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Student's experience of buying & living with a 10-yr-old VW CC in US

For a stage 2-tuned car with 2.32 lakh km on the odo, I'd say it is still in pretty good shape.

BHPian sarfraz1997 recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

Similar to most other countries, car prices dropped massively in 2020 during the first wave of covid, however, as things started getting better, cars got much more expensive, both new and used, with some new cars being sold for above their sticker prices too!

I moved to the US in Jan 2022, a time when car prices were at their highest. I immediately wanted to pick something up, and even went to see a few cars, Jettas with base 2.5NA engines were being sold for as much as $9K-$10K with 100K miles on the odo. It was absurdly expensive, and the cars were pretty basic, they didn't even have an MFSW or a radio with a touchscreen.

Having used a Jetta 2.0 TDI Highline AT back in India, this was very disappointing and I couldn’t convince myself to put down that money for cars so basic. 

Websites like Carvana and Carfax are usually everyone’s go-to for picking up used cars in the US, for how they are usually reliable, and how they keep things about the condition of the car transparent, this brings with it a premium of at least 20% on the market price.

The US has a robust history tracking system, called a Carfax report. Most FNGs and all of the OEM service centres log the incident history of the car against the VIN in a portal. The incident history can just be a simple oil change or an accident, basically, every time you take the car to a participating service centre, a record is added to the report stating the nature of the work, even the DMV (US RTA) logs incidents such as ownership change, loans etc. This report is available to purchase for anyone who can enter the VIN of a car on Carfax’s website, for $40. The probable scope of things being missed on the report is if the owner is a DIY person, or if the owner has somebody to come over and work at his place (Some guys who do this also log the records on Carfax).

Having fair knowledge about cars and experience in purchasing used cars, I knew I could save a bit if I can somehow purchase a car directly from the owner, Carfax report would help my case as it would give me the history of the car. Facebook marketplace seemed like a good place to be able to do this. Although I would have to be careful with potential traps, I knew I can try and manage the risk. I joined a few groups for used car sales in and around my city. In the US, a car’s “title” document is similar to the RC in India. More information about the list of titles is here. It is important to purchase a car with a clear title to avoid issues, and also not complicate the process of selling the car in the future.

I initially wanted to pick up a reliable Japanese car. Since I am currently a student here, it would have helped to keep my expenses down. However, the covid price surge made Japanese cars expensive beyond reason, with 2008 Civics being sold for $10K. Having seen how these cars were so inexpensive in India to purchase used ($2.5k - $5k), it was very hard for me to accept the prices and pay at least double of what these cars would have costed in India.

I later got busy with college and didn't have the time to look for cars, nor the interest after looking at the prices. Furthermore, I didn’t get to take a driver’s license after getting an instructions permit (US LLR). The one or two good cars and deals that I came across were gobbled up within a day or two. My college is 25 miles away, and I had to take two buses to reach there after having spent about 1.5 hours each way commuting.

I travelled back to India in May and got back at the end of August, this time with a renewed vigour to pick up a car. I knew my second semester was going to be relatively not as busy as my first, and I wanted a car so I can travel and explore. One week before I travelled back, I started looking on Facebook marketplace and groups, I started contacting the owners and made a list of potential cars that I want to go and take a look at.

The insurance for someone without a driver's license costs a bomb in the US, and there is a premium that drivers under the age of 25 need to pay (around 25-30%), furthermore, the insurance premium is decided based on the age of the license. I took a rental car for a day to go and check out the shortlisted cars with a friend who was over 25.

The list was: 2014 Ford Fusion, 2014 Kia Optima, 2015 Hyundai Sonata, 2012 Chevy Malibu, and a 2013 VW CC. All cars had a mileage of 100K-140K miles. The Fusion had an aftermarket exhaust, and the car was making more noise and power, the excessive drone of the exhaust made it a very unpleasant experience to take a short spin of the car. The Kia Optima owner was not available when I wanted to see the car, and the Sonata although looked good on the outside, felt very light. It is a common car in the US owing to how easy it is to maintain on the pocket, and also the features that it offers.

I really liked the Malibu, the engine and the car were very smooth, however, the car’s both original keys were missing and the lock was fiddled with which left evidence on the doors. I steered away from this one as I didn't want to live with the thought of owning a potentially stolen car. I wanted to see the CC in the end as I am biased towards VW, and I wouldn’t have looked further. The car had 139K Miles on the odo, and upon first impression, the car looked reasonably clean on the outside and the inside, apart from a few tears in the driver’s seat. The engine bay was free from oil leaks and unusual sounds, the interiors were in decent shape, and almost all the electronics were working.

I didn't have VCDS or OBDEleven to take a scan of the car, but most electronics were working. From my assessment, the car needed new rear brakes and lower arm bushes. It had an aftermarket exhaust from ECS Tuning, and aftermarket ignition coils, So I’m inferring that this car is probably running a stage 2 tune. The car drove fine, the gearbox shifted without any issues. I decided to pick the car up on the spot, the price was negotiated by 8.5%.

The Volkswagen CC was initially introduced as a coupe version of the German carmaker’s Passat. It was initially named “Passat CC” in its first generation which was launched in the year 2008. It was later facelifted in 2013, and renamed to just “CC”. The engines on offer on both iterations of the car remained the same, a 2.0 turbocharged V4 pushing out about 200hp and 281nm of torque, and the other engine is a 3.6 NA V6, pushing out about 276hp and 359nm, both engines are paired with the DQ250 6 Speed DSG box, albeit the V6 was offered with 4motion (VW’s AWD system). VW later decided to axe the “CC” nomenclature and replaced it with the “Arteon” based on the MQB platform in 2017, the carmaker’s current flagship sedan in North America. Although the Passat CC was spotted while testing in India, it never saw the light of day.

The OG Passat CC

The 2013 Facelift of the Passat CC ~ aka VW CC

The super stylish VW Arteon

The CC in 2013 was offered in the following trim levels : 2.0T Sport, the 2.0T R-Line, the 2.0T Sport Plus, the 2.0T Lux, the 3.6L VR6 Lux and the 3.6L VR6 4Motion Executive. The sticker prices ranged from $30.5K to $42k. My car is a 2.0T Sport Plus with the 2.0T CBFA 4 Cylinder TSI engine. Unlike VW’s other cars which are pretty basic in their base trim levels, the CC has always been the brand’s premium offering, as a result, even the base trims of CC are pretty well equipped.


The 2.0T CBFA 4 Cylinder TSI


The sport plus comes with quite a few standard features such as an RCD510 HU with a dedicated BT module, maxidot cluster, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, MFSW, electrically adjustable and heated ORVMs, Direct TPMS, auto levelling bi-xenons, automatic headlamps with coming home, leaving home and automatic wipers, puddle lamps, dual-zone climatronic etc.

The design of the car 10 years after the facelift, from the front, looks a little dated in my opinion. However, I love how the rear of the car looks. The car I picked up has “Niche” brand 19” aftermarket wheels in 265/30 rubber in the front, and 275/30 rubber in the rear. The alloys look amazing to me. But the owner skimped on tyres by going with Taiwanese tyres, although they’re okay for regular use, if pushed a little hard in corners, the tyres quickly start losing traction. The interiors of the car are very similar to those of a Passat, except the headroom in the rear is a little low owing to the coupe design. The windows of the doors are frameless, as expected of a coupe.

Insurance was very expensive. In the US, it is a monthly expense unlike a one-time payment for a year. I paid about $1750 for a period of 6 months because I am under 25, and my license is under a year old. The next day I started looking for places to get the rear brake pads and front lower arms replaced. In comparison, the average cost comes down to about $50-60 a month for someone over 25 and a license of 1-2 years of age. To my shock, the prices were jaw-dropping.

Most garages here are not interested in changing only the pads, and almost force replacing the rotors. I was given quotes of $600 for rear brakes, and $1300 for front lower arms from multiple places. These repairs would have probably cost around INR 20k at an FNG in India with the best quality stock replacement or OEM parts. Most garages don't want to let the owner bring parts, and even the ones that accept, end up charging the same.

I panicked a bit until I found a decent German car garage (Perri’s German Auto Bahn) run by a skilled individual who was into this for over 40 years. He gave me a quote of $600 for the rotors, pads and lower arm bushes. I was skeptical of the difference and wanted to find out the reason for this difference. After having a long chat on texts with him, he seemed to have good knowledge of these cars and was primarily only into German cars. He was passionate about his work and seemed to enjoy what he does. It was agreed that he will use German OEM brand lower arm bushes, and Taiwan-manufactured brakes. So I got an appointment and dropped the car. He wanted me to drop the car off early in the day and he can return it later in the evening on the same day. However, I didn't have enough time in the mornings to do this, So I dropped the car off in the earlier day’s evening.

I went back to take the car the next day. He showed me the old parts that he replaced, we took a test drive together, and it was all said and done. Because it was his closing time and I was also in a rush to be somewhere that evening, we quickly got through the billing process and I was out. However, the next day morning to my horror, I realised that he replaced the front brakes instead of the rear. When I contacted him, he said that the rear looked fine, and in his opinion, the front brakes needed replacement as the inner pads were down to the metal. However, the rear right outer pad looked almost down to the metal to me. So I was back to having to replace the rear brakes.

I later gave my DL test, and the person who helped me with the process gave me good contact of a mobile mechanic individual. I had a discussion with him. He was okay with me procuring my own parts and also helped a little in searching for the right ones. I ordered parts from FCP Euro, and once they were delivered, we scheduled an appointment and had the parts installed. He is a skilled individual too and has been in this line of work for over 25 years. His labour rates were reasonable, I finally ended up finding a good resource for getting work done on the car.



I had about a week of holidays in early October, and I wanted to go on a road trip to California to visit my friends from undergrad. Before starting on this trip, I checked the air filter, which was at least 3-4 years old, and also the AC filter, which was also at least 3-4 years old. While I was at it, I also wanted to get the engine oil and all the filters replaced. I wanted to get the preventive care done so that I don't have any issues on the trip, and so that I will not have to spend money on repairs while I'm still in college.

The Carfax history didn't show signs of the gearbox oil being replaced ever, and also the coolant being flushed. Knowing how DSG repairs are expensive in India, compared with the prices here, it would’ve forced me to sell the car for peanuts if something were to happen to the gearbox. I live in Tempe, Arizona which is quite literally a desert state, with extreme heat for 8-9 months of the year. Hence, I decided to get the gearbox oil replaced, and also get a coolant flush done to avoid any cooling system issues on the trip. With all the work done, the car was ready for the trip.

The plan was to drive from Tempe, AZ to San Jose, CA. The distance was about 720 miles each way. From there, we were going to drive to Yosemite National Park, and stay the weekend. Then come back, visit San Francisco on a day trip. Come back, and drive to San Diego to meet bhpian fluidicjoy, spend a full day going around San Diego, and drive back to Tempe the next day. The total time for this trip was one week. On my way back, a couple of friends joined me, to explore a few places in Arizona.

The total distance covered on this trip is 3300 miles, the distance is more than the distance from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. The car didn’t give any issues on the entire trip, except for a few misfires once in a while. This car needs 95-octane fuel, and I always use 95-octane. However, these misfires kept happening only when I used fuel from Costco. For those of us who are not aware, Costco is a wholesaler and offers the cheapest fuel. However, it always went away when I cleared the error with OBDeleven. This car probably needs new spark plugs, or Costco fuel is maybe not good enough. I get an average of 22mpg in the city, and 28-29mpg on highways if driven up to 75mph.

Issues that I didn’t foresee

The car was primarily used for highway trips going by the stone chips on the bonnet and the front bumper. The windshield was replaced sometime due to a crack as reported on Carfax. While the windshield was replaced, the person who did the job probably broke the RLS sensor. So this needed to be replaced. Replacement cost: $13, I replaced it myself.

 The trunk wiring harness (The harness that powers the tail lights on the trunk, boot lamp, boot unlock latch, and the boot unlock switch) is a weakling in CC. It has some design flaws which end up resulting in broken wires. This issue surfaced when I retrofitted the flip cam. I got a harness from China, however, ended up ordering the wrong part, which was wasted. I placed another order from Lithuania, and installed it just last night. Damage to pocket, around $95 including the cost of the first harness.

While I was driving, I got an error on the dash saying “Low Oil Pressure, Engine Off”. However, the car drove fine. Upon researching a bit, I found out that it could be the oil pressure switch. This switch is more like a sensor for the instrument cluster. So I decided to take a look at the oil pressure switch, which is fairly accessible. As suspected, it was leaking, and the connector to the switch was clogged with Engine Oil. Engine oil is an insulator, and it was probably not allowing the sensor’s data to be relayed to the cluster and was causing the issue. I ordered the part from fcpeuro and replaced it myself, the damage to the pocket is $7.



Overall, the car has been fairly reliable in the 6K miles that I have put on it so far, the current odo reading stands at 145K miles. For a stage 2 car, with 2.32 Lakh kms, the car is in good shape. I have pushed the car up to 130mph, and it seemed to perform just fine without any caveats. The initial generations of the TSI engines are not as refined as the TSIs of today. This engine, like the older TSIs consumes oil, I had to put in about a litre after having driven for 4.5k miles.

 Now coming to my favorite part, the retrofits:

Mk7 GTI steering wheel with Paddle shifters

I am a sucker for nice steering wheels. The stock wheel on the CC came steering mounted controls, but no paddle shifters. I started the journey of retrofits when I first read about the MK7 wheel on teambhp for my Vento. Although I ended up installing an Mk8 wheel in my Vento, I have used VW Mk5 wheel, Mk6 Wheel, and Mk8 wheel but never an Mk7, the prices were always too expensive for me to get one for Vento.

Flipcam

Although the car is fairly well equipped, it has zero parking aids. Not even simple parking sensors in the rear. After getting used to the 8K OPS on Jetta, Vento and Octavia, I was spoiled for this, and frankly, spending a little on the flipcam seemed like a better choice over having to spend a lot in the event of a parking mishap given the labour and part costs in the US. Furthermore, I really love how flipcams are so cool in having a dual function, and also how the camera peeks out only when the car is in reverse.

RCD360 Pro

The car came with RCD510 with BT from the factory, however, having maps is a must in the US, and CarPlay was hence a must-have. The cheapest way to have CarPlay was to get an RCD340. The OEM RCD340's got too expensive, and I don't really mind that this is not a genuine radio, my purpose is only to have working CarPlay, and it does this just fine, I occasionally use BT, and that works fine as well.

Check out BHPian comments for more insights and information.

 
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