Owners of some Volkswagen TDI models are experiencing premature selective catalyst reduction (SCR) failures because of AdBlue heaters that, in some cases, aren’t lasting more than 50,000 miles.
According to a source who spoke to TTAC under the condition of anonymity, many Volkswagen TDI owners are arriving at dealerships after seeing check engine lights for failing AdBlue (diesel emissions fluid) heaters. Those heaters, explained the source, fail “based more on time than mileage” and cost over $1,000 to replace.
The cost of the parts and labor is a slap to the face for many TDI owners, as SCR systems in those cars are not scrubbing the required amount of NOx from diesel exhaust even when the AdBlue heaters are operating properly.
The AdBlue heater in question is covered under warranty for up to 36,000 miles or 3 years, whichever comes first. However, many of the failures are happening just outside of that warranty window, at around 50,000 miles or 4 years of ownership.
With the increased focus on Volkswagen’s diesel emissions, many have taken to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s complaints website to explain their issues and voice their displeasure with how Volkswagen is handling the issue.
NOX SENSOR MALFUNCTIONED OUT OF RANGE CODE. WAS QUOTED 655 DOLLARS TO REPLACE. NOX SENSORS ARE NOT REQUIRED BY FEDERALLY MANDATED 80K EMISSIONS WARRANTY SO VW WON’T INCLUDE VOLUNTARILY. ONE WEEK AFTER HAVING THIS FIXED, THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT TURNS ON AGAIN WITH CODE P203B, REDACTANT LEVEL RANGE/PERFORMANCE. SPEAKING A FEW TIMES WITH TECHNICIANS AT THE DEALERSHIP, THIS LIKELY MEANS THE REPLACEMENT OF THE AD BLUE HEATER UNIT AND TANK WHICH IS OVER 1000 DOLLARS. AGAIN, NOT COVERED UNDER WARRANTY.
THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT CAME ON 9/10/15. I BROUGHT THE CAR INTO THE DEALERSHIP ON 9/12/15 AND LEARNED THAT THE CAR’S ADBLUE HEATER HAD GONE AND WILL COST JUST OVER $1,000 TO REPLACE. THE ADBLUE HEATER HEATS THE ADBLUE TO REMOVE NO2 FOR EMISSIONS, HOWEVER VOLKSWAGEN IS CLAIMING THAT THIS IS NOT COVERED UNDER THE EMISSIONS WARRANTY. THE ADBLUE SYSTEM HAS NOT OTHER PURPOSE THAN FOR EMISSIONS AND SHOULD BE COVERED UNDER THE FEDERAL WARRANTY, AS THE EMISSIONS WOULD FALL OUTSIDE OF THE FEDERAL REGULATIONS WITHOUT THIS COMPONENT. PROPER EMISSIONS HELP TO KEEP OUR ENTIRE POPULATION SAFE AND HEALTHY FROM THE HARMFUL POLLUTANTS GENERATED BY VEHICLES.
THE CHECK ENGINE LIGHT CAME ON AND I HAD CODES READ. THE CODE WAS P205C AND THIS INDICATES THE EMISSIONS ADBLUE HEATER AND SENSOR HAD A PROBLEM. THE UNIT (HEATER AND SENSOR) IN THE ADBLUE TANK IS A NON SERVICEABLE UNIT AND MUST BE REPLACED. OVER $750.00 TO REPLACE. ALL THE EFFICIENCY OF TDI JUST WENT UP IN SMOKE. HAPPENED AT 4,000 MILES PAST WARRANTY AND DEALER HAD NO HELP EVEN THOUGH A LOT OF TDI’S ARE HAVING IDENTICAL PROBLEMS. SEEMS TO BE A DEFECT IN DESIGN, MANY MANY TDI’S ARE HAVING THE SAME PROBLEM.
An entire ClubTouareg.com forum thread is dedicated to the failures.
Forum user TouaregRoadie says:
My dealer-maintained, IMMACULATE 2012 TDI Lux just went in for a check engine light and the diagnosis was the AdBlue heater has gone bad. I have 51,000 all-highway miles and was surprised to learn (as are many after reading on these forums) that this part is not covered under the powertrain or emissions warranties.
Interesting to note, this happened within a week of my 50,000 mile service at the dealer. Coincidence?
After calling VWoA they came back with an offer to cover the parts (approximately $1,000 of the $1500 quote after labor and shop fees).
In light of the bad press that VW is having with the EPA currently on it’s other TDI models, I’m wondering how many of our vehicles are experiencing this problem, and how many of us would it take to get VW to fix this via recall?
In many cases, like that experienced by TouaregRoadie, Volkswagen seems willing to pony up for the cost of parts, but only in certain situations.
Our source explained “a good dealership will be able to receive goodwill assistance for loyal customers with under 70,000 miles on their vehicles. But after 70,000 miles or so, there hasn’t been any goodwill help.”
A diesel vehicle owner’s chance of receiving help for an AdBlue issue, or one of the many injector failures resulting from bad diesel fuel, is mainly dependant on a dealer’s relationship with Volkswagen, and less on the customer’s loyalty to the brand, said our source.
Since 2012, the model year which has seen the most AdBlue failures to date, Volkswagen has redesigned the AdBlue heater and replacements shouldn’t run into the same issue in another 50,000 miles.
That’s not much comfort for the many thousands of Volkswagen TDI customers. Shelling out $1,000 or more to keep a vehicle compliant with emissions law is one thing. Doing the same and still not being compliant is something else entirely.
As of today, we have stopped reaching out to Volkswagen Group of America for comment.
In the months since the diesel emissions scandal broke, we’ve given VWGoA every possible chance to offer its side with regards to numerous stories. Recently, those requests for comment have gone completely unanswered. As such, we will no longer be reaching out to VWGoA for comment.
Volkswagen knows how and where we can be reached, and they’re welcome to contact us at any time.