Clutch (BE3 Transmission)

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The BE3 gearbox is the standard 5-speed manual gearbox fitted in all manual Xantias with 1.8, 2.0 petrol (not CT) and all diesel engines except the 2.1TD - thus the majority of Xantias. The BE3 gearbox was also fitted to Series 2 Xantia's with the HDi 90bhp engine only, and used a push clutch setup rather then a pull clutch like the 1.9td Mark One xantia.

Clutch Cable Adjustment


The following applies to all Mk1 Xantias except 2.1TD and V6 - these have different gearboxes and hydraulic clutches. Most Mk2 cars are fitted with 'self-adjusting' clutch cables, though I believe Mk2s with the old 1.9 XUD (non-HDi) engine have the Mk1 clutch.

1) Remove the air-cleaner
Air-cleaner barb.JPG
Air-cleaner side mount.JPG
To gain access to the adjuster on the transmission end of the clutch cable, remove the air cleaner and its mounting plate as follows:-

It's not necessary to open the air cleaner. Undo the jubilee clip holding the inlet manifold air hose onto the back of the air cleaner, and push the air hose backwards off the air-cleaner.

The air-cleaner is now held in place by a plastic barb (left) which has to be pushed in (towards the air-cleaner) while the air-cleaner body is pulled up at the back. With a bit of wiggling the air cleaner will come off the side mount. (right)

Undo the three (10mm) set-screws that hold the air-cleaner mounting-plate in position. There's another plastic barb (push it down) that holds the air-inlet hose onto the plate.

2) Adjusting the clutch
The clutch cable is adjusted by means of the adjuster nut on the transmission end of the cable.
Clutch Adjuster photo.jpg

Slacken the 10mm lock-nut on the end of the clutch cable. If the nut is stiff due to thread-lock on the threads, it should be possible to gently grip the swage on the threaded cable-end in a pair of Mole-grips. Adjust the position of the 13mm adjuster nut until all the slack in the cable is just taken up. This gives an approximate starting point. Nip up the lock nut to prevent the adjuster nut moving.

The correct clutch pedal travel is 150mm (±5) with a maximum pedal free-movement of 60 mm. This is done by measuring the position of the middle of the clutch pedal relative to a suitable fixed point in line with its movement – a point on the steering wheel or the steering column. Travel is the difference between the at-rest and floored positions. Free movement is the distance the pedal can be pulled upwards from the at-rest position.

An easy way to do this with a steel tape measure is to catch the 'hook' at the end of the tape behind the arm of the pedal where it joins the pedal. Now floor the clutch letting the tape extend (the hook should hit the carpet) while the tape's body is held against the back of the steering wheel at a suitable reference point. Lock off the tape and read the measurement (no need to add the offset of the tape body) e.g. 693mm. This distance will change every time you press the clutch pedal due to play and stiction in the mechanism. You now need to adjust the cable so that the pedal's at-rest position is with the tape showing 150mm between the same two points e.g. 693-150 = 543.

The actual adjustment is much quicker if you have an assistant to read the measurements off the tape while you adjust: Wind the (13mm) adjusting nut out to move the pedal's at-rest position away from the floor (increase the tape reading (or in to decrease) until the measurement is correct. Make sure the Mole-grips don't foul the bracket otherwise the pedal may not be able to move fully. Once you've got the right reading, remove the Mole-grips and all spanners and then pumping the clutch several times before re-measuring as a final check. Hold the cable swage with the Mole-grips again, and lock the 10mm lock-nut against the 13mm adjusting nut without disturbing the latter. Once the clutch travel is correctly adjusted, you can check the free play. The actual free movement is likely to be less than half the maximum of 60mm.

3) Check the clutch engagement

It's important now to check that the clutch operates properly and neither drags (doesn't disengage completely making selecting gears difficult) nor slips under full load (with the engine ticking over, hand-brake on hard and foot on brake pedal, engage 1st or Reverse gear then slowly let the clutch in until the engine stalls.

4) Refit the air cleaner

Basically the reverse of removal. Fit the mounting plate making sure the inlet air-hose is sitting properly in the plate before you attempt to fit the set-screws. Put the air-cleaner roughly in position before pushing the air-hose onto the outlet at the back, but don't do up the hose-clip yet. Push down on the front of the air-cleaner to engage the barb and wriggle the air-cleaner into position. Tighten the hose-clip.

5) Test Drive

Inevitably, the clutch will feel different, even if all you have done is adjust a new cable. What you are checking for is that as you let the clutch in, after it is fully engaged, there is still some travel (not free-play) left in the clutch pedal. A good way to check this is to drive up a quiet hill in say 2nd or 3rd gear and press the clutch pedal. It should go down some way before the clutch starts to slip; on the other hand, all the (forward) gears should be easy to select both on the move and stationary without having to ram the pedal into the carpet.

Clutch Cable 'Clip' failure


There's a small bang as the pedal hits the bulkhead and almost vanishes into the carpet. Bits of plastic and possibly a spring steel clip may land in the driver's foot-well. These are the classic symptoms of the infamous 'plastic clutch-cable clip' breaking. In fact, there are two parts: a plastic linkage between the top of the clutch pedal and the end of the clutch cable, and a spring steel clip that actually grips the mild-steel nipple on the end of the clutch cable. The two parts are sold together as an after-market kit. The plastic linkage and the spring clip are designed literally as a weak link that will fail if the clutch release sticks for any reason. The design intention is for the spring clip to open under excessive load (quite easily achieved) and release the nipple. The plastic moulding was beefed up years ago because they had a habit of breaking but the basic design is unchanged; the original ones were black, the 'improved' ones are white (pictured with the spring-clip not pushed fully into place); the spring clip is unchanged.


You need to be aware of a few things here:

When the linkage was beefed up, the diameter of both the cable nipple and the inside of the sleeve that holds the nipple were increased. While old cables will easily fit into new linkages, the spring clip is liable to come off again (damaging the nipple but not the linkage) because the nipple has space in the sleeve to become slightly offset under load, more easily forcing the jaws of the clip apart and jumping out of the spring clip. IMO, if an original linkage breaks (there can't be many still out there), you're inviting trouble if you don't replace the cable at the same time. Been there...

If the broken linkage is black and thus original, the job just got harder; as the factory fitted pedal pivot bolts the wrong way around, they can't be removed without either sawing off the head or bending the support slightly to force the bolt head past the brake pedal. If the job has been done before, the bolt should have been replaced by a slightly shorter one fitted the other way around (as the Citroen designers evidently intended!) . The original bolt is M8 x 1.25 (thread pitch) x 70 full thread, the replacement needs to be M8 x 1.25 x 60 (only 20mm of thread is needed). You also need a thin M8 plain washer under the bolt head and a new (thinnish) M8 lock nut.

The original black linkages go brittle with age (the youngest must have been made before 2001), so when one breaks it might be just age. However, if a replacement (white) linkage breaks or the nipple jumps out of the spring clip, you're really lucky it's just a worn/damaged cable sticking. Otherwise, there is a serious underlying cause and the gearbox has to come out: the clutch is worn out; the nylon bushes, in which the clutch Release Fork rotates, have worn badly causing the release fork to stick; or the clutch has worn grooves in the Guide Tube on which it's now jamming.

Cables: there was a design change from 03/03/1997. The plastic link and clip are the same, but the design of the clutch pedal and its spring were changed and the cable is a different length. This design continued in the Mk2 upto RPO 07972; from 07973 onwards there is a different cable and a minor change to the pedal assembly.

Unless you're skint and love working on your Xantia, when replacing the clutch, always replace the nylon release lever bushes in the bell-housing at the same time (the thrust bearing is part of the clutch assembly) and replace the guide tube if there is any doubt about its state (as a bonus, the Guide tube include the input shaft oil seal) – it's a lot of (expensive) labour to remove and replace the gearbox.

TOOLS (To replace the clip)

  • 13mm & 10mm deep sockets;
  • ratchet and 150mm (6”) extension to fit the above;
  • 13mm & 10mm ring-and-open-end spanners;
  • 13mm ratcheting ring spanner if you have one;
  • T20 ¼” hex drive bit and dumpy handle;
  • big screwdriver at least 10” long;
  • something to cover both front seats, and a mat to leave your boots on outside the car;
  • a good LED work light – the foot-well is very cramped to work in, a 240V inspection lamp will cook you; a compact head torch is good
  • a small torch to peer into the pedal box is also needed;
  • a patient assistant is a great help but not essential.

If the clutch pedal hasn't been removed before, you'll need a saw to cut off the bolt head – either a pad-saw handle fitted with a new, quality, bi-metal hacksaw blade (lots of hard work in a confined space) or an oscillating multi-saw with a good metal-cutting flush-cut blade. Not long before doing this job, I had bought an 'Erbauer' (Screwfix own brand) 240V multisaw to make life easier when replacing all our gutters and down pipes. It cut off the bolt head in less than a minute but wrecked a cheap metal cutting flush-cut blade (about £5) – well worth it!


  • New cable clip and linkage (sold together by factors like GSF)
  • Replacement cable if the existing cable is suspect or original (black clip)
  • String
  • Duct tape
  • Piece of stiff wire (coat hanger) about 300mm (12”) long – bend a small hook (about 5mm dia) on one end and double over the other end for safety;


1) Release the clutch cable at the clutch end

First remove the air-cleaner and support bracket. Undo the jubilee clip holding the manifold hose onto the air cleaner and pull the hose off the air-cleaner. Press in the tag that holds the air cleaner base to the inlet hose and pull the whole air-cleaner upwards and off. Remove the air-cleaner support plate – 2 x 10mm set-screws in the base and one into the battery tray. Now you can get at the clutch end of the cable. Wind the two nuts (13mm adjuster, 10mm locking) to the end of the cable adjustment thread. Now you should be able to disengage the cable end with its collection of washers, buffers and seals from the lug on the gearbox casing, noting where the latter fits (fairly obvious). Push the cable inner about half-way back towards the end of the cable outer where it sits in the end of the clutch operating lever.

2) Remove the clutch pedal

Push both front seats right back and recline them as far as possible, protect with seat covers or something suitable, because you're going to be lying upside down on your back with your feet by the headrest! To get at the pedal end of the cable, the clutch pedal must be removed. To get at the pedal pivot bolt, the trim above the pedals must first be removed as follows. Remove the lower 'felt' trim and the upper rigid plastic trim (incorporating the fuse box lid) as a single piece:-

  • 2.1 prise out the bottom middle trim 'button'; this holds the lower (felt) trim to the metal fascia frame, the others hold it to the upper plastic trim and don't need to be removed;
  • 2.2 remove the self-tapper (T20 head and captive washer) that holds the lower trim to the side of plastic centre console;
  • 2.3 open the fuse box lid and remove the two lower T20 head self-tappers just above the hinge (awkward);
  • 2.4 remove one of the two upper self-tappers under the lid, slack the other - no more than 1 turn;
  • 2.5 remove both of the two (T20) self-tappers securing the top of the plastic trim just below the steering-column lower shroud, and the right-hand of the two lower ones, slack the other one;
  • 2.6 now remove the two remaining self-tappers while supporting the trim with one hand. Stow the trim in the passenger footwell.

Before you manoeuvre yourself into position lying on your back in the footwell with your bum on the seat and your head in the footwell, take off your boots and leave them on the mat, and, if you haven't got an assistant, position the following tools within easy reach (in the foot-well alongside the centre-console):

  • 13mm deep socket on ratchet handle (deep socket to reach through the hole in the pedal bracket or else a standard socket and very short extension)
  • 13mm ring-and-open-end or ratcheting ring
  • wire hook
  • string
  • duct tape

Once in position, this is what you should see

Clutch pedal 1st view.jpg

– this is a factory-original installation with the bolt the 'wrong' way round; the brake pedal to the left in the (upside down) picture is obviously in the way, yet a cut-out in the pedal mount to the right is clearly visible that allows a bolt fitted the other way round to be easily withdrawn. However the original 70mm long bolt would foul the brake pedal, a 60mm long replacement is required.

The first thing to do is to make some extra space to work in: detach the electrical connector from the face of the brake (yes, brake) pedal by pulling and waggling. Now pull the pedal as far up as it will come and remove from the back of it, the plastic plunger assembly that operates the brake doseur valve by pulling the plunger back toward the valve. The brake pedal now lies flat against the bulkhead.

Now it's time to lie on your back in the footwell with tools and lights to hand. If the clutch pedal bolt is original, undo the nut almost to the end of the threads. Hold the nut with mole grips (a spanner will keep falling off!), and cut off the bolt head with the saw of your choice. Remove the remains of the bolt, with nut still in place, towards the centre console.

However, if a new bolt has already been fitted the sensible way round (with its head towards the centre console), simply undo the nut and remove the bolt.

In either case, as you remove the bolt, hold the pedal in place; otherwise pedal, spring, and nylon bush will probably fall on your head. If the pedal doesn't want to come free, the cable end is stuck inside the sleeve of the plastic link; (get your assistant) to gently pull out the cable inner under the bonnet.

3) Replacing the cable

If you are replacing the cable, this is the next step. The cable is clamped in the middle to the front sub-frame cross-member behind the sump. Undo the (10mm) set-screw to release the clamp. Before pulling the cable down and out of the bulkhead, study how it's routed among the various pipes and cables all the way along. You may have to undo the connector for the O/S/F ABS speed sensor (don't forget to reconnect it!) in order to free the pedal end. Once that's done the old cable can be pulled free from the gearbox end. There is a plastic guide on top of the gearbox which is a simple push fit – don't damage the original, some in after-market cable kits are two mouldings badly glued together instead of being a single-piece moulding like the original. Remove and save the guide and remove the old cable working from under the bonnet.

Before fitting the new cable, it's worth checking that the nipple at the pedal end is a good snug fit inside the new plastic link.

Cable nipple.JPG

With the spring clip pushed fully home, it should be fairly easy to push the cable nipple past it so that the spring clip grips behind the nipple head. It's vital that the jaws of the clip sit right down in the slot of the link. You might have to trim away some 'flashing' on the link moulding to ensure that the clip will seat fully home. Pull the spring clip out to release the nipple. It's impossible to check that the nipple is being properly gripped once it's all fitted to the car.

Working from underneath, fit the new cable with all the end fittings left in place. First feed the pedal end up from underneath, so that you can then reach down behind the engine from above to push the pedal end up into place in the bulkhead. Similarly push the gearbox end up from underneath until you can reach it from above the gearbox, paying careful attention to routing at this end. Pass it through the plastic guide and fit the outer in the operating lever. Remove the adjusting and lock nuts from the threaded end of the cable inner together with the washer, rubber buffer, etc. (lay them out in the correct order for re-fitting). Push the cable inner part way back so that by clamping (not too tight) a pair of mole-grips onto the swaged part of the inner and parking the Moles behind the bracket on the transmission the cable inner won't move when you push the pedal linkage onto the nipple at the other end of the inner. With the outer now in place, clamp it to the subframe with the new clamp and reconnect the ABS sensor if necessary. Now it's time to refit the pedal assembly.

4) Refitting the Pedal Assembly

Remove the broken plastic link. If it hasn't already fallen out, remove the steel pivot sleeve from the pedal. Clean the old grease and dirt off the nylon bushes inside the pedal and the steel pivot sleeve. If the steel sleeve is a really sloppy fit in the nylon bushes, you will have to replace them; “clutch pedal spacer” 1 off according to service.citroen. Otherwise lubricate generously with white grease and remove any surplus from the exterior once the sleeve is refitted. It's a good idea then to tie a piece of string through the steel sleeve and round the pedal to keep the sleeve in place (otherwise it'll keep falling out).
Clutch-cllip end-on.JPG

Refer to the pictures on the right: make sure the spring clip is pushed fully home in the plastic link and that the new link is fitted so that, with the upper half of the pedal arm horizontal, the link can hang down vertically with the spring clip away from the pedal arm so that it cannot foul the arm.

Clutch pedal ready-to-fit.JPG

Note that the original (pre-March 1997) type of spring has one straight arm that hooks on the pedal (as shown in the photo). The other, cranked arm hooks over the pedal support. Get it round the wrong way and it's very difficult, but not impossible, to get the spring located on the pedal support. The trick for refitting the original design (before March 1997) is to tape the pedal (straight) arm of the spring in place with a strip of gaffer or insulating tape.

The modified design (March 1997 on) the clutch pedal assist spring holds the pedal in the up position and is easier to fit.

In either case, push the pedal up into place and then right up so that sleeve of the plastic link will slide down over the nipple on the end of the clutch cable. Now pull the pedal down firmly until the whole of the plated nipple has gone up inside the sleeve – this forces the jaws of the spring clip to open and then grip behind the shoulder of the head of the nipple. You should hear a satisfying CLICK! as the jaws of the spring-clip snap shut behind the head of the nipple. Make sure the spring-clip is seated fully into the slot of the plastic link.

Once the cable nipple is located in the plastic link, remove the mole-grips on the other end of the cable, and then fit the bolt. Hold the nut in a ring spanner with a bit of duct tape and screw the bolt into it by hand.

Now fit the far end of the cable to the gearbox bracket - don't worry about adjustment for the moment. Push the clutch pedal to the floor several times by hand to make sure that it all operates smoothly and that the cable outer bush is fully home in the bulkhead mounting.

Now tighten the (13mm) adjusting nut to take up all the slack in the cable, then a further 5mm or so. Now refer to the Clutch Cable Adjustment section (above) to set the clutch adjustment correctly. Err on the tight side as all the rubber bushes will squash down after a few days use.