My Review Of Volkswagen Downtown Toronto:
I brought our Golf model 2000 in for a recall and for diagnostics regarding the warning lamps (oil, EPC came on a few times intermittently). These diagnostics cost $116. The car was previously diagnosed for free by our neighbourhood garage, who had found various electrical faults and sent us to the dealer, because they could not handle the electronic security system. VW Downtown completed the brake switch recall and found no fault in the electrics, other than a 'loose fuse'.
However, when I picked up the car from them, I noticed that the hand brake was pulled up almost vertically, way further than we'd ever do. When I started driving off the parking space, the brakes were not fully releasing; the car did not roll. I talked to the assistant service manager who agreed that something was wrong and drove the car into the service area. A mechanic checked and said that the brake booster was faulty. I pointed out the fact that the car was running perfectly in the morning when I dropped it off. However, I was told that I must have missed the brake pedal getting stiffer over time. Needless to say that we have not noticed any such change despite using the car almost daily in downtown stop-and-go traffic. They confirmed that they released the overpressure from the brake booster and that I was fine to drive home but should get this checked soon.
So I attempted to drive home. After a few kilometres the car started to slow down and needed more and more gas to keep going at 50kmh. I changed to 2nd gear but eventually the engine would not pull the car any more and I barely made it to a downtown Toronto parking lot, where the smell of burned brake pads greeted me when I got off. I called VW Downtown a few minutes before 8pm when they close, and did reach the receptionist but was then only passed on to an answer machine. I spent an hour waiting for a tow to our neighbourhood garage.
Update from next day: Our garage found that a 'caliper' on one of the rear brakes was broken and replaced it. Everything works fine again. While they say that a hard pull/push on the hand- or foot brake can trigger the fault, it cannot be the deeper cause - apparently, these pieces tend to get faulty on older Golfs.
I am still convinced that someone at VW Downtown actually wrecked the car through unnecessarily rough handling. But my main issue now is that they let me drive off the dealership with the brakes in a state that caused very dangerous driving conditions within a brief distance. Fortunately, there was no accident and no additional damage to the brake system and the tow was covered by our auto club membership.
As a side note, we also believe that someone at VW Downtown scratched our bumper. When I picked the car up, a parking/washing attendant bumped a customer car into another right beside me. Ours has a mark that we had not noticed before.
A few positive notes about VW Downtown: Everybody was generally friendly; the location is convenient and they offer morning and evening shuttle service; and the appointment coordinator actually replied to an email at night from home to confirm the next day's appointment.
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