Painless, like a winning lottery ticket in my case. They ordered me a new 2006 about two weeks ago, after offering me a new car in late May. I think they checked around after each shipment since then for an available identical one, but never located quite the right one.
We bought a 2004 V8/PPS on July 3, 2003 the day after the launch. The only fault that ever stopped me driving the car, was one single day when it emerged that the amp for stereo stopped powering down when the key was pulled and drained the battery--oddly enough I have a very early 996 that did the same thing. No big deal, jumped it and fixed after one day.
At the service intervals changed a couple of wood trims for cracked lacquer, stuffed some felt in the instrument shroud, new stepper motor, key antenna fixes, and over time pretty much every component in the TPMS as those parts were improved. In other words, neither more nor less than one should expect on a complex first year vehicle.
Earlier this year the KESSY system started to intermittently fail to recognize that it was installed on the car. That is, no "key not detected" on the screen, no opening or locking from the outside door handles, nothing. Reported the intermittent problem at 24,011 miles and got the car back working, but with the INCREDIBLY irritating new 2005 controller with the ignition key height test.
For about two days, then back to intermittent. Back to dealer, this time they offered me a rental SUV so they could work on it for a few days--fine by me, and my 4-year old daughter loved the "tipsy way back" third row seat. Parenthetically, they have offered me a loaner car various other times to work on the car, but we normally don't need it and this adds a lot of bother since BART is right there.
This time they--and I will point out "they" is Dirito Brothers in Walnut Creek--had changed out every part in that system with "known good" ones from a brand new 2005. Worked when I picked it up, failed when I got home.
After this--possibly before, it has been a while--one false start when the tech says it works, but naturally quits once it's out of his shop. Fortunately right in their parking lot, this time. So the VW Zone technical guy gets scheduled to check it out. Ultimately VW Zone tech guy checks out the car himself, acknowledges there are two other cars worldwide with the same issue including one teardown at the factory ((anyone know if this is true?)), acknowledges there is no known fix. The Dirito service people begin dilligently documenting everything, trouble ticket open 43 days.
Dirito advises me to to turn the problem over to VW Customer Service and "tell them what you want." At that point I was becoming accustomed to using the buttons on the key fobs again, as on most every other car in the world, only actually furious (livid) about the ignition switch height test. Some weeks later KESSY quit for good.
So I notified VW over the web, and asked them how to proceed. I did not say what I wanted, since in any negotiation the first one to name a price usually loses. And I wasn't really sure what to ask for. I even interviewed my friends at Range Rover service (everyone with a Land Rover knows the service people like family--talk about job security) during my weekly visit what I ought to do about this sort of warranty claim. They have their share of "can't fix it" problems since BMW never has coughed up a lot of technical stuff on the motors they sell to Ford. They figured having the manufacturer pick up a few payments while they worked on the issue was about right. There are no payments, but this did not seem unreasonable, although I had a major concern about diminshed value if and when I decided to sell.
After the standard two day interval, some poor soul in a call center (sounded like Minnesota) who is probably not allowed to order pencils herself, called to ask me please do not take the car back to the dealer again, and what did I want VW to do? Fix it, or tell what me we have to do to proceed.
New email to VW, pointing out this was my fourth VW purchase in five years--2 Beetle upgrades--and call me back with answers not questions, you idgits!! After this I get a call back informing me the problem has been escalated, and much more importantly, I start to get a call once every week saying "nothing much new, still getting all of the paperwork together from Dirito and Zone, just letting you know we actually are working on it." Cool, I am not mad anymore, but you know even if a dog did start the car it would still be in park with the e-brake on. And my daughter can't reach the brakes and the shifter at the same time, there is not a problem cured by her also not being able to reach the brakes and key at the same time.
Immediately after all of the documentation was in order, VW's first and only offer to me was a new replacement at no cost. When I finally spoke with the charming but utterly unreachable fellow who sent the letter, he told me that if he could not find a correct 2005 in a timely way, he could order a 2006 if I didn't mind waiting.
So we are switching to Wheat Beige/Teak from Offroad Gray/Teak, and paying to move up to 2006 package #4 (everything) from PPS. The car now has 31,000 miles and counting, so you could basically drive a base Beetle through the exchange of values here.
Most of you probably are aware that at 22 months/24,000 VW had no such obligation under CA law or the warranty, and since it is only about a $500 system that failed, there is a faint possibility--we will NEVER know--that I might have settled for slightly less and been perfectly happy.
I should add that except for some shine on the driver's seat and steering wheel, the car looks and drives exactly as new, pretty impressive. No squeaks or rattles, the paint, carpets, and all the plastic bits still look new, and thanks to the composite body panels not even any dings.