Should Volkswagen fix my car's faulty air-con?

Reader's Touareg has had air-con problems twice. He wants to know if Volkswagen should fix the car for free...

Volkswagen Touareg

Last July I realised that the air conditioning in my two-year-old Volkswagen Touareg wasn’t cooling the inside of the car, so I took the car to my local dealer in St Andrews to investigate.

Under warranty, the dealer ran a diagnosis and reported that the air-con unit was empty of gas. They filled it up and everything seemed fine. But during the recent spell of hot weather earlier this year, I switched on the air-con and no cold air came out of it, so I took the car back to the same dealership to have it checked again.

The dealer reported that they’d heard a hiss while refilling the air-con unit, suggesting a leak. They said that because two of the three hoses sat under the engine, it could be a complicated repair, and because the car’s warranty had now expired, the work would cost around £900.

I pointed out that I’d brought the car in with the same fault while it was still under warranty and they had failed to diagnose it properly and fix it, so in my view I shouldn’t have to pay. The dealership took this up with Volkswagen UK, which said I’d have to pay because the car was out of warranty.

The dealer is now talking about a goodwill gesture, but I’d like to know if I should stick to my guns and insist that I shouldn’t have to pay anything at all.

Benjamin Gray

What Car? says…

That depends. It doesn’t sound like the cause of the gas leak was properly investigated last year; did the garage give any explanation as to why the air-con unit was empty? If the fault was already there and it wasn’t picked up at the time, it seems reasonable for it to be fixed for free now.

However, hoses are wear-and-tear items and won’t necessarily be covered by the warranty. It’s also possible that they weren’t the cause of the leak last year; they could have failed more recently.

In this case, because there was a problem while the car was still under warranty and it’s only a few months since the cover expired, we would expect Volkswagen to provide a sizeable goodwill payment. So, for now we’d recommend that you stick to your guns and ask Volkswagen to cover the entire repair bill, but be prepared to accept a contribution if that's all they're able to offer. 

If you don’t get a satisfactory outcome to the situation, we’d suggest that you make a formal complaint to The Motor Ombudsman (, because the Volkswagen dealership will be signed up to its service and repair and warranty products codes of conduct, which set out minimum standards for dealing with complaints like yours.

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Next: more of our favourite large SUVs >

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