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Thread: car towed...

  1. #1
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Default car towed...

    Well, it looks like my car suffered its first/second failure that rendered it non-drivable.

    After one case in Belgium where a tow truck was called as it did not start, but of course fired up when the tow truck was there (cause was a faulty lambda-sensor), now it really needed to be towed.

    My girlfriend was driving when suddenly she lost power (max. speed was around 30), the car started shaking and the engine light started blinking. She says it was quite scary. The VW mobility guarantee works (yep, even for a 15 year old Polo) and VW Assistance sent a mechanic, who identified the culprit as the coil pack for the 4th cylinder, which apparently is a "normal" problem. As he did not have a coil pack, a tow truck was called in and a replacement car offered. Interesting was that they send you a link on which you can actually see the gps location of the mechanic and tow truck. The whole thing took about two hours between calling the assistance and seeing the tow truck drive off into the night. Not too bad, but at -2 and snowing, it was good that it was in the city and that her parents came to her so they could wait in a warm car.

    Now the car is at the dealer (they tow to the closest one), where the part has been ordered; it should be there by the end of the week.

    I've found on google that these symptoms are very typical for problems with the coil pack. The component costs about 50-60 euro (original part, but just a few euro difference with non-original), and they charge about the same amount for fitting it. Still worth it on the car, considering it is still dead on reliable otherwise and still drives well.
    Last edited by VJ; 17th January 2018 at 08:21.
    pixar
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    Super MURCer UtwigMU's Avatar
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    Had to replace cables on Polo GTI once and also experienced safe mode. But with GTI top speed was 80 even in safe mode and not all cylinders. Remember having option of original or non-oem cables. It's not a big deal.

    On GTI had to be towed twice. Once servo pump started leaking, at some point lost oil and broke drive belts, lost power on highway without shoulder. Was quite scary as it was getting dark and lights weren't working. Called emergency number and jumped across fence, then highway service sent orange truck with big sign to be put behind me. Another occasion was broken starter which hasn't worked sporadically. After finally not working for 4 days it did start when tow truck came. On first Polo I had it towed when tyre blew and when I crashed it. For all cars I have assistance from insurance company which usually arrives within an hour. Once during winter I was stuck in highway jam due to accident ahead. Had lights, radio and seats heating on with engine off. When traffic started moving battery was empty. Some people helped me push the car on shoulder and I waited for assistance. I dressed lightly since I was going to warmer part of Slovenia and was planning to work in office. When assistance guy towed me to garage he offered me a shot of schnaps which I never drink but was so warming.

    Since June I have Honda Civic FN2 Type S and so far only problem is missing parts of digits on the clock which is likely a bad connection. I decided to sell the Polo because I was looking at rebuilding engine, lambda sensor and potentially catalytic converter which was around 3k. I loved the car - I'd put 3k in it if it would be the end of it but I assumed it won't be. The guy who bought the car rebuilt the engine and he really likes it - met him once afterwards. It cost me around 5k servicing polo between 2012 and 2017 but previous owner was really neglecting it - had to do a lot of major stuff.

    For older cars it costs quite less (300-1000 per year) to service them than depreciation of new car (1000-3000 per year) but most people see the expense they get bill for and not the not apparent one.
    Last edited by UtwigMU; 17th January 2018 at 18:05.

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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    One of our Grand Caravans, a 2004, has only needed filters, brakes, tires, an exhaust, ignition wires and a pair of front CV joints in >200,000 miles. Paid for itself several times over.
    Last edited by Dr Mordrid; 17th January 2018 at 20:07.
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  4. #4
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UtwigMU View Post
    Remember having option of original or non-oem cables. It's not a big deal.
    Yes, but it is just a few euros difference between oem or non-oem.


    Quote Originally Posted by UtwigMU View Post
    For all cars I have assistance from insurance company which usually arrives within an hour.
    I twice needed VW assistance and it works quite well. The longer wait this time was because they first sent a mechanic and only after that the tow truck.


    Quote Originally Posted by UtwigMU View Post
    I decided to sell the Polo because I was looking at rebuilding engine, lambda sensor and potentially catalytic converter which was around 3k. I loved the car - I'd put 3k in it if it would be the end of it but I assumed it won't be. The guy who bought the car rebuilt the engine and he really likes it - met him once afterwards. It cost me around 5k servicing polo between 2012 and 2017 but previous owner was really neglecting it - had to do a lot of major stuff.
    I had the lambda sensor fail on me quite early on (after 5-6 years or so), so while it was quite expensive it was a no-brainer to fix it as the car was still quite new. Biggest cost in recent times was the distribution belt, but that is a scheduled maintenance at 120000 km. I still felt that was worth it as there was nothing else wrong and I feel it is not the best of time to buy a new car (too many big changes coming in a short time-frame with regulations regarding EV and hybrid, so I'm holding off any decision). And getting a second hand car seems pointless if I have an old car in good state.

    Quote Originally Posted by UtwigMU View Post
    For older cars it costs quite less (300-1000 per year) to service them than depreciation of new car (1000-3000 per year) but most people see the expense they get bill for and not the not apparent one.
    Maintenance for the Polo is really near the low end of that, so I add a bit of buffer for defects and fixing. I hope there will not be costly issues soon as I would love to hold off the purchase of a new car for 2-3 years. As we live in the dead center of a city, and they are talking about introducing emission zones, it may be very interesting for us to go with PHEV or even EV but that I would like to combine with the installation of solar panels at my girlfriend's parents' place. So mainly we are waiting for regulation changes that are foreseen. As long as the car has no big issues, the cheapest now it to keep running it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Mordrid View Post
    One of our Grand Caravans, a 2004, has only needed filters, brakes, tires, an exhaust, ignition wires and a pair of front CV joints in >200,000 miles. Paid for itself several times over.
    Yeah... my father's Volvo 850 also was like that... no unexpected stuff in its lifetime (well once... stuck airco-compressor which broke the distribution belt). But other than that it just kept going. It is great to have a car like that.
    pixar
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    Super MURCer KRSESQ's Avatar
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    At the time of the big cold snap at the end of the year my niece's (actually grand-niece) '08 Impala began stalling at some dangerously inconvenient times. But it always immediately restarted. They took it to a shop that diagnosed a bad alternator and replaced it to the tune of $300. Needless to say it didn't solve the problem. I stuck a code reader on it but of course the computer wasn't throwing any codes. Her grandfather and I took it out for a drive and after 30-40 minutes of driving sure enough it stalled again. It immediately restarted, but it repeatedly stalled while we were driving it back home.

    The stalling always happened when the engine was warmed up, never when it was cold.

    Grandpa Al took it back to the shop and they ran every test they had but couldn't find anything wrong. They drove it around but couldn't get it to stall again. $60 later they basically gave it back and said "sorry."

    Now the punch line: since then it hasn't given them any trouble. Not one stall in three weeks. I surmise that either the cold was causing a vapor lock of some sort or the ethanol-blended fuel Al and I filled it with washed enough gunk and moisture out of the fuel lines to alleviate the problem.

    When I changed the oil in my wife's Hyundai Santa Fe I made a rookie mistake. The oil filter gasket came loose from the filter and stayed stuck to the engine and I didn't notice. When I screwed on the new filter it didn't make a good seal and the gaskets blew out while we were running errands. Left a nice puddle in the Menards parking lot. Fortunately this seems to be one of those models in which the engine shuts down and refuses to restart if it detects zero oil pressure. So there was no engine damage. Had it towed home, put a new filter on, cleaned off the oil soaking all the pulleys and the serpentine belt, and no more issues (except now I think we need a new battery :P).
    Last edited by KRSESQ; 18th January 2018 at 08:50.

  6. #6
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRSESQ View Post
    (except now I think we need a new battery :P).
    Out of curiosity, how often do you guys change car batteries? My car is 15 years old and I'm on the fourth battery. The current one already has a couple of years and the car is always outside in the cold. The current battery is around 4 years old so I think it may be the time for a preemptive replacement on the next maintenance. On the maintenance last year they said it still was fine, but we will be one winter further...
    pixar
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    Crabby Smurf Umfriend's Avatar
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    I wouldn't know. I think about once every 5 years preemptively?
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    Super MURCer UtwigMU's Avatar
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    Some good car battery shop where I also did some IT long time had a battery tester, so they would tell you whether battery will need replacing or not. My GTI had so-so battery when I bought it in 2012 and I replaced battery in spring of 2016. At that time if the car wouldn't start for the first or 2nd time I was unable to start it without jump cables.

    EDIT: The German made more expensive battery I bought had indicator that would be green while battery was good.
    Last edited by UtwigMU; 25th January 2018 at 03:13.

  9. #9
    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    Our town has a shop which rebuilds batteries; car, truck, tractor, boat, large, small, deep cycle, whatever. He charges 70% as much and they seem to last just as long or longer than "new" batteries. Guess where we buy them?

    He's had a thriving business for 40+ years.
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    Super MURCer KRSESQ's Avatar
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    I buy Sears Diehards and they typically last 8-10 years.

    Unfortunately our local Sears store is folding come April.

  11. #11
    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    FYI, last month it was announced Sears will be selling Die Hard batteries on Amazon.

    One more reason to have Prime, which saves us a s***load of shipping charges a year.
    Dr. Mordrid
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  12. #12
    Super MURCer KRSESQ's Avatar
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    Yeah, I know. I just don't order enough off Amazon to justify Prime. All my combined shipping last year was way less than $99.

    Free shipping on orders over $25 goes a long way.

    Mail-order car batteries seems a little weird to me. Car batteries are the sort of thing you tend to need right now.

  13. #13
    Super MURCer UtwigMU's Avatar
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    I have family in Italy and they have prime, so they order for me.

    You don't need batteries NOW if you're a bit proactive.

  14. #14
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KRSESQ View Post
    Yeah, I know. I just don't order enough off Amazon to justify Prime. All my combined shipping last year was way less than $99.
    Free shipping on orders over $25 goes a long way.
    Same here... although here in Spain I've used Amazon a lot... but rarely have stuff that I need *now*.

    Quote Originally Posted by UtwigMU View Post
    You don't need batteries NOW if you're a bit proactive.
    That was a bit the point of the question: how to be proactive
    pixar
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  15. #15
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    New problems... The bottom engine cover detached, along with part of a wheel well... Quite cheap things to fix though.

    More annoyingly is that the right headlight is turning cloudy from the inside. The light was replaced 3 years ago at a VW dealer I do not like/trust, but somehow we always end up with that one if there is a bigger fixing - last time car was also towed there. First we went back to that dealer who says it will have to be replaced again and stated that it is due to an electrical problem, in an almost arrogant way as if stating something very obvious. When we asked why they did not fix the electrical problem (the cause of the issue) last time, they acted quite sheepishly. It is not the first time I felt cheated at that VW dealer.

    However, the effect of that is that we need to replace the light-block again (which is rather an expensive component), and as the left light also shows signs of the effect (turning cloudy), it also needs to be replaced. So due to the previous dealer not properly doing his job we have a much higher expense: three lights and two replacement procedures rather than 1 light and 1 replacement procedure. And that is assuming that the electrical problem did not cause more damage over time.

    For sure we will write a letter to VW Poland to complain about that dealer.

    So heads-up if you have an older VW: a light that turns cloudy from the inside is most likely an indicator of bigger problems.

    Total cost of all fixings (engine cover, wheel well cover, 2 light blocks, electric problem) is estimated around 700 euro; the majority of this (around 70%) are parts with the biggest contributor the lights (engine cover is really cheap).

    While it is always a small problem, and you keep still convincing your self it is worth fixing (problem is not fundamental, cost is still much less than trying the find an equivalent second hand car), I have a feeling I should be starting to look out for a new car... But I would really like to be able to extend it just a few more years...
    pixar
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