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Old 11-14-2012, 03:41 AM   #21
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2010
Oddometer: 732
Originally Posted by 09Prodigy View Post
The lack of service is another issue, Salt Lake would be the closest place to get it fixed,
I just sold a beautiful 2003 Passat 1.8T after two insanely frustrating years of ownership. Walking away from the deal, with $4K in cash, felt like such a euphoric relief that no words could adequately describe it. The car offers an exceptional driving experience, everything from WOT stick you to your seat acceleration, to an extremely comfortable, refined ride. That said, in the world of modern vehicles, it is an outlier, a spectacular piece of shit. The goal of the German engineering mind seems to be to over-engineer everything, then let the bean counters figure out how to create their visions, using techniques and materials that are several magnitudes less durable that a typical Japanese competitor. I had a great deal of highly qualified free and low cost help from a top notch mechanic who is a good friend. Even with the mechanic, my engineer son and I, we still dumped unbelieveable amounts of time and over $4K keeping the thing running. Some of the shit we went through made me want to tow the car to the local firehouse, and let the smoke eaters burn it for practice.

Here are just a few highlights. A timing belt change requires removing the front of the car. Now it is possible to move the front end out to the "service position" to allow you to reach down into a small gap and do the work by feel, but it's a hell of a lot easier to just remove the entire front end. While you are doing this work, be extremely careful of disturbing any hose or vacuum control device. The wonderful engineering of the fancy engine shrouding, and noise insulation, traps huge amounts of turbocharger heat under the hood. The car has three separate vacuum control systems that are not capable of surviving this intense heat. After a few years every vacuum control dashpot, valve, port or connector is as brittle as a potato chip and waiting to crack in half as soon as you touch it. Now if you damage a valve, it doesn't seem like a big deal. It's a quarter sized piece of plastic, and there are a dozen of them that look the same in the other loops, right? Sorry, but each one is carefully engineered to that specific location and a dealer only item. Good luck getting a new one in less than a week in Wyoming. Here, in heavily the populated Northeast, it takes three days for the local dealer to come up with the right part. Now be prepared to pay at least three times what the part would cost if it was stamped "GM". That's how the game is played, if VW is the only source. The oil fill tube is another plastic piece of shit that boggles the mind. At some point it sucumbs to the heat and turns to dust. One day, you reinsert the dipstick and the top few inches break off. Once you remove it, take it to the bench and lightly tap it with the side of your hand. With zero effort you can quickly pulverize the entire part into a pile of tiny little plastic chips. The part is only $12 at the dealer, but the car isn't going anywhere until you replace it. The flywheel is a "dual-mass" design. It is a heavy stamped steel assembly that has internal parts that provide for a smoother idle. At 80K miles or so, this thing grenades and the car soundss like a Kobota Diesel tractor when it idles. The new flywheel is $800 at the dealer.

There are dozens of examples of inexcusable issues like this, that are absolutely unheard of in the competitors products. They also represent a fraction of everything we went through to keep the car running. The car was sold at 105K miles, and still ran and looked outstanding. That said, two different VW mechanics made the statement that, based on experience, a new turbo and a complete rebuild of the front suspension were just around the corner. An older VW/Audi product is something you own when you want a toy to play with. They are not reliable enough to count on as a daily driver, and owning one is the middle of nowhere guarantees two things. You will be spending a lot of time online, at the enthusiast sites learning how to fix the thing, and you will become real close with your UPS guy, as there will be a lot of boxes of parts heading your way.
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