Renault Sandero (2009 to 2014)

WHEN the first Renault Sandero (badged Dacia Sandero is some other countries) arrived, it caused interest due to the keen pricing combined with a decent level of spec.

Two petrol engines were offered. The 1,4-litre delivers 55 kW and 112 N.m, while the 1,6 has a lowly 65 kW and 128 N.m of torque. The 1,4 was dropped in 2010 and the Stepway crossover version introduced in the same year.
Interior space was a major selling point and was punted in a clever television commercial. The boot, too, is large, with 256 dm3 of boot space opening up to 1 104 dm3 if you want full use of utility space.

The Stepway is a popular version with its black trim and 20 mm raised ride height. We received one of these for a long-term 20 000 km test.

Engines

Make sure that the engine does not overheat, as the head gasket will not cope for long before failing. These engines (K7J for the 1,4 and K7M for the 1,6) use eight valve heads and are fitted with cambelts. These need replacing every 100 000 km.

Transmission

A clutch cable slipped off the pivot mount right at the pedal. Thinking that the cable had snapped, the fix was quick and easy. Why it happened is not certain, however.

Electrical

A few glitches were reported on electric windows and central locking. Strange noises were also mentioned by one owner, but there were no outright failures. One owner suspected that the fuel gauge and trip computer was inaccurate, since he noticed the same misreadings on two other cars.

Suspension, steering and brakes

The suspension has a long travel range that makes progress quite smooth on lumpy roads. Knocking at the front-end of one Stepway turned out to be a worn shock absorber.

Bodywork and interior

A couple of loose items were noted. These were simply fixed by tightening the bolts. Watch out for free play in the seats, especially the driver’s. A competent dealer should be able to fix this problem. Check that the air-conditioning is working properly, as some owners had issues.

General

A variety of squeaks inside one car were soon eliminated by the dealer. See if the wiper blades clean the windscreen adequately and check that they do not shudder across the windscreen.

There isn’t much information by owners and on Renault and Dacia forums to say conclusively what the main areas of concern are, but this should become more apparent with time. Parts are reasonably priced if something does go wrong.