Dash Lights and Symbols – Warning and Indicator Lights

VW Dash lights and symbols

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.

 

Multifunction Display – Explanation and Use

2016 Volkswagen Golf cockpit

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!)
Multifunction Display top-level pages
Multifunction Display – top-level pages

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:

Multifunction Display - how to use the steering wheel buttons to get to the page you want
Multifunction Display – how to use the steering wheel buttons to get to the page you want

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

Driving Data page in the VW Multifunction Display
Driving Data page in the VW Multifunction Display

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. Here’s a dedicated post on Driving Data’s children and grandchildren.

Navigation/Compass

Navigation/Compass page in the VW Multifunction Display
Navigation/Compass page in the VW Multifunction Display

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.

Audio

Audio page in the VW Multifunction Display
Audio page in the VW Multifunction Display

You guessed it! Audio page shows… what’s playing. How did you know?! Station display or station list in radio mode.

Telephone

Telephone page in the VW Multifunction Display
Telephone page in the VW Multifunction Display

Information about the connected telephone.

Vehicle Status

Vehicle Status page in the VW Multifunction Display
Vehicle Status page in the VW Multifunction Display

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.

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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.

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.

A Lush History of the Volkswagen Beetle (Warning: Contains Nazis)

Fun in the sun with a Volkswagen Beetle Convertible
Image Source: Animalia Life Club

 

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.

Touareg Recall: Possible Gasoline Leak on 47,000 SUVs

Touaregs recalled

Today, Volkswagen recalled 47,000 Touaregs in North America due to a possible gasoline leak related to the fuel pump.

The recall is an expansion of this recall for 2007-2010 Touareg models.

Dealers will inspect the fuel pumps and replace them if cracks are found. Fuel pumps with no cracks will get a protective cover.

Owners will be notified starting Nov. 19.

See VW’s list of recalls here.

See the National Highway Traffic Safety list here.

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.

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.



My Alltrack Went in for Smelly AC Service… And…

Golf Recirc AC button

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.

Golf Alltrack unscheduled service
Golf Alltrack unscheduled service

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