One of the questions we frequently get asked is “Where can I get my Citroën serviced?” That’s an issue on the minds of the majority of classic Citroën owners in the USA and Canada, especially the ones who own Traction Avant, DS, GS, SM, CX and HY Van models.
Service is a major consideration for owners wanting to retain their sanity when purchasing a Citroën. Even though air-cooled models such as the 2CV, Ami, Dyane and Méhari are far easier to maintain, all too often we have seen repair shops not familiar with them, and with the best of intentions, end up doing more damage than when they arrived. (Case in point; adding brake fluid to a later model 2CV to ‘top-up’ the LHM — an assured disaster!)
While it is true that Citroëns are a small minority of the classic cars on the road in North America, a few dedicated shops have generated a constant stream of business repairing and restoring them over here, but there is still a shortage of people that can service them with the expertise they require.
We were actually going to title this article “Citroën Service Dilemma in North America”, and here’s why…
The reality is that there are less than two-dozen Citroën specialists in North America and another thirty or so garages that have worked on them but with limited experience and consequently limited success. (All of them are listed in our Citroën Service Directory in our Members’ Section of Citroënvie). Most of the Citroën specialists are booked with work for months if not years in advance, so anyone expecting a quick in-and-out visit to take care of a problem is likely to be sorely disappointed.
If you have an engineering mind that thinks logically, an incredible amount of patience, a good collection of metric tools along with the few specialty ones needed for your particular Citroën model, and don’t mind having disassembled bits of your car lying about your garage as you wait for your replacement part(s) to arrive, then you are in good company with some in our Citroënvie community who tackle their own repairs. But, for most owners, diving into Citroën hydraulics, electrics and repairs as a result of corrosion or previous repairs that have been poorly executed, are tasks they would prefer to leave to a competent mechanic.
Citroën service specialists do exist in Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Flagstaff, the New York City area, Miami, San Diego, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC area and in Canada; in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, but anywhere else you are pretty much on your own, save from great telephone support by parts vendors like Brad Nauss at Brad Nauss Automotive, (DS, SM & Traction Avant) and Kenji Yoshino at 2CV Source (2CV, Dyane and Méhari).
The Land of Opportunity….
In the past few years, people with Citroën repair knowledge have come to North America and have become incredibly successful.
In Canada for example; Lionel Hondier moved to Vancouver from France, and although he came with the intention of getting a job as a chef, his knowledge of Citroëns came in more handy than his culinary resume. In a city with few french restaurants, he was driving in his 2CV one day that he brought over from France and was flagged down by another Citroën owner asking where he got his car serviced.
Discovering that there was really no one doing work on them in the area, Lionel started repairing them by making a deal at a British specialty garage where he could rent some space to do work. Within no-time French Citroëns began to outnumber the British marques at the garage and within 10 years Lionel took over the business from the English owner who wanted to retire. Now Lionel is the ‘go-to’ guy for Citroën repairs and restorations in the Pacific Northwest!
Another Canadian success story is Rik Dehaen who immigrated from from Belgium in 2013. Seeing that there was an opportunity for servicing 2CVs in the Montreal area, he decided to be entrepreneurial and set up shop just north of the city where he has built a successful business repairing and restoring them — and the occasional H Van!
For anyone in Europe, (or abroad) with classic Citroën repair knowledge, we would be happy to advise you where, in Canada and in the USA, there is room for you to build your own business doing primarily Citroën repairs.
Setting up even a small shop and proving your skill on just a few projects will start you on the road to having a thriving business that you own and can make a comfortable living at. Be prepared to see a few Citroëns that have been band-aid repaired in a questionable fashion, but that’s even more opportunity for you to make things right and make income doing so! Moreover, you can take pride in helping some very passionate owners keep their hobby alive by ensuring they have a Citroën they can drive.