The Grabby Brakes - 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

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2013 Volkswagen Passat Research