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C4 Picasso Electronic parking brake - MOT failure

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Tue Dec 21 2010, 02:46pm
Hi all,

Hoping this is of interest to people. Not so much of a problem if you're having MOTs done at Citoen dealers, but certainly if at independent garages.

Bought a '57 C4 Picasso 2nd hand in August, took it in for its first MOT to my local garage (trusted and used for years) and it failed, big time, on the electronic parking brake system - reported a scary 12% efficiency! Mechanic advised me to take it to Citroen due to the complexity of the electronic system.

So, took it in to Penton Citroen, Christchurch and discussed issue with service dept. receptionist. I made it very clear why I had brought it to them and she even used the MOT failure notice to log the jobs (had a bulb and wipers that needed replacing too). Was quoted a £70 fee for them to inspect the parking brake system and was told that I would get a call after the inspection to discuss what needed doing.

Received the phone call and was told that the rear o/s brake pad was sticking and would need replacing. I accepted the quote and went back to pick the car up this evening.

Now the interesting part!
When I arrived to collect the car another receptionist was at the desk. She gave me the details of what had been done and then said, "I assume my colleague told you that this particular parking brake system has to be tested with the ignition turned off?"

It turns out that, as the first lot of C4 Picassos are only fairly recently being put through their first MOTs, independent garages are unaware of this fact and thus keep the ignition on. Due to the nature of the system, the parking brake releases! Hence the 12% efficiency rating.

So there we have it, some useful info for those that intend to get their MOTs done at their local independent.

Personally I will have a little battle on my hands as the original receptionist forgot to mention this to me when she called me after the initial inspection. If she had then I would have contacted my local garage and checked if they we aware of this. As she didn't, I agreed to the new brake pads being fitted which, as it turns out, was not the reason the car failed the MOT. Receptionist this evening understood my point and took money off the labour costs.

Surely, however, at a Citroen dealer, considering the fairly topical nature of this issue, as soon as I mentioned the words parking brake system, MOT and independent garage, I should have been told about the ignition situation!? Poor staff training, poor customer services or both?

Sorry for the essay but it'd be interesting to see what people think.
28 User said Thank You to for this Post :
 Ballistic (21 Dec 2010 : 16:32) , pedal (21 Dec 2010 : 16:51) , Dave_Retired. (22 Dec 2010 : 01:32) , BigJohnD (22 Dec 2010 : 02:45) , daza1 (22 Dec 2010 : 16:36) , petercollins (01 May 2011 : 05:06) ,  (01 Jul 2011 : 15:47) , marek (02 Jul 2011 : 16:06) ,  (06 Sep 2011 : 13:20) ,  (30 Nov 2011 : 12:43) ,  (21 Feb 2012 : 07:43) ,  (07 Oct 2012 : 16:48) , toobob (30 May 2013 : 04:05) , davidallan (07 Sep 2014 : 03:27) , malay16 (22 Dec 2014 : 16:45) , Leslie21 (25 Jan 2015 : 05:42) , arild65 (11 Jun 2015 : 09:04) , c4steve (12 Jan 2016 : 11:26) , Nandogama (12 Mar 2016 : 08:17) , goldenmarlon (14 Mar 2016 : 12:03) , dreyfuss666 (10 Jun 2016 : 14:13) , Noreac (24 Oct 2016 : 14:37) , wesso (08 Feb 2017 : 22:03) , Daveowen34 (23 Jun 2017 : 03:51) , peterjb44 (25 Jun 2018 : 07:21) , nightshift247 (23 Sep 2018 : 07:48) , cj (15 Nov 2019 : 01:22) , jedisha (01 Mar 2020 : 04:43)
Tue Dec 21 2010, 04:52pm
Member No: #503
Joined: Jun 27 2007
Location: Derby
Most likely had no idea about the issue til some research was done. Normally you find most mechanics only really know the cars if they actually have one of there own.
Wed Dec 22 2010, 01:34am

Member No: #1
Joined: Aug 07 2006
Location: Northumberland
Thanks for the feedback. I have made the post 'sticky' in case anyone else has a similar issue.
Wed Dec 22 2010, 05:10am
Thought it'd be worth updating the situation as of this morning:

I informed the mechanic, at my local garage, of Citroen's advice to do the test with the ignition turned off so he did; it passed but still with a seemingly poor handbrake efficiency rating of 21% and this is with the Citroen dealer having replaced the rear brake pads yesterday.

I thought this was still a very low score and was surprised to find out that the 'pass' score was only 16%. Even more shocking is that, as the mechanic was very intrigued by this whole 'ignition off' situation, the car was retested with the ignition turned on, for his own amusement, and the score was worse (11%) than it was yesterday (12%)!

Anyway, had a long chat to the garage owner and the mechanic and they are both very sceptical of the whole thing. They say that none of their documentation from VOSA mentions testing the car with the ignition off and that a car which is only 3 years old should be 'locking up' nicely on the handbrake test. They have advised me to write to the service manager at my local Citroen dealer and to let them know if we find anything else out. They also said that they would be unsurprised to find the issue becoming more common knowledge as MOTs begin to be done out of warranty and possibly not at Citroen dealers.

I'd be very interested to know if anyone else has had their 1st MOT done at an independent garage and if they have had similar issues. Is there an overall issue with the electronic parking brake system in general in terms of its efficiency or, because of the way it works (being able to turn it off by depressing the accelerator while in gear) the scores are never going to be higher than the 20% mark anyway? The mechanic said that the rolling road runs at less than 2mph and this was causing the car to release the handbrake automatically - doesn't seem like a lot to release it!?
2 User said Thank You to for this Post :
 petercollins (01 May 2011 : 05:09) , MJAG (01 May 2011 : 16:32)
Wed Dec 22 2010, 05:39am
Member No: #1443
Joined: Oct 28 2007
Location: Wiltshire
Did you also try with the handbrake in the full lock position as it tells in manual for parking on hills or with trailer on back As tried mine at friends garage up in the Borders just after i got car and in that position it was very good.

I am willing to surmise that if this was done there would be no problem Extract from Glovebox manual as follows

Maximum application

If necessary, you can utilise maximum application of the parking brake. It is obtained by means of a long pull on control A (parking Brake Selector) , until you see the message "handbrake on" and a beep is heard.

Maximum application is essential:

- in the case of a vehicle towing a caravan or a trailer, if the automatic functions are activated but you are applying the parking brake manually,

- when the gradient you are parked on is variable in its effect (e.g. on a ferry, in a lorry, during towing),

- in the case of towing, a loaded vehicle or parking on a gradient,

- after a maximum application, the release time will be longer.
5 User said Thank You to HoneyMonster for this Post :
 Dave_Retired. (22 Dec 2010 : 08:00) , daza1 (22 Dec 2010 : 16:36) , davidallan (07 Sep 2014 : 03:30) , wesso (08 Feb 2017 : 22:10) , nightshift247 (23 Sep 2018 : 07:52)
Wed Dec 22 2010, 08:45am
Member No: #6112
Joined: Nov 09 2008
Location: Chesterfield

Also untick the auto handbrake setting on the menu for MOT time at non franchised dealers perhaps?
1 User said Thank You to Wakanut14 for this Post :
 petercollins (01 May 2011 : 05:10)
Wed Dec 22 2010, 04:35pm
Member No: #16805
Joined: Dec 12 2010
Location: wolverhampton
Bobbylack, Thanks for starting this thread. I have just brought an 07 but it already had 12 months MOT. I never have my cars done at main dealers so this is good info for next year. Ta.
Wed Jan 19 2011, 05:26pm
Member No: #5380
Joined: Sep 14 2008
Location: Bargoed, Mid Glamorgan, South Wales
Wakanut14 wrote ...

Also untick the auto handbrake setting on the menu for MOT time at non franchised dealers perhaps?

You can do that on early Picasso's but not the newer ones now.
Thu Jan 20 2011, 12:22pm
Member No: #4184
Joined: Jun 20 2008
Location: Neath, S.Wales
oh a Bargoed User. I was up your way purchasing a sideboard before Xmas, about 1 week after picking up my C4GP.

Gotta say, I wouldn't want to live up some of those steep roads this time of year. Could be a hairy experience!!

Mon Apr 11 2011, 05:02am
Member No: #2617
Joined: Mar 02 2008
Location: Essex
Sorry to resurrect this old post.

My 2008 GP is due for an MOT this month and because my local Toyota dealer is doing MOT's for £30 I have booked it in with them for this Friday morning. I trust them (as they look after our Toyota Aygo) and my Citroen dealer wants pretty much full price for an MOT and is further away. My GP doesn't need a service for another year as I used to get the MOT done at the same time.

With the auto handbrake, I mentioned this to them and they weren't familiar with any issues, saying that normally when they enter the car on their system, it details any odd things to watch for.

Would I just be better to switch off the auto handbrake function in the cars menu? - I think I have it as an option on my 2008 car.

I guess I would just tell them to manually apply the handbrake by a long pull on the handbrake button whether the engine is running or not?

Any advice would be much appreciated, to avoid an incorrect MOT failure?
1 User said Thank You to bluehdi for this Post :
 davidallan (07 Sep 2014 : 03:32)
Sun May 01 2011, 05:14am
Member No: #18563
Joined: Mar 04 2011
Location: bishop auckland
thank you all for the above my mot due soon
Sun May 01 2011, 06:36am
Member No: #2617
Joined: Mar 02 2008
Location: Essex
My GP passed without issue having been MOT'd at a Toyota dealership.

I made a point of showing the chap doing the MOT the 'long pull' method when applying the electronic handbrake. This was instead of disabling the handbrake altogether from the configuration menu. He said that they are normally advised of any unusual car features when they access the computer system, but showing him this was useful.

Having watched the whole MOT process from their viewing area I was surprised at how thorough the MOT was (almost an hour), which for £30 was pretty good value!
Sun May 01 2011, 04:36pm
Member No: #13459
Joined: Apr 25 2010
Location: Oxford
You can do that on early Picasso's but not the newer ones now.

How would that work on those car washes which tow the car through on a conveyor? Surely you either need to turn off the automatic activation of the handbrake or you would have to leave the engine running?
Sun May 01 2011, 06:19pm

Member No: #406
Joined: Jun 16 2007
Location: Stafford
All carwashes of this kind have a sign before you enter warning you to leave engine running if you have an automatic handbrake.
1 User said Thank You to Phil for this Post :
 wesso (08 Feb 2017 : 22:16)
Fri May 06 2011, 03:44pm
Member No: #13459
Joined: Apr 25 2010
Location: Oxford
Just a quick update on this issue.
We've had a recall letter through today (reference MHV) to check and replace the parking brake cables because 'a fault could lead to insufficient application of the parking brake'.

It's not listed on the recall section of this site but I'm guessing that's because it's too new.

It certainly might explain the problem of the brake MOT figures quoted at the top of this thread. Worth checking perhaps?
1 User said Thank You to MJAG for this Post :
 Mistermena (17 Mar 2016 : 16:56)
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