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...

14 May 2019
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 (themotorombudsman.org), 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.


Best large SUVs and the ones to avoid

For many people, large SUVs have replaced big saloons as the ultimate expression of modern motoring, and they make great family cars, thanks to their spacious and practical interiors.

The best are also easy to drive, combining a calm ride with tidy handling and a lofty driving position with user-friendly controls. But with so many models to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start, so here we're counting down our top 10 – and we've named the large SUV to avoid, too.

If any of these take your fancy, just click on the relevant link to find out more or see how much of a discount you could get by using What Car?'s New Car Buying service.


10. Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace

Tiguan Allspace

Take the regular Volkswagen Tiguan, add some more space and two extra seats, and hey presto, you've made the Tiguan Allspace. Its high-quality interior and flexible seating are impressive, and it's good to drive.

Read our full Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace review or see our latest deals


9. Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60 2019 RHD side panning

Volvo used to be very much a step down from the models of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, both in terms of price and ability, but no longer. The latest XC60 is comfortable and well equipped and has a high-quality interior, plus it won the 2018 What Car? Safety Award, having performed brilliantly when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP.

Pick of the range: D4 Momentum

Read our full Volvo XC60 review or see our latest deals


8. Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe side

The Santa Fe is a spacious and practical choice in the large SUV market, with the option of seven seats for larger families. You also get plenty of equipment, with both Premium and Premium SE models coming with plenty of luxuries. We'd stick with SE trim, though, because this gets you everything you're likely to want, including rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control and 18in alloy wheels.

Pick of the range: 2.2 CRDi 200 Premium 7 Seat

Read our full Hyundai Santa Fe review or see our latest deals

Next: more of our favourite large SUVs >

Page 1 of 4

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here


Buy a new car with What Car?

Before you buy, visit What Car?’s new car deals section.

We have discounted deals on most new cars on sale, so you're never far away from finding a new car deal in your area.

It's all based on Target Price, which is the price we think you should pay based on research by our team of mystery shoppers, and the best discounts they can achieve.

If you’re still not sure then our deals team can help; call them on 03302 216207 – lines are open from 8am until 10pm seven days a week.

Related cars