What’s that light on the dashboard mean? Here’s a list! Parking brake, low oil, low coolant, ABS, high beams, tire pressure, low fuel, and all the dozens of others. They’re shown here with color codes so you can see which mean DO NOT DRIVE ANOTHER INCH and which mean “If you get around to it before 2025, that’s cool.”
These are often called “idiot lights” because they don’t say anything about why the problem is happening.
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.
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.
When it comes to cars, you can’t get much more iconic than the Volkswagen Beetle. This oddly-shaped automobile that was originally designed for efficiency and economy stole the hearts of consumers everywhere became cemented in history as the automotive symbol of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, and is still going strong with a base of devoted fans across the globe. Call it quirky, call it adorable, call it a “slug bug” if you absolutely must- whatever attributes you attach to it, one thing is certain: the Volkswagen Beetle is a cherished and universally beloved entry into the automotive hall of fame, and it got there by being its own weird little self.
Wait…What’s This About Nazis?
Want to hear something ironic? The car that became synonymous with peace, love and hippies back in the 60s was originally dreamed up by an individual with a slightly…different set of principles. Sort of the opposite of peace and love, if you get my drift.
OK, OK, fine, it was Hitler. Yes, THAT Hitler.
In 1934, after coming to power in Germany, Adolf Hitler commissioned Ferdinand Porsche (yes, THAT Porsche) to design a “people’s car” (literal German translation: “Volkswagen”) that was cheap and simple enough to be mass-produced so average German Joes could afford to drive on the country’s newly-completed road network. From 1934 to 1938 Porsche worked on the Beetle, known officially as the Volkswagen Type 1, though production was put on hold until 1945 as a result of World War II. When the car finally began to be produced in significant numbers, it became an instant hit with citizens of Germany, followed shortly by the rest of the world.
Meet the Beetle
Volkswagen Beetle was produced as a rear-engine, two-door, four-cylinder compact car. Its original design objective was to maximize efficiency and economy for consumers around the world. One of the first rear-engine designed car since the Brass Era, Volkswagen stuck with roughly the same design from 1938 to 2003, when the last original Bug rolled off the production line.
Mark I of the VW Beetle had 25 horsepower and was designed for a top speed of 100 km/h, or 62 MPH.
The 40 hp configuration that lasted through 1966 became the model’s classic motor, though subsequent variants such as the Kharmann Ghia, Type 2 (the official “hippie bus”) and the Golf began rolling off the assembly line to compete with the original Beetle for dominance in the European small-car market. In over six decades, 21,529,464 VW Beetles were produced, making it the longest-running, most manufactured car ever made on a single platform.
In 1998, Volkswagen released the New Beetle, a VW that tugged at the nostalgia heartstrings of aging Baby Boomers with its lines that hearkened back to the original Volkswagen Type 1. Built on a Golf platform, the New Beetle became a huge hit instantly and remained in production until 2011, when it was replaced by the redesigned Beetle A5, which remains in production today.
A Bug by Any Other Name
This may seem like common sense, but Volkswagen markets Beetles under various names around the world. Much like the way McDonald’s calls a Quarter Pounder a “Royale with Cheese” in France, Volkswagen’s iconic car has many cute nicknames in various parts of the world. In its native Germany, the Beetle is called the Kafer (German for “beetle), and here in the United States, as well as other English-speaking parts of the globe, it is known affectionately as a Bug. Say you’re in Paris:
… you can drive your Coccinelle (“ladybug”) up to the window at McDonald’s and order a Royale with Cheese, tout de suite!
Let’s face it: VW Beetles are adorable! Their round little chassis and bug-eyed headlights give them an irresistible personality all their own. There is no car on the market that embodies friendliness and joy than a Beetle. That’s probably why they are one of pop culture’s favorite automobiles. Back in the 1960s, the family-friendly Disney movie The Love Bug introduced us to Herbie, the anthropomorphic little Bug that can drive and think for himself. Herbie went on to star in a series of films including a fairly recent reboot, Herbie: Fully Loaded, featuring Lindsey Lohan. That’s not all- the VW Beetle pops up constantly in the media: every time a movie or TV show wants to portray a character as quirky or unique, the Beetle is the go-to vehicle of choice.
The Volkswagen Beetle is a thriving piece of 20th century pop culture that continues to be revered and celebrated to this day. There is no car more instantly recognizable (and certainly no other car that gives you license to punch a friend on the arm during a road trip), than a loveable, huggable Bug. The feel-good car that sprung from unlikely beginnings has become the subject of countless festivals and conventions to celebrate its existence, and will continue to be a symbol of freedom, individuality and love for years to come.
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.