Volkswagen vehicles can be very reliable when they are properly taken care of! This is an extremely important distinction. A properly serviced Volkswagen vehicle can run for 300,000+ miles reliably. Volkswagen vehicles are know for quality, handling, and an overall superior driving experience and fair especially well with scheduled factory maintenance.
Importance of scheduled factory maintenance
As a Volkswagen owner taking regular maintenance seriously can greatly effect the reliability of your VW and your driving experience. You’ll also benefit from a lower total cost of ownership and dodge many of the problems owners of poorly maintained vehicles experience and complain about. To protect your investment, we suggest factory recommended maintenance at the prescribed interval. Select your vehicle’s year, model, and trim for detailed recommended maintenance.
The easiest way to find out whether your VW is ready for maintenance is to give us a call. You can also click on the following link:
Why drive a Volkswagen today?
Volkswagen has been a favorite among fans because of solid handling, style, quality, and performance for a long time. Owner’s enjoy a quiet cabin ride, great tracking, and an exciting driving experience that they can look forward to, as well as little things like how the doors feel when you close them and the particular ergonomics that go into interior design. The advantages of German engineering are appreciable. At the price point that you can get into one, VWs have compelling advantages compared to corresponding American, Korean, and Japanese vehicles. Despite the cult of VW being given a serious blow due to the diesel scandal which is talked about at length below, Volkswagen is still making great vehicles. Watchdog groups say other manufacturers such as BMW and Mercedes Benz are cheating as well. This issue has as much to do with poorly executed government regulations as the automaker’s cheating of them. Volkswagen employs talented people including engineers, designers, administrators, and other personnel that all had nothing to do with the high level decisions which have brought about this crisis for VW. VW leadership will have to learn from their mistakes. In the interim, it’s a buyer’s market.
DEQ (emissions) testing in Oregon is only required in certain metro areas on the west side of the state. testing is required to renew your license plate tags every two years in these areas. Therefore the increased tail pipe emissions may not directly effect you if you register the vehicle outside of these areas.
OEM parts vs aftermarket parts
I use original equipment manufacturer parts due to consistent high quality, safety, and adherence to standards. Aftermarket parts vary wildly in quality and also vary in consistency from part to part. German vehicles are engineered to precise specifications. Introducing inferior parts can compromise long term reliability & can have a snowballing effect on other parts within the system, wearing them out faster and sometimes effecting them in unpredictable ways. Good parts will help us keep your VW in top shape.
Timing belt, water pump, and belt tension
Due to low cost and recommended good practices, I change the water pump out when I change the timing belt where applicable. VW experts around the world take special care to ensure the timing belt, the water pump, and timing belt tensioner are in good repair and won’t fail at contrary intervals. We recommend replacement of these parts according to scheduled factory maintenance intervals.
Frequently driving with the fuel light on forces impurities and particles which normally sit harmlessly at the bottom of your fuel tank into the rest of the fuel injection system. Many parts, such as the fuel pump, will experience more wear and tear due to the lack of lubrication and cooling making replacement of the fuel pump happen significantly sooner. If you hear a whining sound from the back seat this is usually a good sign your fuel pump is going bad. Fill up before you see the low fuel light!
Flushing coolant, power steering, and brake fluid
Over time the pH balance in the fluids changes and can become corrosive in the system. As the fluid degrades it can make the fluid darker. Volkswagen’s are made to function optimally with clean fluids. Scheduled factory maintenance includes fluid flushing and fresh OEM fluids.
The so called “lifetime” or “sealed with lifetime” automatic transmission fluid (ATF) automakers advertise, including Volkswagen, has the effect of lowering perceived maintenance costs of vehicles. The strategy is based on new vehicle ownership every 100,000 miles or less. If you’re a VW owner interested in keeping your VW running well past 200k miles we highly recommend having your transmission fluid changed at factory intervals or at 80,000 miles. With proper, regular maintenance your Volkswagen can make it to 300,000+ miles. A great article to read about this can be found here http://forums.vwvortex.com/showthread.php?1064342-Heads-up-VW-Lifetime-auto-transmission-fluid-(baloney!!!)
Volkswagen issued a technical service bulletin (TSB) for plastic window regulator clips that were failing in certain circumstances. Sometimes when moisture gets in the door and then freezes on the regulator clamp it will expand causing the window to fall into the door. In addition, depending on how much use your power windows various parts in the window regulator assembly can simply wear out and require replacement. Naturally, the driver side assembly tends to get the most use.
Charge light or battery light
When your charge light comes on there’s a problem with the charging system. The battery light comes on when charging voltage falls below a predetermined level. This is a good time to bring your vehicle in for a proper diagnosis which can save you money in the long run and prevent you from throwing unnecessary parts at the problem. If your battery light comes on bring your vehicle in right away! Driving with the battery light on will cause the car to lose power and die in short order.
Avoid quick lube type places
Quick lube places aren’t all bad, but they target high volume, often use low quality products, and have a tendency to have high employee turnover. This generally means the person working on your vehicle is unfamiliar with it and the customer. Having a history with a customer and their vehicles is helpful for keeping vehicles in good repair. The more knowledge the better. Furthermore as an independent mechanic developing long term customer relationships I’m able to get to know the vehicle every time you come in. Conducting scheduled maintenance is helpful for keeping an eye on potential issues and taking preventative measures.
Volkswagen check engine light
There are literally hundreds of codes that can trigger the check engine light. The check engine is triggered when a computer monitored circuit has gone out of factory set parameters. The following are some common reasons:
- Loose gas cap: Having a loose gas cap can effect fuel system readings and trigger the check engine light. Tighten the cap!
- Catalytic converter: The check engine light can come on when your catalytic converter either needs to be replaced and/or there’s another problem affecting it which is very common. Often if it’s a catalytic converter failure this will be paired with a loss of power, fuel efficiency, and sometimes a metallic rattle sound. Warning, if the check engine light is flashing do not drive the vehicle any further than is necessary or severe catalytic converter damage will result.
- Oxygen sensor: If the oxygen sensor is bad or covered in oil, ash, or dust, it can send incorrect readings to your VWs ECU and trigger a check engine light.
- Spark plugs/wires: Considered standard maintenance items, replacing spark plugs, wires, or ignition coils can prevent or solve many ignition and catalytic converter problems.
- Thermostat: The coolant thermostat helps regulate temperatures in the engine compartment and can fail. When coolant temperature isn’t maintained to specification by warming up too slowly or too quickly the check engine light can be triggered. This can affect fuel economy, heater output operation, and the system should be check by a qualified professional.
- Mass airflow sensor: Your mass airflow sensor is a critical component of the fuel injection system that measures the mass of air entering the engine so that your
car’s computer system can accurately calculate engine load and air to fuel ratio. Properly maintaining your crank case breather system, PCV system, and air filter will help protect the sensitive mass airflow sensor from contamination.
- Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve (EGR): A faulty EGR or dirty EGR ports can trigger the check engine light.
- Ignition coils: With the advent of coil on plug ignition systems (COP) many vehicles no longer use spark plug wires. However, ignition coils are subjected to more
thermal heat and oil contamination. This can lead to more coil failures & misfire codes that trigger the check engine light.
- Fuel injectors: Fuel injectors have become much more reliable in the last decade, however, the quality of our fuel mostly due to increasing amounts of ethanol
puts more wear on the injection system. Using an ethanol specific fuel drier and corrosion preventor for example BG Ethanol Fuel System Drier https://www.bgprod.com/catalog/gasoline-fuel-system/bg-ethanol-fuel-system-drier/#bg-product-8 and BG Ethanol Corrosion preventor https://www.bgprod.com/catalog/gasoline-fuel-system/bg-ethanol-corrosion-preventer/#bg-product-7
can greatly decrease fuel injection system problems.
Brake squeaking or brake pulsation
The obvious remedy to squeaking or grinding brakes is to replace them with fresh ones. The pads on your brakes wear down and require replacement at regular intervals. Regular scheduled factory maintenance includes a quick inspection of your brakes. Sometimes the brake pad thickness is fine, and other issues are causing your brakes to grind or squeak such as “glazed pads”, or dusty or rusted pads. Moisture on the brake pads can be one of the causes as well. If you’re experiencing unusual brake noise, shuddering, or pulsation you should bring your car in for a complete brake system inspection by a qualified professional. Brake pulsation and shudder can lead to increased stopping times and hence is a dangerous safety issue.
If your Volkswagen is driving less smoothly or less steadily than usual there is a problem lurking under the surface. Cars manufactured after 1996 use the OBD II car self diagnostic system which self monitors many of the systems on your vehicle. Your check engine light is part of the OBD II system and is triggered when a code is stored in memory because a monitored system is out of manufacturer specifications. When your check engine light is flashing the system has picked up a severe engine misfire which can cause damage to your catalytic converter. In this case the vehicle should not be driven any further than necessary. Consistency is key, and any deviation for the norm is usually a sign that some component of your VW vehicle needs attention. A feeling or sound described as a shudder, rattle, clunk, jerk, jolt, or a loss of power, roughness of the power curve, or any other change in how the car accelerates can be an indicator of a wide variety of problems which if caught early can be fixed at a more minimal expense. Waiting until the problem becomes more pronounced can effect parts which surround or are connected to the failing part. Generally, early notice helps us keep your VW in good shape.
Ball joint issues
Intermittent banging sounds coming from the corner of the car especially while driving over pot holes can be a sign that one or more of your ball joints need to be replaced. Other symptoms such as sloppy or stiff steering, or uneven wear in your tires, or if steering pulls in a direction can also be indicators. Sometimes a torn rubber seal on a ball joint will allow dirt or water into the joint which will cause excessive wear. Ball joints are often load bearing and are important to keep in good order. If you suspect your ball joints are at risk have us check them out.
Wear in suspension components are usually noticeable. Creaking, clunking, knocking, banging, rattling, or groaning suspension from the corners of the vehicle especially are usually signs that something isn’t right with your suspension. Leaving this unchecked will put excessive wear on the rest of your suspension and on other parts of your vehicle unnecessarily. Hitting pot holes, going over a speed bump, or even steering can lead to indicators of the symptoms of suspension problems or wear. Most tire and wheel imbalances can lead to vibrations, shudders, or shimmies, which don’t feel normal and can help tip you off. As usual, if it’s not normal it’s worth looking into. Preventative measures almost always save on cost and effort in the long term. Be aware it’s easy to be fooled because these issues can creep up on your gradually.
Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs)
The following link will give you access to TSBs for your Volkswagen vehicle. TSBs usually contain manufacturer advice to technicians on locating known problems.
Purchasing a used Volkswagen
The best one liner advice is simply this; does the vehicle look beat up and poorly taken care of? If yes, avoid it. If you find a serious candidate for purchase we recommend a full inspection to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for costly repairs. Feel free to call us and we can help you determine based on year and model whether the vehicle is a good candidate for inspection. When taking the initial look naturally it’s more difficult to determine whether the wear and tear on a VW is acceptable when it’s more subtle. Furthermore, some private parties and dealers will “clean up” a vehicle so it shows well including power washing the engine compartment to hide ongoing oil leaks. It helps to be vigilante of any obvious attempts to hide a poorly maintained vehicle. We’ve included some tips below but we highly recommend bringing in the vehicle for a pre-purchase inspection or simply calling in for helpful advice.
First, it’s important to check the Volkwagen’s VIN. If the vehicle has been in any major collisions avoid it. You can also look for regular maintenance attached to the VIN. Next we recommend a used car checklist (http://www.samarins.com/check/simplecheck.html). Bring a flashlight, a CD for the sound system, and paper and pen to take notes. Take a good look at the outside appearance and look for cracks in the windshield, corrosion spots, scratches, dents, imperfections in the paint when looking at an angle, dramatic tire wear, brand name vs non brand name tires, worn windshield wipers, clouded headlights, and other signs the car may not have been well taken care of. Take a look underneath the car for leaks and corrosion and take your time. If it’s super clean maybe the evidence has been washed away. The undercarriage can tell you a lot about leaks and corrosion. Use your flashlight to take a close look for evidence of bad seals, rust, oil leaks, and anything unusual looking to the best of your ability. Unscrew the engine oil cap and take a close look with your flashlight. Does the cap or engine parts you can see look clean or do you see lots of black carbon deposits under the cap and on visible engine parts peering into the engine? Does the vehicle have any engine mods, other performance modifications, a body kit, custom wheels, custom spoiler, or other mods? These can be a value add, but often such parts are poorly installed and can affect reliability or can be an indicator of past owner driving habits. Check the oil, is it low or dirty? Look alongside the car. Is it straight? Sometimes vehicles will be fixed and flipped. This would result in the collision being absent from the VIN report. Check the gaps between the body panels and look for width variations by comparing each side. The gaps should be consistent. Cold start the engine and see how it sounds. You’re likely no expert but sometimes it’s obvious. Open both doors with the key and key FOB. Do the doors open and close smoothly? The vehicle interior can be a great way to tell how the vehicle has been treated overall. How does the car smell. Take notice of excessive use of air freshener to mask permanent odors. Check all the gauges, instruments, and warning lights. Check all the electronic features. Test indicators and windshield wipers. Windows up, down, doors lock, unlock, and all the climate control buttons. Look for buttons and controls that don’t function. If there’s more than one it could be a broader electrical problem. Check the AC, is it cold? Check the heat after the car has been running a bit, is it warm? Check all the sound system’s controls. Use your CD to test. If there’s an auxiliary port, test it. Look for water stains, moldy smells under the floor mats, or other signs of water damage.
Transmissions are expensive to fix, so paying close attention to detail is especially important here. Check the transmission fluid if possible. Newer Volkswagen’s no longer have dip sticks, so take note of this. It shouldn’t smell burnt or smokey, and should be clean and transparent. With your foot on brake, look for delayed engagement when shifting from P (park) to R (reverse), to N (neutral), and then from neutral to D (drive). The transmission should engage without a delay and without jerks or jolts. You should also feel a “creeping forward” or backwards depending. If there’s a notable delay of more than 1 second from the moment you shift to the moment the transmission engages the transmission is either worn or has a problems. Also look for slipping or shudders when driving.
Volkswagen emissions recall QUICK summary
VW has admitted to circumventing emissions control for approximately 500,000 VW and Audi vehicles in the US since 2008 with the 2 liter diesel engine. A total of approximately 11 million vehicles have been affected worldwide. Under realistic load these vehicles produce between 10-20 times more emissions than they are supposed to. Volkswagen diesel vehicles “cheat” by presenting different emissions results to emissions testing systems than emissions the vehicles create driving normally. The programming is stored in the ECU designed by German engineering company Bosch. Although no details have been released so far owners of affected vehicles will be granted a remedy. A “goodwill” claims program is in place to owners of only some of the affected vehicles in the form of a $500 VISA gift card, $500 of in dealership credit, and three additional years of roadside assistance. The EPA’s investigation is ongoing to assess what penalties the automaker should face for the tactical decision to willingly cheat the government, customers, and the environment.