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post #237 of (permalink) Old 7th December 2006
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Originally Posted by Meesh View Post
Apologies if you are sick of hearing about this complaint but I need a bit of help to decide how I am going to proceed on this issue of the faulty bonnet clip.
No apology needed. We are all interested in how this is going to pan out.

I spoke to Stuart Jenkins from VOSA today who informs me that VOSA have decided there is no fault in the Clio bonnet clip but rather a maintenance issue. I posed a number of questions to Mr Jenkins and was surprised by the response. I have no great knowledge of what should and shouldn***8217;t be on a car so if you can expand on the answers I would be very grateful.
Perhaps he would like to publish an engineers' report on the subject (but not a Renault engineer thank you), before this matter goes to Westminster. I am sure that when most victims approach their MPs we would get some response and if not there is always the opportunity to enter a collective complaint in court.

I asked if it was acceptable that the bonnet clip should be rusted on a car that is less than three years old ***8211; SJ replied that as I live in Scotland the salt on the road will have led to it rusting, he explained that the clip is in a vulnerable position so this is why it happened so quick.
I suspect that Stuart Jenkins might not be a very qualified engineer if he has made that statement about the salt; ask him if he knows what boats are and what people do to make sure that essential (safety) fittings do not corrode in a boat environment. Has he heard of non-ferrous metals such as brass, bronze, or copper?
Ask him also what about the effected people who do not live in Scotland, maybe as far south as France.
I am again wondering if Mr Jenkins is aware of how much time, effort and money is invested in making sure that car doors do not fly open on impact (yet here we sit discussing a horizontal door flying open without impact); why don't the door-lock parts also corrode in Scotland?

I now ask ***8211; I understand it has to be in a vulnerable position by nature of its purpose but if it rusts so easily does that mean that it is not fit for purpose? Should it not have some kind of coating on it to stop it rusting? Should it be metal in the first place if the other two options are not possible? Could they not have some sort of cover on it? Thus, does this not mean that it***8217;s a design fault and not a maintenance issue?
I have contended all along that these safety devices are badly designed and the material they are made of is not resistant to drastic changes in temperature. The binding occurs in the sliding part (see photos elsewhere in the thread) because the working clearance does not provide sufficient tolerances. The whole concept of the bonnet lock and safety-catch is evident by its name/description; any different assertion would be contradictory in terms. A safety-catch is used on ALL cars to PROVIDE SAFETY in the event that the lock fails when the car is in motion (for obvious reasons). I wonder if Mr Jenkins is aware that it is not only Renault cars that are sold in Scotland and perhaps he can quote a few examples of the same failure occuring on other cars there, be they French, English, German, Italian or whatever.

I then asked if the primary clip is so susceptible to rusting is in not important that the secondary clip is fully functional, if this clip is prone to
sticking then surely this is also not fit for the purpose?
SJ ***8211; This clip should be maintained by lubrication.
This is utter balderdash! Many complainants have stated that their locks and catches had been properly maintained by recognised garages, yet they still suffered the mishap.

Mr Jenkins told me that my bonnet failed as I had not closed it properly (there has been no examination of my bonnet clip by anyone at VOSA).
Since he did not inspect your car, he is merely repeating what Renault have told him but he has not said this to you and in omitting to tell you so, as a public servant, he can be construed as having intentionally attempted to deceive you and to influence you into capitulating and abandoning your legitimate complaint. I've had lawyers try this on me in other matters but they quickly qualified their statements when told I was about to send in a complaint to the law society's Office for the Supervision of Solicitors (O.S.S.)

I strongly disagree with this theory as I always ensure my bonnet is closed properly, I drop it and listen for it clicking then look to see it is flush, I am certain there is no way I did not close the bonnet clip properly. I informed Mr Jenkins that I had not had the bonnet up for about two months and asked if it had not been engaged properly would it not have started to vibrate or move a little in that two months as I drive 60 miles a day on the motorway.
SJ ***8211; If it was not closed properly because of the rust on the clip it could have taken time for it to open completely. Utter rubbish! Time would have locked it in such circumstances because the spring pressure is in the oppsite direction from the open position.

Do any other cars have an alarm if the bonnet clip is not fully engaged? What is the function of the safety clip? Should the safety clip work if the primary clip is not fully engaged?
When you drop the bonnet, the LOCK (when functioning correctly) will advance to a stage where the sprung lever can hold it in place until you release it; the SAFETY-CATCH also progresses to a locked position but its travel goes further than the point of locking. When you release the LOCK by pulling the release cable, the spring lifts the bonnet up to the safety-catch-locking-height and the safety-catch remains engaged until you insert your fingers in the gap and maneouvre it to the released position. This is not anything new and the system has not changed much in the fifty years or so that I have been handling motor vehicles. I had a similar fitting in another French car (a Peugeot Chrysler) and that did the same thing to my son when I was overseas but he had fixed everything by the time I returned; that was 20 years ago and the fitting was similar. I also remember lifting my dad's car bonnet as a boy just to tinker and wipe the surfaces with an oily rag... that was an Austin-of-England A75 Hampshire and it had a similar "hook" back in the 1950s.

If this clip NEEDS to be maintained by lubrication is it not reasonable to ask that Clio owners be told about this? Should this be something that is in the manual? I believe it should be as the average Clio owner would not automatically know to do this. If it should be maintained surely we need some guidance on how often etc.
Even without lubrication, the safety-catch will stop the bonnet from flying open unless it is totally siezed in the rearward position (as when you release it with your fingers under the bonnet); it would have to be sticking in that position permanently (because of a failed return-spring or because the travelling-surfaces have become deformed). Basically the "hook" goes through a "hole" but shouldn't come out again without you manually moving it through the "hole".

I suggested to Mr Jenkins that Renault should be issuing a letter to Clio owners advising them to maintain there bonnet clip or even to the garages to make them aware of this issue if they are not already. Mr Jenkins stated that there was no way Renault would do this.
Yet again he is wrong and is tryting to fob you off. Renault have already instructed their dealers to inspect all Clios that enter their premises and to grease the bonnet locks and safety-catches. Maybe you should refer the matter to his direct boss or failing that, take the matter the whole way.
If Renault are as big on safety as they make out then why not issue information to their customers? It is not asking them to make a recall but merely to potential prevent a fatal accident on a matter they failed to include in there manual.
Manufacturers apparently only "work at it" until a certificate is obtained that they can advertise to the public. After they have it, they rest on their laurels. On top of that, dead men tell no tales.... non?

At the moment I am not happy at the response from VOSA, if others who are more mechanically minded than myself agree that this is not an acceptable response I will go ahead with a complaint to VOSA. I intend to make a Freedom of Information request to them over the issue to find out how many cars they examined, how many complaints they have received and what they are recommending to Renault on the matter. In the mean time my lawyers are on the case so hopefully might get somewhere with Renault!
One of our members, Brigatti, has had a lot of dealings on this both with VOSA and with Renault. He also has his own website with some pages dedicated to this problem. Unfortunately, I have not read any posts of his recently but I'm confident he has not let it go without a fight.

You are of course also able to take this to small claims court for your losses, but Renault will probably be happier with this than with having to look at every bonnet-lock of that type. They won't like a collective case though.

In conclusion, it seems to me that Renault are bigger than VOSA and of course, size matters does it not? At least that's what the big boys say, but I have seen a few Davids slay quite a few Goliaths as probably, have you.

I am not sure if VOSA and DVLA come under the same CEO but my claim against DVLA went through all the local offices involved and they all said (somewhat cavalier) that their boffins had advised them that I had no grounds to claim against the agency. Having tired of writing to people whose main interest was to exonorate their offices and make me go away quietly, I advanced the matter to the CEO personally and after several submissions and after the matter was referred to their legal department more than once, they accepted that they were at fault and paid up. This is being said in case you are somehow discouraged from taking them on. It's not easy but it has been done. My case concerned negligence in registering a stolen car as a new vehicle, and here I wonder how many others who suffered similar losses did not get paid despite the negligence.

I'm sorry this post turned out so lengthy (I'm not trying to get points I promise you) and I suspect that I have posted most of it in dribs and drabs elsewhere in this and other related threads in this forum. I hope it doesn't put you off reading it though and be aware that this is not the only thread on the subject.

Of course, it is not unknown for payments to be made subject to a non-disclosure condition.... I think Brigatti had such an offer made to him, I vaguely remember him writing.

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