My TDI And Me

This is my Volkswagen Sportwagen TDI, its a 2011 6 speed manual. My wife and I traded in her 2000 Passat back in 2010 hoping the troubles that it brought us would be a thing of the past, as “new” VW was supposed to be a more better experience than the troubled one of the 90’s and 2000’s. And these are my 2 cents on this whole issue.

We bought a diesel because it was only $750 more than a standard Sportwagen, after the tax credit ($750, phased out by the end of that year), and because it seemed like the smart thing to do, giving us much higher mileage for the long distances between places here out west and our desires to travel.

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Its been a pretty great car for 50,000 miles, sure the armrest is wonky, the HVAC can makes the car smell like dead bird, and the fuel system exploded but aside from that its been a really great car to own and drive. Its fun, its very economical and its plenty roomy. My car, like most with this engine, has historically gotten well above its MPG ratings of 30/42 city/highway and over 50,000 miles and 5 years I’ve average about 34, mostly city driving. Of course we all now know why this is the case.

Back in December we got a notice of recall for emissions reasons, so we took it in to the dealer and had the work done. Since then I’ve always had a nagging feeling that the car wasn’t quite as peppy and that the mileage didn’t seem to be like it was before. Knowing what I know now about this service may help others know what to expect if the emissions fix is just a software and why I’m not overly concerned about it:

1. My city mileage has definitely dropped, I used to NEVER get below 30, now I hover around 29-31, so maybe a 1-2 mpg city drop.

2. My highway mileage didn’t seem too affected, and on a recent trip with a full car on 80 mph highways at high elevation and lots of hills I still averaged 46 mpg. I’ve seen as high as 50, but 46 seems fair.

3. Though less peppy, the car still has enough power to cause the traction control to freak out in 1st and into 2nd and even with a full load of people and cargo I can still set the cruise at any speed I want and go over any hill I want without shifting out of 6th gear.

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Now I know they say that this fix doesn’t actually do that much, but I have to think that its doing something, since its clearly affecting the cars performance. The point I’m trying to drive at here is that unless the software fix causes MASSIVE performance drops (I’m talking 5 mpg+ drops and 20 hp+ differences), I don’t think its going to be a big issue to most people. However, I think I would still be justifiably upset if that were to happen.

The only real concern left for me is what it will do to the engines reliability as Carbon EGR and DPF clogging are very real and expensive issues. Whatever comes of this though, I think will either be covered with warranty or the cars will be involved in a buyback.

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If I have to sell my car back I will be a little sad, because its a great car to own and the only thing you can find like it (manual wagon with great mileage). I think I could get over it though and get something else.

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