Dozens of drivers are joining a lawsuit against car makers Renault, Nissan and Dacia after they had terrifying engine failures, including some at speed on the motorway.
So far, 87 owners have signed up for a class action claiming repeated failures. The specialist car magazine L’Argus estimates more than 100,000 vehicles are potentially affected.
One owner, Lyon engineer Bastien Carron, 34, told The Connexion his Scenic engine seized on a motorway as he drove with his six-week-old baby son on board. “It’s traumatising. I was scared for my life.”
Mr Carron said he was able to take the closest exit and stop but the failure was the last in a series of problems, dating from 2019, with his car using too much oil and the warning light coming on while driving.
Accident victims were hoping for more support from Renault
He said Renault after-sales refused to take responsibility and he sold the €12,000 car for €3,000 as he could not afford a lawyer to go further.
Malory Guillemet, 42, was left in “total panic” as her Dacia Duster engine failed as she drove with her five-year-old son to Normandy to pick up her mother. “I was really afraid. I cried in fear,” she said.
Mrs Guillemet reached an exit but was left alone in pitch darkness with only enough battery on her phone to call her husband and mother to let them know what had happened.
Repairs cost £7,800 but Renault refused to cover more than 50%. She eventually sold her car for €5,000 – but is still paying the five-year loan.
Hundreds of drivers across Europe have made similar claims in a Facebook group and other websites.
A fault in the 1.2 TCe engine, fitted to 400,000 Renault, Nissan and Dacia cars between 2012 and 2016, is said to lead to high oil consumption, with pollution and engine failure. UFC Que Choisir consumer group first reported this in 2019. The class action is to raise awareness and help drivers to be compensated as they say they have been let down by Renault after-sales and had no funds to hire a lawyer.
Lawyer Christophe Lèguevaques is leading the lawsuit with, at present, 87 owners who signed up to the MyLeo Legal website. He expects to have more than 200 by March.
Computer technician Olivier Blanchet, 45, started the website after his Dacia Dokker failed in 2018. He said documents showed Renault knew of the fault in 2015, and he added: “I want to hold Renault accountable.”
Groupe Renault denied the claims and said it has never been required to recall cars: “90% of Renault and Nissan clients who ran into these problems with their motor have benefited from [financial] support.”
Mrs Guillemet now has a Japanese car, and said: “I have heard the Japanese were treating clients like human beings, not numbers.”
Mr Carron and Mr Blanchet have also switched to Kia and Toyota.