My daughter’s 2015 Launch Edition Golf recently had the dreaded Cylinder #3 misfire. She’s recovering from shoulder surgery; so, she couldn’t do much. Unfamiliar with any European specialists in her area, I suggested going to the dealer for what could have been an easy visit that ended with a new injector. They troubleshot and concluded that the #3 injector was faulty. The service advisor suggested an intake cleaning. We concurred with both. “The car will be ready for pickup tomorrow,” she said. BTW, this dealership did EVERYTHING via text. They don’t answer their phones at all.
Later, my daughter got a text that said, “Hey, my tech got the injector replaced. Now you have misfires on #3 and #4. We suggest doing a compression and leakdown test.” WTF? That wasn’t done before tossing parts at it?!? She agreed with the tests. At the end of Friday, she got a text that simply said, “cylinder #3 has low compression… it’s at 50 psi. You’re going to need an engine.” The dealership was closed by the time she got the message… on a FRIDAY. That’s a bit unnerving for a young driver!
I tried calling several times on Saturday: NO ANSWERS; NO FUNCTIONAL AUTO-ATTENDANTS. They don’t respond to the annoying “How may we help you?” pop-ups on their website, either. What a circus! After some hounding via text, I finally got a call Monday evening and got my chance to explain that she shouldn’t be saddled with those expenses. “If the tech had done the compression test after the coil and spark plug swaps, do you really think he would have recommended a cleaning and new injectors? Do you really think it’s right to pay for a clean intake that’s just going back to VW as a core for the new engine that you’ll want over $10,000 to install?” She agreed to talk to her manager, but couldn’t offer compensation herself. I understood her limitation.
Meanwhile, I had already made a plan to drive 220 miles each way to snatch the car out of there and bring it to someone I trust. The car may very well need an engine, but there’s no way in HELL I’m letting THE DEALER do it! The manager was supposed to call in the morning. I was not surprised when he didn’t. When I arrived, the service advisor said that the service manager agreed to knock-off a few hours of labor from the bill. She had not prepared for my visit, so, I got to stand around and wait for her to add it all up. Basically, the $1700+ bill got “generously” reduced to $1100. “Nope, that’s not good enough. I want to see him.”
Apparently, their dealership was short-staffed and he was at the adjacent Subaru dealership. I walked over and he met me in the parking lot. He tried to pass me some BS about how even the techs with 20 years of experience have to follow VW-specified troubleshooting flow charts, referred to as a “test plan,” that directs an intake cleaning and an injector replacement before a compression test. “Funny, the service advisor didn’t mention that.” My tech in Virginia says that he can HEAR a compression problem during start-up. So, I found it puzzling that a competent tech would just follow the charts, especially given how easy and fast it is to test compression when compared to replacing an injector.
The manager said that he couldn’t refund for the injector because it became a used part as soon as it was installed. That estimate alone was for nearly $800! I argued that a customer shouldn’t pay for the negligence or incompetence of their techs. “Your tech did everything wrong after the plug and coil swaps.” We began to walk back to the VW dealership. Along the way, he said that he’d drop ALL of the labor charges, but still had to charge for the part price of the injector. The service advisor was stunned by that decision and began doing the math. In the end, the $1700+ bill was reduced to $305. In principle, she shouldn’t have to buy the injector. BUT, given their $155/hour labor rate, we still got out of the dealership for the equivalent of about two hours of labor. We’ll take it!
My daughter and I got her car loaded onto a transport trailer, which required removal of the front bumper, and got the hell out of town. We went to dinner that night, which was nice since I hadn’t seen her in a while (US Marine Corps). I usually buy dinner, but she insisted on paying since I saved her a ton of money at that dealership. She now knows firsthand why they’re called “stealerships!” The car is now sitting at EuroPros in Yorktown, VA and awaiting a diagnosis. It’ll be cool if it does NOT need an engine. If it does, then it’ll probably get new mounts and a turbo upgrade since the labor would be free at that point (built into the engine replacement). She needs a radiator, too. Hers seeps at the bottom; now is a great time to replace it.
I’ve created a video to tell this story and shared it HERE. The diagnosis and end result will be shared separately, as well as my thoughts on whether the car is worth a new engine. What do YOU think? Would you replace an expensive engine or replace the entire car, especially given today’s used car market?