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#171 of 1140 VW : Buy it, you'll regret it. A letter to VW
Aug 15, 2004 (1:10 pm)
Gerd Klauss, President
Volkswagen of America, Inc.
3499 West Hamlin Road
Rochester Hills, Michigan
Dear Mr Klauss,
As the President of Volkswagen, I thought you might like to hear of my recent experience in purchasing a product from your company. It is a story from which not only you, but many others, can learn, and one which I am anxious to share.
I spent many years admiring Volkswagen cars for both their styling and espoused reliability, before I could finally afford to purchase one after I completed graduate school in 2002. In 2003, I proudly purchased a second-hand 1999 New Beetle GL, 2.0L, with a manual transmission and 50540 on the odometer. I had the car service checked by a AAA technician prior to purchase, to make sure it was in good condition, and I drove away a relatively happy customer. I was given no warranty brochure and no information about the manufacturer's warranty at this time.
As I rarely drove the car in the first month of ownership, I made my first journey in it when I moved from*** to ***. This is the last time I drove the car happily. My ten year admiration of Volkswagen began to dissipate one month into ownership. Immediately after the 350 mile drive, the 'check engine light' came on in my vehicle, and I lost power between gears. I spent the next four months and nearly $700 trying to fix this problem, including two visits to an extremely unreliable, unfriendly and not especially knowledgeable dealership (about whom I complained to VW USA).
It was during the next couple of months (September--October 2003) that I discovered the excessive oil consumption of the car. I drove one thousand miles without checking the oil in the Beetle, and the level went so low it caused the engine to knock. VW claims in one of their technical service bulletins (1701) that this level of consumption (one quart per thousand miles) is normal. If so, may I suggest that oil gauges similar to petrol gauges be fitted into the instrument panel? Since this is a most unusual characteristic of an automobile, the ignorance of which could cause the destruction of the engine, I think the driver should have an easy way of knowing when a refill is needed (usually every 2-3 weeks), as with the petrol.
In the new year, the Beetle suffered a spate of small problems. The battery died at 58K. Door handles and the finish on the parking brake wore. A cupholder broke off. The plastic grid at the front snapped. No one could fix the power mirrors which had never worked. However, this was a time of relative peace between me and the Beetle. Although I dreaded the return of the infamous check engine light , everything seemed to be fixed for the first time. I call this period, 'The Calm Before the Storm'.
The storm blew in around June 2004, with 60000 miles on the odometer, to mark the anniversary of one year of unhappy ownership, I heard a noise upon releasing the clutch at start up. Taking the car to the shop, I was told to replace the starter motor. This cost me $500. I also had the car fully serviced, which cost me $600. The replacement of a blown tail light and a new windshield blade cost another $130.
At this point, my family and friends began to beg me to sell the car. And at this point, I was afraid to pass on my problem to someone else. And would it were, but that's not the end of my story.
Whilst on my way home from work (odometer 67000) at the end of July, I heard an awful scraping sound coming from the transmission. I feared the worst, and received it. The mechanic diagnosed an 'internal failure', very similar to the one I suffered when told my repair bill, to replace the entire transmission: $2900! One third of the purchase price of the car.
It was at this point I called the customer service representatives at VW USA, and was informed that I was not covered under the 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. as I was not the car's original owner. I was however told that, due to recalls, I could have my Mass Air Flow Sensor replaced; my windows fixed if they fell into the door; and my complaint documented. And that was that. Mr Klaus, don't you think a warranty should stand behind a car, not an owner? I should very much like to know why, if VW have faith in their product, this policy is in effect.
A week ago I collected my car from the mechanic. The clutch, they found out, was also 75% worn, and also needed replacement. The bill was nearly $3500. A day or so after I collected it, the lock system was mistiming, and a $1 door switch needed replacement. VW, however, only offers a whole new latch. This repair cost me $250.
A year of VW ownership has cost me nearly $6000 (not including routine service, such as oil changes), as well as untold amounts of depression and inconvenience. It has sunk to me a level of debt I did not anticipate.
Additionally, the car has spent over a month in total in repair shops, leaving me stranded. It is now for sale, despite my qualms of conscience over selling such a sour lemon to another unknowing human being.
Mr Klaus, the one thing you should know, if you learn nothing else from my story, is that I am not alone. You can refer to websites such as myvwlemon.com, suckercars.com, and others: a short Google search brings up many such websites entirely devoted to problems with modern VWs. On these sites, you can, and you should, read about some of the misery, expense and inconvenience these cars have caused their unfortunate owners.
To satisfy my own curiosity, and to sooth my misery with company, last night I looked through moderated discussion groups on other web sites: edmunds.com, carsurverys.org, Consumer Reports. Each and every site had a long discussion regarding problems with VWs. For the two good reviews I read, I must have read 100 very bad ones. Included in these were some very negative comments about VW Customer Service and poor quality dealerships (corroborated by my own experience).
The complaints myself and other owners have voiced are not minor problems. They are major issues, and they have a routine similarity: transmission and engine failure, fuse boxes melting, persistent check engine light, electrical fires, window collapses, and so on. These issues are not only excessively expensive to repair; they are also safety hazards.
As I sure you know, modern companies are based on brand image. But perhaps you do not know that the current brand image of Volkwagen-- among the volks, anyhow, who actually drive the car-- is failure. We unhappy few have found to our misfortune that, due to the cost of repairs, a total lack of reliability, poor customer service, poor dealership service, and the refusal of Volkswagen to stand behind the car with their warranty (rather than use it as a buyer incentive), these cars have become one of the least attractive options on the market.
The drivers Volkswagen advertised for are out there, telling their stories. I think you should listen.
#172 of 1140 Re: VW : Buy it, you'll regret it. A letter to VW CONT [bluelemon]
Aug 15, 2004 (1:11 pm)
In the summer of 2003, you had a life-long VW customer. Now, in the summer of 2004, I wouldn't buy a VW if you sold it to me for $1. That's correct: $1 US dollar. Not now, not ever. Nor will the friends, family and many colleagues who have witnessed my ordeals first- hand. Customer loyalty, I think you may find in future, is a matter of principle.
Quite soon I should think that Volkswagen might be saying in a rather different sense: 'Drivers wanted'.
Well, President Klauss, I very much hope you enjoyed my story. For I believe that very soon you will be reading it everywhere.
Dissatisfied VW Owner
#173 of 1140 Re: VW : Buy it, you'll regret it. A letter to VW CONT [bluelemon]
Aug 16, 2004 (7:09 am)
Please let us know if you get a response. Sorry to hear about all your problems...
#174 of 1140 "Funky" smell from the vents
Sep 14, 2004 (4:03 pm)
I have a 1999 New beetle that I bought new and I love the car. It runs well and it is so much fun to drive. The one complaint I have is that is has always had a funny musty smell coming from the vents when you first drive it on a warm day. Once I put the air on it will take a few minutes and then little by little it goes away only to come back when I get in the car and start out again. I called VW and they said to spray some stuff that was supposedly sold at the dealership into the vents. The dealership had no idea what I was talking about. I went to a different dealership and they had no suggestions. The car is kept outdoors all year long and since it happens in warm or especially hot weather I am thinking that it must have to do with pollen or something that gets into the vents. It doesn't happen with my other two cars, which are Hondas. Does anyone else have this problem? Any suggestions as to how to rid the car of it? I've tried a million different air fresheners, nothing works. I'd love to get another Bug someday but I am afraid it will be another "stinker."
Sep 15, 2004 (5:24 pm)
It sounds like you've got some mold/mildew growing in the vents. After running the AC for awhile, is there a puddle of water under the car? If not, the drain line could be plugged up which would trap the moisture in the vents which over time will start growing all sorts of nasty things. You'll need to clean out the drain and maybe spray some Lysol in the vents. Not sure if that's okay, but it probably wouldn't hurt.
#176 of 1140 Armrest Console
Sep 16, 2004 (5:17 am)
I bought a 2004 New Bettle TDI. I went CHEEP and got the GL model.
The console doesn't have an armrest or storage compartment.
I was wondering if anyone knows of an after market one that is available. I seen one JC Whitney that might work.
Can anyone help me??
Sep 16, 2004 (9:19 pm)
Thinking of purchasing an 02 GLS. Anyone added a CD player or changer.
About how much would that cost?
#178 of 1140 Dumped my 2000 2.0
Sep 17, 2004 (12:07 pm)
In 2000 I bought a New Beetle to have a toy. It was one fun ride. Oh! I had problems with the widows, the seats wouldn't heat, and a couple of minor glitches; but they were all handled witht he warranty. I kept seeing the CR reports about bad brakes and electrical system and finding the car listed as one to avoid. Then a few months ago the car (with only 24K miles) left us stranded just four blocks from the local VW store. After getting it towed in the car started without a problem and preliminary readouts said things were fine. So, they took it into the shop to do a complete check. I was told that the instrument cluster module was the problem and it would be $380 for the part and probably a couple hours shop time. When I picked it up, I jokingly said, "Should I put a For Sale sign in it?" The reply was, "No comment." I told him I wouldn't quote him - oops! just did - and he elaborated by saying that history on these was that if the cluster module went it was soon followed by a rash of spendy (4 airbag sensors at $600 per, etc.) failures. So, I started shopping. Local dealers would not even take the car in on trade. My BEST offer was several hundred UNDER wholesale. "Since CR started listing them in the 'Cars to Avoid' column, we can't GIVE them away." I now drive a Toyota product. Oh! Since I couldn't sell the car, I gave it to charity.
#179 of 1140 A very nice three weeks.
Sep 17, 2004 (6:28 pm)
In the first three weeks of ownership I have had 9 things go wrong with my wife's New Bug Convertible. The best thing, was the drivers side window falling down inside the door and breaking. I have duck tape and plastic stuck to the car to prevent the rain from ruining the interior.
Has anyone ever known duck tape to stick to a canvas top? Well, I now know from experience that it doesn't, especially when wet...how convenient.
Ugh. The PT Cabrio is starting to seem like the better choice.
Sep 20, 2004 (8:03 am)
This weekend didn't fare so well. Our covertible top will not go up so my wife had to drive 10 miles in the rain home so that I could put it up for her. An actuator on the passenger side doesn't seem to work causing it to bind.
I smell lemons.