VW nightmare please advise. - jigsaw
Hi, I would really apreciate some advice as I am really stuggling with a problem.

I have a Mk5 golf (54 plate)

The car developed a serious leak (the boot, rear and front passenger footwells filled with water)

I took the car into VW, told them the problem (i.e. I said there is water coming in the boot, and both passenter footwells)

VW took the car and after a week told me they had spent all week looking at the car and could not find a problem.

VW sent the car off to an accident repair centre to check the body seams for leaks.

A further week later the accident repair centre got in touch and told me that the leak was due to a rear end shunt that had basically cracked the back of the car and that was where the water was coming in. They told me that as it was an accident it would not be carried out under warranty and they would have do an insurance quote for me.

First off, I am not aware of any rear end shunt, as the car was in good condition when I dropped it off. The person who was following me (to give me a lift back) can also confirm there was no visible rear damage.

The report from the accident repair centre said that there was "considerable rear end damage definatly caused by a rear end shunt"

Ok, so I personally don't believe this to be true (unless it happened in the VW car park, but regardless of how this happened, it is a job for the insurance company and I need to get this sorted out ASAP)

I told VW to give me an insurance quote, and I did say "DONT DO ANYTHING TO THE CAR"

I was told that the car had to be put back together as it was not movable how it was. Ok fair enough I thought. They said they would get back to me with a quote and let me know when it was ready (so that I could have the car back UNTIL the insurance job was aproved and they could start work on the car)

To my suprised when I got in the office 2 days later. I had a message on my desk saying the car is "done" and I have an outstanding bill of ~£780 before I can pick it up.

I immediatly rang VW to find out what on earth they were charging me £780 for and what 'done' meant?

They told me that the £780 was because they had to replace the carpets/underlay/mats and put the dashboard back together.


2) Why have they taken the dashboard out? The majority of the water was in the boot, I told them the water was in the boot!

They say that they thought the water was coming in the front! OK so their 'intelligent' staff think that water can run down from the windscreen, into the footwell, then up the back seats and into the boot? Surely anyone knows the check the highest point for a leak first?

So I have been trying to get the insurance company to sort out the problem. They have sent down an investigator, who confirmed the car has had a rear end accident (which I still don't know what happend with) yet there is nothing I can do about it.

The insurance comany say they will pay for the accident repair, but will not pay £780 for carpets and dashboard as there is no reason why the carpets should have been replaced (the new mats are all mouldy like the old ones now anyway) in a leaking car, and why should they pay for the dashboard removal for a car with a leak in the boot?

VW say that they were justified in what they did to find the leak (they will not admit that water cannot travel against the forces of gravity into the boot from the front footwell)

The insurance company say they will not pay for work that should not done. So I am getting phone call after phone call saying "You can't have the car back until you pay - the work is justified" and then the other side saying "There is no way we are paying for that, the work is unjustified and does not relate to the accident"

Please help, I am stuck in deadlock. This has been going on for a month now.

Clearly as the insurance company state, VW cannot charge for removing the dashboard to find a leak in the boot. Thats like changing a tyre and saying "oh well we had to replace your sunroof before we could find out what was wrong with the tyre, that'll be £600"

I understand that VW are out of pocket from investigating the leak as they have had to spend time on it. If the invoice was for "Time spent investiaging the damgage causing a leak in the boot" then the insurance company would not have a problem, but they quite rightly as they keep on telling me, cannot pay for items that are completely unrelated to the accident I am claiming for.

I would really really apreciate your help on this one. I have no idea what to do. I cannot afford to pay £780 for some new (now as wet and mouldy as the old) carpets and mars as well as £450 insurance accident. All for an accident I know nothing about.

Kind Regards

VW nightmare please advise. - AR-CoolC
Have you had the car from new? if so, has it had any shunts that you know of?
VW nightmare please advise. - Roly93
Small claims court might be an avenue you could try.....
VW nightmare please advise. - HarlequinVW
i wish i could express some suprise after your (well descibed) experience, but unfortunatly the only advice i can give you is to take pictures of your car (front and rear, next to the person from the garage) when you deliver it.

You have to be so careful these days...
VW nightmare please advise. - FP
I'm really sorry to hear of your problems, JS. My own feeling is that you should stick to your guns with the garage. You say you agreed that the car should be re-assembled to the point where it could be moved. If you agreed just to that, and only that, then they had no authority to replace carpets, underlays and mats.

The other issue is the dashboard. If you clearly told them the water was in the boot then they had no reason to remove the dashboard. The fact that they discovered evidence of a rear-end collision merely confirms that the problem was the back of the car, not the front. The insurance company is of course unwilling to pay out more than they have to, but they support your case by saying the work was unjustified, and they have had the car examined. You could tell the garage you are considering legal action and if you need to hire a car will claim the cost from them.

Be polite, but firm, and keep repeating what information you gave them initially and what you told them to do. Don't phone them - go round and deal with them face-to-face. Be persistent. It might be worth instructing a solicitor to write a letter, though it could cost you up to £100 to do so. You could approach the Citizen's Advice Bureau. If you are a member of a motoring organisation, they will have a legal department that can help; if you are not a member, consider joining - it could be well worth the fee.

Best of luck with this one. And keep us posted!
VW nightmare please advise. - NowWheels
At £780 for carpets and dashboard, I can see why they were so keen to do the work!
VW nightmare please advise. - Bill Payer
I'm amazed the insurance company got involved at all - they could have just said that no accident had been reported and the car may have already been damaged.

If you got the car at a good price (I'm assuming it wasn't new) then now you know why.

You need serious legal advice - do you have legal cover on your car or house insurance? If so, try them.
VW nightmare please advise. - Avant
As you didn't authorise the work carried out by the dealer (indeed just the opposite) there is no contract, so I can't see that they can charge you for this work. Check this with a solicitor or the CAB.

Maybe one of our legal experts on this forum would care to comment?

I don't know whether you've seen the car since this happened and sicovered whether the back end looks any different. Is it possible that it could have been knocked while parked without your knowledge, with the bumper having recovered its shape but hiding a crack behind?
VW nightmare please advise. - Roly93
I'm sorry and frustrated for you on your experience here. I'd better not say too much about the dealer though, as someone out there is bound to come to their defence judging by recent posts !
VW nightmare please advise. - machika
To have had a crack somewhere, it must surley have had a serious knock that would have caused visible exterior damage. I can't see how a bumper would have not shown some damage.

What about the dealer you bought the car from, have you been in contact with them about the issue?
VW nightmare please advise. - jigsaw
Hi everyone,

Thankyou for your comments so far.

The car was bought new.

As the car is damaged and there is nothing I can do about it, there is nothing I can achieve from trying to work out what happened. It could have happened while parked in a supermarket, it could have happened while it was in the VW car park? The repair bill is 4 digits, so it is an insurance job. The insurance company have agreed to pay for the repair. But the VW garage will not release the car until the £780 is paid. As previously stated the insurance company will not pay (I do agree fully with the insurance company) for work that has been done which is either nothing to do with the fault, or not necessary.

The problem is that VW are saying they are out of pocket for the time they have spent working on the car and they are charging for removing an refitting the dash and replacing carpet.

As previously stated, I asked for a quote not for them to do anything to the car. So thats argument point number one.

The second big point is that for a leak in the boot you would not remove the dash board to check the front windscreeen seals would you? Water travels down from the highest point (which is the boot) so how can they charge me for their incompetance? It is their fault that they assumed the leak was behind the dash board not mine. I did tell them there was water in the boot and it is on the job sheet that I signed.

What I need to know is what I can say to them which will sort this out once and for all. It does not matter how much I tell them that water cannot flow upwards, and that I am not paying for work that I neither asked for, nor should they have done if they looked at the problem with any degree of common sense. They are convinced that we pay or don't get the car back. The insurance company are waiting to pick the car up, I just need VW to drop the stupid act (and the stupid price)

Many Thanks

VW nightmare please advise. - NickS
If it is in the VW car park, can you not just drive it away using your spare key?! (i appreciate this will not resolve the situation, and may antagonise the dealer, but at least you will have your car back!)
VW nightmare please advise. - lordy
jigsaw. You find yourself in a bad situation through no fault of your own. Remember there is a difference between 'the dealership' and 'VW'. Put everything in writing to the dealer, state you did not authorise them to remove the dashboard and you consider the work unecessary and you therefore have no intention to pay. If they dispute this, they must provide proof you instructed them to do the work, and justify why they did it. Then also get in touch with VW UK and send them a copy of all correspondence, request their input, stating how disappointed you are with the level of service/attitude you have received from their representatives (the dealership). Request a swift conclusion to enable you to have the car repaired and back on the road quickly. Be firm, and do not give way. You are quite right about never being able to prove where and when the rear damage was done. Don't waste time getting stressed about it. DO NOT BE BOLSHY. Losing your temper will get you nowhere. No one reacts well to dealing with someone in a temper tantrum, they are more likely to put up more stumbling blocks. A friend of mine swears by throwing his toys out of his pram if ever anything goes wrong/breaks/gets poor service; with the adage 'it's the squeaking wheel that gets oiled'. This is true if you are calm and firm. If you go postal, I personally think 'it's the squeaking wheel that gets thrown away with the rubbish'.
Good luck.
let me be the last to let you down....
VW nightmare please advise. - Altea Ego
Everyone is missing the important part here.

If the car is damaged enough that seams have split, external damage would have been noticed by you. Is there any or has there been any?

You had the car from new.


1/ It was damaged and badly repaired BEFORE you bought it new. It was not of satisfactory quality and EVERYTHING should be covered under warranty.

2/ Its been damaged BY THE GARAGE while in their care, so they should pay up.

3/ The water leak is a warranty item. If they removed the dashboard assembly in trying to resolve a warranty p[roblem whos fault and cost is that? Theirs.

TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
VW nightmare please advise. - machika
Everyone is missing the important part here.
If the car is damaged enough that seams have split, external
damage would have been noticed by you. Is there any
or has there been any?

I didn't miss the point (see my post).
VW nightmare please advise. - No FM2R

I apologise if I'm being dumb...

You bought the car new ? The amount of damage you are talking of is significant and presumably would have been visible by bodywork damage. So is the assumption that this accident happened and was repaired before you got the car ?

In which case, why on earth is your insurer repairing it since its got nothing to do with the period of insurance cover ?

If it supposedly happned during your term of ownership, then how on earth did you not notice the damage when you walked out of the supermarket or wherever ?

I may be being dense, but I don't get the whole insurance/accident/damage repair part of this.

VW nightmare please advise. - osmic wrap
If you didn't authorise the work that they have billed you for, just walk in to the dealer (assuming you cannot take the car with a spare key) and explain that you didn't authorise any work, ask for the keys and don't move until they hand them over. Then just drive away and forget about it, tell them to sue you for it! When they try to call you about this, just explain that you will not pay for work that you did not authorise. Tell them you will see them in court and have the whole thing out in the open.

I can't see why you are allowing yourself to be held to ransom like this...unless you did authorise the work in which case you must pay. You could also ask them to prove that you did.

Regarding the damage, this car could have been damaged anywhere between the end of the production line and the place where the damage was first spotted.

If you really are sure that the damage didn't happen whilst the car was in your possession then you must be able to point the finger at anyone else that has had the car, starting which the last person who had it before the leak.

You could try a HPI check or whatever and also contact your insurance company to see if the vehicle has ever been involved in an accident.
VW nightmare please advise. - nortones2
One thing missing so far is a picture of the damage, unless I've misread the thread. Where is it? Is it something recent? Is it something that has occurred in the dealers hands, or even before the dealer got it? For example, if the boot area had been distorted, and cosmetic remedial paintwork and a new bumper fitted, it may have been there all along. An impact whilst in your hands would not have gone unnoticed, surely? It might make a considerable difference to the outcome if you could find out the nature of the damage, and also when it happened. Insurance company have assessors: suggest you use them or an independent. But get legal advice first, including how to deal with getting the vehicle out of the VW dealers hands, for instance, by paying under protest. Then you can get a good look at the vehicle. We were intending to buy an Audi, until my wife asked a question about white marks under the wheel-arches. Lifted the boot carpets, and there was more of the white sealant bodge, plus rust, where the car had had a near side rear ender. Was going to be sold as Audi Approved! Salesman was quite good at acting surprised: fancy that he said.
VW nightmare please advise. - AK76
Got a spare key? Just go to the garage, drive the car away as its legally yours, and as you didnt agree to the contract of 'the car wont be released until bill is paid' theres not a lot they can do there and then. Theres a good chance its just sat in a large yard at the back of the dealer.

Then watch as they try and start court proceedings.

Just remember to get another dealer to change the locks and keys if you take it back... ;-)
VW nightmare please advise. - NickS
Did i not say that above?!
VW nightmare please advise. - machika
If you have no knowledge of bodywork damage and there was no apparent evidence of any before you handed the car over, then it must have been caused before you bought the car. This is what you should say to the dealer and to VW.
VW nightmare please advise. - Bill Payer

Jigsaw, Slighty ridiculous having to pay for new carpets if they're as wet and moldy as the originals - why did VW fit them without waiting for the leak to be fixed?

Also, note comments about considerable damage - I take it that this damage was unrepaired? I've seen some chunky rear end shunts where the car looks undamaged, but the floor pan is buckled. So it's entirely possible this happened while you had the car. I tend to doubt that the insurance would have paid up if they suspected the damage was done before you acquired the car.

As you say, the key thing is that the dealer is charging you for unauthorised work. Perhaps a word with your local trading standards may assist. Or you could pay the bill under duress and then take the dealer to the small claims court for redress. Still think it's worth trying a law helpline for advice / assistance.
VW nightmare please advise. - Dalglish
This has been going on for a month now.


this speaks volumes. unless you can get someone (like the citizens advice or trading standards or a good solicitor) who is prepared to fight your corner with vigour, it will drag on for more months.

it is time for serious action. get tough.

VW nightmare please advise. - machika
It is difficult to believe there could have been no sign of exterior damage, unless it was repaired. The paintwork on modern day bumpers marks very easily and often flakes off if there has been any impact.
VW nightmare please advise. - Glaikit Wee Scunner {P}
Not defending the garage, but water coming in front and rear passenger footwells and boot does suggest multiple leakage at the front and rear.Difficult to imagine how water gets from boot to interior or vice versa. The pollen filter , been through it with Passat, is a likely source at the front.
As I've said before, make sure any work is being done under warranty before agreeing to it.
Sounds like there was a serious communication problem all round.
Good luck.
I wasna fu but just had plenty.
VW nightmare please advise. - jigsaw

Thankyou again everyone for your advice.

I've now had photograhs of the bumper and there is a slight marking that you can see from certain angles. This would not be clear without close inspection, and even then it looks minor like someone has hit it with a trolly or something.

The insurance company are 'happy' (if thats the right word) that it has been in an accident and are willing to pay for all damage they think this accident has caused (the bumper, internal seam and any water damage) As they keep on saying over and over again they are not paying the rediculous unjustified costs incured by incompetance. I should not be paying for new carpets to be put in a car full of water etc etc etc and neither will they.

I have been on and on and on and on at the dealership about this non-stop for days now, and all I have been getting is "You must pay or we are not releasing the car" Recently I got into the argument of

"why have you taken the dash out to fix a leaking boot?"
"we thought the leak was in the front"
"what does the job sheet say?",
"leak in boot and passenger side footwells, oh, boot is circled"
"so you should have been working on the boot"
"urm, I don't know, I have only just picked up this problem recently, I dont know whats been going on"
"so boot is circled, meaning that I made it clear that the boot was full of water"
"urm I don't know"
"we're not paying etc etc etc"
"sorry we cannot release the car until you pay £786.21 otherwise we are out of pocket for the work we have done etc etc etc etc"

Brick Wall.... Head ..... Bash

Well I can see this is going to go on for a long long time.

I didn't realise that I can just legally drive my car away with the spare key, so thats what I should do. Hand the car over to the insurance company and debate who is paying for the £786 in court. At least by the time it goes to court I will have a nice dry fully functional golf again, rather then just no car at all.

As you cannot legally hold a possession of someones to ransom because they owe you money (unless you are a licenced debt collector) then can I after getting my car back, match into the dealership and demand they hand over the spare key, which belongs to me?

In the meantime I have spoken to VW UK and am waiting for someone to look into the case.

Thanks as always

VW nightmare please advise. - Aprilia
To be honest, even if I thought the windscreen was leaking I wouldn't take the dash out - that would be a waste of time. I would have taken the screen out and then resealed it (or got the likes of Autoglass to do it). Sounds like a 'make work' excuse to me.
VW nightmare please advise. - artful dodger {P}
I have been watching this thread for a while and do sympathise with you.

I would advise you have a chat with a solicitor, either with a legal advise line or in person, as know you are being denied the possession and use of your car.

With regard to the costs for removing the dashboard and new carpets, your insurance company are correct in not agreeing to pay for these. This cost is the problem stopping you getting your car back.

A solicitor may advise using an injunction to have your car returned. Alternatively he may advise paying by check and then immediately cancelling it - with a covering letter to the dealership explaining why.

Once you have your car returned it will then be up to the dealer to make the next move. Either they will wipe off the bill or try for an agreed settlement. On the other hand they might sue you for the money. Hopefully they will follow the last course as it will be heard in a small claims court. This will mean an independant person can listen to whether the garage's actions and costs were reasonable. You can defend yourself and provide independant specialist witnesses to back up your case. From everything so far in this tread I believe you have a very strong defense against their costs.

Hopefully this will give you an idea as to your next move.

I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
VW nightmare please advise. - Armitage Shanks {p}
I have a feeling that paying by cheque and then stopping it is not legal, in many cases. The way this dispute is going I would think they might not release the car until a cheque had cleared.
VW nightmare please advise. - Altea Ego
paying by cheque and then stopping it makes you very unpopular with your bank and may be classed as "using a false instrument" - Fraud to you and me
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
VW nightmare please advise. - artful dodger {P}
A solicitor may advise using an injunction to have your car returned. Alternatively he may advise paying by check and then immediately cancelling it - with a covering letter to the dealership explaining why.

If you read my comment correctly you would see the qualification of using a solicitor and his possible advice. I did not directly recommend using a cheque and cancelling it.
I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
VW nightmare please advise. - NowWheels
What's that old saying about possession being nine tenths of the law? The suggestions about driving the car away make sense if possible, tho it's probably in a locked compound.
VW nightmare please advise. - Blue {P}
Although judgine by the incompetence so far they may not have thought about doing that, I know they wouldn't have thought of that at the garage that I used to work at...

Just case the garage quietly from a distance and see if you can spot the car, failing that, get someone you know who the garage won't recognise to just walk in and look around. I know that if they are brazen enough to just walk around the back and start looking for the car then they will probably not even be challenged about it as mechanics etc. will believe that they must have a reason for been there. Successful trespass during working hours surely just requires confidence to blag the situation :-)

VW nightmare please advise. - Altea Ego
Bout 5:30 when the mechanics are going home and customers are collecting cars will be about right. check it out at 5:30, remove it at 09:00 when the customers are delivering cars!
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
VW nightmare please advise. - jigsaw
Hi everyone,

The VW 'dealer complaints department' took up my case and called me back the next day with good news!

They have taken off anything to do with carpets/dashboard and the bill now stands at ~£360 for work done to the rear of the car. The insurance company are happy with that and the car has now been released. It is all systems go now and I now have a hire car provided by the insurance company.

Thankyou everyone for your help

Three cheers to VW UK for their excellent fast service, they sorted out the problem straight away and totally agreed with what I said. Thankyou.

No cheers for anonymous dealership for dragging this out.

Problem resolved


Jigsaw, I'm glad you've got this sorted but it is REALLY important that you stick to our "naming and shaming" rule!

Believe me I was tempted to leave the name in your post because from what you've told us they may well deserve it.

But, I don't know for sure that what you say is true. Even if it is, the costs of defending a libel action, even if we were successful could compromise the future of this site, which would ultimately be seen as a hollow victory as others in similar situations would have one less avenue to share their experiences.

So the future of the site must come before any short term satisfaction that you, I or any other BR member may gain from naming the orgnisation in question.

Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Hugo - BR Moderator
VW nightmare please advise. - Blue {P}
Pleased you got that one sorted then without resorting to "stealing" your own car! :-)

Thanks for letting everyone know how you got on as well, it's always good to hear how these sort of things turn out.

VW nightmare please advise. - barney100
Seems a good idea before you put any car in a garage to get them to sign a document stating the condition of the bodywork and a declaration that any work needed has your full approval. If you did not tell them to replace carpets etc then why should you pay? I am very wary of main dealers but sometimes you have no option. A local national service outfit could not do me an oil change as they did'nt have the tool to remove the filter....wonder who thought of that design at the factory.
VW nightmare please advise. - Mondaywoe
When my car goes in for its service the service reception staff go round the car with me when I drop it in and each and every blemish (small chip, scratch etc) is logged on a chart. This would appear to be Citroen policy. I suppose it helps both parties and for my part, I find it reassuring that they are even thinking in terms of handling customer's cars with that degree of care.

The first time they did it I was actually a bit taken aback because they spotted chips and scratches that were so small I hadn't noticed them myself!

Glad you've got your car back and things sorted out.

VW nightmare please advise. - wantone
This is the first time that i have bought a vag car.
They have done everyting by the book(as far as i know)spot on,
Far better than Ford who really let me down?
VW nightmare please advise. - kithmo
I once took a 9 month old astra in to the dealers to fix a knock due to excessive play in the rear brake compensation valve, investigated and diagnosed by myself, which I expected them to fix under warranty. To my suprise, they gave me a bill which they said was for adjusting the tensioner spring on the valve, as adjustments were not covered under warranty. I paid under duress. When I got home I noticed that the drivers door was not aligned with the rear door when closed, it was further in. I checked the bill and the majority of the bill was for investigating the cause of the knock and adjusting the door and hatch pins. I immediatley went back to the dealer and queried this, as I had distictly told them where the knock was coming from and the the cause of it, verified by the charge for adjusting the tension spring on the bill, and I asked them to un-adjust the misalagned door pin and deduct the uncontracted work from the bill. In their favour, they agreed and did so. I was still peeved at having to pay for the adjustment of the brake valve because (a) at 9 months old the spring should not have stretched out of tolerance (car had only done 9000 miles), (b) it was not listed as a service item and (c) I could have adjusted it myself FOC.

Value my car