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BX53CZU Progress reports

This is just a place to keep my ramblings which may or more likely may not interest people.

So BX53CZU is a 03/10/2003 Renault Avantime Privilege V6 Automatic. It was owned by 2 previous members on here but there is minimal info on what work they did on the car.

I purchased the car in early august 2020 and have been working on it since to get it back to a road worthy project. As mentioned elsewhere I don’t mind mechanicals and electricals its body work that I have no interest in.

The car as found did run but has not been used on the road since 2016. The exterior was covered in a good layer “not used” car dirt which they always seem to attract, unfortunately after 2 or 3 good power washes the paint has gone flat and there are various scratches and a couple of bits of damage ( Front wing and rear bumper) The interior is its redeeming feature and as found was in good condition and has just needed a good clean and fed to be back in perfect condition.

The car started, drove, and stopped for the 40 yards onto the trailer which was promising. Checking the oil thou I found it stank and needed a change immediately along with the fuel in the tank which also had a fragrant hint to it.

The idea was to change both belts, pulleys etc. then oil change and go from there.

This was my first cam belt on a V6 and everything went to plan with the exception of I made my own locking pins out of 8mm rod but struggled like mad to get them to locate properly so had the belt on and off 2 or 3 times. Eventually I tried all pins in all holes and found that the holes in the block where if anything all under 8mm. I linished my locating pins and found they all slotted in place with no issue.

The engine still wouldn’t start and after a fair while of head scratching, I thought I should check the fuel pressure, ZERO. This was the start of French Electrics post sabbatical 101. 2 of the relays had gone south and the other 2 worked as and when they felt like it. So I robbed the ones of the 2Ltr and it started straight away with no issue, ran up to temp and smoke was pouring out of the bonnet. Fortunately it was just of the front heatshield exhaust area as this was dripping in oil ( As mentioned all previous MOT’s). So I tried to restart it and it wouldn’t checked for fuel pressure Ok , then it did start but only on 4. Stopped and restarted back to 6 and loads more smoke.

Eventually I got it up to temp and running perfectly (albeit the smoke) so then a sump dump and scrape the crust of the inside of the sump pan. I also cleaned the outside and gave it a lick of paint. To continue the clean up I removed the inlet manifold and rescued 6 matching coils and spark plugs which were all up to the brim with an oil water mix. These were all cleaned checked and then packed away as spares.

Next to remove the rocker covers, I was stupid in not pulling the boxes of when I was doing the cam but hey ho. These had a good clean and I removed some of the baked-on crud from inside the rocker boxes.


  • nice one!... i think you have done more in one post than i have done in 5 years ownership!.
  • Maybe we all ought to open a page like this for our individual cars. And then have a live detailed history of it?.... just keep adding to it, and then if someone else takes ownership of the car, they can continue the history and have a reference to check back on?.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    Next up was resealing all of the cam covers and then more cleaning and removing years of oil and detritus from the engine bay.

    Most of the loom tape under the “beautification panel” had fallen apart due to age / heat / being soaked in oil. So it was stripped and replaced with Tesa’s finest loom tape which neatens everything up and stops accidental snagging. At this time more connectors were stripped and cleaned with connection cleaner. 90% of the contacts were full of oil or corrosion how this ran I do not know. I pulled all of the fuses and relays out along with the connection blocks. Needless to say they were all showing signs of corrosion!

    Whilst I was in this area I removed the breather setup which had been modified already so the cam cover breathers had been replaced with silicon but the returns on either side of the TB were still the old crumbling plastic with heat shrink, tape and luck holding them together. All were replaced with new silicone tubing. This and repeated actuation of the dephaser solenoids seemed to have cured the start up missing.

    All of the brakes needed work due to the layup so the fronts were removed completely stripped then rebuilt using new parts were necessary. The pistons all responded to a good clean and fortunately the bleed nipples all came out without a fight and only one carrier slider was stuck. All in all it was obvious they were fine before and had just degraded due to sitting. New fluids brought the fronts back to life with no problem and an hour or so of repeated pull push of the handbrake cables ( whilst the rear callipers where removed) got them working to the point the handbrake works perfectly and returns to its stops with out any issue. New pads were used but the old discs front and rear were just cleaned up as they had plenty of meat but surface rust and a very minor lip ( The old pads were all nearly new as well so have been kept for dire emergancys).

    During the front calliper work I pulled both struts which are relatively new / unused. Fortunately the bearings were both good and all the wishbone joints were ok to pass an MOT if not in there first flush of youth so I have saved swapping them out for a later day.

    The top mounts and springs are all OK but I do have a plan to put this on air bags any way.

    MOT 03/11/21, which it passed with minimal issues 2 to be precise, to be precise 2.
    1. Smoke was still coming from the front heatshield which the garage were amused by
    2. Failed front offside bearing, ???????? I completely forgot to tighten the drive shaft when I refitted it . luckily a couple of dugga dugga’s and we were tight and the bearing was fine as the garage is just up the road.

    The only real comment is just how much surface rust there is especially considering how much evidence there is of oil leaks all over the front.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    One of the things I noticed when under neath was how bad the headlight adjusters were so they were both stripped of and I have built replacement arms which will hopefully last. Although I built them with the exact dimensions of the originals I still have no idea how to calibrate them and just got my 2ltr side by side and set them up the same ? ! ?
    As mentioned the interior was this cars saving grace and every week or so I have been treating the leather which ahs made a massive difference in how supply the seats are.
    I removed the sunroof and the headlining to investigate why the roof didn’t want to play and found that the gutters were clogged with crap , the drive cable was full of crap and the motor had burnt out. I have cleaned all the parts and replaced the motor with another and so far we are back to full operation.
    One other notable was the wheels which were in near perfect condition with no major marks and all four hubcaps in place . The tyres are ditch finder specials but they haven’t gone square and still have a vague amount of grip, they will be replaced in the near future.
    At the moment the next big stag is to add LPG which I have had no dealings with before so we will see where that goes.
  • Posts: 0
    Tempest said:

    nice one!... i think you have done more in one post than i have done in 5 years ownership!.

    He's done more in one post that I've even thought about in 10 years!
  • Fantastic write up, I usually post pictures as it takes less time and effort
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    Headlight Leveller details

    At the rear all the lens and covers are in perfect condition, but I still removed them all and replaced half of the bulbs as they were blown. Bit of Vaseline on the seals and then back in. The third brake light was another story, some one had been in there and replaced the connectors and bulb holder with an LED strip which had died. I pulled all of this out and replaced it with another LED strip but this time making sure it was water proof and adding some deflectors so it looks like one light rather than a set of individual bulbs which never looks right to my eye.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    All seemed well with BX. At the moment I have just been using it at weekends and longer runs to try and get everything settled and to be honest everything appears to be going that way. The brakes and drive train all seem to be a lot smoother and the gearbox is getting better. The biggest niggle has been in two parts , the fuel gauge is sporadic and seems to stick and the fuel pump doesn't always kick in. Based on the smell of the fuel when I collected the car the two are linked and I can imagine how 5-year-old petrol has left its mark in the tank.
    I am now going to pull the sender/ pump unit as it has given up the ghost completely with no resistance over Pins 3 & 4. As with most things in life this happened directly after putting £70 worth of petrol in. So the next job is pumping this out in to spare containers so it is light enough to pull the tank. I have only had to pull 3 tanks and this one and the one in my Audi 100 qT had both been brimmed before I had to drop them. The other was in my Murena which although empty took hours due to the twist, turn, twist some more, lift one end then the other method of removal.
    Fuel tank connector
    So when I pull it all it may be strip clean reinsert or replace. So far I can find plenty of pumps from £20-£50 and a few pump cartridges around £120 new or second-hand. Hope fully this will be the end of the fuel pressure issues for once and for all. One good side is all this remove and replace has cleaned the contacts on the fuel pump relays.
    On a side note I have only had one other auto a £60 1982 Saab 900 which was used a moving bus so I never really took any notice of it. I just personally haven’t bonded with the auto box , Ok the easy kerplunk it into D and go but a few times I have been pushing on across a roundabout as it goes left to right and you give a slight left then back on the power it hesitates or changes and there is just that moment of looseness that is exaggerated by such a heavy lump of a car.

  • the hesitation on roundabouts could be the fuel pressure issue again and not the gearbox?.
  • I have a complete fuel tank sender unit available if required
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    The hesitation is the box its that looseness that you get when the box is locked its a personal thing and I just feel a bit Mmmm about it. 5 MPH less solid throttle and you wouldn't feel a thing.

    Does any one drive using the manual option ( M1,2,3) ?

    Sandy I will keep that in mind but really need to get in the tank to see what it is 5 years of grot that needs cleaning or some thing has broken. definitely needs a new pump.
  • Posts: 0
    Does any one drive using the manual option ( M1,2,3) ?

    yes frequently...works perfectly (as it should) and no clunk into drive. usually if i'm hustling the old girl along and getting involved !
  • I've got into the habit of always selecting manual whenever I stop with my foot on the brake, then select auto again as I pull away. Just to eradicate the "thump". Momentarily releasing the foot brake every four seconds does the same thing.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    Just to align the story, our 10 year old washing machine has been hit and miss, so we bought a new one leaving the old one outside over night as I would deal with it the next day after work. I arrived home from work to find the local traveling community had taken the old one away they had also liberated my trolley jack which was tucked away under the car ( Not in use).

    SO after working out the problem with the pump I managed to loose the notes I had made . No problem just meter the connection again ????? I now had resistance over both pairs ??? Keep reading

    So now I had to arrange bricks , wedges and planks to brace the full tank whilst dropping it. In the end it was the crappy Matra captive nuts which I have encountered on my Murena that caused the headaches. three of the four broke loose so I had to chop the heads of the bolts using a Dremel then move the tank out of the way. I managed to remove all of the captive nuts / fittings and made new refurbished as required.


    In side the tank was half full of crap and the fuel gauge was stuck firmly in place due to corrosion. I know leaving vehicles laid up for long term is bad but this is the worst I have ever seen.
    The spring mechanism to hold the pump cartridge in place was rusted solid and it was just a complete mess.

    This connector was the best part, it is the positive for the pump and had split but was held in place by rust and crap which meant it occasionally gave enough purchase to run or give a reading but not enough for daily use.

    The whole fuelling system has now been stripped cleaned replaced where possible and then reinstated. It now starts on the merest touch of the key and has no hesitation
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    Whilst the car was sat on the drive for a week or two I forgot that I had put the hand break on so come the first time I use the car cue much burny smell. Fortunately jacking the rear up I found the nearside to be fine whereas the off side needed 2 minutes of manipulation then it was moving as it should. Whilst here I was going to take the cables off but found they were both silky smooth in operation although I had to have words with my 8 year old side kick who was inside working the lever. He found it far more amusing to yank the lever when he thought I wasn’t ready rather than the slow and steady up down action I had asked for. The one good thing that came out of this is the rears are now well and truly bedded in. In other new considering I don’t want to use this as a day to day car rather get it all back up in running order, MOT was 02/11/20 @ 133356 where as today 11/01/21 we are on 134550 so 1194 miles.

    I can bond with the lazy nature of the car and although the box isn’t broken I am sure a good flush ( ASAP) and new fluid will bring it back up to par. I just still prefer a manual .

    Due to the issue with the pump and my random usage I am at 23-25mpg but I am sure this would creep up to a more solid 25mpg + where as my 2LT is 32mpg down to 28mpg when pushing on.

    And todays latest , when I went for an MOT the nearside headlight did flicker very slightly when it was switched on ( to the extent that you didn’t notice when in the car). Sat PM with all the fog, the Headlight is switching its self-off so the ballast is on its way out. I have on the way a set of non HID headlights from a Safrane so will stick these in whilst I see where to go on the HID’s more than likely swap in a generic set as I have used them in the past on a couple of cars with no issues.
  • if you drove for any length of time with the handbrake on, the rear wheel bearings overheat and the grease drips out..... and then you will need some new ones. Might be worth repacking them with grease, before any damage is caused.
  • and where did you get the non HID safrane headlamps from?.... i am wanting a pair to play with. Let me know how easy a swap they are onto your Avantime - please.
  • Worth checking the headlight relays first, they are located in the fuse box beside the battery. I’ve had issues with these in the past.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    Auto wipers !!!!

    On my last Audi it had auto wipers, lights and hand break and they all worked perfectly, with the exception of the lights. The On Off timer would flick on for 30 seconds thinking it was getting dark then decide no its light enough so turn off.
    After spending 10 minutes reading how to set them up and what does what they where left on auto all the time and I never gave them a second thought.

    The wipers on BX53 just don’t seem to work as well especially in this winter weather where the roads are wet so plenty of spray but not necessarily rain. And spray doesn’t seem to turn them on. I doubt if Clip can adjust this and my clip still doesn’t want to work ( I WILL PAY SOME ONE TO HELP WITH CLIP).

    In other news I have started pulling apart the washer system to get that back to rude health. The headlight washers have been pulled in and out and cleaned and now seem to react a lot better. The amount of crap that was in them was extreme to say the least. ALL of the washer hoses are well past their best so will be replaced.

    I did this on my old G Wagon by removing everything including the lines front to back, the lines were full of crud which proved that replacing the lot is 10 times better than blowing / washing them through.
  • The Auto wipers on my Avantime are better than my brand new nissan!. I’m always adjusting the Nissan ones to speed up or slow down. The Avantimes always seem to do what’s needed. Admittedly, I do have to sometimes nudge them into working occassionally when the rain starts.

    My headlamp washers have never worked. Trying them just creates a whirring noise and a puddle under the car, so I reckon I have a pipe off somewhere, and the mot never seems to mention it. I’m assuming it’s a bumper off job to get at the units properly?.
  • edited January 2021 Posts: 0
    The most likely cause of autowipers not behaving correctly is the gel pad that is stuck to the inside of the windscreen to allow the infra-red transmitter to penetrate the inner surface. It's the refracted light that is sensed and any disturbance caused by droplets of water will trigger the wiping. If the windscreen has been replaced, the gel pad may not have been fitted correctly. My first replacement windscreen fitter re-used the original gel pad and it had bubbles in it. The second time I replaced it myself and fitted a new gel pad and there was a marked difference. Worn wiper blades will also cause problems.

    I agree with @Tempest about Nissan, our Qashqai and my mum's Note are the same.
    Tempest said:

    Admittedly, I do have to sometimes nudge them into working occasionally when the rain starts.

    I think all cars are like that so the wipers are less likely to injure someone if the ignition is turned on when the wipers are in the auto position.
  • Posts: 0
    Tempest said:

    The Auto wipers on my Avantime are better than my brand new nissan!. I’m always adjusting the Nissan ones to speed up or slow down. The Avantimes always seem to do what’s needed. Admittedly, I do have to sometimes nudge them into working occassionally when the rain starts.

    My headlamp washers have never worked. Trying them just creates a whirring noise and a puddle under the car, so I reckon I have a pipe off somewhere, and the mot never seems to mention it. I’m assuming it’s a bumper off job to get at the units properly?.

    Agree! Given that I work for Renault I've had quite a number of different cars with auto wipers and although it's a nice idea to be able to adjust the sensitivity for some reason the sensor on the Avantime seems to be just right.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    I lied, I said the car starts with no hesitation.

    It was and everything was all good , Apart from the fuel level was not in line with my milage or the MPG ?????

    So the plan was to have a look this weekend , well first it wouldn’t start then it rained so I ended up on Sunday am with a few spare hours. I had no fuel pressure but fuel at the rail . I could also hear/ feel the pump on at IGN “2” (now I am tuned into it).
    So the only explanation I could think is the pump or one of the in tank filters had gone south.


    I had lost my universal tank strap remover so bought this of eBay for £8 and it works perfectly especially considering half of the webs on the ‘nut’ have gone.
    This time I didn’t need it as I was swinging the tank out the feed pipe fell off I must have just pushed it up but not clicked it into position.
    Every thing screwed back up tight and after primming the system instant start and hopefully some better real term MPG. It was interesting that I was losing at least 10% of the fuel so the self-check is pretty vague.
    The other thing I noted and this will differ car to car by some amount as mentioned the tank is nominally 77 litres ( plus the filler pipe) and the indicator segments are ~ 8.5L each . I had just gone below the last segment so in theory I should have about 7-9 L left whereas when I cleaned the tank I pulled closer to 14L out. So I reckon when the last bar goes out you do have a good usable 2 gallons left.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    The dipped beam (HID’s) on the near side has been flashing on and off so the ballast is on its way out. I have used plenty of aftermarket setups in other cars that have projector head lights so I am happy to use them as the biggest issue is fitment of the bulb in the lens.
    Most of the dazzling cars I have experienced are fine after 5 minutes of making sure the bulb is located exactly as it should or the set up was not suitable i.e reflector not a projector.
    The one thing I sorely miss from bigger Audis is the bulb failure indication, which was for all bulbs on all cars from the late 90’s. why isn’t is mandatory ?

    I have got my Safrane Headlights and although being in perfect nick functionally they had been left in a pond for the last few years and where absolutely filthy. The reason for getting them was I want to pull the proper headlights out clean them up and sort out an after market unit and wasn’t sure how long it would take.
    The units are completely standard with a semi hard sealant filling a trough around the outer edge of the lens with a couple of clips for security.

    Get a hairdryer on this for 5 minutes and then very carefully start levering out the lens starting at the curved inner edge. Slow and gentle with plenty of heat to soften the sealant. This takes a bit of time but is easy enough. Put some heat in the clips so the bend otherwise they are easy to damage.
    With the lens off the inner section (painted grey) can be removed. I then always clean the reflectors or inner lens with alcohol and a soft wipe (glasses wipes are excellent). The cloth will go grey with dirt and that has reduced you light output and definition.




    I cleaned one of the units (Top) to see how they come part before tackling the real ones. The lens are exactly the same as far as I can tell but the numbers are different (I will note this down later)
  • Interested to see how much the wiring takes to modify on fitting them.
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    Will have to wait and see as the plan is to put the new rad in this weekend and whilst there do the lights and some other front end jobs.
    In prep I have taken some readings of where we are on both cars

  • I don't understand why you are going to all that trouble. Why not just replace the faulty headlamp or ballast?
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    1. The lights are old and not that great.
    2. I have cleaned and replaced units before but never taken any readings so results where always seat of the pants which in this day and age is pure crap.
    3. I will have few bits and bobs off the front as I am doing an lpg install and fitting anew radiator.
    4. If I get the chance I like to investigate rather than just fit a replacement
    5. Because racecar
  • I think “race car” is pushing it a bit as an excuse.... tho I will try it in future..... 😂
  • GibGib
    Posts: 167
    Headlights, Radiator and LPG prep.

    As mentioned the headlights have been sporadic with their work effort and they are a unique setup so the idea was to pull them out and swap in some Safrane unit whilst I sorted out generic HID’s in the Avantime units. Timing wise it has all come together to make more sense to pull the whole front end of and do all the jobs.


    Getting the cover panels and bumper off was no problem although the bumper, upper, outer corner, bolts in the arch had both been attacked before so they will need repairs before reinstalling.

    The next headache was the leg tie/ bumper iron. I snapped 3 bolts with out any effort at all so stopped. The bolts all just went with no effort so I will just replace them and leave the bar in place. This made it a bit harder especially to get the lower rad pipe off.
    Lucky I decided to do the rad as when I took the side panels off not only are the fins crumbling away I have had a small leak on the end cap. The lower radiator support has plenty of surface rust but nothing has taken hold . I think this was due to about 5 kgs of dirt and oil resting in there.


    I managed to power wash the front off again and have traced a couple of the leaks but snow has now stopped play.

    A comments made earlier,

    The rear discs getting hot, I have cherried discs many times before at events and that is exactly what they are designed to do in fact you get far better pad transfer the hotter they get. The heat is dissipated out of the disc, the last place the heat will get is the bearing. This is why you always see teams before spanner checking getting the car on the side stands and running in it gear for a few minutes as it cools everything down. Suffice to say they got hot enough to smell but not hot enough to do any damage but I will do another full strip of the callipers when the weather gets better.

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