2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: It Has Already Begun
June 5, 2013
You've heard this story before. I merge onto Interstate 10 heading east one evening last week. Almost immediately, I hear a warning chime from our long-term 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI's tire pressure monitoring system. There's also a visual message in the trip computer advising me to check the tires.
I can feel a loss of pressure in the driver-side rear tire. I take the next exit and pull over at a fuel station.
I get my tire gauge and check the label on the driver door jamb: The cold-spec psi for our car's 235/45R18 94H Continental ContiProContact tires is 33 psi. I walk to the left rear tire and, sure enough, it's way low: 13 psi as you see on my gauge.
It's 9:30 p.m. and I'm of the mind that I'd rather try to see if the tire will hold air than fuss with the donut spare, especially since our Passat has the same annoying lugnut caps we had on both our long-term 2011 GTI and Jetta TDI. I pump the tire up to 35 psi, and it seems to be holding.
I drive 30 miles, and when I arrive home, the tire still shows 35 psi on my gauge. Of course, now the tire has heat in it, so it actually has lost a few psi during my drive. Otherwise, it would read about 38 psi now.
The next morning, I check the pressure again and it's down to 25 psi. I drive to a nearby Goodyear tire shop with the hope that one of the techs there can patch the tire and send me on my way. But nope, the nail that I apparently ran over went in exactly where the tread meets the sidewall. Nice work, me.
The shop doesn't have our tire in stock, but the manager tells me he can order it for me and have it within two hours. The list price on the tire is $189.99, not including tax and labor. On a whim, I call the VW dealership up the street to see if they have the tire in stock and/or will beat the price. Turns out they don't have the tire and their price is $203 before tax and labor, so the Goodyear store gets my business.
The manager offers to have the donut spare put on our Passat in the interim, but since I'm not going far on this particular day, I decline and ask them to pump up the punctured tire and I'll just make do until later than afternoon.
About two and a half hours later, I get a call that the new tire is in and I return to the shop. They have me out of there in 30 minutes, so it's a good experience. With labor and tax, the total damage is $234.73.
You'll notice the trunk is open in the photos of the Passat from the shop. Apparently, the tech has dealt with a few Volkswagens with the infernal lugnut caps before and knows he'll need to retrieve the special tool to remove them from the trunk.
"How do you like those lugnut covers?" I ask.
"I hate them," he replies.
Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 1,296 miles