A Potential Upside to Volkswagen’s Diesel Downfall?

My Volkswagen Rabbit
Text and Photography by Bryce Womeldurf.

When it came to light last Friday that Volkswagen had been circumventing U.S. environmental standards through a software cheat, I didn’t really think there was much of a story there for me to cover. HoonArt tends to focus on sports cars and issues related to them, which doesn’t typically have much to do with emissions control or fuel economy. Despite living in a state that hasn’t tested emissions since the ’90s, I keep my vehicles emissions compliant, but that’s usually about as far as it goes. That was, until I started thinking about what the potential fines could mean for Volkswagen…

As a quick look at my personal history with Volkswagens, I own a non-diesel 2007 Rabbit (shown above), known as the MkV Golf in other markets. This was another reason that I’ve been following the story as it progresses. My wife grew up with Volkswagens in the family and they do handle well, so it was only natural that we’d end up with one. I’ve owned this car since new but it hasn’t always been the best ownership experience with some expensive repairs having been needed in the past few years.

First, there were some strange issues with the interior that thankfully occurred within the warranty period, like the headliner separating from the ceiling and needing to be replaced. At the very tail end of the warranty, the car began to shift poorly. Apparently there was a recall on the transmission. The bad news was that even with the portion of the bill that the recall covered, it was still going to be a $1,000+ trip to dealership. This price unfortunately became a recurring theme whenever a trip to the dealer was needed.

Other parts have not held up as well as some cheaper Japanese cars which I’ve owned in the past. The car has yet to pass 100,000 miles, but it’s already needed two new CV axles after the outer boots on both sides gave way right next to the clamps. To top it off, I can’t seem to buy anything from a regular parts store, except maybe brakes, plugs, oil and filters, and expect a repair to remain repaired for more than a short time. Ignition coils? Nope, aftermarket parts failed in less than a year. CV axles? Nope, the aftermarket axles I bought to save a little money made noise right away at certain speeds. And OEM Volkswagen parts are not exactly cheap.

What I’m getting at here is that I’m hoping that with their CEO leaving today, and a new one set to take his place soon, perhaps Volkswagen will stop trying to dominate the U.S. market with cheap cars, and perhaps instead take some time to repair their brand by focusing on quality. They are very fun cars to drive but, to be blunt, they totally suck to maintain. I don’t think this diesel downfall will kill all VW sales in the US, but I’m hoping it gives them enough of a hit to get them to change direction. They can win all kinds of Car of the Year awards, but until they’ve shown to have improved how well they hold up in the long run, I’m hesitant to give them any more of my money in the future for another vehicle.

Photo Copyright 2015 HOONART/Bryce Womeldurf

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