30th Jan 2006, 09:05

I have a 306 spinnaker for about 8 months now and have also had a few problems with it. After just 2 months my fifth gear went then a month later my electrics on the doors went so I could not lock it. Also since I've had the car the air bag light flashes on and off for about 5 minutes then stays on. But I do agree it is a lovely car to drive.

11th Sep 2009, 11:50

Hey - I wrote the original article (dated 7th Oct 2002) ; I was surprised to come across it again while searching for something else relating to the 306.

Guess what? I still have the same car: 1997 "P" plate 306 Spinnaker. I've had it for eight years now and it's done 120000 happy miles. Throughout those eight years this is a full list of the work I have done on it:

- Replacement of nearside (passenger side) front suspension parts - pretty much everything: shock, spring, bearing plus other parts at the top of the strut, lower wishbone (has two integral bushes, one at the front and one at the rear of the wishbone, and one of them had gone), antiroll bar bush (more than once!).

- Replacement of the offside front wishbone (bush went), and antiroll bar bush (of course).

- Wheel bearings: Front (both sides). Rear offside. I have found that one way to get a wheel-bearing done is to go to the scrapyard and take a hub off a 306. Buy a new wheel bearing, and take the hub plus bearing to a garage - they quite often will press the old one out and press the new one in for you for £10 - £20.

- Rebuilt back brakes - everything new except the drums themselves. I will add here that the above work on the suspension was necessary, but rebuilding the back brakes was not altogether necessary - the hydraulic cylinder (that pushes the shoes apart) leaked on one side, and I figured that I would do the lot on both sides so that it would be good for years from now.

- Replaced discs and pads on front brakes (easy job - done twice!)

- Replaced exhaust. The original one was still on the car until March 2009; it was 12 years old!

- Replaced rear bumper (yes, someone hit it in the snows of Feb '09).

- Soldered together those pesky wires for the airbag that run underneath the driver and front passenger seats. I persisted with the original orange connectors for a while but they kept failing.

- Two or three battery replacements.

- Replaced radiator (yes, again). It began leaking at the water inlet pipe (front left hand side of radiator as you're looking into the engine bay while standing in front of the vehicle), which appears to be quite small and fragile, and had cracked. This time though, I did the whole job in one evening! It was actually quite easy - I don't know why I struggled so much the last time (I'm a better mechanic eight years on perhaps!).

- The worst one: repaired gearbox - fifth gear went. This I could not do myself and had to take it to a specialist gearbox place. It was about £500 to get the gearbox repaired with parts from another one and at the same time a new clutch. Some people questioned my sanity because, of course, the car is of "scrappage" age and they couldn't understand why I would rather get it repaired.

But the truth is...it's a great car, and if you don't mind working on cars, you stand a very good chance of keeping one in fair fettle for a very fair price.

The engine, I have learned, is legendary. It is the pinnacle of mechanical injection pump technology and aspects of it are much simpler in design than the new common-rail models. I have always changed the oil and air filter every six months, and changed the coolant every two years. I put Millers diesel fuel additive in the tank when I fuel up, and the car rewards me by never failing to start, and regularly giving me 600 miles on a tank.

Handling is superb really, considering the weight of the diesel engine in the small size of car that it is.

Also, I have had none of the commonly cited problems with the electrics. In my case everything electric has been continuously reliable.

I envisage keeping this car for a good while yet - maybe even until it becomes a "modern classic" - now that would be great. :-D.