Monday, April 24, 2017



Have you ever taken your under warranty car to your service agent after experiencing extreme EPC Light and Engine Light activity, only to be told "No problem found"? Does the inside of your under 75,000km  car sound like an aviary when you turn-on it's fan? Or, do you constantly have to top-up your oil level between oil changes or at least every 1500 km? How do you handle it, when you go to the agents, to complain about excessive oil consumption, only to be  told that, “all cars use oil and oil consumption is a normal part of a car’s operation, beside oil consumption issues were disclosed in the vehicle owner’s manual". Has your car behaved like a washing machine during a rinse and spin cycle while driving on the freeway, misfiring, shaking and scaring the living day light out of you? If yes to any of the above, then you must be driving a VAG Car - VW, Skoda, Audi or Seat. Yes, when those injector coils go faulty in mid travel, it really frightens you because the car feels like is going to fall apart any moment.  

This It happens to VW, Jetta, VW Caddy, Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Beetle, Volkswagen Passat, Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Amarok, Volkswagen Caddy, Volkswagen CC,  Volkswagen Fox, Volkswagen Gol G5,   Volkswagen Golf Mk6,  Volkswagen Jetta, Volkswagen Scirocco,  Volkswagen Sharan, Volkswagen Tiguan, Volkswagen Touareg,   Volkswagen Touran, Audi A3, Audi A6, Audi A7, Audi A8, Audi Q5, Audi Q7, Volkswagen Phaeton, Volkswagen Polo, Volkswagen  Lupo and Volkswagen Passat.

I've experienced the radiator fan blade disintegrate while driving, the unbalanced rotation caused the same, exact, identical, engine shake. Then I've also experienced starting difficulties,  irregular idling, poor fuel economy, hesitant acceleration, engine misfires and engine stalls. Not to mention the the constant, "in your face" red engine  warning light. All of which turned out to be components of the charge air path, especially the Mass Airflow Sensor (MAF).

When the "No problem Found" response became unbearable, it was time for self discovery. So what I've come to realize is that a mass air flow sensor, is integral part of every modern VAG engine and is normally situated somewhere inside the intake air duct, between the air filter and the engine. 

I've owned several cars, amongst which were Renault, Opel, Mercedes Benz and Mazda yet never ever had the need to replace a MAF even after several years. However with VW, it needs to be cleaned or replaced regularly every 2-3 years. Cleaning a MAF is cheaper than replacing it though replacing a MAF sensor is just easier. It is DIY job because the MAF replacement cost at a VW dealers averages about R1500,00. 


VAG engines require a "perfect blend" of air and fuel for absolute combustion. This "perfect blend" is known as stoichiometric or Lambda = 1, which essentially means "the mixture is right" in mechanical jargon. The vacumn caused by the turbo blower and the pistons down-ward travel creates air charge. The main aim of the charge air path is to provide a smooth increase in torque, and to deliver high efficiency throughout its  operating ranges. This air charge is measured by the MAF, so by implication a  properly functioning MAF is absolutely crucial to a smooth ride. But in modern Engine Management Systems their are several components that contribute to maintaining this "perfect blend" among which are:-

1) The Electronic throttle control (EPC)
2) Charge air pressure sensor G31
3) Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor G70
4) Barometric Pressure (BARO) sensor F96
5) Intake Air Temperature (IAT) sensor G42 / G299

So any fault in the Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor G70 will trigger the EPC light, because the Motronic engine control unit (ECU)  uses it as an engine load signal and as a reference data to calculate the  signal plausibility of other sensor inputs, when and how much fuel to deliver, and when to generate a spark for the relieve cylinder. At the same time, it will also trigger a DTC in memory. The MAF also works in conjunction with an O2 sensor that provides a “closed-loop” feedback  known as short term fuel trim (STFT) / Long term fuel trim (LTFT), in order to make corrections to that predicted air mass. If the air filter isn't replaced on a regular basis, a build- up of impurities in the MAF will cause it to start failing when it gets too dirty to do its job and trigger the EPC light. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Engine stalls / shuts off while driving.

Of all the cars built by Volkswagen, the Jetta seems to be the most troublesome VW, and out of all the Jetta models manufactured, since its inception, the 2015 model seems to be the most problematic. Problematic  is perhaps isn't  the best adjective nor the most appropriate word that Jetta owners would use to describe their vehicles.  Most of them say their cars are, very scary and highly dangerous, because of the engine suddenly stalling,  especially in places where it's unsafe to stop. 

Female VW Jetta owners are now generally upset, afraid and some are even terrified to drive their cars, because of their frightful experiences with their cars losing power on the highway / express lanes, as the EPC and engine light turns on. They are fearful and generally worried that it could happen again. All of them convinced that it can lead to a very serious accident, also  stating that the car feels like a death trap when it stalls in fast moving traffic. Many of them feel it is unsafe for them to drive with their children in a car with the potential of being in a rear collision at any time, or get them all killed. They are disappointed and disgusted by Volkswagen personal for not caring about their complaints.

We're talking about new cars and well maintained cars, cars that are taken care of, most with less than 20 000 km on their clocks and one with as few as 30km on its clock, that needs to be towed to the VW service centers. To make matters worse,  roadside assistance sold with these Jettas have an ETA of 3 hours. And to crown the problem, VW agents can't seem to find the reason why these Jettas turn  off in mid travel, yet they are always replacing spare parts. They blame it on a central fuse which was not properly installed, or on the  wiring harness to the gas accelerator housing. Some blame it on calibration, yet it doesn't fix the problem. When a VW dealer was told that the car is unable to accelerate after stopping at a traffic light or at stop street, they echoed that they've never heard of this happening to any other Jetta before, yet this problem seems to be as common as sand.

 In fact it is really common on the 2009 Volkswagen  Routan -  traction control light comes on and the vehicle  completely loses power, engine shuts off while driving and the steering locks. If ever there was a   safety issue, then this is it. Then there is the smell of  gasoline or diesel inside the cabin which the service centers dismiss as an overfilled fuel tank which turned out to be leaky high pressure fuel pump on a 2015 Jetta. Then there is the cooling fan that runs at high speed after the ignition as been turned off, and as a consequence drains my battery.

When these Jettas switch off, nothing works not even the SOS roadside button, so it more like electrical than mechanical, though when the car goes into limp mode the steering system locks and the car cannot even be steered out of harms way. To add insult to injury, VW is unwilling to recall these Jettas and these problems don't seem to be covered by the  VW warranty. 

Somehow certain problems tend to be specific to certain Jettas models, for example, the 2004 and the 2015 Jetta seem to have engine problems though not exclusively.  Clutch clutch failure in the 2015 Jetta  is also common. The 2003 and the 2016 Jettas appear to have transmission problems though also not exclusively. The 2006 tend to have interior electrical accessories issues and the  2009 Jetta seem to have problems with their 'brakes' and ABS module failure. Jetta with FSI and TSI direct injection engines are subject to carbon buildup in the intake system which can cause power loss. It is wise to clean the intake manifold, cylinder head ports  every 30,000 kilometers..

Jetta SE V4 Turbo, Jetta CLI, Jetta S 2.0L, Jetta SE V4 Turbo, Jetta SE 1.8t, Jetta Trendline Plus 2L, Jetta TDI, Jetta TSI 1.8L

Saturday, April 15, 2017



Global automaker Volkswagen AG hasn't been the flavour of the month for more years than I care to remember. Their unpopularity started with the emissions scandal that engulfed the company for cheating on emissions tests over a period of six years; not to mention the recalls and poor customer service at virtually all their service centers globally that further pissed off their clients. It was their initial denial, arrogance  and passing of the buck by high ranking VW executives that severely angered VW car owners. The cheating and lying of these individuals compromised most VW owners globally because the trade-in value of their vehicles fell substantially. Dealers were saddled with VW vehicles cars that wouldn't sell because the general public eschewed VW with a passion. 

In an attempt to win back customer confidence, Volkswagen is offering a six-year or 72,000 miles warranty on two of its all new big-ass 2018 sport utility vehicles (SUVs). This new 72,000 miles, (120 000 km) warranty surpasses, the industry-standard of 60,000 mile (100 000km) by a good 20 000 km or 1 year's worth of driving. Generally sport utility vehicles only come with a standard three-year/36,000-mile warranty whereas Volkswagen  announced  their enhanced warranty for both their 2018 Atlas and Tiguan SUVs. According to Hinrich Woebcken, Chief Executive Officer for Volkswagen Group of America, the objective of this extended warranty is to reduce the cost of ownership for the owners of these new Volkswagen SUVs. The new 4Motion AllWheel Drive VW Alas shares the MQB platform with the Mk7 Golf hatchback; and it can park itself, it can do so even do so in  perpendicular parking spaces. It monitors blind spots and  resist errant lane changes, and even sports the ability to adaptively cruise  in stop-and-go traffic. 

The interior of the Atlas is aesthetically pleasing and cavernous with three rows of seats that provides comfortably seating for  seven adults. It also sports a  meaningful cargo space behind the third-row seat, which when folded flat extends to a user-friendly deck for loading. The Atlas is propelled by a 2.0-litre turbo L4, with an eight-speed automatic front-wheel drive, whereas the 3.6-litre V-6 engine version comes in all-wheel drive. These big-ass SUVs are what Big-ass Americans want, and the Atlas is designed to accommodate the biggest asses you can imagine. The Atlas of the forerunner to the new-look, completely redesigned Tiguan compact SUV destined to be built in  Mexico. This 5-door, 5-seat Tiguan SUV is available in two 1.4 TSI engines, the first as a 92kW for both the Trendline (manual only) and Comfortline manual, while Comfortline auto (DSG) gets the 110kW version.  The 2.0 TSI 162kW top of the range Tiguan with Golf GTI power will be available shortly, to be followed by the 2.0 TDI engines that are available in 81kW, 105kW or 130kW. The Tiguan is sold in some 170 countries globally, which makes this SUV one of the important vehicles in the Volkswagen stable alongside the Golf, Polo and Passat.

However, regardless of the newest and the latest in VW motion, the Diesel emission scandal is still haunting the automaker and in the wake of their admission of guilt, Volkswagen executives agreed to spend up to $25 billion in the USA, to settle legal claims brought against them by Volkswagen owners,  state governments, environmental regulators and VW car dealers. They even offered to buy back about half a million  diesel vehicles that are known to be polluting the USA. In an attempt to rebuild goodwill, Volkswagen offered to pay out $1,000 in cash or dealership credits to VW vehicle owners who can also receive a free 24-hour road service for three years. Over and above this, VW dealers will offer them a $2,000 cash rebate toward their  new car purchase.

Volkswagen's hopes to become the world’s largest automaker after being in this top spot for only two months, were dashed after Toyota Motor Corp reported global production figures of almost a quarter million ahead of Volkswagen today. The  Renault-Nissan Alliance with Mitsubishi also pulled ahead of Volkswagen, leaving this giant German car maker in 3rd spot. For now at leat, but what will the future hold?

Saturday, April 1, 2017



I'm certain it's a fair question to ask, "Why does a Volkswagen or Audi key cost so much?" It's obviously not made of solid gold or  platinum, nor from the mythical "rear and expensive" material called kryptonite, yet it seems to commands the same price range. For that matter, "Why do all automotive keys cost so much"?It's totally incomprehensible that a key would cost more than the monthly installment of the latest version of the car whose key is in 
question. Its just really expensive, so how to manufacturers justify these charges? Some locksmith can supply the same Volkswagen key or any car key for that matter for a lot less than any automobile agent can; and they can normally also replace most car keys much quicker than the agents. That being said, most people scramble around to get a replacement key after they've lost the only key they have. So, the first rule of owning a car key says, "if there's a possibility of losing the key, or there's a chance of it getting stolen, or locked inside the car, or even breaking, then its imperative get a copy cut before your are forced to have a copy made". 


Today almost all cars manufacturers have pretty much developed their own special type of locks. For example,  Ford and Jaguar have adopted the 8 cut Tibbe lock whereas VAG and Volvo have adopted the ‘Laser’ type lock. So before we continue, we have to acknowledge that not all keys are born equal, because keys generally fall in several categories. There are non vehicular dimple keys and tubular keys, then there  are standard single sided flat steel keys. Then there are non-transponder edge-cut automotive double sided keys steel keys and to duplicate these from another key is the easiest and costs the least and average around R50.00, mearly because those key blacks are cheap and abundant. Then there are the transponder type keys (laser  cut) keys and to duplicate these from another key cost a lot more than that of a flat steel key.  They average around R150.00 - R200.00 because the blank is substantially more expensive, but the main reason for their cost higher, is that one also requires a sophisticated milling key cutting machine with a special cutting adapter kit that cost ten times more than a flat key cutting machine. 

Then there is the high security Tibbe key and to duplicate such a key, roughly cost the same as cutting a transponder key. Tibbe keys also requires the same sophisticated milling key cutting machine fitted with a different cutting Tibbe Key Adapter Kit.  


When you need a key cut but you don't have a sample key, the cost will depend  on the make, the model, the type and the year of manufacture of such vehicle. In such a case the key can be reverse engineered by a locksmith of considerable skill, from either the ignition lock, which then has to be removed from the car or from the drivers door lock, which would also have to be removed from the car. A successfully made key should then be able to start the car, unlock the doors, the boot and the glove compartment as well as the petrol cap if all components are still standard originals. 

Reverse engineering a key is a time consuming, thus a costly exercise and it would be well worth to remember "the first rule of owning a car key". Alternatively, the key can be duplicated from its key code, using the appropriate key duplication equipment and software which is more geared towards the later model cars. However few locksmiths offer this service and since the Tibbe key is not all that common, very few locksmith have the equipment and skill to cut them.


Transponder keys are extremely diverse and quite costly to duplicate for a number of reasons. The key blanks are more costly and the decoding equipment and bitting software needed to duplicate them is also expensive. Probably the best way to duplicate these keys, are from the key code using a computerized key cutting machine. Key codes can be generated from your VIN using the freely downloadable AutoCode - VIN to Key Code Generator App. However, you pay per code, on-line. CodesExpress is similar, but InstaCode is the most comprehensive key data software available today.   It  is compatible with a wide range of electronic, and manual key cutting machines and able to produce the  bitting number from the key code automatically. Its menu allows selections for manufacturer, model and key blank and code.  

But that's not the end of it, because after the key is cut it will open the door but will not start the engine. The fob key electronic head needs to be programmed or replaced with the appropriate frequency, either 315MHz VW/Jetta, 433MHz VW/Audi, or 434MHz VW/Skoda, 868MHz Audi, etc, etc,  and further programming to allow the remote to activate and operate the central locking. You can do this yourself but only if you have a second key, and I'll describe the procedure  in a success blog.


The Philips  Crypto code  transponder duplication / RFID transponder complexity still needs to be contended with after providing proof that the car to which the key in question belongs, is rightfully yours. Programming the Philips  Crypto code Transponder is expensive puerly because the equipment like the JMD Handy Baby, or the MiraClone, or the 884 Decryptor Ultegra, or the AD900Pro needed to duplicate the transponder are currently quite expensive.  


Virtually every car built after 1996 is equipped with some sort of an anti-theft device that circumvents “hot wring” or theft of the 
the car. Volkswagen calls its system, an Immobilizer. So when the VW key with its embedded  Phillips cryto  transponder / T6 Glass Chip RFID transponder  is inserted into the key hole, it is energized by the reader coil located in the steering column, allowing the evaluation unit (ECU) to authorize  the car to start. If all's well and the codes is verified as correct the car will start, if not, the car will start momentarily and switch off immediately.


Having looked at what it takes to produce a valid key, it goes without saying that it's going to be expensive purely because non of the transponder copier manufacturers and key cutting machine manufacturers and the key moulding manufacturers have had a return on their investments as yet. This should change over time but only if enough people loose their keys or if everyone who owns a single key has it duplicated. Essentially when the demand for keys increases. Then and only then will the price reduce. Be that as it may, since Volkswagen doesn't manufacture or cut the key themselves nor program the transponder chip but only act as a middle man to get the key to you, its probably best that you go directly to the locksmiths they use to produce their keys and since Volkswagen's locksmith use the same equipment and keys used by the professional locksmith trading down the street, it is imperative that you support him rather than pour your hard earned cash into the VW money pit. Just last week, a friend who works as a chauffeur was the victim of a  home burglary and the thief stole the key to his boss's Mercedes Benz C320.  When they phoned Orbit Motors to get a replacement, they were quoted R10K  for a key. The bossman was astounded at the price and repeated that he wants to bey a key and not shares in Orbit Motors.


Do not be tempted to but keys or transponders off e-bay, e-bid or other e auction. In most cases these transponder chips are plain 
junk. They do not work. There are so many fake items manufactured globally and electronic chips are no different. I've bought several dozen of 4000 series integrated circuits off e-bay, most of which were duds. I think these chips are produced when the production lines were set up and the masks haven't been perfected, which should've ostensibly been dumped, but some how they find their way onto the black market which in my estimate is just another money pit. 



Do you know what Ransomware is? Well, for those who don't know, it is a type of computer malware that encrypts your computer documents, photos, databases, files and other general computer data, then demands payment (ransome) to obtain the decryption key. Computer hijackers and hackers normally spread Ransomware, attached to an emails that once executed, opens a security hole in your computer system for them to exploit. The latest ransomware makes use of your computer's RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) port to gain access to computers holding sensitive information. The RDP port is aka as port 3389. However ransomware is not limited to laptops, notebooks and desktop computers, virtually every device that are connected to an IoT (Internet of  Things) platform can be encrypted for ransom and the possibilities are quite varied. An IoT platform is essentially a suite of interrelated Internet enabled devices that deploy  applications that manage, monitor, and control connected devices.

The Internet of Things embrace technologies like Wi-FI, UWB, CAN bus, Bluetooth, ZigBee, RFID (radio frequency identification), GSM OnStar Telematics (GPS,  Tracking & remote door unlocking, Voice recognition & wireless Internet connection) Flexray, sensors, smart phones, smart homes, digital machines and mechanical objects, people or even animals that are allocated a unique identifiers -IPv6 address- with the innate ability to transfer data over a network. 

Can you imagine a hijacker capable of hacking healthcare IoT devices and medical implants; holding pacemaker patients hostage demanding payment or he will turn off their device, without any need for physical contact.  Can you imagine your car demanding money before it will start? Yes, I'm sure you can. Every VW Audi, Skoda and Seat or for that matter every car truck or tractor that was manufactured before 1996 with its glut of sensors, smart relays and internet connected telematics can hold its owner to ransom. An ECU may not hold ransomware per se but it might as well be because every time your cars coughs or sneezes it demands money. And when it refuses to start, it is as if you are being blackmailed by Volkswagen Audi Seat or Skoda into paying them some money before they get your car to start.  

I have a friend who owns a Porsche that he hardly ever drives. When he attempted starting her after about a month in the garage, the  multi-function dashboard display lit-up in red, displaying "battery/alternator visit workshop", then reverted to its normal colours displaying "undervoltage consumer defective". When the specialist Porsche mechanic arrived and jump started the car, several other light that were never on started to light up. Like the brake pad warning light, oil level monitoring failure and the check engine light and finally the  visit workshop message.

Understandably, the amount of automation in our cars today are suppose to make them safer, better and cheaper to maintain but the converse is true. The average VW owner spends virtually 30% of the value of the car before they finally give up on the car. This implies that by the time three VW owners get rid of their cars, Volkswagen got paid for four. VAG car keys are another hijack or ransome. 

Not too long ago I locked my keys in the boot of my VW Polo Highline. I simply thought just buying another key would solve all my problems. But I was mistaken nor was it that simple. I had to furnish them with my Particulars of purchase, copy of registration document,  and the VIN, just to prove that th car belonged to me. The cost of the key wasn't a few hundred rands but a few thousand rands from the a VW dealer, but that's just for the key. It still had to be programmed at a undeclared cost, so that the RFID transponder in the steering stalk of the car can communicate with the key. If that's not holding car owners to ransom then I don't know what is.

Thursday, March 2, 2017



The Volkswagen emissions scandal has hardly died down, when we heard that Volkswagen is in the dog box once again. The German car giant is in the process of 
'recalling  as many as 3 million 
Volkswagen's, Audi's, Seats 
and Skoda's  worldwide'
due to DSG (direct-shift gearbox) "gearbox problems" that causes loss of power. This is probably one of the biggest recalls in VW's history. Though in comparison  to Toyota's recall of 10 million cars between 2009 and 2010, amid accident fears over sticky accelerator pedals and floor mats, Volkswagen’s recall is but minuscule.  Some believe that the Volkswagen  recall is  bogus. But it's really good to see that Volkswagen is "stepping up to the plate"


The recall reports that the dreaded 7-dry DSG malfunctions are the result of faulty "temperature sensors" (NTC - thermister) caused by the use of synthetic oil in 7-speed dual-clutch gearboxes.  As such synthetic oil will be replaced with traditional mineral oil. Somehow the Audi 2L TFSI models, the Golf GTI's with the 6-wet DSG and the reliable Tiptronic A/T  are not affected. But that doesn't mean that the wet DSG's are not totally immune to mechatronic failure in the future.  Jetta SportsWagen, GTI and Eos vehicles built between September 2008 and August 2009 and a limited number of 2010 Jetta seem to be most affected. It was probably a bad batch of DSG's.

One is the "false neutral syndrome" where the flashing PRNDS occurs with the car losing all motive power without warning, (traced to a faulty DSG heat/temperature sensor) and the other is where the DSG (direct-shift gearbox; German:- Direkt-Schalt-Getriebe) suffers severe delays at shift points, causing erratic shifting, jerking, long stall pauses, clutch slipping, surging in forward and reverse, etc. 

The "gearbox problem" previously mentioned is non other than the "Flash of Death" aka "DSG Flash of Death" aka "false neutral syndrome", resulting in  a flashing PRNDS. When this happens,  the car loses all motive power without warning, as its transmission goes into limp mode by selecting  3rd gear. But this isn't always the case because subject to the actual "gearbox problem", because the transmission may not disengage. So when the engine is switched off, it may not start thereafter. A second transmission problem revolves around causing erratic shifting, jerking, severe delays at shift points, clutch slipping, surging in both forward and reverse. This  often happens when accelerating, overtaking  or cruising and your VW or Audi is also prone to slip gears and judder at low speeds, even though clutch adaptation may have been done. These faults have been associated with the Mechatronic Unit, bent clutch forks and warped clutch packs. If you have vag-com, you will see that your car threw one or more of the following DTC's, or a variation of them.

17090 - Transmission Range Sensor (F125): Implausible Signal
P0706 - 000 - -

17106 - Transmission Output Speed Sensor (G195): No Signal
P0722 - 000 - - - Intermittent

17114 - Gear Ratio Monitoring: Incorrect Gear Ratio 
P0730 - 35-10 - - - Intermittent

17114 - Incorrect Gear Ratio
P0730 - 000 - - - Intermittent

18113 - Gear Ratio Monitoring: Adaptation Limit Reached
P1705 - 09-10 - Adaptation Limit Surpassed - Intermittent

18149 - Clutch Pressure Adaptation: Limit Reached 
P1741 - 001 - Upper Limit Exceeded - Intermittent

18149 - Clutch Pressure Adaptation: Limit Reached 
P1741 - 35-10 - - - Intermittent

18149 - Clutch Pressure Adaptation: Limit Reached
P1741 - 002 - Lower Limit Exceeded - Intermittent

18151 - Clutch Slip Monitoring: Signal too Large 
P1743 - 35-00 - -

18172 - Transmission Temperature Monitoring
P1764 - 000 - - - Intermittent

18201 - Transmission Output Speed Sensor 2 (G196): No Signal
P1793 - 000 - -

18226 - Pressure Control Valve 2 (N216): Electrical Malfunction
P1818 - 007 - Short to Ground - Intermittent

18226 - Pressure Control Valve 2 (N216): Electrical Malfunction
P1818 - 006 - Short to Plus - Intermittent

28775 - No communication with Gear Selector Module 
U0103-000--MIL ON

28775 - No Communication with Gear Selector Module
U0103 - 004 - No Signal/Communication


Long story short, your VW or Audi is more likely than not going to need a mechatronic replacement when you experience the above. However, that doesn't mean every transmission problem can be solved by replacing the mechartonic unit.  I know of someone who experienced the "VW DSG Flash of Death". So, he took his Audi to the VW service agents who diagnosed a faulty Mechtronic unit and a faulty wiring harness. Charged him $3500 for parts and labour and three weeks later, "DSG Flash of Death" struck again. The peculiar thing about the "DSG Flash of Death" is that it affects  brand new vehicles. Cars with as little as 3K kilometers on the clock and virtually none of them exceeding 50K on the clock before the DSG (Dreaded Spiteful Genie / direct-shift gearbox) takes revenge. But a faulty mechatronic unit isn't the only problem Volkswagen is facing. Some 30,000 Volkswagen Tiguans are being recalled in the UK alone because of an intermittent fuse / blown fuse problem that causes headlights to cut out. 

The amount of transmission complaints that NHTSA received prompted their lawyers to get Volkswagen to initiate the recall. 
Be that as it may, VW and Audi branded cars sport really great technology, engineering and performance as well as beautiful aesthetics, but what good is all that if the darned car leaves you stranded every so often, costs a bundle to repair and maintain, besides the darn thing can kills you, when limp mode kicks in on the freeway, with fast flowing traffic on your tail.


Recalls are common in the motor industry but getting the incumbent to take responsible can be a painful as pulling teeth. Recalls are also as common as sand and by the looks of things,  no auto manufacturer is except.  For example, Ford Kuga SUV fire recall goes all the way back to 2013 in South Africa. Now, they are  in the process recalling thousands of its Kuga (fireball) models following client reports that the SUVs self-combusts.  

Honda is recalling an  additional 775 000 vehicles for defective front passenger airbag inflators that was manufactured by the Japanese supplier Takata.

Toyota is globally recalling all the Mirai fuel-cell vehicles  due to a software bug that can shut off its hydrogen-powered system without warning. Toyota is  also recalling more than 300 000 hybrid Prius vehicles globally due to a defect in their parking brakes. 

Volkswagen will recall an additional 50 000 vehicles in China due to brake problems when the cruise control is activated

BMW is recalling some 150 000 cars and SUVs in the US and Canada due to wiring problem to the fuel pumps inside the gas that can cause its engines to suddenly stall.

Mazda is recalling almost 175 000 cars in the US due to the seats can suddenly change angles, making driving difficult.

And the list goes on.

Saturday, February 18, 2017



Your car has been misbehaving of late. Somehow she just doesn't seem to perform like she did in the past. It is very likely that there is a problem with your car and that she already threw an error code, now stored in its OBD (on-board Diagnostics) system. Fortunately this stored data can be retrieved via the diagnosis interface because diagnostic error codes have been standardized globally. Implying that the stored data can be retrieved with any Generic Scan Tool. Virtually every VW service center and even some private mechanics have one or more. Many private individuals have also invested in scan tools  because automotive repair cost have just skyrocketed of late hence they prefer to do the repairs themselves. I've been doing all my VW repairs for the past 8 years. 

OK, so now that youv'e done a diagnostic scan of your car, and retrieved the diagnostic scan codes, the printout looks like a foreign language. You desperately need help to understand what it means but you are no nearer to solving the misbehaving problem with the scan in hand, than you were without the scan. Don't worry, after explaining the basics of scan analysis, you will have a decent idea how to interpret your particular scan and perhaps even do the repair yourself before deleting / clearing the error code.

Low cost Diagnostic scan tools from various manufacturers.

Before we start to analyse the scan there are a few things that I need to mention. Diagnostic errors or more correctly DTC (diagnostic trouble codes) are numerous and fall into to categories, viz Generic fault codes / manufacturer-specific fault codes. However, there is a third category specific to VAG vehicles, though many mechanics also consider them as manufacturer-specific. But I will expound on this later. Fault code are divided into four categories viz, P, B, C and U One of these four alphabetical letters always precede  four numerals  and are thus referred to as an alphanumeric  code or just code for short. The P category is by far the most interesting. Both Generic fault codes and  manufacturer-specific fault codes are applicable to all OBD-II vehicles but manufacturer-specific fault code definitions vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and are also different to VAG codes.


The P stands for powertrain, meaning the car's engine and gearbox / transmission.  So any and all preceded by a P is associated with engine or transmission problems. For example, P0100 is a powertrain code that correlates to  'mass  air flow circuit problem'. P0200 is also a powertrain code that correlates to an 'open circuit injector'P0300 is a another powertrain code that correlates to the 'detection of random/multiple cylinder misfires'. P codes start at P0000 and range to P3999.  Generic P codes are a subset of P codes and start with either P0xxx, P2xxx and P34xx - P39xx, implying that P codes  staring at P1xxx and P30xx- P33xx are not generic but manufacturer-specific codes. 

As can be seen above, in the Powertrain system , the first digit after the P indicates  whether or not the code is generic or manufacturer-specific. The second digit identifies a specific area of the vehicle that's at fault. The powertrain components are divided into 9 distinct area as can be seen below. ( Refer to diagram below)

1xx Fault codes related to 'Fuel & Air Metering'
2xx Fault codes related to 'Fuel, Air metering & Injection Circuit'
3xx Fault codes related to 'Ignition System & Misfire Detection'
4xx Fault codes related to 'Auxiliary Emission Controls'
5xx Fault codes related to 'Vehicle Speed & Idle Control System'
6xx Fault codes related to 'Computer Output Circuit'
7xx Fault codes related to 'Transmission / gearbox related faults'
8xx Fault codes related to 'Transmission / gearbox related faults'
9xx Fault codes related to 'Transmission / gearbox related faults'

The third and fourth digits identify the specific component involved with the fault. This can be referenced from a complete list of codes that can be downloaded from various OBD sites. For example, 

The fault code doesn't identify the actual component that's causing the fault but rather narrows it down the area that needs to be investigated. Often times the sensor that does the detection actually goes faulty. For instance, the crankshaft position sensor and camshaft position sensors are prone to failure, causing the engine to stall or  fail to start. 

OBD-II Diagnostic Trouble Codes Explained


B stands for Body and includes the Air Bag and other mechanical / electronic components not associated with the engine and transmission/gearbox. For example, B0005 is a body error code and correlates to a 'park switch circuit malfunction'. B0530 is another body error code and correlates to a 'stuck fuel level sensor'.  Generic body trouble codes start with either B0xxx or B3xxx, again implying that B codes starting with B1xxx and B2xx are manufacturer-specific codes.


C stands for Chassis and include the ABS and other mechanical / electronic components not associated with neither  the engine and gearbox nor the body. For example,  C0281 is a chassis error code and correlates to a 'brake switch circuit malfunction'. C0238  is a chassis error code and correlates to a 'wheel speed mismatch'. The generic network trouble codes for C start with  either C0xxx or C3xxx. C codes starting with either C1xxx or C2xxx are manufacturer-specific codes.


U stands for User Network. Initially the U stood for “undefined” but is now network-related. For example,  U0109 is a network error code  and correlates to 'lost communication with fuel pump control module'. U0405 is another is a network error code  and correlates to 'invalid data received from cruise control module'. The generic network trouble codes for U start with  either U0xxx and or U3xxx, again implying that codes starting with U1xxx and U2xxx are manufacturer-specific codes. 


Now VAG codes on the other hand  range from 00000-65535 and don't have any letters. It is just a 5 digit numeral and coincides with the list of both generic code and manufacturer specific codes. For example:-

VAG code 16385 coincides with generic code  P0001 - Fuel Volume Regulator Control Circuit Open

VAG code  16389 coincides with generic code  P0005 - Fuel Shutoff Valve (A) Circuit Open

VAG code   16434 coincides with generic code  P0050 - Oxygen Sensor Heater Bank 1/2 Control Circuit

Generic fault code P0403 equates to a VAG 16787 - EGR Valve Malfunction

Generic fault code P0571 equates to a VAG 16955 code - Brake Switch Signal Implausible 

Generic fault code P1690 equates to a VAG 18098 code - Malfunction Indication Light (K83)

Generic fault code  P1814 equates to a VAG 18222 - Transmission Pressure Control Valve open or Short to Ground 

Generic fault code P0032 equates to a VAG 000050 - Oxygen (Lambda) Sensor Heating Circuit Short to Plus 

Generic fault code P0720 equates to a VAG 17104 -  Transmission Output Speed Sensor (G195) Circuit Malfunction

Generic fault code P1517 equates to a VAG 17925 -  ECU Power Supply Relay  Malfunction 

Looking at your scan printout, especially if it's a VCDS scans, it may be quite evident that there are two or three data systems delivering the same data but in a slightly different format. The clipping below purely displays VAG codes with a numeric description.

Address 17: Instruments Labels: Redir Fail!
Part No: 6Q0 920 820 H
Coding: 00141

6 Faults Found:
01312 - Powertrain Data Bus 
37-10 - Faulty - Intermittent
01314 - Engine Control Module 
49-10 - No Communications - Intermittent
01316 - ABS Control Module 
49-10 - No Communications - Intermittent
01321 - Control Module for Airbags (J234) 
49-10 - No Communications - Intermittent
01322 - Control Module for Multi-Function Unit (MFA) (J501) 
49-10 - No Communications - Intermittent
01309 - Power Steering Control Module (J500) 
49-10 - No Communications - Intermittent

The clipping below displays both generic and VAG error codes as well as a fault description in number code.

Address 01: Engine        Labels: 06A-906-032-BBW.lbl
Part No: 06A 906 032 RJ
Component: 2.0l R4/2V      G   6505  
Coding: 00003
4 Faults Found:
17837 - Circuit for Brake Vacuum Pump 
P1429 - 35-00 - Open Circuit
16452 - MAP/MAF  Throttle Position Correlation 
P0068 - 35-00 - 
16804 - Catalyst System; Bank 1 
P0420 - 35-00 - Efficiency Below Threshold
16395 - Bank 1: Camshaft A (Intake) 
P0011 - 35-10 - Retard Set point not Reached - Intermittent

The clipping below  shows VAG 5 digit codes and description numbers.

46 Address: Central Conv. Labels: 1C0-959-799.lbl 
Part No: 1C0 959 799 C 
Component: HLO Komfortgerát 1H 0003 
Coding: 00258 

3 Faults Found: 
01330 - Central Control Module for Central Convenience (J393) 
53-10 - Supply Voltage Too Low - Intermittent 
00849 - S-contact at Ignition / Starter Switch (D) 
25-00 - Unknown Condition Switch 
01359 - Internal Central Locking Switch; Passenger Side (E198) 
27-10 - Implausible Signal - Intermittent

As can be seen in two of the examples above, there are also numbers like, 27-10, 37-10, 49-10, etc. The first two digits of each set of numbers are the numeric equivalent to the text meaning 'Implausible Signal, 'Faulty  and 'No Communications' respectively. Each set of numbers ends in -10, which means 'intermittent'. Hence 27-10 means Implausible Signal - Intermittent, 37-10 means  Faulty - Intermittent and  49-10 means  No Communications - Intermittent. Fault codes can also have a -00 suffix in place of -10 which implies a definite fault (not intermittent). Occasionally you would encounter just a hyphen (-). This implies that the scan equipment could not retrieve further details about the fault and just left it blank. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017



Gone are the days when car thieves could slim-jim a car's door, jam a screwdriver into the ignition lock and turn it with force to start the car, or alternatively cut the ignition wires and hot wire the car, and off they go. In most cases stolen cars are seldom recovered, forcing Insurance Companies to hike their premiums. Lobbying  on their part, and government efforts to reduce car theft, resulted that immobilizer and alarm systems started appearing as standard features in most cars.  I believer that it's now mandatory for all new cars sold within the European Union to have an electronic engine immobilizer installed.


An immobilizer acts as an anti-theft device that inhibits the car's engine from starting, unless the correct ignition key or additional electronic deactivation device is present. This concept makes hot wiring a car totally futile. If the code received from the key is incorrect or missing, the ECU disables the system until the correct key is placed in the ignition, and or the correct key code  is presented, which will allow the car to start. Such electronic devices operate  automatically and effectively prevents thieves from starting a car by hot wiring it, thus incentivising auto Insurance Companies to offer lower rates for vehicles equipped with these anti-theft devices. Be that as it may. Are immobilizers "secure" enough? Especially considering that it only reduced car theft by an estimated 40%. 

Transponder chips used in automotive immobilizer systems
Currently, electronic chips,  algorithms and data encryption systems are used to protect cars from theft. And since its inception, the electronics industry members have had ways of marking their micro chips. In most cases, with  an alpha numeric marking and perhaps a logo. Texas chips had a tiny map of Texas, Motorola had their classic M, Phillips  had an emblem composed of a globe with a doubly wavy equator with two stars in each hemesphere. There were also several other electronic chip manufacturers many of them specializing in specific equipment. But today Philips and Texas Instruments dominates the fob key transponder market with their immobilizer chips. Legacy key manufactures like JMA and Silca each formed in-house electronics departments that specifically focuses on transponder technology and vigarously compete for market share. Then there is also Sokymat, Temic, NXT, Megamos, etc, providing anti-theft transponder / immobilizer electronic devices for keys.
Turbo Key Decoder can unlock any VAG car in just 3 minutes.

A VW 3 button remote fob key fitted with a transponder and a miniature electronic circuit board essentially broadcasts an encrypted radio signal to the receiver fitted in the car's steering column, at the exact moment the driver starts the vehicle. If the signal is recognized by the receiver and the handshake is successful, it then responds by sending an encrypted signal to the car's engine control unit (ECU), enabling the car's engine to start. In Volkswagen vehicles, the miniature electronic circuit board in the fob key handles central lock/unlock and alarm activation which normally operates on the 433Mhz (UHF) frequency band, but some models  operate on either  315MHz or at 868MHz frequency band. 

Volkswagen, Audi and Seat only uses two key blade profiles, namely HU66 and HU49 on both their flat and flip keys, whereas the Skoda uses both HU66 HU49 and SK22 blade profiles. The blades and profiles are visible in the image below which can easily be decoded with a Turbo key decoder or a cheaper Lishi decoder, aka Master Key-Set for VAG for the relevant blade profile.

Volkswagen. Audi, Seat and Skoda key blade profiles.
The intricacy starts with the numerous transponders used in Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda which varies from the PHILIPS ID33 Transponder, to the PHILIPS Crypto ID42 Transponder, to the PHILIPS Crypto ID44 Transponder, to the PHILIPS Crypto ID46 Transponder,  to the MEGAMOS  ID13  Transponder and MEGAMOS Crypto  ID48  Transponder; to the Silca and JMA equivalents. Some  precoded  Megamos Crypto transponders can be coded from the VIN using the appropriate equipment, like the AD100Pro.

Megamos Crypto ID48 transponder (glass)
Having said appropriate equipment; immobilizers according to most of us are  "secure" but research hackers have found vulnerabilities in the engine immobilizers algorithm / encryption system that is supposed to protect the vehicle from theft.  Apparently said hacker hacked one of the most popularly used immobilizers  within a mere 6 hours.  He then released a white paper "Wirelessly Lockpicking a Vehicle Immobilizer" but was gagged by the High Court of London with an interim injunction from releasing his scientific article for public consumption. 

The following is an actual cryptographic hash (SHA-512) 


Silicon chip transponder

What this means is that the current 48 bit encryption systems used by most car manufacturers can be easily cracked. The rolling code Hitag2  system used by Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Citroen, Dacia, Fiat, Ford, Lancia, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, Peugot and Renault has been crack several years ago and is not secure. A 48 bit system is fractionally secure compared to the 128 bits Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) used for computer data systems which could take more than a 100 years to crack with a Quantum Super Computer. To add doom to gloom, several key decoders and key duplicators are available on the open market and you don't have to be a certified locksmith to be able to buy it, though they is quite expensive. 

"The mechanical turbo decoder can unlock any
 Audi, Volkswagen, Seat or Seat 
within 3 minutes flat".

Once the key is duplicated, the doors can be unlocked  and turning on the ignition is just as simple.  Starting the vehicles is slightly more intricate but still doable. Silca and JMA supplies systems that can do exactly that in just a few minutes. Optika, Lector and Lector Pro reads the code from the key and generates the required code.
What this means, is  that it now easier to steal a car with a manufacturer fitted immobilizer than a car with an anti theft gorilla bar attached to its steering.

Car Steering Wheel Theft proof Lock - Auto Anti-theft Retractable Lock
Laser key cutting machines  and key duplicating machines are as popular as diagnostic scanner software and it is really easy to use. I suppose its just a matter of time before crime syndicates  invest in these devices to further ply their "trade". Looks like Gorilla bars are back in vogue.