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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During routine maintenance a week ago, my dealership left the coolant cap off. Driving on the interstate last night, got a slew of warning lights, alarms and messages (even got an email from my car) telling me to stop the engine immediately as it was overheating.

When I was able to find a place to stop the car, got another alert to check the coolant levels.

Once the engine cooled down, I pop the hood and see that the dealer straight up forgot to put the coolant cap back on and the reservoir was empty.

Filled it back up with gas store coolant and replaced the cap; the car seems to be driving okay now but am really worried about damage to the engine.

Called them today and they profusely apologized; they're currently flushing the coolant system and running a full diagnostic and said only time will tell if there was damage (and they will open a damage claim with VW if it appears it has caused problems).

Anyone experience anything similar before? What should I do?

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22 VW Taos SE FWD, Cornflower Blue
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Possibility of damaged headgasket or warped head. Hopefully not, but make sure to keep an eye on the coolant level and stuff going forward. Mistakes happen and I've heard of shops doing worse, but this is pretty bad. Make sure it's thoroughly documented that they did this and I think you should also try to get them to offer an extended powertrain warranty because of this.
 

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this is one of those things that could take over a year to show the effects. it also depends on how empty it got. Air bubbles in the coolant loop will destroy the water pump impeller in minutes from cavitation. you should get familiar with head gasket failure systems so you know what to look for. I'd demand the dealer perform regular anitfreeze checks for exhaust gases (for free of course). There three basic things that happen, coolant leaks into cylinder or oil channels and lowers levels. If your dipstick ever looks like a brown milkshake, the engine is done, that is coolant emulsified in the oil. higher pressure combustion gas leaks into coolant system causing acidification and blowing coolant out the overflow.


check all of these regularly!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
this is one of those things that could take over a year to show the effects. it also depends on how empty it got. Air bubbles in the coolant loop will destroy the water pump impeller in minutes from cavitation. you should get familiar with head gasket failure systems so you know what to look for. I'd demand the dealer perform regular anitfreeze checks for exhaust gases (for free of course). There three basic things that happen, coolant leaks into cylinder or oil channels and lowers levels. If your dipstick ever looks like a brown milkshake, the engine is done, that is coolant emulsified in the oil. higher pressure combustion gas leaks into coolant system causing acidification and blowing coolant out the overflow.


check all of these regularly!
Thanks!
 

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2022 Taos SE FWD Platinum Gray
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Sorry to hear of this. I don't take my vehicles to the dealer for anything but warranty/recall work, just not worth it to have to verify that everything has been done properly, and many times you just have to hope that that was the case. Had a steering gear box replaced on my Jeep, they didn't torque it down, reused bolts that are NEVER to be reused and left the reservoir cap on the side of the motor. When that box would eventually come loose it could have been deadly :(

Sure hope no long term issues from this @maxtm
 

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Sorry to hear of this. I don't take my vehicles to the dealer for anything but warranty/recall work, just not worth it to have to verify that everything has been done properly, and many times you just have to hope that that was the case. Had a steering gear box replaced on my Jeep, they didn't torque it down, reused bolts that are NEVER to be reused and left the reservoir cap on the side of the motor. When that box would eventually come loose it could have been deadly :(

Sure hope no long term issues from this @maxtm
OMG 😳 you should definitely make the dealer give you an extended warranty and have them pay for extra checks of the system. This is unconscionable that this should have happened!
 

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My 2018 Tiguan was delivered without an oil cap. Not quite as bad as your situation as the oil didn’t completely drain but it was towed from our house to our preferred dealer and they put a GTI cap on it (the Tiguan was too new and they had no Tiguan caps) andcleaned the oil splatters out from the engine bay.

As far as I can tell we never experienced long term ill effects.

As for your situation I can’t see how the coolant was completely gone yet you were still able to drive before warnings lit up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My 2018 Tiguan was delivered without an oil cap. Not quite as bad as your situation as the oil didn’t completely drain but it was towed from our house to our preferred dealer and they put a GTI cap on it (the Tiguan was too new and they had no Tiguan caps) andcleaned the oil splatters out from the engine bay.

As far as I can tell we never experienced long term ill effects.

As for your situation I can’t see how the coolant was completely gone yet you were still able to drive before warnings lit up.
That's a good point. My only guess is that it was the first time I was on an open highway without traffic and was going quite fast and it all splattered out quickly. Otherwise it's odd I got the overheat warning before the coolant warning.
 

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What I mean is that I think the service tech was exaggerating when he/she said the coolant was completely gone. I don’t see how it’s possible to drive a car like that unless you kept driving well after the overheating warnings and you say you didn’t. And so I would be less worried about permanent damage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
What I mean is that I think the service tech was exaggerating when he/she said the coolant was completely gone. I don’t see how it’s possible to drive a car like that unless you kept driving well after the overheating warnings and you say you didn’t. And so I would be less worried about permanent damage.
The reservoir was completely empty; however, it's possible there was still some coolant circulating.
 

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2022 Cornflower Blue SE DSG 4 Motion
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Running dry is highly unlikely. It would take a lot to fully evacuate the entire system. There are so many hoses the will have kept fluid. The fact you noticed quick and the car alerted you is good. The alert is set at a safe danger level if that make sense. Having an empty reservoir empty doesn’t mean all the coolent it’s all gone. Coolant makes a mess and can look worse than it is. The sensor for the level is in that bottle so that’s one warning real quick.

they have already admitted the error. Go get in writing. Let them rectify the mess up and if any single thing happens to that engine. They will legally have to fix it. call VW and make sure you have a case number.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Running dry is highly unlikely. It would take a lot to fully evacuate the entire system. There are so many hoses the will have kept fluid. The fact you noticed quick and the car alerted you is good. The alert is set at a safe danger level if that make sense. Having an empty reservoir empty doesn’t mean all the coolent it’s all gone. Coolant makes a mess and can look worse than it is. The sensor for the level is in that bottle so that’s one warning real quick.

they have already admitted the error. Go get in writing. Let them rectify the mess up and if any single thing happens to that engine. They will legally have to fix it. call VW and make sure you have a case number.
Indeed, they did write it down as I described in the service notes.
 

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2022 Taos S 1.5l AWD
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This is why I always check under the hood before I leave any mechanic shop, One guy left my oil cap off once, but I smelled oil burning when I got home and noticed it right away when I opened the hood. Trust no-one!
 

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That’s a good idea. I never expected to take delivery of a car missing the oil cap however.
They also delivered the car with the valet key insert thing missing from one key and it took 3 years for them to rectify that.
 

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My 2018 Tiguan was delivered without an oil cap. Not quite as bad as your situation as the oil didn’t completely drain but it was towed from our house to our preferred dealer and they put a GTI cap on it (the Tiguan was too new and they had no Tiguan caps) andcleaned the oil splatters out from the engine bay.

As far as I can tell we never experienced long term ill effects.

As for your situation I can’t see how the coolant was completely gone yet you were still able to drive before warnings lit up.
In delivery prep for my Taos at my dealer the guy doing car wash and final prep left a full can of trim black in the engine bay. I drove about 80 miles before back home popping hood & finding. It could have been catastrophic so I guess I’m lucky for the freebie!
 
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