ORIGINAL AUTHOR COMMENT.
I'll try to update this review as I get more experience at tackling the Laguna's problems.
I have heard that Renault were asked, then demanded, to recall Lagunas of this era (eg around 2001) due to "software faults" which caused the stalling, limp mode and high revving. Renault reluctantly did something about the situation due to the number of complaints from Laguna owners. (Thanks to another member of this website for that information.)
So it looks like this is why nobody has been able to identify the cause of this problem: it's an issue caused by Renault's software, an unbelievable and potentially life-threatening problem, given that it kicks in at random and has led to me breaking down in a very dangerous spot.
The garage said they found a broken hose and replaced a minor part free of charge, then wiped the fault codes, which has temporarily given me the ability to drive this car again. I am not in the financial position to get rid of this car at the moment, so it looks like I'll be on the phone to Renault facing their apparently hostile customer service team.
That said, if this fault can be rectified, the "Laggy" is a very smooth-driving, quiet and refined motor. If you are lucky enough to own a trouble-free Laguna with a reasonably powerful engine, I can't imagine the much-vaunted BMW 3-series and Ford Mondeo being a more satisfying ownership prospect; Renault have somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with this car!
I'm reading your review with interest, and the comments, keep us updated. :)
I have had many similar cars myself over the years, Ford Mondeo, Mazda 626, Vauxhall Vectra, etc. All been great, never gave me much trouble, just usual wear and tear. I've heard French cars were bad, and in particular the Laguna, but I've always liked the Peugeot 406, might get one next. I'm just surprised at the amount of bad things I hear about the Laguna though, is it really that bad? Surely there must be some good ones about? Is it all just common faults with the car or is it variable build quality? A mate of mine has the first generation Laguna on a 2000 X reg, 2.0i, never gave him any bother and it's on 120K miles. Full history, looked after, all services + timing belt done. He's thinking of upgrading to a 2003 Laguna, low miles and looked after, should he take a chance with it? And would a Peugeot 406 be as reliable as the average Ford Mondeo or should I steer clear of French cars and stick to what I'm used to?
ORIGINAL AUTHOR COMMENT.
Hi everyone, the car has been going strong for a few months now with intermittent problems from the electronic "limp mode", which has nearly stranded me (or killed me). Limp mode is insanely dangerous, why do manufacturers do this?
A mechanic believes the fault might be due to wiring and a damaged hose, both part of the throttle body assembly.
Apart from that the car is magnificent: beautiful, eye-catching, fun to drive, absolutely terrific handling, tons of grip, some minor drifting (for a FWD car).
The overall build quality is very high with no rattles, leaks or strange noises. The plastic cap for the gearstick keeps popping off and just needs gluing in place. The sound system is pretty good and the interior is in showroom condition.
I'm still troubled by the lack of fuel economy and the car's very sluggish acceleration (which improves at higher revs). The car feels reasonably quick once its puny engine has built up enough momentum to overcome the weight.
My advice is still to avoid the 1.8 at all costs, since it is just not powerful or economical enough, and the performance does not push the car's terrific chassis at all. I'm actually planning to upgrade to the semi-automatic V6 Privilege after seeing a fully-equipped model at a low price.
If this Laguna didn't have the electrical fault and if it had a bit more power, it would be one of the best cars I've ever driven.
The 406 is a much heavier car and it doesn't corner so well, and the 406 has very bad body roll, but the 406 feels somehow livelier to drive despite its lack of traction control.
So while the 406 definitely puts more of a smile on my face, I can't help thinking that Renault took a big step forward with the Laguna 2.
Reliability for the 406 and Laguna are about equal, but the 406 does not tend to have problems (in my experience) until 100,000 miles, whereas the Laguna can have major problems much sooner than that.
The 406 performance models (2.0 turbo, 2.2 SRi, 136 HDi and 3.0 V6) would probably outperform the Lagunas in a straight line, but the Laggy feels more composed on the corners and is more likely to hold its line when you take a roundabout or curve at high speed.
Hi did you ever get anywhere with Renault about the software problem?
I called with my reg as I have had exactly the same problems as you and they have said there is no outstanding issues with my car on their system, but they cannot tell me if my car has had the upgrade on the software when it was recalled.
So I'm going to call them again and try my hardest to get some answers. I have had the car for 3 months and have spent around £800 on fixing things and it still won't work.
Original owner comment.
Well I am finally getting rid of the car due to the continuing "limp mode" problems which have now been joined by periods, where the car stalls without warning when the revs drop too low.
I limped the car to a garage today and they diagnosed it for free. There was some concern about the wiring, which appears to have been amateurishly worked on at some point in the car's past - this is immediately obvious to the mechanics, but whoever owned the car before me had "tidied it by" by wrapping it with magnetic tape which hid the botch job done on the wiring.
I was quoted £550 for the wiring.
The mechanic who diagnosed my car today said although the wiring is definitely botched together, in his opinion this is not actually causing the problem with my car. It seems that the crank sensor is not always detecting the flywheel's output and this is putting the car into limp mode.
The mechanic is fairly convinced that the (relatively) painless job of cleaning or replacing this sensor may fix the problem. Sounds better than the £550 I was quoted elsewhere to get the wiring re-done.
Also I have lost one of the keycards and the remaining one is temperamental - sometimes the car doesn't recognise it and the red light flashes on my dashboard when I put the keycard in. Taking the keycard out, giving it a good wipe with a soft cloth (and if needs be inserting and re-inserting the card several times) seems to fix this issue.
I have got to say though, that when this car is working properly, it is a fabulous way to get from A to B. The car arrives with style and it looks like it costs more than the lardy, ugly BMWs of today. It is far sharper looking than the increasingly bloated Mondeos, Vectras and Avensis of the last few years.
Overall build quality is superb with no rattles, no loose trim and a hard-wearing exterior that still looks nearly new despite being 9 years old. I get the feeling that Renault missed out on leading the class with the Laguna 2, let down by reliability issues and badge snobbery.
Is an equivalent used BMW 3-series really worth a £3000 premium over this car? I've never owned a BMW, but to be honest, regardless of anyone else's opinion, I would choose a Laguna 2 over a 3-series any day, because the Laguna is sharply dressed, handles superbly for a heavy FWD car and its overall feeling of quality elevates it way beyond Peugeot, Citroen, Ford etc.
The Laguna could have been something special, it really could.
Anyway, I'm upgrading to an Impreza WRX STi tomorrow and I'm about to lose £1500 by trading the Renault in. A terrible waste of money, certainly, but I need a car that won't keep trying to kill me by going into limp mode on busy roundabouts, and I want something fast and reliable.
Bye bye Laguna, I will miss you, but my memories will be bittersweet!
I have a 56 plate Laguna Dynamique dCi 130, and after a couple of trouble free years, I had issues with it not starting/stopping properly. It would fire, then keep trying to fire, but not hooking up and I'd get either handbrake or airbag fault flashing up on the dash.
I spent a bit of time on Renault forums, and found someone with the exact issue I had, and it seems a software update/reload solved it, so I booked it into a Renault dealer in Hull for the update. The receptionist told me in no uncertain terms that they would run it through diagnostics and tell me what wrong, and not the other way round. Anyway, went to pick it up that night and spoke to the technician - he'd done a software update and cleaned a plug behind the N/S headlight that's known to cause issues - he was honest enough to admit that the time may come when the plug will need replacing by an auto electrician.
Happy to say that that was over two years and 25k miles ago now, and the car has been flawless and very comfortable. In over 4 years, the only non wear and tear/service parts have been the update/diagnostics at £65 and a broken front spring at £90. Only downers I have are the stupid electric handbrake and the auto intermittent wipe - both would have been better if they were the simpler old style.
We also have a similar age Skoda that can only dream of being as reliable as the Laguna has been. I'd have another Renault - will never have another Skoda. As always, look at many, ask lots of questions and buy the best you can.