13 October 2008 by Parkers Team

  • Three-out-of five owners have ignored safety letters
  • 360,000 drivers at risk of 'serious personal injury'
  • Second letter sent to owners

The notice advises owners of second-generation Clios, manufactured between 1998 and 2005, and all Clio Campuses to get their bonnet mechanisms checked by authorised dealers, following numerous reports that the bonnet may open while the vehicle is moving.

However, Parker's has discovered through a Freedom of Information request to the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) that more than 360,000 owners out of the 565,000 contacted (64%) have failed to get their Clio checked by a dealer and could be at risk.

It is Renault’s second safety information letter in less than two years, with owners first contacted in April and May 2007 and again in August 2008. The second letter, sent by recorded delivery to Clio owners registered with the DVLA, warned drivers that there is “risk of damage to your vehicle and loss of visibility… there is a potential for serious personal injury.”

Safety concerns

The issue was first highlighted two years ago when the BBC programme Watchdog received over 1000 complaints that bonnets were opening while the car was being driven.

Users on Parker’s forum also reported bonnet problems with their Clios as early as 2004 and joined a petition to conduct an independent enquiry into the issue.

Renault claims that the problem is a result of improper maintenance from customers and that it has found no fault in the design or construction of the mechanism. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) agrees.

But the customer manual for Clio models built between 1998 and 2005 didn’t contain any information that such maintenance should be carried out and owners received an amendment to their driver manuals in their latest letter from Renault reminding them how to maintain the mechanism and shut the bonnet safety catch correctly.

“The mailing is a reassurance campaign. Renault is a responsible manufacturer and takes the safety of its customers extremely serious,” the French manufacturer told Parker’s.

“Renault has investigated the cause of the incidents and worked with all the relevant authorities. No design or construction defect has been found.”

The company also explained that it has also produced an instructional video to show how to maintain the affected Clio and Campus models on its website.

VOSA said: “VOSA engineers in conjunction with Renault, carried out a thorough investigation into reports of inadvertent bonnet openings of Renault Clio Mk2 and Clio Campus models.

“This investigation found there was no design or construction defect with the bonnet latching mechanism. Instead it was determined that inadequate maintenance – through lack of cleaning and lubrication could lead to the latching mechanism failing to operate correctly.”