For perspective, I am mechanically inclined and do light mechanical work on my vehicles such as oil changes, brakes, tire rotations, belts, water pumps, alternators, fuel pumps, etc. This is my wife's car. I had been buying American cars all of my life, but when my wife totaled her Pontiac Trans-Am, she wanted to pick out something different with 4 doors and a European look and feel, but not as expensive as a Mercedes. She picked the 2001 Volkswagen Jetta GLS VR6 loaded with everything except power seats.
At 15,000 miles, the transmission had a problem that caused a whining noise and problems with shifting. Volkswagen repaired the transmission under warranty and we have had no trouble since.
At 24,000 miles, the rear brake pads wore out at 24,000 miles and the caliper/rotors were metal to metal. I replaced the rear brakes with quality pads, and found that the front brakes still had 75% on them. I accused my wife of driving with the emergency brake on. Later I found that there was a technical bulletin mentioning something about soft rear brake pads and that Volkswagen might have replaced them. Next time I'll check first!
At 26,000 miles, my wife had a flat that ripped the rear tire and shredded it before she was able to stop. When I opened the trunk, I was surprised to find a matching full size spare.
At 28,000 miles, my wife accidentally drove the car up on a parking curb (that was a little excessively tall I might add). When she backed off of the parking curb, the entire front bumper fascia came off. I could not believe the damage she described over the phone, but when I arrived there it was, the front bumper fascia, grille, fastener clips, all laying on the ground with blinker lights and fender wells dangling from the car. I gathered up all of the parts and drove the car home to look at that night after work. When I started looking at everything, I noticed that nothing was broken and everything could be snapped back into place. One by one I snapped everything back into place and it was as good as new. No damage whatsoever. After this we call the car “MR. Potato Head”.
At 31,000 miles, the car would not start and my wife was stranded in a supermarket parking lot. I contacted the dealer and asked for a tow. The dealer mentioned that there was a recall on the brake switch, which could cause the car not to start. He told me to tell my wife to repeatedly stomp on the brake pedal until it started. That worked. I brought the car in for a new brake switch under the recall. A couple of weeks later I received a recall notification from Volkswagen. Timing was a little off, but that fixed it.
At 34,000 miles, the center console clip broke. The dealer had it in stock for $4.99 and mentioned that they keep a lot of them. This took about 1 minute to snap the new one in place.
At 35,000 miles, I was notified by Volkswagen of an emergency switch recall and brought the car in for a new emergency switch. Never had used the existing emergency switch so not exactly sure what the trouble with it is.
Lastly is my most recent update and the reason I am posting this. All along while owning this car, my wife mentioned a strange odor like a rubbery, leathery, waxy or crayons (that’s it!) smell, but could not identify where it was coming from. Several times we questioned the dealership about it and they said that’s the way they smell. The smell got worse and worse over the years, and seemed to be even stronger on really hot days.
Over the years we started leaving the windows down in the garage to let it air out. Finally I had the entire car detailed inside and out to try to get rid of the smell, and it was still there. I have been very happy with this car despite the things mentioned above, but it seemed a real shame that a car that was in such good shape and was so much fun to drive, had such an unpleasant and irritating smell.
Finally, when I asked about it, the dealer said that there was a technical bulletin that described this, but that mine would not be covered since it was a 2001 with only a 24 month warranty. I was really upset about this since I had mentioned it over the years each time we were in the dealership. The service adviser said that there was nothing he could do, and that it would cost about $600.00 to replace the sound proofing material that was causing the odor.
Very frustrated with this, I contacted Volkswagen USA and described all of this. The assistant was very helpful and courteous, but I was on hold several times. I was asked several questions, including whether I was the original owner and if this was my first Volkswagen, which the answer was yes to both. The assistant said that I would need to contact the dealership and leave the car with them for a technical evaluation, and after the evaluation, Volkswagen would let me know what assistance (if any) they would provide. I did this. A few days later I contacted Volkswagen USA and asked for a status; again I was on hold for 10-25 minutes as they reviewed the case and contacted the dealer. Finally they said they had everything they needed and would let me know in 24-48 hours what the assistance they would provide.
Two days later, after not hearing from Volkswagen USA, I called again. Again I was on hold for 10-15 minutes as they reviewed the case and they said they did not have an update, but that I should have one if I call the next day.
Finally on the next day, which was a Friday, Volkswagen said that the assistance was approved and that it would be 100% parts and labor. Of course the dealership had not been notified and that they would not be able to start on it until Monday. The dealership replaced the parts, which evidently were under the front dash and carpet, which required the entire dash to be removed to get to them. This took 4 days to complete the work, so in all I was out of a vehicle for 9 days. After picking up the car there is a noticeable improvement, but still a faint smell is still there that I hope goes away with time. At least now we can drive the car without the irritating odor.