A NUMBER of Volkswagen Group customers are terrified to drive their cars, an exclusive investigation by The Sun Online has revealed.
Research into a series of incidents following cars being updated with new diesel engine software has found some British drivers do not feel safe in their own vehicles.
The German automotive group, who sells passenger cars under the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda and Volkswagen marques, issued a 1.2 million car recall across Britain to update engine software on their 2.0-litre EA 189 after the diesel scandal that saw the company accused of cheating emissions tests.
Volkswagen Group was targeted earlier this week by a group of disgruntled customers who claimed the changes made to their vehicles in light of the test cheating scandal have significantly affected their car’s performance.
Now, members of the Volkswagen Diesel Customer Forum Facebook group have come forward to tell of their frightening near-miss experiences and the problems their vehicles have experienced since the software update.
Most common was the incidence of cars entering “limp mode” – an engine protection feature that occurs when it is experiencing very high temperatures, only allowing the car to travel at a slow pace, usually not able to engage past second gear.
Walsall resident Becki Gibbons took her Audi A3 in for the engine update with her local Audi dealer in October after receiving a letter from the VW Group instructing her to do so.
According to Gibbons, she had not experienced any major issues with her 2012 vehicle prior to the October appointment.
But just a week after the engine update was installed, Becki’s car lost power on a dual carriageway while travelling at 60mph, forcing her to take emergency action and pull into the hard shoulder.
In another incident in January, Becki’s car once again entered limp mode and was serviced by her local Audi dealer
“The Audi dealership diagnosed an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) fault and quoted a fee of more than £1,200,” Gibbons told The Sun Online .
“I was told that Volkswagen are now replacing this part free of charge as ‘goodwill’ despite their insistence that the failure is not caused by the update.”
And just last week, less than two months after the EGR was replaced, Becki experienced a third power failure, this time with her young daughter and another child in the car.
“I took my car on a journey to Wales with my daughter and another child in the car,” Becki said.
“The coil light came on 100 miles into the journey and I experienced sudden power loss on an country road driving at 60mph.
“There was no hard shoulder and the car behind had to swerve around us when it happened. It was incredibly scary.”
Becki said she has been left feeling frustrated by the continued faults, and is now fearful of driving her own car.
“I feel that I have been left with a car that I paid thousands for and am now too scared to drive – particularly with my child in the car,” she said
‘I shouldn’t have to drive a broken car’
Unfortunately, Becki’s case is not unique.
Gemma Sandercock of Wadebridge experienced very similar issues with her VW Scirocco 2.0L TDI immediately after having the software update applied to her vehicle in March.
Having owned the car since September last year, Gemma was shocked when just a few weeks after the appointment at her local VW dealership, her car lost power and entered limp mode while on a busy single carriageway in Cornwall.
“On the 16th April my nine-year-old son and I were driving home my car started ‘chugging’ almost misfiring,” Gemma told The Sun Online.
“The emissions light was on and the oil light started flashing, telling me to stop.
“I had nowhere to stop on a busy single carriageway, which resulted in the car entering limp mode.
“I panicked, turned the engine on and off and carried on until the lights appeared again.
“I managed to get my car home after four more limp mode situations.”
Despite having the car repaired at her local Volkswagen dealer, Gemma said her vehicle is still under-performing.
“I’m hugely upset that I’m paying for a car that doesn’t drive how I bought it,” she said.
“I do not trust the car is fit for purpose.
“It’s not fair that I should have to drive a broken car.”
‘An accident waiting to happen’
Jessica Silson was driving on the M62 earlier this month when her Audi A3 Cabriolet sport 2.0TDi lost power travelling 70mph, just four days after having the engine software update installed.
She said she was lucky to avoid an accident on two separate occasions in the same day.
“I was doing 70mph in the middle lane when a sudden loss of speed almost caused me to crash,” Jessica said.
“I had a car almost hit the rear of my car and plenty of horns beeping as they swerved to avoid me – I had to get my car over into the hard shoulder through another lane of very fast moving traffic.
“I limped the car off the motorway and back to my house, however, while driving on a 40mph road off the motorway the car suddenly exited limp mode shooting me forward and narrowly missing the car in front.
“The car I had almost hit could see I was visibly shaken and they pulled over to see if I was okay.
“I felt terrified of driving my car again.”
After yet another near-miss, Jessica found herself in a a battle with Audi to have the problems resolved.
Despite the VW Group company now agreeing to replace Jessica’s EGR, Turbo, DPF and on-board computer, she too is anxious that the car will let her down again.
“This car was my dream car that I purchased having gotten a promotion at work,” she told The Sun.
“Now I look at the car with with fear and anger.
“I don’t trust it to safely get me out of junctions, roundabouts or to drive on the motorway – it just feels like an accident waiting to happen.
“I won’t be taking my eight-year-old daughter in the car.”
‘Technical measures do not have any negative effects’
Volkswagen Group told The Sun Online they are aware of all three cases and are looking into the incidents further, however they claimed that the engine software update can not be held responsible for the mechanical issues customers experienced.
“We have engaged constructively with our customers to respond to their concerns,” a Volkswagen Group UK representative said.
“More broadly, approximately 620,000 vehicles in the UK have received the technical measures and over 4 million vehicles across Europe.
“Importantly, for those model variants for which final approval has been provided, the relevant certifying authorities have confirmed that implementation of the technical measures has no impact on MPG (miles per gallon) figures, CO2 emissions figures, engine output, maximum torque, and noise emissions.
“Further, the technical measures do not have any negative effects on the operation or effectiveness of the EGR system. “