February 11, 2003 – Volkswagen of America, Inc. and Audi of America, Inc. have recently announced a customer service action that will ultimately replace the ignition coils in 530,000 cars that have been experiencing a higher-than-normal failure rate. This affects 2001, 2002 and early 2003 models with certain engines. While the manufacturer is taking action, one statewide consumer advocacy firm is warning consumers to educate themselves on their rights. Many drivers may be entitled to a new car or full or partial refund under State Lemon Laws and the Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act.
Ignition coils provide electricity to the engine's spark plugs during operation. If the ignition coil fails, a check engine light will come on. The vehicle may become rough, the engine will lose some power and the car should be taken to an authorized dealer for repair. Audi and Volkswagen are currently notifying all customers potentially affected and are initially replacing those ignition coils that fail at no cost. The newly announced customer service action, replacing all ignition coils whether they fail or not, will happen in the coming months. In order to minimize inconvenience to customers during repair, Volkswagen and Audi dealers will offer alternative transportation at no cost.
Unfortunately, as a result of this ignition coil failure, many of these consumers have already been to the repair shop several times in an attempt to fix this problem, or they have been waiting over a month for parts to come in. Under the State Lemon Laws and Federal Warranty Statutes, if a non-conformity of this nature results in three repair visit while the car is covered by warranty, the consumer may either e entitled to a new car of full refund, under lemon law protection, or a partial refund and continued ownership of the car for breach of warranty. These laws also cover cars that are in the shop for extended periods of time. The New Jersey Lemon Law, for example, covers cars in the shop twenty days during the first year, while the Pennsylvania Lemon Law covers cars in the shop for thirty days.
The Federal Magnuson Moss Warranty Act covers consumers who have taken their car in for three or more repairs under the warranty for the same problem, but are outside of the provisions defined by the Lemon Law. These consumers may be entitled to a partial refund and continued ownership of the car. Legal representation is cost-free under both the State and Federal Laws.
Vehicles affected in this action include cars equipped with 1.8 liter engines, which includes the Audi TT and A4; and the VW Golf/GTI, Jetta, New Beetle and Passat. The companies also included the Passat W8 engine, all VW's equipped with the 2.8 liter VR6; as well as the Audi 3.0 liter V6 engine. In a press release issued February 4, 2003, Gerd Klauss, president and CEO, Volkswagen of America, Inc, stated that "we know that some ignition coils installed in our cars are not up to our high quality standards, and we are determined to do the right thing for our customers. That is exactly what we will do as soon as we have the parts."
"While I applaud VW and Audi for taking this next step, it is important for consumers to know that may be entitled to something much larger than just a fix if they have been back and forth to the dealership in efforts to repair this problem, " said Craig Thor Kimmel, automotive consumer advocate and Managing Partner of the lemon law and consumer advocacy firm of Kimmel and Silverman. "Drivers should not be asked to wait one month or more while these ignition coil parts arrive from another country. "
The supplier is working triple shifts and seven days a week to make as many new parts as possible. Additionally, a second supplier has been activated. This action will begin as soon as replacement ignition coil supply volumes will allow.
"If you have been in the shop three or more times for this problem, or your car has been in the shop for long period of time, make sure that you educate yourself on your consumer rights," said Kimmel.
Customers with questions about ignition coils can call VW Customer Relations toll-free at (800) 822-8987 or Audi Customer Relations toll-free at (800) 822-2834.