2004 Renault Clio Sport 172 2.0 from UK and Ireland


A good, popular car let down by a cheap steering wheel and dangerously faulty airbags


I (& my wife) have owned 2 Clio 172's; a 53 & 54. We only have the 54 now.

The 53 suffered a faulty rev counter in the 1st month and was replaced under warranty, which although it was an IN-PORT (and hence £12000 not £15000) did have 3 yrs Renault warranty. The dealerships don't like to do the work though, as you haven't lined their pockets with gold to begin with.

Then at about 24000 miles the steering wheel suffered the common fault (I've seen it on 2 of my friend's 172's too and now, my wife's at 26000 miles) which is that the leather '?' becomes lumpy, like old skin, and the rubber thumb grips completely decay, split and break off leaving an awful looking mess that puts off any hope of a quick sale at a good price; the buyer thinks the car's infected.

On both cars we have failed to keep the wheels looking good because they easily scrape curbs, being just proud of the tyre rims. I believe the 182 is better for this, having better tyres.

On my wife's 54 the exhaust back box went after 10-15000 miles (warranty job) but her cruise control plays up, switching itself off. Also the traction control plays up allowing the wheels to spin (but I'm not a fan of that anyway) and the 54 has had trouble with the ABS.

But now we come to the BIGGY!

3 days ago I was pulling out of a junction and accelerated (fairly hard) and got a lot of 'Axel Tramp'; a condition that results in the car 'walking down the road' or trying too hard to move the car and the suspension 'bounces' severely.

Severely enough in-fact to cause the passenger's seat AIR BAG to detonate, leaving me very shaken, a HUGE hole in the seat (2 feet) and the prospect of a bill: 1 air bag = £1000 plus the computer £???

I had switched off the front airbag, as we have a small baby, but the seat ones can still deploy.

At Renault UK I have been told that 'axle tramp' won't do this (Yet it most certainly did!) and that (quote) :" You must have hit a pot-hole or a kerb".

Case ongoing...

General Comments:

Good handling, stick to Michelins and good power, but not the fastest.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th December, 2007

6th Dec 2007, 10:25

See last weeks Daily Telegraph Motoring supplement, or search for it on line for a report on a 1997 Megane's airbags going off at random; the columnist suggested replacement after 10 years, but yours are newer.

Do some research on this and DO NOT believe your dealer: airbags should NOT go off due to pot-holes. False deployment without frontal impact means they are faulty and as such dangerous. A performance model should take into account the sudden jolts of axle-tramp, and use different programming criteria on the actuators than a base model.

You were lucky not to have been hurt.

I would do some research into any other similar incidents, and then get in touch with Renault directly and demand a repair.

Looking at the ongoing faulty opening bonnet catch fiasco (check internet) on the Clios, it will probably be an uphill struggle as they do not want to admit liability; they avoided a recall by suggesting that the catches must be lubricated at every service, so any faulty catches had not been lubricated properly. Bonnet in the face anyone?

Good luck!

2004 Renault Clio 16v 1.2 from UK and Ireland


Good, but will not buy another


Having booked the car in for its first MOT, 3 days prior to it going to the garage, it started to shudder whilst being driven, and the Engine Management Light came up on the dashboard. This is the first problem I've had with the vehicle, and I made contact with my local Renault dealership, who said the earliest they could look at it was the following week, and it would need to go onto the Diagnostic Test Machine.

I then drove to my local garage who were carrying out the MOT and told them that the vehicle had developed a problem and asked them to look at it before doing the MOT. They said it could be anything, and common faults were the Coil Pack, TDC Sensor, MCU or the harnesses.

I left it at that, and driving home the engine became more erratic, and on reaching home I decided to go on the web and check to see if there were any comments on the Clio. To my surprise there was numerous comments, but one that took my attention was posted on the 30th May 2007.

I decided to explore myself, and point 1 was the Tamper Proof ECU Plug Box. I lifted the top of the box, and sure enough the wires had been rubbed through. After some simple repair I replaced the lid and the engine was running normal again. I took the car for its MOT, the garage reset the onboard computer, it passed its test, and the costs were minimum.

Great information on the site, and I'm pleased I found it, however disturbed to see the number of common known faults that Renault are aware of. I did note that lots of the wiring had been wrapped with adhesive tape, post manufacture by Renault to extend the life span. I did ask Renault that if the fault was found to be Coils etc, would the 3 year warranty cover this and they said NO as the vehicle was now 3 years old.

General Comments:

The car has been a good runner apart from this recent incident, however the costs could have been horrendous.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd October, 2007