Tuesday, July 7, 2009

 

Wiener Neustadt is half way from Vienna to Jesolo

No, we didn't get the distances wrong. Granted, Wiener Neustadt is about 60 km from Vienna whereas the distance to Jesolo is 600 km.

We left home in the dusk on July 1 with our van fully loaded, expecting to reach our vacation destination Jesolo by noon. Shortly after we had passed Wiener Neustadt, we noticed strange sounds under the hood, and the engine temperature started to rise quickly. “Stop engine. Oil pressure low.” destroyed our hope to reach at least a service station.

The towing service arrived promptly, we squeezed two child seats and ourselves into the tow truck and still hoped for a quick repair. The mechanic who first inspected our car suspected a more serious problem, and an hour later we had the sad certainty: our VW Sharan had suffered from a broken connecting rod and subsequent damage to the engine at less than 7000 km, “a manufacturing defect”. We would certainly not continue our journey with this car.

We weren't ready to give up, though. After all we had made travel arrangements, and the kids were excited about our first vacation trip abroad. Volkswagen offers a Mobility Guarantee, which sounds like you would retain your mobility when your car breaks down. It includes free roadside assistance and towing, which was indeed helpful, and a replacement vehicle of Volkswagen's choice for three days. Subject to availability, that is. Three days wouldn't helped much anyway but the rental car partner mentioned they had no large vans available for the rest of the year (mind you, this was on July 1!) and actually had no cars available at all, not even for an hour to drive to the airport to pick up another car. As good as the mobility guarantee sounds, it was pretty useless when we needed it.

It's summer time and most car rental companies were short on cars. In the end we managed to arrange for a reasonable large Opel Zaphira with the help of a wonderful agent at weekrent.com and I took the train back to Vienna to get the car. Meanwhile Andrea stayed at the dealership with two tired kids, not a good way to start a holiday.

We left Wiener Neustadt in the afternoon and arrived in Jesolo late at night, tired but glad that we made it after all.

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Update: The car has been running fine since the engine repair, and the dealer agreed to refund most of the rental car cost, so this has come to a good end.
 
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