Leak con­tin­ues de­spite re­peated at­tempts to fix the prob­lem

The Fresno Bee - - Auto -

Dear Car Talk:

I have a 2016 Volk­swa­gen SportWa­gen. It has a big sun­roof, and a big leak. Ounces drip down from the over­head cen­ter con­sole onto the stereo face­plate, around the head­liner, down the front driver pil­lar and out the tweeter that’s mounted at the base of the pil­lar. This is the sec­ond time I’ve had it in for sev­eral days to be fixed, along with head­liner re­place­ment, sun­shade re­place­ment, etc.

The first time, they said the spot welds that hold the sun­roof to the roof were too big, which left gaps where wa­ter would over­flow the trough and into the car if it rained hard enough. This week they ap­plied epoxy to seal up some metal ar­eas. They thought it was fixed, but the sub­se­quent wa­ter test has them drop­ping the head­liner again to­day to do more seal­ing. My con­cern is that even if they fix the leak now, should I ex­pect more prob­lems (ei­ther leaks or elec­tri­cal is­sues) down the road af­ter the war­ranty ends? I usu­ally keep a car 10 to 12 years. Per­haps I should cut my losses and trade it in? Jeff

Wow. It sounds like one of those shower sys­tems I’ve been cov­et­ing with 10 dif­fer­ent shower heads that spray you from all di­rec­tions. And VW threw this in for free! This is a per­fect can­di­date for a trade-in, Jeff. Who knows what’s wrong? We have seen lots of leaky VWs, but it’s of­ten clogged drains or bad drain fit­tings.

And they would have fixed your car al­ready if it was ei­ther of those. So it sure sounds like it’s some­thing struc­tural. Maybe some­thing got bent or twisted. Or dropped off the de­liv­ery truck.

What’s called for here is a calm but se­ri­ous chat with the deal­er­ship’s gen­eral man­ager.

Don’t just walk in and con­front him. Make an ap­point­ment and say you need to speak to him about your car. Tell him you chose the car be­cause it’s a good fit for you, and you planned to keep it for 10 years. But that the leaks they’ve been un­able to fix have you very con­cerned about the long-term vi­a­bil­ity of the car, its body in­tegrity and — given the gal­lons of wa­ter it has leaked — its elec­tri­cal sys­tem and pos­si­ble mold. Tell him you’d rather not go through the has­sle of mak­ing a lemon law claim (re­search it in your state in ad­vance) or com­plain­ing about the car and the deal­er­ship on so­cial me­dia. But you would like a so­lu­tion.

Sug­gest that per­haps he could work out some­thing with you where he could give you a very good price on a trade-in, and a very good price on an­other new one — a 2017 or 2018. Or per­haps he has a used 2016 you can swap straight-up.

Make sure he knows you had no in­ten­tion of buy­ing an­other new car so soon, but this prob­lem is em­bar­rass­ing for ev­ery­body.

Do a lit­tle re­search in ad­vance, not just on your state’s lemon law, but on the trade-in value and pri­vate-sale value of your car. Good luck. Got a ques­tion about cars? Write to Ray in care of

• King Fea­tures, 628 Vir­ginia Drive, Or­lando, FL 32803, or email by vis­it­ing the Car Talk web­site at www.cartalk.com.

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