Are you ready to ride the urban strip? Want a car that gives you continental cool with a whole trunk-load of space and usability? Well you could do a whole lot worse than the Renault Scénic. This small French multi-purpose vehicle took the kingdom of the road by storm when it won the 1997 European Car of the Year on its release. And there’s been no stopping it ever since.
Even though it’s without question a great buy for a second family car or first car for a young motorist, you can still get caught out with a duff model if you don’t quite know what you’re looking out for on the test drive. That’s why we’ve put help at your fingertips with our common problems guide.
During the test drive are you noticing problems with the engine? Does it seem unresponsive at times but you can’t seem to find a consistent problem? One of the major issues with all kinds of Scénics is the wiring loom, which is known to fail, causing engine management faults. Take the car for a good long drive and make sure you are happy with the performance at every stage.
Before you take your potential purchase even out on the road, give the driver’s side electric window the old up and down test. If you find this is getting stuck then you’re looking at a problem that’s been faced by thousands of Scénic owners. The cause? A faulty window regulator motor that’s known to be prone to failure on this particular side of the car.
Check throughout the car for signs of water damage. Certain Renault Scénics, especially those from the 1990s often have a kink in the drainage channels around the sunroof that can cause water leakage into the car. Whilst this isn’t a fatal problem, it will be annoying when it rains and destroys the inner cabin comfort of your passengers.
Alongside the problems with the electric systems, repeated heater plug failure is another commonly occurring fault on the Renault Scénic. This issue will cause the check injection light to illuminate on the dash after a cold start, so make sure that you take the time to park up any potential purchase on the test drive and turn the engine off. Give it five minutes, talk to the seller and then keep one eye out for the light when you start up again.
When you’re out on the open road, pay attention to the ride quality. If you think that the vehicle is running roughly and the power is not consistent then you could be looking at a fault with the EGR valve. This can cause the engine to explode if the valve is stuck in the closed position, or the turbo to fail if it is stuck in the open position. Sometimes this fault is even misdiagnosed as a duff turbo, and if the turbo is replaced and the EGR is not fixed, then the new part will soon fail too.
Keyless Entry Lock
One of the features on the original Renault Scénic that caused a ton of issues is the keyless entry system. Some owners even reported having to take their vehicles back to the service centre multiple times, which caused Renault to redesign the system on later vehicles. Check that the steering column lock disengages properly on the first attempt with the system. If it takes multiple tries then walk away.
Another one to pay attention to on the test drive is rough idling. If the Scénic you’re looking at buying seems to bark and buck at the stop line or coughs something chronic when you’re at the traffic lights then the mechanic may be diagnosing a faulty ignition coil. The part will have to be replaced and it’s simply not that cheap.
Electric Parking Brakes
Has the Scénic you’re thinking of buying got a set of electric parking brakes? If so then check the service history as these are one of those parts that have often been the bane of owner’s lives. If you buy a vehicle with a full Renault service history and the brakes fail in the 4th year, then the manufacturer will foot half the bill. However, check a full working operation of this system before buying could save you a whole lot more rigmarole.
Most of these faults are quite minor and you won’t have much to flap about with the Scénic’s engine or lifespan. Whether you’re getting an old version to ride into the road or a newer car to spin around with your significant other, there are plenty of models to choose from. Best for urban motoring, very comfortable and easy to park. There’s a lot to love about this Renault small car.
For affordable replacement engines, gearboxes and more, check out our new and used Renault Scénic parts page.