Oil Sludge Bedevils VW


In an effort to address engine problems caused by oil sludge, Volkswagen of America recently extended warranty coverage on two models of turbocharged cars, news reports say.

According to Automotive News and the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. subsidiary of the German automaker has mailed letters to owners of approximately 425,000 Volkswagen Passats and Audi A4s equipped with 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The company sent the letters after receiving complaints of components malfunctioning because of oil sludge.

Volkswagen could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Automotive News, a weekly trade newspaper, reported Monday that the extended warranty covers Passats built from 1998 to 2004 and A4s built from 1997 to 2004. The paper said VW declined to say how many engines have been replaced or repaired or how much the extended warranty is expected to cost.

The extended warranty, according to yesterdays Wall Street Journal, is for eight years, has no mileage limit and is fully transferable. VWs standard warranty generally lasts for five years or 50,000 miles, which ever comes first.

VW is not the only carmaker to fork over money the past few years for oil-related engine problems. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. begrudgingly offered in 2002 to pay for repairs to engines damaged by oil gelation, a phenomenon occurring at cold temperatures when oil turns to a semi-solid gel that fails to flow. Toyota maintained that problems in its engines were caused by owners who did not change oil often enough, but made its offer after receiving complaints from a few thousand customers.

The Center for Auto Safety announced last week that it is asking DaimlerChrysler to extend warranties on Chrysler 2.7-liter V-6 engines in vehicles built from 1998 to 2002 to address problems caused by oil sludge. The center, a private, nonprofit group founded by Ralph Nader (currently a third-partycandidate for president in the United States), said it has received complaints from 92 Chrysler owners claiming damage related to oil sludge.

Automotive News reported Chrysler as stating it is investigating a limited number of complaints.

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