Vauxhall issues handbrake warningCarmaker still investigating roll-away incidents
06 October 2007
Vauxhall is issuing some owners with a warning label, following complaints from owners that their cars' handbrakes are not secure.
More than a quarter of a million Vectra and Signum owners have been sent stickers (shown below) for vehicles made after 2003. Vauxhall has acknowledged that there have been several ‘roll-away’ incidents in the UK alone.
Which? has received dozens of responses from members with Vauxhall’s Vectra and Signum models, many with stories of dangerous incidents because of the problem. We alerted Vauxhall to the issue when we first reported on it in July.
Encouragingly, Vauxhall appears to be taking the complaints seriously. A total of 279,000 Vectra and Signum owners were contacted in July and August. General Motors press office manager Denis Chick commented:
‘There have been a number of alleged injuries [due to the handbrake issue]. We are investigating a number of theories. We have found, as Vosa [Vehicle and Operator Services Agency] has found, no fault with the mechanism. We have had new information from Vosa, and we plan further testing at our facility in Germany. The warning label issued to owners is an interim measure.’
Signum owner Mr Bone contacted Which? after he received Vauxhall’s sticker. ‘I have been a Vauxhall driver for the last 27 years. I thought the sticker I got from Vauxhall was pathetic.
‘My car's handbrake does not generate confidence but, judging by recent Which? reports, there appears to be a serious safety problem. In my view, sticking a label to the car's sun visor advising that the car should be put in gear whenever parked is inadequate and beyond belief.
‘If this is the best GM can do when faced with what may be a potentially lethal design or construction fault, my longstanding trust in the marque will evaporate,’ Mr Bone added.
Our advice is in line with the sticker, and the Highway Code: when parked on a gradient, use the gearbox to secure the car: if facing uphill, select first gear, or reverse if facing downhill. Automatic vehicles should be left in ‘Park’. It’s also a good idea to point the front wheels so that the car will roll into the kerb, should the handbrake fail. And always remember to select neutral before attempting to start the car.
Are you affected?
Vauxhall owners requiring further information should contact Vauxhall Customer Services on 0845 090 2044, or via email.
If you have any experience with the Vectra/Signum handbrake issue, or you have any comments about Vauxhall’s ‘remedial action’, please email us, marking your message ‘Vauxhall handbrake.’