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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Well, I have had my car repaired since the  'sudden bonnet release' incident almost 11 months back, but many others are still less fortunate.

I am not only mad at Renault but also amazed at their sheer stubboness in their "denial" to accept any responsibility behind the root-causes of the incidents.  The incidents where the bonnet suddenly releases itself whilst you are driving a Renault Clio (Mark II models models built between 1997-2005).  This is (obviously!) pretty dangerous as you can imagine!

Their position is that the driver didn't close the bonnet properly - however, this is not deemed the case, as a bonnet can be flush and secure - although the safety catch is not actually engaged properly.  The driver would not be able to tell until too late. 

I do admit that the 'acceptance' of an design / safety / maintenance issue (whatever term you feel fit to call this issue), would open the floodgates and Renault would then admit liability for the all the reported cases.  That's 250 directly to BBC Watchdog, and probably hundreds others who have dealt with it themselves (paid the repair costs out of their own pocket or via the insurance route) - but this is plain wrong.  Would you consider claiming or paying something even though it wasn't your fault!  Well my point exactly!

BBC Watchdog has last week aired a follow-up to their initial report in April 2006.  Last week's report came with an on-line summary, as follows:

"In April 2006, Watchdog investigated a potentially fatal problem with the bonnet safety catch on the Renault Clio. Without warning, bonnets were opening while the car was moving, osbscuring the driver's vision and cracking the windscreen. At the time, Renault told us it didn't believe there was a common problem with the cars. It said the drivers hadn't closed their bonnets securely. The company admitted having heard of some incidents, but couldn't find a pattern.

Since our original report, more than 250 people have contacted us saying the same thing happened to them. So if Renault couldn't see a pattern before, perhaps it would see one now. Alan Hecht, for example, was travelling at 113kph (70mph) when his bonnet flew open. He tried to pull into the hard shoulder but a bus smacked into the back of his car. The car was written off. Amazingly no one was hurt. Tracey Davis was driving on a busy motorway when the bonnet on her car flew open. She felt Renault was to blame, but the company said there was no defect with any of the car bonnet catches.

When our expert Martin Woodhouse examined the Clio Mark II he found the safety catch to be particularly dangerous, because if the owner pulls the catch too hard they can actually force it out and into the unsafe open position. Our expert believes Renault should recall these cars.

Rebecca Wheeler was driving her Clio Mark II home when the bonnet flew up. She had to do an emergency stop in the fast lane of the M4. Wheeler's garage reported the fault was with her safety catch, which it said wasn't designed to withstand high speeds. Renault didn't accept the report, so Wheeler got a second one from the company that does inspections for the AA. The report states the damage occurred during normal day-to-day use, so their design meant it was going to happen at some point.

There's now a new version of the Clio on the road - the Clio Mark III. It has a completely different bonnet catch made entirely of metal, fully integrated and, most importantly, fail safe. Of all the complaints that Watchdog's received about Clio bonnet catches, not one concerned the new Clio Mark III. But there are still thousands of Clios on the road with the older bonnet catches. Experts say this is a design fault, and we know it's already caused serious accidents. Just how serious does it have to get before Renault will issue a recall?

Any concerned customers can contact Renault UK Customer Services on 0800 072 3372.

Renault responds to Watchdog's investigation."

BBC1 Watchdog - 23rd January 2007

Can Renault keep their denials going for much longer?  Well my case was submitted to the UK's Department of Transport's "Vehicle and Operators Safety Agency" (VOSA) and their "Vehicle Safety Branch" - but thus far, with the evidence provided by Renault (UK and Global) - they do not concur that a mechanical or safety defect exists.  However, this was only based on evidence provided by Renault (yes you see the problem!), and they didn't even inspect my vehicle even when they had the opportunity to do so.  The inspection completed was from a Renault Engineer - and thus far, they have declined my requests for a copy of the report.   Something cinister is going on, and not being cynical (but I will), is this stance due to Renault having something to hide. 

I won't stop until I get the result I am looking for!

Comments
Renault's Response Rejecting Watchdog'
Written by abrigatti on 2007-02-02 20:11:00
Renault's response to BBC Watchdog: 
 
"As a manufacturer who takes any customer issue extremely seriously, [laughable!!!] Renault UK has shown concern where a customer has reported this experience, and reiterates that the safety of its customers is of paramount importance. [yeah right!!] 
 
Renault has not found a manufacturing defect on the bonnet catch mechanism on the Clio II. All parts of the catch mechanism are accessible for lubrication. In the context of the amount of Clio II sold in the UK between 1998 and 2003 (350,000), [That's a lot of death traps on the road and accidents waiting to happen!!] there remains only a proportionately small number of cases where a problem with the bonnet catch mechanism has been reported. [yes but their miss the point that the maintenance is the responsibility of the servicing garage - which in my case is 100% the liability of Renault UK. It was only after this report did they instruct their dealers to "maintain" these catches!] 
 
Renault UK has carried out 34 inspections to date of Clio II’s where the owner had reported this issue. The inspections were all attended by a representative from Renault UK’s Technical department, a representative from the owner’s individual insurance company and in some cases, by the customer unless they declined to attend. [not in my case - so wrong again!!] 
 
Every inspection concluded that there was no manufacturing defect found and that the incident had occurred due to the bonnet not being closed properly as per the clear instructions in the vehicle handbook. [nothing to do with closing the bonnet properly - it's the lock mechanism at fault!!] The handbook clearly states that the customer should ‘check that the bonnet is locked properly’. [yes but that's the point, if the bonnet appears locked (bonnet is flush / secure when tugged), what else can on do? This is the issue - one has to assume all catches are engaged - BIG mistake, hey?] 
 
However, we acknowledge that the reported incidents may cause our customers concern therefore, as a responsible manufacturer, Renault UK is very keen to ensure that it uses all means necessary to reassure its customers. ["reassure" - nah you just wanna cover your arses! Reassuance is a recall you wallies! That's "safety concious" - if this were the US, you would be in court by now and liability for millions of $'s in lawsuits!] 
 
Renault continues to monitor any complaints regarding Clio II bonnets closely and as part of this, Renault UK has instructed its dealer network to check the condition of the bonnet lock mechanism and safety catch on all Renault vehicles during routine service and MOT. [This only moves the liability down to chain FROM THIS DATE - the incidents happened before this date are still the liability of Renault UK!] 
 
Any concerned customers can contact Renault UK Customer Services on 0800 072 3372. [why bother - they don't listen!]" 
 
Well, you've seen my thoughts on their statement :p
BBC South East Today
Written by abrigatti on 2007-02-02 20:56:25
Well talk about in the "media" at the moment, my local BBC TV News Room, BBC South East Today, showed a report of a regional incident where a Renault Clio "bonnet released" itself whilst a motorist was driving. 
 
It was another lucky escape for the motorist, but the damage had already been done (literally!). Comes back to the same question of how many more incidents will it take before Renault take the appropriate action, a recall is the only way to overcome this issue!! C'mon Renault you morons!

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