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VW Ignition Coil Problems?



  • I too had the same ignition coil problem along with other electrical issues. I have the 2001 model with 40k and I'm wondering what else is in store for the near future.

    The Dealer’s lackadaisical attitude had me in a rage after two weeks. Also, is it standard business practice to charge sales tax on the total amount covered by the warranty? Are all Volkswagen Dealerships as painful as the ones here in Austin, Texas?

    I plan to trade the car in and take my chances elsewhere.
  • I have now gotten all of my coils replaced. VW Customer Care was absolutely worthless in this regard. I sent a written letter to my dealer explaning the situation. In it, I stated, "Due to the substantial failure of the vehicle to meet its intended normal use, I am requesting once again (in writing) that you replace all of the ignition coils in the vehicle with the cost covered under warranty. In doing so, I am attempting to give you the opportunity to correct the defect in manufacture of the vehicle. I would like a written acknowledgement and decision regarding this request sent to my email address as soon as possible". Thus I asked them to give me a written acknowledgement that they were denying my request. Of course, they won't do that, but the dealer did contact his VW District Service Manager , who showed up the next day and had all the coils on my car replaced. Oh, yeah, I also told my dealer if he was unwilling to resolve the issue by replacing all of the coils in one visit, my next visit was to the IL State's Attnys office. Bottom line - just gotta push 'em in the right direction...Don't bother with VW "Customer Care" should be renamed..."VW Customer? We Care-Less"
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    they have VW officials saying replacement of all coils can start in march, and out of warranty cars will not be abandoned by them.

    you will need to make a free registration to read the article itself, which should be up for a week or so
  • Rather than just rehash the known facts of this fiasco, Ms. Jensen has shown that VW has committed the clissic bungled PR.

    February 2, 2003
    A Black Eye for VW and Audi
    WIDESPREAD failures of a crucial engine component have left owners of 2001 and 2002 Volkswagens and Audis stranded and stewing while the companies scramble for replacement parts. The problem, faulty ignition coils, potentially affects more than half a million cars in the United States.

    For VW, which hopes to turn itself into an upscale brand, the timing couldn't be worse. The company is bringing out a new $40,000 sport utility, the Touareg, and this fall it will sell a large luxury sedan, the Phaeton, for $60,000 to $75,000. But even as the company lays out a red carpet for demanding luxury-car buyers, it is trying to mollify its current customers and keep their cars running.

    Audi, a subsidiary of VW, already competes in the luxury market.

    The failures have left owners at roadsides waiting to have cars towed to dealerships. Because replacement parts have been in short supply, some cars have sat for days or weeks. Furthermore, because each car has four or more potentially faulty coils, the experience can be repeated over and over.

    VW and Audi have generally declined to replace coils that have not yet failed, angering owners. But late last week, the company said it would have enough parts in March to replace all potentially defective coils.

    Ignition coils produce the high-voltage current that fires the sparkplugs. Some automakers use a single coil, but VW has one for each sparkplug — four coils, for instance, on a four-cylinder engine. If a coil fails, the sparkplug will not fire and the engine will lose power.

    The company began hearing about problems last fall, said Tony Fouladpour, a Volkswagen spokesman in Auburn Hills, Mich. But it wasn't until Friday that VW and Audi began sending letters to owners of 2001 and 2002 models explaining the problem and what the companies intended to do about it.

    VW says more than 500,000 vehicles in the United States may be affected, but the problem is global; even The China Daily has reported on coil failures. Web forums for VW and Audi owners in the United States and Britain have been deluged with complaints. One site — "
    /zerothread?id=575535" — recently had 29 pages of postings on the subject.

    VW is aware that owners are saying the company doesn't care about their problems. "That is absolutely not the case," Mr. Fouladpour said. "Have we been playing catch-up? Absolutely. Have we been just trying to get the parts and get them to the dealers? Absolutely. But at this point, we want to prove we can take care of the customer."

    The experience of Pat and Carol Navin of Evanston, Ill., seems typical. While Mrs. Navin was driving their 2002 Passat wagon — with just 3,100 miles on the odometer — the "check engine" light came on, and the car rumbled, shook and lost power. Mrs. Navin pulled off the road and had the Passat towed to their dealership. Two of the four coils on the 1.8T four-cylinder engine had failed.

    Mr. Navin said that his dealer treated them well and quickly fixed the problem, but that it was inexcusable that VW had only now begun to communicate with owners. "I think I would not have been nearly as angry if I'd gotten a letter," he said. "Instead, they've really chosen to bury their heads in the sand and let everybody discover it for themselves."

    VW says the ignition-coil failure rate has been "higher than normal" on 2001 and 2002 models of the New Beetle, Golf, GTI, Jetta and Passat with the turbocharged 1.8T engine, as well as on Audi A4's and TT's with the same engine.

    Mr. Fouladpour said that there had been some cases of ignition-coil failures on other engines, but that the rate was not as high as with the 1.8T. Those engines are the 3-liter V-6 in some A4's and A6's; the 2.8-liter VR6, a narrow-angle V-6 in the Eurovan, GTI and Jetta; and the 4-liter 8-cylinder in the Passat W8. No 2003 models are affected, Mr. Fouladpour said, nor is the 2.8-liter V-6 also used in Passats and some older Audis.

    He said that the company was working hard to keep its owners happy and that getting enough parts had been the top priority. The German supplier of the defective part has been working three shifts and, starting Jan. 20, twice as many coils have been delivered to the United States.

    "We have filled the backlog of orders," Mr. Fouladpour said. "Today, if you come in with a car with a malfunctioning ignition coil, your dealer should be able to, in a very timely manner, get that part."

    In the letters to owners, VW and Audi agree to pay for repairs even if the warranty has expired, and to reimburse owners for previous repairs. Dealers will provide loaner or rental cars without charge.

    When an ignition coil fails, the owner has two options: either call the toll-free numbers for VW or Audi roadside assistance, which can be found with the owner's manual and other materials in the glovebox, or try to drive the vehicle.

    "We don't recommend people drive for an extended period with it," Mr. Fouladpour said. "And they should drive slowly to prevent damage to the catalytic converter."

    The situation has left owners like Mr. Navin worried about driving their cars and wondering why the loss of power is not a safety issue that would prompt a recall to replace all the coils. "What if there is a failure while a driver is being tailgated by a tractor-trailer?" he asked.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "has the matter under review," said a spokeswoman, Liz Neblett.

    Even before the coil problems became news, Volkswagens were slipping in the reliability ratings of Consumer Reports. The Passat is the only VW remaining on the magazine's list of recommended vehicles, and "it doesn't need many more problems to put it into the `unreliable' category," said David Champion, director of automotive testing.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    I'd dispute that line about no 2003 models affected. At least for Passats, the high failure rate ignition coil, known as the H version, was used on '03 production through build date 07/2002.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    already poor reputation for reliability. I wanted a Jetta 1.8T in 2001 but was turned off by the reliability concerns and this was before the coil issue was well known. How many people who have heard about this will never buy a VW because of it?
  • justinjustin Posts: 1,918
    for us current owners, people won't care. they will buy VW's until their are no more to buy. and that will mean VW doesn't have to take it seriously. everyone thinks it won't happen to them. and for an affordable car, there are very few choices out there.

    i thought it was interesting in the NY Times -

    "The German supplier of the defective part has been working three shifts and, starting Jan. 20, twice as many coils have been delivered to the United States."

    why in the heck would i want the company that made the DEFECTIVE part to simply make more? what good does that do?
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    suppose the coil outfit (I'm not going to cut 'n' paste from above for the obvious legal reasons) has a patent on a process to wind a coil in a smaller footprint and saving weight. they offer their coil exclusively to VW at a good price, it fits their redesign plans for engines, and an exclusive supplier contract is signed.

    VW is deep up a crick if they decide they don't want to deal with this outfit any more... they are tied to the supplier. so they have to work something out.

    the same thing happens every day in a lot of industries... it could be a single ASIC chip on a data switch circuit board that overheats and dies, it could be the devil's agreement between using asbestos in brake linings and the medical consequences, it could be having the two suppliers of vehicle parts and fuel tanks running the space shuttle program under contract as a cost savings.

    you have nobody else you can deal with because you have an exclusive arrangement with somebody who owns part of your final product, like it or not, and you just have to deal with those folks.

    if VW wants out of their contract, they have to pay the coil guy beaucoup euros to make it worth their while, amount to be determined by negotiations or lawsuit. or they don't have any coils, period. if they try to play hardball and a court enjoins them from screwing the supplier in the meantime, VW has no parts and can't build or service cars. that is not the business plan for world domination of a market, not at all.

    so that's the wonderful part about exclusivity. it should be obvious that you want to see multiple suppliers before you buy something, but consider... that is not the way we see our markets work these days.

    VW should have dealt with the issue in a wholly different manner before now... customer letters, information on exactly what the failure was and how they were stepping up to it, and by that I mean diagnostic teardown photos included of where the coil failed internally... and now we'll see how much effort it takes to clear the mess up.
  • No easy fix for failing ignition coils in Audis, VWs

    By Royal Ford, 1/26/2003

    One man, looking to escape his monolithic SUV but wanting to tackle slippery New England weather with all-wheel-drive, opted for an Audi A4. A Cambridge couple, baby on the horizon, looked for a good price, reliability, and a touch of sporty performance and chose the Volkswagen Passat. The Passat also caught the engineer's eye of a Marlborough father whose two sons were finally out of expensive braces and, though an Audi was out of reach, was able to rise with expectation from the worn seat of the Chevrolet Cavalier he had been driving for 12 years.

    Theirs are not happy stories.

    They are among more than half a million people who purchased 2001 and 2002 Volkswagens and Audis with 1.8-liter, 4-cylinder, turbocharged engines. Those engines are found in Audi A4s and TTs and in Volkswagen Jettas, Passats, New Beetles, and Golf GTIs.

    The problem, and it is epidemic, is that the ignition coils in the vehicles are failing, leaving drivers to sputter off the road under greatly reduced power.

    Volkswagen and Audi acknowledge that every coil on every cylinder in these cars is susceptible to failure. That's four coils for each of the 320,000 Volkswagens and 140,000 Audis (US auto sales) in question. (An ignition coil is a pulse transformer that boosts power from the battery or alternator to generate highly charged sparks for ignition in the cylinders. Some cars have one coil whose pulses are ''distributed'' in a timed pattern to the cylinders. Others, such as the 1.8-liter engines in question, have coils for each cylinder - in this case, four coils for four cylinders.)

    And here is where the problem gets worse. The sibling automakers cannot get enough replacement coils (even as they build better coils for their current model year runs) to yank out all the bad coils and put in good ones.

    So what are they doing?

    If a coil fails, the owner has to limp or be towed to his or her dealer and get the bad coil replaced. Very few will replace the other ''bad'' coils that have not yet failed. That means drivers leave their dealership with one good coil and a sense of great trepidation because three other ready-to-fail coils lurk beneath the hood.

    Tony Fouladpour, a Volkswagen spokesman, acknowledged that a second coil failure means a second trip to the dealership - and I assume a third and fourth.

    ''It's not a situation we necessarily like,'' Fouladpour said, but added that with production limits, ''We're just trying to get people back on the road as fast as possible.'' And for those whose cars can't be fixed quickly, VW and Audi are picking up the tabs on rental or loaner cars.

    There have been some reports of dealers rejecting those whose warranties have expired, even though their cars had faulty parts from the get-go. After all, there are those who drive more than 50,000 miles in a two-year period. Don't take that for an answer.

    Jennifer Cortez, speaking for Audi, which has 4-year, 50,000-mile warranties, said that anyone who has exceeded the 50,000 miles should not feel left out. Contact Audi, she said. ''We will not leave them high and dry.''

    It is the same story at VW, said Fouladpour.

    ''On those specific parts, we're going to make good,'' he said.

    But even being finally back on the road does not equate with being there with any confidence.

    Kathleen Spencer and her husband Andrew McLean, of Cambridge, bought their 20011/2 VW Passat with a baby in their future. They bought it ''because of reviews saying it was a great car'' and after lots of research. They wanted a car that was not too expensive, was reliable, and did not say ''Soccer Mom on Board.'' (The last being my interpretation of a conversation with Spencer.)

    The car failed, was taken to a dealership, and sat for a few days before it was acknowledged that their case was symptomatic of a massive problem with these cars, but that just one coil would be replaced.

    The result?

    While they use the car for around-town errands, Spencer and McLean will be spending their own dime to rent a car in the days ahead for a holiday trip.

    ''I don't want to get stuck out on some icy road in Vermont,'' said Spencer.

    Steve Lesser, the ex-SUVer from Ashland, chose a 2002 Audi A4 when he went shopping for a sporty ride.

    He'd had the car for about eight months when, right after the first of the year and on a Friday night in commuter traffic on 128, he felt a thump, thought he had hit a pothole. Then, he said, he thought he might have a flat because of the way the car sloshed its way along the highway. Then the engine warning light came on, and he knew there was bigger trouble.

    He called Audi assistance, was told to have the car towed, and when the tow truck had him hooked up, he climbed in with the truck driver.

    ''I've been towing two or three of these a day,'' Lesser said the driver told him. Then the driver asked him if he had heard about the coil problem.

    They rolled with the Audi to his dealership, Bernardi Audi in Natick, and pulled into a yard basically closed for the night except for a yard boy cleaning up.

    Lesser said the tow truck driver asked where to put the Audi.

    The response?

    ''Over there with the other 25,'' Lesser recounted. And the yard boy diagnosed the problem for him - correctly.

    Lesser is mad at Audi, not his dealer.

    ''Absolutely, it's not the dealer's fault,'' he said.

    The fault, in fact, lies with the supplier for Audi and Volkswagen, Bremi Auto Electrik in Germany. They built bad coils. Now they are running triple shifts (only Christmas Day was a day off in recent months) to try to catch up.

    Yet it remains unclear what ''catching up'' means.

    Even though Fouladpour said supply has doubled in the past week, most dealers are still replacing the coils one at a time.

    ''The supply situation is getting better,'' he said. ''I couldn't have said that a month ago.''

    Will there ever come a time when, emergency demand sated, people with suspect coils that have not yet failed will get them replaced, free of charge, just for peace of mind, for a sense of reliability, for faith in the car they have purchased?

    That's unclear. And why not a recall?

    Volkswagen does not see this as a recall issue, said Fouladpour, because recall issues are safety issues and, he said, this is not a safety issue.

    I'd argue with that, given that I wouldn't want to find myself limping along Route 128 in high speed commuter traffic. Or crawling through Franconia Notch in New Hampshire, cold wind howling, late at night, returning from a ski trip.

    There has been some buzz on the Internet that the coil problem is actually a problem originating elsewhere in the cars - notably the ECU or computer ''brain'' for the car. Fouldapour said that is not correct, that it is strictly ''a coil problem.''

    Of course, the Internet is abuzz with this controversy, and I wonder, without the
  • I would think VW had very detailed specs of how their coil was to be manufactured and perform. I don't think their design would include such prolific failures. If so, shame on VW. If not, then VW should have some legal recourse. Obtain a new supplier, sue current supplier for failure to follow VW's specs, cost of replacing all these coils, etc.
  • justinjustin Posts: 1,918
    you are right, VW is NOT bound to any exclusive contract if the manufacturer of the part VOIDS the contract by making faulty parts.

    i blame VW. no one else.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    See the following:

    04 FEB 2003

    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Audi of America, Inc. today announced a customer service action in which the companies will ultimately replace the ignition coils in all 2001 and 2002 model year cars equipped with certain engines that have been experiencing a higher-than-normal failure rate. Also affected are very early production 2003 models.

    The companies are currently notifying all customers potentially affected and are initially replacing those ignition coils that fail at no cost. The updated customer service action, replacing all ignition coils whether they fail or not, will be implemented in the coming months.

    “We know that some ignition coils installed in our cars are not up to our high quality standards, and we are determined to do the right thing for our customers. The right thing to do is to fix every single car with these coils by replacing them whether they are broken yet or not. That is exactly what we will do as soon as we have the parts,” said Gerd Klauss, president and CEO, Volkswagen of America, Inc.

    The vehicles affected in this action include cars equipped with 1.8 liter engines, which includes the Audi TT and A4; and the VW Golf/GTI, Jetta, New Beetle and Passat. The companies also included the Passat W8 engine, all VW’s equipped with the 2.8 liter VR6; as well as the Audi 3.0 liter V6 engine. In total, approximately 530,000 cars are affected by this action.

    The ignition coils provide electricity to the engine’s spark plugs during operation. Volkswagen and Audi have recognized through service reports that the ignition coils used in the products listed above have a higher-than-normal failure rate. If an ignition coil fails, the check engine light/malfunction indicator lamp will blink. The car’s performance may, in some cases, become rough and/or the engine will lose some power and the car should be taken to an authorized dealer for repair. The engine and its electronic controls are designed to keep the vehicle running. Some deterioration in performance, however, can be expected.

    Volkswagen and Audi are announcing the following customer service action:

    The supplier is working triple shifts and seven days a week to make as many new parts as possible. Additionally, a second supplier has been activated.

    Soon customers will be notified by mail that Volkswagen and Audi will proactively begin replacing all ignition coils in cars potentially affected, whether a failure has occurred or not. This action will begin in the coming months as soon as replacement ignition coil supply volumes will allow.

    In order to minimize inconvenience to customers during repair, Volkswagen and Audi dealers will offer alternative transportation at no cost.

    Customers with questions should call VW Customer Relations toll-free at (800) 822-8987 or Audi Customer Relations toll-free at (800) 822-2834.

    # # #
  • nedzelnedzel Posts: 787
    But it's a bit late. Indeed, this was the class PR foul-up -- self-inflicted wound. If VW had simply made this decision a month or two ago, they would have avoided all this bad PR. What they should have done was to send a letter to the owners of the affected cars, telling them about the problem, that parts were currently in short supply, but that 1) they would be taken care of if their coils failed and that 2) they would issue a recall as soon as they had enough parts on hand.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    as a non-VW owner, so far, they've proven they can screw up in several dimensions like anybody else. I can think of a few examples, like ignition modules from GM in the 70s and 80s and ford in the 90s, when folks got stonewalled and stayed stonewalled on parts that died when hot, so it isn't the worst.

    of course, it wasn't my car acting like a lawnmower with water in the gas tank.

    now we get to see if VW can play catch-up ball and if the fix works.
  • ncvolncvol Posts: 196
    I heard Letterman did a Top Ten list on the VW recall last night, did anyone see it? Would someone mind cutting and pasting it from the cbs website? For some reason my firewall at work is blocking (???)
  • 2 weeks ago the MIL light came on but did not blink. I called dealership, they told me it was probably because I did not tighten gas cover. It should reset in about 5 days.
    On the day I was to call back the EPC light came on,also not blinking. Called up. They said they were very busy and I made an appt for 2 days later. I was concerned because I drive over 100 miles a day. Service person assured me it was safe to drive. At this time I was not aware of the coil problem!
    On the way to drop car at dealership my car lost power, luckily it was on my street.
    It was towed to the dealership 8 days ago. They did provide a rental. I finally heard from them this morning. Surprise! It is the ignition coil.
    But service person said it is not the same problem as the other ones since mine is a V6.
    Mine is only the 2nd one he has seen with the problem! I asked him to explain why it would not be the same problem and he said because he has only seen 2 of the V6's with the problem. Now that's a good answer! We have told dealership that we will not take car unless all 6 coils (I thought a V6 had 6 but he says it has 4) are replaced. He said if it was his choice he would replace all 4 but VW won't let him. As mentioned in previous posts the VW customer care center is useless.
  • ncvolncvol Posts: 196
    What year was your V6?
  • My V6 is a 2002. Purchased at end of Aug. 02.
  • ncvolncvol Posts: 196
    Jeez, I thought the V6's were safe from this. Guess I'll wait and see how the 2003's hold up before I make any decisions. It would be nice to feel confident the problem has been taken care of.
  • swschradswschrad Posts: 2,171
    your link is

    and your system administrator is a doofus, he/she/it needs to install a cache server....

    Top Ten Signs Your Volkswagen Needs To Be Recalled

    10. The steering wheel is in the back seat

    9. You're constantly stopping for coffee so you don't doze off from the carbon monoxide

    8. Mix-up at factory gave you an anti-lock radio and AM/FM brakes

    7. The roof rolls back, but it's not a convertible

    6. If you're in an accident, you have to call a guy to inflate your air bags

    5. Hazard light on dashboard reminds you to sign your will

    4. Horn emits a very soft meow

    3. Warning on tires reads: "For Indoor Use Only"

    2. Goes from zero to sixty in about seven weeks

    1. Any part of the car may be used as a cigarette lighter
This discussion has been closed.