Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Warning: Do NOT buy a Volkswagen! They are the worst cars ever.

Just over two years ago, I bought a new car, a 2011 Volkswagen Jetta.

From the start, the power adapters never worked.  At the time, I thought the problem was my old car charger and didn't think much of it.  After all, the car was brand new, obviously there's nothing wrong with it.  Hah!  Turns out, in VW Land, vehicles don't actually have to be 100% functional when new.

The ignition sticks.  Something like 6 months ago, one of my keys broke.  (Keys are the kind that fold and flip out.  The key part broke off the remote control part.)  Then the other key broke.  Then the key broke so much that it's completely unable to turn the key in the ignition.  Of course this happened while I was running errands, so I had to go to a hardware store and leave the car running while I went in to buy a pair of pliers so I could turn the key.  This is super-fun, because the car can sense the remote part of the key and won't run without it, so in order to start the car, I have to hold the remote against the ignition with one hand and use the pliers to turn the key with my other hand.

There's something wrong with the transmission or something.  I don't know yet.  The car's in the shop.  Once on Sunday and once on Monday I started the car and it would not shift gears.  It ran in 3rd gear.  Period.  Both times, I stopped and turned the car off and back on again, and that fixed it.  Last night, I started the car and the check engine light and this little wrench symbol (for service) came on, and there was no indication of gear.  There should be a letter or number showing what gear the car is in (I have no idea what the correct name for that is).  Nope.  Not there.  But it was not shifting again, presumably stuck in 3rd.  I turned the car off and back on several times with no luck.  I drove home at a crawl so as to not drive the RPMs too high.

I emailed Volkswagen about two weeks ago about the first two issues, explaining what had gone wrong and how displeased I was.  I had been quoted over $700 at the dealership to replace the ignition and keys.  I flat out refuse to pay that.  Why should I pay that much money because the ignition is faulty and broke my keys?

Here is the reply I got:

Dear Ms. ,

Your Jetta was built to last, and I apologize that you are experiencing concerns with the ignition sticking.

We appreciate that you have taken the time to reach out to us, and make us aware of the concerns with your key breaking off in the ignition.

I understand you are requesting assistance with the cost of the repair. Volkswagen considers all requests for assistance with a repair outside of warranty on a case by case basis.

I have had the opportunity to research your request. The Jetta is 18,000 miles outside of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. Volkswagen is unable to assist with the cost of the repair. I apologize, as I know that this decision does not meet your expectations.

We look for every opportunity to assist our customers. If you would like, we can follow up with the VW dealership on the diagnosis for the 12v charger, and work with the dealer to ensure all of our technical resources are being utilized for both repairs.

If you need help locating your nearest dealer, you can do that here: http://www.vw.com/portal/en/dealers?context=Global.

If you’d like us to follow up on your diagnosis and repairs, please reply to this email with the name of your servicing dealership and your appointment date.

Sincerely,
 Kathleen H.
Customer CARE Advocate

To which I say... are you kidding me?  I didn't reply, because why bother? 

Yesterday, with the new shifting issue, I replied:

Hi Kathleen,
I appreciate your sense of humor by starting off your reply with a joke ("your Jetta was built to last"), but unfortunately the situation is beyond humor.  My 1996 Chevrolet Silverado had fewer problems than this Jetta--it made it to well over 100,000 miles before requiring any significant repairs.  It could be argued that the Jetta will certainly last if it cannot turn on and be driven, but that's rather deceitful, don't you think?  My paycheck would last if I didn't have to use it.
I would also like to make you aware of a new issue that has arisen.  On Sunday, I left home.  After about a mile, I realized that the engine didn't sound right and the tachometer was holding rather high.  Apparently, the Jetta decided that 3rd gear was sufficient for everything--stopping, accelerating, going 50mph, etc.  It would not shift, nor would it allow me to shift.  I had to stop the vehicle, turn it off, and turn it back on (always a hassle, given that turning the key requires a complicated dance of holding pliers in one hand and contorting my other arm so the remote portion of the key can be held against the ignition).  The same thing happened yesterday, although I realized what was happening almost at once.
On the bright side, this vehicle will prevent me from becoming a bank robber--a skateboard would make a more efficient getaway vehicle.  Can you imagine trying to make a quick exit in a car that requires two hands and total concentration to turn on, and which periodically goes on shifting strike?  And on top of that, the car is theft-proof!  A car thief would likely sue me for emotional distress caused by the trauma trying to make this car work.

I'm almost impressed by how many problems this car has.  Bravo, Volkswagen!  You must have worked very hard to build a car that is so incredibly terrible.
Bottom line:  This car is a piece of crap.  I will not pay a cent to fix what should never have broken.  Volkswagen obviously does not stand behind their product.  Fine, that's their choice.  My relentless campaign to make sure that anyone who considers buying a Volkswagen is aware that they might as well burn their money is my choice.  To paraphrase William Congreve, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by the manufacturer of her lemon car."
Or, in the words of the Hulk:  "Don't make me angry.  You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

VW replied within a few hours.

Dear Ms. ,

Thank you for your response, I’m sorry to hear you are now experiencing shifting concerns.

The Powertrain Limited Warranty covers the engine, transmission, drivetrain, and related seals and gaskets for a period of 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever occurs first, for manufacturer’s shortcomings in materials and workmanship, from the in service date of 6/30/2011.

Due to the nature of your concerns, I recommend making an appointment at your local dealership.  It is difficult to make proper repair recommendations without being able to take a good look at your Jetta.

Once the dealership has properly diagnosed the concern, they will be in the best position to determine if any repairs that may be necessary are covered under the Powertrain Limited Warranty.

If you need help locating your local dealer, you can locate a dealer here: http://www.vw.com/portal/en/dealers?context=Global.

We’d like the opportunity to follow up on your diagnosis and repairs. If you’d like for us to do that, please reply to this email with the name of your servicing dealership and your appointment date.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Kathleen H.
Customer CARE Advocate

I bet she does look forward to hearing from me.  Who doesn't enjoy a nicely scathing, sarcastic email?

I replied today with the news of the car being a piece of crap last night and my emergency service trip:

Kathleen,
True to form, the Jetta decided that temporarily malfunctioning wasn't sufficient.  When I turned the car on last night, it was not displaying what gear I was in.  Instead, it lit up the engine light and the wrench symbol by the odometer.  Apparently displaying the gear was too much trouble, on top of the engine light and wrench symbol.  It can only put forth so much effort, and coming up with new things to break requires a lot of work.
Once in drive, the car would not shift gears.  I don't know what gear it was in, as Jetta seems to feel that is confidential information.  I'm assuming it was stuck in 3rd, as that's what it's been getting stuck in.  On the one hand, I find it unlikely that the car would bother to pick a new gear; on the other hand, I wouldn't put it past Jetta to screw up as frequently and as variably as possible.  I had a fun drive home, going 25mph in 55mph zones to keep the tachometer from going into the red zone.  Thankfully it was fairly late, so I didn't have a hoard of angry drivers honking at me.  (Don't tell Jetta I said that, it'll make sure it breaks at a more inconvenient time next time.)
I woke up a couple hours earlier than normal so I could get the car to the dealership as soon as they opened.  It was shifting, but the bad lights are still on and the gear light is still off. 
So now I'm driving a loaner (yay!  a car that is not a VW!!!) until the dealership is able to figure out what is wrong.  This had better be covered under warranty, or I will be very displeased.  Lucifer will tremble in the wake of my fury.  Because contrary to Volkswagen's belief, vehicles that are 2 years (and 1 month and 1 day) in use should not break.
On the bright side, it was rather entertaining to watch someone else try to start the vehicle.  Hey, that's an idea--I should bring the car to Volkswagen's headquarters and ask the head of the company to start it.  If s/he is able to start the car on the first try, I'll go away.  If not, I get a new car that's not a useless piece of crap.
The junker is at [the dealership].  I would be more than happy to the scrap the vehicle if that would be easier, because I know how much VW likes doing things the easy way.  Just let me know so I can get my things out.


Moral of the story:  DO NOT BUY A VOLKSWAGEN!  There is absolutely NO excuse for a car with 2 years of use and 55,000 miles having so many problems.

Now what?  Well, I wait to find out what's wrong with my car.  In the meantime, I'll spread the word far and wide.  Buyer beware!  There are much better cars out there... the Ford Pinto springs to mind.

I made a mistake.  I believed the image Volkswagen presents about their vehicles.  I didn't do enough research and I didn't look into the warranty well enough.  Foolish me, I believed that a new car would work well enough that I wouldn't need the warranty.  Rest assured, that won't happen again.

Please share this post.  Warn your family, friends, neighbors, and enemies (even Voldemort doesn't deserve this car)!  Feel free to email Volkswagen and reference my case #813004100.  Let them know that selling junkers is not acceptable.

UPDATE 8/2/13 - I got a phone call late yesterday from the dealership.  They had been working on the car, but had nothing to report yet.  Diagnostics were being done, but they didn't know what the problem was.  It's about 1:00 today, 8/2, and I still have not heard.  WTF is wrong with this car that it takes more than a day just to find out what's broken????  VW has dispatched a regional case manager to work with the dealership and get this fixed, I got a call from them yesterday too.  Still waiting to hear what's going on.

UPDATE 8/6/13 - Well, I got the stupid thing back yesterday.  They were unable to find anything wrong with it.  So next time it screws up (because there WILL be a next time), hopefully it'll be when the dealership is open so I can take it right over.

40 comments:

  1. I had trouble with my former Jetta as well, but nothing like you're describing. That's nuts!

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    1. I just had exactly the same problems you are describing on my 2013 Jetta. Except my keys didn't TOTALLY break off. They are just loose. EXACTLY. This CANNOT BE a coincidence. I am officially a VW dectractor. Those email reps should jump off a cliff. How they do their job is beyond me. But then again 99% of the economy is "pay to lie your ass off". F this.

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  2. Jordan's mom has a VW and that thing is in the shop more times in one week then I can count on one hand. On the other hand my old housemate had a jetta that seemed to never be broken (but he's also a mechanical engineer so my suspicion is it probably broke a lot, he could just fix everything himself though).

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    1. LOL, I'm sure your old housemate fixed it himself. The likelihood of the Jetta not breaking is very low.

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  3. Hey, I have to run, but I totally feel your pain, I hate non-working vehicles. My mum has TWO VWs and doesn't understand why I think she is crazy, since her Passat, although it is a VERY nice and a blast to drive, had the entire electrical system fail at once. Omg.

    But quick tip I learned from someone in the know. At this point, skip over customer service. Contact the board of directors and the president/CEO. Go straight to the top. This is what gets results. Hell hath no fury like a BOD who might be publicly embarrassed and they will seek out a target, probably that lady and the dealership manager to submit to your will!

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    1. Ooh, thanks for the tip! I've tried to find contact information without much luck. I might just send a letter to the head honcho by registered mail to VW US headquarters.

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  4. Yikes, that is unfortunate. :( I had a VW Beetle TDI that made it to 435k with very little issue, probably would have made it longer if not for being hit by a truck. My BF has a 2012 VW Jetta TDI and loves it.

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  5. I never owned one. I remember however, being once at a dealership and I walked by a VERY frustrated mechanic who was working on a Jetta (can't remember the year) on the car lot. Upon walking by him he looked at me and went "don't ever buy a Jetta" and so I never did! :)

    I watching Thursday night football and saw the Jetta comercial and so I googled the exact phrase the mechanic used, and I landed here! :)

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    1. Thanks for commenting! You are so lucky you got warned away before you wasted money, time, and sanity! Please pass this post or my website vwsucks.net along! I count every sale I cause vw to lose as a personal victory!

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  6. This isn't news to me. I owned a brand new 1993 Jetta 3 and sold it two years later with just 26K on the odometer. When I took delivery of my new Jetta I was driving home in the dark and other motorists kept flashing their high beams at me. I din't have my high beams lit. It turns out that the factory (built in Mexico) didn't aim the headlights! Both headlights were pointed way up. Next issue was that the power trunk wasn't disengaging. The trunk lid was misaligned from the factory. At 2,500 miles I opened the sunroof and crrrrack-creeeeesch it went. Another trip to my VW dealer required the entire sunroof mechanism to be replaced. The service advisor advised me to use the sunroof sparingly! He told me that if it broke out of warranty it would cost me $4,000 to repair it! Nice, really nice to know!! Since the dealer had to remove my Jetta's headliner to repair the busted up sunroof mechanism, the car was returned to me with greasy hand marks all over the fabric headliner. Try to get a mechanic's grease off of that meshy fiber! Not! Under 10,000 miles I had a host of electrical maladies resulting in non operational backup lamps to both horns that failed, to instrument panel lighting that would sometimes work. The car would sometimes high idle at 3,000 RPM's intermittently, (VW said that was normal), that's bulls^&^^! I liked the way the car rode and drove (when it did), but I could no longer trust this german engineered-made in Mexico piece of doo doo on wheels. I traded it for a brand new 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix which never gave me any trouble in the many years I've owned that car. I have heard stories from other later model VW owners who swear that they'll never own another VW. Passat's (Quantum's), Jetta's and Golf's from the late 1980s to about 2008 seem to be the most problem plagued VW's built. Although I've heard some complaints from actual owners of Eos' who've had a host of electrical maladies and water leakage issues with that model. Although there are some people who've been lucky and had minimal issues with the said vehicles, I haven't met any of those folks in person; I've only read about their positive experiences.

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  7. Yes, my 2012 POS has a whole slew of issues... VW hmmm, never again!

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  8. AGREE! I spent more fixing my car than its worth, totally gutted I have to cut my losses and sell it for 500 bucks...Never again VW.

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  9. I will never buy a VW!!!! THANK YOU

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  10. I bought a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta and within a year everything started to go wrong with it but I still believed in the company enough to buy a 2012 Volkswagen CC two years later no issues and the reason for this is the Jetta was built in Mexico while the CC was built in Germany.
    Brah

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  11. What also plays a huge factor is the dealership you're working with as when I started having issues with my 2009 Jetta the dealership and service department worked with me because I kepy my cool and didn't take it out on the service staff always giving them a 10 which they appreciated more than selling my my CC because those numbers are vital with Volkswagen.
    Brah

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  12. i agree the vw are the worst car ever i had my some experience in the past..

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  13. On the other hand, my 2000 VW Golf is going strong with no specific issues almost 15 years and 175,000 miles later. I'm sort of shopping for a new car, but this one still runs so well that I don't see any point in replacing it

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  14. I am a Jetta owner as well, we should take a stand together as collective and contact any and all consumer protection agency or publication. Then and only then will Volkswagen take us serious.

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  15. WOW. I have owned 3 VWs and have had very few problems. I WILL admit that when any modern vehicle has either electrical or vacuum issues they tend to be VERY hard to diagnose and properly fix. My first car was a 1997 Jetta that I literally drove like I stole it, and it carried me 188,000 miles before I sold it. The guy that bought it has over 235,000 miles now. I jumped it over railroad tracks, drove 90-100mph down dirt roads, carried 2200lbs of cement bags dozens of times and raced my friends. I often drove over severely rough roads at stupid high speeds and the only things that went bad were shocks and brakes. ( I drove so hard I replaced my brake pads monthly) I was called the best VW advertisement ever because I showed how indestructible they are. Or at least were. It seems that in recent years their quality has fallen off badly and that makes me sad.
    I would mostly blame the dealerships because they are the ones who can ensure properly repaired and maintenanced vehicles. We had terrible luck with some Ford vehicles where they were ALWAYS in the shop. We switched dealerships and they just fixed everything under warranty instead of just enough to get us out the door. Now our trucks have 280,000 miles with nothing but normal maintenance visits for the last 130,000.
    I had a similar problem with a Subaru I purchased. I went to the dealer to get the engine rebuilt because it was under warranty and a bad bearing failed. They dragged it out for 9 months and then my warranty had expired and they turned me away. After lying to me about what went wrong 6 different times(and 6 different lies). The dealership is COMPLETELY to blame for not fixing my car. I called Subaru and they sent a rep who was going to have them fix it. but then the dealer called the rep and suddenly he changed his mind. I wanted to sue the dealer so bad I could taste it. But Subaru was very good to me. They do however follow the dealer's recommendation on things because that is how the companies work. I had a HORRIBLE experience with Subaru over this ordeal. But i still love Subaru because it was the DEALER that screwed me.
    I say all that to say that there are a few things you could have done to get better service. I work in customer service and mistreating a customer because the customer is being an ass is not acceptable. HOWEVER, it is very hard to WANT to help somebody who is being rude, aggressive and demeaning. Being polite, patient and respectful can cut in half the amount of time it takes to get taken care of. Also, skipping the dealership and calling the company directly is not the correct path and is seen as trying to shortcut the system. Find a good dealership and work with them. Be willing to negotiate with them and be firm but polite and respectful. Be willing to make a compromise and to work with the company.
    Also it seems your dealership was incompetent. It is obvious that the car has a poorly grounded ground wire and it sounds like probably a bad or not properly connected transmission wiring harness. It may also have some bad sensors which may be the result of either a bad alternator or bad grounding. The engine cant tell what gear the transmission is in because the harness is not telling the computer what its doing. The transmission isn't getting signals from the computer and goes into 'limp-mode' where it sets in one gear so as to safely get you home when things aren't working. Its a defense mechanism designed to protect the transmission and engine when wiring fails. Also the high idle is a simple fix as well. It is either the MAF sensor or Throttle Position sensor. All of these are simple fixes and minor issues. You just got unlucky and had them happen all at once. And honestly, I am not a mechanic but I could fix it in a few hours and with just a few parts.

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  16. Here's a good thread with good answers to many VW questions.

    https://au.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090507140433AAyB3oD

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  17. It’s brand new, yet everything seems to be going wrong with it already? I could feel your irk hearing how the negotiations with the dealership turned out. You’re right that even Voldemort don’t deserve a car like that. Haha! But really, it’s just downright wicked to own a car that is quite problematic right from the start.

    Felicia Simmons @ Brandon Auto Repair

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  18. That is a lot of trouble for a supposedly-new car. On the other hand, I commend you for your patience while you were trying to solve the problems with your car. It's good that you were still civil while corresponding with VW, even if you’re very frustrated by their replies on your emails. Anyway, what did you end up replacing the Jetta with?

    Diane Wilson @ Fletcher Chrysler

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  20. we also have owned our last vw product, constant breakdowns, very expensive
    to repair, lastly with the emissions inspections , dealership has to hardwire past the failing component to get an inspection sticker.

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  21. Audi s3 sportback 2009
    1) Climate control sensor fail at 14000 km
    2) Battery fail at first 6 months
    3) ABS fail at 200km/h after hard braking . Total repair cost 1800 euro
    4)Sunshade plastick broke at second atempt

    VW is like Fiat group at 90's but repairs cost double

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  22. People have been saying don't buy a VW since as long as I can remember. Guess what? All of those people are 100% correct. I can still remember my Scirocco in the early 80's. Cool as it was then, it had hideous electrical issues. I still remember the time that it looked like a sparkler had been ignited near my left knee, coming from the fuse box. I briefly owned another VW in the early 90's that had electrical issues as well. The Jetta seems to be the poster boy for the "Don't Buy This Car" campaign.

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  23. I became an unofficial certified mechanic from owning a VW Passat. It was one thing after another. And I feared inspection time. I had to clear the engine codes myself and drive it until it's ready for inspection, then hope the engine light wouldn't come back on before I got it inspected.

    Glad I don't drive that POS anymore. I've learned my lesson.

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  24. My wife has a 2002 Jetta with about 80K miles. It has been a true financial nightmare. Everything has gone wrong from shocks that last 1 year, leaky sunroof, complex and expensive engine parts- she has spent much more than the purchase price. Are Jetta engineers flunk outs from Engineering school?
    NEVER AGAIN WILL WE BUY VW - EVEN IF IT WERE FREE!!!

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  25. I promise I never buy another car from VW. The car and the service are totally garbage.

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  26. I have a 2009 VW GTI with 160,000km (99,000 miles). Its the sportier version of the Golf.
    What many people don't realize is that only a few select models of VW are still made in Germany - the GTI included. The rest of their models are manufactured in Mexico or elsewhere (including the Jetta).

    http://www.autohausaz.com/vw-auto-parts/vw-vehicle-identification-numbers.html

    I have had only 2 problems with my GTI, both rather benign, and both covered by VW warranty even though I was beyond the warranty mileage. Other than the fact that my GTI eats through tires, I couldn't be more happy with it. Sounds like you have a shit dealership to deal with and got a Mexico built lemon.

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  27. I've got an 06 GTI which had a cam chain fail on me while driving at 40 mpg in 5 pm traffic with only 75k on the clock. I've found several hundred other people with the same or similar issues as recently as 2013. VW Boise is a joke, didn't bother checking one of the parts on a warranty extension list that I handed them, they ignored the second piece of paper entirely. So I contact my old high school pal who works in NY at a VW dealer and they out there they do warranty these things. I contacted 1800 VW number and received from a regional case worker the statement of "The part isn't listed because it's not part of the diagnostic." Um..dumb shit I brought paperwork that said to check things and they have a copy. I did find the corporate HQ address and I'm assuming that the CEO's e-mail addy is his name separated by a dot @vw.com. Corp hq address: Volkswagen Group of North America 2200 Ferdinand Porsche Drive Herndon, VA 20171

    My dad has an older Jetta, 99 and it's been a tank. My 06 was great till now but that's mostly the dealer here that's soured me to the brand. If Ford had the Focus ST (Euro body style) out in 07 when I bought my car I'd have gone for one of those instead. I think this GTI will be my last VW, which sucks cause the car really is pretty damn nice for its price point.

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  28. I bought a brand new Jetta 2010 2.5. since the beginning the transmission is giving kicks when coming to a stop, the dealer says that it is normal due to soft engine mounts. The car has now 50k, the pain is chipping from the front fenders that started to rust. Called VW Canada multiple times, the staff is super rude, no cooperation. After 3 emails and 3 phone calls, managed to get the problem fixed, VW Canada will pay for replacing one fender and fixing the other. The car is 5 years old and has only 50k !
    VW are building cars in Mexico to save on labor and materials, assuring the customers that the quality is the same that if the cars where build in Germany.
    The service I received from VW Canada is unacceptable, rude people not knowing how to speak to clients, they don't return calls and don't care at all.
    NEVER AGAIN A VW

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  29. I wish I read this block before I purchased a Jetta. I’ve had my 2010 jetta for a little over a year and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve took it to the service to get something fixed. There has been a numerous of issues from breaks to wobbling wheels to engine shutting down on me while I’m driving. Now the engine just doesn’t want to start. It’s been sitting in the shop for about two weeks now and they couldn’t figure out what is wrong with it. Previously, it sat in the shop for a whole week before they can figure out what was wrong with it. But apparently, the last time they fixed it they didn’t really correct the real problem because it’s back for the same issue. I am so frustrated. I spent more on fixing than what the cars is worth. Lately, I don’t remember a whole month where I had actually drove the car without something breaking down on me. This might as well be a junk. It’s as if I bought a $16k worth of junk. That’s how much they sold it to me.

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  30. I've owned a couple of Jettas. The first being a 2004 which ran great and I liked it so much that later on I bought a 2011 Jetta SE. I drove it for 3 years with no issues whatsoever. In 2014 I decided to buy a VW GTI. The water pump went out at 6K miles but they had a recall on them and everything was taken care of by the dealership. Overall my experience with VWs has been great. I have had several cars where the key gets stuck though both VW and non-VW, usually you just give the wheel a little turn one way or the other and the ignition cylinder turns fine after that.

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  31. Dont buy a fucking piece of shit Transporter either. Mine only lasted 47000Ks.
    It had a new computer at 5000Ks
    Then a new turbo at 25000ks
    It then needed a new radiator after that.
    Now it needs a new engine just out of warranty.
    Biggest bunch of time wasting cunts I have ever met at the dealership I bought it from.

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  32. Do not buy VW, I have only 14K miles on my VW Jetta sports wagon. The plastic glove compartment come off the main door. They claim that someone pulled on it hard, which is not true. I am selling my VW now and never ever buy a VW in the future. Worst customer service ever. VW located in Redwood City.

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    2. You can not trust car company like VW whom cheated the system. You can not do business with a thief or else you also will get cheated.

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