Friday, December 28, 2012

Blog Summary at 30,000 Miles

I was inspired to write a GTI ownership blog based on one I had seen written by a major car magazine. Their blog was a big reason I decided to pull the trigger and get the car.

My blog is mostly a journal of what goes on with the car, but I thought it might be helpful for prospective GTI owners, especially if you were concerned about reliability, dealership problems, or issues like the seats. If you're on the fence, give it a read.

At 30,000 miles, I'm still writing, but the service coverage is now over and the warranty will be up soon. There weren't a lot of surprises.

I ditched my initial dealership for poor service and found another truly excellent one (Dorito Brothers in Walnut Creek, CA). I had one initial quality issue with a broken stereo pre-set button, something that could have been resolved easily, but ended up souring my dealership relationship. I also had plenty of self-inflicted wounds by installing an after market stereo replacement.

I wouldn't do that again, mostly because of the complexity of modern electronics. Using my Vag Com cable, the GTI checks 14,000 different faults on start up. Two of those killed my battery by not being turned off when the stereo was installed.

Other than those things, and the fact that the tires seem to magnetically attract bolts, the car has held up pretty well. The GTI had the usual German car problems of rattles (finally fixed yesterday), expensive parts ($20 windshield wipers and $120 battery cables) and funky ergonomics. If you aspire towards a BMW or Mercedes, you'll certainly get that premium feeling at the parts department. You may want to save up with a Japanese car though.

It also has a "ticking time bomb" of brakes and tires needing to be replaced at around the same time (36,000 miles or so). You would certainly save a bunch of money by going with a boring, non performance oriented vehicle, especially something Japanese (even my wife's Golf will need an expensive transmission service soon), but you wouldn't have nearly as much fun. Plus the car has an excellent safety record.

I'll keep writing the blog, as before, mostly for myself, but I thought you might want to take a look if you're uncertain. As for myself, my eye is wandering a bit at this point, and if Alfa Romeo makes it back to the US, I might jump ship to something Italian. As you can see, I have a masochism streak.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

30,000 Mile Service (and then some)

Some work I got done today at 30,096 miles:
  • Oil, Lube, Rotation. In addition, they changed the brake fluid.
  • Electrical. The culprit for my dead battery was, as you might have guessed, the aftermarket stereo system. The tech went into detail on how the electrical system would bounce up to 600 milliamps, traced back to faults in the system looking for the radio.
  • B-Pillar Rattle. Fixed with "anti vibration/rattle tape" and it appears to be gone.
  • Wiper Blades. All replaced at my expense at an average of $20 per wiper

Wear Item 20000 miles 30000 miles Replacement
Brakes, Front (mm) 14 10 5
Brakes, Rear (mm) 12 8 5
Tires, Front (/32) 7 6 3
Tires, Rear (/32) 7 5 3

Looking at the wear rate of the brakes, I've probably got another 8,000 on the rear and 12,000 or so for the fronts. I've got another 10,000 miles or so for the tires as well. So it may be an expensive Summer, based on my driving patterns.

Total expense for the service was $63.87 for the wipers. They were an item I requested and the first time the blades have been replaced in 2 1/2 years.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Dead Battery

29,681 miles and the battery is dead. You could tell it was struggling for about a week before it finally gave up. I was hoping it might be the cold. Not the case. The AAA guy ran a diagnostic and believed the alternator killed it, recommending I take the car in to have it checked out.