2010-14 VW Golf TDI FAQ, forum, and buying guide

continued from page 1 of the buying guide

Complaints and common problems with the 2010+ VW Golf TDI

Some TDI engines occasionally hesitate or hiccup when cresting over a hill or lifting off the accelerator pedal at a certain position.  So far, the best guess why this happens is because of an interference between engine and the EGR emissions tuning.  If it happens to you, please post it in the VW TDI help forum.

17 x 7.0" Porto alloy wheels with 225/45/17 tires will be standard on US Golf TDI for 2010-11. For 2012 they are the Salamanca (17x7.5"). Canadian Golf  TDI come with 16" "cleveland" alloy wheels standard.  The 2009 Jetta TDI had standard 16 x 6.5" wheels, 17" optional.  Larger/wider wheels and tires will reduce fuel economy, everything else being equal.  Since the Golf is about 210 lbs lighter than the Jetta, the potential for higher fuel economy is hurt.  You can swap any 5x112 bolt pattern wheel (with correct offset) onto the car, see 1000q: wheel gallery overview to see what's available.  Also see 1000q: wheel/tire calculator to measure the difference in dimensions.

The Golf TDI interior is only black cloth seats (in the US).  All Golf TDI interiors will be black.  You can only get leather interior in Canadian high trim cars.  Vinyl leatherette seating was standard in the Jetta and although you can most likely swap the seats it's possible there might be an airbag plug or seat rail interference.

ESP (electronic stability program) is standard on all US VW but optional on Canadian Golf depending on trim package.  Stability control is proven to significantly reduce accidents and increase control when swerving the car away from polar bears, so it's disappointing that it's not standard in Canada as well.

There are some cases of engine no-start and hydrolocking due to intercooler icing. A little moisture condenses in the intercooler and freezes in the winter. If there's enough ice it will choke the engine and possibly get ingested and cause hydrolock (major engine damage). Read about it in this forum thread. VW fixed engines as needed and added a modification as shown in their technical service bulletin.

Canada only: no optional HID/xenon lights on the Golf even though they are optional on US Golf.

Bluetooth on VW Golf TDI

This is next to complaints because 2010 Golf TDI in the US only got basic 9w2 bluetooth which picks up incoming calls.  To get voice control outgoing call and phone book features you have to retrofit a 9w3, 9w7, or go aftermarket.  For 2011+, all Golf TDI got the highline 9w7 bluetooth with these features.  While driving and talking is a distraction from driving, using a hands free bluetooth Bluetooth is usually better than holding the telephone.  See 1000q: VW bluetooth FAQ for information on swapping the 9w2 low bluetooth.

Tax credits and sales tax exemptions with the VW TDI

These have since expired but the article will stay up for reference: 1000q: Tax credits and exemptions with the TDI

Options and more misc info

2 door vs. 4 door

The 4 door has electric backrest adjustment.  The 2 door has manual tilt backrest because it uses a quick release for rear seat access.   This is shown right.
Both 2 door and 4 door Golf TDI are available in the US.  Canada only gets the TDI engine in the 4 door body.  The weight of a 2 door Golf is about 2994 lbs manual transmission, 3041 lbs DSG transmission.  2 and 4 door Golf are exactly the same overall length but the 2 door has longer front doors (highlighted in yellow in the overlay picture below), the 4 door has shorter front doors (white lines).  The 4 door is actually slightly stiffer and heavier because of the reinforced center pillar between the doors.  The 2 door has better side/blind spot visibility because there is no center pillar and the windows are also longer (because of longer doors).  The longer doors make it easier for the front passengers to get in but make it harder for the rear passengers.  The 4 door should weigh about 50 lbs more.

One example of the Golf's premium features vs. the competition is the aerodynamic refinements.  See the last page for pictures of the new side view mirrors which reduce wind noise.  Another modification is the addition of this windshield trim - it quiets wind noise and wiper splash.  The video review on the last page mentioned that combined with the new engine, the sound is much quieter.  Below is a chart from VW showing the difference.

The Dynaudio "Excite" stereo system

This is an 8 speaker 300w system with a digital signal processor (DSP). The four front speakers are two 60 mm textile dome tweeters in the corner and two 16.8 cm mid-bass speakers in the doors. The four rear speakers are two 50 mm tweeters and two 16.8 cm mid-bass speakers.

Xenon HID lighting with AFS turn cornering

Optional on TDI - both low and high beams are xenon and turn into corners.  $700 MSRP which is a bargain since retrofitting OEM headlights with all sensors generally costs about $2200 + some work and the stock parts aren't worth the difference in price. If you want them, the greatest value is to equip them from new vs. retrofitting them.

The mk6 Golf HID headlights with AFS turn cornering works at all speeds.  This is for the xenon headlight only.  The foglights (standard on TDI Golf in the US) activate with the turn signal or a greater than 90 degree turn at low speeds.  AFS HID and the foglight cornering is shown in the below videos.

If you don't move the car after starting the engine, the HID should self calibrate.  Here are two examples:

VW Golf color samples and color codes

US specific info: Tornado red (LA3D /g2), black (L041 /a1), candy white (LB9A /b4), united grey metallic (LA7T /x6), reflex silver metallic (LA7W /8e), shark blue metallic (LA5Q /5r), blue graphite metallic (LC5f /w9).
Canada specific info: Amaryllis red metallic (LA3S), shark blue metallic, united grey metallic, deep black pearl (LC9X), reflex silver metallic, blue graphite pearl, candy white

candy white - black (black pearl is Canada only)

reflex silver - shark blue metallic

Tornado red (Amaryllis red metallic may be very slightly darker, Canada only) - united gray metallic

blue graphite metallic on Jetta - thumbnail of worldwide Golf colors from topher at golfgtiforum.co.uk (large file size, click to enlarge)

DSG transmission is the only "auto" transmission on TDI.  For US VW Golf TDI with DSG, you also get paddle shifters on the backside of the steering wheel.  Paddle shifters are not standard on Canadian cars.  Some call it tiptronic but all Golf and Jetta TDI that aren't manual transmission are DSG.  See detailed video explanations and more FAQ about DSG at 1000 answered questions: DSG FAQ.  DSG is an automatically shifting manual-like transmission.  The insides of a DSG look similar to a manual transmission and it drives like a manual transmission - but it can shift for you.  Although the DSG's fuel economy rating is higher than the manual, everything else being equal, the manual should give slightly better economy because of less weight and less parasitic losses.  The advantage of DSG are very fast shifting with no misshifts, and it's much more engaging than a normal automatic transmission.  Any difference in fuel economy between DSG and manual are will within differences in driving style.  A leadfoot will always get lower mileage regardless of transmission. 

Using biodiesel in a VW Golf TDI engine

The 2.0L TDI CJAA and CBEA engine will run on biodiesel but VW only allows up to 5% biodiesel (B5) because of the emission system and engine oil dilution.  VW cannot void the car warranty because you use biodiesel!  However, they could refuse a warranty claim if they believe the problem was caused by biodiesel use and you would have to fight them.  Laws vary by state but this could mean the burden of proof would be on you to prove the car has a defect that wasn't caused by the fuel.

The new TDI common rail engines and emissions systems haven't been tested long term in real world evaluations yet.  While past TDI ran excellently on high percentages of quality biodiesel, the new concern how biodiesel affects the self cleaning emissions system and engine oil dilution.  During the particulate filter self clean cycle, the engine injects a little extra fuel after the engine combustion cycle.  This post injection regeneration fuel goes into the filters and burns up any trapped particulates.  The filters are why new TDI have very little diesel odor and clean tailpipes.  For more basic information about biodiesel and VW, see 1000q: intro to biodiesel.

Because the self clean cycle injects this extra fuel after combustion, there is some concern that the biodiesel will get into the engine oil and dilute it.  Regular diesel evaporates easily out of the engine oil whereas biodiesel tends to accumulate.  A little biodiesel can be easily tolerated but the long term effects of this are not yet known on the new common rail TDI engine only.  Some states have bio fuel mandates and in response to Illinois having some biodiesel in the fuel, VW will cover up to B20 in TDI registered in Illinois. To the right is a thumbnail of the letter they sent out Feb 2013.

Post combustion injection will also slightly lower fuel economy.  The self clean cycle depends on how clogged the particulate filter is so it's unknown how much fuel is used.  On average, the self clean cycle occurs every 4-600 miles or once/tank.  See 1000q: VW DPF FAQ for detailed info on this system.

Transmission problems with VW Golf TDI

There is no long term information on the 2010+ Golf TDI but they use the same transmission as the Jetta.  

Although the DSG (automatic) transmission (introduced with the 2004 New Beetle TDI) has it's drawbacks, it's still a good automatic compared to previous ones.  However, if you want better mileage and reliability, nothing beats a regular manual transmission.  Please read 1000q: DSG FAQ for maintenance, quirks, and other common issues with the DSG transmission.  It requires a fluid+filter change every 40,000 miles to shift smoothly.  See 1000q: DIY DSG fluid change for the how-to article.

Some people report the DSG transmission causing hesitation from a full stop.  Users report it to be more likely if you're fully stopped with your foot on the brake, and then quickly step hard on the accelerator pedal.  This is believed to be from the DSG clutches slipping.  It can be dangerous because this is often done when trying to dart through a gap in traffic.  To minimize the likelihood of hesitation, learn when the car is most likely to hesitate and plan accordingly.  When you take your foot off the brake, wait before stomping on the accelerator pedal hard or gently go through the first inch of travel on the pedal before pressing it harder.

Some dual mass flywheels (see 1000q: clutch FAQ for more details) fail.  Earlier designs have higher problem rates but it's been revised a few times and should be more reliable.

VW has extended the warranty on some DSG, see the DSG FAQ for more details.

The gear ratios for the DSG and automatic transmission are shown below.

The transmissions use final drive #1 for gears 1, 2, 3, and 4, and the other for gears 5, 6, and reverse.  This is why 4th and 5th manual transmission gears have the same (or almost) ratio.  If you want to calculate rpm in any given gear, see 1000q: tire wheel gearing calculator.  Your mileage may vary!

gear 2010 6 speed manual 2010 Golf with DSG
1 3.77 3.46 
2 1.96 2.05
3 1.26 1.30
4 0.87 0.90
5 0.86 0.91 
6 0.72 0.76
final1 3.45 4.12
final2 2.76 3.04

Delivery inspection

After leaving the dealer, tell anyone who borrows your car to pay you cash instead of fueling it up as a favor.  This is a major cause of misfueling with gasoline!   Some dealers will fill up your fuel tank as a favor, make sure they put diesel in it!  The car keys will get passed to a few people like the car washer or tech when it's in for service so it's not always the salesperson's or mechanics fault.  I suggest a note taped to the "gas cap" while it's at the dealer.

Make sure you double check the options list vs. what is on the car! There are a few cases of the customer ordering one option list and getting something else! Once you sign the paperwork and leave the dealer, it's your car and you already signed for it...

If someone does put gas in your TDI, stop as soon as practical and safe and tow it to a mechanic!  The car probably won't get very far but don't risk getting into an accident by pulling over suddenly!

Check the pumps for the ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) sticker.  Not all retail pumps are marked with this but even if the sticker on the fuel pump doesn't say it's ULSD, all major refineries in the US/Canada have made only ULSD by 6/1/2010. You can only find non ULSD fuel in Mexico/South America/off-road only fuel.

Follow the recommendations in the owner's handbook when breaking in the Golf's engine.  Most salespeople don't know anything about cars beyond what's in the sales brochure so don't listen to them.  If you need more advice and tips, read 1000q: engine break in.

Current and recent recalls for VW Golf TDI

Oxygen sensor and computer reflash.
Some tire pressure monitor systems are incorrectly set and will result in the low pressure light.  The computer should be set to 2.3 bar but it resets to 5.5 bar.  The solution is a computer reflash.  You can temporarily fix it by changing the coding with a VCDS cable as shown in this writuep.  As of mid 2011, VW Golf should have the indirect system that works off the ABS sensors instead of having sensors in the wheels.....

.....The rest of this article is for forum members only!  Please join our free community to view the rest of this article including the topics below.  A direct link to the rest of this article is here.

Engine oil technical service bulletin

Production videos of the Golf

Fuel filter wear check

Emissions system filter check

Can't find your answer on the 2010 or 2011 VW Golf TDI?  Search the myturbodiesel.com FAQ and forums: