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RE: Renault Lutecia - Clio 1.6 RXE Crash

Kia Ora,

Greetings from New Zealand. Back in January I bought a Renualt Lutecia which is said to be the same as a Clio. It was a 1.6 RXE and imported into NZ from Japan as a used vehicle. It passed a pre-sale inspection and was OK for a few weeks. It developed a problem of the coolant warning sign showing even though there was no shortage of coolant. Another annoying problem was that the although it was automatic the car would not start with ease when hot.

Two weeks a go I survived a dreadful accident in a windswept rural area and an still in disbelief that I survived a crash the police described as deadly. My car got caught in cross winds and spun on gravel and fell into a gully and rolled 5 times through 3 fences. Non of the air bags ignited although the police and rescue team were adamant that the impact was so severe that the side air bags should have deployed. It is a miracle that I walked away with no visible injuries but all the same I am writing this submission as I am very concerned to share my story.

At this stage I am waiting for the insurance company to inform me of their investigations. I think that my next car will be a different manufacturer entirely.
 

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Airbag failure

Hi Aourora -sorry to hear about your accident - you survived even without the airbags - either you're tough or the car was tough. You say the none of airbags failed to deploy. It would be interesting to know the reason why they failed. Was the vehicle tested prior to sale by an authorized Renault dealer?
In this case it’s obviously not the cars fault which caused the accident but such a failure of the safety systems must rest with the supplier or vehicle examiner. Only by using the correct diagnosis equipment can the airbag circuitry be tested properly? Did you import the vehicle yourself or was it done through a dealer. It would of great interest to hear the insurer’s report.
I know a guy who bought a second hand car and he discovered it had been in a previous accident and all the activated airbags had been removed and only their casings and shrouds had been stuck back on and then the warning light bulb removed. Good Luck and please keep us updated.
:)
 

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Airbags will only deploy in a severe impact, typically at least 8g. A gentle roll-over will NOT be sufficient to fire the bags, and a side rollover will also not usually be severe enough to activate the airbag in the steering wheel. My brother rolled his Laguna a year ago and none of the airbags went off in that. He and his wife were also lucky enough to walk away from that accident, although he was kept in hospital for 3 days as a precaution in case he had suffered lower back injuries.

Glad you are OK
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you

Thank you! I am still getting over the shock and have so many questions to ask at present.

There is a big issue here in NZ with cars imported used from Japan as there is rarely any paper work available and moreover the vehicles often have a specification lower than acceptable standards in Europe for example.

Even Japanese models sold in the UK for example have features compulsory in the UK but not in Japan itself! This is crazy! I'm looking for a new vehicle now but don't know which model to go for.
 

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First and foremost, glad you are well enough to write this article.

Front airbags will only detonate if the sensors are activated by an impact (the sensors are in the bumper), therefore, if you are in a 'normal' height car, and you collide with a higher vehicle (i.e. an SUV), then in all likelihood, the airbags won't go off.

Side airbags have sensors built-in to the doors, which again, are only detonated by a collision being detected at the sensor's level. So although the impact was clearly at a high-enough speed, if the sensors aren't registering a 'hit', then they won't work - true for all cars.

It sounds like the car endured a very heavy series of impacts - yet you were left unscathed (that's an important point). I don't believe that the airbags deploying could've improved your situation.

This type of impact isn't really represented in the NCAP type tests, so its reassuring to know that even Renault's small cars have this type of structural integrity.

I can understand that just after an event of this type, you wouldn't want to choose something similar, but Renaults are one of the best-performing manufacturers (on a safety basis), that you can find - you are a living, breathing testimony to that.

Paul:)
 

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Safety Issues

Hi Aurora - you say there is a big safety issue regarding imported cars in NZ - I asume you are referring to cars which have been registered and used in Japan - can you tell us exactly what the issues are - it would be interesting to know what the problems are. I live in Northern Ireland and for many years we have been importing second hand Japanese cars without any hassle. A couple of things need to be changed (rear fogs, colour of lights, speedos, etc) but they cannot be registered for use on the road until they are fully tested by government examiners. Im just wondering if it's a NZ goverment safety issue rather than a manufacturing standard. As previously said you survived what appears to be a serious crash but emerged relatively intact and I would say the car stood up well in the situation. As a matter of interest what exactly was the cause of the crash as in the world of safety accidents do not happen they are caused.:confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
RE: NZ accident

Kia Ora,

Thank you all for your replies. I am a Christian and thank God for saving me not the Renault Corporation!

My car was caught in severe cross winds and while slowing the car down to meet the conditions the rear wheels seemed to spin on gravel at the sides of the road and the rest is history as they say.

Here in NZ we are the largest importers of used Japanese cars. Only this evening there were reports on our news about some horrific accidents in different parts of NZ where people have lost their lives. The most recent issue surrounds cars being fitted in northern Japan with snow tyres and these have caused problems on roads in NZ.

The documentary on our TV this evening also showed how some Japanese suppliers lied to NZ importers and covered over major accidents in Japan.

The police officer who came to my accident was very experienced and described my survival as a miracle. Moreover the resuce services said much the same.

It seems to me that the cage of the car did indeed provide protection for me but in view of other accidents I have read about in that area I am very glad to be here.

The insurance company has been very quiet and as yet I have not received anything in writing at all from them about the mechanical state of the car. It was indeed inspected prior to me buying it and met with NZ legal requirements.

If you want to look at the news story about the issue of Japanese imported cars in NZ please look for Campbell Live on a search engine.

During my recovery period I met a wonderful Swedish couple who informed my about how the Swedes have their own vehicle rating system. There is a web site available in English called FOLKSAM where you can see the safety rating system used in Sweden.

NZ road conditions are unique and sadly over recent weeks there have been a shocking number of fatalities. Most recently a young English tourist was killed in his hire car when he lost control on gravel. Two South Koreans were killed earlier in the year and a Scottish couple sustained long term injuries. The numbers of Kiwi drivers who are killed almost on a weekly basis is shocking.

I am aware that both in Eire and in Northern Ireland as well as in Cyprus large numbers of used Japanese cars are imported. Here in NZ we use KM not miles and few modifications are officially needed.

I feel the need to get over this and to move on as it were but have become of other wider issues. For example some manufacturers who sell to developing countries leave out safety features people in western countries get as standard. I have made contact with somebody in Pakistan who emailed me a PDF of the specification for a certain car sold there. But that is beyond my remit nontheless it opens up all sorts of questions.

Here in NZ the Renault Megane 3 and also the Citroen 4 are rated amongst the safest cars available but with low NZ wages these are beyond most people here.

My former car was nice to drive and was bought due to the safety features. I have received conflicting information from different sources as to whether or not the bags should have deployed. I am for my own part simply thankful to God to be here.

Right now things are not that clear to me in terms of the issues surrounding the car itself and I hope that with time I will have clarity to see the broader spectrum.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Your information is superb and I thank you for that. I am not originally from NZ and in my home environment there was no reason to learn to drive as we all use the MRT system. Your comments are insightful and thanks for taking the time to reply. From what the Swedish people have told me the type of tests you mentioned ARE uniquely included in their testing system. It should be adopted more widely I think around the world. NZ has unique conditions and too many gravel roads and roads with poor surfaces too. I think in future I will stick to town driving and just use my future vehicle as a shopping trolley.
 

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Hi Aurora, From what you say your acccident was attributed to poor quality road conditions and freak weather. Yet the the car doesn't appear to be at fault. Are freak weather conditions common in some areas of NZ and from what you say the construction of your car had no part in your seemingly miraculous survival.:confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I will just say that the people who came to my aid made comments about the air bags not working and so on as stated several times in my inital postings. These people are knowledgeable folks unlike me. I don't origniate in a car owning culture and so my knowledge about cars is limited. Thanks for your comments though as every comment expands my knowledge and my understanding and also perception. As for the weather, with global warming NZ is said to be one of the worst effected nations. We have had severe floods for 2 weeks now in some areas and our glaciers are melting in the southern alps. We have a La Nina winter coming with severe rains predicted all over the country. We the nation closest to Antartica and we get winds from there too,,,,,,,,and on the other extreme our Marlborough region is drying out and has had a drought for 4 years now.
 
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