Thursday, November 12, 2015

Car Trouble

First it was just routine maintenance.

Then it was two tires, an alignment, and brakes..... about $1000 out of pocket.

Two tail lights went out, at different times, and neither could be replaced by the owner.  They required special tools and devices available only at the VW dealership.

Then it was $1700 to repair the sunroof, which refused to close.  They had to order the parts, which took a while.  Then they kept the car for several days, removing the roof assembly and installing a new rim.

I drove the car on the highway, and the noise from the air rushing over the roof was loud enough to drown out Mara Liasson on NPR. I was worried about bringing The Schnozz in for a noise complaint; I was prepared to be told that no one else could hear it.  Unfortunately for me, the news was even worse.  Not only could they hear it, loud and clear as the service rep described it, but they kept hearing it after three test drives.

The technician decided that the rubber gasket around the glass sunroof was creased, probably as the damaged sunroof made its way back and forth on the track.  He thinks that replacing the gasket will make the car almost like new.

Almost like new?!??!  What happened to fixing it right?  The most surprising thing about owning this VW has been the excellent build quality; it had nary a squeak or a squawk or a whistle.  Now, if I pay them an additional $247 to replace the gasket, the noise will mostly be gone.

That's just not good enough for me.

I've been driving with a noise under the hood every time I start the car for several months now.  They told me it was a fan, it wouldn't bother anything, and if I could live with the noise I did not have to repair it.  Now, I wonder if that advice was correct.

Did I mention that the car was in because the battery light flashed on as the noise annoyed me on the highway?  That light was not my brand new battery's fault.  It was the air conditioning compressor's fan belt which had torn to smithereens when the bearings in the compressor itself wore out. That caused the alternator to refuse to recharge the battery.  The belt and the compressor, which had to be ordered, cost me $993.

No one knows - at least according to the service rep - why this happened.  It is not an ordinary event. The fact that it happened two weeks after I had the car in for the sunroof repair; the service rep thinks it's an interesting coincidence but I'm beginning to wonder.

My wonder began to change to despair and then outrage when the service rep went on to say that both the timing belt and the water pump will need to be replaced in the next month or two.  How he knows the timing on their failures is a mystery to me and to him, as well.  He's just reporting what the technician tells him.  Should those things fail, the car will stop dead on the side of the road.

If these things wear out on a regular basis, why aren't they in the owner's manual for routine replacement?  It seems like a dangerous situation; had I not had these other problems I'd have been stranded when they broke.

The timing belt and the water pump will cost about $1300.

Including the routine oil changes and various fluid fill-ups and minor adjustments recommended by the company, I'm closing in on $6000 in repairs this calendar year alone.  The car is worth about $6500, according to Kelly Blue Book.

I'm contacting VW's North American representatives to talk about this. It seems to me that if the sunroof broke they should be able to replace it to its original, non-problematic, status.  Mostly gone... almost perfect....they don't work for me, especially after spending $2000 on repairs.  If the timing belt and the water pump are going to die within the next 6 weeks, shouldn't they have been on the check me, please list at the 60,000 mile check up?  Why do these things arise two or three weeks after my service appointments?

Inquisitive car owners want to know.

I tried to copy this post to VW's contact page, but I was only allowed 999 characters.  I sent it to them via email, telling them how I'd love to tell my readers that I was thrilled with their response.  As of bedtime last night, I've heard nothing.

Tune in tomorrow for the every exciting adventures of Ashleigh in CarLand.


  1. For many years I had my cars serviced at the dealer's shop as the dealer was a local fellow with a great reputation. My cars were well cared for and I was never lied to. Then, the fellow with the great rep sold to one of those big multi-state dealerships. Suddenly my repairs were getting ridiculous. The last time there I was given an estimate of $3000 for "a job that really needed to be done soon." I took the car to my husband's mechanic and he said everything was just fine. He also told me that the dealerships have been hiring extra mechanics, putting them on commission. In other words, they get paid for what they can find wrong with a car. I've not returned to the dealer's repair shop since then.

    1. That's exactly what I think happened to me.... And why in the Honda dealership right now!

  2. We had a 2008 BMW that started requiring lots of repairs. After 5k of fixes including new tires, I was tired of paying for repairs on an old car. We sold the car and bought one that has free maintenance. I would rather my money go towards something newer than it going to something old. Being that my dad is a mechanic and has had his own shop for 40 years, I tend to believe him when he says that car dealerships lie when it comes to repairs. And their labor costs are outrageous. The only reason why we didn't take our BMW to my dad's shop is because he doesn't work on them.

    I'm disappointed to hear all of the issues with your VW. When I had my VW, I absolutely loved it. I sold it after four years, but never, ever had any issues with it.

    I do think that dealerships know when your car comes off maintenance and mysteriously there seems to be a lot of problems. I would take your car to an independent shop and have them give you an opinion on what needs to be taken care.

    Megan xxx


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