2017 VW Passat: Dealer’s incompetence leaves me with a 4L repair bill

The engine valvetrain has been damaged due to repeated overheating, estimate of which comes to 6.5L.

BHPian actuallyankur recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I was a long time and loyal Volkswagen customer, having owned a diesel & petrol Polo, and eventually a Passat Highline TDI in December 2017. all three cars from the same VW dealer in Allahabad.

At the time of finalizing the Passat, the dealer informed me that it was a demo vehicle less than 1 month old, which had just done 80kms and as such offered me some discount, extended warranty (EW) and Road Side Assistance(RSA) for 2 years to the standard 2 EW + RSA, i.e., 2+2=4 years of EW+RSA. In my previous 2 VW vehicles also I bought additional warranties.

8-9 months after buying the Passat, the local VW dealer closed, and I was left with no other option than to take my car to service stations outside Allahabad for servicing and repairs.

Lucknow service center (Viraj Distributors) is THE MOST pathetic, deceitful, unreliable and incapable auto service station I have come across. Once my car was delivered with a dead battery. On another occasion I had given the car repainting and they returned the car with visible scratches all over the screen (which a staff from the service station itself later told on the condition of anonymity that the scratches occurred while trying to remove paint particles from the windscreen as the paint-booth guys forgot to cover windscreen properly at the time of painting. This even lead to an accident, where I merely missed hitting a stationary truck due to poor visibility at night.

On 30th September, 2020 whilst driving from Agra to Allahabad, all of a sudden the car showed a warning sign of coolant leak and engine overheat. I parked the car immediately and contacted VW RSA upon which I was informed that my EW and RSA had expired 9 months back on 27th December 2019, and that RSA services would be chargeable and that it would take at least 3-4 hours to reach. Even when I spoke to the RSA guys who were supposed to come to tow the vehicle, they seemed very reluctant to come and kept suggesting that I find a nearby garage/mechanic, since they are over 300kms away and they aren’t even sure if they could leave straightaway. VW RSA couldn’t arrange an onwards transport for me, as per there standard norms and I have to arrange my own taxi which would be reimbursable, at 2am on the middle of the expressway. VW RSA was outrightly useless and at the seemed more like a gimmick that VW uses to sell its cars.

The RSA services then connected me to a service engineer at some VW dealership who advised to fill up the coolant tank with water and drive to any nearby workshop if the engine overheat sign didn’t come on. I followed the advice and to my relief I was able to drive to a stop area about 10kms ahead, and luckily there was garage open there. I made the mechanic there speak to the VW service engineer who advised us to put more water and check for any signs of leakage upon starting the engine. The mechanic was able to find the coolant/water leakage at a hose pipe and as per instruction of the VW engineer, sealed it externally with a sealant. Since they didn’t have any good quality coolant in stock, he advised to use water instead, since a bad coolant might just do more damage to the engine, and to carry on with the rest of the journey as it was already 4.30am in the morning, and nothing else could be done. He also advised us to drive below 80, turn off the car every hour for 10-15 minutes, keep checking water levels every 30-40kms and topping up water when needed. According to the VW engineer, this solution should be good for the next 200-300kms before the car could reach a VW workshop.

Upon reaching Allahabad, I took the car to the newly opened workshop, where the service technician seemed to have no clue about the vehicle. Still after diagnosing it for some time I was informed that there is leakage in the “water-pump” of the car and that it would take 10-20 days for the part to arrive, during which I can use the vehicle within city limits as the temporary fix on the water hose pipe is working. Once again inquiring about the extended warranty (2+2 years) that I was promised at the time of selling the vehicle, I was given contact details of the previous dealer, who initially agreed that I was promised 4 years warranty & RSA and that he’ll get it corrected in a few days. After following for more than a week, he simply said that since he is no longer associated with VW, he won’t be able to help in the matter and that VW isn’t responding to his requests. Later after talking to the customer care I was told that if I was promised extended warranty, I should have taken it in writing. The kind of amazing experience I had with my previous Polo vehicles both with VW India and the erstwhile dealer, I decided not to insist for written warranty certificate as I was told that additional warranty certificate was issued only if you are buying additional warranty on old cars, with new cars it is by default added in your vehicle database. I went with the promise of dealership as I had no reason to believe otherwise and the overall experience had been good till then.

Then I tried contacting VW customer care toll free number, regarding warranty complaints. Every single time I was given lame promises that they will look into it or they will call back. Till date I haven’t received any call back in this regard. On one particular incident I requested to speak to a company person or a personnel higher up in the hierarchy, to which I was told that my request has been registered and that I will get a call back within 48-hours. Later when I called after 2 days, saying it’s been over 48 hours and I haven’t received a call back, i was told that I am supposed to get a call back after “48 working hours” which according to an 8-hour work shift from Monday to Friday, meant I’ll get a call back after almost 8-10 days. This clearly seemed evasive and deceitful, that you require 8-10 days just to call back to update on a customer complaint. Still I waited, and never received any call even till date.

Eventually I was forced to get the vehicle repaired out of my own pocket on 9th December 2020 at the VW Allahabad Service center, to a charge amounting to Rs.20500. After which I was assured that there is no issue with the vehicle, that the technicians have checked it thoroughly for any other faults relating to engine over-heating and coolant leakage. Upon assurance by the service center advisor and workshop manager at Allahabad, we again started using the vehicle normally and took it outstation the next day to Noida. Whilst returning from Noida to Allahabad, the vehicle again showed warning light for coolant leakage and engine overheat near Mathura. We immediately stopped the car and arranged for a flat-bed crane and sent the vehicle to Volkswagen Service center at Noida Sector-6 (Viraj Automobiles) as it was the nearest service station.

At the Noida service station the vehicle was diagnosed and I was informed that the water-hose pipe had burst, for which I was repeatedly assured by Allahabad service station that there is nothing wrong with said water-hose pipe and that the only part malfunctioning was the water-pump. This clearly means that firstly Allahabad service station technicians did not diagnose the vehicle properly, and secondly that the water pump for which I paid a hefty Rs.20500 might have not been faulty in the first place. Still, the part arrived after a week, and the vehicle was parked at the service station all this while. The vehicle was delivered to us on the 23rd December, 2020. I was once again reassured that all diagnosis had been done and the problem will not arise again. As soon as I sat down in the vehicle and opened the small compartment below the steering I find a dead rat inside it, who seemingly entered the vehicle while being parked at the service station and ate up some wire/components. Now this never happened in the nearly 3 years we had this vehicle and at Allahabad or Lucknow service stations. Speaks volumes for pest control and handling at Noida service station.

We left for Allahabad on 26th December, 2020, the vehicle was mostly parked at the Hotel through our stay in Delhi. Once again the engine overheat and coolant warning light came up as soon as we entered Agra. This was after water pump and water hose pipe had been replaced and the vehicle inspected and repaired by 2 different service stations. This time again we had to send the vehicle back to Noida service station (as Agra service station has shut down). Over there they are now claiming that there is internal damage within the engine and seemingly there is internal leakage of coolant from the engine gasket, that the engine head needs to be opened and estimated repair cost could be between Rs.200000-Rs.250000 or even more. Upon asking how is it possible that they did not check it before delivering the vehicle, I am told that “it is not possible for us to thoroughly check the vehicle and do a comprehensive test drive, as it is an internal component”. So does this not imply that Volkswagen India is incapable of diagnosing problems in a car they are manufacturing and selling in the country, that the safety and wellbeing of the passengers are solely dependent on “speculation” and “guess-work” of service advisors and technicians, where no attempt is made to even find out the actual cause of the problem. Once again upon pushing the service advisor and workshop manager, they are not sure whether the problem really is leakage in engine gasket, and requires opening of engine head. If not, then I would have spent Rs.250000 all for nothing, and also have my engine head opened just because a service technician “thinks that there is internal leakage of coolant”.

This time around I had had enough of the VW’s workshops hit and trial method, having caused me so much money and potentially risking our safety. I mean they don’t seem to have a clue about anything, they just raise you invoices based on their assumptions, whims and fancies.

This time I refused to repair the car and demanded that they look into my warranty claims, and repair the car under warranty since the car came to it’s current state due to the inefficiency of both the VW workshops- first the Allahabad workshop then the Noida one. This went on for couple of months and the company refused any support, and kept saying that any claims or promises made by our former dealer as long as they are not in writing even if the dealer is accepting that he promised a 4 year EW+RSA. They even denied any liability for any damage due to the inefficiency, wrongdoings or negligence of the current VW workshops.

VW Noida workshop in the meanwhile suggested that they open the engine head and at least check what the damage was, come up to an estimate and then see what best they can do at their end, so I agreed to let them open the engine head and check. Now comes my biggest shocker, the engine valve had been damaged and the total repair estimate was to the tune of Rs6-6.5 lac. After a lot of discussion and requests I was offered discount of 90% of the labor cost (which itself was north of Rs. 2 lacs). Further, upon discussion, I was told that even after this there is slight possibility that there might be some other damage as well, which they can’t promise now. So in conclusion it is an open ended pitfall of Rs. 4 lacs for me, which might go up, and still there won’t be any guarantee of any other fault that might crop up other than the engine head leakage and valve damage.

After months of trying to contact VW customer care, to which I never used to get any replies or call-backs except for 2 occasions, I decided to take legal action, and filed a case in the consumer forum in July 2021. Even after this VW didn’t try to reach me to offer any resolution, and a couple of times when they did contact me I was told that they’ll take up my case higher-up and revert, but never received a call back. Funnily enough, they didn’t even file any representation in the consumer court, which really infuriated the court, and they finally issued an ex-party order on 22nd July, 2022, under which they will issue a final order, hopefully in my favor, without listening to VW’s side. Now I am just left at the mercy of the court, but feel bad for those who don’t want to get into the hassle of court cases and suffer huge monetary losses and mental regress due to such arrogant self-centered corporations.

Imagine going through such a horrific ordeal on a two and half year old car, timely serviced at company dealerships, never missed an inspection, and single-handedly driven. Also, I forgot to mention that at the time of the last incident, the car had just completed 70,000kms on the odo.

Now, the take-away from my episode, which I’d like to share with fellow BHPians is:

Hope this helps. If I can be of any help to anyone, please feel free to connect.


Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

The situation sucks. I recently heard of a BHPian who sold his 2-3 year old Passat because it spent 6 months in the workshop as neither VW nor its dealers could solve the problems.

On the other hand, you should have safeguarded your interests too.

  • Word of mouth has zero value. If you bought an extended warranty, you should have the paperwork to back it up.
  • When you knew the hosepipe had a leak in the first instance, you should have insisted on its replacement. You clearly saw it for yourself.
  • VW’s support for its premium cars is very poor and that reflects in the sales figures. No TDs, suspect availability, zero recall in the customer’s mind. Plus, there is no continuity which is important in the automotive world. Example = Toyota consistently sells the Camry, no matter how low the sales drop to (unlike Honda & the Accord’s phantom presence). But shockingly, even I don’t know which months the Passat has been on sale and when it hasn’t. Sad, because it is truly a wonderful luxury car (like the Superb) that can give the entry level luxury Germans such as the C-Class & A4 a run for their money.

Hope your issues get settled soon. Going to send this thread url to some people at VW who I know.

Here’s what BHPian sunikkat had to say on the matter:

VW has always been very erratic in their product line up in India, especially in higher segments. VW Passat, Jetta, Tiguan, Tiguan Allspace etc. all are examples. And I guess this is one of the reason VW couldnt enjoy success in D+ segments unlike Toyota or Skoda for that matter.

Comparatively Skoda is more consistent, ever since Octavia and Superb was launched in India they have consistently put them on sale other than those brief periods when they were expecting the newer models. And they got the new models very much on time too. Fabia is the only car I could think about they really in axing. Not considering Karoq or Octavia VRS as those were launched in limited numbers. And this is where I am hopeful that they might still get Superb and Octavia even after the rumoured exit in 2023.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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