A second-hand Citroen Dispatch can be builder’s bargain. Dan Powell of Honest John Vans explains how to find a hidden gem.
Cheap to buy, inexpensive to fuel and hugely practical, the humble Citroen Dispatch has lots to offer builders who want a heavy duty van without the wallet sapping costs.
Introduced in 2007, alongside its Fiat Scudo, Peugeot Expert and Toyota ProAce relations, the Dispatch got off to an excellent start, winning the International Van of the Year in 2008. Among its joint-venture siblings, the Dispatch is the more common sight on UK roads, Citroen’s aggressive pricing, low running costs and high levels of standard equipment proving attractive to buyers.
Around the £2,000 mark is a sensible starting point. Most will have mileages approaching, or passed, the 200,000 mile mark, but if it’s been correctly maintained then don’t rule these out as useful, inexpensive workhorses.
From £4,000 and you’ll have loads of choice, with more 2.0 HDIs in the classifieds, among newer models with more comprehensive equipment. Venture £5,000 and you’re in among the best available with vans comfortably under 100,000 miles.
Spend £7,000 and more and you’re in the realms of the newest, lowest mileage models, many coming from dealers and benefitting from warranties and a richer mix of body styles.
At launch, the Dispatch was equipped with a choice of 1.6 and 2.0-litre HDI turbodiesel engines. The 1.6-litre HDI was rated as having 90PS, while the 2.0-litre HDI engine was offered with either 120PS or 136PS outputs.
In 2009 Citroen added a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 140PS, 2011 saw Citroen revise the diesel engine line-up, the 1.6 HDI remaining at 90PS, though the 2.0 HDI gaining 5PS for a total 125PS.
The range-topping 2.0 HDI saw its output increased to 160PS from 2012. On later, post-2012 models official combined fuel consumption and CO2 emissions ranged from 44.1mpg to 37.2mpg, the best figure relating to the 2.0 HDI 125 manual, the worst being the 2.0 HDI 160 with the six-speed automatic. The 1.6 90 HDI typically had an official consumption figure in the 42mpg region.
At an independent garage a major service costs around £200, so it’s inexpensive, a full service being about £155 and an interim service being in the region of £130.
If you’ve got an automatic gearbox, it’ll need its transmission fluid changing periodically, this costing around £150. Don’t rule out Citroen dealers for servicing, either, as they’re more competitive than you might think.
If it needs a new clutch you’ll pay around £580, while a timing belt change (including a new water pump) will cost in the region of £320. This should be done every 80,000 or every five years as a minimum. New discs and pads on the front axle will cost from £175 fitted for a pair, rear brake discs and pads (drums on the entry-level L1/H1 90 HDI) costing around £190 fitted.
What to watch
One of the biggest issues with the Dispatch is the placement of the Electronic Control Unit (ECU). It’s situated under the driver’s seat, which, should the drainage holes around the front of the cab get blocked can lead to water getting under the seat and causing havoc with the electronics. Check for dampness, and clear the drain holes periodically to prevent this from happening.
The suspension can be prone to high wear, with the Dispatch known to break anti-roll bars. Check the bushes, too, any wandering or knocking from underneath will point to suspension elements needing replacing. It’s all relatively inexpensive, but still worth negotiating a discount, or a fix before purchasing.