January 27

Volkswagen Vehicles – Repairs and Reliability

Auto Repair, VW






Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local Lead Generation. We’re here today talking about Volkswagens with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of the 12 time winner of best auto repair in Vancouver, Pawlik Automotive. How are you doing this morning Bernie?

Bernie: Doing really well.

Mark: Great. So Volkswagens been around since before World War Two or just prior I imagine, they’ve been around for a long time and they’ve sure evolved.

Bernie: They have, you know Adolf Hitler originally had the vision of the people’s car, apparently in Germany at the time. All the cars that were around were very expensive but in America you could buy a cheap car so he had a vision of creating an affordable car that all the citizens can own so that’s kind of where Volkswagen came into being. It’s the people’s car and it was a pretty basic car up until the 1970’s, they pretty well had a lineup of the Beatle, a couple other offerings but they’re all pretty basic cars. The whole history of Volkswagen, the company, is pretty interesting if you have a chance to read it and look through it, its some interesting reading.

Volkswagen sales of air cooled cars were starting to plummet in the 1970’s so they need to do something new, they introduced the Rabbit and the rest as they say is history. Originally the Volkswagen was a rear engine, air cooled, rear wheel drive car. The Rabbit changed that around, put everything up in the front, water cooled which is far better, front wheel drive with a front engine.

Now it’s interesting, the Beatles, I remember when I was a kid there were so many of them around, I remember going on road trips and you could count them by the thousands on the road, honestly they were kind of pieces of crap, they had a lot of problems being air cooled, the heating systems weren’t very good especially in a climate where we live where there’s a lot of moisture as the cars age and they started getting rusty, the heating systems broke down pretty badly. You used to see a lot of people driving around with fogged up inside, people with cloths trying to wipe them down. They also were not very safe cars not only in crashes but you know, not being able to heat the car very well isn’t very good. The engines wore out quickly but fortunately they were cheap to fix. It’s been a long time since we’ve actually worked on an air cooled Beetle in our shop but I used to work on tons of them.

Now, so that’s kind of a bit of history of the Volkswagen.

Mark: So what issues do you find with modern VW cars?

Bernie: Well, they’re fairly well built cars, I mean they are so different from the Beatles, it’s amazing. But I’d say they’re definitely less reliable than Japanese cars, still well built vehicles and one of the major issue they’ve had starting I think around 1997 and I don’t know if they’ve fully solved this but the automatic transmissions have been really problematic, very expensive to fix, a lot goes wrong with them, sometimes in a very early mileage as well so there’s been a lot of unhappy VW owners with automatic transmission problems. Other than that there’s some electrical issues, power window failure, check engine lights come on quite frequently, some wheel bearing problems as well but overall the engines are pretty solid. Some do require timing belt replacements as well altho like a lot of other manufacturers they’ve gone to timing chains but there are still timing belts are definitely an issue to deal with on many models.

Mark: So, I know a lot of car manufacturers are shifting production to lower wage countries like Mexico and I also know personally that VW has done this so how’s that affected the quality of the cars?

Bernie: Well, VW’s built cars in Mexico and other third world countries for many years but I think they’ve shifted a lot more production in Mexico recently and while this has made the cars very attractively priced, you can buy a really nice Golf for not a lot of money, it’s a beautiful car, nicely equipped, drives really well but the fit and finish has definitely dropped off from the German built models and probably the reliability as well. Speaking of third world production it’s interesting that going back twenty or thirty years back when I used to fix a lot of Volkswagens I was amazed how cheap the parts were and this is because a lot of them were made in third world countries. Just to give an example a brake wheel cylinder for an American car would cost fifteen, twenty dollars maybe even a bit more, you could buy one for a Volkswagen for under five bucks so they really have the third world production of their car parts down pretty well and that saved a lot of money on repairs for the people who owned Volkswagens.

Mark: So any further thought on VW’s?

Bernie: Overall, good cars but as I said you can expect more will go wrong with a Volkswagen than the Japanese cars for the most part. They are nicely built and they have that European feel when you drive them, so if you like that kind of feel, go for it, buy one, but just expect that you might spend a little bit more money on repairs and maintenance. I not seeing Volkswagen solve their issues with the automatic transmissions so you might still be safe to buy one with a standard because they seem to be very reliable. One other thing, we’ve haven’t talked about Volkswagen vans or the fabulous TDI diesels and we’ll do that in our next Hangout. So that’s it for Volkswagens today.

Mark: Great, thank you Bernie. So that’s Mr. Bernie Pawlik. He’s been working on cars as you can tell for an awfully long time, over 20 years and his shop Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver has been voted by its customers as the best auto repair shop in Vancouver, 12 times in a row. So if you want some reliable service for your vehicle from honest mechanics, these are the guys to call. 604-327-7112 Thanks Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, we’ll talk again soon.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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