I could fix it myself, but I'd really rather not.
November 3, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

VW "Customer Care" isn't exactly screwing me, but they're not doing me any favors, either. What should I do next? The part was poorly designed and faulty, but I didn't get my car to the dealership until two weeks after the expiration of a warranty extension I never knew about. Full story follows:

The front passenger's automatic window refused to roll up a few weeks ago. Rent was due, I'm really, really, really poor and in tons of debt and didn't have any money on hand to fix it, so I dismantled the door, stuck some 2x4s inside to hold the window up, and haven't been able to use that door/window since while I was trying to come up with money to fix it.

I drive a 2002 Jetta wagon. The parts that broke are two very shoddy white plastic clips that are attached to some cables, holding the window in place while it rolls along some wires to go up and down. Both of them were just snapped in half, because they're made of cheap, shitty plastic. When I went to the dealership to buy the replacements, I was informed that those plastic pieces had actually been replaced by some nice, sturdy metal pieces instead and they could sell me a repair kit for a substantial chunk of money. Then the parts lady said she'd heard of a warranty extension because this problem happened so often, and sent me off to the service counter.

Service guy was very nice and pointed me to the warranty extension clause which states, essentially, "VW is offering an extended Limited Warranty good for seven years from original vehicle date of sale without mileage limits covering [this problem exactly] on [my car exactly]." I'm ecstatic, of course, because this totally ameliorated my disgust at the fact that I'd be paying a ton of money I couldn't afford because they designed the car with these crappy, faulty parts. Hooray!

Until he punches in all of the information on my car, right before sending me out the door while he fixes it. Service guy just goes "Uh oh, I think we have a problem". It turns out that "original vehicle date of sale" refers to the date my car was delivered originally (I bought it used a few years ago), and that date was 10/16/2001. I'm standing at the service counter on 11/1/2008, after the window had been broken for a month. The dealership said there was nothing they could do about it without authorization from VW, so I called VW Customer Care this morning, but they said they wouldn't do anything for me, even after I very politely and contritely explained the entire situation. Did I just learn a very expensive lesson about taking my car in for service immediately even when I can't afford repairs? Is there anything else I can do?
posted by booknerd to Human Relations (7 answers total)
Man -- that sucks. If it were me, I'd keep calling VW customer care, until you get someone to actually help you. Escalate the problem if you have to. Those faulty window clips are a very very well known issue with the Mk IV VWs, and they know it. I myself had my drivers side replaced twice, and on the second try they replaced the (still-working) passenger side as well, with metal clips this time. (I have an '02 GTI 1.8T)

The forums over at vwvortex.com are also an invaluable resource -- i'm sure somebody there can help you out, even if it means finding a cheaper DIY kit on the internet or something, or tips about what to say to the customer care people. Do a search before asking though :)
posted by cgg at 9:39 AM on November 3, 2008

I can't speak about VWs, but I had another make of car with the same problem - roller/slider things that broke, causing window sag. The replacement kit with new improved parts was $9, and it took me maybe 30 minutes to pull the inside door panel, replace parts, and replace panel. A minor pain of a job, but not the worst in the world.

I suspect that someone at one of the VW forums has posted a how-to guide along with genuine VW parts sources that are cheaper than the counter at your dealership.
posted by zippy at 10:18 AM on November 3, 2008

Best answer: Ah. The infamous window regulator in the MK IV's. Yeah...You're hosed.

The regulator isn't a cheap part, but few things on the cars are. It's definitely something you can do yourself, if you have the time and wherewithal. Here's one of the how-to's over on the VW Vortex forum.

VW Customer Care is a bloody joke. The transmission on my (used) Golf went out with only 49k on the odometer. I was covered under the 2nd owner extended warranty by the low milage, but I was less than 3 months over the time limit. Of course, they wouldn't cover the replacement. I was out $3,500 and I made sure they understood that they were out a family full of future customers as well as having created a dis-satisfied customer determined to spread bad word-of-mouth. Not that one guy matters, of course, but still. They just said they understood and it was unfortunate.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:09 AM on November 3, 2008

Best answer: I've been getting oil change kits and the first set of new brake pads for my '06 Rabbit from germanautoparts.com. Fortunately, no need for replacing non-consumable parts yet. I can recommend the site for customer service and dispensation of advice; I ordered the brake pad change tool and got good feedback and instructions on using it. They appear to only sell the window retaining upgrade as a kit (here), but given my own experiences with the dealership, I'm guessing the kit on the website is less than 50% the cost. Email or call and ask about getting the tab by itself.

On preview; contact odinsdream first.
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 11:09 AM on November 3, 2008

Funny, the exact same thing happened to my 1992 Toyota Camry, right down to the plastic clips (and the 2x4). I haven't fixed it yet because as far as I know I have to buy a $300 window assembly; they don't sell individual plastic clips. I was able to reassemble the door with the wood inside so that I can still use the door. The loss of the window has been a minor inconvenience only.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:48 AM on November 3, 2008

I have a '98 Jetta Wolfsburg (old body style) and in the 8 years I have owned this car I have replaced ALL of the window regulators once under warranty and once out-of-pocket. Currently, the right windows do not go down and the driver's window has been sticking.

According to VW Customer Care, my Jetta wasn't eligible for the recall on the regulators because the recall was for the 95-97's of the old body and the 98-2002 of the new body.

I've been able to extend the life of mine by opening the door panel and de-muck-ifying the cables but that's about it.
posted by ApathyGirl at 1:00 PM on November 3, 2008

Try posting this to Consumerist.com. They have a whole load of informed advice about how to deal with similar situations, plus it gives you leverage in the form of a nice load of bad publicity for the extent to which VW customer care stand behind faulty designs. I think your best case hinges on the difference between the date when you bought the car and the date when it was delivered to the dealership (if I understand your argument above). This should be resolvable.
posted by Susurration at 5:32 PM on November 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

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