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Seat Exeo Armrest / Handbrake Design Fault

posted 6 Jul 2011, 11:58 by Kevin Millican   [ updated 6 Jul 2011, 12:16 ]
Damage to bumper of Seat Exeo caused by rolling back onto garage wall
I really like my Seat Exeo which I've had since last November. However, it does have a basic design fault that has cost me (or my insurers) nearly 300 pounds.

Actually, that could be a story in itself; can you really believe that's what it costs to repair a scratch like this ?

Anyway, the story :-

On returning from work, I parked my car on the driveway as usual, and went indoors. However, the handbrake was apparently not fully engaged and it must have rolled back whilst unattended. I was completely unaware this had happened until my wife returned about an hour later and asked why my car was touching the garage wall (!).

My driveway has a very gradual slope and the car had bumped the corner of the garage wall. This caused minor damage to the rear bumper on the nearside (at least I thought it was minor until the quote came through!) :-

Whilst this was my fault, there was a high contribution from a design fault in the Seat Exeo handbrake, which I have subsequently found has been noted by the motoring press:-

When the car is new, the handbrake can be fully engaged without touching the armrest. It can be a little awkward but the natural tendency of the human body is to adapt to this by using the elbow and the top of the armrest like a lever.

This works fine until the handbrake cable loosens over time, inevitably leading to a failure of the kind I observed. At this point, the driver is likely (as I have done) to change behaviour and always put the arm rest up before parking the car:-

Composite image showing how Seat Exeo armrest interferes with normal handbrake operation

It is very fortunate that the damage was only superficial – this was a “near-miss” incident that could have been much worse, eg. If a small child had been playing behind the car while it was parked.

If you know someone with a new Exeo, please point them to this page or send them a copy of the PDF attached below.

Kevin Millican,
6 Jul 2011, 12:14