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CONSUMER WATCH | Problematic 2017 Renault Kadjar spent months in workshop with gearbox issues

Brenwin Naidu Motoring editor, reporter and presenter
The Renault Kadjar was launched in SA in April 2016.
The Renault Kadjar was launched in SA in April 2016.
Image: Supplied

Kadjar owner Francois de Jager has lost faith in the Renault brand.   

He purchased his vehicle, a 1.2 TCE EDC Dynamique derivative, in November 2018 from Renault Clearwater in Gauteng. It was a 2017 model and had 10,000km on the odometer.   

At the time, the Kadjar was the flagship sport-utility vehicle in the Renault range, a position now taken by the Koleos. The Kadjar is no longer available new.   

According to a tabled outline, his vehicle has spent more than 136 days out of action during separate occasions in the workshop.   

He claims the ownership experience started on a bad foot. The dealership equipped his car with a secondhand tow-bar (rather than an original item) and took more than a month to provide his licence disc and plates.   

In January 2019 he complained about a malfunctioning hill-start assist system, in addition to a shudder when setting off on an incline.

“I was told the Kadjar has a ‘bad clutch’ in general and they had done something to the software. They did not want to give me more detail or any paperwork,” he said.   

In March that year the Kadjar was due for a service. By then, he reported an issue with the cubby mechanism, as well as issues related to the passenger seat. Even when empty, the seat seemed to detect the presence of an unrestrained passenger, prompting the safety-belt reminder to chime and flashing the corresponding light on the instrument cluster.  

De Jager noted a sensor was tested and reset, while the cubby was secured with insulation tape. Those fixes seemed to be short-lived as the issues resurfaced in October, at which point he took the vehicle to Renault Northcliff instead.   

He said he was accused of placing items on the seat (triggering the sensor that detects an occupant) and was told heat may have also been a cause. De Jager countered with videos of the passenger seat problem.  

In November, the battery died. He raised the passenger seat warning light again. On this occasion, the seat was dismantled and the sensor repositioned.   

Later that month the problem returned. Once again, the seat was taken apart.

It was purported: “The technician picked up that the seat sensor was not correctly slotted in the seat sponge. There was no space between the seat sensor and the sponge. Once the leather is fitted and secured in place, it pushes firmer onto the sensor, making it more sensitive.”  

De Jager was puzzled since this was not the first time the position of the sensor had been adjusted.

“During this time I was given a disgusting courtesy car, which had a temporary permit, not a licence disc, resulting in me being pulled over. I had to return three times for the seat to be repaired.”   

Francois de Jager with his problematic Renault Kadjar.
Francois de Jager with his problematic Renault Kadjar.
Image: Supplied

At its 45,000km service in March 2020, the shuddering was still noticeable, while additional noises had emerged. He took the vehicle to Renault Fourways for the service, and was told because of an earlier software adjustment (to remedy the clutch shudder) the service would not be covered.   

He took the vehicle to Renault Northcliff, where it had previously been attended to. The service was completed and covered by the plan. De Jager said the shudder continued and items such as troublesome windscreen wiper clips had not been addressed during the service.   

Two months later, the ominous engine warning light illuminated. A faulty fuel pump was found to be the reason. Initially, the warranty department approved only 50% of the total repair cost because the vehicle had been taken in for its service later than prescribed. De Jager challenged this, stating he was told on e-mail to bring the vehicle for a service in March 2020. He said after considerable back-and-forth, the cost was covered in full. The vehicle would spend 36 days at Renault Northcliff since replacement parts were on back order.  

In July 2020 the engine warning light resurfaced – the fuel pump again. This time the cause was related to software and sensor issues. At the start of 2021, he had hoped a new year would bring an end to his Kadjar-related maladies. It was not to be as the clutch shudder progressed, now including the braking system.

“I was advised it is electronic and has to be updated annually, that the vehicle will shudder as it gets closer to its service date.”  

In June 2021 the vehicle was booked in at Renault Route 24, requiring a clutch, gearbox and flywheel replacement. “

It took more than a month for them to decide whether warranty or maintenance plan should cover the cost.”  

He alleged he was told by a dealership representative that “internal politics” was the reason for the delay.

“I wasn’t given any documents or anything in writing to express total cost or what exactly was done, I was shown an invoice for approximately R150,000.”  

He claims requests for documentation were never met. The clutch, gearbox and flywheel replacement did not appear to have remedied the situation, so de Jager made attempts to reach out to senior management at Renault SA and Motus.   

Frustrated by inaction, he approached us with his case in February 2022. We reached out to Renault SA for comment. Viviene Ward, marketing, communications, press relations and events manager representing Motus Vehicles Distributor, acknowledged the query and said it had been referred to the customer care department for feedback.  

On 1 March Ward said that the operations manager for the firm was  arranging a virtual meeting with the owner. On March 17 De Jager took his vehicle to Route 24 Renault and was given a Toyota Etios courtesy vehicle. On March 28 , additional comment was provided.   

“Renault SA has decided to restore Mr De Jager’s vehicle back to original condition, and thus approved the fitment of a new gearbox, currently on order,” the company said. It added that representatives from Renault SA and Route 24’s management would deliver the vehicle and conduct a discussion with the customer.

Commenting on the feedback, De Jager said he still had more questions than answers and was disillusioned by Renault’s offers for discussions  he claims have yet to materialise.   

At the time of going to publication, he said he was yet to receive responses to further queries directed to customer care surrounding the details of the transmission replacement and the root cause of the issues.

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