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Case study: Low –mileage 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan

This 7 year old VW Tiguan came to us with just under 50,000 miles, a relatively low-mileage vehicle that had been well-maintained by its owner. The owner, seeking a second opinion, presented us with the local VW dealer’s service department inspection and write-up of recommended work. The dealership had called out more than $6000 of work to be performed, ranging from tire replacement (which was needed) to replacing the rear main engine seal, which was NOT needed. Also included in their recommendations were a leaking vacuum pump, leaking axle seal, a fuel injector cleaning, and a coolant flush.

Upon inspection we found that most of the recommended work was not presently needed. While the Volkswagen dealership had a very nicely printed inspection report, it merely featured stock photos of the called out conditions rather than actual photos of the customer’s vehicle. It also called out work based on time & mileage rather than the actual condition of the vehicle.

When we inspect for fluid leaks, we rank the condition in one of three categories: Level 1, Level 2, or Level 3 leak. A Level 1 leak is the slightest evidence of fluid, usually just a small, darkened area on the metal, which we would make note of and look for on the next service visit. A Level 2 leak is slight seepage, still not enough to leave any fluid on your garage floor. Level 2 leaks can stay unchanged for an extended period, or can worsen quickly, it is kind of a tossup, and we explain this and leave it up to the customer to either repair or keep an eye on for the future. A Level 3 is a leak that is weeping/dripping. This is something that you would see on the garage floor, and we would recommend an immediate repair.

When we perform our standard courtesy check, we take actual photos of the conditions we find and they are included in the vehicle report given to our customer. By doing this, our customers feel more secure in the knowledge of what their vehicle actually needs, and not that they are just being sold additional work.

This Tiguan had minor, Level 1 leaks at a turbocharger solenoid and a valve cover. These did not require repair, but were only areas to watch for at the next oil service. While the rear main seal had a Level 2 leak, it still did not merit immediate repair, and only exhibited slight wetness at the transmission/engine mating area. Again, we advised re-inspection at the next oil change. Coolant was tested and found to be in good condition, and brake fluid flush was recommended, with fluid containing more than 4% moisture.

New Continental tires were mounted and balanced at a significant savings over the dealer-quoted replacements.

The end result of our inspection and recommendations was required maintenance and repair totaling 1/3 the cost of what the dealer had recommended, a significant savings on a very serviceable car with a long life ahead of it.

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