Piston Slap: of Lemons and VW GTIs

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap of lemons and vw gtis

Paul writes:

Good Morning Sajeev,

Today is my 2010 GTI’s 15th day in the shop (shocking, right?). Earlier this month it was in for 13 days, I had it back for 6, and I dropped it back off two days ago. The issue is somewhat strange, but in my mind, easily fixable. I have been getting CEL 2294 and when I run my own VCDS scans, I have been getting the following logs (edited down).

  • 004501 – Fuel Pressure Regulator Valve (N276)
  • P1195 – 000 – Open or Short to Ground – Intermittent
  • 008852 – Fuel Pressure Regulator Valve (N276)
  • P2294 – 000 – Open Circuit – Intermittent

Note that the above mentioned valve is integrated into the fuel pump and cannot be changed.

Since the issue has started the dealer has replaced the high pressure fuel pump relay (makes sense), the fuse box (makes less sense to jump to that with no other issues, but I get it), and the throttle body wiring harness (also makes sense). The three previously stated fixes were done on the first visit, and seemed to work for about 3 days (well the throttle body wiring harness seemed to work for about 3 days, the other fixes didn’t fix anything). Late in the day yesterday (day 14 of shop time) a call was placed to the VW tech line as the dealer was stumped. As it is being covered until Power Train Warranty and I have received exceptional service (frequent updates from Service Adviser, free loaners), I have been reluctant to force the issue of why they are not replacing the last, and seemingly obvious, point of possible failure: the high pressure fuel pump (Note I have a TSI, not the FSI with the known HPFP/Cam Follower Issues).

My technical experience isn’t vast, but it seems like if all the downstream fixes don’t work, its time to go to the source. I also am a bit confused, as the amount of shop time this is costing them and the other parts they have invested, all add up to far more than the cost of a fuel pump ($250ish retail, so probably way less than that to them). So how hard do I push them down the last obvious road? Do I take it back and spend the $250 and a few hours myself, just to have it done? Do I trade it? Should I stop making assumptions?

Thanks for all you do,


(P.S. – Feel free to forum search the codes above, chances are you will only see my threads!)

Sajeev answers:

It is nice to see the Mk6 Golf continuing the last generation’s legacy. And by nice I mean it allows the B&B to make blanket statements about VW’s terrible long-term value without digging into the heart of the matter. Michael Karesh’s TrueDelta may beg to differ in a year or two, but that remains to be seen.

Replacing a wiring harness at this age? That’s a quality product right there!

Your dealer’s diagnostic sounds logical and I’m not dumb enough to remotely question their actions. Why? Because if the pump is putting out pressure within specifications, it was never the problem. And therefore it isn’t the next logical step. The engine computer itself may be the problem, and we may never know.

My advice? Time to start using the phrase “Lemon Law” with your dealer. Don’t be mean about it, just be honestly frustrated and seeking advice. And check your state’s specific rules on the matter, and see if (or when) your GTI fits into this category. I’ve seen cars get Lemon Law’d for less, so do yourself a solid and ask around on this matter.

Off to you, Best and Brightest!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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2 of 78 comments
  • Pg123456789 Pg123456789 on Apr 04, 2012

    I had a 2011 GTI. Sold after 10 months. Unpredictable ESP light, cruise control light were my early warning signs. Potentially a good car for a FWD, better than an Audi I had, but choruses of wastegate rattle, interior rattles said "nice on the outside and going rotten on the inside". Still, the car could be fun for hard driving despite being nose heavy and understeery. The rest of the time, it was very competent, a little sterile with no-feel steering, and irritating with the rattles and dash warning lights. And VW/Audi should get rid of the downward sloping glass/plastic on all their instrument gauges. Catches everything ... I don't think that's quality. Find new love ... get something else. I did (its RWD)!

  • Zidentia Zidentia on Oct 10, 2012

    Many have hit the mark on the culture of reliability. VW's as a rule have had good and bad stretches of products as have other brands. The difference is indeed the dealer. I have a 02 NB and a 2004.5 GLI and have had great results from both. The dealer for these cars has been terrific and that is the key but we have not experienced the issues others have seen. I can say the NB was a special edition that we ordered. The GLI has 76K with original clutch, brakes, battery and just oil changes. And I frequently drive 130 mph on the highway. I had a Honda that was a pile of crap. I have driven other Hondas that were better quality than that one but they feel soulless to me. I had a 72 Dodge Dart that was unstoppable. I have had mid nineties Neons but newer Chrysler's leave me worried. I had Ford's and Mercury's and GM cars. I have had many different brands and is really is a combination of luck, dealer and attitude. All brands have issues, but the way they are handled by the dealer is the difference.

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