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E-Brake-VW Passat - Can you drive with it on?

hey…what a find, hope you guys can help. Rented a VW Passat Wagon in Spain through Sixt. Had it two weeks. Returned it. Couple weeks later i get an email asking to pay for under body damage. I asked ‘what under body damage’. They replied with brake repair receipt -Replaced rear pads and rotors. Bottom Line: Repair Mgr has provided statement that damage to brakes and necessary repair is a direct result of me driving extended periods of time with E-Brake on. I have confirmed with VW sales and srvc reps here in DC and owner of a VW Passat wagon that while possible driving with the e-brake on it is extremely improbable. Very difficult. High Heat. Smoke. Smell etc. Sixt is threatening to take me to court. Do i just pay the repair and relieve myself of headache or do i wait to go to court with statements from VW?

Depends on how far it was engaged. If only slightly dragging you could go for a long time without realizing it for example. I had a friend that ruined the rear brakes on a brand new Grand Prix by driving >10 miles with the brake almost fully engaged. They were smoking by the time he stopped and we saw the car. So, in my opinion, yes, it is possible.

Yea the information you have already found is about it. I would suggest that it certainly is possible to have the emergency brake on, but not too tight. You may not notice it being on, but over a longish drive, it could do exactly what they said.

Now of course there is the question if YOU were the one that did it, or did it happen due to a prior renter doing it.

Good Luck

that’s just it…this isn’t the normal hand brake…it is an electronic button on the dash…there is “no” slight engagement…its either on or off…as you can imagine the system comes with dummy lights and alarms…VW reps tell me that brakes would heat up to unimaginagle levels and that any competent driver would note sluggishness, smoke, heat, burning brake smell etc. One tells me that i would wear out a set of tires before ruining the brakes. Thanks for the replies!!

The electronic parking brake will release automatically (if functioning correctly) once you apply gas with the transmission in either drive or reverse. You can also release it by pressing the button while you have the brakes applied. The light will be illuminated if the parking brake is engaged, and off otherwise. If there was a problem with the shoes not fully retracting from the wheel, that is a maintenance problem for the rental company.

On the other hand, if you noticed a marked change in driving characteristics during the time you had the car, you should have contacted the rental company for a replacement vehicle, as this would have been an indication that something was wrong with the car.

Go to the VW dealer and copy the relevant pages out of the owners manual that explains how it really works, send them to the rental company, along with the comments of the VW rep. Sounds like they’re trying to shake you down for some normal maintenance costs.

Where are you? If you are not in Spain, how much do you figure it will cost that company to sue you? They may well write it off if you balk as they will spend more sueing you than it’s worth IF they win the case.

I rented a car in Alaska last summer that had some rear bumper damage, including a crack near the attachment near the rear wheel. I looked it over carefully before I took it out and noted the damage in conversation with the manager of the rental place. Had I not done so, I suspect I’d have gotten a letter from their lawyer too. I think the scam is more prevalent than we’ll ever know.

this is exactly the type of info i’m looking for…what i was trying to hunt down when i found this site…i’ll keep this and find a user’s manual as ‘texases’ suggests…

i started to reply…thanks…i’m in the DC area…dc lawyer says they’d have to bring this case to me in N.VA through small claims court…we are talking euro 343.11…not quite $500…

Why not tell them you’ll sue them for providing you with a defective car ?

I beg to differ with the attorney.

If you rented the car by using a credit card, the rental contract also surely had a proviso stating that “additional charges, if any, will be billed to the renter’s credit card”–or something to that effect.

If that clause exists on a rental contract that you signed, they do not have to take you to court in order to collect their money–even if their attempts are driven by dishonesty. Car rental companies do this sort of thing all the time in the US, and I suspect that our Teutonic brethren are no different.

Incidentally, there was a post several months back, complaining of a similar bogus attempt by Sixt to collect money after the return of a car. I am beginning to smell a scam on the part of that company once they realize that the renter lives on a different continent.

It would seem almost impossible for them to prove you caused the damage. How are they to prove it didn’t happen prior to, or after you rented? I doubt they inspect the brakes after every renter.

Most likely they’re just making an attempt to scare you into paying. What do you think the chances are of them having a representative appear in small claims court in VA. are? Especially for less than $500?

If you paid with a credit card they could try to add the damages to that, however you could dispute them and easily reverse the charge if that were to happen. My car emergency brake lever, even lifted slightly, not enough to engage the brakes at all will sound an audible alarm and show a indicator on the dash. Given the fact that the V.W. uses a button that is either on or off makes it even less likely you could drive mistakenly with the brake on.

Bottom line, I would kindly ask them to stop bothering me, and I’d bet they’ll go away. I wouldn’t worry.

I am really glad i found this site and logged in. You are all providing valuable insite. I will search for user’s manual online today. Friend in GE with VW Passat Wagon with electrical emergency brake has confirmed again that he ‘can not’ move the car forward or back with the brake engaged.

Agreed on credit card. I have discussed with them and they wont do anything until charges are claimed - then, yes, we’ll dispute.

I have asked SIXT to quit harassing me and they wont. Received another letter yesterday with text contradicting text from previous dialogue. I asked for copy of rental contract and service reports for the car and they refuse to supply.

I find it VERY interesting that similar complaints of SIXT practices have been posted…hmmm.

i think I have to side with genex…

"Why not tell them you’ll sue them for providing you with a defective car ?"
And come to think of it… you said they emailed you after a couple of weeks? would there something fishy about that? Just recall everything you did with the car and as advice with vw parts dealer… surely they have something to say with that…

My flim-flam meter is at 85%.

Mine is at 99.7%. Mostly because it’s a pushbutton engaged system and secondly because…if there was a problem they should have discovered it upon vehicle return inspection. Chasing a U.S. foreigner after the fact is, well, almost a sure sign of a flim-flam. We’re all rich, you know.