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Me and my car - Peugeot Partner Combi

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Digital product manager Nigel Donnelly explains why he’s driving around in a scruffy, old French window van.

I have something of a vehicle collection, although it is not as grand as it sounds. I have a little convertible for when the weather is nice and an air-cooled 1980 VW Camper for when it is even nicer. For the rest of the time, I needed something a little more practical.

I found my 2002 Peugeot Partner nestled among the rubbish in the eBay bargain bin. Most small window vans are either terribly abused or they have been subject to mobility conversions, which means rear seats are often compromised.

They’re useful though, so finding a cheap one is a bit of a task. I didn’t want a normal van, because I need to ferry the family around. I needed something with seats, but wanted something that I could put stuff in. Dogs, people or bags of compost. Just stuff.

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Find the printed and online manual (including 12 videos of common procedures) for the 1996-2010 Peugeot Partner here – and the printed and online manual for the 2008-2016 Peugeot Partner here.

With a very limited budget, I scoured the classifieds and found what looked like The One. The Peugeot looked very cheap, so I feared the worst. Grimy, a bit battered and with days of the MoT left, it was at a garage who had taken it in pitying part-exchange. They wanted it out of the way. With this in mind, I offered £550, with them providing a fresh MoT. Hands were shaken and it left me a few pounds to plough into some preservation. 

Over the first three months, the 1.9-litre non-turbo van has been very reliable. Refinement and performance are expectedly modest, but it’s tough and I was delighted to spot a sticker under the bonnet declaring it had received a cambelt service fewer than 5000 miles previously.

Shopping around and waiting for the right discount codes got me a set of filters and the five litres of oil needed for an overdue minor service for under £30.

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Most of the repair tasks tackled so far have been things that are just annoying. A non-working radio was traced to a water-damaged head-unit. The water damage appeared to come from a leaking roof aerial and water ran down the cable to the stereo. A cheapy new stereo and a bead of body caulk around the aerial base have sealed things up.

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Being old, abused and French means there are a few bits of trim that look pretty second-hand too. New plastic spring clips have been added to both front doors to ensure the door cards don’t keep flapping about. They routinely break when the door cards are removed, which they obviously have been.

A handful of replacements cost a couple of pounds and significantly reduced the rattles-per-mile. There is still some distance to go on this front, however.

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Various after-market wiring and old accessories litter the cabin so a bit of careful wire-tracing and removal of all the excess salad is on the list, along with investigating a persistently illuminated coolant light. The coolant is fine, the temperature is fine and everything points to a wonky sensor.

I am aware that is exactly what folk say before they end up at the side of the road with the bonnet up however, so that’s definitely on my list too.