Who Pissed In The Fahrvergnügen?

Who Pissed In The Fahrvergnügen?

We’re 0-for-2 With Volkswagen Cars



Round 1

And we are now the proud owners of a 2005.5 Jetta (the mid-year Mk V design). Constantly in the shop for various dumb little things like the automatic water-detecting windshield wipers proudly smearing road grime across bone-dry glass. The best one was while sitting at a red light when the smell of sulfur came over the cab. Light turns green, step on the gas and it gurgles and sputters all the way home, and then to the shop the following morning. After baffling the dealers techs they phoned VW up for guidance. Some tube had developed a crack and was preventing normal, SOP. After a week they gave it back, called it fixed only to see it come back two weeks later. Well, after countless jokes about how it felt like we were driving VIN number 00001 we moved on to a Nissan.

Nice car, but it was a lease so that didn’t last long. And to be fair, it wasn’t immune to issues itself. The smell of raw exhaust in the cab sent it into the shop for a new exhaust manifold. Go team warranty. But this is a VW rant, so to get it back on track I’ll fast-forward.

With still-fresh memories of our 2005.5 Jetta, and against better judgement and guidance, we bought another Jetta. This time a 2011, and just like last time, right after the model refresh, so queue up the VIN 00001 jokes again. This time would lead me to wonder, exactly who pissed in the Fahrvergnügen? So at first we lived close to my wife’s office, surface streets basically. Then we moved and she had the opportunity to use cruise control daily… except it didn’t work. Usually you turn it on and the green CRUISE lamp comes on. Not ours. We tabled this one until the next maintenance visit. Then shortly thereafter the horn stopped. It didn’t matter if you honked the horn or armed the vehicle’s alarm or door lock system. Standing on the horn and the confirmation “honk” failed but the lights flashed. Weird.


Round 2 – October 2012

So at the 30,000 mile service we mentioned these two items. They did several TSB campaigns and also looked into the horn and cruise issues. It turns out the cruise was disabled in the ECU from the factory.

Cruise control was "deactivated" in the ECU.  How is that possible?

Cruise control was “deactivated” in the ECU. How is that possible?

Uh huhhh, right. But they fixed it so we moved on. And the horn? Well it worked just fine while Jetta was in for service. Typical, and as it turns out, this would be the tip of the iceberg for things to come.


Round 3 – July 2013 – Multiple Visits

Having used up the final “included” service, we had been doing our maintenance on our own and using other local shops. Along the way the horn would come and go, sometimes working for months and then not for a week or so. Since it always came back we weren’t too worried, and certainly weren’t interested in paying the dealer prices to troubleshoot it. And then at 49,000 miles the Fahrvergnügen spoiled, like aging milk. My wife calls me saying the car is shifting hard between the lower gears. She described the feeling like somebody kicking the back of the seat at the shift points. Crap. She pulls into a parking lot, turns the car off and back on, hits the road and the trouble has cleared. How very Windows of Jetta to like unnecessary reboots. This goes on a few more times and faced with an eclipsing warranty period we take the car in.

To be fair, it wasn’t hard-shifting when it went in. That’s the bitch of this, it always clears before we get it in the shop. But the dealer kept it for two days, found code P0106 in the ECU and reflashed the software,

Throttle body code tripped

Throttle body code tripped

cleared the code and called it fixed. We get the car back after work and it drives great… until the next morning on her way to work when… wait for it… Jetta couldn’t be bothered to wake up the cruise control. Called the Service Advisor who promptly states “no way that’s related”. Errr, sorry Bro, you touched the car, you own this one, so expect it back later today. They end up keeping the car overnight and when we go to get it the next day, and though the work order reads otherwise, the technical “fix” as explained to us was to pull both leads from the battery and dead-short them for several hours.

And it happened again.  Hard to make this stuff up.

And it happened again. Hard to make this stuff up.

Riiiiight. Maybe it was easier to say that than “Whoops, don’t know how that happened again”. Nonetheless, the cruise was fixed and Jetta seemed happy, so who are we to doubt the “fix”? Back on the road and life is good. Four months of good until we learn spoiled Fahrvergnügen might really be poisonous and terminal.


Round 4 – November 2013 – Multiple Visits

Hard shifting is back and the horn fails again, together this time. Jetta is sad. Of course it wasn’t possible to get Jetta into the shop right away, so we go after work, and of course, Jetta isn’t hard shifting any longer, and the horn is working. They keep it again and can’t find any codes so they pronounce Jetta healthy, no trouble found. Yeah, no. Something most definitely is wrong.

I did some research and learned that solenoid 5 in the transmission controlled the shifting between gears 1 through 4, and that when that solenoid fails the symptom is hard shifting.


The work order read VTA (VW) recommended the replacement

I relay this to my VW case manager and VW ends up recommending the valve body be replaced. Obviously, if this wasn’t relevant VW wouldn’t have done the work, so all I can think is they agreed that even though there were no codes in the ECU that it was a suspect component.  So one valve body and two days later we had the car back. Drove like new, but remind me why I need to be researching things on a car under warranty?


Round 5 – December 2013

Three weeks later the Fahrvergnügen seems to have expired. Jetta slept outside in ~49°F weather and when started just wasn’t able to muster the energy to go to high-idle. Instead Jetta roughly cold low-idled, like it thought it was already warm. Poor Jetta is so confused, the winters are so harsh in SoCal. My wife thought to herself “I bet it flips out today”, and sure enough, as she drove up the street Jetta hard shifted through the lower gears. This time she noticed the little wrench light lit up. Yea, the one that everybody says is nothing but a maintenance reminder, that one. She calls me to say she’s on her way to VW so they can see it happen first-person. Unfortunately the freeway was jammed with traffic and she crawled the whole time on the freeway. When the traffic cleared she accelerated, the car shifted normally and the wrench light went out. She took it in anyway and they told her to return another day to leave it. When she got to work and tried to lock the car with the remote the horn failed to honk. So that’s broken again.

Yes, Volkswagen, that little wrench light/icon in the dash cluster that you claim only lights when the service is needed does more than you say. We all know it illuminates as you approach the next maintenance interval, and we also know that it does not go out without the little key in ignition, button press game, but we stand by our claim that the wrench absolutely illuminates when Jetta hard-shifts, and it self-extinguishes when Jetta decides to operate properly. If you send me a GoPro I will strap it somehow to the dash to prove this.

The next week we dropped it off, demonstrated the shifting was back to normal but that the horn was still dead. This time the Service Advisor told her VW stated to keep Jetta for one day and to return it. OK, now I’m pissed. We’re getting nowhere and not fast. I called my case manager and reopened the incident. He calms me by reassuring me they found codes to troubleshoot, specifically P0106 & P3078 (yep, P0106 is back),

Fault Codes stored while Jetta operating properly

Fault Codes stored while Jetta operating properly

and wanted to do some additional testing. Stating the codes were related to the throttle body they decided to clean the assembly and call it fixed. So last time P0106 meant re-flash the computer and clear the code, this time it means clean the throttle body assembly. Oh, and the horn was deemed defective and “unrelated” and we were offered the option to buy a $146 replacement. Are you fu… what?!? No F-ing way. I served up another earful to the case manager explaining how this wasn’t the first time Jetta couldn’t fire up the horn, sent him the 30,000 mile maintenance work order to prove it and expected since the first time this was looked at was inside the bumper-to-bumper warranty that it should be classified as a continuation event. The next day VW agreed to replace it as a “good will” gesture. Gosh. You really did us a favor there. That should have been an instant approval, all things considered. Alas, Jetta has a voice again. I still have reservations about it being a bad horn unit, but they are the experts.

So what was declared a “one day” mandate evolved into a whole week stay. Third time may be a charm, but I doubt it. Jetta seems to be troubled about something. Maybe Jetta doesn’t like ObamaCare. I don’t know what else it could be.


Rounds 6+

Reserved in anticipation… it’s just a matter of time


So What’s The Point Here?

I completely understand the situation of delivering a car to the shop three times being unable to substantiate the claims. Can’t fix what isn’t broken, I get it, but it certainly doesn’t mean the issue isn’t occurring. Please VW, quit making us feel like liars. This shit is happening.

I should have known not to buy a second VW. That’s totally on me. I can promise another VW is not in our future, and when our daughter is 16, a VW won’t be in hers either. None of this means VW is off the hook for Jetta’s problems. In fact, we still owe on Jetta. What’s worse, we’re upside-down on the loan-to-value ratio. And there’s really no e t h i c a l way to ditch Jetta. Selling Jetta privately would be unethical because Jetta has this little dirty secret that Jetta doesn’t want anybody to fix. Kinda trapped here.

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