2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Long-Term Road Test


2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI: The Grabby Brakes

October 11, 2013

2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI

You may have seen us mention in some other updates that the brakes in our 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL can seem inconsistent (or "grabby") when coming to a stop. I've got more on the subject.

Here's an example of what we're talking about: You're coming up to a stop sign in our Passat. You apply the brakes, just like you do in every other car. Everything's nice and linear in regards to deceleration until about 15 mph. Then all the sudden the Passat unexpectedly slows down even more quickly. And no, your pressure on the brake pedal didn't change. The result? Either you pull up 15 feet short of the stop sign, or you have to ease off the brakes to get back to the rate of deceleration you wanted.

It can be annoying for sure. But it doesn't have anything to do with the brakes.

Instead, this quirk comes about from our car having the DSG automated manual transmission. Based on my observations, it seems as if the transmission downshifts to first or second gear (hard to tell) right around that 15 mph mark. And that extra engine braking is what causes the change in deceleration.

I've tested this by placing the car in neutral as I come to a stop, and the Passat's braking is perfectly linear then. Also, I noticed exactly the same issue in our long-term 2011 VW Jetta with the TDI and DSG combo.

As a minor defense of the Passat, I will say that this is something that affects us more than it does the typical TDI owner. If you drive the car all the time, you naturally get used to the extra braking and subconsciously ease off the brakes to equal it all out. Or, you just buy the car with the manual transmission.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,652 miles

Comments

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    "As a minor defense of the Passat, I will say that this is something that affects us more than it does the typical TDI owner. If you drive the car all the time, you naturally get used to the extra braking and subconsciously ease off the brakes to equal it all out." And finally the penny drops for Edmunds - an owner will quickly adjust for it. And I'm pretty sure it's not downshifting into first at 15 mph.

  • One of my few issues with my Passat so far, as well as the significant movement in the car to catch in park, if you don't set the hand brake. I'm surprised you think it's first or second, because it feels to me like the car goes from in gear to free-wheeling, out of gear, because suddenly it takes so much less braking to stop. I do worry about warping the brake pads, but over time its a matter of modulating the pedal. However, if its not the only car you drive, this, and setting the parking brake, are slight annoyances. Interesting that our other car, a 2012 EOS 2.0 turbo with DSG, doesn't have the braking issue (It does have the parking brake issue)

  • agentorange agentorange Posts:

    Setting the parking brake is not an annoyance, it is a requirement in all vehicles.

  • tdibill tdibill Posts:

    This relationship between the brake pedal and transmission can also be observed by checking the tach. I don't know what the software program looks like, but depending on braking conditions (slope, speed etc.) the transmission will down shift at higher speeds. I use the manual selection on occasions to almost eliminate the need for the pedal and it doesn't seem to effect gas milage. I am surprised at the overall lack of reviewers comments concerning the use of the dual hydraulic clutch manual shift function. I am willing to bet there are some out there that don't know it exists.

  • tdibill tdibill Posts:

    Agree with eh above. There is excessive roll in park if one should 'forget' to set the parking brake. The dealer informed me that this is as an idiosyncracy of the DHC.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2013 Volkswagen Passat in VA is:

$152 per month*
* Explanation
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