Piston Slap: Trusting Auto Journos on DSG Reliability?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap trusting auto journos on dsg reliability

Mike writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’ve enjoyed your columns. [That makes one of you! – SM]

The VW and Audi Forums are still abuzz with reports of VW mechatronic failures in the mid-2000s DSGs. Do you have any information as to whether the newer versions (they’re from a 6 to 7 speed DSG, I read) are any less failure prone than the earlier versions?

I read in one of Mr. Baruth’s columns that auto journalists (or whatever we might call them) find themselves constrained to avoid commenting on the chronic reliability problems in your latest whiz-bang pseudo-racer mobile, lest they fall from favor with the manufacturer and their access to further models for reviews be cut off. (What David E Davis could do, Joe Schmoe can’t, if he is writing for a small internet site.)

I’m thinking that your average “review” of a new car is substantially lacking when it comes to mentioning the failures and weak points of similar models or products of the manufacturer. (Warping Honda rotors, anyone?)

Thanks for your response, and with all due consideration to the memory of Henry N. Manny III.

Sajeev answers:

How ’bout I solve world hunger while I’m at it? Perhaps I can ensure all future IMF interventions shall not result in economic catastrophe for a sovereign nation?

Because making a clear cut statement about 6 vs. 7-speed DSG reliability is similarly impossible. Too many variables, impossible to distill when Google is your only resource: the diverse environments of a global VAG-buying audience, various engine and body configurations, driving/towing styles, an owner’s willingness to RTFM and do the mandatory servicing, etc. There was a global recall on the later gearbox, as new fluid was introduced, not to mention other recalls over time.

Read this 110-page thread and tell me you don’t wanna curl up into a ball, cry until you no longer feel anything and rush out to buy something — anything — with a Powerglide.

And yes, ignore whatever an auto journo suggests as per Jack’s reasoning. But that doesn’t apply to me, always listen to me. I get press cars, like, once every 4 years. And this happened on my first (and last!) junket. How trustworthy I am! But I digress…

DSGs are pretty cool and fun, which holds much value to many folks. If you buy a new DSG-equipped vehicle, make sure fluid services are performed as per manufacturer demands. IIRC, it’s a fluid/filter change every 40,000 miles for several hundred dollars. The YouTube video above can help your wallet, if that’s what you really want.

If you want a used DSG, insist on an example with a full service history (preferably from a reputable independent shop or the dealer), or get one with a warranty…or just buy whatever you like and bet it all on red. It’s only money, you know.

If all this scares you, get a VAG product with a stick. Then again, we have the Best and Brightest — they are pretty good at this.

[Lead image: Shutterstock user Grzegorz Czapski]

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.

Join the conversation
3 of 67 comments
  • Dr_outback Dr_outback on Jul 10, 2015

    I'm a VW service advisor.

  • Speedlaw Speedlaw on Jul 13, 2015

    Dr.O... I have a 2012 TDI, which at 83k, just broke a DPF (physically busted, blowing soot, not full of ash/worn out) VW goodwilled 1/2 of the part. How often do you see this one ? Car maintained by the book, at dealer, using special Castrol at dealer. I was willing to buy something unusual (read:assumed the risk) but I now need to decide to keep or bail. Family loves the car, but....this is a big one to eat

    • Dr_outback Dr_outback on Jul 13, 2015

      That's not something I heard of happening. It sounds like the exhaust may have been impacted by something if it's physically broken as you're being told.

  • Kosmo Umm.....probably about halfway between the two sides' positions?Neither side can cast the first stone. The Big 3 have record profits, and the UAW's leader has a mixed agenda of 1) good deal for his members and 2) a megalomaniac's drive to a legacy.
  • Analoggrotto I bet a Goddess Mary Barra boudoir set would be enough to charm all of the UAW back to work.
  • Daniel J The Two Tier system was done on purpose. The UAW and the auto companies couldn't just shaft employees who, in essence, signed up before the financial meltdown. To stem their compensation, anyone who joined after got paid lower.This was done on purpose. The auto companies benefit because they cut costs and they also hope that eventually the new employees might dislike the deal the UAW make and possibly defect from the union when these same employees could join a non-union shop for more money.The UAW was hoping for the opposite, that these new employees would be mad at the auto companies and side with the union when it was time to re-negotiate.At this point, are the current Tier 1 employees going to take a cut? Can the auto companies afford to give the Tier 2 employees the same amount of money as the Tier 1?
  • Redapple2 UAW - Already overpaid. Relevant question. What are the transplants paid? Honda, Toyota, Nissan, VW. What about Tesla? What about Tier 1 and 2 auto suppliers. UAW should have been smashed when GM and FCA went bankrupt.
  • Redapple2 TV screens to run everything instead of knobs. Turbo 4 that poorly does the job of a V 6. I think i will turn away from new product and preserve what I have for 15 years. I m reaching that point.