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When it’s 38.5c outside, having air conditioning in your car is pretty much essential. Especially when you have a five-hour drive ahead of you with a shaggy, four-month-old puppy in the back.
But when the mercury started to rise in France a few weeks ago, the air conditioning in my five-and-a-half year old Volkswagen Tiguan refused to blow out anything but hot air. Five very sweaty hours and a bit of online research later, I found that I am far from the only Tiguan driver to experience problems with the SUV’s air conditioning.
A funny thing happened…
Motoring forums have lots of examples of complaints about air conditioning failures in Tiguans, the oldest of which have now been on the road for about eight years.
G from Oxford, for example, gave the Tiguan just one star on the Carbuyer.co.uk owner reviews site.
“Looks nice. But it was the most unreliable car I have ever owned,” he said. “In all, about a dozen visits to VW under warranty. Final straw was the aircon compressor failing and VW quoting over £1000 to fix it. Avoid this model if you want reliability.”
But despite being confronted with links illustrating how common air conditioning compressor failure – also the issue with my car – is, Volkswagen denies that it is a “known problem”.
Grant McPherson at Volkswagen said: “I asked our technical team to look into any known issues with the a/c compressors on Tiguan and they have confirmed that they are not aware of any.”
Due to the age of my car, and that fact that the warranty has run out, it has also refused to pay anything towards the cost of the £1,000 plus repairs needed. So what are your rights if your vehicle needs work just after coming out of its warranty period?
Volkswagens are far from only cars to present drivers with recurring problems. Ford Focuses built between July 2004 and February 2005, for example, are known to sometimes have problems with their fuel return pipes leaking.
According to What Car, that’s because the pipes were made from material that degraded over time, allowing fuel to seep out.
Vauxhall Corsas built in 2007 are also known for issues with their steering shafts. “It has been found that the materials used aren’t of the required rigidity, and could therefore snap,” What Car said. “In the worst cases, steering control could be lost.” And certain Nissan Qashqais built between August 2008 and August 2011 have power steering problems that “could cause the steering to fail”.
In some cases, car manufacturers will admit the problem and pay for the repairs required to fix it. However, if issues rear their heads once the warranty period – typically about three years or 60,000 miles in the UK – has come to an end, you are on shakier ground.
Making a claim
If you visit a garage affiliated with the manufacturer who made your car, it can make a request for at least partial payment towards repairs for common faults.
According to Volkswagen, factors that are taken into account when making this decision include the nature of the issue, whether or not the vehicle was bought from a Volkswagen dealer, its age and whether or not it has been serviced at a Volkswagen garage.
McPherson said: “A vehicle with a full Volkswagen service history owned by a customer who purchased it from a Volkswagen retailer will be viewed more favourably than one purchased privately and never serviced within the Volkswagen network. “We will try to be as loyal to our customers as they are to us, and offer more goodwill.”
In my case, the company decided my car was old enough for it to insist that I pay for the repairs myself.
However, if the manufacturer has acknowledged a problem with cars built at a certain time, for example, you may receive at least a contribution towards the cost of repairs – even after your warranty has run out.
McPherson said: “Some repairs may be subsidised after the warranty has expired, but it would depend again on the nature of the problem. In general only manufacturing faults are covered.”