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Two-time VW turbo trouble taxes his patience

2012 Volkswagen Passat


The turbo on my father-in-law's 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI has failed twice. The dealer's attitude is, "It's under warranty, so what's the big deal?" – regardless of the inconvenience it has caused. I have read online about a lot of other people with similar turbo failures. Have you heard about this? – Matt, London, Ont.

When I asked Volkswagen about this, it indicated that parts replaced under warranty are returned to headquarters for evaluation to "identify trends before they become widespread." VW says, "We are constantly improving the components that make up our cars so that multiple failures are minimized, if not eliminated." Translated, this likely means that there may have been some problems with the turbos in early production models but that updates have been put in place.

Mercedes maintenance

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In the mid 1980s-1990s, I drove a Mercedes 240D sedan which had lower maintenance costs than the equivalent gas model. Is this the case for today's Mercedes BlueTEC diesels? – John

The same holds true today. Because diesel engines do not employ spark plugs and the attendant timing and ignition systems, the main service involves replacing fluids – chiefly the oil. The only difference in service, as far as the engine goes, is the addition of an exhaust gas treatment that is done automatically. The liquid used for that is replaced at the time of scheduled service.

Engine light

My 2010 Mercury Milan does not have a gas cap, and the service engine light goes on and off. I have been told it's just a triggered sensor. How do I turn it off? – Sandra

You can't, not without the proper equipment. That sensor light indicates there is a problem, obviously not related to the fuel filler system, one that should at least be identified, if not addressed. The identification part is done by diagnostic equipment plugged into a portal under the dash, which will reveal a code pointing to the source of the issue. At that point, and through that equipment, the warning can be "turned off." But be aware doing so may cause issues that can prove costly later.

Replacement tires

The tires on my 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Brougham are about eight years old and I want to replace them, but I'm a retiree so I would like to purchase good used tires or relatively inexpensive new tires. I do not put many kilometres on the vehicle because I use it for personal use only and, if it snows, I park. I would appreciate some guidance. – Patricia

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Replacing them is a good idea, since tires have a life expectancy of 5-7 years, regardless of mileage. I would not recommend used tires – there is too much opportunity for problems unless you know the individual and vehicle involved well. I also would not spend much time worrying about speed or load ratings. Any brand-name tire will suffice for your purposes. Canadian Tire, for example, has all-season tires from Hankook and Uniroyal in the proper size, for $100-$110.

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