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Volkswagen Polo Problems

Are you having problems with your Volkswagen Polo? Let our team of motoring experts keep you up to date with all of the latest Volkswagen Polo issues & faults. We have gathered all of the most frequently asked questions and problems relating to the Volkswagen Polo in one spot to help you decide if it's a smart buy.

Are there known problems with the 2018 Volkswagen Polo's dual-clutch auto?

Some owners have had a great run with this transmission, others not so much. Highway driving will be kinder to the unit, and a lot of city driving will be harder on it (although the DSG gearbox is by no means alone there).

The main wear issues are with the clutch-packs that control the transmission. These can wear prematurely and require costly replacement. Any shuddering when taking off from rest is the first sign that this process has already started.

It鈥檚 possible to read too much into it, but it remains that VW itself dumped the DSG for a conventional torque converter for some of its Australian models, including the Polo, in 2021.

The gearbox on my 2016 Volkswagen Polo has failed

The seven-speed DSG transmission in your car is a known trouble-spot and has caused lots of grief for owners over the years. Failures can occur in the clutch-packs, the electronic control units or the gearsets themselves and, once the failure has occurred, it's usually time for a whole new transmission.

Mechanics can often become a bit jaded when they see multiple failures of the same component, but in this case, they're probably right. Your problem then becomes one of the cost of repairs being more than the repaired car is worth.

Oil pressure issues in a Volkswagen Polo TSI

You could well be on the right track here. Many cars with transmission coolers place them in the car's radiator so that the liquid that cools the engine, also cools the transmission. But if the transmission cooler fails, that can allow transmission fluid into the car's coolant system which might account for the oil you're seeing in your coolant bottle. Many mis-diagnose this as a blown head gasket because the outward symptoms are very similar.

If this is the case, the bad news is that coolant has probably also entered the transmission potentially wrecking the mechanical parts and frying the electronic bits.

My Volkswagen Polo TSi 1.4 is mixing water and oil which is then coming out through the exhaust

None of these symptoms are what you want to find. Any car mixing its coolant with its engine oil has some kind of internal failure (often a head gasket failure) and a car that is consuming oil at a fast rate is also probably suffering some kind of internal damage or wear. Have a mechanic perform a few basic tests on the engine (compression, leak-down and head-gasket) and proceed from there. But if it's as bad as it sounds, you could be looking for a new engine (or a new car).

These engines were known for being quite complex and perhaps not as durable as they should have been in some cases. They're also quite expensive to rebuild and may cost more to fix than the entire car is worth. At that point, you have some tough decisions to make.

The oil level in my Volkswagen Polo Vivo drops slowly and there is oil in my water bottle

Assuming you're looking at the coolant catch-bottle and not the windscreen-washer fluid bottle, this is probably a bad thing. Any time the car's engine coolant can mix with its oil or vice-versa, there's a chance that the cause is a failed head gasket or perhaps even something more serious like a split cylinder bore.

But don't just assume that any contamination in the coolant is engine oil. It could be something else from another source. Does the engine oil look milky on the dipstick? If it does, then that's almost certainly due to coolant being mixed with it, and that backs up the failed head gasket theory. The other thing I'd like to know is how fast the engine oil level is dropping. Some oil use is normal for a car's engine, so simply watching that level fall over a few thousand kilometres and presuming it's going into the coolant is a long shot to say the least. It sounds like you need to have the car's cooling system pressure tested and the engine compression tested. That's the best way to put and end to the guessing game.

By the way, is your car a South African-bult VW? From what I can gather only South Africa got a model called the Polo Vivo which featured a few country-specific features and details and was very well received by buyers in that part of the world.

My 2001 Volkswagen Polo's water bottle is full of a milky substance

Firstly, check that it's the coolant overflow bottle you're referring to and not the windscreen washer bottle; it sounds basic, but they can look similar from above.

If there is a milky looking fluid and it is in the radiator overflow bottle, then you potentially have a head gasket problem on your hands. The first thing to do is take the car to a workshop which can confirm or rule out the gasket drama, and take it from there. Most workshops will probably conduct what's called a TK test which checks the radiator's coolant for traces of the chemicals that are created during the engine's combustion process. In a normal engine, these chemicals can't reach the coolant, but if the head gasket has failed, the combustion and cooling systems can intermingle. When this happens, a murky, milky coolant is often the result.

The recent cold, wet weather across much of Australia has meant that many car owners are suddenly finding milky deposits under their engines' oil filler caps, too. This is also a classic symptom of a blown head gasket, but it can also be simple a build up of condensation in the engine thanks to the prevailing weather conditions. This is especially true if the vehicle is used only for short trips. A decent run at highway speeds will often be enough to get the engine hot enough to evaporate these harmless deposits.

But don't assume that this is the case, as a car that really does have a failed head gasket can easily overheat in such conditions and that can lead to complete engine failure. Have the car checked by a professional and you'll know how to proceed.

What car should I buy to replace my 2006 Toyota Corolla?

There are still plenty of great small cars around within your budget, Agnes, and they all have good safety packages (or we wouldn鈥檛 recommend them). Look at offerings such as the Suzuki Swift Navigator (with the optional autonomous emergency braking) for around $17,000 (plus on-road costs) or the Kia Rio S at around $19,000 or Kia Picanto S (one size smaller than the Rio) at closer to $16,000. Both the Kias also feature the brand鈥檚 excellent seven-year warranty, capped-price servicing and free roadside assistance which is great peace of mind.

The Volkswagen Polo is a classy drive but a little more expensive at closer to $21,000 for the 85TSi Comfortline. Actually, to be honest, you鈥檝e missed the boat on bargain small cars by a couple of years. Firm favourites such as the Toyota Yaris and Mazda 2 have both been updated relatively recently and have recorded big price jumps in the process. The cheapest Yaris with an automatic transmission is now around $23,000 (it was less than $17,000 back in 2018) while the Mazda 2 Maxx went from being a sub-$17,000 proposition in 2018 to a $23,000 car by the time you add an automatic transmission in 2020.

What can I do about the faulty AEB on my 2018 Volkswagen Polo?

You鈥檙e on the right track here and it does appear that your car suddenly thinks it鈥檚 about to crash and triggers the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system to avoid the phantom prang. And it does that by automatically slamming on the brakes. Again, you鈥檙e right when you suggest that if other cars had been around at the time, the car鈥檚 attempts to avoid a crash may, indeed, have caused one.

I have a couple of questions for you: Does this problem occur when you鈥檙e driving with the active cruise-control engaged? And, does it happen when driving on a downhill section of road that then begins to level out? If the answers bare yes, then you鈥檙e not alone, because those are the precise circumstances reported by more than a dozen 2018 Polo owners in the US. The theory is that the levelling terrain is detected by the car鈥檚 sensors, causing it to confuse the undulating road with a potential collision threat. Calibration and set-up is critical in these sophisticated modern AEB systems, and something is not right with your car. I doubt that rebooting the system (as the dealer has suggested) will make much difference if the sensors are angled or calibrated incorrectly.

Honda has experienced similar problems with its 2014 and 2015 CR-V model which also had the potential to confuse inanimate roadside objects (like wheelie-bins) with potential crash obstacles, and produced a similar response from the car. Honda has actually recalled those CR-Vs in Australia to deal with this, but Volkswagen Australia does not appear to have followed suit, telling me that it hasn鈥檛 seen any cases of this yet (at head office level).

Honestly, I don鈥檛 blame you for refusing to take the car back. I wouldn鈥檛 want to be driving around in a car that could suddenly, and without any warning or legitimate reason, apply its own brakes as if there was an emergency. I鈥檇 be short-cutting the dealer and going straight to VW Australia鈥檚 customer service division and spelling it out.

How is oil mixing with coolant in my 2015 Volkswagen Polo?

Despite your extensive efforts to fix this problem, it appears you still have a situation where the coolant and oil are mixing. No oil should be able to mix with the coolant (or vice-versa) and if it is (which is why you鈥檙e seeing oil in the coolant tank) then you have a fairly major problem somewhere in the engine. Check the dipstick. Is the oil in the sump milky and opaque? I鈥檓 guessing it probably is, and that鈥檚 another giveaway that your engine has a major problem.

Perhaps the cylinder head itself is cracked. Maybe the engine has a split bore. Perhaps the light skimming the head received was not enough and it鈥檚 still warped. Either way, the oil and coolant are mixing and that鈥檚 bad. The fact that the oil and coolant in the bottle are being forced out of that tank suggests combustion pressure is also playing a part, once again signalling a leak between the oil, coolant and combustion areas of the engine.

My new used 2010 Volkswagen Polo already has problems, what should I do?

Oil leaks are a pretty common complaint in a second-hand car, but if the car as sold to you with a roadworthy certificate (which it almost certainly should have been) then there鈥檚 no excuse for those to reappear within two weeks of you taking ownership. I鈥檓 always suspicious of a second-hand car with a sparkling clean engine bay, as it usually means it鈥檚 been cleaned up to hide leaks, just as you鈥檙e now discovering.

Given that you bought the car from a VW dealership, I鈥檇 be having a chat with VW Australia鈥檚 customer service and complaints people as there might be something they can do to help in getting the situation sorted out to our satisfaction. On top of that, the dealer who sold you the car has an obligation under the terms of the second-hand car warranty. In WA, that means any second-hand car less than 12 years old (which a 2010 model is) and with fewer than 150,000km travelled, has to carry a one-month warranty on faults like the ones you鈥檝e described. Since these problems were spotted at the two-week mark and pointed out to the dealership at that point, you should be covered.

The bigger issue from your point of view, of course, is that you were told the car had never been crashed when, in fact, it appears that鈥檚 not the case. That would seem like a fairly straightforward case of misrepresentation to me, and I鈥檇 be having the car professionally inspected (try your local State motoring club) and getting in writing the fact that it鈥檚 been crashed and repaired. From there, I reckon you鈥檇 have a decent chance of getting your money back and returning the car.

Disclaimer: You acknowledge and agree that all answers are provided as a general guide only and should not be relied upon as bespoke advice. Carsguide is not liable for the accuracy of any information provided in the answers.
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