Help! Brought my car in to shop for flat tire - picked it up with engine problems!

gti
volkswagen

#1

I have a 2010 VW GTI with just under 36,000 miles. I dropped my car off at 1pm yesterday for a leaky tire and went home to wait. They patched it up and I went to pick it up at 5. This is what I found:

-Car started slowly and roughly. Engine light is on. Engine is erratic, rough, jumps around. It’s not drivable.
-I didn’t get a receipt - they said there was no charge and gave me nothing showing I was there. There is nothing in their computer about me or my car.
-The shop manager called the tech who worked on my car. The tech said he drove my car around the block to reset the low air pressure light. He said it “ran rough” for a little while but was fine by the end of the test drive.
-They ran some diagnostics on the engine. They don’t know what’s wrong, said it looks pretty bad, and told me to have the car towed to the nearest VW for warranty reasons. Problem is, it’s out of warranty as of last month. It’s been perfectly maintained and nothing like this has ever happened.

The car is still sitting at the shop while I figure out what to do. What do I do?


#2

Unfortunately, there probably isn’t much that you can do, other than to have it towed to the VW dealer.

The presence of the Check Engine Light indicates that a problem with the engine or the emissions system has been detected by the car’s OBD system, so–in theory–you could have an auto parts store read the stored trouble codes, which would provide a clue as to the nature of the problem.
However, if the engine is running so roughly that the car is not currently drivable, I don’t see how you would be able to have the codes read at a parts store.

While this seemingly serious problem could actually be coincidental, the tire store’s waiving of their fees + their lack of records seems to be an obvious attempt to prevent this from coming back to haunt them.

Please report back to us, after the VW dealer has given you their diagnosis. And, if the VW service department states that some kind of misuse/abuse of the car was the proximate cause of the problem, please request that they put it in writing on their letterhead, in case you need to pursue the tire store in court.

Good luck!


#3

First, insist that this shop put everything they’ve told you in writing before the car leaves.

Get them to state clearly what, if any financial responsibility they’re going to take to get your car fixed (make you “whole”).
I think they should at least pay for the towing.


#4

There has been no info provided about the problem and it’s impossible to determine if there is an engine mechanical fault or whether it’s related to the engine controls.

The lack of records is suspicious but on the other hand, if a problem with the engine happened while in their possession and not related to anything they did, it could be that this was their way of washing their hands of it.

The questions I have is when was the oil last changed and when was the last time you raised the hood and checked the oil level?


#5

Don’t whip a dead horse. Just take it to the VW dealer and have it checked out. Is it possible that they drained the battery down by leaving the ignition on and that is causing a computer problem?


#6

@ok4450

This is getting ridiculous. I don’t think that oil level has anything to do with this problem. IF the car was running fine beforehand and now isn’t, I don’t think oil magically disappeared that quickly, unless the shop did something stupid.


#7

Is it a chain, like Firestone?
IF so, there’s your problem. Pull it outta there ASAP. Go elsewhere.


#8

ok4450 - I don’t see how oil could have anything to do with it. The car was leased so has been maintained perfectly. Besides, the car has warning indicators for everything - the only light on when I dropped off my car was the tire pressure light. The only one on when I picked it up was check engine.

RemcoW - I went to a local place that has a good reputation and excellent reviews on Yelp. I don’t like chains, even for something small.

Bing - They didn’t drain the battery - that was my first thought.

This morning I got a receipt from the shop that shows I had my tire fixed for no charge so there’s a record of that. My car is at a VW dealership now. I’m waiting to hear back from them.


#9

Check and see if that mechanic has a new trophy from the local drag strip, heh, heh.


#10

Unless there is obvious visual damage to something, like it was accidentally dropped from the lift, there’s a good chance this is just a coincidence. In other words It was about to happen, and just happened there because that is where it was.

Since the check engine light is on, VW should be able to diagnose and fix it for you. No harm done to ask the folks at VW if the problem – whatever it turns out to be – could have been caused by someone not being careful when changing the tire.


#11

@JackiB, there’s no need to get so defensive over my comments. You posted a problem with almost zero info on the problem itself other than the shop couldn’t figure it out, the car was going to VW, and said that it looked bad.

A comment like bad or major often points to overheating or lack of motor oil. That is why I asked a simple and civil question about when the last oil change was performed and when the last time the oil level was inspected.

You are incorrect in assuming that because a car is a lease vehicle it was properly maintained.

Offhand, this sounds suspicious but it would be best to wait and see what the diagnosis is first.
Cars suffer sudden problems all of the time and it’s possible this problem was coincidental.
Fine one minute, failed the next is not a rare thing to happen at all.


#12

“You are incorrect in assuming that because a car is a lease vehicle it was properly maintained.”

+1
Some people maintain their cars flawlessly, and some–like me–go beyond the mfr’s maintenance requirements, simply because I pay cash for my cars and then drive them for 9-10 years, and I want to avoid repairs as the cars age, plus I need my cars to perform reliably.

On the other hand, most people who lease cars do the absolute minimum maintenance specified by the car’s mfr, and if I was somebody leasing a car for the usual 2 or 3 years, I would probably do the same. With no skin in the game, so to speak, it is natural to just do the minimum maintenance that is required–even though the minimum may not actually be sufficient, based on how the car is used.

And, if the OP hangs around in this forum for awhile, she will see a distressingly large number of posts from people who had catastrophic engine problems as a result of never checking the oil level between oil changes. Thus, ok4450’s question was entirely appropriate.

So…perhaps the OP is very proactive regarding car maintenance, despite the leased nature of her car, but if that is the case, she is the exception to the rule. Most folks who drive leased cars do only the absolute minimum maintenance, and that minimum is not necessarily appropriate for their specific driving patterns.


#13
On the other hand, most people who lease cars do the absolute minimum maintenance specified by the car's mfr, and if I was somebody leasing a car for the usual 2 or 3 years, I would probably do the same.

A guy that works for me leases a new car every other year…and does ZERO maintenance…AND I MEAN NOTHING. No oil changes…no tuneup…NOTHING. Toward the end of the lease he has to start adding oil every 2-3 k miles…and it’s usually smoking by then. He puts about 15k miles a year. He’s one reason I’d NEVER EVER buy a car that came off of leases.


#14

Many people who lease their cars do nothing but drive them and put gas in them. I worked on a Chevy Impala once that was brought in on a wrecker because it had no brakes. The pads had worn down to nothing due to aggressive driving habits, then was driven on some more, until the backing plate for one of the pads fell out and the caliper pushed its piston out, causing the brake fluid to run out suddenly. The car also had no oil visible on the dipstick and the front tires were beyond bald. The guy gave us a card for his leasing company and insisted that if we call them, they would cover the tow and all the repairs. The company said that is never their responsibility and he better fix it before he turns the car back in. The guy continued to insist that he shouldn’t have to pay for all this and that he leases cars so he doesn’t have to worry about maintenance or repairs.

I think we also had a person post here a few years ago when they bought a three year old Jeep Liberty off lease. The engine seized two weeks after they bought it. Turns out the oil had never been changed or checked in that truck’s 28k mile life.


#15

“I think we also had a person post here a few years ago when they bought a three year old Jeep Liberty off lease. The engine seized two weeks after they bought it. Turns out the oil had never been changed or checked in that truck’s 28k mile life.”

Yup!
The smoking gun in that case was the presence of the original factory markings on the oil filter.
The person who had leased it apparently never had the oil changed, and the dealer who sold it to the unsuspecting buyer did not bother to check or change the oil. Most likely, the “thorough pre-delivery check-up” at that dealership consisted of washing the car & vacuuming the interior.

So much for, “I maintain it well because it is a leased car”, and so much for buying a car that had been a leased car…


#16

@ok4450 - I wasn’t being defensive. You had a suggestion and I responded to it. I should also clarify - I know the car was maintained properly because I leased it and had all maintenance done on schedule. I bought the lease out last month.


#17

Hey @VDCdriver and everyone else, thanks for all the suggestions. But I think we got off track because I miscommunicated :slight_smile: I’m not assuming anything about how my car was maintained. I leased it brand new and bought the lease out last month. I don’t know a ton about cars and I’m sure I could be better, but I have taken good care of it.

The irony is that I’ve always said I’d NEVER buy a car. I’m a serial leaser but this car has been great and the buyout price was low so I bought it. I got through an entire one month without problems. SO - the minute it’s fixed I’m trading it in and leasing something new.

Also, I’m mostly convinced that the original shop is not at fault and this is just a bizarre coincidence.


#18

“I’m mostly convinced that the original shop is not at fault and this is just a bizarre coincidence.”

As I and a few others suggested, it is very possible that this is just an unfortunate coincidence.
Depending on exactly what the diagnosis turns out to be, you just might want to consider keeping the car for at least a couple of years. Selling a car at the first sign of trouble is not always the best course of action, especially if the problem turns out to be relatively minor.

Anyway…I would appreciate it if you followed-up with us, just so that we know what the VW dealer’s diagnosis turns out to be.


#19

@VDCdriver
They think it’s the timing chain - which is fortunately under warranty. So yep, nothing to do with the shop. I’m still thinking I’ll trade it in - seems like a big problem for a car with so few miles.


#20

You said warranty was expired. Now u do have timing belt/chain warranty?