It Has Already Begun - 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI Long-Term Road Test

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: It Has Already Begun

June 5, 2013

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

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.

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

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.

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

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.

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

Erin Riches, Deputy Editor @ 1,296 miles


  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Driving around on a punctured tire with a medium-slow leak? Sounds more dangerous than driving around with the donut spare especially on the back.

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    Lug bolts...

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    One you know the caps are there it's no big deal. Once you know there are lug bolts instead of lug nuts, that's no big deal, either - you lift the car just high enough to get the tire off, not 5 inches in the air like this guy.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Also, going by the book is all fine and good, but with that small a puncture, that new (no moisture has gotten between the plies yet), I would have plugged it.

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    @fordson1: The car is on a lift in the first picture. When the tech is actually changing the tire, it's obviously lifted to your exact specification. Sheesh. I'm sure you mean a mushroom plug not just a plug but it's still crazy. You have no idea wh

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    Eriches, your last couple of posts have all been about crisis management! Talk about keeping a cool head under stressful circumstances.

  • noburgers noburgers Posts:

    nice story. next prediction: rock damage to the windshield. Flats and glass have been a big problem the past few years, unfortunately.

  • s197gt s197gt Posts:

    Continental generally has one of the better road hazard warranties. At only 1300 miles you may have gotten a free tire or a very good price reduction.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    @mfennell: yeah, looks like the photos of the nail in the tire were taken with the car on a lift, but the photos of the new tire going on were taken with it on a floor jack - and yes, the tech did just get it off the floor. I have a pretty good idea of

  • eriches eriches Posts:

    @ fordson1: I got a "no" from the shop manager on repairing the tire..... Re: "SoCal is way too $$$..." Tell me about it! ...... @ s197gt: I didn't think to inquire about road hazard coverage. My mistake and an unfortunate one.

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    @fordson1: " I think you mean "tire manufacturers' legal departments all agree." " Yeah, and why do you think THAT is? 'cause they're all nannies or 'cause they think that dead customers are bad for business? And do tell about the i

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Oh, I knew you would get a "no" from the tire place on fixing it - I would just fix that myself, but of course I would be in the position of owning the car and making that determination myself, too. I think you could still go back to the tire place and make a road hazard claim - it's pretty will documented what happened. Worth a try, I think.

  • mustang5507 mustang5507 Posts:

    Did the TPMS light go away? I just had my tire patched in my TDI Golf last weekend, and the light has not gone away. I need to have them look into that when it gets the 20k mile shortly - all my tires are up to spec now...

  • mustang5507 mustang5507 Posts:

    ...oh and my OBD-II reader doesn't pick up the code so I can't clear it myself!

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    Typically, I would try to plug this tire myself at home if it was more worn, just to get the tread to the end of its service life. However, with only 1296 miles on it, I'd rather not drive another 20-30k miles on it with a plug in the tire. The replacement tire will virtually match the others this early in the game. So I think replacing it was the right call.

  • mrh1965 mrh1965 Posts:

    Can't help but be reminded of the continental's on my 2003 Passat. Nice ride but after three flats in the first 37,000 miles I was happy to part with them. I guess it was just dumb luck, but I've never had a flat since then (circa 2006) and can only think of one other in my life.

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