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Being ripped off?

hello. My engine light came on and stayed on for two weeks then went off. When I dropped off the car a week later at the dealer for another unrelated issue I told them about it. Later that day they said the problem with the CE light was that I needed a new fuel pump relay (total cost $140).

I thought this was rather strange since I had had no problems starting the car whatsoever and no noticable drivability issues.

Ok. 1 week later the light is back on.

Called the dealer back to find out what the story was and how exactly they came to the conclusion I needed a relay in the first place. The service dept said the tech found a record of 12 ‘faults’ in the system. These faults related to a bunch of different things including issues with different cylinders, fuel injectors, etc. There was also a fault that showed the engine was ‘running lean’. They figured that replacing the fuel pump relay would be the best way to remedy all the problems since its somewhat involved with everything that came back from the report/scan.

The guy said that the fact that the light came back on shows that that the relay wasn’t the main problem after all but I’ll have to bring it back in for further testing.

Now I have another appointment this week where they are going to re-run the scan and probably do more work to the car.

My question is should I be entitled to a refund for the replacement of the relay and associated labor?

So to clarify the relay was changed?

Either way I would take it to autozone or alike to have the codes read and then post back. Is the car running OK? Usually a CEL that goes off means that the problem went away, now that it is back on you have to have the codes read. Is the gas cap tight?

What Galant means is for you to have the OBD11(?) codes read and post back here the NUMBERS (POxxx), not what they say.

I put a question mark after the OBD because you haven’t described your vehicle at all. Post all vehicle ID please. (Yr/make/model/mileage/engine size/manual trans or automatic?)

I have a 2002 VW GTI 1.6L turbo. auto trans. 80k miles

The relay was replaced.

The car seems to be running fine, including before the light came on initially, after it went off, and since it has came back on again.

I will check the gas cap. I usually purchase gas in NJ…maybe I can blame it on them. haha

And you trust those gas attendants to properly tighten the gas cap?

I also live in NJ, and I always get out of my car when the pump is almost finished. That way, I can tell the attendant “that’s enough–no more” (or, “bastante–no mas”) when the pump clicks off, and I can observe whether the cap is put back on properly.

And, if the attendant is not very quick to return to my car when the pump stops, I finish the job myself, grab my credit card and receipt, wave them in the air at the distant attendant, and drive off. Law or no law, I have observed that gas attendants have no problem with me performing “self-service”.

If the light goes off by itself, there’s no problem. Remember that in the future.

I think you should consider taking the car somewhere other than the dealer. VW dealers are notoriously expensive places to have a car serviced, and since your car is no longer under warranty there’s really no reason to take it to a dealer.

The fuel pump relay story is pretty far-fetched. If the fuel pump is working the relay is working, and I can’t, for the life of me, figure out how they arrived at the fuel pump relay as the reason for the codes.

The relay won’t make the fuel pump work better, it just turns to pump on and off. If the pump is weak, that’s a different story, but a new relay won’t fix a bad fuel pump. I think they are “throwing parts at the problem,” and hoping something will work.

You paid for something you didn’t need, which, apparently, they acknowledge. What makes you think they will find the real problem the next time they have the car?

I suggest you have the codes read so you know what they are before you take the car anywhere. I also suggest you find an independent mechanic who speaks VW and let him/her take care of your car.

The dealer mechanics are obviously not that good.

There may be a valid reason the mechanic replaced the fuel pump relay. Ask the mechanic (if the service writer will let you communicate with s/him) to share with us, right here at Car Talk Web Site.
The V W cost of the fuel pump relay is, of course, quite high, but normal for V W. It should be on your receipt. The cost for diagnostics, if they were performed as they should have been, isn’t excessive. Any further diagnosis shouldn’t include a charge for the part of the diagnosis already performed. That was paid for once. Charge for old diagnostics and new diagnostics are a matter of trust between you and the mechanic/service writer.
We’ll hold our collective breaths until your return with the codes…and don’t forget the mechanic’s personal input to Car Talk, right here. He could post as “xenocidesmech”.

VDCdriver, you actually have “attendants” at gas stations in New Jersey?

I live in California and I haven’t seen a worker at a station pump gas in over 20 years. There are laws that require assistance to people with a disability, but the law doesn’t apply to stations in which there is only one employee on duty - and the large majority of them have only one worker on duty.

I apologize for deviating from the subject, but your reference to an “attendant” really surprised me.

The way they diagnosed that a fuel pump relay was the problem resembles my ECM is bad diagnosis. There is a big difference between an ECM and a fuel pump relay. They could have easily said it was a fuel pump or filter. I can’t see a fuel pump relay causing lean conditions. I vote for a refund but I have no influence.

so you think this is a no-win situation for me concerning this dealer’s service dept? I think that in my heart I agree but have a hard time with the fact that they rooked me. Is it worth fighting for a refund or is that a lost cause at this point?

Btw, the breakdown of charges is as follows:

RELAY $51.07

So I guess they either lumped in the charge for the diagnostic with the labor or didn’t charge me for the diagnostic. Either way I guess I can get the codes (which I will post when I get them) and feel somewhat satisfied for some of my payment.

I did notice that there is a a Car Talk recommended VW mechanic close by to me. I will be heading there in the future.

OK, gas cap seems tight enough.

On another note, I always go to Wawa to get my gas and their pumps always shut off numerous times while the tank is filling (of course the attendant is never to be found). Often I have told the attendant to fill it up, which is followed by the pump shutting off after a very small amount (1-2 gallons) while he is away. When he moseys on back he’ll end up not re-engaging the pump and just putting it back on station and saying “thank you, have a nice day”. Like I asked him to fill it up for $2.33 worth of gas??

Law or no law, I have observed that gas attendants have no problem with me performing “self-service”.

How is it a law to have someone pump gas for you?

codes are as follows:

Joe Guy–NJ and Oregon are apparently the only two states that “prohibit” self-service gas stations. However, that still doesn’t prevent me from doing it myself.

codes are as follows:

P1136: Long term fuel trim too lean
P1225: Injector Circuit Cylinder 1 Short To Ground
P1227: Injector Circuit Cylinder 3 Short To Ground
P1228: Injector Circuit Cylinder 4 Short To Ground
P1226: Injector Circuit Cylinder 2 Short To Ground
P1425: Tank Ventilation Valve Short To Ground
P1117: O2S Sensor Heater Circuit Short To Ground Bank 1 Sensor 2
P1435: Secondary Air Injection Pump Relay Circuit Short To Ground
P1530: Camshaft Control Circuit Short to ground
P1421: Secondary Air Injection Valve Circuit Short To Ground
P1289: Turbocharger bypass valve short to ground

It’s a wonder the car even runs at all. You have a wiring fault somewhere, definitely a good idea to find a good VW guy. Whew.


Please refer to my reply to Joe Guy, which is above your post. This should clarify things for those of you who live in the 48 states that permit self-service gas stations (in other words, the states other than NJ and OR).

Milford MA has a local law to the same effect. Sometimes they let me, sometimes they yell at me when I try. Depends on the guy, and how dark/light it is out (someone might see me doing it myself)

so you say a wiring issue because of the codes specifically or because all these things can’t possibly be going wrong? These codes wouldn’t point to a fuel pump relay?

The car is actually running Ok as far as I know. I believe the VW guy said they found a record of all of these faults when they check the car (the CEL was off at the time), so doesn’t that mean they could have happened at any time in the past?