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Vauxhall Signum / Vectra Handbrake / Hand brake problem

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I own a 2006 Vauxhall Signum Elite CDTi (150) registered May 2006.

On March 1st 2007 the vehicle was parked outside my partners house on a reasonable slope. The vehicle was parked and the handbrake applied. I then locked the vehicle and went across the road to see my partner in her shop. approximately 3-4 minutes later I came back to her house and the car was in the same position, indicating that the handbrake was still applied. I then went into the house and was speaking to the carpenter that was carrying out some work. Then about 10 -15minutes later my partner phoned me to inform me that my car had rolled down the road into two parked cars.

When I came out of the house the car alarms were going indicating that the impact had just occurred. When I reached my car the handbrake was fully disengaged at the bottom position.

I was the only person with access to the keys. Also the car had no rear impact damage to indicate it had been hit by another vehicle.

Luckily there was no bodily injury to anyone, but that is purely down to luck rather than anything else.

I know the handbrake was applied and the fact the car was stationary for at least 15minutes proves this fact as the slope was indeed such that if the handbrake was not applied the vehicle would role instantly.

I contact my local Vauxhall dealer to ask if they were aware of the problem, they informed me that they would ring me back. But I have yet to have a reply.

However, as I have been unable to go to work today to the car, I have looked on the internet and I have quickly found several other people who have had similar experiences if not identical to the handbrake disengaging after being applied.

Someone was also killed in February 2007 in Manchester relating to a similar set of circumstances. I am trying to get a list of owners together to go to Vauxhall to make them take notice.

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  • 9 months later...

See if you can watch last night's Watchdog programme on the BBCi player.


They investigated exactly this last July and Vauxhall agreed to look into the problem. It is common to Vectra C models, Signums and now apparently Corsas. Vauxhall owners have already raised the issue directly in many hundreds of cases.


Announced on the programme last night, Vauxhall have agreed to a recall (for models less than 2 years old I think - around 250,000 vehicles) for a modification to the handbrake by way of an additional spring being fitted. No timetable as yet, but dependent on parts, Vauxhall will be in touch with those affected, but it may be worth speaking to your dealer anyway.


In the meantime, it has been proven that the fault will only occur if the handbrake is applied whilst depressing the release button. In doing this it is possible for the teeth to disengage and the handbrake to release. Apparently if the handbrake is applied 'milkman' style (for those old enough to remember!) by just pulling up so that the ratchet is audible and not silently by pressing the button, then the teeth will engage properly and the brake will not disengage whilst unattended.


Vauxhall also advise that when parked the vehicle should always be left in gear (in line with Highway Code guidance) to prevent it rolling should the brake disengage, particularly when left on a slope.


You will need to pursue Vauxhall on the issue of a known fault causing damage to other vehicles and any impact which this may have on your insurance premiums, but I guess you will have a fight on that front as others also have.


Hope this helps.


PS - Only just noticed that the post above was in response to a matter raised almost a year ago - d'oh!

Any advice given is done so on the assumption that recipients will also take professional advice where appropriate.






If I have been helpful in any way - please feel free to click on the STAR to the left!


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  • 6 months later...

I too have just experienced this problem for the second time

first time no damage to anyone as the car was moving really slowly

so i put it down to the fact that i hadn't put the hand break on good enough


this time car was parked for nearly three house before it rolled into next doors car causing £300 worth of damage. I was unawear of the problem until this evening when a friend told me about the issue, and it looks like the internet is rife with owners experiencing this issue. I appreciate that the standard procedure is to leave the car in 1st/rev gears however you don't expect such a fundamental part of the car to fail regardless. Both me and my wife looked through the window before opening my car just to verify that the handbreak was indeed still on.


I bough the car in dec and had a full service done, the cars MOT was done last sept and no isues were brought up in any of these test. I have just had it into the garage yesterday to test the effectiveness of the handbreak and they cannot find anything wrong with it at all.


I will be please to sign any partition that makes Vauxhall sit up and acknowledge this issue


Regards Mike

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  • 1 year later...

hi there.


i have an 05 astra estate 1.7cdti diesel.


last night i parked the car on a slope. gotmout of the car, let my 2 lads out of the back of the car,locked it, then went to see my parents. after 20 minutes i was going home and the car was gone. i found it lodged on someones drive with the rear 3feet up in the air pearched on a wall.


upon looking into the car the hand brake was down. when i spoke to the home owners, they said it had happened about 5 minutes ago. 15 minutes after after i had parked the car!! thankfully no one was hurt and only minimal damage to a fence and wall. the front of the car was smashed in.


i have contacted vauxhall uk, and they have said there is no problem with the hand brake on the astras. but after 15 minutes it rolled down the hill.


anyone else shed some light on this problem.



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Hi Chris


I had the same negative reponse that you got from VAuxhall

Please feel free to email me at [email protected] and i

will ring you.


Many thanks Mike


This is not a recognised way of assisting. The Consumer Action Group issues the following warning:



We have Touts on the forum. Please be careful if the message asks you for any personal details.


If your message is from someone who is suggesting that you pay or sign some agreement in order get legal help, we strongly suggest that you do not respond but report it to the CAG administrators.


Assistance should be posted in this forum so that it benefits as many consumers as possible.

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  • 2 months later...

Does anyone have a "dodgy" handbrake that can be tested so see if the ratchet geometry is suspect. If it is proven to be the case then Vauxhall really will have to do something.

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Could be a soft ratchet or lack of lubrication causing wear. It is strange that the advice from Vauxhall is not to depress the button while pulling on the handbrake as this is more likely to wear soft materials. If, however, the ratchet is going stiff, it will be less likely to engage with the teeth of the sector if it is slowly engaged as the button is released. A stiff ratchet would also explain why a handbrake comes off and goes to the rest position, rather than just losing a "couple of clicks"


If the ratchet wears or deforms and insufficient allowance was made in the design for this, it is likely that if the relationship between the ratchet or sector becomes "self releasing". It is easy to set up the mechanism to test for this and if this is the case, a stronger spring will not completely eliminate the problem.

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Statement on Vectra/Signum Handbrake Customer Satisfaction Programme – January 2008

Following a small number of complaints of Vectra and Signum vehicles rolling away due to allegedly ineffective handbrakes, Vauxhall Motors Limited engineers, along with consultant engineers, suppliers and other bodies, have conducted rigorous technical tests on those vehicles.

During its extensive test programme, Vauxhall reviewed a number of handbrake mechanisms and found that when the handbrake is applied by depressing the release button, it is possible to manipulate the handbrake mechanism so as to cause it to release partially.

Vauxhall advised customers in October 2007 that when parking their vehicle, customers should always apply the handbrake and engage a gear in line with the recommendations referenced in the owner’s manual and in the official Highway Code, especially when parking on a slope.

Vauxhall believes that the handbrake system used in the Vectra and Signum is safe, however, Vauxhall treats all matters relating to the safety of its products as its highest priority. In line with this priority and that of continuous improvement, Vauxhall has decided to implement, as a Customer Satisfaction Programme, a modification to the handbrake mechanism to reduce the possibility of a partial release when incorrectly setting the handbrake.

Owners of c250,000 manual transmission Vectra and Signum models (produced from 2002) will receive a letter from the company requesting that they contact their nearest retailer to arrange for the modification, at no cost to the customer. Vauxhall Motors Limited is launching this Customer Satisfaction Programme in agreement with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), an executive agency of the Department of Transport. Note that this is not a safety recall.

Vauxhall reconfirms that, at all times, irrespective of the modification, when parking their vehicle on a slope, customers should continue to engage a gear when the vehicle is stationary, the handbrake is applied without depressing the release button and the engine is switched off, in line with the recommendations referenced in the owner’s manual and in the official Highway Code.

This Customer Satisfaction Programme will be carried out on a phased basis. Exact start timing will be based upon parts availability. Vectra and Signum owners who have concerns about their car should call Vauxhall Customer Service on 0845 090 2044 or via email at [email protected].

Vauxhall Motors Limited

January 2008

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