By on February 10, 2014

Arun writes:

Sajeev,

I have a 2011 VW CC (2.0 turbo) with DSG that is currently at 35000+ miles without any issues. I love the car and take care of it as much as a first time VAG owner and a first time car owner can take care of it. Problem is that over the last 200 miles or so, I have been noticing that the shift lever moves rough/ hesitates to move as quickly as I am used to it moving.

I am not talking about the actual shifts themselves but the shifter itself being rough to move within the case when upshifting or downshifting in DSG model.

I drive around 35 miles a day but only around 6-7 miles in DSG/ semi-automatic mode per day. So around 200 miles/ month in semi-automatic mode. All services have been done on time and there are no issues otherwise with the car. Posting on vw vortex revealed nothing.

  1. The factory warranty expires in 400 odd miles so I would like to have it seen by the dealer if it is something concrete. Unfortunately with the shifts themselves being smooth as butter, I fear they will just show me the door.
  2. I have the 40000 mile transmission oil change coming up. If this issue is something that can/ will be resolved by the same, I don’t mind pushing the service ahead and doing it at like 37500 miles or so. Again since it feels like the shifter is physically moving roughly (like it needs lube), I am not sure if that service will do anything to resolve this problem.

Suggestions? A speedy resolution is requested because my factory warranty will expire in 400 miles or about 2 weeks from now.

Sajeev answers:

Hey Arun, ask the Service department to lubricate or replace the shift assembly. These things are mostly made of plastic (usually) and asking them to check the plastic for jamming or debris isn’t a big deal.  Go get it done before the warranty goes out.

Arun replies:

Hey Sajeev,

Much appreciated! I have a scheduled a session with the Service Dept for this Saturday. I will update you once its done.

 >>>FOUR DAYS LATER<<<

Arun replies:

I got the job done and it was indeed some lube that was needed. The dealership was at a loss as to how that could have happened, speculating that it could have been something that may not have been applied to spec at the factory itself. Somehow I doubt that’s the case considering how fastidious the Germans are about initial quality.

Oh well..I have driven the car just 10 miles since but so far so good.

Thanks once again for the help!

P.S. someday I will drive a Panther just to see what the hype is all about! :-)

Sajeev concludes:

Oh yes, nobody is as fastidious about initial quality like the Germans!  Then again, German initial quality is certainly superior to their overall lifetime value here in the US. But I digress…

There are probably countless reasons why this happened, as perfection is something we strive for but can never own. And most dealerships are used to customer concerns like this, hence why they were happy to check. And you were happy to ask since it’s still under warranty!

Better drive a Crown Vic Sport or Mercury Marauder soon, when your next post-warranty repair bill comes, you’ll be more inclined to embrace DPL (Das Panther Love) over DSG.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

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46 Comments on “Piston Slap: DSG = Das Sticky Gearbox?...”


  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Start budgeting for the DSG service. I doubt that you, as a first time car owner, are equipped/skilled to do this. The price will shock you.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Its more about being equipped than skilled, but I agree with your point. You need the special tool, VAG-COM, and other stuff to do the DSG service. It’s all following instructions and referring back to a video on VWVortex or the like. ECS Tuning sells a great kit if you are so inclined. Its $335 with the tool and it comes with everything you need. After you buy the tool, the supplies cost around $130.

      The service itself will be $350-$700 depending on where you go. That is on top of the $500 VW dealers will try to charge you for 40K mile service.

      • 0 avatar
        NN

        wow…$1200 for a 40k mile service? 90% of people are still paying the note at 40k miles. That hurts and does illustrate a difference between a nice VW like the CC and a more humble Japanese/Domestic sedan. We have a 2010 Malibu that now has 70k miles on it. Although a top-shelf model, it’s not as nice overall as the CC, but my out of pocket expenses for 70k miles of dealer-service beyond oil/air filter/brakes/tires (original tires lasted to just under 70k, also), is literally zero.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Yeah. I know other people will chime in and say it isn’t that expensive. However, I ended up doing almost all of the 40K maintinence myself. It was 100% because the cheapest a VW dealer or VW specialist around me offered both for was $750. Some dealers quoted almost $1500 for the 40K + DSG service.

          I had two DSG equipped vehicles at the time, so the cost of the DSG tool didn’t seem as expensive. As much as I loved my GTI and R32, I would never own a DSG vehicle again.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Edit: I just called, what I consider to be, the most reasonable VW dealer in the Detroit area, and they quoted me between $717.25 and $1046.30 for a 2.0T/DSG 40K mile service. The $717.25 is just for what is in the service manual.

          • 0 avatar

            I’ll admit that several VW products are on my short list of new cars I’d actually pay to drive, but after reading this, the DSG option ain’t happening on any of these.

      • 0 avatar
        seth1065

        As mentioned else ware in this thread I just finished my 80 k service as well as DSG service and bought 4 new nokion snow tires , had them mounted on my spare rims, tossed the old tires. All that cost me less than $1200 and the tires were more than half the cost of my bill, again a trusted indie is the way to go. And I do not live in a low wage indie area, metro NJ where everything is pricey.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Every VW dealer around here charges around $250-280 for the DSG service, and it is definitely available without the rest of the 40k service. Sometimes you can get a coupon for a little off that but as expensive as it sounds when I see the procedure to do the work I can’t even say it is unreasonable. Aside from requiring the special equipment (and its a lot easier with a lift), there is a lot of checks that need to be done, proper temperature of fluids, etc. And at $300~ or so every 40k it really isn’t a huge deal.

        As for the cost of the other 40K service items, well sure that’s a total rip off. But aside from a few dealer specials you sometimes see, almost every dealer I have been to attempts to charge outrageous fees for what amounts to an oil change, tire rotation, and perhaps air filter and cabin filter change. Everything else is a “check” or “inspect” or “top off”, which really doesn’t cost anything at all yet someone who knows nothing about cars doesn’t understand that. This is why I never get any service done at the dealer except for some special exceptions like the DSG fluid or if they have some good specials like my Honda dealer.

        Yesterday I was car shopping with my wife’s mom and this same Honda dealer was trying to sell her a Car Doctor service plan, prepaid maintenance for $700 or so. Not to bore with the details but supposedly includes ALL maintenance for 45k miles. Upon inspecting the “savings chart” I see ALL maintenance doesn’t even mean all maintenance, as things like tires and brakes aren’t included, neither was trans fluid changes, etc. What it amounted to was 8 oil changes, 4 tire rotations, and an alignment and air filter at 30k. This dealer sends me a coupon every 60 days or so for a $15 oil change and an $11 tire rotation, its a fine deal and so easy to just send my daughter there to get her car serviced, she enjoys the special attention, they reset the maintenance light, track all the work, etc. An alignment might not even be needed but if I pay full price it will cost me $100, on a coupon more like $60-80. So this wonderful prepaid plan provides me with $250-300 worth of maintenance for $700. But by using the prices on their own 15k/30k/45k services they are saving me something like $1000.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I love people saying that maintenance that isn’t common in other brands, while being expensive for no reason, is okay by them. As much as the DCT in the Focus gets bagged on, and it should for some things, Ford will change the fluid for under $100, at the freaking dealer.

          I keep bringing up Ford because its what I know. I’m sure GM, Toyota, and Honda aren’t much different. You mentioned $15 oil changes and $11 tire rotations from Honda. The cheapest coupons I’ve had a VW dealer send me, and I’ve lived in a few states, is an oil change for $69.95. Thanks a lot local VW dealer!

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @bball — I didn’t say it was OK, just that it wasn’t terribly unreasonable. The fluid alone costs $120 or so, the tool you really do need is $200, then dealing with jacking the car up and down, repeatedly checking the level and temperature because it has to be done on a level lift, resetting the computer, etc. I have the guide, I do as much as reasonably possible on my own, and the DSG fluid change is a real pain in the a$$, worth the $280 if only because if you screw it up and the transmission fails you want every possible chance to get the warranty to cover it as it’s very expensive otherwise. Most people will have to do maybe 2 DSG services over the life of the car, perhaps 3 if they really are a glutton for punishment. If that was the ONLY outrageous expense with VWs then it wouldn’t be so bad. Unfortunately it isn’t, as you pointed out the oil changes are expensive too.

            Also, the Ford DCT is not nearly as good as the VW DSG, the fact that Ford cheaps out on the fluid doesn’t make me think it will be any more reliable than a DSG over the long haul. No one else has a transmission like the DSG even available except for some of the high end luxury brands. And the fluid changes on those aren’t going to be cheap, probably more than the VW too.

            But yes, I agree on the other service costs, VW synthetic oil changes aren’t cheap like Honda regular oil changes. But then again, no one offers cheap synthetic oil changes, those seem to be ripe for profit padding right up there with nitrogen fills for tires. I do my own oil changes on mine.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Ford DCT is very similar to other VW DSG transmissions that we don’t get in the US. Its a dry clutch. Its not meant to take the HP like the wet DSG.

            I loved my GTI, but many brands have caught up. Outside the GTI and Sportwagen, there isn’t a VW that I’d put up with the extra costs for. That’s the spot VW is caught in. They can’t do bland better than anyone, while Buick makes a better sports sedan than they do.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            I wouldnt put up with the extra costs for a GTI or Sportwagen either, that’s why I am getting rid of my GTI while it is still new enough and has low enough miles to be worth something. European cars should be leased, not purchased.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        You don’t necessarily need the special tool to do it or VCDS (although VCDS is a good idea if you own a VW or Audi product).

        You can do a filter change and drain and fill for just the cost of the filter and fluid. http://www.myturbodiesel.com/wiki/dsg-fluid-drain-and-replacement-service-vw-and-audi-stronic-oil-flush/

        If you want to have a paper trail, check your local dealer’s price. Mine quoted me (in May 2013) $289 for the DSG service so it apparently can be had for under $300 from a dealer. The rest of the 40000 mile service for the CC is an oil change, air cabin and fuel filter change and spark plug replacement. Anyone with some mechanical knowledge and a decent set of tools can take care of the 40K service for about $300 worth of parts for DSG and the 40K service. http://www.ecstuning.com/Volkswagen-CC-FWD-2.0T/ES250667/

        Enjoy your CC, they’re beautiful cars.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I would still recommend both the tool and software. I would also recommend some good jack stands.

          And spark plug replacement at 40K is ridiculous. Why is it 40k when others do 100k? Even on a 2.0T engine.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      JP just got my 80k DSG service done about $200 bucks at a indie shop really not bad at all in my view, the secret is leave the dealership as soon as your free service / warranty is up

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      I just got my 80 k DSG service done on my Tdi wagon it was about $225 bucks not bad at all to me. The key is leave the VW dealership as soon as your free service / warranty is up

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        $225 seems okay because there isn’t much competition to a TDi wagon. If its in a competitive segment like a compact CUV, midsized sedan, etc, it is bad. The 80K service on a Focus ST is $29.99 right now.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          What exactly getting serviced for only $29.99? I pay more for a conventional oil change at Pennzoil.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Ford dealership. The Works package is $29.99 right now with the $10 mail in rebate. Some dealerships don’t make you mail it in. That includes oil change, tire rotation, fluid top off, and inspection.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Thx.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I assume its a loss leader that gets you in the door so that they can sell you other stuff like tires, filters, other services, and even a new car. The dealership I typically go to has only recommended what is in the service manual though.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    as if i needed more reasons to avoid VW, after learning about the DSG service, it has escalated near the top of my list.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    DPL FTW

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    as a first time VAG owner…

    Yeah, you never forget your first…

    But seriously, shifter that needs to be lubed at 40,000 miles? The dealership speculated if the lubing was done at the factory or not, where was the 2011 CC manufactured?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Emden, Germany.

      Contrary to what some VW apologists will tell you, it doesn’t matter that much where they are built. I did think my German built GTI was better than my Mexican built Jetta Wolfsburg, with the same engine and transmission. However, they had the same reliability (which was actually okay).

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “…where was the 2011 CC manufactured?”

      Why does that even matter?

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Haven’t you heard? The few gotchas of VW ownership which aren’t the fault of lazy American owners for not pre-emptively replacing the electrical system and transmission at 50K, like they do in Europe, must by process of elimination be the fault of lazy Mexicans in Puebla who assembled it wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Back when the US manufacturers often built the same vehicle at different plants around the USA assembly quality differences could be found. The GM B-body cars were better assembled in Michigan than they were at the Arlington Texas plant that also built them.

          I’m not picking on VW, it happens to many manufacturers. Heck even Consumer Reports a few years back recommended only buying the GTI models because they were better engineered and better assembled. Imagine that, vanilla CR recommending you buy the boy racer version of a car!

  • avatar
    Garak

    You’re lucky to get 35000 trouble-free miles from a VW. At least the Polish models tend to pretty much disintegrate at that point.

  • avatar
    arun

    Hey! Firstly, an awesome feeling to see my request here on the site.

    On the problem, just know that the moment I described the issue to the technician, he noted it down on the sheet with the words “customer says the gears are binding” while I never used the words ‘binding’ (as I wasn’t sure how to describe it). Makes me believe in hindsight that they are aware of this problem and have faced other customers with the same issue

    Yeah the DSG 40k services are bloody expensive. Called two dealers and one indy and they all quoted me in the $750-$770 range. I would like to do it myself but if someone out here can tell me how painful (or not) it is, then I would be more willing. Essentially I am scared of messing things up somehow and am faced with a ginormous repair bill because of said mess up – suddenly $750 doesn’t look that expensive any more!

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Based on what I’ve read and heard I wouldn’t attempt it yourself as the car may be unforgiving if every little thing is not done correctly and in order.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      You need VAG-COM, the tool, and all the supplies. If you have just one VW, it probably isn’t worth it. All that stuff will set you back almost as much as having someone else do it. The procedure isn’t hard, it just takes time. If you are worried about it, I wouldn’t do it because a new DSG unit will costs you $5000-10000. You could always find a remanufactured one for $2500.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    I’m glad I didn’t read any of these reports before buying my DSG-equipped A3. I love the transmission–the first non-3 pedal I can say that about. My Audi dealer only charged $300 Canadian for the DSG service (and warned me about that well in advance).

  • avatar
    sproc

    One more note on the DSG service: It’s a required overnight at the dealer because the transmission has to completely cool to ambient temp.

    And yes, if it were attached to a good enough car, I’d probably buy this same flappy paddle again. Love rowing my own, but for real-world driving it’s truly a pleasure.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      That is BS on leaving the car overnight, I have had two done drive 90 minutes both times, indie did it about one hour later and than I drove home.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        You are right. Its actually better to have the car warm. The oil drains better that way. The only specific temps that come into play is the new DSG oil. It has to be between 95 and 113 degree before the excess is run off and the metal seal goes on.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    After the first DSG oil and filter change, the tranny will feel unbelievably butter smooth but only for 2 weeks of daily driving, then it’s back to normal.

  • avatar
    brux2dc

    The DSG is why I made sure to buy a manual version of my lovely CC R-Line. Forgetting that a manual trans is the best way to drive, the stick version is much cheaper to maintain than the DSG, and I also assume (yes it may make me a “donkey” to think this) more reliable than the DSG.

  • avatar
    NeinNeinNein

    Too al those that skip owning a VW or audi because of what they read here–I say—sorry. You’re missing out. And all the horrow stories of super expensive and never ending repairs….on your drive home…look right and look left…look for and aft–see all those VW’s and Audi’s still rolling? Do those owners look like they have endlessly deep pockets? I guess theyre the lucky ones right?

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @Nein – I have a VW and I love driving it, I smile every time I get behind the wheel. But I wouldn’t buy another one and I haven’t recommended it to anyone else either. It isn’t that the repairs are crippling or neverending. They are just cheap enough for regular people to afford it, but still annoying. And all the little niggling problems with quality add up too. What annoys me most about mine is the stupid rattles, the trim that doesn’t hold up, things like that. Everyone I know who raves on their VWs hasn’t owned them very long. My friends at work with 2012 models who say they have been wonderful… for the last year they have had them. And these are the same people fighting with the service department to get their shifter boot replaced because it separated, or the sunroof leak fixed, or the headliner rattle resolved.

      Honestly… I am a fan, this is my 3rd VW in a lifetime, and all I can say is lease them, don’t buy them and you will love them.

  • avatar
    arun

    Thank you everybody for all the tips and suggestions. Much appreciated. I will admit that if I had known about the DSG service costs and compared it to competition, I probably would have thought twice. When I bought the car however, the only thought I had was ‘I am not buying a Toyonda, no matter what’.

    The 1 hr travel daily to and from my office in my CC is probably the best part of my day, 5 days a week! So I get what the ‘fanbois’ say about the drive. I just wish it was necessarily this expensive in the long term. I guess you gotta pay to play..

  • avatar
    Spartan

    What did you learn? Everyone say it with me…Next time, buy the manual transmission model, not the DSG.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    I have two GTI’s with DSG. I used to love manual transmissions but the DSG is the best of both worlds. I have never driven a car that shifted so smooth. I get better gas mileage with the DSG then the manual. Yes the transmission oil has to bbe changed at 40,000 miles. Not that tough a job if you follow the directions. The entire kit can be had for around $120.00. Jack up the car read the directions. Drain the transmission oil into a container and measure what you drained. Remove the filter and replace the same amount of oil you drained with fresh oil using the filter opening, tighten everything up and you are ready to go. You can also purchase oil & filter kits to change the engine oil for about $34.00 on line (VW approved oil). It takes me about 20 minutes for each car to change the oil. For the transmissions approx 1 1/2 hr. As far as spark plugs go most manufacturers fell on their face with the 100,000 mile schedule. Many owners could not remove the plugs without taking out the spark plug threads in the head. Turned out to be quite a costly job.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I like my DSG as well, and that’s after having both a 2003 Jetta TDI and a 2002 Golf TDI with a manual transmission (as well as an 85 Jetta Diesel and 89 Jetta TD with manuals before the TDIs).

      So I had been driving manual VWs for about 14 years up until I got my DSG equipped Sportwagen TDI in 2012. I thought I would really miss the manual and the feeling of control. But, I don’t miss the manual at all, especially in stop and go traffic. If I ever do want to shift like a manual, the option is there but I’ve rarely used it.

      I’m at about 23000 miles so I’m coming up on the 40K service probably in a year or so. Service kits can be had in the $120 range like you said. Just get a large container that will tell you how much you drained, and put roughly the same amount back as the myturbodiesel.com how-to specifies. It’s not rocket appliances. Make sure you have the 14mm hex socket and the 24mm filter socket before you start the job and it shouldn’t be a big deal to perform the service and save a lot of money in the process.


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