2017 Golf Alltrack 1.8 – Tracking Engine Oil Color in Photos

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.

DARK -- Golf Alltrack Engine Oil - Tracking the changes

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.

*There’s no power up there, at least no more than say 5k RPM offers. It’s flat from 5k-7.5k RPM.

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Alltrack Ownership at 5k Miles: What I’m Unhappy With

Alltrack Ownership: In for Service

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.

33 MPG fuel economy in my Golf Alltrack
33 MPG fuel economy in my Golf Alltrack

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.

See my one-month Alltrack ownership impressions.

And now, the Unhappiness

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.

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Three Things I Always Do For My Alltrack

I’m a careful Golf Alltrack owner. Maybe paranoid. Whatever the case, I take good care of her.

  1. I never go past 3k RPM until oil temp is > 180
  2. 4/5 times I fill her up with Shell premium — 5/5 times premium
  3. I never take it to car washes

I have to work to get under 23 MPG city, for trips over 8 miles or so. The engine has loosened up. This is an improvement since the first month of ownership, when my Alltrack was averaging 23 MPG.

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Alltrack Highway Manners, MPG, Crosswind Behavior – Alltrack Road Trip!

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.

Now, complaints

  1. 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
  2. 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)

  • Rearview camera
  • V-Tex leatherette seats
  • Touchscreen infotainment with Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
  • Heated front seats
  • 17-inch Valley wheels
  • Off-Road Mode

Golf Alltrack SE (from $30,530 MSRP)

  • Panoramic sunroof
  • 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

Alltrack Value

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.



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After 3 Months: My JB4 Review

JB4 logged data - 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT

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.

JB4 logged data - 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT
JB4 logged data – 2017 Alltrack manual transmission WOT

See my brief comment about life with the JB4 here.

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.

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My Pretty Blue over Brown 2017 Alltrack

2017 Alltrack Night Blue Metallic w/ Marrakesh

She’s a Night Blue Metallic over Marrakesh V-tex leatherette (brown) interior. Manual transmission with a JB4 tune. Photograph 2 days ago in Denver. I never park where she’ll get door dings.

2017 Alltrack Exterior Paint Colors

Deep Black Pearl
Night Blue Metallic
Pure White
Reflex Silver Metallic
Silk Blue Metallic
Tornado Red
Platinum Gray Metallic

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Tracking Engine Oil in Photos on a 2017 Golf Alltrack 1.8

Alltrack engine oil — I’m tracking its condition over the months. I missed the first few days… so this oil progression photo log starts at the 30-day mark.

I’m drawing no conclusions from this. I’ll have August up soon, and I’ll take a better photo then.

All dates are in 2017. Oil samples taken from a 2017 Golf Alltrack 1.8 bought new in April… This is engine oil. The paper is photo mat board touched by dipstick.

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Tire Pressure Low, Right Rear (message)

Dreading taking the Alltrack back to the dealer 3 months after buying it new, I lived with this message and low tire pressure idiot light for a week. Naturally I checked the pressure with a gauge when it was triggered, and finding it to be within spec, I decided the car’s right rear tire pressure sensor was bad.

Then yesterday I remembered something in the menus: tire pressure calibration. I did it, and the message is of course gone. Whew.

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Ok, I Love My Golf Alltrack’s Backup Camera

What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.

It took me a while, but I’ve begun to love my Alltrack’s backup camera. It’s really good at showing me what’s down the alley — is a car coming? — while reversing out of my garage.

It’s useful for seeing what’s to the sides, not just what’s directly behind, because it uses a wide-angle lens. I’d estimate it’s roughly a 15mm lens viewing angle equivalent in 35mm photography.

Volkswagen calls it a rear view camera.

The Rear View camera helps the driver when he is reversing. The camera image in the display of the radio or radio/navigation system shows the area behind the vehicle.

Rear View helps with parking by superimposing guidelines over the camera image. These show the path the vehicle will take with the current steering wheel setting, and when the steering wheel has to be turned.

This allows the vehicle to be backed up to any obstacle, regardless of whether it is a bumper or a kerbstone. And coupling up a trailer is no longer a problem.

And of course it’s great for simply knowing when you’re close enough to the parked car behind you while you’re parking.

On my Golf Alltrack, I like how the camera is hidden inside the VW logo/liftgate handle. The VW disc flips up automatically when reverse is engaged, and the video from the camera is sent to the infotainment display screen on the dash.

Everything is automatic. I do nothing except put the car in reverse.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What I see backing out of my garage into the alley.
What my Alltrack's screen shows behind me -- AND DOWN THE ALLEY.
What my Alltrack’s screen shows behind me — AND DOWN THE ALLEY.

Backup cameras will be required for all new cars sold starting in 11 months, in the United States. Naturally, this is not applicable to cars made before May, 2018, so if you have a car made up to then you do not need to install a backup camera. It’s not retroactive in other words.

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