By on May 10, 2021

Well hello! It’s been over a year since we’ve had an update on the 2019 VW Golf Sportwagen seen here. In our last installment, I was filled with optimistical-ness at the prospect of years of trouble-free ownership. After all, surely all the kinks were worked out on this end-of-model Golf that was in production since 2013.

Spoilers: I was wrong.

In case you missed it, I’ll catch you up to speed. After the December 2019 purchase of the rigorously CPO-tested Golf, I noticed a lot of clicking in the headliner. Literally many trips to the dealer later, the source was identified: An improperly cured factory headliner that was too thin in the area over the driver’s head. The headliner had cracked; its pieces clicked against one another in an inharmonious plastic cacophony. I got an entirely new headliner out of the affair, as appropriate.

And now a new issue has arisen! Where do you think the issue might be? Shoddy turbo? Bad window regulator? Nope, it’s in the roof once again. It started a few weeks ago when I noticed a musty smell in the car upon entry. It was sort of a “plant-based” musty smell, and would dissipate after the car was driven any distance. Bits and pieces are dropping off trees in Ohio like crazy this time of year, so I assumed some tree parts were stuck in or under the floor mats. I cleaned the mats and the carpet underneath, and figured I’d give it a day to settle back to its normal vinyl Volkswagen smell.

Alas, no. The next time I got in the car (last week), the smell was worse than ever. I figured something was wet, and checked carpets, sills, the cargo area, and around the spare wheel. No moisture to be found! What gives? Then, by chance, I caught a glimpse of the headliner as I was about to back out of the driveway. Lo and behold, a nasty sight.

Water damage. All along the width of the headliner, just before the hatch. The affected area was probably up to about five inches deep, and is contained to that area for One Simple Reason: I park on a slight incline in the driveway. I booked an appointment with the dealer immediately, but the soonest I could get in is this coming Friday, May 14th.

Either the roof is leaking itself, or I’ve got a Golf with sunroof drain pinch issues. The TSB posted there covers only through 2018. However, the 2019 is identical and some research says the TSB was updated to include 2019. Seems as though the drain hose gets pinched by foam blocks that hold up the headliner, which of course causes an H2O uh oh in the roof. I’m sort of wondering if the drain placement was fine from the factory, but then the pinch occurred at the new headliner’s installment. Then, only heavy spring rains this year brought it to attention.

The Golf has about 8,000 miles now, so it makes sense it’s due for its second headliner, right? We’ll see by the end of this week, but I hope the dealer service department doesn’t push back on the repair. I made sure to book the same service manager I had previously, too. Wish me luck.

[Images: Corey Lewis / The Truth About Cars]

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48 Comments on “Where Your Author Requires Another Volkswagen Quality Remedy...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    That sleep number ad was pretty annoying

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “The Golf has about 8,000 miles now, so it makes sense it’s due for its second headliner, right?”

    You’re lucky, most people are on their third by then.

  • avatar
    DedBull

    Do the SportWagens also have the “spider traps” on the end of the sunroof drains like the Tiguans had? Look in the area of the rear wheels for the ends of the back drains and see if the round plastic discs are still on the drains.

    My 2019 Tiguan flooded the backseat due to clogged drains. The headliner didn’t need replaced but all of the carpet/padding was replaced. Almost a month in the shop…

  • avatar
    Urlik

    It wouldn’t surprise if if the first repair screwed up the drains and caused the new issue. A technician issue more than manufacturing issue.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      That’s certainly possible, but the apparent prevalence of leaks on this model suggests otherwise. Many people have posted pictures of leaks happening in the first week of ownership. And leaks happening again, immediately after headliner replacement. It sounds to me more like there is a basic problem with welding and sealing the sheetmetal of the car. VW is trying every band-aid they can to avoid fixing the real problem.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    If you’re not standing there when they disassemble it, I’m afraid you’ll be paying for this repair. Eating a repair workmanship issue wouldn’t be a popular request.

    “Spring tree debris – clogged drain – gotta keep the car clean – yadda yadda.”

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Ugh. This appears to be a known issue with this vehicle (well, the link is for the Alltrack but it’s the same car)…

    https://vwalltrackpanoleak.com/lawyers-are-catching-on/

    My A3 has the same basic pano roof setup and it’s never leaked, but the motor burned out.

    • 0 avatar
      Urlik

      Glad the Mk7 Golf R didn’t come with a sunroof. Between leaks and rattles, I don’t miss them.

      • 0 avatar
        Rboz

        Why cut a hole in a perfectly made roof? That is why a new MINI is out of the equation.

        • 0 avatar

          I was able to order an e46 with a sunroof delete but when I tried that with my w205 I was told since they all had a sunroof best I could do was get the small one not the panoramic-which based on forums is good as the pano roof breaks expen$ively. Sunroofs are useless if you are normally at highway speeds. The poke it with a weed whacker line is key. Look the whole way though. My CTS has an issue where the bottom of the drain clogged at the pass through and it wasnt tree junk it was that fine grit you see in the wash bucket. Sunroofs exist to upcharge you. They leak-add weight and complexity inthe worst place and you close them above 35 mph

          • 0 avatar
            statikboy

            My 4 door Integra with the sunroof and one rear window open had perfect highway speed air flow. No buffeting, no hair in your face, just a constant wind, stronger and less noisy than the fan on full. If I wanted more flow, opening the second rear window was only slightly louder.

          • 0 avatar
            SPPPP

            Nah, I use the moonroof daily in almost every kind of weather. I usually have it in vent position, except when it’s really nice out (but not too sunny). Then I can put it fully open. It’s not a convertible, but it’s really nice on a spring or fall evening. Now, at highway speeds, I think I would advise using vent position only, for safety reasons. I wouldn’t want something coming through and hitting a rear seat passenger in the face.

  • avatar
    islander800

    Good Luck with your VW service department experience!

    I purchased my first and last VW in 1980 (a German-built Rabbit diesel, spooked by the 1979 oil crisis. It was also an opportunity to dump my lemon of a 1978 Buick Regal Turbo – see my comments in the Pontiac Sunbird article of last week). I quickly found out why VW had about the worst customer satisfaction rating of any manufacturer: our local VW dealership service advisor was a German dick head right out of Seinfeld – as in, “The Soup Nazi”, crossed with Basil Faulty of Faulty Towers. He’d treat the Volkswagen customers like dirt but as soon as an Audi customer showed up, he’d flip to his obsequious, boot-licking alter ego. Stomach turning. After that Rabbit (which, apart from the “Soup Nazi” service advisor, wasn’t a bad car) I switched to Japanese cars (first a Mazda in 1984 then Hondas ever since 1986.) You couldn’t drag me back to VW again. Yes dealers, customers DO have long memories and regardless of the quality of their products, the customer/service relationship is VERY influential…

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Bad service on a lemon car is why I won’t go back to Honda. Their arrogance and incompetence left a bad taste since my 2005 experience.

      Just prior to that, my 02 Passat wouldn’t stay fixed. While the car was terrible, at least the service department was cool. But I figured that might change when it was out of warranty, so I got rid of it.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        @SCE – that’s a big reason why I left Honda as well. They weren’t incompetent, but they never left me leaving feeling that all was 100% with everything. That and the constant upsells were too much, and I caught them being dishonest about a repair. And I can’t figure out how, in 2020 and 2021 that so many of their sales staff still feels like they are doing you a favor to sell you a Honda. There are plenty of nice cars out there where you don’t feel like you’re about to be tolerated by a sales staff.

        At least my local VW dealers are comfortable and have a lot of extras and amenities. I’m hoping that I don’t spend huge chunks of my life there. At least I have an extra service plan that was added into the initial deal…

        • 0 avatar
          islander800

          I admit I may not be up-to-speed on current Honda/customer relations. The last Hondas we bought were a 2010 Fit which is still our bullet-proof daily driver (35K mi.) and our 2004 Element (62K mi.) that STILL drives like an almost-new vehicle – with all proper service and maintenance done. The body structures of both look like new. (Sorry, we live on the west coast.)

          I’ll definitely check out VW when we’re next in the market. Selling both the Fit and the Element (Element currently has among highest retained value of any vehicle!) and getting one all-purpose EV vehicle in the next few years is our plan. From what I’ve been reading about VW’s coming offerings, they’re worth a look…

  • avatar
    ajla

    Obviously improper headliner maintenance from someone that can’t handle a precision German machine. Maybe he should just take his Corolla wagon to Burger King.

    -VW forum

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Corey,

    After you get your new headliner installed, get yourself one of these:
    https://www.amazon.com/Enerzen-Commercial-Industrial-Deodorizer-Sterilizer/dp/B00JAP7388

    Set it on the center console facing forward, run an extension cord through the driver side window (tiny gap, and tape over the gap), and set the timer for ~60 minutes. Let the vehicle sit for another couple hours after that.

    Don’t do this too often, but it will definitely address your ‘musty smell’ issues (after the root cause is fixed).

  • avatar
    la834

    I have an older Mk5 Golf (Rabbit) that also had bizarre sunroof drain issues. The headliner looked fine, but water that slipped by the (almost always closed) sunroof landed in a long network of drainage tubes that frequently (i’m told) get blocked. My rear footwells kept getting damp and then outright wet. Then my front footwells. I couldn’t find the leak, never suspecting the sunroof since everything between it and the floor was dry. Then the inside of the glovebox got soaked and I finally took it into a shop. Since then, the headliner has started to droop too. Otherwise, the car mostly runs great.

    • 0 avatar
      DungBeetle62

      Reminds me a little of my not-missed 1987 Grand Am from college days. If it was parked perfectly level during a rainstorm, you’re fine. The slightest angle meant either a driver’s or left rear passenger footwell with about a cup of water. Rain only, never in a carwash. No sunroof, and the door molding always appeared intact.

      Despite its notoriety for such things, the 1992 Mercury Capri that replaced it was a hell of a lot more watertight – though to be safe any apartment had to offer covered parking.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Dollars to doughnuts the dealer f’d up the headliner installation (not “installment”). It’s a tricky job to get right, although you’d think that this vehicle with a big ol’ rear hatch would help. When I replaced the headliner in my E36 M3 coupé I had to use a variety of improbable and undignified body positions to get it into the car and installed without damage. Guess a second pair of hands might have helped.

    I’ve had a long line of cars with sunroofs and never had a single problem with them. On the other hand the only one that came without a sunroof is my current Golf R, so who knows — a bullet dodged?

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “I noticed a musty smell in the car upon entry. It was sort of a “plant-based” musty smell”

    In my case it isn’t the headliner, it’s my 100 lb. water sponge aka Newfoundland dog.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    Amazing that my MKZ can remove nearly its entire roof and slide it back on top of the rear window, and yet somehow it’s never leaked, even in Portland downpours. How long have basic sunroofs been around? VW still can’t get even that right? I wonder why they also can’t get ignition coils right, window regulators right, etc etc etc.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    not a vw fanboi , but our 07 Eos we’ve had since new has 70k miles and has only leaked once at the a pillar when I used a coin operated pressure washer over the seal which hadn’t been lubricated in 2 yrs. I didn’t know it should be lubed every 6 mon with their special crytox or whatever it’s called.
    The rear interior card glue around the rear speaker has failed though

  • avatar
    slap

    I have an Alltrack – one of the reasons why I got the cheapest model trim level was that it was the only one without a sunroof. Not only do they leak but I carry all sorts of stuff on the top of the car – no way do I want to be loading over a big piece of glass.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    As I wrote in a previous thread, Corey should be glad that it was just a water issue around the sunroof, and why I’m now glad I didn’t get the Autobahn package on my GLI. That included a panoramic sunroof, and one can only imagine what kind of demons might eventually lurk in that. Be glad that it wasn’t the wipers (which some forum digging showed are a problem issue with a lot of VWs) failing twice in 3500 miles. The first time was a mile from home in a monsoon with a semi to my right. All of a sudden the wipers seized up, and an alert message appeared stating that I had a “Wiper System Failure.” Long story short, parts ordered, and it was a total wiper system replacement. Fast forward about 700 miles and the same thing happens, only this time it’s in a sleet storm. And again, an entire new system had to be installed.
    I am sweating bullets about the long-term future of this car. It is a blast to drive (even with the DSG…getting an end of model year GLI, I couldn’t find any 6-speed sticks near me), it looks good, gets great mileage, and is very comfortable. It’s just that the stereo sucks (can be worked on), and the quality might not be there. I wanted to get at least 125,000 miles out of this. Now, not so sure.
    I’m sure we’re bound to have (unfortunately) a few more war stories to share as the miles get racked up.

    • 0 avatar

      I would never keep this for 125k miles, ever.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        Have to agree. I’ve driven Hondas, Acuras, and Nissans well over 100,000 miles, and one of the Acuras and one of the Nissans over 200,000 miles (easy to do when one job had me driving up to 1,000 miles a week!) And with the exception of the Civic I traded in, none of them nickeled and dimed me to death. The Civic…well…there were some engine problems creeping in that were getting tough to justify the expense.

        With @Inside’s comment below, that’s mostly what I’m concerned with. An old friend of mine had a Jetta TDI and things under the hood held up, and (surprise) the electronics did, but the interior plastics – mainly the soft touch ones, seemed like they started to dissolve after 5 years. Then there were actual cracks in plastics inside a car that still looked new on the outside.

        I’ve always liked those Golf wagons, and yours looks good. I’ll keep fingers crossed for the both of us!

  • avatar

    It is something I would expect from VW. In early 2000s I was riding as a passenger in my friends 3 years old VW Golf and it had the same nasty smell as you describing but also disintegrating resin covered dashboard and in general interior felt worn up. I asked him about smell- he had no idea. There were also other issues, like window regulators broken in the middle of winter and rain season – which mean driving with open windows – very nasty experience if it happens in the middle of ice cold torrent on San Mateo bridge. The disintegrated water pump made from plastic. Ignition coils failing one after another and then again.

  • avatar
    W.Minter

    Simply rules w/ VW buying:
    1) Don’t buy, lease
    2) Don’t order options. You will get disappointed
    3) If you really want to buy: Buy either CPO or well used, and know a VW pro

    Verdict (Germany):
    My Passat GTE wagon (PHEV! Wagon! Unobtainium! DCT! 218 hp! 120 USD lease per month + tax, no down payment, including dealer service, thanks to STUPID AMOUNTS of gov’t cash on the hood funded by tax payers’ money AND excempt from road tax AND cheapish insurance, think of 850 USD/year for full coverage w/ 350 USD deductible) has been trouble free for all of its 3,000 miles! (hint of sarcasm included)
    (except some minor infotainment & driving aid imperfections you can absolutely live with, because standard options) – I am really totally happy with this surprisingly quick wagon, because Nissan Sentra money, and after the 2 years of warranty, I simply pass it on.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I have an even simpler rule: no VWs.

      I owned a B5 Passat and based on our experiences the wife has put VW on the “never again” list. We got over 100K miles but so many things broke or failed that it was not an enjoyable ownership period. Plenty of other choices out there so no need to put up with VW’s gremlins.

  • avatar
    cliff731

    @Corey Lewis – dump the dastard VW while you can. Give it a liberal interior spraying of “Febreze” just prior.

    You can thank me later.

    I had my “bait & fill” of VW once upon a time… and one time only… with an early 80’s Jetta. It introduced me to VW’s deficient design and attending quality/reliability demons as came with such.

    I want nothing more to do with any VW car.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Some of you guys are really good at holding a grudge — I mean, since the 80s?? WTF!

    Newsflash: no car company, or probably any other kind of company, is the same today as it was nearly 40 years ago, either for good or for bad.

    FWIW, I’m not a VW guy, but I did own a VW Golf back in the 70s in Europe and was very happy with it. The next VW I’ve had is a 2015 Golf R and I’m happy with that too. YMMV.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Every time we have a sunroof debate I point out that I’ve never had a serious sunroof leak issue, across eight cars with sunroofs (one pano) and one more with a fixed glass pano roof.

    But I’ve also never owned a VW.

    • 0 avatar

      This will be my first sunroof related issue.

      This is not my first VAG drains/water related issue. In fact every Audi I’ve owned prior has had at least one drains issue.

      So why can’t VW get the simple concept of drainage done properly? No other brand I owned ever had drainage problems.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        In general VW seems to have regular issues with a lot of things that other makers have solved. It’s frustrating because they often do product planning and design really well.

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    Golf 7 sunroofs are a huge problem area – just scan the forums for WAY too many problem reports from frustrated owners.

    I have a ’19 Golf R. I’m thankful that I wasn’t stuck with a sunroof on the thing. In fact you couldn’t get one in our market if you wanted it – not available. One less future problem.

  • avatar
    nlinesk8s

    I just got done with a painful reworking of sunroof drains on a jeep, and got an education on how badly designed these are. First, they used corrugated tubing similar to split tubing that goi around wiring. Really good for catchy and holding junk. Then they put a diaphragm with small cuts at the end of the tube, presumably to pass water and keep out bugs. Even better at holding junk. The best feature though was to have a right angle grommet at the firewall, so the string trimmer trick doesn’t work. I wonder which features the vw has?

  • avatar
    MyerShift

    Silly you for thinking a VW of any kind or built anywhere would be reliable and trouble free! I had a brand new, Made in Germany MKV Golf (Rabbit a la NA) and it was nothing but issues. Don’t listen to the Nazi car company apologists and fanbois. VAG is garbage.

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