I’ve always been one to sing the praises of diesel vehicles. North America has been hesitant to embrace them, but diesel cars tend to be more efficient and pack quicker acceleration. Unfortunately, it’s not always so bright and rosy. A number of Volkswagen and Audi owners have been reporting premature fuel pump failures in their diesel cars, enough to have prompted an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration into the 2010 Audi A3, 2010 VW Golf, and 2009-2010 VW Jetta diesels.
Although the investigation began February of last year, it is still ongoing. The NHTSA received 160 complaints from owners, but Volkswagen claimed that the pumps were damaged by non-compliant fuel, and as a result the repair cannot be covered under warranty. In fact, VW had 121 cases in which customers admitted to “mis-fueling” their cars, which probably means putting gasoline into their diesel automobiles.
However, what’s more troubling is that there are a number of reports coming from cars not covered by the investigation. 11 owners in the TDI Club have reported failures on 2012 model years, and there have also been reports from Passat owners, who are not at all mentioned in the investigation. Some owners have even experienced fuel pumps failing after already being replaced.
So, what’s the problem then? Well, the good news is that Volkswagen is not likely to be at fault. Their fuel pumps are designed for a standard of diesel fuel that all gas stations in North America should comply to. But there is a possibility that many gas stations stock diesel fuel that has been contaminated by gasoline, whether it was in the tanker or at the station itself. As such, even when owners don’t misfuel their cars, the high pressure fuel pump could end up trying to use fuel it can’t cope with. Since the owner could be at-fault however, Volkswagen is hesitant to cover this under warranty. And unfortunately, because the failures are happening so often, some owners report having to wait for parts for over six weeks.
“Contaminated diesel fuel can cause issues throughout the system,” said Darryll Harrison, Volkswagen’s manager of communications in the west coast of the US. “In some cases, even small amounts of gas mixed with diesel can interrupt the function of several parts within the fuel system, including the fuel pump, and cause it to fail.” Back in May 2010, Volkswagen ran a technical service bulletin to address a similar issue with fuel pumps on other models. So, it’s possible that once the NHTSA conclude their investigation, another bulletin will be ran — it may just be a matter of their supplier, Bosch, producing a stronger pump to avoid the issue.
Source: Jalopnik | Image Credit: Volkswagen