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    Thread: Should you buy a Phaeton? A warning to prospective buyers re: reliability and repair costs.

    1. 05-14-2012 05:10 PM #1
      I recently purchased a low miles (42,000), very well taken care of V8. Full service records, immaculate shape. In the few months I've owned it I've put 7000 miles on it and $11,000 in repairs into it.

      If you cannot buy this car with a full CPO, platinum warranty, do not even think about it.

      I have no idea what I was thinking buying this thing. It's wiped out a significant portion of my savings and I can hardly bear to see it sitting there in the driveway mocking me. If I were to sell it or trade it in at this point it would be at a steep loss.

      Buying a Phaeton was probably the worst business decision I've made in my life so far.

    2. 05-14-2012 05:14 PM #2
      Sounds to me as if you got a bargain! If it was a 2004, you probably paid about $15k for it, plus $11k in getting it up to scratch, so you're now driving around in a $90k car with 42k on the clock for the price of a Golf.

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      05-14-2012 05:22 PM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by j3w View Post
      I recently purchased a low miles (42,000), very well taken care of V8. Full service records, immaculate shape. In the few months I've owned it I've put 7000 miles on it and $11,000 in repairs into it.

      If you cannot buy this car with a full CPO, platinum warranty, do not even think about it.

      I have no idea what I was thinking buying this thing. It's wiped out a significant portion of my savings and I can hardly bear to see it sitting there in the driveway mocking me. If I were to sell it or trade it in at this point it would be at a steep loss.

      Buying a Phaeton was probably the worst business decision I've made in my life so far.
      What went wrong with it? Where was it repaired?

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      05-14-2012 05:45 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by j3w View Post
      I recently purchased a low miles (42,000), very well taken care of V8. Full service records, immaculate shape. In the few months I've owned it I've put 7000 miles on it and $11,000 in repairs into it.

      If you cannot buy this car with a full CPO, platinum warranty, do not even think about it.

      I have no idea what I was thinking buying this thing. It's wiped out a significant portion of my savings and I can hardly bear to see it sitting there in the driveway mocking me. If I were to sell it or trade it in at this point it would be at a steep loss.

      Buying a Phaeton was probably the worst business decision I've made in my life so far.
      You did get a very tough break on that transmission problem.

      The thermostat problem, while labor-intensive, is DIY-friendly if you do that sort of thing.

      I bought my Phaeton knowing she'd be a "high maintenance bitch". I like to tinker, I'd already had and used VCDS for several years beforehand, already had access to service manuals and other resources, and so we're a good fit. Even so, I did pay up for an extended warranty because a used car quite often gets sold for a reason, and that reason might not be apparent when you buy it. I would probably not be as happy with my decision if I wasn't doing most maintenance and repair work on my own.

      To each his own. I think it's reasonable to put it out there (again) that you're buying a car that went for $70-$100k, and the repair bills are going to match that, not the depreciated value. I still think they're great cars so long as you go in with your eyes open.

      What brought on today's outburst? Not something else broken, I hope?

      Jason

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      05-16-2012 02:48 PM #5
      I bought a used 2004 V8 63K miles on it for 17K (sounds high) in 2011. Since then I did a complete oil change (100 USD in parts) transmission fluid change (650 USD) injection clean (50 USD in parts) headlights (500 in parts) and wheel electronics (850) and a navigation anntenae (250) and airfilters (50).

      Or about 2700 USD in cost and plenty of hours under the hood. I can tell I was digusted with the previous owners and dealerships lack of proper maintenance even though the records showed the car be serviced every 6 months.

      Bottom line my total investment was about 21K

      However, once I fixed the car it rides beautifully like a 100K+ car. Better than the Audi A6 I was eyeing prior to this. The engineering is great but it was not designed keeping the service techs point of view

    6. 05-16-2012 03:31 PM #6
      How did you manage to do the transmission fluid change for $650?? And why would the car have been serviced every 6 months?

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      05-17-2012 02:06 AM #7
      Two days ago, I spent about $2,200.00 at my local dealer replacing two front headlight bulbs, doing the 50k service, and front rotors/pads (and I had the serpentine belt replaced since the front bumper was off) and replacing a side moulding piece that got caught on a curb when opening the car door. It is just part of the cost of ownership of this type of car. I bought it with about 15,000 miles on it and I have not spent that much to keep it maintained in perfect condition, on a relative basis, given the fact that the window sticker on the car was about $120,000 including tax etc. in 2006. I enjoy each and every minute of driving this car, which here in the U.S. is, I guess, an exotic.

      Steve

    8. Member Victor R's Avatar
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      05-17-2012 12:43 PM #8
      I have previously chimed in on costs/warranties, but feel it might be helpful to repeat myself on this thread.

      The Phaeton was an expensive car when new. Repair costs of cars, in general, parallel costs of cars when new - both replacement parts and labor, in my experience.

      What is now happening is that the only way to get a Phaeton in the US is in the used car market. One can now readily pick one up for under $20,000. The cars are holding up phenomenally well - I still get questions as to: "Is that a new Volkswagen" when people see mine, which are now 7-year old cars. One of mine has over 100,000 miles on it as well. The amazing thing is that I can't tell any difference when driving the one with 20,000 miles compared to the one with 105,000 miles.

      Given the age of the Phaeton, many are now approaching or beyond 100,000 miles. If one looks, for one, a Phaeton with about 60,000 miles is considered a relatively low mileage car nowadays.

      I have no doubt that with proper maintenance these cars will continue to last a long time. My thinking is possibly even 250,000 miles. There was a recent thread on this forum asking if 180,000 miles would be considered high mileage on a Phaeton - the responses were quite illuminating. Thus, I really don't see reliability as an issue with these cars.

      The Phaeton's lack of sales and lack of recognition resulted in tremendous depreciation of the cars. This is not bad, as buyers who could have never afforded one of these cars when new (myself included) can now readily afford them. I have seen articles that refer to Phaetons as the best luxury used car buy given the value (Price/quality). The problem is that maintenance costs are often not considered by eager prospective buyers.

      Even routine maintenance can run a pretty penny, but I agree that the value the car provides can readily justify these. Big repair costs, however, can drive one into the poor house. That is why I have advocated getting an extended warranty - either CPO or the Fidelity DriveEasy one sold by VW. One further reality, however, is that the cars are now getting so old that it is often not possible to obtain such. (Beware of sleazy extended warranty companies out there otherwise.) Thus, unless one has DIY skills far beyond mine or can set up a rainy day "Phaeton Phund" (couldn't resist), best advice to prospective buyers is to go for one with a warranty, or.... pass.

      Victor
      Last edited by Victor R; 05-17-2012 at 12:48 PM.

    9. Member george777's Avatar
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      05-17-2012 01:37 PM #9
      Quote Originally Posted by j3w View Post
      ...
      Buying a Phaeton was probably the worst business decision I've made in my life so far.

      I think this line says it all. It shouldn't have been a 'business decision'... you must've loved the car to consider buying it. Many times we've mentioned [here] this vehicle is not for the faint of heart.

    10. 05-17-2012 02:13 PM #10
      Quote Originally Posted by Victor R View Post
      The Phaeton's lack of sales and lack of recognition resulted in tremendous depreciation of the cars. This is not bad, as buyers who could have never afforded one of these cars when new (myself included) can now readily afford them. I have seen articles that refer to Phaetons as the best luxury used car buy given the value (Price/quality). The problem is that maintenance costs are often not considered by eager prospective buyers.
      You are absolutely correct. I bought this car thinking I was getting a Passat XL, for the most part. My warning is for prospective buyers who might be confused by the fact that you get a car that's appointed like a vintage S Class for the price of a Jetta.

      Quote Originally Posted by george777 View Post
      I think this line says it all. It shouldn't have been a 'business decision'... you must've loved the car to consider buying it. Many times we've mentioned [here] this vehicle is not for the faint of heart.
      The car is great, but I consider any big purchase to be a business decision. I like the car a lot, but I bought it thinking I could get a well appointed car for a low price and keep it for a long time without putting much into it.

    11. 05-17-2012 02:19 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by invisiblewave View Post
      Sounds to me as if you got a bargain! If it was a 2004, you probably paid about $15k for it, plus $11k in getting it up to scratch, so you're now driving around in a $90k car with 42k on the clock for the price of a Golf.
      $18k. Was immaculate, full service history, oil changed every 4k miles, 50k mile service done. 4th car in the old guy's garage, so hardly driven.

      The flashlight in the console even works.

      I'll tell you what, if nothing else breaks for 50k miles I'll revisit this thread bragging about how much I love the car, but today my pockets are $11,000 light and it takes me quite a while to sock away that much green stuff.

    12. Member george777's Avatar
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      05-17-2012 02:22 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by j3w View Post
      The car is great, but I consider any big purchase to be a business decision. I like the car a lot, but I bought it thinking I could get a well appointed car for a low price and keep it for a long time without putting much into it.
      There's always a risk with any pre-owned car, whether a Yugo or Bentley, you just don't know what you're getting into. Having said this, and with the amount that you've spent fixing up your car by now, I'm guessing it's up to your liking - or should be. Probably you've already taken care of most major problems by now. But it sounds to me that when you look at it it's just a painful reminder of what you've purchased - which is not a very good feeling (been there, done that). Maybe it's not meant for you to keep it for long...

    13. Moderator Paximus's Avatar
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      05-17-2012 02:35 PM #13
      Hi j3w,

      I don't detect a lot of brotherly sympathy coming through in this thread! Here's some: I think it's plain bad luck to have bought a car at book value in good faith and then your dealer says to change the gearbox.

      Maybe some alternative action other than the dealer's might have eased the financial pain, but at least it's done, and you have a good gearbox with warranty now.

      My own car? It is shortly demanding £4500/$7000 of turbos, after the previous owner remained silent on this issue but must have been aware. I go outside and look at it, scratch my head, get in it and immediately forgive everything. So far!

      Anyway, assuming you keep the car I really hope you can now get as much luxurious pleasure from it as its creators hoped you would.

      Good luck,
      Chris

    14. Member Victor R's Avatar
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      05-17-2012 06:13 PM #14
      Chris,

      You make a good point about lack of sympathy on this thread. I concur that there hasn't been any prior to your comments, though there was sympathy on j3w's thermostat thread and his transmission thread which preceded this one and addressed the problems with the vehicle.

      j3w, I do sympathize with you. Getting hit for $11,000 in repair bills (which, moreover, comes out to more than 60% of the original purchase price) (OUCH!!) is truly bad luck and most unfortunate.

      This thread, though, discourages buyers from purchasing a Phaeton based on "reliability and repair costs". Reliability is, in my mind, not the issue, which is a point I tried to make. Repair costs absolutely are, which is something that does need to be pointed out to prospective buyers, especially those who choose to "fly" without the safety net of a warranty.

      j3w, assuming that your luck doesn't totally go sour, I would not be surprised that you indeed will get 50K miles of trouble free operation and lots of enjoyment out of the car. I wish you only the best.

      Chris, thanks for pointing out that we should not lose sight of the impact of these repair bills on the unlucky and unfortunate.

      Victor

    15. Moderator Paximus's Avatar
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      05-17-2012 07:29 PM #15
      Well said...

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      05-17-2012 07:55 PM #16
      Last Friday, with a broken heart, I traded my W12 for a new Audi A5.

      Considering the problems I had with the car I choose not to offer it
      to anybody here on the forum.

      I still absolutely love the car. I just could not take the ongoing problems anymore.
      Every few days the check engine light, the subsequent visits to the dealer.
      Recently I started having problems with the TPM system. I really got fast
      with the VAG, it took me only about 3 min. to reset the error code and than
      the TPMS run for an other 3 - 4 days. Than a repeat. ... and so on.

      Last Thursday the sunroof suddenly opened during my drive home.

      Then one of the center taillights failed and boy, sometimes you wish back the good old times,
      when the only thing you needed then was to replaced the light bulb, but as we know that
      is not that simple with our car.

      I looked at other car's, but really nothing compares to the our Phaeton.

      I had intended to keep the car for good.

      It is my opinion, that the lack of able and caring service facilities is one the biggest
      problems.

      I have / had a extended service contract for the car. If I add everything up, I can
      say that the insurance has paid more than $ 15,000.00 on repairs.
      I spend about $ 1,200.00 on car rental and then several thousand's on regular
      oil changes, trans oil changes etc.

      I still have no regrets about buying my Phaeton.

      Here a note from the guy at Audi (he had taken the car home after I traded it in),
      he told me the next day: "wow what a car, why do you want to sell it ?". My guess
      the CEL did not come on while he drove it.

      So my conclusion, I must have gotten a "Montagsauto".

      In the next days I will put up for sale all the parts I bought and so far and did not get
      around to install.
      So anyone interested can contact me by email.

      -All parts for "keyless start".
      -A have a wireless back up camera with interface module for our infortainment unit.
      -Next is a (latest version) bluetooth module including the modified ON STAR buttons.
      -A full set of OEM Bosch OX sensors (all 8 needed) with the original connectors.
      -Both driver side lower A arms with the sway bar link and all 4 upper A arms.
      -And last not least a fuel filter (if wanted with the special tool for the connectors).

      On the above list you are able to see how serious a was about keeping that car.


      I

    17. Member JulianBenjamin's Avatar
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      05-18-2012 11:54 AM #17
      I had similar issues when I first bought my car at 33k miles. It was a CPO, so everything should've been checked and double-checked before selling (according to the VW CPO program).

      Car ended up being in the shop for at least a couple of days every other week, for a whole slew of issues. Brake light went bad and were replaced, headlights were replaced, nav was replaced twice, spare wheel was cracked and was replaced, trim was replaced, batteries were replaced, TPMS sensor and controller was replaced, bumper was replaced (my cost, as the previous selling dealership didn't realize there was an accident, and when they removed the bumper to replace the headlights, a big hole magically appeared from the bondo falling out), finally culminating in a transmission replacement at 70k miles (just under my CPO). Thankfully everything was paid for (except for the bumper) by the CPO warranty.

      However, I'm now at 123k miles, and since my transmission replacement, nothing's broken or gone wrong, except for my fuel pump at 120k. And I think it's the greatest car ever.

      So don't worry; you'll get there. It just needs some nurturing.

      Edit: forgot about replacing 3 cracked wheels at my cost at $500 each. Eventually ended up with Bentley wheels.
      -Julian

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      05-18-2012 03:15 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by heisenberg2000 View Post
      In the next days I will put up for sale all the parts I bought and so far and did not get
      around to install.
      So anyone interested can contact me by email.

      -All parts for "keyless start".
      -A have a wireless back up camera with interface module for our infortainment unit.
      -Next is a (latest version) bluetooth module including the modified ON STAR buttons.
      -A full set of OEM Bosch OX sensors (all 8 needed) with the original connectors.
      -Both driver side lower A arms with the sway bar link and all 4 upper A arms.
      -And last not least a fuel filter (if wanted with the special tool for the connectors).

      On the above list you are able to see how serious a was about keeping that car.


      I
      I am interested in the backup camera, fuel filter with tool and the A arms.

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      05-18-2012 05:28 PM #19
      I'd be interested in the keyless start bits and/or the Bluetooth bits.

      Sorry to hear you had to let her go.

      Steven
      Last edited by StevenFT; 05-18-2012 at 05:33 PM.

    20. 05-21-2012 05:11 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by JulianBenjamin View Post
      However, I'm now at 123k miles, and since my transmission replacement, nothing's broken or gone wrong, except for my fuel pump at 120k. And I think it's the greatest car ever.

      So don't worry; you'll get there. It just needs some nurturing.

      Edit: forgot about replacing 3 cracked wheels at my cost at $500 each. Eventually ended up with Bentley wheels.
      I appreciate the kind words and similar stories.

      The fact is, when I am driving down the freeway at 90 or 100mph and the cabin is silent enough to use the speaker phone on my cellphone, the climate control system is pumping chilled air at whatever body part I choose, the seat massager is gently rolling my backside...the car is a dream.

      I just wanted to clearly warn any prospective buyers that there may be some holes in your research (as there were in mine) and that all this technology costs when it breaks.

      In addition to the Money Pit, I have access to a new Accord and a Jetta GLI and I never grab the keys to either, ever. Heck, if the Phaeton had the Bose stereo in the Jetta, I might be even more in love with it. The Accord was over 30 grand I think, and in comparison to the Phaeton it feels cheat, thin, flimsy. It's loud, plasticky...however it never breaks and likely never will.

      But there's this underlying feeling...like a pretty girlfriend...that you love...who cheats on you if you go out of town for too long. But, in comparison to the Accord which is an endlessly loyal boring fat girl...

    21. Member Victor R's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 06:43 AM #21
      ...when I am driving down the freeway at 90 or 100mph and the cabin is silent enough to use the speaker phone on my cellphone...


      Is it possible that some of the issues with the car may be related to driving style?

      Victor

    22. Moderator Paximus's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 07:35 AM #22
      I don't think these cars even notice when they are doing 100mph on a motorway. I know I lightly dip the accelerator to pass someone without really thinking much of it and my passenger says 'WHAT speed was that?!" and I have to pull up a bit, being law abiding by intention...

      Just check those YouTube videos of young Europeans listening to the CDs while chatting away at 150mph. Worrying, but awesome.

      Chris
      Last edited by Paximus; 05-22-2012 at 07:37 AM.

    23. 05-22-2012 10:03 AM #23
      I don't think anybody's doubting the ability of the car to cruise safely at 100+mph, so long as whoever's at the wheel is focused on the road and isn't talking on the phone at the same time!

    24. 05-22-2012 02:54 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by invisiblewave View Post
      I don't think anybody's doubting the ability of the car to cruise safely at 100+mph, so long as whoever's at the wheel is focused on the road and isn't talking on the phone at the same time!
      Cleaned my snow shields, they were caked with mud.

      Please edit to 115+mph.

    25. Moderator Paximus's Avatar
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      05-22-2012 03:21 PM #25
      Cleaned my snow shields, they were caked with mud.

      Please edit to 115+mph.
      Ah, that would be the 4x4 aspects, doing hill climbs ready to reach escape velocity.

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