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post #1035 of (permalink) Old 14th December 2010
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Re: BBC Watchdog report :: Faulty Renault Clio bonnet catches

Okay my (albeit) detailed response...on how I feel the Ombudsmand should take a further look. There is plenty of evidence which calls into question the impartiality and independency of the Goverment department that is responsible for Road Safety...

BTW: I had a thought, because VOSA are now in agreement with Renault in accepting that this is not a safety defect and it is the owner's thouht, in theory, this means that VOSA (not Renault) are not liable for any instances of cases occurring, where either 1) the owner was not notified by VOSA/Renault or 2) the incident happens even after an inspection by Renault.

I suggest you pile on the pressure to VOSA!

"Thank you for your response. I would like to request further clarification on the position and administration of VOSA and enforcement of its road safety policy mandate on the UK roads. It is VOSA (not the vehicle manufactures) who are ultimately responsible for MOT, Road Safety, Vehicle Servicing checklists seems that there is too much responsibility that lies with the vehicle manufacture, with VOSA taking a more ***8216;monitoring***8217; stance. This may work on general mattes, but when it comes to road-safety, one then questions the integrity of the enforcement agency. By admitting that VOSA/Renault have changed the stance by including checking the catch in both the Servicing Manual and MOT (after the event mind you), this means there is an admission of a defect if something has to change to mitigate the safety risk? For your information, after these ***8216;preventive***8217; measures, cases are continuing to be reported and experienced ***8211; in a couple of cases, AFTER the checks have been performed by a Renault dealership ***8211; meaning the parts remain at risk, and the limited actions performed so far remain ineffective for this safety catch defect.

If VOSA are responsible to ***8220;oversee***8221; an investigation by Renault. How are VOSA able to question the detail technical aspects, if they are not empowered with the technical knowledge or experience. I think it is clear that a manufacture can all to easily counter any claims of a defect to VOSA, with little or no effort as it is their own investigation and interest to do so. Why don***8217;t VOSA have the technical expertises? Is this how the other safety agencies operate ***8211; they manage policy, but have no direct expertise in the respective subject areas? Maybe what I have experienced signifies a bigger issue in how the VOSA safety manage is operated and enforced?

An example: an independent mechanic investigated the mechanism as part of BBC Watchdog and reported that it was unsafe (not fit for purpose) and likely to ***8220;stick***8221; (which links back to the General Product Regulations ***8211; the product is defective) - this was also backed by a Renault Mechanic at my local dealership who indicated (after he inspected my vehicle after my incident) that the ***8220;maintenance-free safety-catch mechanism was prone to sticking***8221; (i.e. it against Renault***8217;s original design/construction specifications). However, this is then contradicted by ***8220;Renault***8217;s official Report***8221; which seems to be imply that the mechanism remains safe although the mechanism appeared corroded. If the parts (remember they do not require maintenance by the way the parts were originally designed and constructed), then this simple admission indicates that the mechanism may deteriorate over time and as such signifies that the parts featured are UNSAFE and the design specification needs to be changed. I noted that Renault***8217;s internal report did not accept that the corrosion was an admission that the mechanism functionality had failed, although its post-actions seems to imply a change in the design specification; this is what DoT VOSA should have reviewed and explain whether this linkage exists ***8211; the basic question which still remains unanswered by VOSA...if the maintenance-free designed / manufactured part is safe and is not defective, why does it now require maintenance, and in some cases, why did the part need replacement?

VOSA should enforce the manufacture to explain why the corrosion was occurring on these safety parts (for what was a maintenance-free part) and why this wasn***8217;t considered at the point of design? Renault should answer why the part is no longer maintenance-free?

I also include quote from an email received from another victim, ***8220;I did have an independent inspection, which was organised by my insurance company. The report identified that there was a fault with the catch mechanism. It's with my insurance company and lawyer at present. Renault were asked to be present at the inspection but declined needless to say.***8221; This really calls into question VOSA***8217;s integrity in being able to complete such a safety ***8216;investigation***8217;, if independent inspections confirm there is a fault with the mechanism! This concurs the findings of BBC Watchdog, and the various AA/RAC mechanics who confirmed the same when picking up damaged vehicles.

This not the right time or place to outline all of my other grievances relating to this case (this could go on to several more pages), the purpose of raising my complaints about VOSA***8217;s (in)actions ***8211; is that by just attending a few meetings with Renault, reading Renault***8217;s technical justification (which VOSA are no experts on), looking at a bonnet catch safety video and accepting ***8220;Renault***8217;s***8221; internal findings ***8211; this does not stack up as a way to complete an investigation by an independent or impartial body (VOSA). Even through a meeting with VOSA***8217;s senior management at their offices, they could not explain what caused the issue? This was of concern ***8211; because it cannot be down to driver error or the way the mechanism is engaged when the bonnet is closed. The mechanism should be designed to be full-proof, i.e. the safety catch should NEVER fail. You might fail closing the main catch, but there is no way of confirming that the safety catch is engaged when the bonnet is flush. It is for VOSA to explain how a safety catch might not be engaged on a vehicle.

The process VOSA/Renault have used to communicate the ***8220;maintenance changes***8221; is not the correct process ***8211; I still don***8217;t quite understand why the informal process was followed. The correct process is that the defect should be included in the Safety Recall database ***8211; and communicated within the EU road safety system (RAPEX). What the communications failed to acknowledge and outline is that the design/manufacturing specification has changed ***8211; the part is no longer maintenance-free? Why was this important point omitted? Renault can no longer define this part as a maintenance-free designed or constructed part (this a design / manufacturing defect). Isn***8217;t this a maladministration or injustice and brings the safety processes which VOSA are responsible for into disrepute?

A VOSA vehicle defect report was completed by someone who had no technical knowledge of the safety-mechanism functionality ***8211; how can this be reliable from the one representative a DoT department? If you don***8217;t have the expertise hire the experts to support the investigation. If VOSA simply counter-signs a manufacturers report and sign-off whether a defect exists ***8211; then this means VOSA are liable for any cases that currently exist, and as such should be bought to count to settle or claims for repairs etc. This is actually quite serious and signifies problems with the injustice of the situation affecting the thousands of other motorists.

I will let you review and reflect upon the above details ***8211; and consider whether you still feel VOSA acted responsibly (in the public***8217;s interest) without any concerns from the Ombudsman and the DoT. If the previous statement is ratified once again, then the DoT / VOSA should be liable cover all costs for cases that occur following a failure in the way the mechanism functions going forward. Cases will continue until all of the Clio Mark-2 are naturally removed from the UK roads, this really shouldn***8217;t be the best way a safety process is enforced, but rather the manufacturer take the responsibility to fully resolve and mitigate the safety risk ***8211; the parts remain unsafe and need to be replaced with something more durable in design and construction.

Many thanks once again for your support.


Aaron Brigatti
Brigatti Online -

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