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C5 2.2hdi Intercooler


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#1 Big Al

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 10:18 AM

Apologies if this has been covered - I did a search but didn't find anything specific. Anyhow, I was carrying out a full service over the weekend and noticed that the turbo intercooler radiator on my car (2003 2.2 HDi Exclusive manual) is very damp with oil and has a pool of oil under it. Looking through the radiator grille I can see that the fins at the front of the intercooler are pretty oily and hence have picked up a lot of road dirt and are clogged. I guess the leak has been going on for some time. I assume this will affect turbo performance - I have noticed a gradual drop in performance on boost as well as a 5% or so reduction in FE. Turbo lag seems to have got worse as well.

Before I tackle it has anyone got any tips as to a) removal and inspection of the intercooler element; :huh: what the cause is likely to be? c) why is there oil in this area - I though the intercooler was an air-to-air cooler?

Many thanks in advance
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#2 Guest_H19SNS_*

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 06:16 PM

I have the same problem - loads of oil in the inlet track and what looks like a leaky intercooler with oil pooling at the bottom. Any advice on cause - whether to change or try to repair?

#3 mlkey

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 07:16 PM

Apologies if this has been covered - I did a search but didn't find anything specific. Anyhow, I was carrying out a full service over the weekend and noticed that the turbo intercooler radiator on my car (2003 2.2 HDi Exclusive manual) is very damp with oil and has a pool of oil under it. Looking through the radiator grille I can see that the fins at the front of the intercooler are pretty oily and hence have picked up a lot of road dirt and are clogged. I guess the leak has been going on for some time. I assume this will affect turbo performance - I have noticed a gradual drop in performance on boost as well as a 5% or so reduction in FE. Turbo lag seems to have got worse as well.

Before I tackle it has anyone got any tips as to a) removal and inspection of the intercooler element; :huh: what the cause is likely to be? c) why is there oil in this area - I though the intercooler was an air-to-air cooler?

Many thanks in advance


There are two reasons for the oil. Firstly, the engine breather vents to the air intake (pre turbo), so it is likely that some of the oil is coming from there. Secondly, if the turbo itself is worn, it may be letting some oil get into the intake pipes. Mine has the oil around the intercooler issue (2.0L 120k miles), but unless you are either getting a lot of smoke out of the exhaust, or using excessive oil, I would not be too concerned. Mine uses about a half litre of oil every 6000 miles, but is not smoking.

Obviously, if the intercooler is leaking the oil out, and you have checked the hoses are tight, then there is a leak, and ultimately, some of your boost pressure will be escaping, whether it is enough to worry about is another matter..

A simple check is to remove the intercooler, and get a decent size inner tube from somewhere. Cut a large piece of the tube out and seal it securely over one of the pipe outlets with a jubilee clip, now cut another piece containing the valve and fit it over the other. Using a footpump (do not use a compressor), try to put a pressure of 1 bar (approx 15psi) into the intercooler. If the leaks are bad, you hear them and will not be able to maintain the pressure easily, and it should be replaced.

Hope that helps.
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#4 Big Al

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 01:04 PM

Thanks mlkey - I will pencil that procedure in as a job over Easter (weather permitting). It needs doing since at the very least the efficiency of the intercooler must be way down as it is so clogged with oil and muck. But like yours, the car doesn't use much oil or smoke at all so I assume the turbo itself is ok. Current mileage is 99,500. I'll post the results of my efforts next week.

H19SNS - if the intercooler needs replacing the best price I've found for an OE one is 200. Have you researched availability/price at all?
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#5 mlkey

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 03:57 AM

Thanks mlkey - I will pencil that procedure in as a job over Easter (weather permitting). It needs doing since at the very least the efficiency of the intercooler must be way down as it is so clogged with oil and muck. But like yours, the car doesn't use much oil or smoke at all so I assume the turbo itself is ok. Current mileage is 99,500. I'll post the results of my efforts next week.

H19SNS - if the intercooler needs replacing the best price I've found for an OE one is 200. Have you researched availability/price at all?


They seem to be readily available on ebay for around the 150 mark, not sure if they are genuine part though.
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#6 mlkey

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 04:03 AM

Thanks mlkey - I will pencil that procedure in as a job over Easter (weather permitting). It needs doing since at the very least the efficiency of the intercooler must be way down as it is so clogged with oil and muck. But like yours, the car doesn't use much oil or smoke at all so I assume the turbo itself is ok. Current mileage is 99,500. I'll post the results of my efforts next week.

H19SNS - if the intercooler needs replacing the best price I've found for an OE one is 200. Have you researched availability/price at all?


Forgot to say, it is best to immerse the intercooler in water when you do the check, to be sure the air leak is not coming from your inner tube seals, it you refit, be sure it is dry inside before doing so..
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#7 Big Al

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 09:37 AM

Mikey - thanks for the extra advice. The battery now appears to have virtually died - not unreasonable given age/miles I suppose. These things always seem to arrive at once! I remember reading that some care needs to be taken when changing batteries in order to avoid getting spurious warnings. I'll have to search to forum to check.
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#8 mlkey

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Posted 09 April 2009 - 05:26 PM

Mikey - thanks for the extra advice. The battery now appears to have virtually died - not unreasonable given age/miles I suppose. These things always seem to arrive at once! I remember reading that some care needs to be taken when changing batteries in order to avoid getting spurious warnings. I'll have to search to forum to check.


I never had any trouble with mine, only thing you have to do is get the keyfob working again or you get the immobiliser message with you switch the ignition on. All I did was lock the car and unlock it using the fob, then it works fine.
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#9 Guest_H19SNS_*

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Posted 11 April 2009 - 06:53 AM

Thanks Mikey/Big Al, good responses; I too will take off the intercooler and try to do a leak test, similarly no smoke or significant use of oil, but leak is severe enough to warrant repair. Best price I have seen is 166 e-bay. Big Al: Our Citroen's must be in phase!! ;-) - my battery went too not that long ago along with the starter. With new battery - I had to turn ignition on for 10 secs or so and wait, then the car started fine after that. The more I do to the C5 the more I seem to like it - I changed to this car abotu 18 months ago after having Saab 9000s for years, it's not a Saab, but has it's + points. Cheers.

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Posted 15 April 2009 - 07:44 AM

Intercooler is easy to take off; Take off bottom undertray, remove pipework to bottom of intercooler (remove whole pipe), at top of intercooler there is an 8mm bolt holding the top bracket to the front of car, remove this and take out top mounting bracket, disconnect top hose and vac sensor at top of IC and then simply drop out through bottom of car. I cleaned mine up with a little gunk & solvent, then pressure tested, found leak at bottom corner and have sealed with some liquid steel; Will see if that works, if not will replace with new unit. How did you get on Al?

#11 Big Al

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 10:49 AM

I got mine off from the top - easy to do if you take out the air cleaner box (the whole lot simply slides up once you've disconnected outlet pipe and a sensor). Then you can undo the inlet/oultlet hoses to the intercooler, the sensor and retaining bracket. All can be done from above provided you can get to the bottom hose clip screw to loosen it - I could, just about. I made sure that the screw for this was pointing upwards on re-assembly so as to make the job easier next time.

Anyhow, to the intercooler itself. 2/3 of the front face of mine was totally clogged with oil/muck hence severely restricted airflow and cooling ability. I cleaned with gunk and a pressure washer after sealing the inlet/oulet and senor connections. I had to be a bit careful with the jet washer to avoid damaging the delicate cooling fins. I ran out of time to test, but could see no evidence of leakage from the hoses, so assume the unit itself does leak. Once all back together the difference in mpg and performance is stark. My declining mpg is reveresed - now back up to 45mpg+ (from 39mpg) and the car is more responsive and pulls better low down. This problem had obviously been develping for some time. I actually first noticed the oil pool under the intercooler about 18 months ago but didn't think it was serious. I noticed the mpg/performance decline more recently and this prompted a more thorough inspection of the intercooler, hence I spotted the clogging of the fins.

I would advise owners with otherwise unexplained drop in mpg/performance to check intercooler condition. The point of the intercooler is to improve both of these on turbocharged engines, so an inefficient one will have a significant effect. Leakeage here seems to be very common (my mate's 2.2HDi is at the early stages of the same thing). I will probably replace mine as it will no doubt leak oil and clog again over time, but might try to repair now that H19SNS has shown it can be done. I guess I must still be losing a bit of boost pressure so will have to repair/replace to sort this anyhow.
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#12 Big Al

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Posted 16 April 2009 - 11:14 AM

Thanks Mikey/Big Al, good responses; I too will take off the intercooler and try to do a leak test, similarly no smoke or significant use of oil, but leak is severe enough to warrant repair. Best price I have seen is 166 e-bay. Big Al: Our Citroen's must be in phase!! ;-) - my battery went too not that long ago along with the starter. With new battery - I had to turn ignition on for 10 secs or so and wait, then the car started fine after that. The more I do to the C5 the more I seem to like it - I changed to this car abotu 18 months ago after having Saab 9000s for years, it's not a Saab, but has it's + points. Cheers.


H19SNS, my battery lasted 6 years which is not brilliant but ok I suppose. Starter seems ok so far. Car has just hit 100k and like you, I like it. Now that the mpg is fixed it's even better. Hard to beat for combination of mpg/space/purchase cost. My last car was a 406 diesel estate that I ran to 180k with no major probs so I'm a bit of a fan of French diesel estate cars. Hopefully the C5 will reach similar mileage with few problems. So far aside from consumables there's been nothing significant go wrong, just a few niggly things that can be fixed with a few DIY skills. From my experience, I reckon they are as reliable as most other makes out there (Toyota/Honda possibly excepted) and are brilliant cruisers on the motorway. I suspect some owners skip items like DPF servicing and then get loads of warning messages/limp-home mode... and so essentially write the car off as unreliable. As ever it helps if you can find a good independent Citroen specialist to keep the cost of such jobs at a sensible level. My filter swap was 100 for the exchange filter plus labour plus Eolys fluid. Circa 275 all in if I remember correctly.

I loked at Saabs but I prefer diesel and the 9-5 didn't get a decent diesel engine until 2006 (Fiat unit replaced the GM diesel) so they were still a bit pricey when I was looking. Happy motoring!
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#13 corsehf

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Posted 23 April 2009 - 12:08 AM

Hi, had the same issues a month back but i was hoping it was causing my 'Anti-pollution' fault as well.
Called 2 Rad Repair companies all who said yes they could do it but once they saw it said no to a repair. The 3rd one said yes however, once he found where it was leaking from said it was unrepairable so he got a new Valeo unit for 107 + VAT. The original was Valeo also so quite pleased with price.
Did not notice any improvement with the car nor did it help with the dreaded ESP/Anti-pollution fault!!!
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