Have VAG totally lost the plot?

Currently reading:
Have VAG totally lost the plot?

Joined
Oct 1, 2017
Messages
7,469
Points
2,352
Location
Edinburgh Scotland
Anyone who has seen some of my recent posts will know my younger boy's '07 plate Astra estate is on a decidedly "Shoogly Peg" and we were expecting it to fail it's MOT last week, which it obligingly did! Also, as you may have read, his wife's Jazz was vandalized in the street and, although still driveable, it's got so much panel damage that I wouldn't be making book on whether the insurance will repair it or scrap it. The Astra failed on rear axle bushes, one front flex hose and some other small stuff, so worth repairing and was back on the road by last night - although I have to say that as the axle bushes are beyond me in this cold wet weather I let the garage carry out the repairs. So, question is, what to do about cars for them going forward?

Well, Keith, who is owner/mechanic/MOT tester at this local wee garage, tells us that the Astra is actually in pretty good condition for it's age and certainly has some more running in it yet. The Jazz, although mechanically continuing to run like a wee watch, is bodily pretty poor so is the logical one to put out to pasture. Even if the vandalized panels are repaired there's a lot of rust elsewhere so the best outcome would be for it to be condemned - I'll definitely be shedding a tear or two as I've looked after it for years. So, the die is cast, we're now going full speed ahead looking for a replacement for the Astra - which will be handed down to his wife, she likes driving it anyway - and the Jazz, if not actually scrapped, will be pensioned off.

We suspected this would be the outcome so I've been looking at possible replacement vehicles for him for a while now. It needs to be an estate to get the length to accommodate his large folding ladders and other signwritting paraphernalia, SUV type bodywork doesn't give the length and it has to be petrol because he does a lot of town running so doesn't want DPF problems. I'd looked at the Tipo T-Jet estate and I still like the car but I'm a wee bit worried about some of the spares - road springs for example. There are several others, the Kia Sportwagen being one but with my long time interest in VW group products I've been looking at the Leon estate. Up to 2018/19 the most suitable engine would be a 1.4 litre with two power levels. The more powerful - 150hp - having Active Cylinder Technology (more on that to come) and the lesser, without the ACT producing about 125hp. There are setup complications with the ACT so I'd decided the 125 would be the one to go with. From 2018/19 onwards they introduced an engine update. Now a very similar engine, from the same EA211 modular "family" both the lower output and more powerful engines have this Active Cylinder Technology. I could explain ACT here but it's a complicated system and would put many of you to sleep. Google it if you really want to know.

The big problem is that there are very few of the lower power output examples about and not many 1.4's even with the higher output, ACT, engine. Nearly all the adverts are for the 1.5 later engine with ACT and I don't really want the complication of ACT also I'm a bit put off by the many reports of driveability issues with the 1.5 engine, however there are quite a lot of the 1.5 examples for sale - which maybe says something? Anyway, I've just come across this:-



How can something so complicated possibly be considered for an everyday driver? I'm guessing only main dealers or larger specialist workshops will even consider buying the required kit and I question how many of the workers will be able to properly carry out the work. The temptation to get it just "near enough" will condemn many examples to a life of "less than optimum" operation I suspect. One thing's for sure, I'm not buying one or going anywhere near one even with a very long barge pole.
 
Last edited:
Are these the engines with the common ability to just not have any power when pulling out at junctions. I've heard some people just rejecting the cars.
 
Does skoda have a sensibly motored variant Jock ?
A bit more 'tartan rug vs 'Baseball cap' ;)
Maybe, but I think this EA211 modular engine family is pretty standard across the range. I don't think the smaller 3 cylinders have ACT, my Ibiza doesn't, but the 1.0 litre engine makes life a bit boringly slow in the bigger and heavier bodies.
Are these the engines with the common ability to just not have any power when pulling out at junctions. I've heard some people just rejecting the cars.
Sounds like what I'm hearing about. And I believe they suffer "kangaroo" petrol at lower revs when cold. I am reading about a software/firmware update which is supposed to address the problem - people seem to report varying success with this. Try googling it, there's a lot of stuff about it. I've run VAG stuff for years and mostly found it very good and I'm very sad about this and hope they sort it soon. I'm just not happy to take the chance with what I've found out so far.
 
It's my bedtime now so i must knock this in the head. However I've just been reading an article about the EVO2 version of this engine. Of course with our budget we are looking at cars a few years old so the very newest version of this engine we could afford would be what they call the EVO version, which was the first one introduced. It looks like they've addressed a lot, if not all, of these issues with this EVO2 version and I'm going to look more closely into it. Maybe we should try a test drive in an EVO2 and we could always do a small finance package to top up the funds to the necessary level if he really likes it? Anyway, a bit more now for me to research into. One thing's absolutely for sure though, I don't think there's any chance it's a car I'll be doing very much to in my driveway, not as far as the engine's concerned anyway? Mind you, that probably applies to a lot of the latest models from all manufacturers.
 
What is missing from this is when it might need the valve timing adjusting, and why. This is adjusting the camshaft postion in relation to its pulley. I'm thinking a simple timing belt change should not affect the cam timing, so this procedure, involving two people, might only be necessary if the camshafts have been disturbed. Or are VAG recommending doing this at each cambelt change? If so, 2nd belt change will scrap the car.

As the camshafts will all be made on a CNC machine, the tolerances between them will be very small. It is likely that this procedure is overkill, and soon there will be a simple tool that just locks them into place, then tighten the pulleys, a bit like the last of the FIRE engines.
 
What is missing from this is when it might need the valve timing adjusting, and why. This is adjusting the camshaft postion in relation to its pulley. I'm thinking a simple timing belt change should not affect the cam timing, so this procedure, involving two people, might only be necessary if the camshafts have been disturbed. Or are VAG recommending doing this at each cambelt change? If so, 2nd belt change will scrap the car.

As the camshafts will all be made on a CNC machine, the tolerances between them will be very small. It is likely that this procedure is overkill, and soon there will be a simple tool that just locks them into place, then tighten the pulleys, a bit like the last of the FIRE engines.
While this seems sensible...

VW main agents currently charge nearly 800 quid for timing belt and water pump change.

It's a standard dry belt and it's not made of any exotic materials given it's only lifed to last 4 years or 5 years depending on engine. To change a wet belt at a main dealer with a water pump is over 200 cheaper and in theory much more involved given you need to take the top and sump of the engine off.

So if they were doing this each time that price might make sense.. otherwise it's an absolute grift.

As an aside this engine explains why a new Tiguan driving past me the other day was apparently down a coil pack... cylinder deactivation..it sounds broken by design.
 
Last edited:
While this seems sensible...

As an aside this engine explains why a new Tiguan driving past me the other day was apparently down a coil pack... cylinder deactivation..it sounds broken by design.
A friend told me yesrs ago that VW were doing that with the Limo types..
'Phaeton..'?

Definitely 10+ years ago.
 
It sounds to me like the low emissions requirements for vehicles these days are right on the edge.
We addressed the most harmful gases a long time ago, with catalysts from 1993. The only way after that to reduce emissions was to use less fuel. That means more economical, or more efficient by using more of the fuel's energy to acually propel the car along, instead of wasting it as heat or friction.
In the eighties, a normal family car, like a Ford Escort, VW Golf or Austin Maestro, would be considered great if it regularly got better than 30-35mpg. Today, my Fabia rarely dips below 50mpg, yet is at least 25% heavier. I often wonder what figures we could achieve if we used today's technology, without all the heaviness that crash protection, aircon, power steering, electric windows and locking bring.
 
So putting a modern engine (Chevrolet)with all the emissions requirements in an aerodynamic body of minimal weight ie under 1000kg would be an interesting thought.
 

Attachments

  • Screenshot_20230205-082815_Samsung Internet.jpg
    Screenshot_20230205-082815_Samsung Internet.jpg
    860.7 KB · Views: 38
A friend told me yesrs ago that VW were doing that with the Limo types..
'Phaeton..'?

Definitely 10+ years ago.
The difference between a 4 cylinder and an 8 cylinder though is that on a 4 stroke cycle you'll have 2 cylinders firing on any given stroke which drops to one when you deactivate 4.

On a 4 cylinder there's just a gap in the firing cycle leading to the "dugga dugga dugga" exhaust sound you get after a coil pack has given up.
 
Last edited:
So if they were doing this each time that price might make sense.. otherwise it's an absolute grift.
I can only speak for my wee, non ACT, 1.0 litre Ibiza engine, but I know both cam sprockets and the crankshaft sprocket are free "wheeling" and are slackened for belt replacement - with the crankshaft bolt being a "once only" item. However the cams on this engine are locked with a tool across the water pump end of the engine so I don't believe this complicated procedure is necessary on my engine. I was charged around £380 about eighteen months ago by my local, highly trustworthy, independent VAG specialist - which I think was very reasonable and would seem to support the assumption that this specialist tool was not needed on my engine?

PS, the Haynes manual does cover my engine and shows just the simple locking tool being used.
 
Just been reading the Haynes manual and it doesn't mention the engine type with ACT as far as I can see. My assumption is therefore that this complicated procedure is only applicable to the engines with Active Cylinder Technology? I'm now "on a mission" to try and talk to some of the mechanics I know who work on VAG stuff and find out more about this.

If you haven't looked into this VAG Act system it makes for some interesting reading. If you're interested in this sort of stuff I can recommend googling or you tubing it.
 
What is missing from this is when it might need the valve timing adjusting, and why. This is adjusting the camshaft postion in relation to its pulley. I'm thinking a simple timing belt change should not affect the cam timing, so this procedure, involving two people, might only be necessary if the camshafts have been disturbed. Or are VAG recommending doing this at each cambelt change? If so, 2nd belt change will scrap the car.

As the camshafts will all be made on a CNC machine, the tolerances between them will be very small. It is likely that this procedure is overkill, and soon there will be a simple tool that just locks them into place, then tighten the pulleys, a bit like the last of the FIRE engines.
I don’t thing this is about “setting the timing” per se I think the complex process appears to be to set up the software side of the electronic timing adjustment not so much setting up the timing manually, but setting up the cars computers to adjust its own timing.

I’d suspect (though I may be wrong and it depends on what jock finds out) that this is a one time set up, unless you change the cams or some other major component of the engine.

Probably most relevant to the dealerships who might have to change an engine or major component under warranty but outside warranty either you’d scrap the car or have to send it to the dealership.

In some respects these overly complicated set ups and processes are not that much different to what many companies are having to do now with modern technology.
 
Odd that I had a 2002 A3, 1.8 non-turbo that was also 125bhp, and would give near 50mpg on motorway runs. 20v engine (basically turbo engine without the turbo), but very simple to look after, even the timing belt was easy as it only had one cam pulley at the front.

I'm not sure these advances are really needed. Older more powerful engines seem to be out of fashion, but they are so much more drivable.
 
I'm not sure these advances are really needed. Older more powerful engines seem to be out of fashion, but they are so much more drivable.

The 1.8..with less power and torque than a 1.0 in the modern era.

Also 10 seconds to 60 would put it firmly in "slow" in the modern era.

It also depends on your definition of driveable.

I had an old school petrol 1.6..it would do 49 to the gallon and if you didn't mind winding it up it would go (while returning about 35 to the gallon). But a lot easier to drive a modern engine..peak torque at a level an older petrol would barely be able to shift its own weight peak power without making it scream.

Old school is fun in the correct environment but needing to stir the damn thing when you've got weight on board just to get down the road is very last century..when you could just be torque surfing barely above tick over.
 
Back
Top