Citroen DS oil filter assembly

Have you seen our oil filter set and wondered where all the bits go?

The set consists of the oil filter, 2 x O rings, the cover plate gasket, copper washer for the filter bolt and a sealing washer for the oil drain plug.

Here is a video showing where all the bits go, apart from the drain plug washer which is pretty obvious!

Below is the workshop manual page from the end of the video for your reference.

D Oil filter replacement

Head gaskets for pre-1963 H Vans

Due to the difficulty in finding the correct head gaskets for pre-1963 H vans with 1911cc engines (78mm bore) we are having some made.
A number of websites appear to offer these gaskets, but when they arrive they are not right. The gaskets for the 72mm bore version are available, but will not work properly on the larger engine, but the ones we are having made will work properly on both engines.

These should be available within a few weeks – check our webshop for the latest price and availability. I’ll list them on there when they come in.

Valve stem seals

The original type valve stem seals fitted to post 1967 Citroen D models were made from a white plastic material, possibly PTFE, and they worked very well. The same type of seal (but different size) was also used in other models like 2CV, GS and CX. Lately we’ve noticed that the reproduced versions of these seals, although looking the same, did not fit as easily or as well as they should. In fact, we found they were becoming dislodged in service, so not working at all and causing smoky engines at idle and on overrun.

We conducted some tests and found that when fitted, the seals were a tighter fit on the valve stem than they were on the valve guide, so no wonder they were coming off! They were also so tight on the valve stem that it was making them difficult to fit without damaging them.

We took it up with the supplier and they agreed to speak to the manufacturer, but also said that as the manufacturer was a major European gasket and oil seal manufacturer, they would probably not listen to a small customer who only orders a thousand gasket sets a year.

Upon hearing this, I decided to take matters into my own hands and researched all I could about valve stem seals. It turns out that there is a better, more modern design which happens to be made in the right sizes for D and CX models. The exhaust valve and guide sizes are a bit unusual though, so it is harder to obtain this newer type for the exhaust valves, but we do try to keep them in stock. These are a much tighter fit on the valve guide than on the valve stem, so no danger of it coming adrift and it still seals the valve well too. We now only sell this type of valve stem seal, although if you order a complete gasket set, at the time of writing, it will still come with the old white plastic seals and the better ones will need to be ordered separately.

The older original style valve stem seals which we no longer use as they are now made incorrectly.

Factory model designations for all Citroen DS and ID models from 9/1965

Factory model designations:

DE = ID19A 09/1965 > 09/1966 (1911cc) Old model engine and gearbox, but with later hubs and 5 stud wheels.
DV = ID19B 9/66> (1985cc) From 09/1969 onwards was called D Special.
DT = ID20 10/68> (1985cc) From 09/1969 onwards was called D Super.
DY = DS19A 9/65 > 10/68, DS20 10/68> (1985cc)(DY models are semi-automatic)
DL = DS19MA 9/65 > 10/68, DS20M 10/68> 9/69(1985cc)(DL models are DS’s with manual gear shift)
DLF = Estate version of DL models, but continued until end of production in 1975
DYF = Estate versions of DY models, only made from 2/1968 onwards (DYF models are semi-automatic)
DX = DS21 09/1965 > 07/1972 (2175cc) 07/1972> (2349cc) (DX models are semi-automatic)
DJ = DS21M 09/1965 > 07/1972 (2175cc) 07/1972> (2349cc) (DJ models have manual gear shift)
DJF = ID21F 09/1965 > 07/1972 (2175cc) 07/1972> (2349cc) (Estate version of DJ, except that estate versions always have ID trim and dashboard)
DXF = ID21FH 09/1965 > 07/1972 (2175cc) 07/1972> (2349cc)(Estate version of DX semi auto, except that estate versions always have ID trim and dashboard)
DP = D Super 5 (2175cc) This is an ID variant, basically a D Super fitted with DS21 engine and 5 speed manual gearbox. Only made from July 1972 onwards.

For a table of engine codes, their horsepower and what model each was fitted to, click the link below.

Citroen D Model engine codes

Surcharges on reconditioned parts

We are having problems getting people to send old exchange parts back to us for reconditioning when they buy reconditioned or re-manufactured items. For some items this is becoming a problem with supplies of old parts suitable for reconditioning running dangerously low. Of course not all old parts are suitable for reconditioning, so supplies will slowly diminish anyway, but this makes it even more important that as many parts are sent back for reconditioning as possible.
Until now the refundable surcharge has been a token amount, but we find most people just absorb the cost rather than send the old parts back, or maybe just never get around to it, so we are having to increase the surcharge to provide enough incentive for people to send the old parts back.
We were discussing this with some of the main suppliers in Europe last week and they are having the same problems. It’s not about the money, we do not make anything from the surcharge because whatever amount it is gets refunded, it’s about keeping the system working. Therefore the surcharge has to be greater than the cost of sending the old parts back or else it all grinds to a halt. All our surcharges will have to rise because of this, unfortunately.
If you have old parts that should have been sent back to a supplier somewhere, not just us, please send them back as soon as you can to help keep the system working.

If parts have to be made new from scratch due to lack of items to recondition, you will not like the quality or the price, so it’s in all of our interests to do our part in keeping the system working.

Rusted core plug in Traction Avant cylinder head

A Traction Avant came to us for an MOT today and after the 1 mile each way journey, it had a lot of steam coming from under the bonnet. When we opened the bonnet to investigate, we found the steam to be coming from the engine oil filler / breather not the radiator!
We pulled the dipstick and found lots of emulsion instead of oil, but the puzzling thing was the amount of coolant that had got into the oil in a short space of time – too much to be a head gasket and the car was still running sweetly.
I suspected a rusted through core plug in the head and upon removing the rocker cover I found coolant squirting out of 2 tiny holes in one of the core plugs. By the time I’d got the camera it was a welling, rather than squirting, but it did explain things. An easy repair by replacing the plug and a change of fluids later it was all was sorted. The other 2 core plugs were still nice and solid.

Core plug with holes

Video of coolant welling up from below!

Gorilla Snot

We recently had a Citroen DS23 in the workshop for a number of jobs, one of which involved checking the oil filter bits were all intact as the previous service had been carried out by a local garage, rather than a specialist.

Luckily the oil filter bits were all present and correct, but when I was cleaning the bits to put back in, I discovered something very worrying. The gauze pre-filter that the oil passes through before entering the paper filter was almost completely blocked up with stringy, rubbery bits.

It turns out that when the garage fitted the new filter they had a problem with the cover plate gasket leaking. Their solution was to remove the plate and gasket and apply excessive amounts of “gorilla snot”, otherwise known as silicone sealer, RTV, instant gasket etc. to both sides of the gasket and refit. This stopped the leak all right but when they did up the plate, the excess sealant squeezed out of the joint. What squeezed out to the outside they would have wiped away, but what happens to the stuff that squeezes out into the engine? In use it breaks off and is carried around in the oil until it lodges somewhere, usually restricting or blocking the oil flow, which is what happened here. This is why this type of sealer should NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER be used on an engine unless the engine has been specifically designed for it. Many modern engines have a groove which you put this type of sealant into rather than using a gasket, but our classic engines are not like this.

Any good automotive engineer will tell you this and I do not even have any of this sealant in the workshop. It’s not necessary and it is dangerous when misused.

Leaks from the oil filter cover plate are usually caused by distortion of the plate around the bolt holes. When it is tightened up the bolts pull the part of the plate by the holes closer to the sump. When the plate is off, it should be placed on a solid flat surface and tapped back flat with a medium sized hammer. Once clean and flat, a minimal amount of your chosen gasket sealant (not silicone!!!!) should be applied to the plate and the gasket pressed into place. We prefer using a good quality non-setting gasket sealant like Hylomar Universal Blue, and even then, very sparingly. Make sure the sump face is clean and dry, all traces of old gaskets or sealant having been removed, then smear grease on the face of the gasket that sits against the sump and bolt it on. Do not over tighten the bolts which all should have shake proof washers fitted.

Doing it this way, I’ve never had a sump plate leak and it is easy to disassemble the joint next time you need to change the filter. Using Gorilla Snot is not necessary and is likely to wreck your engine if misused! You have been warned…..



Setting valve clearances (tappets) on Citroen DS and ID

These instructions are for the short stroke engine (post 1966) but the procedure is the same for the earlier models, only the settings differ.

(For the pre 1966 long stroke engine the valve clearances must be set with the engine cold and should be 0.2mm (.008”) on the inlet valves and 0.25mm (.010”) on the exhaust valves.)

Before you start you may wish to have a new rocker cover gasket and set of spark plug tube seals to hand as these can go hard with age and if so, will leak when refitted. It is bad practice and a bit of a bodge to use sealant on these gaskets.


Firstly it is recommended that the valve clearances (tappets) are set when the engine is warm, except on fuel injected engines when they should be set cold. Carburettor fed  engines can be set cold too, if necessary, and both settings are provided below.

With engine warm, set clearances to 0.2mm (.008”) on the inlet valves and 0.25mm (.010”) on the exhaust valves.

 With the engine cold, set clearances to 0.15mm (.006”) on the inlet valves and 0.2mm (.008”) on the exhaust valves.

  1. Turn the engine using the crank handle or by jacking up one front wheel and supporting it securely, putting the car in top gear and then turning the wheel forward to turn the engine. Always turn the engine in the normal direction of rotation (clockwise when viewed from the front). You can remove the spark plugs if you wish to make it easier to turn the engine. Turn the engine until number 1 exhaust valve is fully open (all the way down but not starting to come up again).
  2. You are now ready to adjust the valve clearances on inlet valve number 3 and exhaust valve number 4. To adjust the clearance, loosen the lock nut and slide your feeler gauge of the appropriate thickness between the top of the valve and the rocker arm. Adjust the screw until the feeler gauge blade is a firm sliding fit in the gap, then tighten the lock nut whilst holding the screw to stop it moving.
  3. Once the nut is tight, recheck the clearance.
  4.  Repeat procedure for the next valve. Once you have done both valves, turn the engine until number 3 exhaust valve is fully open and set the clearances on Inlet number 4 and exhaust number 2.
  5. Once you have done both those valves, turn engine until number 4 exhaust valve is fully open and set the clearances on Inlet number 2 and exhaust number 1.
  6. Once you have done both those valves, turn engine until number 2 exhaust valve is fully open and set the clearances on Inlet number 1 and exhaust number 3

The job is now done and you can refit the rocker cover and spark plugs and put the car back on its wheels if you jacked it up earlier.

setting valve clearances

Valve gear on a Citroen D model engine, 1966>