View Full Version : Extreme Frustration with Motor car

Ancient Observer
27th May 2014, 18:15
I have an 18 month old Seat. It is an Ibiza, with a DSG Box and a 1.4l engine giving 150bhp.
My 26 year old daughter is the main driver.

It has, in the past, been a great little car.

BUT - In the last few weeks it has completely lost power and stopped 5 times. 3 times on local roads, once in the outside lane of a dual carriageway, and once on a narrow bendy road. All random, 2 very, very dangerous..

If it were anything to do with Aviation, the CAA would have stopped it after the first incident.

It has been back in the garage 3 times. They can find no fault.

Seat "Customer" (??) "Service" are no use at all - their advice - "Drive it until it does it again" - and presumably Kills my daughter??

I have written to the MD Of Seat in the UK, but all his mail is diverted to the same call centre that is supposed to be "Customer Service"

I have complained on the Seat Spain website - but they just sent it to the same old call centre.

I would quite like to place a BOMB under Seat/VW Group.

Best ideas on how to get them to do something??


27th May 2014, 18:24
Go to the press - the motoring press (such as Auto Express) operate a system of taking up complaints on behalf of motorists that have failed to get satisfaction.

27th May 2014, 18:25
IF you can, front up to the / a service centre, in person and
speak to the manager.

Windy Militant
27th May 2014, 18:50
Sounds like a crank position sensor, had one go no my Astra had an exciting couple of months with similar symptoms but no fault indication until it finally totally failed.

glad rag
27th May 2014, 19:26
got as far as DSG and gave up.

Good Luck Sir...

27th May 2014, 19:32
I always think that the difference between a good company and a bad one is whether, in such circumstances, you can talk to someone who can do something. Sometimes that is the big white chief himself and sometimes it is even his secretary.

In companies that treat you as you have been treated I think the boss is so insulated from what is going on he doesn't even know he has a problem.

The Bete noir of the late twentieth century (and early twenty first) to my mind is "Customer Relations" departments whose whole purpose is to get you to go away without actually doing anything for you.

One of my kids has an unerring instinct for dealing with these things. There are CEOs all over North America who know him!

In this case you are right, it is a safety issue. No one would criticise you for using every possible public medium and every other possible resource. Better still, see if you can drum up something that will (How I hate this!) "Go Viral." That should stir the pot a little.

27th May 2014, 20:53
Not a blockage in the fuel cap breather is it?

Nah, too simple.

Effluent Man
27th May 2014, 21:00
You say that but..Some years ago I sold MrsEM's headmaster a Nissan.It did exactly as the OP described and this went on for two years.Then he backed into a bollard and hit the petrol tank.when we replaced it there was a plastic label inside when we drained it.No more problem after that so it must have been floating around and occasionally blocking the fuel pipe.having said that most likely crank sensor.

27th May 2014, 21:03
Does sound like the crank position sensor, as Windy Militant says. Identical symptoms to my faulty one, and easy to fix.
Of course the problem with intermittent electrical faults is that when everything is working...there is no fault. It's only when the fault is present (or if it can be forced in the workshop) that it can be positively diagnosed. The alternative is to replace bits and send you away, hoping you don't break down again.

John Hill
27th May 2014, 21:06
How does she get it going again?

If it was in my family I would be arranging it so that I would drive that car and I would carefully note what happens.

I have had two instances where experts were unable to find the problem and one I solved by standing in the shower and thinking about it. They were water in the fuel tank and idle adjuster outside the range where the automatic system could control idle speed.

27th May 2014, 21:06
I owned Maxi that used to 'die' when called upon to drive flat out - but only when the tank was less than half full.
Coasting to a halt the engine could be restarted on the key and would run until called upon again to drive flat out.

I eventually (after many frustrating months) traced it to a large flake of paint (from the inside of the tank?) that got sucked onto the exit pipe which fed the fuel to the engine.

Takan Inchovit
27th May 2014, 21:08
I'd go with one of the many electrical connectors, possibly to the throttle body. If it has ABS/ESC/ASC etc then perhaps a wheel speed senors or G sensor. That sort of issue is becoming rife in later model cars. Hard to diagnose if it keeps correcting by itself.

27th May 2014, 23:06
Write to the Company Secretary - that person is legally responsible for a whole lot of things that nobody else is.

Then get your daughter to mention it on twatter. Apparently large co.s spend a fair bit of cash monitoring social meeja.

Windy Militant
27th May 2014, 23:33
That's the trouble with modern cars they're too clever by half!
If it's electrical it can be an absolute nightmare to track down, remember this http://www.pprune.org/jet-blast/488187-engine-missfire-can-anyone-help.html
Blindly swapping components can damage the replacement items as my nephew found out when his mate swapped the nephews good ECU for his duff one and found the fault was another component that blew that ECU as well.:ugh:

As mentioned Twatter and Faceplant are one way to go have you tried mentioning trading standards?

27th May 2014, 23:55
"Best ideas on how to get them to do something??"

Dont waste your energy.
They dont care.
I had a SEAT many years ago with a repeated engine problem.
They could not fix it and just did not care at all.
Eventually old it at a considerable loss.

But it was their loss. As I have purchased many cars since, many makes & models for my family, but NEVER a SEAT!

They just did not ,and clearly still do not care about customer service.

28th May 2014, 02:19
IF you can, front up to the / a service centre, in person and
speak to the manager....loudly, with as many potential customers as possible in the showroom. Sales room is better than service centre.

28th May 2014, 02:32
Main dealers know how a car works. They are useless when the thing stops working!!! Often a small back street garage is better at locating faults.

Mostly Harmless
28th May 2014, 03:43
I would quite like to place a BOMB under Seat/VW Group.

I could tell you all about my tale of woe with the VW people. Worst customer service I have ever received.... and that says a lot considering I live in a country renowned for lousy service.

28th May 2014, 03:54
They are making millions.

Customer Service ?

28th May 2014, 04:00
Another cause may be the mass air flow sensor - I believe a similar unit is used on VW's & Skoda's. Apparently not an uncommon problem ....

28th May 2014, 04:02

Have you tried Googling to see if any specific forums exist for that car make
and then posting the same info on there.

Just a suggestion.

Impress to inflate
28th May 2014, 04:58
As the cars still under warranty, take the car back early in the morning and park it so it blocks the entrance to the dealer with a large note explaining that its f&cked and either fix it or give a full refund. If that doesnt work, park it across the road with a sign on the car saying the dealer is useless and will not repair faulty cars, watch them take action after that


Takan Inchovit
28th May 2014, 06:34
Another cause may be the mass air flow sensor - I believe a similar unit is used on VW's & Skoda's. Apparently not an uncommon problem ....

Yes, another possible, cleaning the sensor may give results.

Ancient Mariner
28th May 2014, 06:49
I bought the last of the Series I LR Discoveries V8 only to immediately discover that it was a piece of junk. After 15 months of hardly driving the thing I received a brand new Series II HSE free of charge. It was a diesel, but only because I did not want to wait for the V8 to arrive.
This swap did not however materialse out of thin air, I don't know how many telephone calls, faxes and very up front and personal meetings I had with the local dealer and BMW Norway, who was importing Land Rovers at the time.
I have a temper, and I do not like to be cheated.
Oh, and the Series II was a piece of sh*t as well, but I sold it to an unsuspecting neighbor before I left the country. :E

Cyber Bob
28th May 2014, 07:55
More likely to be ECU related - experienced something similar on an A3 TDI. As others have said, changing units blindly can be costly and still may not solve the problem.

If it's under warranty, take it back and leave it with them till they fix it. Ask for a loan car from their 'Pool'. Other than that -trade it for another car.

SEAT - poor cousin of the group and tends to get the VW/Skoda left overs nowadays

Good luck

PS. Agree with posting on meeja - surprisingly most firms fear twatter nowadays. Get your daughter to post as it'll have more impact - SEAT's marketing campaigns target the young in an attempt to be trendy!!

Effluent Man
28th May 2014, 08:14
To be honest it's just shooting in the dark.I started in the motor trade in 1977 and the main seller for me throughout the next two decades was the Vauxhall Cavalier,starting with the old rear drive model then the front drive Mark2 and the Mark3 introduced in '89. By then I was selling about 400 units a year and I rarely saw one back under warranty.

When catalytic converters were fitted in 92 the last Cavaliers got an engine management light (The orange one with a lightning flash) They soon started to come back in droves.The Vectra got worse and soon all makes were turning up with all manner of weird faults.The "limp home mode" is common.The car produces around half power,sometimes cured for a while by switching off and re starting.

We bought diagnostic machines but the manufacturers did something to prevent them giving definitive answers and now you generally get a list of several items.Generally I have cars of the same model so can swap parts and find the fault that way.The main dealers will just charge you upwards of 80 an hour.It's a scam basically.

Ancient Observer
28th May 2014, 08:15
Thanks for all the ideas. Do keep them coming. I have tried the farce book route. I will explore twatter.
I tend to think that some sort of mass PR is required so I will ask the people in my mailbox to forward to their mailbox something nice and controversial.
The Co Sec idea is one I will follow up on. I will see if I have the material to get the meeja interested. I will also try car mags, but I have been told that they are seldom critical as they depend on the car people for their very existence.

They are clearly used to complaints as everything ends up at their call centre I need to get around their call centre.
Thanks for the technical ideas. The problem is that replacing one sensor might bugger up the others, or the car's brain..

28th May 2014, 08:29
Take it somewhere and get another opinion. Take that opinion back to the service centre, present it to them and tell them to fix it.

Or, get rid of it. 2010 Subaru WRX, best money I've ever spent on a motor car.

Effluent Man
28th May 2014, 08:32
But is it the best money you have ever spent on the petrol? Merc220CDi Manual 58mpg on a run.

Ancient Mariner
28th May 2014, 08:52
I had a lot of problems with a Nissan Navara and the dealer was less than forthcoming although it was under warranty. I tried to contact Nissan via their published details on their web site, but ended up at a call center in Finland

Nissan Norway did not even publish their phone number, but I managed via Linkedin, Giggle and other sources to track down the email address of their marketing manager. I couple of emails later and things were sorted.
The higher up you attack, the better.

28th May 2014, 09:00
I can't access youtube from here. Would some kind person please post the clip of Basil Fawlty showing Exteme Frustration with his Motor Car? Thank you. (Gourmet Dinner episode, I think)

28th May 2014, 09:04

Effluent Man
28th May 2014, 09:15
A rare estate version! The old Austin/Morris 1100/1300 and MG/Riley/VDP 1300 was a reliable car but suffered much from tin worm.I had one start to break in half while I was driving it.

28th May 2014, 09:27
The problem is that replacing one sensor might bugger up the others, or the car's brain..
I'm no expert on these new fangled electronificated mobile Government taxation excuses, but I don't see the logic.

You have a brain and a load of sensors feeding wiggly amps into it. If a sensor is sending a wrong wiggly amp to the brain, it is far more likely to confuse or destroy said brain than a correctly functioning sensor. The biggest danger, Shirley, lies in replacing the brain with another one before you've replaced (and thereby entirely eliminated from the equation) every single sensor. Elimination of an intermittent fault will be a long process, involving weeks of driving the car between each substitution.

Scrapyards can sometimes be a source of cheap(er) sensors. Problem might be extracting and fitting them. Many scrapyards extract, shelve and catalogue bits these days. Fitting is another story, but independent specialists will be cheaper (and maybe riskier, maybe better) than the Main Stealer.

PS - Don't blame me if the above turns out to be rubbish. As I said, I'm no expert.

28th May 2014, 09:39
acbus1, that's what worries me about SWMBO's shiny new Merc. All buttons and flappy paddles, and nothing you can fettle with WD40 or duct tape. The user manual is the size of War and Peace, but the Haynes Manual probably just says "replace the computer". :sad:

28th May 2014, 10:08
But is it the best money you have ever spent on the petrol? Merc220CDi Manual 58mpg on a run.

We all have a different interpretation of what are to be considered 'acceptable running costs' ;)

28th May 2014, 10:53
AO - SEAT is a wholly-owned subsidiary of VW and utilises all VW components, and their warranty and service T's&C's would quite likely be set by VW senior management.

VW's attitude to warranty and service is notorious. They basically don't want to know you, if you return with a complaint. I'm surprised there hasn't been a class action against them for the amount of problems in VW and subsidiary vehicles.

Perhaps the answer lies in that VW and subsidiary vehicles all suffer from erratic and inconsistent problems - and that one vehicle will perform O.K. - while another has constant problems.

The DSG gearboxes are notorious for short life, constant problems and horrendous overhaul costs.
There have been a serious number of reports of VW vehicles in Australia stopping without warning - the engine just dies.
It's a problem VW refuse to acknowledge, and they reckon they can find no fault with the engines.

Lateline - 31/05/2013: Federal Transport Department investigates alleged engine failure in Volkswagen models (http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2013/s3772395.htm)

Re the SEAT, I'd hazard an educated guess there's an intermittent failure of a silicon chip in the engine ECU. The VW products are exceptionally complex, electronically - and if a fault occurs in an ECU, then fixes itself again with no investigation - then its virtually impossible to find the fault.
Heat is a common cause of the ECU intermittent failure problem. The ECU gets hot, the chip fails, the ECU cools, the chip works again.
An ECU fault has to be consistent to be found with a diagnostic computer.

You can buy Chinese OBD readers (direct from China) that are very good, if you feel like doing electronics diagnostics yourself.
These OBD readers have all the diagnostic information for all the models it suits, pre-loaded onto their programs.
They are surprisingly comprehensive and they allow you to reset codes, reset parameters, find all electronic faults (if they are still there) and they provide a host of information on the diagnostics of your model of vehicle.

However - seeing as your daughters car should still be under warranty, and you're currently having no success - I'd be ratcheting up the pressure.
Get phone contact details of someone high up in the warranty division and burn their ears off.
If you slam the car door on your hand, it helps you get in the right mood for phone abuse. :)

If nothing further comes of it, go higher up the chain and start threatening to go to some popular current affairs TV show with your problems.
VW got a hammering here in Oz over their poor warranty attitude and it has cost them sales.
They are now offering much longer warranty periods - but I don't know if their attitude to complaints has altered any.

I have purchased a lot of equipment, vehicles, trucks, and other big ticket items over the decades - and any warranty claims were rarely accepted, up-front.
The standard technique by all manufacturers, is total denial of any problem - then when you find a dozen other owners having the same problem, and confront the dealer again, with the evidence - they usually grudgingly admit there is a problem, and do something about it.

I have seen absolute screaming matches in dealership managers offices, with big burly blokes threatening all kinds of retribution - but the managers were still refusing to acknowledge any problem, or do anything about it. :(

28th May 2014, 11:36
A mate of mine had owned several Golf GTI's and decided to upgrade to the new model.Went into the dealer after work in normal street clothes and they just looked down their nose at him.Wouldn't give him the time of day.

He went up the road to a Renault dealer,was very pleased with their attitude and bought a Megane 265 Cup.

Ancient Observer
28th May 2014, 12:31
Thanks, all.
Especial thanks to onetrack for that feat of typing! I might use that Aussie news programme.

Magnus - WD40. Tick. Duct tape. Tick.

Er, didn't you forget the hammer? And for car maintenance issues, Shirley one needs to add a pair of ladies' tights?

Wasn't there another scene where he beat up his car? A white one? If not, shows my fading memory.

Private jet
28th May 2014, 13:10
There is nothing wrong with the design of electronics on cars per se, the problem is the quality of the components. Often supplied by the lowest bidder they have a limited life, and of course the manufacturers & dealers have a very good mark up on the replacements. Manufacturers build cars to sell new, and they only sell them once. They are not interested in longevity in the aftermarket, they need to maintain a turnover by selling new vehicles. Years ago corrosion would finish a car off, today they "die" electronically. In the old days you could buy an "old banger" and it would be relatively easy and cheap to fix when things went wrong. Trouble now is if you buy anything over say 8 years old you are taking a major gamble with all the sensors and wiring etc coming up to their design life.
The other problem is actually identifying the fault.I bought an OBD2 code reader. I later found out that these will only read some of the codes, all codes relating to emissions, but any others depend on what the manufacturer allows. If you want to see the total list then you need to buy a software package or specialist reader from them. Its a restrictive trade practice in my opinion and I thought there were Euro laws to prevent this. Of course not, the EU could never do anything useful like this and there are the vested interests of those big German manufacturers to consider...

cockney steve
28th May 2014, 14:13
Currently running a Volvo V40 (estate)....Mitsubishi-engined, bought as a basket-case...Company -owned from new then sold to an employee, it started in it's 12 th year, to refuse to answer to the "fly by wire" throttle.

I paid 200, slightly over the scrap-value....fault was a magnet, came unglued from the throttle-position motor/sensor....A drop of "poundland" epoxy and a new battery, followed by a shredded alternator belt....oh, and the exhaust is blowing and i had to MOT it.

Under 300 for an aircon, leccy windows, leather, heated -seat....etc. motor that is returning 32 mpg average , mainly urban use in a hilly area. a much underrated car IMHO.-but I fear the plethora of warning-lamps! (fortunately, plenty being broken , so spares cheap and plentiful.)

Daughter has an Audi A3...Stealers wanted 100 an hour to change a sidelight that had water-ingress (she hadn't refitted the seal after changing a bulb) and a stupendous price for "Unicorn-oil" :} to refill the engine and the gearbox.
needless to say, the work, other than the routine-service, goes elsewhere.

28th May 2014, 14:35
As you can see, it's not just you and SEAT but all the cars nowadays :ugh:Forget trying to get dealers, shops, or factories to correct it at their expense; it ain't going to happen.

I'm currently having a similar experience throwing parts at my old Buick which is acting similarly. Half a day yesterday with a crank sensor and ignition module, and now about to drop the fuel tank for a pump. Luckily I have a stash of known good used parts which has helped financially but that does not make it one bit less frustrating or give me my time back.

No, the newer cars are not better. Safer yes, and less pollution, but that's about it. Any savings in fuel economy are taken away when you require service which most can no longer do at home :{ Go through this just once and you will find yourself agreeing with me and wishing you had your old non-electronic whatever back in your driveway.

28th May 2014, 14:40
SawMan, you make the point well. Until MrsP got her eyes on the M-B which will no doubt cost an arm and a leg to maintain, I was happily tootling along in a 15 year old Audi A4 with 135k miles on it, and it generally cost a couple of hundred quid a year to service, plus tyres. Still had enough grunt, too.

SMT Member
28th May 2014, 14:55
A good friend of mine is the lead mechanic of a large independent garage, with a long past working at a main dealer VW garage. If there's anything worth knowing about VAG products (Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, SEAT) he's the bloke to go to.

When I was in the market for a new set of wheels last year, I had a good long look at a Golf VI with the 1.4TSI 170 hp engine. Naturally I called my mate, to get his opinion. In very few words, he made it clear that buying any VAG engine smaller than the 1.8 liter is a huge gamble, and that the 1.4 in particular is prone to developing many different, and really expensive, faults. One of the more common one is the cam belt shifting on the sprocket, causing the valve set to mis-align. That's a new top, new valve set, probably new cylinders and if you're really unlucky a new crank. Basically, a new engine.

So there's your problem: The 1.4 engine in your SEAT is a horrendous piece of garbage, best advise is to off-load it as soon as possible.

The 3.2 liter V6 VAG engine is also prone to catastrophic failures, which may (but only may) be prevented if one changes the cam belt every 50K KM rather than the suggested 100K. And don't trust the computer when it comes to maintenance intervals either, bring it to shop at least every 20K if you want the engine to last. Or, even better: Sell it!

28th May 2014, 17:15
Cockney Steve - We had a Volvo V40 2.0T estate, the most reliable car we ever owned and did we abuse it. Wife's car for eight years then the 'tip car' and workhorse for property developing. It carried everything from bags of cement to a massive I beam (on the roof), towed way above its allowance, drove across rubble strewn building sites, it should have died an honourable death...

Saw a lady driving it the other day ( four years and two owners later), it looked great, everything still worked and it had never missed a beat. Believe she paid 450 for it!!

Great cars!

Sorry for the thread drift.

28th May 2014, 21:28
IF you can, front up to the / a service centre, in person and
speak to the manager.
...loudly, with as many potential customers as possible in the showroom. Sales room is better than service centre.

EXACTLY! Find the largest SEAT dealer, park in front of the sales window with a large sign on the roof...."I bought my lemon at..." and prepare some flyers detailing the lack of customer service, video it, put it on FB etc....call the local press, ITV...... If nothing interesting is happening in the world, local news will pick it up.

Have fun!

It WILL get fixed right quick, methinks!

Ancient Observer
30th May 2014, 14:50
Thanks to all contributors.

It is back at the Stealers now, so they can have another look at how to fix the problem.

I regard it as a death trap.

The MD of Seat told me, (in reply to my e-mail, but via his parrot) this morning "to keep driving it until it happens again."

Aviation stopped doing that with the Comet. (Eventually)