The BBC Television consumer programme Watchdog claims to have discovered that certain models of Peugeot 307s have a potentially serious fire risk, which some owners have been unaware of.

The programme’s website reported that several viewers had noticed smoke billowing from the bonnet when driving and, in some cases, their cars actually catching fire. The cause is the ignition key becoming stiff in the lock and remaining in the ‘start’ position which can cause the starter motor to overheat.

Watchdog said a recall campaign was launched by Peugeot’s UK arm in 2002 but not all owners appear to have received the notification letter and, in any case, it did not mention the potential fire risk. Watchdog claimed to have obtained an internal Peugeot document which classed the recall as a “non-safety” recall.

Peugeot confirmed to the programme the existence of a recall campaign concerning the malfunctioning of the steering lock ignition switch on some 307 models and said vehicles involved in the recall were manufactured between April and September 2001.

When the part did malfunction, drivers were alerted by warning signs such as the key not returning from the ‘starter’ position to the ‘drive’ position, an abnormal noise or an unusual smell. Therefore, as there were indicative signs of a problem occurring, the failure was progressive.