Interesting VW new car warranty experience

Mar 3, 2011
The Willow Creek District AVA

I want to share a bizarre VW new car warranty experience.

My wife and I bought a brand new 2016 VW Passat SEL Premium VR6 on Dec 15 2018. Yep, a 2016 model with a July 2016 build date bought brand new in 2018. MSRP was $38,430. We bought it for $26,500, plus tax, license, and registration.

It's been a good car and has exceeded my expectations. The VR6/DSG combo is fantastic. Immediately after buying I put on a set of H&R OEM Sport springs along with Bilstein B6 struts/shocks. At the same time I put on a set of 19x8.5 BBS SX wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S. A necessary upgrade, but I digress.

The garage door opener mount on the driver's side sun visor broke. I took the car in about getting it replaced under warranty. The service writer told me the warranty had expired. He said the VW warranties expire based on build date. I knew he was wrong but wasn't going to argue with him at the time (and I don't keep owners manuals in the car to prove my point). So I ordered the sun visor and made an appointment, paying for the sun visor out of pocket. I'd get my money back when I brought it back in for them to install it. I'd press my point then. Easy smeasy.

When I got back to the house I looked in the owners manual. Right there it says the warranty starts when the car is put into service (not build date). I sent the service advisor a text message with a picture from the manual describing what new car warranty coverage was. Easy. Done deal. I'd get my money back.

A day later the service advisor left a voicemail telling me my car was NOT under warranty. He apologized for telling me it started with build date, but he said the car was put into service in August 2018 (not Dec 2018). I don't know where he got that date, but I wasn't worried.

I got there for my appointment a week later. Just to avoid any potential hassle, I wanted a refund before they installed the visor. The service advisor (the same guy) told me he could not return my money because the part was special ordered. I protested and showed him the original copy of my purchase agreement - Dec 15 2018. Clearly the car was still under new car warranty. But, he held his ground and refused a refund.

I asked to see the service manager. He came out and said "Too bad, no refund". I showed him my purchase agreement with the Dec 15 2018 date. Progress! He'd refund my money but would charge me a 15% restocking fee. No way and I protested more forcefully, although not raising my voice or using profanity. He stood his ground.

I asked to see the general manager, but the parts manager came out instead. He came up to speed with the situation and agreed with his service advisor - a 15% restocking fee. No way! I put on my crazy face, but not raising my voice or cursing. But I did have some foresight and came in prepared. I'm 6'5" and 230 physically fit pounds. I arrived in my faded and stained work jeans, t-shirt, suspenders, and Red Wing boots that look like they survived a war. I look menacing in that attire. In the past I've actually scared off aggressive dogs with nothing more than the look on my face. You look 'em right in the eye. It definitely comes in handy at times.

After 10 minutes of me DEMANDING a refund and REFUSING a restocking charge, looking them square in the eye, they gave me a refund. But I wasn't done yet.

The original service advisor was there, the service manager, the parts manager, and me. It's not my nature to throw someone under the bus in public but I called out the original service writer right out in front of them, saying he told me warranty started from the build date. How could a service advisor be so ridiculously wrong?! I demanded an explanation. They chalked it up to improper "coaching" (their word). Once again I showed them the Dec 15 2018 purchase agreement. The service advisor was on the computer and ran a CARFAX on the car. It showed a Dec 15 2018 sale date.

Then he got onto the VW corporate website, which showed an August 2018 in service date. He printed it and proudly circled the August 2018 date, as if he finally won. I told me that I couldn't care less what VW said, I had the original purchase agreement, one that was confirmed by CARFAX. Dec 15 2018. Car was still under new car warranty.

While processing my refund the parts manager said this was going to cost the dealership about $20, to which I replied "Too bad, not my problem."

In summary, this dealership lied about when the new car warranty started (they can't be that stupid), refused a refund, then wanted a restocking fee, then they insisted the in service date was August - even though that was clearly wrong. They had ZERO interest in correcting their records and working with me.

Absolutely pitiful. What a bunch of dishonest scum. VW should be ashamed. I will never return to that dealership, even if they are giving away free cars.

I glued the garage remote bracket back in place using super glue.


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Stating the obvious, 'a dealership being dishonest, LYING?' 😲 /s

As regards your assumption the dealership would make right the purchase on your dime once shown the proof, follows the ass'u'me adage.

I think I would have told the parts manager mentioning how much it cost the stealership, 'call someone who cares.'

Can't blame you for not going back.
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Did they end up not using the visor for the warranty repair? Even if you opted out of repair and they had to restock the part or whatever I don't blame you one bit for hitting the roof, this was entirely their mistake.

I had an issue with a CPO repair on my '16 E-Golf when the horn shorted out. Service advisor was arguing with me that VW CPO only covers safety related defects and the horn was my responsibility and he wanted me to sign off on a $129 diagnostic fee. I argued with him about it for about 30 seconds that he was incorrect and VW CPO was just like VW original warranty. I didn't feel like arguing any further and I was leaving my car there so I just left the conversation with something along the lines of 'While I am home waiting I will call VWoA to clarify the CPO warranty coverage.' I didn't even call VWoA because I was pretty certain he would change his tune before he called with a status update, sure enough couple hours goes by and he calls saying yup $50 deductible, horn has been replaced and you are good to go.

Hopefully their overall service network is not backsliding to the dark days of the late 90's early 2000's when their service was the absolute pits.
I would forward this post to VW corporate and see if another dealer will accommodate you, maybe even have the date corrected for possible future recalls? Being marked as put into service in August could have been a glitch or maybe someone bought the car, registered this with VW but then the deal fell through? Regardless, it's worth getting some corporate exposure on this. Also, whenever you are working with management, and you need to twist an arm, tell them you will leave a nice review for the companies excellent customer service on Google. Some businesses live and die by Google Reviews, it could be one of the most powerful things you can do besides successful corporate escalation.
dealers can be a PITA + unfortunately many less aggressive get TAKEN + pay up without DISCUSSING issues!! good for those who stand up to those STEALERS!!!
A cardinal rule in shady business is "once you have their (the customer's) money, never give it back." At least not without a heck of a fight.

You should not have put out your money upfront for anything until they agree the warranty would cover it, at which point you don't need to pay for anything.

This claim would also have been super easy for them to reject saying that it is not a manufacturer's defect, you must have abused the clip to break it.
Dealer at time of purchased if offered a extended warranty could of saved a future customer. But due fact the sales team including finace, owner and management drop the ball. Happen to write a letter to VW america?
I wonder if they told VW it was sold in August to get more allocation or some scheme to bump their monthly numbers into the next tier of commissions or something?

At least they refunded you. It amazes me the lengths they go to over $20. A multimillion dollar dealership and they risk losing a customer or at least making them hate them over $20? Stupid business model and they paid the knuckleheads that you dealt with more than $20 when they could’ve been doing something else.
Seems to me it was either bought new in December, or you bought an undisclosed used car originally sold in August. Either way it seems the dealer is SOL.
Sounds to me like the car was registered in August, maybe as a demo or something… Or maybe mistakenly?

In any event the warranty starts when the car is first sold. That is normal.
I thought of that too. I have all my documentation/maintenance stored in a three ring binder. Everything. I checked every piece of document from the purchase, including the final sales contract, the Pre-contract Disclosure, Vehicle Due Bill - everything was noted as being a new car sale.

As far as buying a brand new 2016 in 2018, the dealer told me this was the last one of 53 2016s they originally had in stock. 53 2016 Passats in stock? At the time I remember that seemed bizarre to me.

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What was the odometer reading at the time of purchase, Scott? Just curious - does not make any difference.

I'd contact VW, lay out the story, and have them fix the in-service date so you can take advantage of the 9 remaining days of warranty you're entitled to. :)
Hopefully their overall service network is not backsliding to the dark days of the late 90's early 2000's when their service was the absolute pits.
Had it bounced back from the low point? How long have I been asleep?
Sorry one terrible experience. The reality is if things don't go your way you can contact Corporate VW as this involves them. Also that 9 months of extra warranty maybe useful. Alternatively if the dealer sold the car in Aug 2018 and then represented the vehicle as New to you in Dec 2018 then you have another nice case on your hands.