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VW Rabbit Basic Maintenance Questions



  • I have a 2007 vw rabbit. The first oil change I got on it I took it to the dealership and they used synthetic oil. After that I took it to big-o and they guy there told me I didnt need to use synthetic, so I haven't been. I've been driving it for 2 years and just recently when I went to start it, it made a horrible knocking and sputtering sound. I filled the fluids and that seemed to help, but I am being told by multiple people that because it is a vw I need to use synthetic for the car to work correctly. Is this true???
  • jeffyscottjeffyscott Posts: 3,855
    VW requires that you use oil meeting their specs. The only oils that meet these specs are certain synthetics. If you have the 2.5 engine, the oil needs to meet VW 502.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    You believed some kid from Big-O over what is said in your Owner's Manual? Yikes! Long story short, VW requires not only synthetic oil, but synthetic oil that meets the VW 502.00 oil specification (which only a few top end synthetics meet). Unfortunately now it looks like you may have a large engine repair bill to pay for. :(
  • I'm thinking of buying a 2010 Golf. I know the maintenance is included until 36k. After that 36k, I'd like to take it to my mechanic instead of the dealership. Is it hard for an independent mechanic to get parts? When I had my Volvo, he couldn't always get the part I needed.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    The warranty is longer than the maintenance period. I strongly recommend you take it back to the dealer for the 40,000 mile service, which requires a spark plug change and brake fluid flush and runs $300-500, and for the 50,000 mile oil change ($90). After that, an independent shop that at least advertises that they work on VW's is highly recommended.

    There are so many ways in which a VW, otherwise very reliable, can get mucked up by mechanics who don't work on them:

    1. Using conventional instead of full synthetic oil.

    2. Using "ordinary" full synthetic oil instead of Euro spec full synthetic oil, which is certified for long life oil changes. VW publishes their own specific requirement, I have lost track of the current one (502 something?).

    3. Failing to change the drain plug ($9) each oil change. The drain plug has a "crush once" washer and since it cannot be removed from the plug, VW requires an entire new plug. However since you have 10,000 mile oil changes (assuming you are using Euro spec long life full synthetic) the added cost is nominal. (This cost me a $500 oil pan replacement for using a non-VW oil changer. They kept reusing the plug and eventually stripped the threads from over-tightening to stop leaks from the badly deformed washer.)

    4. Risking an aftermarket oil filter. In Europe this probably wouldn't be a problem, since VW is a dominant maker over there and the filter manufacturers are careful to adhere to VW fit and specs. Over here, who knows? But independent mechanics usually get whatever their jobber carries since their regular jobber comps the delivery charge, rather than placing a small order for one filter and drain plug with a VW dealer.

    5. Risking an aftermarket air filter. See above.

    6. Using the wrong brake fluid, wrong auto transmission fluid, wrong coolant. VW uses a performance level brake fluid, IIRC. Most mechanics stock regular fluid (and who makes it?). VW auto transmission fluid is a VW specific fluid and it is hard to find certified replacements - but after market vendors often claim to have "universal" fluids or "additives" to make it comply. Same with coolant - even for a top-off.

    7. Using aftermarket brake pads. Coefficient of friction may not satisfy VW requirements for operation of its ABS/stability control systems.

    8. Lack of proper tools.

    9. Lack of experience; too much reliance on experience with other cars; unwillingness to use a good online service manual like Alldata due to subscription costs and time required to read through it.

    When I went to price the 40k service on my last generation Golf, it took a highly recommended independent shop that had VW plastered on their sign (along with Volvo, Subaru, etc.) 15 minutes to research and price this service and the price they quoted me was $40 higher than the dealer.

    The only work an independent garage does on my current Rabbit is drain the oil, use the replacement bolt I walk in with a torque wrench, and refill with factory oil purchased at the dealer. No filter change (you have to unbolt an underbody panel, and its not a conventional cannister, it's a drop in), just the oil, and only because I don't like to go 10,000 miles on the first oil change - even though with SIX quarts of capacity the car is quite capable of going 10k miles on my easy freeway commute with factory full synthetic.

    Since VW service is comparable in pricing to Toyota etc. service and they actually do more work (replace brake fluid and spark plugs) I have no desire to have someone mess up my car while they learn that VW's are "different." Been there, done that.
  • Thanks for taking the time give such a detailed answer. It's a big help.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    I don't want to discourage you by making it seem like no one but a VW dealer can work on a VW. I just wanted to make the point that if you select someone else you need to vet them pretty carefully. And the point that if you shop around for dealer service - which is a good idea with any make - you'll find that prices vary a lot and it is possible to get competitive pricing (no higher than Toyota or Honda and often cheaper) for common services.

    Also of course the services at the dealer are free up to 36,000 miles.

    By then you should know if you want to keep the car. If you don't, VW's have had good resale value, equal to or better than Japanese makes.

    BTW the 2.5 has a 6 quart oil sump, so it really CAN make it 10k between oil changes with full syn.

    If you are still nervous about that, you can do an undocumented 5k oil change yourself. My dealer sells Syntec 5-40 for $6 per quart, a fair price, and the drain plug is only $9 or so. It's a quick job to drain the oil - no panels to remove if you aren't touching the oil filter. I think changing the oil without a filter change is ok in this instance - I have no doubt the filter is good for 10k miles. If you skip that step, freshening the oil is easy.

    BTW monitor the oil level every 1k miles. During break in its normal to use 1/2 quart of oil every 2k miles.
  • The battery in my VW Rabbit (2008) died yesterday-- and when I had it jumped, things seemingly returned to normal. However, my time isn't set right on it anymore in the dashboard display (how to fix??) and the center consol that controls all my audio won't turn on (or do anything/ the screen stays completely blank and unresponsive no matter what buttons I press). Am I supposed to reset something... follow some procedure, after my battery dies?
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