So my siphon was dirty. Ok. Clean with water. Ok. But then since I wanted to use it right away, wouldn’t the residual drops in it introduce a “contaminant” in testing? Uh oh. So I blew out the drops with canned air.
One big problem – the engine was hot. This is supposed to be the right way, when the oil mixes itself when hot, as opposed to cold where given time, it’ll separate into components somewhat. Getting the siphon to work here was difficult, so I sucked the oil out of the bottom of the engine. Ugh. Yes, I tasted it.
This is VERY IMPORTANT if you are pulling oil from the top, as opposed to getting a sample during an oil change. The diameter of the dipstick tube is exactly the diameter of this siphon’s tube, plus a billionth of an inch. So, if you’re going to use a siphon, get one that is smaller diameter than 1/4 inch, or if that’s impossible, a 1/4 inch like mine will work in the VW 1.8 gasoline engine dipstick tube if you have patience.
1/4 inch is very difficult to feed into the top, where it narrows. It took minutes both times I went in for a pull. If the engine is hot, you’ll get some mild burns trying to feed it down.
In a word: yes. But only if the outside temperature is below 55°F.
It may sound strange, but this is a big thing for me. I want to maximize efficiency and as everybody knows, air conditioning is a hit to fuel economy.
So to avoid this I’d keep AC off but turn on the cool air — temperature dial on full cool and blower on 2 or 3. If it’s say 70°F outside and you need some cold air, this should work. Right?
Sadly, my Golf Alltrack’s climate control system simply doesn’t let cool, outside air into the cabin… there’s some degree (get it? heh) of heating that happens to ambient air.
So the outside temperature needs to be somewhat cold to get cool air from the vents. If it’s above what I’ve found to be mid-50’s, you need to turn the AC on.
No Climate Control Leaks
On the other side of the coin, I was happy to find that the climate control system doesn’t “leak” warm air into the cabin. When the temperature dial is set to max heat, and the blower is off, no heat comes from the vents. This is a good thing.
The opposite is also true: if the dial is set to max cool and the system is off, there is no cold air from the vents. The system seems to be buttoned up (heh, another one) very well.
If this sounds like I’m heaping praise on something that should just work, I am. Many cars I’ve been in leak and allow hot or cold air in when the system is off.
VW’s Multifunction Display (or “Driver Information Display“) is where you can see everything your VW has to tell you about its condition.
We aim to help you get an understanding of what Multifunction Display shows and how to navigate it.
This information applies to newer VW models, 2012-2018, including the fine new Golf Alltrack. (Shameless plug there because we have one!)
Your VW Is Saying Something
Think of the Multifunction Display as a collection of messages about warnings (seldom) or information (always). It’s not where you adjust any settings, that’s for the Infotainment system, but rather where you can quickly see what’s going on in your VW.
You page through them using the controls on the steering wheel. See below:
Use the Left Page/Right Page button circled in blue above to cycle through the five Parent pages. Use the up/down button circled in orange above to move through the Child pages within any Parent page.
In some cases in Driving Data, the information available to display is more than the Parent/Child hierarchy can show, so Grandchild pages become available. Grandchild pages are cycled by pressing the OK button, circled in green in the illustration above.
Here are the five top-level Multifunction Display items (Parents), in order:
Driving Data is the most complex but the most useful of the Multifunction Display pages. It holds information like fuel economy (MPG), average speed, distance travelled, driving time, oil temperature, current speed, and more.
It has 9 child pages, and 4 of those have grandchildren. We’ll make a dedicated post on Driving Data’s children and grandchildren soon.
Information displays for the navigation system (if equipped). When route guidance is active, turn arrows and proximity bars similar to the symbols shown in the navigation system are displayed.
If navigation is not equipped, it shows a 3D compass with the car image pointed in whatever direction it’s currently facing.
You guessed it! Audio page shows… what’s playing. How did you know?! Station display or station list in radio mode.
Information about the connected telephone.
Current warning and information messages.
This menu item only appears when warning or information messages are available. We’ve never seen any messages in it in the 2017 Alltrack test-ship. Zero, none, nada.
And That’s How You Pick Up What Your VW’s Putting Down
That’s the Driving Information Display, from a “10,000 foot view”. Later this week we’ll post about the Driving Data parent and its children and grandchildren. The rest don’t need much explanation, but Driving Data has more information than all the others combined, so it deserves its own post.
Well, here’s the latest. It’s by far the worst change from month to month, as you can see.
Since August I’ve been going deeper into the revs… 6k RPM to 7k RPM, now that the 1.8 is broken in*. If that doesn’t explain the suddenly darker-than-expected engine oil color than I’m at a loss.
I’m going to look at the air filter. See if that offers any clues to the dark oil. Engine oil should not be this dark after 6 months and 5200 miles.
I don’t run the car in dirty conditions, off road, inside coal plants’ smokestacks, etc. I always run 91 octane, every time. Running premium fuel is one of the Three Things I Always Do for my Alltrack.
My 2017 Alltrack has been in once for service of any kind, this one being of the unscheduled variety to treat a mildew AC smell. The dealer fixed a slow leak (nail) in the right rear tire for free. Tires are a separate warranty, between the owner and the tire manufacturer.
Alltrack Ownership: Fuel Economy
On the way back from a New Mexico roadtrip, my Alltrack averaged 33.6 MPG, which is not that great for highway travel, but at 77 MPH, which is nice and quick.
Historically, my Alltrack has achieved anywhere from 28 to 41 MPG highway.
Alltrack Ownership: She’s at 5k Miles
My Alltrack’s 5000 mile mark came right about at the 6 month mark… which is where I thought she would be. After all, I did buy the factory extended warranty at 10 years/100k miles. See what I paid for the 10/100 VW Alltrack factory warranty here.
The oil color continues to worry me, and now it’s really dark. I don’t like this factory scheduled oil change stuff. If it was my old Volvo 850, I’d simply change the oil.
The tires have no curb-rash bead to protect the rims, and so I’ve curbed them twice, leaving small “curb rash” marks in the finish. This isn’t so much a gripe with the car, obviously, but I think VW cheaped out on the tire brand/model, which is Falken.
The track is a little wider than my old Volvo 850, so my curb proximity sense is a little off when I park.
The 2018 Golf models get a 6-year, 72k mile warranty, which is significantly better than the 2017s, which were covered by a 3-year, 36k mile warranty, which was too low for me so I forked out a few thousand dollars to get a 10/100k warranty.
The seat continues to bother me… lack of thigh support specifically.
I’ve done about 350 miles on my Alltrack road trip, Denver to Santa Fe. Plus a few more dozens driving hither and yon to campgrounds, food trucks, and cafes.
Average speed is 66 mph, top speed was around 90 mph, and fuel economy is ranging from 38 mpg to 28 mpg, the lower number because of sometimes significant headwinds, perhaps reaching 30 mph. That’s my estimate based on getting out for a few rest stops and giving it my best guess. They were strong, pushing me as I stood.
My Alltrack is performing well. I can’t believe how good Apple Carplay is. Its maps aren’t as good as Google Maps with the odd destination request, like campgrounds. The routing for instance insisted I drive around the Santa Fe National Forest to get to the Black Canyon Campground, which was incorrect and circuitous.
Otherwise, CarPlay and its Apple Maps are great co-pilots. I don’t know how I did roadtrips before.
I use an app called Libby to listen to audio books (The Sea-Wolf currently), and of course it isn’t given an icon on the CarPlay desktop, but it is available under a generic catch-all icon called Now Playing. I can start, stop, FF and rewind with the steering wheel controls. Pretty cool.
seats — I’m just not happy with the base seats… they’re not as comfortable as those in my 20-year-old Volvo 850 that I traded in on the Alltrack
slight crosswind drifting/buffeting
Alltrack Roadtrip Capability Summary
If the seat uncomfortability thing was solved (I’ll post at length about this coming up soon – OEM seat alternatives), the Alltrack would be a nice inexpensive highway cruiser. Maybe the nicest out there. As it is, if you want long legs capability, go up trim levels to the Alltrack SEL.
Going up to the SEL is a big dollar jump, and it wipes out much of the Alltrack’s fantastic value. It’s the classic car value proposition: buy the top trim of Car A, or the bottom trim of Car B, which in this case would be a base Audi A3 ($31,200 MSRP) or base BMW X1 ($33,750 MSRP), for example.
Golf Alltrack base, AKA “S” (from $26,950 MSRP)
V-Tex leatherette seats
Touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
Heated front seats
17-inch Valley wheels
Golf Alltrack SE (from $30,530 MSRP)
Fender Premium Audio System
Keyless access with push-button start
Automatic headlight activation
Golf Alltrack SEL (from $32,890 MSRP)
18-inch Canyon wheels
Discover Media touchscreen navigation
Dual-zone climate control
Comfort sport seats/power-adjustable driver’s seat
I got my base Alltrack for $24,400, and considering its MSRP of $26,950, it’s a very, very good car. If the seats were great it would be the best deal in cars, ever.
It was covered. My 2017 Alltrack had an air conditioning smelly socks, vinegary smell since I bought it in April 2017, or to be very specific, it had had the smell since I started using the Alltrack’s air conditioning, which was in June. The AC smell was pretty bad, and noticeable only when the AC was switched off.
The smell came after the AC was shut off, and was probably a result of mildew in the climate control system, the Emich VW tech told me.
They vacuumed out the system and added a deodorizer, which smelled like cinnamon Lysol, if there is such a thing. They replaced the cabin air filter (pollen filter). The tech said there was some moisture on the filter. That alone could have been the cause.
Volkswagen covers one of these AC services in the first year of new VW ownership. After that, it’s $220. The service took about 1.5 hours, and my tech was very pleasant and informative. I drank coffee in the VW dealer lounge while I waited.
This was my Alltrack’s first time back to the dealer after buying it new. All in all, 5/5 stars… a pain-free (and free free) experience.
If You Want to Avoid AC Odor
My tech gave me tips on how to avoid the smelly socks odor in my VW’s air conditioning. The goal here is to cut down on moisture entering and staying in the AC system.
Less Recirculation button, or none at all (it frustratingly defaults to Recirc on)
Turn off AC before arriving at destination to allow it to dry out
About the AC Service at Your VW Dealer
20k maintenance pollen filter part of maintenance schedule
AC service — vacuum, clean, deodorize — is covered under 12 months/12k miles, otherwise $220
This is a non-scientific review. I don’t have drag strip run data, it’s only about my thoughts and impressions.
I removed the JB4 last night. I’ve driven just 20 miles without it today, and here is my review of the Burger Tuning JB4.
I think getting a read on the JB4 is made easy by removing it, just as much as it is installing it. The absence of the unit — after using it for 3.5 months — makes a difference felt just as strongly as adding it.
Without the JB4…
The midrange kick is gone – 2500 to 3500 RPM, of course
But the kick made the throttle touchy right where I set higher-than-stock boost levels (2k-3k RPM)
You know what? The stock VW 1.8 is pretty good the way it is!
I ran the JB4 with its stock settings for a month before increasing the boost at certain RPM levels… custom map.
I’m going to leave it off for a few weeks to get even more of a gauge on how much power is missing and how fuel economy is affected. While I had the JB4 installed, I didn’t notice a significant loss or gain in my Alltrack’s fuel economy.
After a few runs to Castle Rock to get some data on MPG, I’ll make another JB4 post, this one specifically MPG apples – apples with actual numbers.