Ownership Verified: "So why didn't you buy a PHEV?" (2018 Passat Alltrack TDI)

The reversing camera is a great invention. Even more so if it's hidden when not in use, so it actually stays clean.


It didn't occur to me to take a picture but it looks pretty funny when the back of the car is caked in an inch of snow (these things happen when you drive for a couple of hours in a snowstorm) and the VW badge is visible because it punched a hole for itself.
I can hear it launching.
So, two days ago marked my first year of VW ownership. This is an excellent car for the daily grind. It's comfortable, spacious, quiet, has a cavernous boot and is good on fuel. It just does everything really well, almost as if you learn a thing or two when you've been making the same car since 1973. :p

One of the first things I did was to yeet the aftermarket Chinesium winter wheels and swap the factory summer wheels over to the winter tires. I then got a set of lightly used OEM wheels for summer. The only repair I've had to do is the fuel rail pressure sensor which apparently is a known issue on these. It can cause a no-start condition which happened to me once, and hasn't happened since I put the new one on. Ten minute DIY job.

The world doesn't like diesel right now (if ever again) but even with diesel being more expensive than 95 octane right now it feels like the right choice for a car like this. I can't charge at home and running a car this size on petrol is not something I see myself ever doing again with fuel prices being what they are. Also most things that plug in tend to be two wheel drive and have feeble tow ratings.

The most annoying thing about it is the DSG. It was a great invention 20 years ago when the average auto transmission was a four speed that mostly turned fuel into heat in the trans cooler, but these days an 8 speed Aisin or ZF does the job better than anything with a clutch robot ever will. I knew that buying the car though, so I have nobody to blame but myself. :p I also missed out on Matrix LED headlights due to getting lost in the options jungle when I researched the car before buying it. This is a great option to have and not having it will annoy me until I trade the car in. :p
To continue my brain dump:

I like new shiny stuff as much as the next geek, but like most other people I'm not impressed with what some car makers are doing with user interfaces these days. My car has a dedicated driver aids button on the end of the indicator stalk instead of burying the settings five layers down the touchscreen in a page it won't let you access while the car is moving. I also don't have an air vent blowing frigid air on my right knee or elbow all summer long, because the center vents are on top of the dash where they belong. There's also a normal climate panel with tactile buttons and dials and two little displays that shows the temperature. Yes, it's the same Climatronic they've been using since Obama's first tenure. I don't care, it works well. I took a look inside a MY2022 Passat at the dealer. The Climatronic was gone and replaced with touchy slideys. Fucks sake...

Now, if only they'd fix the god damn volume knob. :ROFLMAO: This isn't my car in the picture, but all Volkswagens do this except for the ones where the beancounters replaced the knob with yet another touch surface. It seriously keeps me from using the knob. Sometimes I reach for it, realize what I'm doing and decide to use the steering wheel buttons instead. There's another knob without the power symbol on it on the other side of the screen, I'd have bought a second one of those already if VW sold it as a spare part. Well, they do, but it's very expensive and comes with a free complete head unit assembly.

Now, if only they'd fix the god damn volume knob. :ROFLMAO:
Good god that must be some of the top 10 dumbest design decisions of all time! Used to drive me insane in my seat… luckily I just never touched it ever and used the steering wheel controls, but having passengers was always challenging… for my sanity. DON’T TOUCH THAT! :shakefist:

I’m very happy that at least Tesla are little by little bringing back menu popups that show when you touch any of the remaining physical controls (stalks) and let you put stuff back on the quick access bar at least. That way I don’t have to dig through endless menus anymore… it’s better. Not great. But better.
It's the same in my Mini; I only use the steering wheel controls for that exact reason.
So, it rolled over to 100,000km a couple weeks ago. It still feels tight, doesn't shake, doesn't clunk. Has room for five actual full grown adults and their paraphernalia with ease if need be. The diesel is quieter than many petrol cars I've had and it returns a hair over 5l/100km on a longer run which isn't too bad IMO for a fairly heavy car with AWD. When I'm roadtripping by myself, my bladder decides when I need to stop, not my back. The seats are excellent.

The DSG however has been giving me a bit of grief. It's as if the clutch robot doesn't always know where the biting point comes - it doesn't always creep very nicely and sometimes it even stalls. Other times it realizes it's going to stall, disengages the clutch quickly and tries again. Like a learner driver of sorts. I still have extended warranty from the place that sold the car, so I'm making use of what's left of that and taking it to the vw dealer again, this time I'm guessing to get a new clutch fitted but we'll see about that. The new mechatronic unit it got a couple of months ago didn't do much.

Also, last Friday I came back out to the car after a quick visit to the dealer (to give them a bit more details for the repair order) and found a VW Polo parked at an angle and really close to my drivers side. Alarm bells started ringing so I checked and found fresh scratches in the paint and on the silver trim on the rear bumper corner. The offending Polo was looking worse for wear, not that I give a flying banana. The 88 year old owner claimed the parking spot was too narrow (it was most certainly not) and started talking back, told me to calm down, "it's just a car, I already told you I'm going to pay for the damage". I replied that it's my car and up to me to decide how pissed off to get when someone scratches it. And it's an extra nuisance to take it to get repaired etc.

So now it needs paint. I don't think it has had any before. At least it made it to 100k before the first accident.

So... The damage took forever to get sorted. The offending party needed to file a damage claim, but being almost 90 years old he couldn't figure out how to do it online and the employees at the bank where he was insured had just told him to go online. So he just left it, figured it would deal with it later. When I eventually managed to reach him by phone (on one of the days where he actually had it switched on) he actually asked me if I had got my car fixed yet, to which I replied in nice and friendly but very big letters that I haven't, because You Haven't Filed A Claim Yet And This Is Holding Everything Up. He went "oh.". I then gave him the phone number you can call for these things (why didn't the people at the bank do this??) and he got it sorted the next day. After three days in a rental Corolla I got my car back looking as good as new.

I got the clutch pack replaced this week. This was a two day job for two mechanics and I just got the car back a couple of years ago. Jury's still out on exactly how succesful the repair was, but it behaved better on the drive home than it ever has. Creeps a lot nicer and smoother now.

I've paid €200 in deductibles to get this sorted, probably 5-6k in parts and labor, and I now have a new mechatronic unit and clutch pack in a six year old 105,000km car. Not bad.

And words cannot express how nice it is to be back in an adult sized car again after two days in an A3 sedan. Me climbing out of that thing has to look like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube.
We had a week long cold spell of about -30 C or -20 F recently. I was mentioning to people how my car performed flawlessly. to my own surprise. Not even the door locks gave me grief which is very un-volkswagen to say the least. The auto folding mirrors worked fine too. Diesel fuel doesn't like temps below -30ish and my fuel filter is a year old by now but no issues at all, all week.

Fast forward to yesterday, day two of thawing weather after the arctic cold. BEEP AdBlue DEF light and spanner light and a CEL, 1000km left until my car won't start anymore. Because fuck you.

Yes, AdBlue (DEF in American) is a necessity in modern diesel vehicles and since it isn't needed to actually make the engine go brrrr (it's just injected into the exhaust aftertreatment system) the car is programmed to not start anymore if the system develops a fault. You're given a grace period, of in this case 1000 kilometers. In a way it's totally understandable because nobody would spend the money if the car didn't artificially make the life difficult for you, but around the time when the error first came on, I wanted to deport politicians and Volkswagen engineers to Siberia. I'm sure I'm not alone.

I heard of some american car where a problem with the emissions gear takes away your AC and cruise control. That's just mean.

The car was dropped off at my employer's shop last night. Currently waiting for the phone call telling me how expensive this is going to be. :ROFLMAO:
Fast forward until friday afternoon when they called to tell me my car is ready. I'm just getting ready to go collect it, I didn't have time last night. Apparently a pipe split in a really difficult place on top of the AdBlue tank which is mashed in between the body and diesel tank. It probably doesn't help that my particular Passat is AWD and has drivetrain bits in the region as well.

In a stroke of blind luck the Skoda dealer that's across the road from our shop had the parts on the shelf. The VW dealer which belongs to a completely different organization than Skoda in this country told me they would've needed to order it in from Germany. I'm sure everything will be on backorder soon because I'm apparently not the only one to have had these issues lately.

You can reset the 1000km grace period with the correct OBD test gear. I guess every diesel motorist should have one of those in their tool box.
It astonishes me that Adblue actually stops you from driving, despite it being not needed for the functioning of the engine (if I understood correctly it only cleans up emissions, the engine will just run fine, albeit not as clean, without it)?

I've noticed many fuel stations are now putting huge Adblue pumps in aswell, I guess for trucks who need I dunno 100l of the stuff?
I've even seen it sold in 5l fuel canisters aswell, which is kinda cool but also yuck, as I understand it's a very smelly/sticky liquid that's very hard to clean once it gets on your hands

(I've never had to refill adblue in my life so this concept is alien to me)
It astonishes me that Adblue actually stops you from driving, despite it being not needed for the functioning of the engine (if I understood correctly it only cleans up emissions, the engine will just run fine, albeit not as clean, without it

I assume this is just a programmed rule for exactly that, if you can run the car without ad blue, why use it at all? Then the whole point of using Ad blue becomes a moot point and we continue polluting the planet with no improvement.
Adblue is a mix of synthetic piss and distilled water. It's not poisonous, it doesn't smell and I usually pour whatever's left of the 10L canister on the ground when I've brimmed the tank because why not. It's fertilizer, and I'm not going to use it anyway, I'm not putting old adblue in my car. I'm going to use a fresh canister the next time.

It does, however, crystallize when exposed to (I'm assuming) oxygen and it's a pain in the ass if you spill some in the car, like in some models where they retrofitted adblue in the middle of the production cycle. Skoda Yeti comes to mind. There's a tank next to the spare wheel. The B8 Passat is designed for Adblue from the beginning so the filler is under the fuel door next to the fuel cap.

Adblue doesn't pass through the engine at all so there's nothing stopping it from running without it. That's why they programmed in a bunch of artificial problems, like in my case, the engine not starting after a 1000km grace period. Some cars go into limp mode. If they hadn't introduced these artificial issues nobody would pay to have it fixed when/if it develops a problem.

I make my living selling among other things canisters of Adblue and windshield washer fluid but I still find it funny that people don't just buy these fluids from pumps at the filling station. So much easier than buying and disposing of single-use canisters. Better for the planet, too.
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