Some years ago I started collecting data on the number, specification and prices of Vel Satis cars for sale, as found on AutoTrader. Over the years, numbers have dropped from around 20-30, down to only 2 or 3, which is the current situation.
In contrast, the number on eBay being offered for spares or repair/dismantling has increased. What’s wrong with them, I can’t help wonder. It’s probably because they are prone to developing various expensive, difficult to diagnose faults. Thankfully my own one has not been too bad. Oops, maybe I shouldn’t not have said that..!
One problem that I fixed on another Vel Satis lately was a seized O/S handbrake cable, identified on its last MoT, along with a corroded brake pipe. I asked the garage that carried out the MoT to price the jobs up and get back to me. Typically, they were unable to obtain a price for a handbrake cable, so off I went doing all the usual internet searches and enquiring local non-Renault companies, as one does. Drawing a blank I finally resorted to my local Renault dealership, Kineholme in Otley. After looking on their system, they realised it has an electronic parking brake, so advised me that they could only supply the whole unit. I can’t remember the exact price quoted but it was around £600 plus reprogramming, so not at all cheap, considering the car’s worth around £750. After further comments as to how ridiculous this was, I phoned Renault UK.
As it happened, the first person who answered the phone had never dealt with a Vel Satis enquiry and was just about to take my details when he dropped out. The second person logged all the details but was unable to answer the two specific questions I had: 1) is it technically possible to replace just a handbrake cable? and 2) why doesn’t Renault supply the components separately?
A couple of days later I received a reply. Yes, it is technically possible to replace the cables separately but Renault only has an 8 year obligation to provide spares for any vehicle and supplying them separately was not the most economical approach (to Renault, I assume).
Since then I have been wondering if Renault do supply cables for their vehicles fitted with parking assist, that are newer than 8 years old. Anyway, putting that aside, my focus was on seeking a solution that would not approach anywhere near the amount quoted at the outset.
Searching online, I came across someone who had a cable refurbished by a company in Ireland by this chap:
Unit A4 Grants Crescent
Greenogue Business Park
After to speaking with them, the cable was posted off to Ireland. It was back in a few days all beautifully refurbished – in fact, it looked new.
Obviously to send the cable off, it had to be removed. Overall I didn’t encounter any really difficult issues and I only consider myself average with car mechanics. One problem I did have was getting the unit to work once it was all back in place and connected up electrically and mechanically. As soon as I powered it all up, an unwanted voice indicating “Automatic parking brake faulty” was heard, which was just what I didn’t want! As it was, I had something to do that evening so it forced me into deciding to switch it off and come back the following day. Additionally, I disconnected the battery to force everything to settle down.
The following day, the battery was reconnected and the second attempt was made. To my delight, I heard various electrical whizzing sounds and hey presto, it all worked. The fault had cleared. Someone was on my side that day!
What points do I want to leave fellow Vel Satis owners with? Firstly, don’t give up on these superb vehicles. Secondly, spend some time researching options to reduce the need to spend buckets or scrap them. Thirdly, if you encounter a cable problem, I suggest without hesitation to use Cablecraft. If anyone encounters a similar situation, please contact me and I can supply additional photographs.