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My LAST VW Mistake
Have you been VW'd lately...?


My LAST VW Mistake
Um, we mean Drivers. Riders or passengers need not apply...?
Is a German Car Made in Mexico a German Car?

With VW, Its One "THING" After Another...
Is VW now giving away Jettas with Trek Mountain Bikes?

VW. Drive it. You'll get it. You'll regret it...
Sometimes you have to learn your own lessons.

VW -- Looks:10; Attitude: 0.
A 2000 J. D. Powers & Associates study found that VW owners liked the new designs but scored low the historic VW dealer and manufacturer mistreatment of consumers down the road after the sale.

Loyality gets you nada at VW. My three new Volkswagen and VW "authorized" dealer experiences (mistakes) include the following:

  • VW#1 - shipped and sold with known unrepaired manufacture defects. I was told by the mechanic at the time that VW and other manufacturers often ship vehicles with known defects of incomplete assembly, fully expecting the consumer to have to take the time and expense of returning the vehicle for repair under warranty. Clever, eh, having your quality assurance program merged with your warranty program? Customer service as defined by the auto industry...?
  • VW#2 - Dealer siphoned a full tank of diesel fuel and removed trim items between test-drive and drive off. (Customer service?) (Is the engine optional too? Tires?)
  • VW#2 - Throttle cable snapped three different times, each in freeway traffic.
  • VW#2 - Smoke from dashboard,-- clock and instrument panel dies.
  • VW#2 - Authorized dealer sought to repack CV joints 10,000 miles before manufacturer recommends this work. Calls to other service shops reveals, "they'll want to do that earlier then necessary."
  • VW#3 - Hidden damage repair on "new" EuroVan (door panel cleverly repainted over clear coat, taped off at detail indentation lines to avoid detection. Clearcoat not re-applied) (Dealer / VW refuse to inspect, deny responsibility after sale). Some new car, eh?
  • VW#3 - Undisclosed damage on "new" EuroVan (razor blade-thin clear-coat scratch - $1700 - $2000) (Dealer / VW deny responsibility after sale)
  • VW#3 - Fuel tank extends outside front to rear chassis frame beneath driver's seat, exposed to side impacts
  • VW#3 - Unreinforced brittle (unreshapable) fiberglass rear bumper (exposes vehicle to major damages in minor impacts) (Customer service?)
  • VW#3 - Catalytic converter beneath passenger compartment heats vehicle requiring constant air conditioning
  • VW#3 - Fuel pump fails just after warranty expires. Reason given (after sale) for failure: low fuel level stresses the fuel pump.
  • VW#3 - Front wheel brake rotors require retooling upon first inspection within one year of sale.
  • VW#3 - Front tires required replacement within two years of sale.
  • VW#3 - Air conditioning pressure switch ($200) fails within two years of sale.
  • VW#3 - Erratic and unreliable fuel gauge.
  • VW#3 - Exterior vinyl detailing bubbled, cracked and peeled within two years of sale.
  • VW#3 - Misleading representations about future rebates prior to purchase.
  • VW#3 - Incorrect information about brittle, unreinforced fiberglass bumpers on the EuroVan - Three times VW staff at its "1 (800) new product info line," stated emphatically that the unreinforced, brittle fiberglass rear bumper was reinforced with a steel bar, when in fact no steel bar reinforces the rear bumper to protect the expensive rear deck and window from minor impacts. VW's attitude seems to be the same as most other manufacturers: if the laws the industry lobby to enact or water down do not require rated bumpers, than why bother? The net effect of this anti-consumer attitude is to pass along costs to consumers and insurers (ding-dong). VW has not changed the rear bumper or gas tank design in three model years, although almost every other mini-van maker has consciously and conspicuously placed the fuel tank between the axles and between the chassis frames, after over three hundred people were burned in GM truck fires allegedly resulting from collisions involving GM's side impact exposed fuel tank designs. The side impact exposed gas tank remains exposed to side impacts outside the front to rear chassis frames under the driver's door on the VW EuroVan three model years after it was first introduced into the US market. The 1996 Winnebagoed VW EuroVan continues to display the same fuel tank and rear bumper configurations of the 1993 versions.
  • VW#3 - Air Ciruclation Fan Kaput - Four hours labor at $85./hr to remove dashboard just to get to the fan. $150.00 for new fan.
  • VW#3 - Faulty Ignition Switch.
  • VW#3 - Dashboard Gauges repeatedly overload fuses.
  • VW#3 - Engine cooling system failure (plus towing and down time)
  • VW#1, #2, #3 - Overpriced (especially given shabby quality and salesmanship)
  • VW#1, #2, #3 - Underpowered (a VW tradition)
  • VW#1,#2,#3 - VW no help with dealer issues - plays customer ping pong - wap-wap-wap back and forth between dealer and manufacturer
  • VW#3 - Authorized dealer replaces battery under warranty --battery two sizes lower than size specified as standard for vehicle.
  • VW#3 - VW and dealer refuse to merely reimburse the fair market value of the rebate mis-information and the hidden damage repair and the undisclosed defects to make the deal whole.
  • VW#1, #2, #3 - As a three time new VW buyer, VW and its dealers have not shown a genuine interest in my continued business or making my last two deals whole. (See info above about VW's general lack of positive consumer rapport and its abysmal lemon dispute ranking as reported by others. Where have the 500,000 (+) VW buyers per year of the early 1970's when the Beetle was a bug gone: to Saturn, Honda, Toyota, etc...! -- cars with proven track records of quality and maintenance (at least paying more than these cars is worth is rewarded with statistically better quality and consumer value). (:- )
  • VW#3 - Third fuel pump ($500) installed. VW refuses to consider reimbursing this cost. Bosch reimburses $400.
  • VW#3 - Air handling fan replaced ($500), four hours labor to remove dash board required.
  • VW#3 - Air conditioner begins to leak. Repaired ($125) and reported that drain line was "pinched", oh, I mean plugged up. If pinched, it likely occurred as a result of the dashboard removal above. If plugged, well, you get the idea. Had the leak been associated with a bad heater core (coil?) the flat labor rate alone would have been $600 alone. Something to look forward to and to budget for.
  • VW#3 - Engine cooling system failure (again), on the day before Christmas Eve 1998 a cooling system hose breaks in traffic. Another tow. Tow company plays games with price, claiming to not know about Alstate Auto Club's basic membership program, tries to charge twice the usual per mile towing rate. VW deakership is open on Christmas Eve, but cannot look at problem until Saturday at the earliest, or more like Monday, five days later. Here's looking forward to paying "flat-rate" hourly repair rates to help subsidize the high overhead of the wealthy. This means we pay "book" fees for repairs even it the work takes less time... some service, eh?
  • VW#3 - Misc service repairs - $1500 (October/November 2000)
  • VW#3 - New Tires - 4 - $650 (January 2001)

  • Advertising Age, "From Beetle to Bedraggled, Behind VW's Stunning Decline," Sept. 1993 (at your library, a long and sad twenty year history of how to run a car company into the ground)

  • Consumer Reports, rates EuroVan, February 1993 (at your library, notes concerns about gas tank placement and expensive cheap brittle unreinforced rear bumpers) the 1998 model of EuroVan which now sports a window sucker (sticker) price of $32,000, continues to display the fuel tank outside the chassis frame beneath the driver's door, exposed to side imppacts.

  • Motor Voter Press, (Now CARS: Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety), "Motor Voters Releases Lemon Index," Motor Voters Press, 1500 West El Camino Avenue, Suite 419, Sacramento, CA 95833-1945 (916) 920- 5464 (fax - 920-6465). VW scored the worst by a factor of three over the ninth worst rated manufacturer (ten rated) in the number of formal lemon dispute complaints filed with the California DMV, Dept. of Motor Vehicle Repairs / industry sponsored mediation services.

  • Auto Safety Hotline (800) 424-9393 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), to obtain a computer print-out of safety related and customer reported problems with vehicles by make and model year. Check out consumer reported safety records of new and used car models before buying. If it is so new that there is not a paper trail, consider buying another make, model and year, or wait, or just don't buy it. (800) 424-9393

  • Voice your concerns about VW product and customer service to CEO, Clive Warrilow, VW, US, 3800 Hamlin Road, Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326 (810) 340-5000,-- (810) 340-5010 (fax), or Dr. Ferdinand Piech, VW, AG, POSTFACH, 3180 Wolfsburg 1, Germany. (If VW's CEOs are too busy to take your calls or respond to you directly, perhaps you should be too busy to reward this company with your business...?)

  • Consumer Reports (February 1993 and subsequent). Consumer Reports typically rates new vehicle models with its February through April issues. Consider awaiting reviews of new vehicles for bargaining chips before purchasing. Even recommended buys are not perfect, and even the most trouble-free model years have are not completely unproblematic. And until you buy one you can never be guaranteed that even a "recommended buy" model will perform without additional or unexpected expenditures of money and time. Lemons come in all colors, sizes and makes and models.

  • Advertising Age Magazine (Sept. 1993). "From Beetle to Bedraggled, Behind VW's Stunning US Decline," outlines VW's twenty year history of losing market share in the US reportedly due to poor product quality, low customer satisfaction (CSI) and poor initial quality (IQS) surveys. (at your library?)

  • Motor Voter's rating of 10 manufacturers according to the number of formal lemon dispute complaints filed against the car makers scored VW the worst among ten car makers ranked in 1993 in California, and worst by a factor of three over the 9th worst ranked car maker. You may contact or subscribe to Motor Voter (Now, C.A.R.S., by phoning: (916) 759-9440.

  • Not surprisingly these issues and problems were not included in, "Volkswagen World," a promotional brochure recently sent to VW owners by VW. However, VW did highlight a VW that had over 200,000 miles on it, which just goes to show you, that if you make enough cars over enough years, eventually you're bound to make a few mistakes.

  • Perhaps another example of VW serving itself rather than its devoted American consumers was when it stopped shipping the Beetle to the US, although it is still polluting the air of Central and South America as it is available in Brazil and Central America for about $7,000 US. VW was unable or unwilling to re-engineer the Beetle to accommodate US environmental and safety requirements. Now, nearly 20 years after it stopped shipping Beetles to the US, VW wants Americans to buy its Concept 1, supposedly the Beetle's replacement. Coming Soon (spring 1998) the new buggier Beetle from Mexico, starting (perhaps) at $16,000, more than twice the costs of the real "old" or "orginal" VW Beetle which sells in Brazil for $7,000 US.

    We can perhaps thank VW for halting import of the (Old) Beetle, but it likely did this for reasons other than American consumer needs and desires. The Beetle continues to pollute the air of South and Central America, despite VW's window sticker claims of environmental responsibility. Check with The Center for Auto Safety, Washington, DC, and with the NHTSA about consumer reported safety and maintenance issues before buying used Beetles or other Volkswagens. VW's past may be prologue? Ditto for other makes and models of automobiles.

  • VW stopped production of the undeservedly popular Vanagon (NHTSA has reams of consumer reported safety and maintenance problems), denying American consumers an outdoorsy sport van with superior interior space (perhaps its only plus). The Vanagon was fraught with quality and maintenance problems -- (check it out with NHTSA). Rather than re-engineering the vehicle and fixing its flaws, VW just ceased production without notice (?). In its place, VW momentarily shipped 93 EuroVans during model years '93, '94, and '95, then suspended shipments of all but select EuroVans with camper packages by Winnebago, pricing its product out of reach of the traditional VW van consumer. Is this more of VW's commitment to customer satisfaction and service?

    Perhaps we should thank VW for stopping production of this failure prone vehicle, but VW likely did not base its decisions on consumer needs or wishes. It just stopped making them, likely to cuts its loses over quality problems. Although the VW van displays superior interior space allocation, this hardly justifies the $5,000 or more increase in price over the standard competition. Only the Winnebagoed version of the EuroVan MV is currently available in the US (1995-1996). Is this customer service or VW's self service? If you want to see ugly, check out the EuroVan when the flimsy rear bumper caps pop off,-- ick!


Its Baaack! The Eurovan is now (1998) available with or without the Winnebago camper package, again in the US at a price beginning at more than $30,000... apparently VW's idea of customer service. The Eurovan continues to sport side impact exposed fuel tanks and unreinforced rear bumpers. However, rather than a three piece rear bumper, the bumper is a single piece, which means if damaged on the ends, the entire bumper will likely need to be replaced... apparently another example of VW going out of its way to service its customers.

  • Check with NHTSA, Washington, DC for a list of consumer reported safety and maintenance problems with this and other vehicles before buying used versions (see phone number for NHTSA on CARveat Emptor's Buyers Reference Page).

  • VW ran ads in the early 1990's saying its sales were up 100% over the previous year. Perhaps, but if their sales were only 43,000 (+/-) as they were in 1993, this would still place VW's sales under 100,000 -- not a great showing over the 1993 figures. 100% of nothing is still nothing. -- question all advertising assertions. Ads are not ads, they are subtractions from you and I.

  • A Bay Area VW dealer in its classified advertisements said it was rated number one in customer satisfaction. What the ad omitted to say is that the ranking was an inside rating between a limited number of VW dealers, not an industry-wide ranking of dealers or makes of vehicles. This same dealer seemed to be closer to the truth when it ran ads which simply stated "CHEAP" (not inexpensive, but cheap!) next to the official VW logo.

  • A young family from Wisconsin reports that they have had a nightmare with their 1993 EuroVan camper. Major engine problems at 50,000 miles and a continuous list of quality and mechanical problems costing them extra in personal time and family finances to have addressed unsatisfactorily by the dealer and VW. More happy VW campers?

  • Tires for the EuroVan are a particular problem. You cannot get them from dealers and often have to wait four or five weeks for special tires if they can be found.

  • I hope those new Mexican Jettas are a good value. But I wonder what's wrong with them that VW appears to be giving them away with nothing down and $199.00 / month. Sounds too good to be true. Someone mentioned VW was selling Jettas in the US at less than Germans pay for them in Germany. When I mentioned this to an acquaintance, it was suggested that this sounded like "dumping". Perhaps VW is dumping Jettas here to bolster unit sales after taking a marketshare bath over the past twenty years, when its sales slid from 560,000 units per year in 1972 down to a mere 43,000 in 1993. Looks great, what wrong with them? Made in Mexico and Brazil where there may still be quality problems? Is a German car made in Mexico a German car?

  • Drivers Wanted? Perhaps a more apt VW advertising slogan might be, Suckers Wanted? With VW it appears that its one "THING" after another. The TREK bikes will come in handy for getting around after towing the Jettas in for repairs. Perhaps VW is finally owning up to its quality problems afterall. But why would TREK chance jeopardizing its name and reputation by joining forces with VW? Perhaps this is TREK's contribution to society or charity to a needy cause...?

inCARhoots !

inCARhoots? VW Works With Newspaper Against Consumer / Auto Classified Advertiser? After placing and renewing a truthful and honest classified auto ad several times (three or four times) soliciting offers for this vehicle awhile ago in the San Francisco Chronicle under its "Seven/Seven" (If it doesn't sell in seven days, get seven additional auto classified days free), the newspaper canceled the ad without notice while offers were being received from callers including another VW dealer in the So. Bay conditioned upon my "shutting up about the deal and vehicle." The tentative and conditional offer was withdrawn upon cancellation of the ad. The reason the Chronicle gave when asked by phone why it had canceled the ad without notice, was that "you cannot seriously be seeking offers because the ad is too honest." No wonder I couldn't get out of it what I'd put into it. Apparently the Chronicle believes as apparently do many dealers, that honesty does not pay? Would VW or its "authorized" dealers have gotten a call from the Chronicle prior to any of its ads being canceled? Notice also that neither the Chronicle nor the Examiner have editorialized positions about fraudulent or unfair and manipulative auto sales and service practices which cost America's friends and family values billions of dollars annually (fraud alone cost consumers over $22 billion in 1995 according to reputable consumers advocates as reported in the mainstream media) Not a peep, er., beep! The Constitutional right to a Free Press is guaranteed. Every car maker and dealer should have at least one in the garage?

Why would a consumer reward VW with his or her business? Great German engineering? European cache? Masochism? Etc.? Many consumers have decided apparently that other vehicles and companies offer better quality, value, service, and satisfaction. VW's US sales were reported to be a mere 43,000 units in 1993, down from over half a million VWs (insects, er., Bugs) sold in the entire US in 1970 (Advertising Age, Sept. '93). Wish we were making this stuff up. VW squished in US? They are trying, nearly giving Jettas away to build up market share -- make sure if you buy one, to get the best deal of your life, and expect to pay any savings all back down the road for repairs? Hey, the Trek bicycle might just be the trick to take consumers mind off VW's problems. And the bike will be handy when the car is in the shop, as they often appear to be. Don't pay extra for the VW though.

"TREK" = To make a slow or arduous journey... perhaps an apt metaphor for the VW deal, and the Great American Car Deal. But wait a minute, --VW's current GTI and Golf ads feature the speedy nimbleness of their products? Hum? Slow arduous vs. speedy? You decide and you pays your money and takes your chances...good luck. A San Francisco/Oakland Bay area VW dealer is advertising its business (or is that its products) using the word "CHEAP" in big letters. We couldn't agree more, at least they got this much right. VW, CHEAP, if you've never owned one, or gone through the VW deal grinder, you don't know just how cheap...

Don't look for it in english. (no? non? nine?): Volkswagen commissioned a book, "Volkswagen and its workers during the Third Reich," by Hans Mommsen, which outlines Volkswagen' s use of slave labor in providing vehicles and munitions for the German WW II machine. VW is apparently so proud of this illustrious past that the book is not scheduled for translation into English. An ad-quality promotional photo of Mr. Adolph Hitler standing behind a line of shiny black Beetles ("People cars") flanked by trench coated SS officers at a christening of the opening of a Volkswagen manufacturing plant in 1938 is available from World Wide Photos, 50 Rockefeller Center, New York, NY 10020 (212-555-1212)- Directory Assistance).

Marge Schott (Former Cincinnatti Reds Owner) is reported to have said that, 'Hitler had some good ideas in the beginning, you know, before he went a little crazy.' (sic-k).

Could she have meant Hitler's Peoples' Car
or would this make the Concept-1,
VW's "New Beetle" VW's final design resolution?

What, you mean the "New Beetle" won't be called, the "Hitler"? At least Ford put his name on his automobiles.

Nah! Bah HumBUG...

The "New Beetle" has same old bugs... VW has recalled (less then three months after these little insects were loosed in the environment) all 8500+ VW 1998 "new beetles" sold in the US due to a wiring problem which may be a fire hazard.


You may wish to wait a few model years for VW and the Bill Gates of the world to work the Bugs our of the "New Beetle" before making your next VW mistake. At VW's $15,200 base price there are other tried and true products available with known track records. And it is reported that VW's Mexico factory is not able to meet the demand (a sure sign of potential quality problems) for its all new and improved and cuter "New Beetle", promising to add hundreds of dollars to the sticker price. Waiting until the New Bugs get worked out of it , and for VW to tool up to meet demand is the prudent advice to consider. Otherwise, we're talking risky consumer business.


(For an interesting perspective on the the Third Reich, The New World Capitalist Party, and Socialism try: "Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism & The Overthrow of Communism," by Michael Parenti -- tells about Ford Motor plants in Germany, which supplied equipment to the SS war effort, being protected from US bombing, etc. [Money was / is the ruling ideology]

"My Other Car Is Not A Volkswagen"

The new buggier VW-Mexican Beetle, (VW's Concept One) now promised by VW for over three years (building up demand to inflate demand = increased price?), is reported to be coming out in the spring of 1998. The only pictures we've seen show it conspicuously in Lemon Yellow (Truth in Advertising?). Made in Mexico! Supposedly to be available 'starting' at over "ONLY" $16,000. Its perhaps one of the better $3500 sub-compact automobiles on the market for $15000 to $25,000. In its category, sub-compact, it apparently fared better than the others in Insurance industry tests for bumper and body damage at slow speeds under laboratory conditions.

Fools rush in. Savvy consumers let automobile fruit ripen on the manufacturer's and dealer's vine (lot) to increase the dealer's and manufacturer's demand for consumers, and to let the less savvy consumer guinea-pig the bugs out of VW's "new" Mexican Beetles (Fire Bugs?). The new Beetle Blazers. Test-fire one at your local VW dealer.


Be willing to wait at least a model year or two, for other unsavvy consumers or bug-eyed "Beetle" lovers to help VW work the bugs out of VW's "new" Beetle.


Practice your walking skills and bring the US price of the VW Concept 1 / New Beetle down closer to its Mexican and Brazilian prices. Surely VW's consumer satisfaction and customer service policies permit it to pass along its "low-wage" costs savings by manufacturing in Mexico and Brazil, to its US customers, right? Practice your walking, take it or leave it, and dealer milking skills, pleasantly, cordially, and cheerfully, of course.


If you just gotstahaveone, practice your walking skills. Plant the heal of your left or right foot and push off with the other foot, doing a 180 degree maneuver, or just make your best lowball offer and dig in your heels and spurs and pull, always courteously, of course. Again, if you absolutely "need" one, develop a convincing detachment or disinterest in the product to avoid paying too much. Beware the novelty factor in this new product (its really not a new or old Beetle, ist just another expensive repair unit, which may or may not be an improvement or benefit to you), which dealers will use to inflate price. Real buyers are not sold, they buy. Is VW passing along its savings from cheap (free-traded) Mexican labor to its Mexican-made product consumers? Beware of exterior design aesthetics gussying up sleazier innards underneath. The people you think will be looking at your bugging around in your new Beetle (assuming you don't get a lemon), are merely looking at themselves in the $2 clearcoat shine.


VW is still making the "Original" Beetle in Mexico and Brazil. They reportedly sell in Brazil and Mexico for $7,000 (US) (Window Sticker price?). Hum, this would explain why the "All New and Improved" VW Mexican Buggier Beetle is reported to "start" in the US at $15,200...? A savvy consumer's first question of the dealer should be why is its customer pricing service in the US incongruent with its customer service pricing in Mexico and Brazil for a product which is made in Mexico using "Cheap" labor...why isn't VW passing along its labor saving costs to its US consumers... never mind that even the $7,000 Mexican and Brazilian Beetle is likely worth less than $2,500 US.

(March 1999) Finally, A Betta Jetta? Apparently, Consumer Reports that the VW Passat has run the Toyota Camry off the CR recommended best family sedan road... although it has been reported that consumer satisfaction with dealer and manufacturer treatment after sale lags in consumer surveys.

Two more VW-critical sites:

Volkswagen Lemon Law

Sucker Cars

Auto Alternatives | Drive Shafts | Dealing With The Dealer
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Auto Industry Cases | Car Deal Repair Kit | My Last VW Mistake
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My Other Car Not A VW | Legislative Alerts | Dodging Chryslers
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