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AxeHealey Dork
8/17/20 2:55 p.m.

I want to start this by saying that I shouldn't be surprised. A company that knowingly cheated on emissions testing truly just doesn't give a damn. This'll be long but the backstory is important I think. Long-and-short is VW is selling these "fixed" cars in bad faith, knowing their band aid for passing emissions is a bad one and has no intention of making them good again. It seems my only hope is finding an after market tune that cures it. 

I bought my CPO 2011 TDI Sportwagen a bit over a year ago from a VW dealer AND financed it through VW. I bought a tainted car just exactly how VW would have wanted me to. I really dug them when they came out. Wagon, manual trans, pretty sure they have some Golf suspension and diesels are cool/last forever. From, literally, like day two (day one was 100% cruising on the highway to bring it home) I noticed that in a certain RPM range with light throttle, the thing bucked and spit and generally ran like crap. This RPM/speed range happens to be between like 30-45 mph, so it's most of the time in city driving. I dealt with it for a few weeks thinking, eh, it's been sitting on some lot in Michigan for a couple years, it'll come out of it. I then started a battle with VW dealers and VW Customer Care that is still going on, seemingly winding down not in my favor.

 The first time the dealer had my car, they had it for an entire month trying to figure out what was wrong. I suggested all kinds of things, all of which they ignored. It got a new front shock and bump stop, clutch and flywheel (all free under CPO). No change. A day later the CEL came on for an EGR (one of the things I suggested). Ah hah! That could be it. Took it in, no change. At that point I needed a break from the VW dealer and said I'd bring it back when I needed my next oil change. That was sometime around January/February of this year. I told them I wasn't picking it up again until they figured it out. They call me 4-ish days after saying there's literally no problem and had another 6-spd TDI in, tested it, and it is operating "as designed". I said f-off and told this manager to drive it for himself and tell me he thinks it's normal. He drives it and agrees that it's not normal but he wants to have the regional tech director come out and drive it. COVID then hits and the guy can't come out until about 2.5 weeks ago. 

Regional guy goes out for a drive, comes back and gives me the news that, yeah, this is a known issue at VW... All 6-spd TDI's that have the "fix" drive like this and VW has no existing fix nor intention of creating one. He tells me, without saying it directly, that VW has bought some of these cars back from customers because of how bad they are and he'll call Customer Care for me and plead my case. A couple days ago, I finally get a call back from Customer Care from the rep well after hours saying essentially "Uh, I don't know what more you want from me, when we spoke in (earlier this year) the dealer said it was normal." I've now called back twice and have heard nothing back.

The regional guy also told me that day that he's seen aftermarket tuners get rid of the issue. Although I really don't want to spend any money on a problem that shouldn't exist, I also can't deal with driving this car for the next however many years like this. 

Whenever I buy my next daily driver, it's going to be something booooorrrriinngggg that won't break or annoy me. I thought the Acura would have been that. Nope. Thought this was it. Nope. 

SO. Does anyone out there have first-hand experience with any aftermarket TDI tunes? Malone seems to be the most mainstream and they have confirmed to me that they know of the issue and their tune gets rid of it. 

A power bump is all fine and dandy but I don't want to run into any longevity issues or situations where I need to de-tune to get it emissions checked. I wouldn't be doing this until my CPO runs out next June so I don't care whether or not a dealer would care about the tune. 


bigdaddylee82 UberDork
8/17/20 3:09 p.m.

Bummer.  Our '15 Golf is a EA288 instead of the CJAA you've got, also a DSG, so not apples to apples.

However, we bought it with only the 1st stage of "the fix" completed, nationwide backorder on parts at the time.  We owned it for close to a year before stage 2 was done.

I've said it before, I noticed zero difference before or after, MPG, power, drivability, if I hadn't seen the exhaust system myself, before & after, I wouldn't be able to tell they'd done anything.

VW Customer care was good to me too.  Our '15 was bought "new" in '17, and the radio came with an Apple 30 pin connector.  I called to see if I could get a lightning connector, only to find out they don't make one and adapters aren't compatible with our radio.  They gave me a $300 pre-paid Visa to say they were sorry.

Otherwise, yes Malone is probably who I'd pick for a tune too.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/17/20 3:19 p.m.

I forget what year Miles' car is, but it's been good to him.  His might be a '15 though.

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
8/17/20 3:49 p.m.

I recently bought a 2013 Passat with the same engine combo - I've noticed the engine lugs significantly if you try to give it a bit of throttle (I haven't data logged it, but seems like around 20-25%) at around 1100-1300 RPM, particularly in sixth gear. This seems to be the only bad spot, but due to the DSG's shift point programming, the engine seems to hit that spot annoyingly often. I've found putting the transmission in manual mode when I'm at speeds where this kicks in to be a good work-around, but I'd be interested in hearing if anyone's found a way to get the transmission to downshift sooner and not attempt to stay in 6th gear at that RPM and load.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/17/20 3:55 p.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

Ugh, the trans tuning is the biggest problem I have with our PowerShift equipped Focus.  It is bound and determined to keep the revs below 2000.  Going uphill, the car is slowing down and so you are feeding in more and more throttle, and then it wakes up and drops down all the gears, so now you're at 5000rpm and letting off.  At which point it upshifts all the gears again.  And no manual mode.


If it would downshift in a timely manner it would not nearly be so bad.

clutchsmoke UltraDork
8/17/20 5:20 p.m.

We bought a 2011 Sportwagon TDI a year and a half ago from a longtime friend to replace my wife's totaled DD. He already had a tune on both the engine and the DSG. This is the only TDI I've driven so I have nothing else to compare it to. 

There are rare random times when it will lightly surge around the speeds you are describing. Otherwise it drives absolutely fine.

It's been to the dealer twice. First time for a shoddy aftermarket wiring issue that a PO did which resulted in the car getting a new HPFP. The second time was also not the car's fault. Let's just say the fuel system had to be completely flushed. Dealer never said a word about the tune.

I wouldn't worry about it. Just time it now and have that much more enjoyable time behind the wheel.

Chesterfield Reader
8/17/20 5:38 p.m.

I bought a 2015 Passat TDI w/ DSG CPO almost a year ago, and I have not had any problems. It will occasionally be a sluggish under certain conditions, but it is not something that happens regularly. I have read this issue can be fixed with a tune.

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/17/20 6:10 p.m.

Bold move by the dealer rep to suggest an aftermarket tune.  Very illegal, though.  The dealer could easily fire him for that, as it just exposed them to some serious fines.

jimbbski SuperDork
8/17/20 6:36 p.m.

I own a '12 TDI Jetta.  I have a Malone Sage II tune with DPF and EGR delete.  I went through Rawtec Inc.https://www.rawtekinc.com/products/jetta-tdi-11-13-dpf-egr-delete-performance-exhaust-kithttps://www.rawtekinc.com/products/jetta-tdi-11-13-dpf-egr-delete-performance-exhaust-kit

  I did keep the Cat in place however.  I couldn't be happier!  I get better MPG's and more power, mostly in the form of torque.  When I pull away from a light or stop sign and short shift to 2nd and then floor it the traction control has all it can handle keeping the tires from spinning.  The total cost of the tune and just the turbo down pipe is  well over $1K but I wouldn't change it back. 

In fact when VW finally figured out a solution to fix the TDIs still in owners hands like mine, they offered up to $7K depending on the year of the car to entice you to bring it in and get it fixed.  I passed.

The car now has 60K + on it and I regularly get 50+ mpg on the highway at 70 mph per hour. This is observed mileage and not a computer readout.

I've had no other problems with the car other than wear items like tires and brakes.

Turbine Reader
8/17/20 10:53 p.m.

I bought a '12 Passat TDI last month. I love the car so far, but it'll be getting a full Rawtek delete and DSG/stage 2 tune from Malone as soon as possible

AxeHealey Dork
8/18/20 8:19 a.m.

Thanks for the responses everyone. My understanding is that this is a non-issue with the DSGs although it sounds like a few of your have experienced some of the symptoms. It's mostly an annoyance but there are times when it's borderline undriveable. I wouldn't accept it from any of my old cars, it certainly shouldn't be a characteristic of a modern car. VW has tried to say it's working "as designed" but there's no way they would design and sell a new car that performs in this manner. 


jimbbski - I'm glad to hear it's going well with the tune. You must be in an area with no emissions testing. If I go Stage II, it sounds like my options are to change it back to stock whenever i need to get it checked or go with a lower level tune. Where I am, emissions testing doesn't go away until 25 years old. 

JesseWolfe Reader
8/18/20 8:26 a.m.

I understand Kerma has a pre dieselgate tune, and some staged tunes that are supposed to work with emissions equipment intact.  I have no idea of their reviews or reliability though.

sobe_death Dork
8/18/20 9:59 a.m.

I have a 2011 Touareg 3.0 TDI that has its own set of "normal" issues post-fix.  The fuel economy dropped 3-5mpg everywhere, 8-speed trans tuning went all weird; 1st gear is a dog pulling away from a stop(2nd is like a rocket ship!), and it's at the dealer for a third time trying to find a strong diesel smell coming into the cabin from under the hood.

Malone would probably be my choice going with an off-the-shelf aftermarket tune, but the only trans tuning I know of has been a bit of renegade "pre-fix" flashing to the fixed TCM. Maybe someone in the community is flashing the pre-fix tune back into the cars for the 2.0? 

John Welsh (Moderate Supporter)
John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) Mod Squad
8/18/20 10:21 a.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

What's the best way to make yourself the "squeaky wheel?"  The EPA is who made them "correct" the emissions.  Is there a way to complain to the EPA?  

Does this issue leave the car "unsafe" to drive? It would seem to me that unreliable acceleration is unsafe?  Then, maybe file complaint with nhtsa?  I would think VW would be shy of upsetting more gov't agencies...maybe.  

AxeHealey Dork
8/18/20 11:13 a.m.

In reply to John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) :

Great points you bring up. I squeaked enough with the Acura to get the problem fixed but not (edit) things that resulted from the problem. Trying to be annoying enough here but am getting the silent treatment. 

I've thought about contacting the EPA but I kind of doubt they care whether or not it drives well, just that it passes. May be worth bringing that point up with VW if I ever get them on the phone again though. 

I'd be hard pressed to say that it rises to the level of being unsafe although the surging and bucking is definitely unpredictable. 

frenchyd PowerDork
8/18/20 11:26 a.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

At this point I would change directions completely. Low operating costs seem to be what you seek.  The lowest out there seems to be the Chevy Volt. Friends who have had theirs for more than 5 years tell me they have never driven a cheaper more reliable car.

They call it the toaster because it lasts so long and costs do little. Commuting and local shopping is free except for about a $15 dollar a month increase in their electric bill.   The annual oil change is done before their vacation trip  and even loaded down for that they still get more than 50 MPG average since most places they stay have plug ins they use to charge the battery overnight. 
 Since you like a sporty ride and shifting  buy yourself a car for just that. Back road touring. Auto cross,  vintage racer, track racing, whatever.  Don't worry about being the fastest. Just have fun. There will always be someone with more money and a faster car.  

jimbbski SuperDork
8/18/20 11:46 a.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

In my area they don't test diesels so I'm OK there.

sobe_death Dork
8/18/20 1:29 p.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

I would open another ticket to escalate higher through VW North America. They have seemingly been bending over backwards to avoid any more trouble with TDI's, and the Customer Care rep is going to likely only refer to what the dealer tech diagnosed.

clutchsmoke UltraDork
8/18/20 1:37 p.m.
JesseWolfe said:

I understand Kerma has a pre dieselgate tune, and some staged tunes that are supposed to work with emissions equipment intact.  I have no idea of their reviews or reliability though.

Kerma is what is installed on our TDI.

tastyguac New Reader
8/18/20 1:42 p.m.

In reply to AxeHealey :

I have a Kerma tune on my wife's 13 Golf TDI 6MT. Kerma won't make delete tunes, which was OK for me since I was not willing to delete any emissions equipment. But - the added soot generated by the additional fuel that the tune adds causes it to regenerate more often. The car drives great when its not regenerating - pretty responsive and quick. Its a turd when it is regenerating though - usually takes about 25 miles to clear out and it does it at least once per tank. Hindsight being 20/20, I would have bought a GTi. 


My opinion - if you have to get a diesel, which is really your only choice with MK6 sportwagens, tune it. Get the handheld adapter so you can remove the tune if needed for dealer visits. Enjoy 35+mpg no matter how you drive it. 

For anyone else, unless you have to have the wagon, you are doing yourself a disservice to not get a GTi or GLi. The 2.0T gas motor is just better in every metric except for fuel economy. 

newrider3 Reader
8/18/20 1:54 p.m.

Is diesel emissions testing in your area really in-depth enough to catch a tune on a modern car? In Colorado, diesel emissions is just a smoke (opacity) test on the dyno, a VW TDI would have to be super broken or have a ridiculous smoke show tune to fail. I would think a Malone tune would not smoke a whole lot, or at least more than a poof upon full throttle. I also don't see why you couldn't get a tune and leave the exhaust aftertreatment equipment alone, IMO these cars don't need to have this stuff deleted.

AxeHealey Dork
8/18/20 2:04 p.m.

In reply to frenchyd :

I see where your head's at and I do think I'll eventually go electric for my daily. I've also seen good review from GRMers who have Volts. The problem right now is that I can't park my daily inside and when/if I go that route I'd want to have an actual charger, in the garage. 

You did nail it in that I'm looking for my daily to never be an issue, but I do also have the fun stuff. I just always hold out hope that the no brainer can also be fun/cool...

AxeHealey Dork
8/18/20 2:05 p.m.

In reply to sobe_death :

Agreed. I'm going to try to work my way through the VW system without going back to the same guy.

AxeHealey Dork
8/18/20 2:08 p.m.

In reply to tastyguac :

Well I can confirm that that the stock tune also sucks during regen. I'm going to say that it happens once a tank for me as well. 


I did get a response back from Malone that they offer a Stage II that is emissions legal. 

AxeHealey Dork
8/18/20 2:09 p.m.

In reply to newrider3 :

When I got it tested after buying it, it seemed they were doing the same stuff that they would for a gasoline engine but I didn't really pay attention. 

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