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Hello! New to the Cali Club, beware of demonstration Cali's!

A

Alan Gardner

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3
Location
Leicestershire
Vehicle
T5 SE 174
Hi there, I'm Alan, new to the California Club, can I introduce my fellow cali mates - my Wife Sharon and our Bichon Frise dog Clifford.

After many years of a 1972 Early Bay VW camper, we fancied both a more comfortable lifestyle and to get to places without breaking down! We decided to purchase our Cali 2013 SE 170 DSG in April 2016. An ex-demonstration Cali with 3,900 miles from VW Eurovans Eastbourne. Our experience has been good & bad.

The 'good side' - we have done some great trips in 2016 including a trip to Spain. The california is such a versatile vehicle for an everyday run around, such as taking my daughter Abbie to and from University as well as airport runs and carboots!

The 'bad side' We experienced poor service from certain VW commercial dealerships and a lack of support from VW commercial vehicles UK. Starting at the very beginning Saturday 9th April 2016 after a 'very brief' demonstration at VW Eurovans (as it was a Saturday morning they were keen to get us on our way as they finished lunchtime).

On first appearance, the California appeared to be valeted ok but on our return home we found the roof area was very dirty (mattress roof area). The roof mattress was covered in black hair (photos to prove) and we later found that the gas bottle valve was missing! I think demonstration California's can be mistreated on trial weekends. It is evident that VW Eurovans did not check and clean after demonstrations. VW Eurovans apologised for this and sent a payment to re-valet. However we decided to do it ourselves.

Thereafter we ran into other problems. Firstly, under warranty VW Parkway Leicester rectified the Control Panel that didn't show the outside temperature. The kitchen area had to be removed due to wiring fault underneath and they had the cali for 5 days. On this visit they also noticed a 'noisy injector' so the Cali had to go back for a further 2 days to work on the engine. We had to report another problem to VW Parkway Leicester on 14th July 2016, fabric hung out on the roof's closure side. This caused slight damage to the bellows fabric as well as a slight dent to the roof panel and roof pillar. VW Parkway Leicester said they had seen this problem before and repairs had been carried out under warranty, but first they had to get permission from VW Commercial Vehicles UK to do it under warranty. In the meantime, at the start of our trip to Spain (end of July), we were on the M40 and the air conditioning packed up! VW assistance was very good and they arranged to meet us at the channel tunnel. It couldn't be fixed and was diagnosed as a 'intermittent problem', rather than go to VW Ashford/miss the tunnel train we decided to carry on down to Spain. And would you believe it the A/C only worked in the mornings, and hardly ever in the afternoons when you needed it the most! On return, Cali went back to VW Parkway Leicester and found A/C had been over refrigerant charged.

After numerous calls to VW Parkway Leicester, it was not until early September that I had notification from VW Commercial vehicles UK. They claimed that the roof repair would not be carried out under warranty. They also said they'd only heard about the roof problem a week earlier, despite me reporting to VW Parkway Leicester in July. They had clearly 'sat on my complaint'.

Finally, to top it all off, the kitchen sink started to leak. We found water was filling in the cutlery tray below the kitchen sink. I suspected the leak was from the waste connection. I tightened it up and then filled the sink with water to test it, and to my amazement the water was actually leaking from a small pin hole in the stainless steel sink! Since ownership we have never actually directly used the sink for washing, as the sink is complete with a plastic washing up bowl which we used most times outside of the cali. Again, there is suspect that the vehicle went out on demonstration weekends (before our ownership) and it may have been mistreated by throwing cutlery into the sink. But even so, you'd expect a stainless steel sink to be durable and fit for purpose. Hence in my opinion the stainless steel is not of sufficient thickness/gauge. I have reported this fault to VW Commercial Vehicles UK who again refused to replace sink under warranty!

Since VW Commercial Vehicles have refused the above warranty claims, I have recently sent my complaint to the Motor Ombudsman who today informed me they are taking up my case with Volkswagen Group UK Ltd for adjudication.

On the point of roof closure operation, in my view this has not been engineered to be 'full proof and safe' in knowing the damage that can be caused! This may be a contentious issue but the way I see it is this:

California roof closure operation:


The California pop up roof operation is operated via bulkhead control panel. In particular roof closure operation commenced by pressing control panel button which pauses/stops. Control panel screen shows:
1. Roof bed down!
2. Shutter open!
3. Windows open!

Even though roof operation closure is paused/stopped, it can still be continued by further pressing of control panel irrespective of the 3 points being done or not. Surely continued operation should not be allowed until the control panel has sensed that the above 3 points have been done and closure of the roof can be completed.

To summarise, in my opinion, this is a fundamental design fault by VW Commercial Vehicles, in totally relying and being dependent on owners performing the above 3 points. If any of these 3 points are not done VW Commercial Vehicles are aware serious damage can be caused to the roof panel, roof pillars and roof bellows fabric. There should be safety/automatic features in place i.e sensors etc to confirm 'roof bed down!' 'shutter open!' 'windows open!' before closure of roof is completed. An operation of 'dropping windows' (similar to convertible cars) should be performed automatically before continuing to close roof, so air can be extracted from the vehicle.

I would very much appreciate any 'fellow cali owners' comments and advice.

Many thanks,
Alan, Sharon and Cliffie!
1/02/2017
 
Hotel California

Hotel California

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Welcome , great story....
We in Belgium say (translated) :
Don't buy a cat in a bag.
Don't know if it goes in Englisch.

Personal i would never buy a demo car that has miles/km on it , my 2012 SE i bought as a only showroom demo without additional km on it.

What do people do when driving a demo car.....?
Everything they would not do with theire own car!
 
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T6 CFO

T6 CFO

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I'll kick it off.
I disagree with your argument about the roof.
Yes it is over engineered and a manual on an Ocean/SE would be nice. It would make it even more complicated with the additional sensors you suggest. Also if the sensor didn't work what next, a sensor for the sensor etc.

Surely you have to take some responsibility for the way the vehicle is used. You can't engineer out every possible abuse.


Mike
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

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:welcome
On your first post. I'm sorry you had so many problems and a bad experience with your Dealer.
Firstly, I would like to point out that your vehicle cannot be a 170 or 174 engined SE as the 180 BiTurbo engine replaced the 174 in 2010. This is important as the 180 has a rubber cambelt which must be changes at 80,000 miles or 4 YEARS, regardless of the mileage.
I doubt if the AirCon was overcharged, more likely undercharged as it has to be changed at 2 years, REGARDLESS of mileage as it can leak through the seals over time.
As far as the operation of the roof is concerned I understand you are upset but the handbook instructions are very clear about the procedure to be adopted and if someone ignores the instructions and carries on regardless without checking then that's what you get.
Closing the roof produces a large movement of air and opening the wrong window ( on the windward side ) when it is blowing a gale outside could cause some real problems. Closing a convertable roof is a wholly different matter.
Hope you get it sorted and that it doesn't spoil your future travels.:thumb
 
blakeley

blakeley

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T6 Beach 150
Agree with @T6 CFO , this is user error and VW can't be blamed for this, we are all in the same situation and know that bringing the roof down needs some care.

Also we would also never buy an ex demo as most dealers use these for try before you buy heires where people treat them like trash.
 
Meoncoast

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Welcome:welcome

Even though roof operation closure is paused/stopped, it can still be continued by further pressing of control panel irrespective of the 3 points being done or not. Surely continued operation should not be allowed until the control panel has sensed that the above 3 points have been done and closure of the roof can be completed.
And how would the van know you have done these checks.

I must say having bought our 1st van as a pre-registered van it was as "new" on inspection and on collection I think it is down to the buyer to check on collection the general condition of a used van. If you are buying second hand you are buying a used vehicle Some dealers are going to be better than others. The VW waranty with cover you when things go wrong but not for user error.
I am sorry you feel how you do.
 
motacyclist

motacyclist

Colin
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Welcome to the club Alan! :welcome

Sorry you have had such a bad start to California ownership. As WG says, the 174 engine was discontinued in 2010 so this would point to your vehicle being older than what you have been led to believe; if it is indeed a 174. There are some cosmetic differences in the models so if you post a picture of the front of your van we can tell you if it is the later model or not. I also don't think the DSG gearbox was available on the earlier Cali, but I may be mistaken. If it is a DSG it is probably a 180 (4 cylinder) engine.

As other posters have pointed out, lowering of the roof does require some expertise; there is actually a roof bungie available from the club shop which can reduce the risk of the canvas folding out the wrong way; it costs about £12.

The problem with the kitchen sink has been reported on here before, and while stainless steel is resistant to rusting it can be attacked by chlorides (ie salt) which can cause this sort of damage to the metal. A replacement sink would be very expensive but you should be able to repair it by squeezing epoxy resin into the pinhole and then build it up on the underside.

The missing gas bottle valve is common to many s/h Calis as people don't realise it's part of the van, not part of the gaz/gas bottle.

I hope things improve and you are able to enjoy your Cali as the majority of us do.

Colin
 
larrylamb

larrylamb

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Hi Alan, welcome to the club. I am wondering how a 3 year old Cali can be a demo. Most demos are sold after approx 3 months in the showroom. Very low miles for that age, but why a dirty mattress etc??? Can you post any pics of your Cali. It doesn't fill me with confidence for that dealer, not the best introduction for you. Hope things get better.
 
Jay586

Jay586

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591
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North Wales
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N/A
I'd concur, never heard of a demo of that age.

Generally, they're turned over every quarter at bigger dealerships and VW control their sale price. I've just bought a pre-reg van (ended up as 1st owner, yay) so been discussing this with various dealers.
 
CYCLOPATH

CYCLOPATH

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925
Location
South Perrott
Vehicle
T5 SE 180
Hi Alan, welcome to the club. I am wondering how a 3 year old Cali can be a demo. Most demos are sold after approx 3 months in the showroom. Very low miles for that age, but why a dirty mattress etc??? Can you post any pics of your Cali. It doesn't fill me with confidence for that dealer, not the best introduction for you. Hope things get better.
Yeah, my demo had 30 miles on the clock, I think(hope) I got a really good deal, seems so 16 months on
 
GrannyJen

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I'm sorry to anyone who has had a bad experience lowering the roof but it is user responsibility.

I don't trust a thing except my own eyes. Even then I have been dumb enough to be so complacent that I have trapped the fabric. It takes 20 seconds to shift one's butt out of a Cali with a half-lowered roof, nip to the back, do an eyeball check, and pop back in to continue lowering.

If it's terribly stormy, and I seem to have a disposition to lowering in stormy weather, then jump out 2-3-4-5 times, whatever it takes. It's my vehicle and I am going to take care of it, not rely on anyone else or a handbook.
 
MrCaliMan

MrCaliMan

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24
Location
New Forest
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T5 SE 130
Welcome to the club Alan! :welcome

Sorry you have had such a bad start to California ownership. As WG says, the 174 engine was discontinued in 2010 so this would point to your vehicle being older than what you have been led to believe; if it is indeed a 174. There are some cosmetic differences in the models so if you post a picture of the front of your van we can tell you if it is the later model or not. I also don't think the DSG gearbox was available on the earlier Cali, but I may be mistaken. If it is a DSG it is probably a 180 (4 cylinder) engine.

As other posters have pointed out, lowering of the roof does require some expertise; there is actually a roof bungie available from the club shop which can reduce the risk of the canvas folding out the wrong way; it costs about £12.

The problem with the kitchen sink has been reported on here before, and while stainless steel is resistant to rusting it can be attacked by chlorides (ie salt) which can cause this sort of damage to the metal. A replacement sink would be very expensive but you should be able to repair it by squeezing epoxy resin into the pinhole and then build it up on the underside.

The missing gas bottle valve is common to many s/h Calis as people don't realise it's part of the van, not part of the gaz/gas bottle.

I hope things improve and you are able to enjoy your Cali as the majority of us do.

Colin
DSG was available on the 5cyl 174 :thumb
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

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Somehow I don't think the Original Poster OP, has got the answers/comments he wanted.:(
 
motacyclist

motacyclist

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DSG was available on the 5cyl 174 :thumb
Cheers, I wasn't sure if is was a more conventional auto. :thanks

Somehow I don't think the Original Poster OP, has got the answers/comments he wanted.:(

No, he's not been back as yet. Maybe he missed the email notification on the first reply and hasn't logged back in ...
 
WelshGas

WelshGas

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Cheers, I wasn't sure if is was a more conventional auto. :thanks



No, he's not been back as yet. Maybe he missed the email notification on the first reply and hasn't logged back in ...
Probably saw the first 4 posts as he signed off at 8.19pm that evening. Pity.
 
Borris

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Hello Alan and Sharon,
Welcome to the club. Despite your recent problems I sincerly hope that you have many happy adventures in your Cali.

I am confused! Why are you describing your Cali as an ex demo? Demonstrators are usually sold on after a few short months, whereas yours was around three years old when you bought it.

IMO there is absolutely nothing wrong with buying an ex demo vehicle providing that the buyer checks it over properly prior to parting with the balance. I have purchased two Calis in the last sixteen months. I picked them both up after their three month dealer demo period was over and found both to have been beautifully prepared. Both were in mint, as new condition. I am also confident that the dealer in question, (SMG Tonbridge), would have rectified any faults had there been any.
When buying an ex demo vehicle the buyer must except that it may get used in the demo period and will therefore have some miles on the clock. That's the price the buyer pays to make a substantial saving off the new price. The thing he/she must ensure is that their dealer only does accompanied test drives and doesn't hire or lend it out. I also recommend agreeing a maximum mileage limit.
When it comes to collecting the vehicle it is down to the buyer to check it thoroughly to ensure that it is in as new condition. If it isn't, then the buyer must insist that the dealer rectifies any faults or damage before parting with their hard earned. Don't forget that the vehicle will still have the balance of the manufacturers warrantee. If the dealer refuses to rectify the issues then the buyer should walk away. It's either the wrong vehicle, the wrong dealership or both.
Also my experience is that if you agree to buy the vehicle before the end of the three month demo period you still qualify for the excellent extended warrantee and servicing packages. I have also insured both of our vans through the Caravan Club with two year new for old GAP type insurance as one of their benefits.
So what's not to like?
I would also like to point out that by buying a ex demo from a reputable dealership, any issues that the new vehicle had, should have shown themselves and hopefully been rectified prior to the buyer collecting it. As this forum testifies, buying brand new doesn't guarantee you a fault free vehicle.

Regarding the roof issue, these vehicles are complicated and damage can be caused if the instructions in the owners manual aren't followed fully. I think that every new owner needs to read thoroughly the section of the manual on operating the roof before going anywhere near it. These instructions should be followed to the letter and the operation not hurried in any way. To assist in this process I would suggest that lowering the roof is a two person job where ever possible. In our case, my wife usually does the button pressing bit with the appropriate window open whilst I check on the roof bellows as is houses. If anything looks as if it's starting to go wrong I yell and she stops pressing. I find it best to position myself at the rear of the vehicle where I dart from side to side checking the canvas. If I was on my own I would keep stopping as many times as it takes to get out to check. The number of checks would increase in bad weather conditions. I also advise fitting a bellows bungee.

As for your experience of the Eastbourne dealership, we also visited them when we were looking to buy our SE. Our experience was very similar to yours. They could't be bothered devoting any time or effort to our enquiry and instead suggested that we went to their other branch. It seemed to us that they really couldn't wait to show us the door. We also received a similar response from another branch near us. On the other hand SMG Tonbridge were the total opposite. They couldn't have been more helpful.
 
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