Citroen DS3 - Engine Fault, Repair Needed | The FatMech (2024)

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This is a bit of a scary error message, especially if it comes on while driving and it’s accompanied by a reduction in engine performance (known as limp mode.) Unfortunately this is a very common error code on the Citroen DS3 and it could mean any number of different things.

In this article we’re going to touch on some of the most common causes of this error message. It’s worth mentioning however that this only scratches the surface of what could cause an engine fault repair needed error message – this is a catch-all error message that could mean a fault with a huge number of engine systems.

This article is designed to point you in the right direction when diagnosing this issue, but fundamentally you will need to do a code read on your car to identify what the actual issue is. If it’s any of the issues listed here, I’ve tried to show you what you should do in the event that this is your code, but be aware that this error message could mean anything and therefore you need to do an OBD code read to accurately diagnose it.

Most common causes of the engine fault – repair needed error message

Failing injector

There are a few things that may accompany an engine fault repair needed message if a failing injector is your problem. You will probably notice a juddering when the car is idling, almost as if the car is about to stall, as well as hesitation when trying to apply power when moving (particularly after gear changes). You should also listen for a rattle at idle – while a rattle could be anything, if it’s accompanied by the above symptoms, you could be experiencing an injection fault.

You should do a code read and see what comes back – a cheap OBD reader should come back with an injection fault if that is your issue. Unfortunately there isn’t much I can advise you to do in this instance other than take your car to a garage and have them look at it. I would find a French car specialist in your area that’s very familiar with these cars and ask them to take a look at it.

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If your injector has become blocked or it has failed, be prepared for an expensive bill – injectors, whether they’re new or remanufactured, are expensive, and you may find yourself forking out over £1000 to get the injectors replaced (especially if more than one has failed.)

I will say that while a good engine, the 1.6 HDi fitted to the DS3 is a bit famous for blowing injector seals, so this also could be your problem. Unless you’re very mechanically minded and have investigated injection issues before, I would suggest not even bothering to look yourself and have a garage investigate for you.

Clogged EGR valve

The EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve recirculates a portion of the exhaust gas that would normally be expelled through the exhaust system and mixes it with fresh air inside the intake manifold, and then these gases are burned off as they enter the cylinders and combust. This helps to reduce the volume of emissions passing through the exhaust system, extending the life of the catalytic converter. However, the EGR valve can become clogged, preventing it from opening and closing properly, and this can cause an engine fault repair needed warning message to appear.

Leaving a faulty EGR valve for too long can cause permanent engine issues – you will probably find your DS3 runs very rough as the engine runs either too lean or too rich, depending on the actual fault. You may also notice a misfire, or significant vibration at idle. A code read will tell you whether your EGR valve is faulty, and there are a few things you can do to fix it – you could spray some EGR valve cleaner onto the carbon deposits and use a cleaning brush to remove them. If your EGR valve has failed for another reason, it may be due for replacement, if the carbon build up is too severe. You can do this yourself, or you can take it to a mechanic who will be able to do it for you.

Faulty MAF sensor

Your code read will tell you whether this is the problem. A MAF (mass airflow sensor) measures the amount of air entering the engine to ensure that the correct amount of fuel is injected into the cylinders for an optimal fuel-air mix. Generally a faulty MAF sensor will also be accompanied by significantly reduced engine performance – possibly you will notice jerking at low revs, or the inability to rev beyond a certain point.

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Firstly, you should disconnect the MAF and run the car to see if the performance improves. If it does, it’s likely that the MAF needs cleaning. Remove it from the car, reconnect it, clear the codes and try again. If performance doesn’t improve, it’s likely that the MAF is faulty and needs to be replaced. The mass airflow sensor will be clipped onto a piece of the air ducting.

It’s also worth mentioning that a MAF fault code may actually be an EGR or turbo fault. It’s unlikely that your basic OBD reader will be able to read these codes, so it may be that you need to look at Citroen’s Lexia/Diagbox software, which is available online if you know where to look for it – you can install this on your laptop and connect your car to it, and it should be able to read these codes which will point your line of investigation in the right direction.

Let’s check Citroen DS3 common faults here!

Electrical problems

As the “engine fault, repair needed” message is a catch-all message for a lot of different faults, it’s entirely possible that the actual fault you are experiencing is an electrical fault. This again could be due to any number of different things but the first thing I would suggest is that you check that the battery is seated correctly and the terminals are secured properly. Bizarrely, problems with the battery have been known to throw up this error code, and so if you’re happy that the battery is connected properly, then you should make sure the battery is good by testing the voltage or by swapping it out, doing a code clear and seeing if this fixes the problem.

Just be aware that a failing or faulty battery can cause “phantom” codes to come up, which if you’re just trying to diagnose from a code reader, can lead you astray. A phantom code is when the car reports a fault that isn’t actually there – and it does this due to low voltage on the battery. You should always ensure the battery is healthy and properly charged, clear the fault codes and see if you can replicate the fault; this way you know the codes are genuine and you can continue your line of investigation.

Another thing to look at is a failing alternator or failing alternator belt. This has also been known to throw up an engine fault repair needed error. You may also be experiencing an engine ECU fault. This has been known to throw codes relating to a number of different engines, including the turbocharger – so again, you need to follow the above procedure ensuring the battery is good and do a code read.

Failing fuel pump

Fuel pumps seem to be an issue on the THP engine (fitted to the DS3 Racing.) I’ve seen them fail at as little as 30,000 miles. You will probably notice reduced engine performance after you see the engine fault warning light, to the point where the car will start to run very roughly, almost as if it’s about to stall. I have heard of customers saying that this issue is intermittent, where the car will run like a pig, they’ll park it up overnight and it’ll run fine the next day.

The HPFP (high pressure fuel pump) is also a common failure point in other cars fitted with the THP engine, including the Peugeot 208 GTi, Mini and Citroen DS4. Unfortunately this is an expensive job if it transpires that this is the fault you have – unless your car is under warranty. I would expect to pay around £1400 for the fuel pump to be replaced if necessary.

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Related: A guide to the best engine oil for your Citroen DS3

The code you are looking for is P0087 to tell you that the fuel pump is faulty and requires replacement. You may also get other codes along with this – but what you should do is read the code yourself with a generic OBD reader and if you can’t identify it, get Citroen to read the code for you – often their software can pull up information that a generic eBay/Amazon OBD reader cannot.

While this is a common issue, I will say that this is exacerbated by some driving habits. In particular, what makes this problem worse is people who like to play fuel light bingo – that is, wait for the fuel light to come on and see how far they can get without filling up. This plays havoc with the fuel pump as all the sediment and other gunk from the bottom of the fuel tank gets drawn up into the fuel system, forcing the pump to work harder and leading to premature failure. If you take nothing else away from this article, make sure that when your fuel gauge dips into the red, go to a petrol station and fill your tank.

Getting this issue properly diagnosed

As I’ve said multiple times, you can guess at what this issue is based on the accompanying symptoms, but you won’t know for sure until you do a code read. A basic OBD code reader should be enough to point you in the right direction, but for more specific codes related to fuel injection or EGR problems, you will need to look at downloading Diagbox/Lexia software in order to identify more specific problems.

All this being said, this is a little beyond the reach of most home mechanics and if you are experiencing reduced engine performance to the point where you can’t rely on the car, you should get this fault checked out ideally at a Citroen specialist. You could go to the dealer, but expect to pay quite a lot of money even for a diagnosis.

We’ve written a lot of content on the Citroen DS3, so if you’re experiencing issues or need advice or support, check out some of our other articles!

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About the author

Marcus Brown

Marcus Brown is editor-in-chief of The FatMech and is a mechanic with ten years' experience based in London, UK. Having worked for major dealerships for many years, Marcus now works for a local independent garage and has experience working on nearly every make and model of car. Marcus also has a passion for writing and teaching, which is where the idea for The FatMech came from. In his spare time, Marcus enjoys playing golf, doing home renovations and gardening. He lives just outside London with his wife and son.

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Citroen DS3 - Engine Fault, Repair Needed | The FatMech (2024)
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