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Renault Espace (1991-97)

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    4 Reviews
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      17.10.2000 06:13
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      Good vehicle spoiled by weaknesses and servicing problems

      About time I updated this opinion, since I have added nothing for 9 months.

      Well, we STILL own the vehicle, so please read on :-

      We bought a new Renault Espace 2 litre RXE in August 1993 and since then have covered over 68,000 miles. The registration number is L2RXE and it cost about £18,000 after discount.

      We decided on the Espace rather than the Toyota Previa because the sliding door on the Previa looked lethal if the car was parked on a slope. We had visions of it slicing off kids' fingers and bruising wives' ankles !

      We needed a people carrier to replace a much-loved Fiat Croma (a very under-rated car), because our 3 children were always fighting for space. It certainly solved that problem !

      Good points
      Air-conditioning (essential in summer); extensive flat areas on top of dash for bits and pieces and for coffee cups, etc. (BL**DY USEFUL!!_; radio controls on steering column; seats easily removable; small 'cases' fitted on rear wheel arches (loved by daughters when young); fog lights; seating up high; NO SUN-ROOF (this usually removes headspace).

      Became very popular with the three children and their friends whilst teenagers. Very popular as a taxi (for collecting 6 - 8 from various 'events').

      Bad points
      Not comfortable for this driver (aches in leg because of off-set pedals and poor seat support). The driver's seat started showing signs of 'sagging' after about 3 years.

      Running costs
      Fuel 24 mpg around town; up to 32mpg on a long journey. Economy was declining slightly until the exhaust front pipe was replaced in early 2000. A new Lambda sensor was also required, and this improved economy by 2-3 mpg.

      First set of front tyres lasted about 24,000 miles, and the rear were replaced at about 49,000 miles. By judicious use of the spare, all tyres are still very legal, but I may have to buy 2 or 3 new covers before I sell it (now h
      as 68,000 miles on the clock..

      Apart from servicing it has required a complete exhaust (first the middle and rear part, then the front pipe with Lambda sensor); a second replacement middle and rear exhaust section in March 2001 (£58 fitted by ATS Tyre & Exhausts); a new battery (bought from Halfords at £40 - less than half the cost quoted by Renault) - and it has a neat plastic handle - which is essential for lowering the battery into the battery compartment. Also a replacement steering rack and new front brake discs/2 sets of pads. The rear brake shoes were replaced at about 66,000 miles (grease contamination).

      Servicing
      By Main Dealer - Appalling. Two main agent garages were used for the first 6,000 and 12/24/36/42,000 mile services. After the first services, I decided to carry out the most of the Intermediate (6,000 mile) services myself. £119 was too much to pay for an oil change, door hinge greasing, and general depositing of dirty finger-prints over the car. The following major problems were experienced after Renault 'technicians' were allowed to service the vehicle:

      Wheel nuts not tightened; spark plug gaps wrongly set; damaged petrol pipe not replaced; air-conditioner fluid leaked out because the union was not tightened (after the 24,000 mile service at Renault Edinburgh); cam-box breather pipe detached.

      The last of these problems was possibly the most annoying. When I picked up the car from the 36,000 mile service from Renault Edinburgh, the engine was running at 1,500 rpm (rather than 800/900 rpm). The 'Chief Mechanic' diagnosed "a faulty fuel regulator" (£278!!), and did not seem to 'believe' me when I told him that the engine idle speed was satisfactory when I delivered the car for the service.

      I took the car home to check for any obvious faults myself. Fortunately, my knowledge of car problems made me suspect that the problem was with the engine breather system.


      Sure enough, the breather pipe was lying loose on the top of the engine rather than secured to the breather outlet pipe on the cam box. Replacing it corrected the problem. When I returned to Renault Edinburgh the following morning at 08.00, the Chief Mechanic had the decency to 'apologise' for the lesser charge of incompetence when I demonstrated the effect of removing and replacing the pipe. Ultimately I did not have to pay the £168 charge for my next "service" as a 'gesture of goodwill' !

      I reckon that it is obvious why I have a tainted opinion of 'Workshop Managers' and 'Vehicle Technicians' !!!

      Other Problems
      In 1999, at about 43,000 miles, the engine would cut out completely, and the alarm sound, with minimal battery power obviously the factor. The fault would then correct itself, and then occur again without warning. Renault Edinburgh were clueless as to the reason (but at least did not charge me for their efforts - probably because of their earlier debacle). Eventually, it stopped completely, about 2 miles from home. I had found previously that 'waggling' the main power lead could solve the problem temporarily, so I followed this back to an electrical junction box in the engine compartment. When I opened the junction box it disintegrated and I found that it had corroded badly (Copper in contact with aluminium). A temporary repair (a nut and bolt) got me home, and a replacement junction box cost £17, but the part took a week to be delivered.

      At about 49,000 miles the power steering rack started leaking fluid. My 'friendly' Renault dealers both quoted over £920 for an exchange rack fitted, but a power steering specialist quoted £190 for an exchange rack, and a local motor engineer charged £130 for fitting.

      Current condition
      Body good (fibreglass well finished). Interior good (apart from foam in driver's seat somewhat col
      lapsed). Galvanised under chassis excellent. Engine quiet (using no oil), clutch smooth and gearbox quiet. All electrical items work with the exception of one small part of the panel lighting.

      CONCLUSIONS
      Quickly became 'part of the family', but its use has declined somewhat now that it does not often carry the 3 children together and we will not have to take the younger daughter back and forth to University 400 miles away.

      Update (1) :
      In eraly 2001, the screen wipers would not park (switch lubricant on the wiper switch and replacing a blown fuse corrected this).

      A 60,000 mile service was carried out by me. Cost almost £30 in service parts, but still uses no oil between services. Yes I know that oil is burned and replaced by petrol contamination in the oil (but NOT many people know that !!), but the level does not change.

      It was going to be put on the market in spring 2001,after we bought a Honda Accord Type R (see opinion), but we have hung on.

      But we have decided we still needed it ! The flat area in front of the passenger (for letters/handbag/coffee cup); the place to the right of the instrument panel for me to put my 'can' or cup; the front door pockets (big enough for wine bottles - the French do love their picnics !); the high seating; the removable seats; the easy access to the rear seats (middle row anyway); the ability to remove all the rear seats (and recline the front passenger seat if required) and make it into a small removal van .....

      Update (2)
      We have been offered between £2,500 and £4,500 by various Vauxhall dealers against a new Astra or Zafira (to use with my GM points). But we are not able to let it go. Less than a week ago, I fell heavily and cracked a rib leaving me in some pain. It is only the Espace that I can get into and out of without excruciat
      ing pain. Certainly when it is sold or part-exchanged, it will be sadly missed. Perhaps it will remain in the family after all ... It is coming up to its ninth birthday .... and owes us nothing.


      © Sidneygee 2002

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      • More +
        23.09.2000 04:04
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        I bought our Espace when it was 8 months old, together with an extended warranty (worth having - see later). 50,000 hard driving miles later it has proved to be pretty economical and reliable (total 61,000 miles now)...about 29, 30 m.p.g. in a mix of town and open road - though it's the 2.0 litre engine. Incidentally, the 3 litre is not worth having, at least in this model (I don't know about the latest model), it's barely any faster and much worse on fuel - though because it depreciates much more than the 2.0 litre it may be a better, i.e. cheaper, second-hand buy - just a question of weighing up the pros and cons. Front tyres will last only about 25,000 miles if you scrub round roundabouts too fast (keep them pumped up to the highest recommended pressure to minimise wear on the outer edges) - the rear tyres will last 50,000 ish. The main trouble I've had is with the cooling fans - both had seized up at 2 years old, but the extended warranty sorted it out, well worthwhile as it was over a £400 job! Also, at about 40,000 miles, I had a new clutch cable fitted - gearchanges were getting troublesome and it seemed like gearbox trouble, so I went for the cheapest option first and it worked. The original cable had just got dry or sticky. All-in-all a very comfortable fast car, it'll cruise at 90+ with no problem, is as quick as most other cars from standstill, handles well and won't rust or dent because of its plastic body and fully galvanised space frame chassis. Ok, some of the switches don't feel as solid as, say, a VW, but so what they still last; servicing is MUCH cheaper than many other makes and can be done at many Renault service points (these are non-main dealer, but Renault approved and so acceptable if warranty work needs doing).

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        21.08.2000 17:55
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        This was the most expensive car we ever bought - in every sense of that phrase. It was top of the range and for the passenger, felt as though you were travelling in an armchair.As it had a 3l engine it was powerful, but very heavy on fuel. The space it had available was also wonderful, and it *was* nice to be able to play around with seating so that the 3 kids couldn't reach eachother to fight. There are its' good points.....now for the rest. It was the most unreliable car ever. I cannot begin to enumerate the many and varied ailments it suffered.......we got an extra year free warranty because of its unreliability in the first year. We then made the mistake of thinking it would get better.... We had an axle break, an engine fire, it broke down in the outside lane of a *very* busy motorway one rush hour, it spectacularly failed in temperatures of over 100c on a *french* motorway in the middle of nowhere when all the garages were closed......and these are only the incidents which i have particularly bad memories of! In addition it came with a rather nice mini disc system which got stolen very quickly, and an alarm system which it was obviously fairly easy to disable. we didn't replace the minidisc player because the insurance didn't cover its £800 cost, but it was broken into a second time by someone *looking* for the cd system. Friends locally also had their espaces broken into and the disc players removed. In addition to all this, I did not find it a comfortable car to drive as the seat is at a different and more upright angle to the pedals than most cars, and it has absolutely no real boot, whhich means that on the thankfully few occasions I had to go shopping with it, the shopping ended up all over the floor of the car. It's comfortable and it's big, but not a lot of use if it's permanently going into the garage. Oh, and it did *not* as we'd been promised, hold its value well when we came to
        sell.

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          06.07.2000 06:20
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          This was the most expensive car we ever bought - in every sense of that phrase. It was top of the range and for the passenger, felt as though you were travelling in an armchair.As it had a 3l engine it was powerful, but very heavy on fuel. The space it had available was also wonderful, and it *was* nice to be able to play around with seating so that the 3 kids couldn't reach eachother to fight. These are its' good points.....now for the rest. It was the most unreliable car ever. I cannot begin to enumerate the many and varied ailments it suffered.......we got an extra year free warranty because of its unreliability in the first year. We then made the mistake of thinking it would get better.... We had an axle break, an engine fire, it broke down in the outside lane of a *very* busy motorway one rush hour, it spectacularly failed in temperatures of over 100c on a *french* motorway in the middle of nowhere when all the garages were closed......and these are only the incidents which I have particularly bad memories of! In addition it came with a rather nice mini disc system which got stolen very quickly, and an alarm system which it was obviously fairly easy to disable. We didn't replace the minidisc player because the insurance didn't cover its £800 cost, but it was broken into a second time by someone *looking* for the cd system. Friends locally also had their espaces broken into and the disc players removed. In addition to all this, I did not find it a comfortable car to drive as the seat is at a different and more upright angle to the pedals than most cars, and it has absolutely no real boot, which means that on the thankfully few occasions I had to go shopping with it, the shopping ended up all over the floor of the car. It's comfortable and it's big, but not a lot of use if it's permanently going into the garage. Oh, and it did *not* as we'd been promised, hold its value well when we came to sell. <br>

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