Buyers Guide....What to look for when buying an Avantime
There are two main models available in the UK, the 4 cylinder 2ltr turbo Dynamique (6 speed manual) and the 6 cylinder 3ltr Privilege (6 speed manual or 5 speed automatic), you will find below a comprehensive list of things to look for when buying an Avantime:-
* If you are considering a 2ltr turbo, despite the fact it will achieved slightly better fuel economy than the V6, bear in mind that the 2ltr turbo cannot be run on E10 fuel and requires the more expensive E5 fuel to avoid damaging parts in the fuel system. This more or less negates the economy advantage of the 2ltr.
* Cam belt change - Cam belt failures cause extensive engine damage so it's important that the belt and idler pulleys are replaced every 72,000 miles or 5 years whichever comes first. Cam belt failures are much more common on the 2ltr models as a frayed accessory belt or faulty accessory belt pulley can send debris into the cam belt causing it to jump teeth or snap. Replacing the cam belt on a 2ltr costs around £400-£500 or on a 3ltr £500-£700
* Rear wheel bearings seem to be a regular cause for concern, so just check for nasty noises on your test drive. Generally caused by a seized handbrake cable causing the brake disc and subsequently the wheel hub to overheat dispersing the grease. A fairly easy and inexpensive job to replace them though.
* The silver painted bars that form the frame for the roof tend to show signs of bubbling underneath the paint work. Check them in detail along their full length. This is not structural corrosion but it is unsightly. Expect to pay £200 or more to have this repaired properly. The aluminium wing mirror support brackets also suffer from this bubbling.
* If the front edge of the roof lining appears stained or the fabric is peeling this has likely been caused by blocked drain channels for the sunroof that run down either side of the windscreen. The Velcro strip supporting the rear of the roof lining can become detached from the roof and slump at the back, this can cause damage to the boot seal if not rectified, check the rear speaker grilles are present and secure.
* The rear washer feed pipe can become kinked and eventually split when the boot is opened and closed. Check the rear washer works.
* Front headlamp washers sometimes seize so check them (with the lights on) The washer bottle needs to be at least a third full too for these to work.
*The headlamp leveling system is now mandatory for mot and the sensors can seize and then the operating arm bracket snaps off. If you can get under the car this is something to check front and rear.
* The standard Renault exhausts will by now have been replaced on most cars, New exhausts from Renault are no longer available hence the reason a large number of members' cars have had custom stainless steel exhausts for around £400.
* Check the interior door panels, the seat belt buckle if not fully retracted will trap between the seat and the door causing lots of indentations.
* Rubberised paint on various parts of the interior trim can become sticky to the touch and is easily scratched. Rubberised paint to repair is available from Plastidip but many owners have resorted to using more conventional paints, in particular the door grab handles are most prone to damage.
* Silver aluminium dash treatments on the 3ltr Privilege models is easily damaged particularly on the door grab handles. Replacements are no longer available. The painted plastic Dynamique trim withstands knocks much better.
* Alloy wheels, the finish often lifts and corrosion makes them look messy, also the four centre caps should be there, look for paint peeling on these too. Very scarce to get hold of now.
* CV boots are made of a very tough and inflexible material which means they can come off on full lock and release all the grease so check the drive shafts. Try pulling away on full lock, there should be no horrible noises or vibration.
* The catches securing the glovebox and dashboard cubby drawer break regularly but are available through the club and easily replaced.
* The hinge on the centre armrest lid can break so check this. (don't fold it back too far or slam it shut) Replacement hinges were around £30 but no longer available.
* Check the opening of the sunroof - if it is slow or juddery it just needs a service (easy diy job, cleaning and re-lubricating with the correct silicone lubricant) but be aware of the potential for more serious mechanical issues particularly stripped gears
* Check the CD autochanger - most have given up the ghost (ERROR shows on the display). These can be replaced with a boot mounted unit from an Espace MkIII (retaining full control and display functionality) or the original can be reliably repaired for around £70
* The front seat squabs can break down and sometimes split where they touch the electric seat controls panel usually a result of a larger driver or passenger. Likewise the heating element (Full leather seat models) in the seats breakdown eventually due to flexing.
* If the Airbag light is on this is usually but not always a loose connection underneath one of the front seats.
* Check the handles that recline and tilt the front seats on both sides. They sometimes break.
* Check the windows drop without too much 'bounce' or squeak - if they do they need servicing and may need new runner trolleys (an awkward and time consuming job).
* On the auto, check the box changes smoothly and that after placing in drive there is no large jolt as you release the brake pedal to move off from standstill.
* On cars with manual transmission, it is inevitable that the plastic pushrod between the clutch pedal and clutch master cylinder will eventually snap. New master cylinders are no longer available however a metal replacement is under development. On the 3ltr manual be aware that the dual mass flywheel and clutch pressure plate are no longer available so be prepared to pay handsomely for used ones.
* Rear parking distance sensors should be checked (standard on 3ltr, option on 2ltr)
* Heater matrices, there are two one each side, look for signs of leakage (carpet stains in the footwells)
*Check the heater blower works at all speeds (the electronic speed control often fails and is another awkward and time consuming job to repair)
*On some cars more than others, the galvanising doesn't appear to have been applied particularly well so these cars need careful inspection along the line of the inner sill from the front jacking point to the rear shock absorber mount. Check both sides as sometimes only one side is badly affected.
*The front subframe is surprisingly not galvanised and is therefore susceptible to rust. Cars fitted with the 2ltr engine suffer less from this due to the protection afforded by the engine under tray
*The radiator support cross beam is a rust trap and many have fallen apart, these are no longer available new
* The front windscreen of a 3ltr is heated as standard and an option on the 2ltr. The club found a manufacturer prepared to supply replacement heated screens from a pattern we supplied. However availability is intermittent as production runs are few and far between depending on demand. If you have to replace the screen on a 2ltr Dynamique there are used ones around (contact Sandy or Mike) but a new one if available will be substituted with a heated version as fitted as to standard Privilege models. If possible on the heated screens check the heated elements are still working by pressing the demist button twice. Make sure your insurance policy covers your windscreen, that a claim would not affect your NCD and that they will accept fitting of a used one.
* The front lights are polycarbonate, easily marked (scratched) and cost about £600 each, used ones are relatively easy to acquire. light scratching can easily be polished out using cutting compound like "T Cut" or "Farecla G3"
* Rear light clusters are easily damaged whilst loading the boot. check for moisture inside as this can cause corrosion of the lamp holders
* Keys are an issue worthy of note. There are two separate technologies contained within the key. The immobiliser transponder which unlocks the engine ECU each time the ignition is switched on and the RF transmitter circuit board that controls the central locking and alarm. The immobiliser transponders can be replaced at a cost but by far the cheapest option is to have a working one cloned, so if there is only one working key get it cloned. The RF transmitter circuit boards fail on a regular basis and are no longer available. If both keys fail it is possible to fit an aftermarket central locking kit but this is not easy and will not operate the existing coded alarm. A replacement alarm system with integral central locking and a bit of trickery is the best option in this situation. In short buying a car with two fully working keys must be a priority.
Hopefully the above list won't put you off Avantime ownership, you would be very unlucky to find all these defects on one car, from our years of combined experience we have simply tried to list all the potential problems you may encounter. Remember the club is a good place to get help with putting things right. Believe it or not the Avantime is actually a very reliable car to own.