Where Your Author Requires a Volkswagen Quality Control Remedy

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
where your author requires a volkswagen quality control remedy

In the most recent installment of Your Author’s CPO Volkswagen Follies, I shared the slow process which was the purchase of my 2019 Golf Sportwagen. At the end of that piece, I mentioned it was already at the dealer for a rattle after two weeks of ownership.

It’s back in my possession now, and it’s fixed. Any bets on how long it took, and how many trips were made to the dealer’s service center?

As mentioned before, shortly after purchase I noted a distinct rattle in the headliner above my head. It happened over bumps and uneven ground, usually in situations where the car was flexing in some way. The noise was fairly noticeable and repeatable, so I made an appointment to bring it in on January 6th. They’d have a loaner ready for me, I was assured.

I arrived early in the morning, hoping to beat the rush of customers and be on my way to work in short order. The nice lady at the counter greeted me and quickly relayed they did not, in fact, have my loaner request marked in the computer. I’d have to wait for one to arrive in a moment; luckily it was “just down the street, shuttling a customer.” Off to the waiting room I went, after I’d filled out the requisite paperwork.

Apparently said shuttle was on the other side of town, because it was a full 40 minutes before the loaner (a base model 2020 Jetta S) arrived. It was fairly dirty on the outside, but at least the interior was clean. After a review with the service advisor for any existing damage to the loaner, I was on my way. A bit steamed, I went to work and started a day that was already running 50 minutes late. That same day, I received a call at exactly 3:50 p.m.

“Hi, I’m the loaner fleet manager, and we’ve had a mix-up with the packets on the cars. We gave you the wrong car and we need it back.”

I could feel my blood pressure once again rising as I asked, “Well how’d that happen?”

“The packets got mixed up, so we really need that car back today. Can you bring it over?” Could I travel across town at 4:00 p.m. on a weekday to return a car I was mistakenly given? No, not really. After I relayed I’d been inconvenienced enough for that day, the associate offered to bring me a new loaner and swap out the mistake.

“That’s fine, bring it to work tomorrow,” I said. I was assured the driver would be there at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

Next day, I received a text at 9:25 a.m. that my new Jetta SE was five minutes away. I proceeded to the lobby, where I waited 25 minutes for the driver to show up in a base model Passat S (reviewed here). Cars swapped, I went about my day. There was radio silence, apart from one check-in a couple days later. The service advisor indicated they thought they’d found the issue, and had to look into it further.

Two weeks later I got the call my car was finished — all fixed! The dealer said there’d been an issue with the torque of the roof bolts from the factory, and loose things up there caused the rattle. They tightened the bolts to spec, and now all was quiet. Great, I’d come in the next day between meetings to get the Golf.

Perhaps you can see where this is headed.

That particular morning my service manager wasn’t there, so I dealt with a different one. Given the issues thus far, I wanted to check the car out before signing anything. The Golf was pulled around, and it looked like a car looks when it sits outside for two weeks and doesn’t move. Inside, the story grew more grim: It hadn’t been through even a cursory cleaning. Grease and dirt marks marred the headliner, the door panels, the seats, and a loose piece of pillar trim at the rear hung by a single clip. A perplexed look was upon the associate’s face as I turned around and informed him this really wasn’t gonna cut it.

“Oh, uh okay. We can have someone fix it up real quick if you have time to wait.”

“No, I don’t have time — I have to go back to work. Let me know when it’s ready.”

Turn-around on the cleaning job was a few hours, so I went back again the next morning. All appeared in good order, apart from one smallish headliner mark. My service advisor had returned, and said she didn’t know why they told me the car was ready before it went through detail. They cleaned up the headliner mark with their special solvent of rubbing alcohol and paint thinner, and I went on my way to work…

In a car which still had the same rattle as before.

Oh yeah, and the cargo cover had vanished, too. This time I sent an email, so my complaint would be in writing (and received within an hour of the time I picked up the car). Response from the service department was quick, and from the shop’s manager this time. Form letter apology; they wanted to make this right.

Another trip to the dealer, fourth time’s the charm perhaps? They came and picked it up on this occasion, and left me a 2019 Jetta SEL with the big sunroof and power everything (it was dirty everywhere, but a pretty good car). Three or four business days later, the Golf was ready. This time they’d really really got it fixed.

Except it wasn’t. At least it was clean this time. As the service advisor watched me look it over, I pressed on the headliner with my fist and heard the same familiar rattling sound. I took it for a drive around the block (nobody from the dealer would go with me) and quickly replicated the same rattle. Back it went to the service bay; the shop manager couldn’t believe it wasn’t fixed.

“We fixed the sound!”

I shook my head, “Would you like me to show you right now?”

At the car, I pressed on the headliner and the cacophonous rattle emitted from above my head. “Oh, we were fixing a different sound, one we heard around the sun visor.”

I was aghast. “Uh, what? This is the same noise I’ve been complaining about, all five times I’ve been here.” I replicated the sound some more.

The shop manager was a bit more keen in the visual department than the service advisor, and noted there was considerable flex when the headliner above the driver’s head was pressed. This was not the case on the passenger side, where everything in the same area felt more firm.

“I think you’re going to need a whole new headliner,” she said. “So I just want to let you know that’s going to be a lot of work.”

I shrugged, “Well, have at it.”

She checked in the parts computer and found a headliner could be delivered the next day. It would take two “or so” days to install, and then my car would be fixed. They were very apologetic it took this many tries to fix things. I left in the Jetta, finally feeling like I’d achieved something.

Three days later, I received another call. Once the shop dropped the roof fully, the issue was more clear: At the factory, the fiberglass headliner was deformed above the driver’s head. The fiberglass layer itself was thin in that area, as if it had run to one side during the drying process. It was fixed now, for sure.

Next morning, the service advisor was there but the manager was absent from view. A press on the headliner revealed a much more firm surface than before, the car was completely clean inside and out, and the cargo cover had reappeared. I took it for a spin to confirm all was well, and it was!

Four trips and 27 days later, and my Golf had an all-new headliner to replace the misshapen one that should never have passed a QC check. The dealer billed Volkswagen however many thousands it was for the replacement and all the loaner vehicle time, and was made whole.

I can’t say the same about my faith in VW’s quality control. Maybe the Golf will be trouble-free for the next 50,000 miles — fingers crossed.

[Images: Corey Lewis / TTAC]

Join the conversation
2 of 120 comments
  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Feb 20, 2020

    My 02 Passat was in the shop for unscheduled service 12 times in 3 years, the last one because it burned 3 quarts of oil in 3000 miles. It never qualified for the lemon law because so many *different* things went wrong. I dumped it as the 36k mile warranty expired, but the dealer was always pleasant to work with. My 05 Odyssey simply had the same thing go wrong from the day I bought it until I dumped it 20 months later (power sliding door). It *did* qualify for the lemon law, and I received a small settlement check for my troubles. I kept a spreadsheet of every contact with the dealer, and it totaled around 35 contacts during my ownership. My loaner story was similar to Corey's. The dealer also damaged the body of my car while it was in their shop, while they were performing a "stretching" operation on the door's wiring harness. Yep, and they fixed the damage, too. The arrogant Honda dealer will never get my business again.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Feb 22, 2020

    I like the looks of Corey's wagon but I wouldn't touch any German car with a 20 foot pole especially the ones made in Mexico. I would rather have a boring appliance like vehicle with better reliability. Just my opinion but I am done with high maintenance and fussy vehicles or anything else that requires high maintenance.

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?