By on February 20, 2020

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]

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120 Comments on “Where Your Author Requires a Volkswagen Quality Control Remedy...”


  • avatar
    NoID

    Let me share with you the (suspected) root cause of your problem: I’d bet good money that VW pays absolute crap for diagnosis labor, but will pay for parts and the associated labor all day long on warranty repairs. So dealer techs don’t diagnose, they fire the parts and labor cannon at problems until they go away.

    It’s awful. Do you want to take a swing at guessing the percentage of perfectly fine parts I see at monthly warranty reviews? I’d put the figure at 25-33%. And we probably end up paying for 95% of those repairs.

    Yeah, QC on that headliner probably needs a second look, but a dealer network incentivized to solve problems rather than de-facto encouraging their mechanics to fill up their hours sheet with delicious flat rate warranty repairs would have made your experience a thousand times more pleasant.

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      “VW pays absolute crap for diagnosis labor”

      When i worked for Chrysler and GM, they did this too (especially GM). They also paid 60-80% of book time for warranty labor.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        “ They also paid 60-80% of book time for warranty labor.”

        I’m sorry but this makes sense today when dealers are charging $96-$130 an hour. The dealers are making money hand over fist on most repairs – getting the dealer to fix the customers vehicle, possibly build a reputation with the customer and maybe sell the customer accessories or a new vehicle for a couple dollars of pure profit from the dealer.

        It’s the opportunity for the dealer to up sell their dealership at no cost to itself. The dealer is not suppose to make a profit off of warranty repairs, it’s against the very nature of the service.

        • 0 avatar
          Jon

          Im not talking about billing rates between the dealer and manufacturer. I have no knowledge of that. I am referring to the time for which the tech is paid.

          Let me rephrase. If the tech is normally paid 5 hours (CP) to change the headliner, they are paid only 3.5 hours if it is under warranty.

          I am not disagreeing with you. I am pointing out that this provides an incentive for the technician to put warranty repairs on the back burner and perform any CP repairs before he must do the warranty work. This is one reason why warranty repairs take so long to perform.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Oh well yes that is screwed up, it takes the same amount of time regardless if the cars in warranty.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            Thats what you would think. But warranty repairs that pay 3.5 hours, not surprisingly take no more than 3.5 hours to complete. The job ends up rushed and half-baked so the tech can move on to the next job without loosing money and time.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        IIRC I was told Daimler cut that down to 20% while they were busy driving Chrysler into the ground.

    • 0 avatar

      No parts were thrown at it until the headliner was replaced. Everything else was adjustments here and there and bolt tightening.

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      Delicious flat rate warranty time? Please explain.

      • 0 avatar
        Jon

        exfordtech,

        I am not sure of the meaning of your question but i will assume you would like an explanation of warranty time. However, given your screen name, you likely already have knowledge of flat rate. Maybe Ford was different than the GM and Chrysler i worked for. Or maybe flat rate warranty times was before your time. IDK.

        In the two dealerships i worked for, you were paid specific “book’ times for different repair jobs. The chrysler dealer i worked for, derived their CP book times from AllData but their warranty times from an internal labor guide published by Chrysler. The GM dealer i worked for used their internal labor guide for warranty and CP repairs. Of the two dealers, GM was the one guilty of having the greatest disparity between CP and warranty book times.

        For example; rebuilding a GM 8.6” rear end paid 5.5 hrs if it was CP but paid only 4.2 hrs if it was under warranty (if these time are not accurate, forgive my mistake. I have been out of the business for a while). An average tech would accomplish the rebuild in 4 hours. A good technician could rebuild it in 3 hours. A great tech could do it in 2 hours if not interrupted. A younger less experienced tech would take 6-8 hours to rebuild the diff. Regardless of how long the rebuild actually took, the tech was paid 5.5 hrs if CP or 4.2hrs if warranty. If the repair went horribly wrong and took greater than 5.5 hours, you could verbally petition the service manager for more time but this is totally up to the discretion of the manager. Aaaand with techs being the (not so) great communicators they are, they frequently lost these petitions.

        The flat rate pay structure encourages technicians to perform more repairs by incentivizing them to work faster. When warranty times are less than CP times, the flat rate pay structure encourages them to work even faster which often results in poor quality and increased repair times. Repair times increase on crappy jobs like Corey’s because the the tech probably worked on it between CP jobs because the CP jobs paid alot better.

        Dont get me wrong, I encourage the flat rate pay structure. I made good money on it because i was efficient and had good quality. What i dont like is the disparity between CP times and warranty times (and it is only getting worse). This increasing disparity is one of the factors that ultimately led me to leave the automotive repair business.

        • 0 avatar
          Exfordtech

          You spoke of delicious flat rate warranty time. Very rare these days. Left the business about 13 years ago. Ford Master certified. In the dealership that meant you would get stuck with poorly paid warranty jobs (6.0l diesels with dusted turbos) while the dispatcher’s buddy was pounding out CP ball joints and brakes all day. Done properly, flat rate is fine e, but there wasn’t much warranty work that could be considered as gravy by the time I left.

          • 0 avatar
            Jon

            “Ford Master certified. In the dealership that meant you would get stuck with poorly paid warranty jobs”

            I began to see that get steadily worse at the GM dealership when i left the business. Lower and mid-level techs saw that as a sign to avoid training and certifications or just maintain the bare minimum to be employable at the dealership. So then you had highly certified techs getting all the crap (warranty) work since they had the diagnostic training and experience, while the idiots or sluggards got the gravy.

          • 0 avatar
            Exfordtech

            Jon, exactly what happened. In the mid ’90s, Ford began requiring x number of certified techs in a given area, based on service department size, in order to submit warranty work. Usually that would work out to say one transmission tech, one diesel tech, one gas engine tech, two driveability techs, one steering and suspension tech, one brake tech, one driveline tech, one hvac tech, one electrical tech. Many of the certifications overlapped, all required the electrical certification as a base prerequisite. Once those were met, however, work could be dispatched to any tech regardless of certification. Nothing would piss me off more than some hamandegger asking me should I change the O2 for a P0171, especially if I was in the middle of a warranty tranny job. Seriously in my head I’m saying to myself have you checked fuel pressure or looked for unmetered air? Do you even know how? I don’t miss those days.

    • 0 avatar
      dr_outback

      As a former VW/Audi/Porsche service advisor I worked daily to prevent these types of situations while having the “loaded gun” of receiving a less than perfect customer satisfaction survey costing me $1000 for the month because of a situation like this.

      But the dealership I worked at became tired that I was earning $105k+ on straight commission and cut my pay 70% by hiring another advisor.

      Some dealerships would rather fire, hire and retrain service advisors than pay for a skilled service advisor or a team of advisors. And that type of mentality leads to these sorts of scenarios, not to mention the woefully underpaid technicians doing the work that leads to “mechanics” and burned out flat rate techs that rightfully feel taken advantage of by whimsical labor times invented by some poindexter in a windowless office drinking, stale, reheated coffee.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    My sister has had several VW’s and the notion that there is any Volkswagen quality is a myth – a tall tale. I would like to own a VW, but this product makes Gremlin babies the longer you own it. At the 40,000 mile mark, there are so many Gremlins that they take over the car and you are stuck. It is sad that you had this experience, but I could have told you so. Sometimes Gremlin baby-making happens faster than expected. But it will happen. Book it.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I thought you had a sunroof rattle. I was wrong. Good job sticking it out and getting it fixed correctly.

    • 0 avatar

      It was so, so tiring. But after I read the link you provided and some other detail, I was sure it wasn’t the sunroof.

      My first thought was that the headliner had de-laminated in there, and the layers were rubbing against one another to cause the sound. I reiterated to them more than once I thought it was an issue with the headliner, and they didn’t listen.

      • 0 avatar
        Moparmann

        And THAT is the primary reason I am leery of dealerships. If I take my car in for repairs, I am going to give the service flunky as much pertinent information as I can concerning the problem (based on my years of acquired automotive knowledge). When I am forced to have to “spin/rinse/repeat” the cycle more than once, because no one paid attention to the info, and deal w/ the inconvenience of promised/missed time lines, it makes me want to have nothing to do with them! By the way Corey, sharp car!! :-)

  • avatar
    JimZ

    had that been a new car you’d have been right on the edge of being able to file a lemon law suit.

    I’ve actually stopped patronizing dealers who are idiots with shuttle service. The last one I got fed up because the shuttle was out for over an hour because the “driver was caught in traffic.” I was like you’ve been operating in this city for 50 years and your shuttle drivers don’t know how to avoid the problem traffic areas?” I mean, I get it’s a courtesy service but when I could probably have walked to work by the time your shuttle driver gets back from dropping off two people, there’s an issue.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      Do lemon laws cover terrible success rate at diagnosing and fixing a single issue? I thought lemon laws were tailored more towards vehicles with multiple issues and/or the same issue being fixed and returning over and over.

      In this case, the dealer just phoned it in.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        they vary a bit by state, but the general pattern is you can file for relief if one of these two conditions are met:

        1) repeated failed attempts to repair the same defect, or
        2) the vehicle is out of service for more than a certain amount of time while attempting to fix one or several defects.

        the state-to-state variations are usually how many repair attempts are permitted (typically 3 or 4,) how long the vehicle is out of service for the second clause (usually 30 days,) and how long the “lemon law” period is (1 or 2 years.)

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          The whole time I’m reading this story I’m thinking, “Corey is going to get a new car out of a rattle” 4-5 times for the same problem is generally when the lemon laws begin to kit in

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      Lemon Law, at least in California, still applies to used cars as long as the original warranty is still in effect and (this part I am unsure of) the car is 18 months old or newer. The last part is confusing as most warranties are 3/36.

  • avatar
    jh26036

    People First Warranty

    6 years or 72k miles, whichever comes first.

    Good luck.

  • avatar
    RayTo

    Certainly have to give VW a high mark for consistency. Lousy quality, horrible dealer network, always some poor soul trying their luck with one. Why this brand exists is beyond me. They are junk.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Europe. In a continent full of Peugeots, Fiats, and Volvos, VW makes sense.

      • 0 avatar
        johnny ro

        I would own a new VW right now except for fears of this stuff happening. Quirk VW is 1.25 miles away from my house.

        My Audi dealer had one stupid hiccup on my A4 engine job and otherwise seemed to know what it was doing, except the actual mechanic was in too much of a hurry. I am sure internal billing is the reason for that. Audi Nashua are you listening?

        VAG is #1 in the world, not only in Europe.

        My sentence above is a good topic for TTAC. Who can explain?

        • 0 avatar
          johnny ro

          I will add, I see no compelling reason to move away from my VAG A4 6mt. 11 years old.

          The stuff they get right they get really right. And I will happily go back to Audi Nashua.

        • 0 avatar
          Fifth87

          I couldn’t trust Quirk Chevrolet next door to diagnose a variety of minor issues, let alone do a simple alignment on my wife’s Cobalt while under warranty.
          Quirk is just terrible.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Wow that’s, umm, bad.

    I just dropped my SS on Monday for a visit prior to it running out of its full factory car warranty (not powertrain) due to miles, they Corrected a sunroof sound dampening pad that came unglued and renotched the windshield wiper so it doesn’t hit at max speed. Took a couple hours and they were fixed and I was on my way.

    Of course I don’t use the Chevrolet dealer but rather our GMC Cadd dealer which may make my experience better than others…

  • avatar
    thornmark

    used Volkswagen

    those two words strike fear in the hearts of all who have gone there before

    good luck, your nightmare has probably only just begun

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Those headliners go through the front or rear windhsield area. Now you’ll have a water leak and have to return…

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I don’t get all of the VW hate. My last car was a 2007 Rabbit, and I got it to 185k before I sold it. It was never on a tow truck, never failed to start (except when the 9 year-old original battery finally gave up the ghost), and never even needed a clutch!
    I did have issues with wheel hubs and ignition coils, but those were easy and cheap to fix myself. Overall, I was very happy with the reliability of that car.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Because most people commenting on here have had different ownership experiences. My Jettas for example paint a different picture.

    • 0 avatar
      thx_zetec

      I have a 2014 Jetta w/ 50k miles. It has been perfect except 2 new batteries (in Arizona you pretty much count on replacing bat’ry every 2 years). Of course its all statistics, some people buy lemon toyotas.

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    I’m sorry when anyone has to keep going back to a dealer for the same warranty repair. VW has had some cool cars over the past 20 years but their reputation precedes them. I guess that’s why I’ve stuck with Mazda, Toyota and Infiniti over that period of time with minimal dealer interface. Good luck in the future.

    • 0 avatar

      My experience at the Infiniti dealer was nearly enough to keep me away from them in the future.

      But mostly why I wouldn’t buy into the brand now is the product. Nissan steered its luxury ship aground circa 2013.

      • 0 avatar
        StudeDude

        My only experience with an Infiniti dealer was when I discovered my wife’s 2008 G35X had a delaminating windshield. I took it in under warranty and the service manager thought it was a wear and tear(?)issue. He called in his glass expert who came to my place of business and confirmed it was a delamination issue. It was replaced under warranty and I got an almost new G25 as a loaner. So, that worked out OK.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      I worked for a company that had 28 dealerships. Two of them were Infiniti. Easily the most problematic brand we had. Even worse than Nissan.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    When I picked up the plates for my TourX the salesman and I found a small problem with the license plate mount on the hatch.

    He went to grab an electric screwdriver to install the plate. When he went to tighten the plate one screw wouldn’t tighten, acted as if it was stripped.

    Salesman was profusely apologetic and informed me he would whisk the car away to the body shop and get me a loaner (a CPO Lacrosse). I headed back to work and got a call about 2-3 hours later telling me the issue was fixed and he would be dropping the car off to me. He insisted on having me go over the work and make sure it was done to my satisfaction (they found an improperly installed fastener from the factory).

    Gave me some confidence that my dealer would do their darndest to make things right.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I have 4 cars from 3 different manufacturers that haven’t spent that long in the service department COMBINED over multiple years of ownership. That is some nonsense for sure.

    Was the rattle not present on the test drive? And what sort of CPO certification would miss this. I have to say I’d be concerned long term for sure. Drive it, have some fun and dump that chump before the warranty is up.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    There was a time when Volkswagen was well-known for its quality.

    That time was 1965.

  • avatar
    Big Smoke

    I dropped my BMW X5 off for an oil change and a leaking oil cooler repair. 15o miles after the repair and oil change, the engine threw a rod and bearing. Service adviser suggested that it would not be covered under warranty, as I was negligent on my servicing. Odd, all my services were done at this dealership, on time and by the book. I called head office immediately looking for some help. I was dutifully told it was a “franchise issue”. H.O., washed their hands of me.
    Eventually a new engine was installed and it was covered under the warranty. After 59 days in the shop, and without a loaner. The vehicle was returned rinsed, but not clean. The door has been open for nearly two months, 100’s of people had been in the car. It was sandy and dusty. I, in my kindest voice suggested to the service manager, that my vehicle could have been cleaned and detailed before it was returned. After all they had just warrantied a $28,ooo dollar engine. Not liking my inference. He said to me “right now, I just want to punch you in the face.”
    I also brought this experience up with BMW USA and BMW canada, and the dealer principal. No one cared.
    So Corey, your story is not so bad. I can appreciate you frustration on your new car. Service is clearly an art form, that few can deliver.
    In 2016 my car has in the shop for 128 days total. In 2017 -87 days.
    Gone is my warranty, and my dealership time.
    Now I can screw things up myself, at least I have someone who will take some responsibility.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      me “right now, I just want to punch you in the face.”

      Where tf was this at?

    • 0 avatar
      Jon

      A little more precise “inferring” and one punch later, you could have had a new X5.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        From 1962 till 1981 we always had at least one VW in the family driveway.

        The various Beetles were never a problem, mechanically.
        The Type III was fairly robust

        The Type IV however demonstrated all the quality issues that have plagued VW for decades.

        And the service department was reprehensible. The problem was always “the driver’s/owner’s fault” as we were incompetent North Americans, unaware of the superior German engineering.

        Of course they had always dealt with my mother or later myself or one of my brothers.

        Finally The Old Man deemed it necessary to make a personal visit to the service department of our local (no longer existing) VW dealership. After he calmly reached over and grabbed their Service Manager by his coat jacket, pulled him over the counter and onto the floor, they realized that he meant business.

        Problems still occurred, but magically they were now all covered by some type of warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Smoke

        I would have gone down like a FIFA soccer player….

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          “I would have gone down like a FIFA soccer player….” LOL

          Really disappointing to hear about your experience. IMO, BMW in many minds and for many years enjoyed a largely undeserved halo effect from the quality of Mercedes of yore.

          Conversely, though our E28 was a lemon, the dealer and Munich were great about warranty repairs. Never any pushback or question of our paying for it, and this entailed over $8,000 worth of repairs from ’82 on. (Plug that into an inflation calculator.)

          Perhaps critically, this was a purchase and a dealer that predated the brand’s explosion in the US market.

  • avatar
    Steve203

    My Jetta wagon was in the shop for a month, when it was about a year old: the Japanese built Aisin transmission developed a whine over a narrow speed range. I did some experimenting to find the exact condition where it whined, dug out the old cassette recorder and recorded it.

    Played the tape for the service advisor and took a mechanic for a ride and reproduced the whine for him. They handed me the keys to a Jetta SE and went to work. The zone VW service rep didn’t really want to pay for a new trans, so first they replaced one half shaft. Didn’t cure the whine. So, they replaced the other half shaft. Didn’t cure the whine. By this time, the whine was a lot louder, so the zone rep authorized replacing the trans, which they had to order. Got the call the car was ready, so handed them back the keys to the sedan, and drove away in my wagon. The whine has never reappeared in the 5 years since.

    Had a little rattle in the back of the car. Dealer traced it to a missing clip in the left rear caliper, replaced the clip, and silenced the rattle.

    Other than the trans, the rattle and a couple loose bits of trim when new, the car hasn’t required anything but routine maintenance for 6 years and 55K miles.

    A friend has a 2016 Golf. It required a new coil pack when new, and a new fuel pump a year or so ago. It now has close to 100,000 miles on it.

    • 0 avatar
      saturnotaku

      Your story of the rattle in the back of your car reminds me when I had my ’00 Saturn SL2. It had a persistent, yet intermittent rattle from the back. Three different dealers couldn’t properly diagnose it. At a fourth store, they had a tech actually ride with me. He heard it, then advised me to pull over – this was on a 55 mph divided highway. He then proceeded to fold down the rear seatbacks and crawl into the trunk, ordering me to drive. After a couple miles, he seemed satisfied with his detective work and we went back to the dealer. An hour later, he came out with a pair of broken plastic clips, which were used to secure part of the rear glass. The car was rattle free thereafter. I wrote a glowing letter to the dealership management and GM corporate. Next time I visited that shop for a routine service, the tech came out and personally thanked me for the kind words. The man saved my sanity, he deserved no less.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        Moral of the story is ride with the technician on a noise concern, and point it out. It’s something I always emphasize with my dealers. If you describe it to the advisor, and they write it down on the Ro, it becomes a bad game of telephone. Go for a drive with the shop foreman preferably, and insist that they QC the repair afterwards. Cars are machines and make a bunch of different noises, most of which are normal. The one that bothers you is likely very different than what a technician picks up on during a test drive.

        • 0 avatar

          I agree with this recommendation. Next time I bring my car in for a noise, there will be a tech ride with me.

          The service advisor is not allowed to leave the premises at VW.

        • 0 avatar
          saturnotaku

          Less than 2,500 miles into my ownership of an Acura, the car developed a clunking sound from the front, but only if you were driving at parking-lot speeds. When I scheduled an appointment at the dealer, the service advisor requested a technician ride along without me even asking. We went out, and I expected the car to behave itself because that’s what always happens. Turns out it didn’t, and the tech heard what I did. He tracked it down to a faulty strut and replaced the part under warranty. That shut it up, and the overall experience was entirely painless.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    You guys unloaded on VW like dems on Bloomberg yesterday.
    May be the problem is hecho en mexico
    I had Sentra once and I saw how it was screwed together. Since then, no more.

    On the positive news, those Mazda3 hatches are Japanese still.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    German Engineering: it is always user errors, US mechanics, foreign factories, etc. It is never the German’s fault, because, you know, German engineering.

    Yup, I’ve worked for a German engineering company. They are right 90% of the time and refuse to admit that they will still make mistakes 10% of the time. Whereas American will always assume they will make mistakes because they are sloppy, so they will fix it no problem but sell you a sloppy product. Japanese on the other hands will avoid doing the 10% that they may make mistakes, so you will just blame someone else instead of them.

    I’d never buy a VW no matter what.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I would also accept “German engineering: why use one moving part when you can use eight?” or “how many potential failure modes can we design into this thing and still get it to work?”

    • 0 avatar
      R Henry

      I recently replaced a power door lock actuator on my wife’s 2011 Mazda CX-9.

      I was deeply impressed with both the level of engineering and quality of materials I found within the driver’s door. While the door mechanicals and electronic systems appeared to be hopelessly complex when I first removed the decorative door panel, I found disassembly, replacement of the failed component, and reassembly to be wonderfully straight forward. The whole repair was complete within an hour. It was actually fun!

      I think many of us, as enthusiasts, can often overlook the sophistication required to create these objects of our affection. If we take a moment to consider how much competent engineering is required to create the cars we don’t like, we will be ever so much MORE impressed by the cars we DO like!

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Add me to the list of those whose VW ownership experience has led them to say “never again”.

    I would honestly rather take my chances with an Alfa Romeo.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I am in the same camp. I got 100K out of B5 Passat but it was not a fun experience. Many simple things broke, for example the glove box handle! I opened that thing once a year to put the updated registration in so how could it fail? And I lost track of the number of times the window regulators broke. Going to Alfa? sorry… that’s crazy talk.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    I had a car like that once.

    It was a brand new 1980 Jetta, the deluxe version with pneumatic control A/C system. Part of that system looked like a miniature Apollo mooncraft set of oxygen bottles moulded into a sheet. This contraption was the vacuum reservoir for the A/C (I think). It was perhaps 10 inches wide and 18 inches long and five inches thick. Anyway, it was attached to the underside of the hood by two stretchy big fluorescent green rubber straps. Very pretty. They used to break, letting this plastic hog fall on the engine and get bumped around by the alternator drive on the attached piping. Eggcellent design. Happened three times before some bright spark at the VW dealer, showing uncommon initiative, bought two real bungee cords and solved that problem. Rocket science in Canada, eh?

    I had been waiting for new front springs while this green rubber band drama unfolded. The car as delivered had a pugnacious nose down look with perhaps three inches ground clearance at the front. I overlooked that in my joy at getting the new car. Until I hit a bump and the front suspension violently bottomed. Of course, the VW mechanics suddenly developed disability-compensation levels of blindness, and could not apparently see the difference in front ground clearance between my car and every other stinking Jetta on the lot. I got the general manager on that one, never you mind! And Wolfsburg-made, that thing was.

    Well, the paint code on the front springs was for a 1100cc mini-engine Euro Golf with no A/C or PS, and VW shipped out a set of new correct springs without apologizing. Or expediting shipment for that matter. Gee, tanks, Ferdy. I always knew you had my back.

    After a year, the gear shift lever’s attachment to the gubbins below became somewhat tenuous, so I investigated and found the problem. It was Vise-Grips to the rescue time sticking out of the carpet hole where the gear lever emerged. A part eventually arrived. I traded the car in after only 18 months. What a piece of crap.

    The Japanese cars I’ve owned haven’t allowed me to discover how crappy their dealers actually are, for a minimum of six years before something big had to be done. That was the youngest and really a factory cross-thread on an auto trans cooler pipe, the other two made it to 8 years before needing a battery and one a new filler neck because it rusted through. And they proffered up loaners no prob, perhaps because I was paying, and anyone with a brain and a six year old car probably patronized the local independent mechanic and lawn mower repairer with an attitude of he always knew best. I did eventually find a good one though when the main dealer sort of became not interested in performing repairs. A service writer gave me that tip, the only time he wasn’t corporate.

    The usual bewildered VW owner who’s driven a gazillion miles with no trouble will usually surface in comments on articles like this. What they don’t seem to realize is they’re the lucky ones. I have zero belief that VW has its production processes under control the way the Japanese do. VW just think they’re better and don’t need to fuss with that Asiatic QA nonsense. Fiat is of similar mindset. So you may get a good VW, but you equally may get a bad VW. They don’t even know why there’s a difference themselves. ‘Twas ever thus. Old Ferdy Piech didn’t bother himself with low level stuff like production part engineering, assembly, decent electrical connectors and statistical process control. Goodness me, no. He was a genius!

    Yessir, I’ve said it before. My best friend leased five VW’s in a row, Golfs and Jettas from ’95. The 2010 diesel Sportwagen was the last, its DPF light constantly glowing red and a bust road spring and dud rubber seals sourced from the supplier experts in Outer Penguinland. He leased a 2014 Mazda 3 and within 6 months realized his life was now good! No more car problems and it was a much better drive in his view. Became a Mazda fan. Leased a 2018. Made me look at the brand in a new light and then go for it too after an exhaustive check of the rest.

    Incompetence at a dealer? Jumping to conclusions and fixing something else you never mentioned and wasn’t defective anyway? Standing around proud as punch, with all the tires flat because they forgot to inflate them? And expect you to drive it away singing their praises, no less? They even tried to pull the old “well you can’t tell they’re flat by looking at low profile tires, you know”. I keep a tire pressure gauge in the car for exactly such instances of monumental nonsense. It’s happened way more than once to me. I’ve seen it all. Will believe any story. Cannot imagine why anyone works at a service department, because surely to goodness it’s ulcer-inducing. They hardly ever do things right the first time except for oil changes and making sure the bill gets paid. Upset customers are standard, yet the staff all seem incapable of doing things better and making their lives easier. Beyond my ken.

  • avatar
    jtk

    Hey, why does clicking “End of Comments” take me “Back to Top?”

    Anyway thanks for curing me of a slight desire to buy a GTI or Golf R.

    • 0 avatar
      saturnotaku

      I was thinking about buying a Jetta GLI. Got an Acura ILX instead. The irony is that I had a part failure less than 2,500 miles into my ownership of it. The upshot is that the issue was diagnosed and repaired correctly (faulty strut) in the first visit. While I’m not exactly happy to have had an unscheduled service visit so soon, the fact that the dealer was prompt and efficient with the repair gives me confidence. I doubt I would have had the same experience had I went with the VW, and this story confirms it.

  • avatar
    readallover

    Yesterday I took my Mazda 6 to the dealer for a service and when I got home there was a 4 minute 28 second video emailed to me going over the car: filter (clean) brakes, tires (used the gauge to show the depth) going over places under the car where leaks might occur, always starting with my license plate to prove it was my car. And they did not raise the prices of the service.

  • avatar
    210delray

    I had a 1975 VW Rabbit back in the day, then a 1979 (I know, “fool me once…), but it appears nothing’s changed with respect to VW’s so-called service in more than 40 years. I’ve never bought another VW product.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    This dealer behavior is not limited to VW. My F-150 was making a failed-bearing noise in the front end that the dealer absolutely could not hear over the course of several visits. So later, they got to replace the front axles and rebuild the differential and transfer case. Was this a clever scheme to get more money from Ford for warranty work? Maybe. But later, when I made the mistake of opening the sunroof, causing it to break, that same dealer told me they’d fixed it. When I came to pick it up, they had tucked broken, un-repaired parts up inside the sunshade, hoping I wouldn’t notice. So I’m guessing it’s just lazy incompetence.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Sounds like just another routine day at the Volkswagen service department.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Well, I’m almost 5 years into my 2015 Golf R ownership. It’s been to the dealer precisely once in that period, for what turned out to be a fuel injector harness that’d been gnawed on by rodents while the car was parked at the curb. The critters also stashed acorns on top of my skid plate. Can’t blame that on VW. Diagnosis and repair were rapid.

    I do routine maintenance (fluid changes, brake jobs, etc.) myself. Nothing else has gone wrong. Made in Germany, if that counts.

  • avatar
    Tolljob

    I had a 2013 Jetta TDI Sportwagen. After two years I got rid of it after several maintenance issues and swore never to buy another VW. Every so often I look at the new Golf. Then I read about your experience and renew my vow.

  • avatar
    loopy55

    The facts are that VW came in JUST behind Toyota (and well ahead of Mazda) in the latest JD Power. Anecdotal evidence means nothing.

  • avatar
    dwford

    It’s no better at the Chevy store. Last September I took my 2017 Chevy Cruze to my local Goodyear Tire for an oil change and tire rotation. I had about 80k miles on it, so I asked them to check the brake pads. I was assured that the front’s were 5/10 and the rears were 10/10 (is that possible?). 6 weeks later I need new front rotors and pads. Not happy. My local Chevy store was having a holiday deal on tires and brakes so I decided to make an appointment and get it all done at the same time. I make the appointment online, check the correct boxes, and write a note. On the day I get there to drop the car off, I meet a service advisor and the first thing he asks me is “Did you order the parts?” Did I, the customer, order the parts for my repairs? Um, no. So now he will order the parts and I will come back next week. Mind you my brakes are grinding at this point. So the next week I come back and drop the car off. Besides tires and brakes, I had asked for new spark plugs to be installed, since apparently Chevy calls for new spark plugs every 45k on the Cruze. At the end of the day I pick up the car, and the price was much higher than I expected. The service writer put in 1 hour of labor PER SPARK PLUG. I had to argue and get the manager involved to get that obvious mistake fixed. Finally I drove the short distance home. The next morning off to work I go, and as soon as I try to accelerate up the on ramp to the highway, the car starts bucking and misfiring. I took it right back to the dealer immediately, and it turns out that one of the coil packs is arcing. Seems to me that the tech didn’t test drive the car after he put it all back together, or he would’ve noticed the problem. In the end, it was not a smooth or reassuring experience, to say the least.

  • avatar
    ajla

    On the Charger and Stinger I’ve just taken care of any squeaks/rattles on my own. Which is kind of a sucker move because I’m paying for the warranty, but I don’t have enough patience for this sort of thing.

    Although I don’t think I’d go through with DIY replacing a headliner on an under warranty car.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Brought my Legacy in for what I thought would be its second air bag replacement last week. I got it back the next day with all my radio presets and sound settings in place meaning they never disconnected the battery.

    • 0 avatar
      dr_outback

      Or they were thoughtful and stored all your settings or used a 9V battery to maintain the memory.

      Most people complain that their settings are wiped out and not replaced. You are the first person I have ever met in my years as a service advisor that complains that the settings were not wiped out.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        In older Ford factory service manuals any procedure that requires disconnecting the battery starts out something like “record radio station presets” and ends with “set clock and reset radio station presets”.

        Of course in the modern cars they store it in flash memory and you only have to reset the clock or push the set the clock to GPS signal.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    That is inexcusable. It reminds me of my brand new 94 cougar that tortured me with squeaks and rattles and endless warranty trips to the dealer. Same with my 85 Jimmy. And my 91 z34. I lasted longer than most before turning to the Japanese.

  • avatar
    Robbie

    I have a 2017 GTI with a sunroof rattle. Pretty similar story – “(smug look) we cannot replicate it”, “we followed the maintenance bulletin and fixed it”, etc. In my case, the rattle of course still is there. One funny moment was when the service guy told me he had never heard of the issue before, and I took out my phone, and showed him the google results. There is now a class action lawsuit for VW sunroof issues. “Never heard of it”, my nose.

    They have also magically managed to stop the “how was your service?” emails being sent to me.

    Also: “Did you look at the left rear tire like I asked?” (Funny all-knowing look on face of salesperson) “Sure, all looks perfect sir” One week later, stranded at a Firestone place in the middle of nowhere: “Naw if actually theydhad looked at, I reckon they’d sure seen it”

    Seven years ago at a different dealership, I overheard a VW service guy telling a middle aged lady whose car didn’t start at the first frost to “use higher octane fuel”.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    So Corey gets the car he wants.
    The car has a very good warranty.
    So Corey is very patient with the repairing dealer to create a good relationship
    just in case this car needs more repairs during the long warranty period.
    Corey has a good plan.

  • avatar
    dr_outback

    As a former VW/Audi/Porsche service advisor I worked daily to prevent these types of situations while having the “loaded gun” of receiving a less than perfect customer satisfaction survey costing me $1000 for the month because of a situation like this.

    But the dealership I worked at became tired that I was earning $105k+ on straight commission and cut my pay 70% by hiring another advisor.

    Some dealerships would rather fire, hire and retrain service advisors than pay for a skilled service advisor or a team of advisors. And that type of mentality leads to these sorts of scenarios, not to mention the woefully underpaid technicians doing the work that leads to “mechanics” and burned out flat rate techs that rightfully feel taken advantage of by whimsical labor times invented by some poindexter in a windowless office drinking, stale, reheated coffee.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    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.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    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.

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