The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

The economics of the VW TDI buyback program

| August 10, 2016

So, using the VW Court Settlement tool, I punched in my VIN and answered the questions to find that VW is going to give me just under $15k for my 2012 TDI Jetta, plus just under $6k of “We’re sorry” money, for a total of just under $20k. Armed with this information, I went searching for a new car so that I can sell back the old one without having to scramble to find one when everyone else is doing the same thing. Voila:


But, the economics of the buyback are interesting. In 2012, I bought the car for $28,500 less a $6,500 trade-in for my old TDI Golf, which means I paid $22,000. I’m getting back $20,777. This means that I drove the car for 4 years for a total of $1223, plus about $800 or so in maintenance (3 oil changes plus a fluid change on the DSG trans). Spending $2k over 4 years and 62k miles is not too shabby.

“New” car is a 2013 Turbo Beetle (early year, so it’s the Gen 1 TSI, not the Gen 3 fitted in the bottom half of 2013) with just under 19k miles on it. It is more than paid for by the money I will get from VW in a couple of months.

Updated my car maintenance kit

| December 7, 2013

Some years ago, I bought a USB OBD-II adapter, set up an old laptop with XP and some software, and used it to figure out what was wrong with cars.

Well, that setup doesn’t work on the Tiguan (works for the Jetta, but not Tiggy), so I bought a newer OBD-II reader. This one is Bluetooth and seems to work well (it can talk to all three cars, at least):

The bluetooth setup works with Android devices (iDevices require rooting, apparently, so you need to get the WiFi version or something.. I don’t know, I decided to not care and got the Bluetooth one).

So, you take that, and your tablet, and then install an app that talks to it (there are a pile, I found these which seem to work well:

Carista just sets and clears codes. Torque does that and shows vehicle information (throttle position, RPMs, speed, etc. – pretty much whatever it can get from the ECU).

I ended up buying Torque Pro which adds a pile of nifty features. Most useful for me are:

  • Profiles for different cars
  • Support for diesel engines
  • Support for turbocharged engines

Productive weekend

| March 27, 2011

Kind of a lazy about the house weekend, but with us, that doesn’t mean nonproductive:

  1. Got the oil changed on my car, the inspection sticker affixed, and some misc detail repair (the 1 to 4 power adapter is remounted, etc.).
  2. While the oil was draining, I tidied up the garage a bit.
  3. Got the seed order squared away
  4. Emptied the compost buckets
  5. Played with dog
  6. Posted the generator instructions
  7. Made bread (maple oatmeal)
  8. Cleaned up and stowed the beer equipment in the basement
  9. Cleaned up the furnace room a bit (still needs more, and I need to add some more light fixtures back there)
  10. Assembled some more minis (Behemoth, Drago, Skarre)
  11. Made chicken and dumplings
  12. Watered the plants

I think that about covers it.

Car maintenance day here at the ranch…

| November 13, 2010

Liz changed her oil.

I changed my transmission fluid. This is theoretically a lifetime, sealed transmission, but “lifetime” means “slightly more than your 80k mile powertrain warranty”. Thus, it is suggested to change it every 50k – 100k miles, though not by the manufacturer. Now, generally, I’d change the fluid filter too. In the 01A transmission (the 4 speed) it’s simple – you drop the transmission pan, which exposes the filter, replace it, then put it all back together. In my 09A transmission, however, the filter is at the front, which means your choices are to either disassemble your frontend or pull the transmission out. The shop manual doesn’t even make any mention of how to change either filter, and the only instructions I can find are for the 01A. So, I changed the fluid. It seems like that’s what other folks on the VW forums are doing as well, and they’re getting 250k miles (and still going) out of it. I should probably mention that, if you don’t change it, it’s generally expected that the transmission will wear out in about 150k miles or so.

We also both changed into snow tires given that, you know, we got an inch of snow last Monday.


| November 8, 2010

Been busy. Got about 30lbs of potatoes this year, made a couple quarts of hot sauce, made lots of beer, visited my folks, hit my buddy Mike’s halloween party, stuff like that.

We bought a stove. Gas. Current stove is electric. Now I need to run/arrange to have run LP gas lines, get a tank, git it filled, etc.

Need to change my transmission fluid too, and put on snow tires. We had our first snow today.

I suppose that means I should bring in firewood and change over to snow tires as well.

I’ve also been working on Warmachine minis in little bits of spare time I’ve been able to grab. Will post pics when they’re done. Almost ready for inking and then varnish. Then I get to work on the bases. I just ordered a Master Basing kit. Heh.

I’ve also been hacking about on my Pandigital Novel. In addition to the company released open platform firmware (basically stock Android, slightly modified for the device), there’s also a pile of community firmware.

I think that’s it for now…


| August 19, 2010

  • Potatoes are now properly hilled
  • There is now a length of wire holding the outlet hose on to my turbocharger (as opposed to it blowing halfway out every time I hit the throttle too hard)

Fixed mah car…

| July 22, 2010

The ABS light came on a couple weeks ago. It’s summer, so no rush. Hit it with the computer last night, got an “electrical fault in the right rear ABS sensor”. Pulled the wheel, checked the wire, looked fine. Figure it is a defective component. German Auto Parts is awesome and about 5 minutes from work. Got the part, changed it out tonight, which was a pain in the but. Figured it would just pop off, but nooo.. had to pull the brake and rotor off, and ended up having to smash out the core with a punch, then take it out in pieces. A little sanding of the hole, and the new one slid right in, but it was not supposed to be nearly this annoying. Still, saved me about an hour worth of mechanic labor (which is expensive).

Oh, and the light went off. So, mission accomplished.


| April 20, 2010

Finally got warm enough to put the new wheels on Arnie.

New Wheels

The overall diameter is the same, but the wheel is taller with a shorter tire. They’re also a full inch wider, so they fill out the wells a lot better. The cornering is “vastly” improved – very difficult to even squeal them in the turns. Very entertaining on our windy country roads.

These were from TireRack.

Car is done

| May 31, 2009

Went out in the morning, hit Tractor supply, got the stuff we needed. Came home, compressed the springs in the struts, changed out the shock, kind of messed it up and bent the retaining ring, so I had to press it back into shape. Hit it again, got it right, did the second one, no issues. Got the passenger side partway back in, but was having trouble, so we had a go at the driver’s side which basically popped right in. It turns out that the alignment is really critical, and you need to have it just right, else it won’t go. Loosened and realigned the passenger’s side, and it went in quite easily. Tightened the crap out of everything, and we’re good.

If we were to do it again, it would take a lot less time.

  • Remove driver’s side strut – 20 mins (which was about how long it took)
  • Remove passenger’s side strut – 1 hour (actually took like 5, but now we know what we’re doing).
  • Change shocks – 15 mins each
  • Replace driver’s side strut – 20 mins
  • Replace passenger’s side strut – 30 mins

So, the two of us can probably do it in about 3 hours. One person would take longer.

The back is basically cake. Jack up the car about 6 inches to uncompress the shock a bit. Undo the top mount with an impact wrench, get on your belly on a creeper and undo the bottom bolt. Fiddle with the height of the car with the jack until you can pop it out (you don’t want to jack the car all the way up lest the spring fall out now that nothing is holding it in). Change the mount onto the new shock, put it all back in.

The only wrinkle was the driver’s side (again) because there’s this molded plastic enclosure which gets in the way of putting one bolt in straight. It took us like an hour on that side and 15 minutes on the other side. If we had to do it again, I’d be more careful on the bolt and it would likely only take us about half an hour to 45 minutes. (Which I expect it to when we do Liz’s next weekend. See, we did the fronts like 6 months ago, but never got to doing the backs until now.)

The new suspension is basically in the ballpark of “factory sport” stiffness, like in a GTI, which is vastly improved over stock. It’s no R32 suspension, but it was like $300, not $1200.

Lizzy contends that the old suspension wasn’t really actually blown, and even hadn’t softened up that much – it was that soft to begin with, I was just coming from American cars which drove like waterbeds, so it seemed stiff, and as I got more used to it, I wanted it more stiff. I tend to agree – checking the book and doing the procedure on the shocks I pulled out, they’re still technically good – slightly softer than new, but not really needing to be replaced for another 40k miles or so.

Oh, and the brakes have another 40k miles on them, at least, so I left them. I have the new brakes, and it’s not like they go bad, so when it needs it, I’ve got them.

Night folks.


| May 30, 2009

First, I love my wife. She’s awesome, and probably knows more about cars than I do. It’s fun to wrench on stuff together.

Anyway, I HATE the right side McPherson strut assembly on Jettas and Golfs. Anyone who has had to change one out knows what I mean.

The Bentley book says “unbolt the drive shaft from the transmission flange”.

Are… you.. serious?

Folks on the internet have found another couple of ways – either use a claw-type spring compressor (which I don’t have, because I got a nicer one.. which doesn’t work on stuff on the car) or loosen the subframe attachment bolts.

I ended up loosening the subframe bolts, and with a little persuasion (rubber mallet) down and over (rotating the steering knuckle a little bit) got it done.

Took me like five frikkin hours to get it undone. If I had to redo it, it probably would only be an hour, because I know what I’m doing. But still…

Meanwhile, it took me about half an hour to get the left side one undone (and that includes jacking up the car and pulling the wheel off).

Lessons learned:

  1. Impact wrenches rock.
  2. I’m sick of those silly “change a tire” jacks (I’ve been using them to jack up the car and put them up on blocks), and I’m going to get a proper jack. I was looking at a standard 2 ton wheelie floor jack, but then I saw these. We’re going to hit Tractor Supply tomorrow, and if they have any, I’ll get a pair. If not, I’ll just grab a regular floor jack.
  3. I also need a 1/2″ to 3/8″ bit adapter, because I have many 3/8″ drive sockets, but a 1/2″ drive impact wrench.

Aaanyway. So, the car is like half done.