green marks or white fur – both signs of leaks – and ensure that the front and back surfaces are of a uniform pattern. None of the fins should be broken or missing. If a radiator suffers from any or all of these defects then it needs replacing and a £170 discount is appropriate says Used Van Expert.
Should your potential purchase pass the above tests, then take it for a run. Make sure you pull away briskly then put the steering on full lock and listen for a knocking or clicking sound. Hear that, and you will know that the drive shaft gaiters need replacing, so negotiate a £200 discount per side.
Find a hill, drive down it, slow the van with the gears, and once you are in third lift your foot off the accelerator and listen for a droning or whirring noise, which is a sign that the differential needs replacing. That is going to leave you with a £1000 bill and the asking price should be slashed accordingly.
Next, drive over a set of speed bumps. If the suspension emits a knocking sound then a bottom ball joint probably needs changing, which is worth around £50 off.

How much to pay?

At the time of writing, Citroen dealership Perrys Citroen of Huddersfield had a Dispatch L1H1 1000 90hp 1.6-litre on sale for £6295 (all prices exclude VAT). It was 2009-registered on a 59-plate and had covered 46,543 miles.
In East Anglia, a L2H1 1200 125hp 2.0-litre, 2012-registered, on a 62-plate and with just 3000 miles recorded, was on offer for £13,495 at Duff Morgan’s King’s Lynn dealership. The same outlet was selling a L1H1 1000 90hp 1.6-litre, 27,000 miles recorded, first registered in 2010, and on a 60-plate, for £8995. Both Duff Morgan vans were built to Enterprise specifications.
If franchised dealer prices are a bit too steep then you might want to try Anchor Van Centre based near Reading. It was promoting a 2008  L1H1 1000 90hp 1.6-litre and on a 08-plate with getting on for 122,000 miles to its name for £4350.

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