Why does my Citroen Xsara smell burnt plastic ?

Citroen Xsara Picasso (2000 — 2010) — 01 2.0 Fire Problem

01 2.0 Fire Problem — coline68 My Diesel Picasso has been really reliable over the last 5 years.

I started the engine earlier this week and started to defrost the windows — the temp was reported as -11.

After 10 mins I was ready to set off but there was a strange smell inside the car. On lifting the bonnet I saw small flames coming from what I think is the Brake Servo or that area.

I switched the engine off and extinguished the flames with a jug of water. A threw another just of water in the same area a few minutes later and the water just evaporated.

I suspect that the Servo was faulty or had been effected by the cold and when I started the engine it overheated and ignited some oil or brake fluid which was on the unit.

I have since switched on the ignition and the display comes on and does not report any errors.

I am nervous about starting the engine or moving the car in case it is the Servo and it ignites again or the brakes fail.

Has anyone encountered anything like this previously.

Thanks in advance.

Edited by Dynamic Dave on 31/01/2010 at 23:49

01 2000 Fire Problem — Peter.N. Sounds very strange, if its a conventional servo I can’t think of anything that could make it get hot. Heat is normally only generated by an electrical or mechanical fault, a siezed bearing or the like.
01 2000 Fire Problem — steve_earwig I can’t think of anything on a brake servo that could catch fire, is there any chance of you taking a picture, posting it on photobucket or similar and putting a link to it on here?
01 2000 Fire Problem — bathtub tom Do these have any sort of fuel-fired cabin heater?
01 2000 Fire Problem — tony@tooting I suspect that this vehicle will have and inline electric water heater fitted to on of the engine coolnat/hetare pipes. If it has, then either the car was low on water, or the water had frozen, and the heater oveheated and burnt out taking the pipe with it. Try squeezing the rubber water hoses, if you cant, the the water has frozen. If you can, then check the water level. Either way, the car will have to be towed to a garage for further investigation. Do not try to start it again!

01 2000 Fire Problem — coline68 Thanks for your response, this sounds highly possible, I had a problem with the plastic cover over the thermostat 2 weeks ago when it cracked and resulted in loss of water.

That would tie in with the water freezing as it would have lost most of it’s Antifreeze :-(.

Come to think of it now, the smell which entered the car did smell of burning rubber.

01 2000 Fire Problem — tony@tooting Hmmmmmm, that would sound like the cause of the fault then. I would still try the crush test on the water pipes though, just to make sure. (Or have a look inside the expansion tank to see if the water has frozen.)
01 2000 Fire Problem — steve_earwig Apparently some Picassos do indeed have additional heating.

01 2000 Fire Problem — coline68 I have managed to take a photo of the part which caught fire —

This looks as though it is part of the cooling system. What is the purpose of this part and what would I ask for when I am looking for a replacement.

If I was to disconnect the power cables would the engine be OK to start?

01 2000 Fire Problem — Armitage Shanks There was a recall for 307s relating to possible fires, caused by corrosion, in the brake servo. It is a PSA car although not a Citroen and now the thoughts seem to be turning to pre-heaters. I am only throwing this into the mix as the brake servo was mentioned at one point

01 2000 Fire Problem — dieselnut This looks like, as Tony suggested above, the auxilliary coolant heater. This boosts the heat output from the internal car heater when the engine is cold & the outside temperature is below about 10c.
The rubber cover on the right hand terminal in your picture is missing, so presume this has burnt away & was the cause of all the smoke.
You need to find the fuse for this unit which will be located in the engine bay fuse box & remove it.
I would then check your coolant level & top up with neat antifreeze as you say you may have lost coolant from the stat housing.
Start the engine & check that the internal heater is getting warm.
If not you will have an airlock in the cooling system & will need to either refer to a Haynes manual to bleed air from the system or take it to a local garage.
Once your cooling system is functioning ok you can get the auxilliary heater repaired, it may only be a loose terminal or high resistance crimp conexion, but probably best left to an auto electrician. Be careful not to touch any of the burnt rubber as some types leave an acid residue when burnt that eats into skin.

01 2000 Fire Problem — coline68 I am still trying to sort out this problem so I am confident that I can drive the car to a garage to basically sell it. My insurance company have inspected the car and feel that there is no additional damage apart from the heater (which isn’t covered by the insurance).

I have been trying to find the correct fuse for this unit but I can’t find any reference. Does anyone know which fuse number controls this unit or where I could find the information.

01 2000 Fire Problem — tony@tooting I would not drive the car at all to be honest. The hose is damaged so will, or very soon will, loose water. Why risk doing further damage? You wount get much for it in the state its in, so get it to a local garage and get them to give you a price to replace the hose/heater, or see if they can fit a reapir section without the heater. The latter may cause the eml to come on, but at least you can then drive the car after and then see if any further damage was done when the engine froze.
01 2000 Fire Problem — rainbow311

The same thing has just happened to me. Could anyone please tell me the name of this part on the picture so I can get it.

Thanks in advance

01 2.0 Fire Problem — mashed

Just had exactly same problem , my son and I were clearing snow and ice off the car , the engine was running, we started to smell burning and opened the bonnet , there were flames at the back on the right hand side. We threw water on and put out fire .

01 2.0 Fire Problem — injection doc

there was someone else just a few weeks ( that posted on honest john) that experinced a Picasso bursting into flames, but i can’t find the post myself. It almost burnt the house as well & the car was destroyed !

Edited by injection doc on 19/12/2010 at 19:11

01 2.0 Fire Problem — rainbow311

How much did it cost to get this repaired? The same thing has just happened to me, although it didn’t catch fire, just smoking. Just what I need at this time of year.