Did I get hoodwinked?

So, my spouse and I moved across the country last month, driving - as one does - in two cars with our two cats and two dogs. In Western Nevada, the radiator light went on in the 2004 VW Golf TDI (diesel). We pulled off the highway and discovered a radiator hose had burst. Luckily, with the second car, we were able to procure a jug of fluid and some bottles of water, and by pulling over and refilling the coolant reservoir every 8 miles, we limped the car 41 miles to the nearest town with a garage. Of course, it was the weekend, so we passed a day hanging out in the hotel and trying out the local cuisine.

When Monday arrived, we visited one garage - closed. And another garage that was a Chevy/Buick/GMC dealership. The parking lot was full of pickup trucks, and these city folk with their little VW kind of stuck out. The repair manager first said that they would take a look, but if they had to order parts, it might take a week. We went to breakfast and started making plans to have the car towed 4 1/2 hours to the nearest VW dealership.

Weren’t we surprised when, 90 minutes later we got a call saying the car was fixed! We went to pick it up, and paid $250 for the repair. The service manager said they fixed it with a “universal hose,” and it was good as new. It should last just as long as a VW factory hose, and we need not worry as we started driving across the desert (105 degrees) of Utah and Nevada.

When we arrived in Salt Lake City that evening, we decided that we would take the car to the VW dealership anyway to have a safety check before crossing the desert. I’m glad we did. The mechanic said that the “universal hose” they used was a piece of garden hose that was liable to overheat. We needed to get it replaced before going on. Unfortunately, there was a state holiday the next day, so it took 2 days to get the part and the 3rd to complete the work. But we were glad we did.

So, my question is: were we taken for a ride in Wyoming? Should I complain and try to get that $250 back? Or was a piece of garden hose actually a satisfactory repair? To be fair, it did allow us to make it to Salt Lake and not spend a whole week in that - unnamed - town. But I don’t think it was good that they said it was good as new. If they had told us - “we did a temporary fix that ought to get you to the next big town where there’s VW dealership,” that would have been reasonable.

What do you think? Should I make a fuss?

Was the hose that burst actually a radiator hose, or was it a heater hose?

I ask because a garden hose is far too small in diameter to be able to mate it to either the radiator or the engine. A garden hose, on the other hand, could be used to replace a heater hose, even though it would not be appropriate, due to not having sufficient strength or the ability to handle the high temperatures that it would be exposed to.

If the hose in question was one that ran from the radiator to the engine, then I would be very skeptical of the Salt Lake mechanic’s claim that it was a garden hose.

+1 for @VDCdriver. You probably did get over-charged a little since the repair was $250. I can see no instance where a heater hose replacement would get anywhere near that amount. Just count your lucky stars that you pulled over and didn’t suffer a blown head gasket or worse.

Count your blessings and let it go. The “repair” saved you several days’ worth of hotel bills in Podunkville and got you to SLC without frying your engine. Yeah, $250 for 90 minutes of shop time and a piece of hose is a bit much, but not worth getting aggravated about.

You saved hotel $$, saved your engine, and got to SLC expeditiously. Count your blessings and let it go.

I question the ‘garden hose’ claim, there are various replacement heater hoses sold (in bulk), not all are the same color. Did you perhaps pay a bit extra? Maybe, but like the others said, if your car is running and in good shape, you’re fine. Move on.

+2 for VDC’s post.
+1 for Texases post.

And condolences to you two for addressing the issue early, getting it rechecked when you were uncertain, relaxing and not letting such a minor setback ruin your trip, and posting here for a second opinion…or two or three.

Enjoy your new home. Forget this minor inconvenience ever happened.

I’m more suspicious of the VW shop than the GM dealership, though there can be honest differences of opinion on whether the original repair was proper. I don’t think the GM dealership fixed the car with a garden hose. Furthermore, unless the replacement hose ruptured, it would not cause the car to overheat. However, I think you did the right thing in having it checked at the VW dealership for your piece of mind.
I was driving back to my family’s home when I was a graduate student. It was late at night and my ancient Pontiac started acting up. I decided not to risk the next 225 miles, so I stopped at a motel in a small town that had the vacancy sign illuminated. The manger said that he only had one room left and it had a problem, so I might not want the room. However, if I took the room, I could have it for $4 for the night. The problem with the room was that the television was out of order. The last thing I cared about was watching television, so I took the room. The bed was quite comfortable, the room was spotless, and the towels were the thickest I had ever seen. The next day I decided that the best place to try was the Pontiac dealer. I explained the problem to the service manager and he put a mechanic on the job. I think the man worked about an hour. My bill was only $5. I told the manager that I thought the charge was too low, but he replied that they had done only an emergency repair that would get me home. However, he explained that I should have the right repair done back home. At any rate, I was very grateful for the service and would have gladly paid 5 times the amount. This was 50 years ago.

First off, that’s why you carry a roll of duct tape in the tool box. Second, there would be no reason to use a garden hose when heater hose is readily available and cheap. It might have been a higher quality plastic coated hose that looked like a garden hose to a VW mechanic. I suspect the VW outfit was just trying to make themselves look like heros. As far as being “good as new”, that would be subjective and under the classification of “puffing”. What’s good as new to one person might be unacceptable to another. Forget it though. Nothing to do at this point and if you have a VW part now, its as good as the original.

I did get a pin hole leak in a radiator hose one Sunday night 200 miles from home. I stopped into Walmart and got some hose repair tape and a gallon of coolant. It got me home until I could replace the hose the next day. The last VW I owned though was a 59 bug and I’ve never looked back. My DIL still insists on driving VWs but as long as they’re under warranty and a dealer is nearby, I guess that’s ok.

First off, that’s why you carry a roll of duct tape in the tool box.

Good advice. Years ago when my first wife was alive, we had gone out on our annual hay buying trip for the horse we owned. I had a 1950 Chevrolet pickup that was 23 years old at the time. We bought the baled hay right out of the field and had 50 bales loaded on the truck. As I was creeping out of the field, the temperature gauge started to rise. I assumed it was just because we were moving slowly with a heavy load. My wife commented that her dad’s trucks never overheated under these conditions. When we got on the road and I had the engine turning faster, the temperature gauge went down, only to start its climb back up. Each time it crept back up, I shifted from high down to third gear. Each time the temperature gauge would drop down, but not as far. Finally, shifting down to speed up the engine made no difference. We were able to roll into a gas station with the steam rolling out from under the hood. When I raised the hood, I found a hole in the top radiator hose. I had no tape and neither did the gas station. My wife went to a little restaurant across the street from the station and they gave her the remaining part of a role of adhesive tape. I couldn’t get my hands in the place where the radiator hose had blown out. However, my wife had small hands. She expertly taped the hose, we started the engine and added water and made it home to unload the hay with the truck running cool as a cucumber. We drove the 10 miles back to the farm and picked up another 50 bales of hay. In fact, I drove that truck for almost a year before I finally decided I should replace the hose.

You can squawk if the VW mechanic in Salt Lake presented you with an actual piece of “garden hose” to have as evidence… Good serviceable Heater Hose looks very much like garden hose and is made to withstand automotive service conditions…

A commercial garden hose would work, it 3/4" rubber, but very expensive. Regular garden hose, I would not trust it as they are vinyl and can’t take the heat. Bulk heater hose would be the most cost effective solution if the factory molded hose is not available.

When you are out in the boondocks, you kinda have to take what ever works.

I also doubt a garden hose would be used by a dealership, I believe thy are better than that. The price is excessive for a hose repair, but that is water under the bridge. Hose or water pipe repair tape is better than duct tape, I have never had any luck getting duct tape to work in a similar application. Another old time get by was to loosen the radiator cap enough to prevent pressure from building and spewing fluids. Turn the heater on if needed, and no ac if needed.

A decent mechanic would not confuse garden hose with universal heater hose. Also, all heater hose is “universal” heater hose because that kind of hose is not used by application, it’s all the same. If it was an upper or lower radiator hose that was broken, a garden hose would not have even been able to be installed–way too small. I suspect the VW mechanic is full of beans.

" Also, all heater hose is "universal" heater hose because that kind of hose is not used by application, it's all the same."

You must be stuck in the 60’s.

Maybe you were hoodwinked twice. :wink: Did the VW dealer give you the “garden hose” they replaced?

Did you see the “garden hose”? If it was the same diameter as the radiator hose (about 1.5"), then it was not garden hose. A repair shop, especially a dealership that sees many models of several brands, might stok a roll of generic reinforced hose that would work for you. It might be that the VW dealer in Utah took you for the ride. But I haven’t seen the offending hose, and can’t tell if it was acceptable or not.

I have a hard time seeing a dealership reverting to the use of a piece of garden hose even for a temporary repair.
Maybe someone is just using derogatory lingo in an attempt to bash another shop’s work and the piece of hose used is simply a generic length of whatever without a manufacturer’s stamp.

Anyone working in a shop will certainly see and hear examples of how the other shop erred; whether they did or not.

I’m assuming you meant “Nevada” rather than “Wyoming” in the last paragraph. I drive between San Franciso and Denver occasionally, so I know whereof you speak. Battle Mountain, Wendover, Lovelock probably is the site of the mystery of the VW hose caper.

I guess if this had happened to me, I wouldn’t have continued to drive the car. I’d just have it towed instead, to the nearest town. Ask the tow driver who’s the best repair shop, and take it there. Those towns don’t have a big box auto parts store. But they have 4 times or more a day UPS service from Reno and Salt Lake City. UPS is sort of the modern day Wells Fargo stage coach service. So they can get any part they need within 24 hours if they want to, just UPS it from Reno or Salt Lake. They do this all the time. Every day. Yours isn’t the only car to break down in the Nevada desert. Esp a coolant hose in July. Did you notice a lot of cars off the side of the road in the sagebrush? That’s b/c they were going too fast, the tires overheated, and they had blowouts. So feel lucky, driving through the heat of the Nevada desert, you only had a heater hose bust. No harm done.

$250 for the repair is a bit steep, but not entirely unreasonable. They probably had to take extra time b/c the hose didn’t exactly fit, maybe some adapters needed, more work involved.

I expect this repair would probably work ok, for a while at least. If this were my car, I’d take it to a good shop at my earliest convenience once I got settled in my new home town. Have them replace the jerry-rigged sol’n with the correct VW part.

The $250? Well, at least you got a hose for it. You didn’t lose it in the casino and wind up with nothing at all! Forget about it. Best of luck in your new home.


Check out this heater hose for a Ford Taurus


Good Lord… :frowning: