Steve’s three-year-old Volkswagen Scirocco had everything that he’d ever wanted in a car: sleek coupe looks, famous VW build quality and, with its supercharged and turbocharged 1.4-litre petrol engine, the performance to match.
When the oil warning light flashed on in early December 2012, he wasn’t overly concerned, but took the car straight to his local dealer, Inchcape Volkswagen in Chelmsford. The diagnosis was devastating: a piston ring had cracked, causing catastrophic engine damage.
Dreading the bill for a new engine, Steve was relieved when VW agreed to cover most of the costs, even though the car was out of warranty. He was left to find just £950. However, by Christmas Eve the Scirocco had broken down again, and was towed to the workshop.
This time, Steve was told the water pump had failed, but that once more it would be replaced at no cost to him. Then came a call to say the air-conditioning had broken, too – and that this wasn’t covered by VW or the dealer.
Steve agreed to have the system repaired anyway, but just before he was due to collect his car, he got the news that the supercharger had now failed.
Enough was enough – Steve called Helpdesk for advice.
‘I’m not sure what to do’, he said, ‘I like the car when it’s working, but it’s starting to cost me a small fortune!’
Since there had been problems before the original piston ring failure (a known issue with this particular twincharger engine), it seemed possible the subsequent failures were related. Steve’s car was now almost a year out of warranty, but it didn’t seem right that he should be liable for the whole repair bill.
Steve got back in touch with his dealer and, after further negotiation, he ended up paying a total of £1700 to cover parts and labour, which had an actual value of around £11,000.
With his Scirocco’s health restored, it’s back on the road. However, Steve has decided to trade it in for the new Audi A3 Sportback, after seeing it win What Car?’s Car of The Year award.
What if this happens to you?
- Check for any recalls relating to your car and ensure essential service updates have been carried out.
- Search online to see if your vehicle's faults are common.
- If your car is out of warranty but the fault is well known, the dealer or manufacturer may be persuaded to help meet repair costs.
We've prepared lots of useful advice, including a full guide on warranties that could help you with either a new or used car.
If you need our help, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a few details and we'll be in touch.