Yes, I know. You don’t remember seeing any if the others in this series. That’s because I haven’t written them. And maybe, just maybe, I don’t actually have exactly twelve other reasons why I’ll not be buying another Renault. But that’s how it feels.
In many ways, it’s been a fine car. Since we’ve had it, it’s never actually let us down or left us stranded. The engine’s never spluttered to a halt, and it feels solid and spacious and all the rest.
But here’s the problem: whenever anything does go wrong, however seemingly minor, it always costs a damn fortune to sort it out. Why?
“Because it’s a Renault” , say the garages.
Here’s a recent example: it failed the MOT last year on a tiny, minor, insignificant little point. A cable was sticking. The garage tried their best to free it up, lubricate it, sort it out by any means they could, but no. It was sticking. That’s it, one little cable. Oh, but hang on, that little cable is part of the parking brake mechanism. The automatic parking brake mechanism. And can the dealer get hold of that cable? Of course they can’t. It’s a “Renault dealer only” part. So will Renault supply just that cable? Of course not. It’s built into the component in such a way that the only way to sort it out is to replace the entire electronic parking brake mechanism. That’s over £400 for the part. And half a day’s labour to fit it. Nearly a grand to get through the MOT. For one sticking cable.
That was the biggest one, but it feels like there have been several things like that: tiny problem; huge solution; disproportionate cost.
And what’s triggered this rant?
Well, this week’s “adventure”, of course. I’d just topped up the tyres Thursday evening, and could hear a little air escaping from the valve. Wiggled it a bit, couldn’t tell exactly where it was coming from, but it wouldn’t stop. Had two children in the car so decided to get home quickly and sort it later. Got home: hiss was louder. Took the dust cap off to look again. Well, I say the dust cap; this time the whole valve sheared in half and all the air came out in one go. Quickly jacked the car up to avoid to much pressure on the tyre. No problem, you say. Pop the spare on and drive to quick-fit. Except… it doesn’t have a spare. No, no, you get a “re-inflation kit” that fills a punctured tyre with sticky gudge and lets you drive to a garage. All very well if you have a puncture, but no valve? No good. No use at all.
I phoned quickfit to ask their advice. “Easy, just bring the wheel in.” (Why didn’t I think of that?) However… they’re not just any old valves, are they? No, they’re electronic sensor valves which are (wait for it) “Renault dealer only” parts. And you know what? Or nearest Renault Dealer’s only gone and closed down since we last had to use them. So this is what I ended up having to do.
- Borrow a friend’s car for the morning.
- Drive to the nearest Renault Dealer, down in Ware, to buy the valve. Over £40.
- Take the wheel – and the valve – to quickfit. About £20.
- Take the wheel back home to refit it to the car.
- Return friend’s car and walk back home.
Well, that’s what I’ve done so far. To finish the job properly, I need to drive back down to Ware to have the sensor mechanism calibrated to recognise the new valve. That will be £45 +VAT.
Not sure I could be bothered. I can put up with seeing this on the dashboard every time I get in the car.
Which means I could have just let Quickfit fit any old valve and saved a few quid.
That’s quite enough of my rant. What I did discover is this: Aren’t people nice.
I’d put this request on Facebook:
Okay, here’s my biggest ever Facebook request… Can anyone lend me a car for a couple of hours tomorrow morning? Or ferry me about to several places, including a trip to Ware? I’m a bit stuck.
First of all, a couple of folk who said the would help if they could. Which is quite lovely, though not completely helpful. In the meantime I phoned a friend, who immediately said yes, and even delivered his car – an Audi A4 – the evening before so I had it for the school run in the morning. Lovely. But by the time the evening was out I’d had three lots of people reply on Facebook offering me the loan of their cars. How lovely. How very lovely.
Thank you, people. If I’d lost my faith in humanity (I hadn’t), you’d have restored it.
UPDATE: The Renault has now been replaced.