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post #751 of 1147 (permalink) Old 8th August 2007
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Meeting scheduled with head of VSB @ VOSA

Following the note I received from my MP below, I am now meeting Mr Sweeting - the head of the VSB @ VOSA tomorrow (Thurs) to discuss the overall matter of Renault Clio Bonnet's - specifically, to hear what VOSA have part of their "investigation"!! More news to follow....A.

Originally Posted by brigatti View Post
Here's the letter I received from Stephen Tetlow - the CEO of the VOSA organisation.

"Dear Mr Soames,

Thank you for your letter of 1st May on behalf of your constituent Aaron Brigatti, [address removed], about the Vehicle and Operator Service Agency (VOSA) investigation of Renault Clio II bonnet and safety catches. I am sorry for the extended time it has taken to respond.

I have reviewed the investigation undertaken by my Vehicle Safety Branch (VSB) over the last 12 months. I can confirm that it has been robust and that within our remit, under the Code of Practice on Vehicle Safety Defects, the decision not to impose a safety recall was correct.

In April 2007, Renault UK began contacting circa 500,000 1998-2007 Renault Clio II Phase 1, Phase II and Clio II Campus customers to invite them to their local dealership to have the bonnet and safety catch components checked and, if necessary, serviced or replaced free of charge.

Unfortunately, I did not receive Mr Brigatti's earlier e-mails. We believe the e-mail address he used was incomplete. For further reference our email contact details are: [blah].

However, Mr Brigatti has been kept informed of the investigation progress through correspondence with my VSB and Hugh Edwards, Director of Goods Vehicles. It maybe easier to discuss questions and theories face-to-face. Jeff Sweeting, Head of VSB, would be happy to meet with Mr Brigatti and can be contacted on [blah].

I trust this addresses your concerns.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Tetlow"

My comments below:
  • The VSB investigation has not lasted "12 months" as implied - they received my filed case in April 2006, and only reviewed my report (and that of another "victim" (see second point regarding my comments on this)) and inspected 3 other unaffected vehicles in April 2006 - and submitted a conclusion response to me in January 2007. Firstly, to be correct this is not 12 months, and secondly it would appear that they made their decision within the first few months of the investigation, as I have received indication that in October and November 2006, the VSB declined to file or respond to any further cases filed to it - why? Is this a "complete" investigation? If anything, this should obtain details from ANY incidents that occurred related to the "sudden bonnet release syndrome" or see any commonality in the part mechanism / performance. Reviewing two REPORTS and spot-checking 3 undamaged cars is not a (thorough) investigation!
  • Regarding the "second report" they reviewed. Under a FoI request, this report has not come to light - therefore I am questioning it's existence. At this stage, there is nothing that indicates a second report was reviewed. Also reviewing two "reports" completed by the garage / manufacture in question does raise the question of their reliability and independence. I reiterate that the VSB investigation was based solely on these two reports!
  • The VOSA Code of Practice indicates that a defect has to appear on a "common number of units", which are "available in the UK" - and with "evidence that a safety defect exists in the affected unit". 1,000+ cases in the UK alone covers the initial points. I would question how they have come to the conclusion that there is no evidence indicating that a "safety defect" exists in the related part. Note: that the part in question that keeps a bonnet secure - is a two-part bonnet catch mechanism - which incorporates a safety catch. My understanding is safety relates to anything that endangers the life of the occupants or those that are around the vehicle. This is a very basic viewpoint of what I deem as "safety". Quoting verbatim your policy - a safety defect is "a feature of design or construction liable to cause a significant risk of personal injury or death" - ....I questioned to VOSA to confirm which bit doesn't apply in the Renault Case? And confirm to me the VOSA/VSB definition of a safety defect as apparently they are contradicting their own policies here?
  • Please consider this - a bonnet catch failure that removes ALL visibility for the driver - resulting in potentially a fatal "life-threatening" RTA (endangering lives!) - is what we would deem as a evidence of a potential safety defect (many people in the industry agrees to this very point!).
  • To bring them closer to a similar scenario, the VSB deemed a previous Alfa Romeo 147 & 156 "bonnet catch failure" as a safety defect - resulting in a manufacturer's recall of the affected vehicles. What makes the Renault case different?
  • They were correct in that Renault have "invited" owners of the affected vehicles for a free safety inspection (12+mths after early reports) - however, this doesn't address the root-cause of why it happened (maintenance is one small aspect of a bigger issue - which is likely to re-occur in the future - and cases continue to be reported!) - but importantly, comes too late relating to the 1,000+ cases (where people have had to claim via their insurance). It's a matter of a gesture which is "too little, too late", and still fails far short from a total UK and, in theory, a global recall. This was only due to the persistence of members of the public, like myself, and the media. If it weren't for us, Renault would have sweep this matter under the carpet - like they initially tried to do for all reported cases filed to them. This is not a "unique" incident as they implied.
What are the results of these points?

Well we are potentially questioning the role of VOSA, the VSB and the ambiguity and interpretation of their own policies - if they can easily contradict these - the vehicle manufacturer would be in a clear position to do the exact same thing! This should not happen.

Apparently, the organisation does not have any powers to force a recall (more of an advisory role!?) nor deal with these matters independently - i.e. they become reliant on anything that the manufacture advises / communicates to them - and they accept their findings in such cases. Is this a role of a safety agency - one that I believe was meant to be impartial?

More news to follow...and hopefully I will schedule this "meeting" at some point soon - depends on my work commitments etc...


Aaron Brigatti
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post #752 of 1147 (permalink) Old 8th August 2007
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Keep up the good work Aaron - I think it's important to link this into the Code of Practice from VOSA:

Point 1 - Definition of a Safety Defect in Law
VOSA's Annex A says that under the General Product and Safety Regulations 2005 "Definition of a Safety Defect" there does NOT have to be a Design Fault or a Cnstruction fault to act, just a "FEATURE " of the design which is dangerous.
It defines "dangerous" as "liable to cause significant RISK of personal injury or death." Nobody has to be killed or injured before they are legally obliged to act.

Point 2 - VOSA is responsible for both Cars and "Components fitted as original equipment."
VOSA's Code of Practice lays out statutory responsibility to take forward Safety Defect investigations in both passenger cars, and "components fitted as original equipment.

Point 3 - NO "reasonable Warnings or Instructions AT POINT OF SALE
When the product has been accompanied by "reasonable warnings or instructions" AT POINT OF SALE, and there has been non-compliance with these warnings or instructions, there is not normally an investigation.
This "backwards sentence" of course implies the opposite, that when there have NOT been Warnings AT POINT OF SALE they DO investigate!!!

Argument using Point 1 "Definition of a Safety Defect"
The Clio 2 bonnet catch mechanism corrodes over time and won't operate.
This IS a dangerous "FEATURE " of both Design and Construction.
It IS "liable to cause significant RISK of personal injury or death."

Argument using Point 2 "VOSA is responsible for Cars and Components fitted as Original Equipment
The Clio 2 bonnet catch mechanism IS a component fitted as original equipment in a passenger car. VOSA therefore has statutory responsibility to investigate and statutory power to take action, including impose fines or order a recall.

Argument using Point 3 - "No reasonable Warnings or Instructions at Point of Sale

The Clio 2 was NOT accompanied by "reasonable warnings or instructions AT POINT OF SALE" that the bonnet catch mechanism would rust without maintenance., hence the compliance issue is irrelevant.

That means the owner is not expected to know without being warned that the bonnet catch mechanism needed maintenance.

Good luck with VOSA!!!


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post #753 of 1147 (permalink) Old 8th August 2007
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Since this has been bumped, i'd just like to add that when i took mine in, the dealer actually called it a recall.
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post #754 of 1147 (permalink) Old 13th August 2007
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Meeting between Mr Sweeting, Mr Jenkins, Mr Brigatti and Mrs Brigatti (mother).
  • VOSA***8217;s remit into any Code of Practice Safety Defect investigation is to ***8220;verify whether a defect exists in the construction or design***8221; of the said parts.
  • VOSA took forward the case in April 2006, and reached a conclusion in January 2007. However, during the initial 2-3 months, an understanding had already been established as part of the investigation.
  • VOSA reviewed two Renault reports initially ***8211; but have subsequently reviewed other reports and discussions (a number of which weren***8217;t documented as VOSA not an ***8220;enforcement agency***8221;).
  • Due to not having a technical understanding of bonnet catch mechanism of the Renault Clio Mark-2, VOSA visited the local Renault dealership (City Motors of Bristol) and inspected 3 vehicles that were present for servicing.
  • They had already contact made with Renault UK and France, and obtained various parts from the different models and ages ***8211;
    • Mark 2 ***8211; Phase 1
    • Mark 2 ***8211; Phase 2
    • Mark 3 (the current model)
  • Later in the investigation (end of 2006) ***8211; VOSA visited Renault France to also review video examples of the mechanism in operation.
  • VOSA indicated that there are no metrics to class a ***8220;performance of a bonnet catch mechanism***8221; (main or safety) ***8211; nor guidelines (only two catch mechanism is a legal requirement). ***8220;No industry ***8216;approval test***8217; for bonnet mechanisms in Europe***8221; exist.
    • Note: does this mean that there is no way of defining whether a safety catch is performing as it should in all cases. i.e. is 90% or 99.9% performance acceptable?
  • Renault had confirmed that although they is no guidelines for the sustainability of the mechanism, they opted for the Australian guidelines ***8211; which required car bonnet safety-mechanism withstanding speeds of 230km/h (142mph).
    • The video footage shown to Brigatti***8217;s demonstrated this point for speeds of approx 90mph ***8211; car on safety catch only.
    • Car bonnet did not release fully ***8211; remained on safety only.
    • Brigatti***8217;s asked whether the driver would feel any difference in the performance of the car, VOSA indicated yes, as Aerodynamics and overall vehicle performance would be affected.
  • VOSA showed examples of the various mechanism model types, ages and condition (some of the catches had experienced the bonnet release issue).
    • All of the cases had issues with a level of corrosion (some worst than others).
    • Mechanisms were ***8220;still operational***8221; even in the most corroded cases ***8211; all deemed as ***8220;functioning***8221; by VOSA.
  • Based on this, VOSA came to the decision that regardless of the condition of the mechanism, the mechanism still operated correctly.
  • Therefore, VOSA felt that the situation had been down to maintenance.
  • So no recall was necessary as it did not fall under the Code of Practice ***8211; ***8220;VOSA***8217;s investigation had been completed***8221;.
  • VOSA indicated that at least 5 models of Renault are affected ***8211; as the same mechanism had been used in these models (not just Clio Mark-2s) ***8211; mention of Scenic and Laguna as examples.
  • VOSA only indicated that only 500,000 Clio Mark-2 were being recalled by Renault.
  • VOSA indicated that Renault***8217;s actions under their ***8220;invitation***8221; approach ***8211; was deemed as a ***8220;recall***8221; within the industry ***8211; there was no enforcement within a recall. Recall***8217;s normally have approx 90% success factor over a period of time.
  • VOSA admitted that they couldn***8217;t identify the root-cause behind the bonnet releases, as all mechanisms were still in ***8220;working order***8221;.
  • VOSA agreed that bonnet (main catch) might not engage fully, but this was down to how the bonnet was closed, not because of a failure in the mechanism.
    • Brigatti indicated that Renault had indicated either the bonnet was not closed correctly or not maintained ***8211; but in the Renault report, they had not indicated maintenance was an issue only that corrosion was present.
    • VOSA couldn***8217;t dispute the background of my case, i.e. whether I had closed the bonnet or not (nor the timelines) ***8211; but Brigatti advised that they should have tested the theory of the background of the case ***8211; as mine was also the ***8220;original case filed to VOSA***8221;.
  • Maintenance was noted as a ***8220;prevention measure***8221;, and they felt was all that was required to reduce the risk of the issue happening.
  • Brigatti advised that Renault had indicated that maintenance was NOT mentioned in the Renault report on my car, only that "corrosion was present".
  • VOSA indicated that the mechanism was originally deemed by Renault as maintenance-free, but this stand had now changed, with the direction to the Renault dealership network to maintain the catches from January 2007.
  • As more time went by, VOSA completed more checks as part of the investigation.
    • Brigatti indicated that the understanding was a ***8220;conclusion***8221; had already been reached in early stages of investigation (within first 2 months), but no preventive action had been taken at that time.
    • VOSA indicated that they had ***8220;completed a through investigation***8221;.
    • Brigatti indicated not within first 2 months they didn***8217;t!
  • VOSA indicated investigation ***8220;not closed***8221;, but in any new cases, the previous investigation statement would stand. VOSA would not comment on why cases weren***8217;t accepted, although implied same conclusion would have stood.
  • VOSA indicated that VOSA, Renault and the other vehicle manufactures were at a lost as to why there was a higher level of corrosion in the UK than elsewhere. Discussions with Council agencies on the materials used in the gritting process.
  • Despite reports of 1,000***8217;s of cases by the BBC, VOSA has only been made aware of about 500.
    • BBC declined to supply details of their filed cases, quoting data protection, and not enough resources.
    • Renault had indicated willingness to provide to the BBC their own resources to assist. BBC had ***8220;declined***8221; this approach.
  • VOSA re-iterated that they could ***8220;not comment***8221; on my case details; Brigatti indicated this was because VOSA had not inspected into my car. VOSA indicated they only look at the wider picture, and not at individual cases.
  • Brigatti indicated that Renault was also uncertain of cause; VOSA was not able to comment on Renault***8217;s own investigation results.
  • Cause still uncertain even after VOSA investigation had been concluded ***8211; but this is not a concern by VOSA, as their remit was whether a defect existed in the operation of the mechanism.
  • Brigatti concluded that we doesn***8217;t believe maintenance is the only plausible reason behind the root-cause of the incident, but VOSA indicated that there is no evidence of a defect existing. Brigatti indicated cases are likely to continue to happen regardless of the maintenance aspect.


Aaron Brigatti
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Clio Bonnet-Catch Issues?
- Read the Correspondence Archive (Recently Updated!) @
- and the latest on my experiences @

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Last edited by brigatti; 13th August 2007 at 12:03 PM. Reason: Slight correction
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post #755 of 1147 (permalink) Old 13th August 2007
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