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‘Haunted’ Renault explained

by CAR magazine on 14/12/2004

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Rust was the official reason given by Renault SA for the strange behaviour shown by a car presumed to be “haunted” in Somerset West recently.

Rust was the official reason given by Renault SA for the strange behaviour shown by a car presumed to be “haunted” in Cape Town recently.

The car had mysteriously “jumped” one morning when the owner of a guesthouse, Ian Schietekat, his family and guests were woken up by a loud crash. In full view of the crowd, it then made a “type of roaring sound and gave two powerful leaps backwards, before it … was stopped by a hibiscus tree,” Schietekat said.

Renault SA has since investigated this phenomenon and published its findings in a report.

Apparently the Mégane’s starter was activated by short circuits caused by a rusty starter cable leading to the battery supply pack.

The company stressed that the phenomenon was not caused by a faulty product, as had been deduced by CAR technical editor, Jake Venter. Venter had said that the car’s neurotic behaviour had probably been caused by a combination of faulty electronics and a fairly strong wind. Venter on Tuesday noted, however, that a rusty cable on a relatively new car was highly unusual and could be considered a fault in itself.

Renault said since the car was parked in reverse, it jumped backwards whenever the rusty cable short-circuited, igniting the starter. However, the roaring sound made by the car at the time, was not explained.

The car’s behaviour was initially thought to be a failed attempt at theft, but the property’s gates were still closed, the car locked and the handbrake engaged.