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post #982 of (permalink) Old 30th April 2010
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Angry Re: BBC Watchdog report :: Faulty Renault Clio bonnet catches

Another response from VOSA - as we reach D-Day on a potential change of Government here in the UK, I wonder if the DoT would change this stance. It seems VOSA is not the right organisation to deal with determining whether a safety defect exist.

"Thank you for your further letter of 20 April.

It is evident from your comments that, despite extensive correspondence, I and my colleagues have failed to successfully explain to you VOSA***8217;s position in terms of vehicle defects. I hope now to make this clear and to confirm the action that has been taken to assist owners of Renault Clio IIs.
Before proceeding with this response I must apologise for an error in my letter to you of 31 March. The figures quoted for test failures were incorrect. The letter stated that the last analysis of MOT test failure data showed 11% of Clio IIs submitted for test failing due to problems with the bonnet catch as opposed to a failure rate for the same reason of 15% across all makes and models. The actual figures were those quoted to you in Hugh Edwards***8217; letter of 5 March 2007: 0.11% of all vehicle failures related to the bonnet catch whereas the reason for failure for 0.15% of all Renault Clios and 0.11% of Clios built between 1998 and 2002 related to the bonnet catch. I am sorry that this transcription error has given you an overstated picture of the problem.
VOSA***8217;s prime concern is the safety of road users. I agree with you that the sudden opening of a car***8217;s bonnet is very frightening and a threat to safety, however, it is the cause of this occurrence that concerns VOSA. As we have explained, our powers to act to enforce the safety standards of the automotive industry are granted by the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 and the work is carried out in accordance with the UK Code of Practice on Vehicle Safety Defects. These regulations and codes of practice determine our remit to pursue formally only those defects which are deemed to be part of the design or construction of a vehicle.
In 2006, when we first received reports from members of the public alleging that bonnets on Renault Clio IIs were opening inadvertently, we instigated and oversaw an investigation conducted by Renault. In 2007 the investigation concluded that the issue was not caused by a defect in the design and construction of the bonnet catch, as covered by the Code of Practice on Safety Defects, but was an issue caused by a lack of the required maintenance of the part or the failure to close the bonnet

correctly or a combination of both factors. Thus, whilst we accept that the inadvertent opening of the bonnet is a safety hazard, it is not a ***8216;safety defect***8217; under the terms of the Code and, therefore, it is not within VOSA***8217;s remit to compel the manufacturer to take action.
Although the problem with the Clio II was found not to be a ***8216;safety defect***8217;, VOSA and Renault understood the concern of drivers and the potential safety hazard and agreed on non-coded action to support Renault in gaining vehicle keeper information from DVLA to enable them to take robust action to notify those registered keepers of the potential problem.
In 2007 Renault UK updated the Clio II owners***8217; manual and the service plans held at the dealerships to remind owners and technicians of the maintenance schedule with regard to locks and latches.
Having first consulted with VOSA on the wording, in 2007 Renault began to issue customer mailings inviting owners to supply their vehicles to the dealerships for a check, clean and lubrication of the bonnet catch. Should significant corrosion be found, it was agreed that the catch would be replaced. A repeat mailing was sent in 2008. As with the formal recall process, refreshed DVLA data was used for the second mailing and a section was included to give recipients the opportunity to advise Renault of revised ownership details.
In addition to the action taken by Renault, in 2007 VOSA sent out awareness messages to all MOT garages via the VOSA publication, ***8216;Matters of Testing***8217;. As you might be aware, inspection of the bonnet catch has been included in the MOT since 2002.
In conclusion, I trust you now appreciate that it is VOSA***8217;s role to oversee the action taken by the manufacturer to satisfy themselves that a fault is not a safety issue as defined by the Code of Practice. It is not within VOSA***8217;s remit to prove that a safety defect exists. As I have explained, we have worked with Renault to ensure that owners of Clio IIs are made aware of the action they can take to prevent the inadvertent opening of the bonnet. The dialogue between VOSA and Renault to review and monitor the situation is ongoing but it is not within VOSA***8217;s remit to take any regulatory action in this matter."

Okay - interesting that they are trying to stand firm - as if they could easily squirm their way out of the mess that they got themselves into.

I still think they missed one important point...the part was designed as "maintenance-free" that means, it was designed and built to a standard that didn't need maintenance. This is a flaw. This is a system-spec change!

Hmmm....I still don't believe maintenance is being used in the correct context - and more importantly, if the Airline industry can shut down about a "theortical" risk, this is a "real" risk (with evidence) but they failed to stop the issue happening. They are trying to cure the problem, and not resolve the root-cause (bandage and wound comes into mind?)


Aaron Brigatti
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