This is the second safety information letter in less than two years being issued by Renault. The first safety information letter was sent in both April and May of 2007, this was followed by another issuing of letters in August 2008. Renault went as far as to use the DVLA to contact all the Clio owners registered on their database by recorded delivery and inform them that they were at “risk of damage to your vehicle and loss of visibility…there is potential for serious personal injury”.
Concerns from customers
The BBC programme Watchdog was the first to highlight the problem when two years ago, they received over a thousand complaints from customers that their bonnets were opening while they were driving their cars. Similar complaints were popping up on user forums all over the internet including that on the Parker’s site, some date as early as 2004. Some customers came together with the hope of packing a more powerful punch with their petition for an independent inquiry to be carried out regarding the issue.
Renault has claimed that the problem will only come about as a result of the customer’s improper maintenance of the vehicle and that they have not found any fault with the design or the construction of the mechanism used. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency agreed with Renault’s findings but as the manuals for the Clio’s built between 1998 and 2005 didn’t include any information about the need for maintenance nor did it have any advice on how to properly maintain the mechanism. In addition it didn’t specify that there was a specific way to shut the bonnet to ensure the safety catch ‘caught’ correctly.
It is for this reason that the need for the second safety information was required, this letter included an amendment to the manuals that were issued and included how to maintain the mechanism and directions to shutting the bonnet safety catch correctly. When spoken to Renault commented that “the mailing is a reassurance campaign. Renault is a responsible manufacturer and takes the safety of its customers extremely serious”.
Caring for customers
Renault went on to talk about the issue with Parker’s re-iterating that they had “investigated the cause of the incidents and worked with all the relevant authorities” and that “no design or construction defect has been found”. Despite this the French manufacturer went ahead and produced an instructional video that will show customers how to maintain any affected Campus models or Clios of the particular generation that has been posted on their website.
VOSA commented on their contribution to the investigation saying that “VOSA engineers in conjunction with Renault, carried out a thorough investigation into reports of inadvertent bonnet openings of Renault Clio Mk2 and Clio Campus models”. Finally they stated that “the defect with the bonnet latching mechanism…was…inadequate maintenance through lack of cleaning and lubrication”. If this was maintained properly there should be no risk of the “latching mechanism failing to operate correctly” and spontaneously opening causing personal injury.