An $83 million voluntary recall of 530,000 Volkswagen and Audi cars threatens the launch of two key VW products, dealers say.
The biggest problem facing dealers is the lack of replacement parts for faulty engine ignition coils. They say the repair is not that big of a deal but dealers are facing backups in their already busy service departments. VW dealers also want the company to soothe affected owners by offering $1,000 off on their next VW.
Dealers want the repairs - which affect primarily 2001 and 2002 model cars with four-cylinder, turbocharged 1.8-liter engines - completed before the launch of the Touareg in three months, followed by the Phaeton later this year. The Touareg is VW's SUV, and the Phaeton is VW's first U.S. luxury car.
Volkswagen of America Inc. and Audi of America Inc. last week said they are voluntarily recalling the cars because of the faulty coils. Sources say the German parts supplier had problems with the insulation material of the coils. If the plastic becomes brittle, spark plug failure can result.
Combined, VW and Audi have about 866 U.S. dealerships. That means the average store will have to repair 612 vehicles. Repairs will take 30 to 60 minutes each, meaning volume will keep service bays full for weeks - if not months.
VW and Audi dealers are no strangers to complaints about how hard it is to get a service appointment. Both VW and Audi dealers have finished below the industry average the past two years in the J.D. Power and Associates customer service index study that measures how consumers are treated by dealership service departments.
Not wanting to lose customers, VW's dealer council has asked Volkswagen of America for $1,000 loyalty coupons that they can give to owners affected by the recall.
The coupons would be good for $1,000 off their next purchase of a vehicle.
"We think it's the right thing to do," says Gene Langan, president of the VW Dealer Advisory Council. "I'd like to see everybody get one."
VW says it is reviewing the request.