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Written by Aaron Brigatti  
Saturday, 19 January 2008

In addition to my letter to the Customer Services Department of Renault UK, I wanted to continue my dialogue with the top-cheese of Renault UK - Roland Bouchara - the Managing Director.

I refer to Mr Phelan’s letter dated 28th November 2007 sent on your behalf.

Renault has implied that there are two causes behind Clio bonnets releasing themselves without warning; lack of maintenance and incorrect closure of the bonnet.

Lets go with some implied statements made by your customer service department:

  • Closing a bonnet does not rely on any particular level of maintenance:
    • This implies that lack of maintenance should not prevent a bonnet being closed correctly.
    • We need to understand whether a mechanism with lack of maintenance, can result in the two-catch mechanism to fail to fully apply, even though the bonnet is closed in the prescribed manner outlined in your handbook. Can checking bonnet closures (based on your owner manual guidelines) prove that the secondary catch is applied?
  • Catches do not have to be broken to signify an issue with the mechanisms:
    • Lack of maintenance may cause the bonnet catches, specifically the secondary (what you term ‘safety’) catch, to not engage fully.
  • Secondary catch should be engaged in all cases:
    • We now understand this to not be the case – there is a possibility that only main catch is engaged, without any confirmation that safety it not engaged.

The incident timings are not instantaneous, i.e. they could happen after a period of time (days, weeks); can the technical explanations fit these timelines facts? By communicating to your customer base now, Renault has admitted that the closure or maintenance process creates a risk to the performance of the bonnet catch maintenance. As you have clearly identified “maintenance” as a possible cause, this cannot be used as a rationale behind the cause of my incident, without accepting liability. There were no notices to warn owners published before April/May 2007, or your dealerships until January 2007.

Renault’s report on my vehicle does not indicate that I had not closed the bonnet correctly contrary to the prescribed approach. Nor does the report indicate what could have caused the bonnet to release without warning. It doesn’t confirm whether the secondary catch was engaged at the time of the incident, or that the catch had been engaged, but released itself. Nor does not it identify whether alternative parts that could have used in the manufacturing of the mechanism may have prevented the issue?

If the safety catch was functioning as designed (as noted in your report) – why didn’t it prevent the bonnet releasing itself all the way? This could occur if it was not engaged. There is nothing that has explained this point – the investigation is far from closed.

Could a bonnet be closed without the secondary catch engaging? Can the secondary catch stick? The very possibility identifies that there is a risk caused by the design of the mechanism which could risk injury or death. The current design is not a fool-proof safety mechanism.

Is there a possibility that the secondary catch was not engaged, even though the main catch was?

"Renault Commitment 2009" emphasises quality and reliability, two important factors we can question during the whole bonnet catch safety issue. I would welcome Mr Ghosn’s views on this matter, as he communicated these values, which seemingly contradicts the state of your bonnet safety mechanism on your vehicles.

We'll see what they have to say for themselves!!


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