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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Yesterday, April 5th 2009, while traveling 5+ hours from home we stopped at a BP station for fuel. After refilling the tank we attempted to restart the vehicle. The engine cranked for about 1 ½ seconds, didn't start, and then exploded with a really impressive bang and a quick puff of smoke. When the hood was raised we saw that the engine’s plastic intake manifold was blown wide open.

This is a 2008 Touareg VR6 engine, purchased new in September 2008 with just 5080 miles on it… and it’s totally disabled, a dead vehicle.

I had it towed to the local VW dealer and of course it’s repairable under VW of A warranty: new intake manifold, charcoal canister, etc, rental car back to Chicago.

I have several questions, starting with how/why did this happen? Is it common? Has it happened to anyone else? And since it has happened to me, how can I ever depend on this vehicle again?
 

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I have several questions, starting with how/why did this happen? Is it common?
Looks like there's a lot of oil in the plenum... Perhaps a buildup of fumes ignited after a backfire through the intake? It's not uncommon on modified cars but sure as sh*t shouldn't happen on a 2008 anything.
 

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WOW! :shock::shock::shock:

I've never even heard of that on a VR6, let alone seen it. That must have been one hell of a backfire to blow out the manifold. I'd be concerned with what caused it in the first place, and also hope that the engine didn't swallow any of the chunks of the manifold down the intake valves.

Good Luck,
Matt
 

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Usually something like that would be caused by a timing failure,sort of like the intake valve was open when the sparkplug ignited,scarey
 

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WOw, never heard or seen this happen to a VR6 of any displacement...the good news is its still under warranty. This sucks for sure, and I would be upset if it happened to me, but be sure to put it in perspective and not let it get you down...its not like its an artificial heart that failed, its just a vehicle. They will fix it and I'm sure it'll never happen again.
 

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There's nothing funny or new about this engine. We all know VR6's have been used for years in VW's with great success. The 3.6 however, is an FSI engine and it's the first VR that I know of with direct injection, but FSI technology is also well proven in other VW products.

This is really freaky. Wouldn't be surprised if we never see this type of failure again.

Looks like you just had to get the one bad apple. :(

Good Luck. I hope they get it sorted quick.
 

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Wow!! I've seen this happen, but on race cars when people try to run waaaay to much nitrous and they don't have the proper tune for it. That really sucks especially since it 's practically new, what dealer did you buy it from? Along with Matt, I sure do hope the throttle was closed when that happened and that none of the plastic got into the motor.. Good luck with everything
 

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The engine cranked for about 1 ½ seconds, didn't start, and then exploded with a really impressive bang and a quick puff of smoke.
JKUCSMA said:
Usually something like that would be caused by a timing failure,sort of like the intake valve was open when the sparkplug ignited,scarey
So, you stop the car for gas. The timing chain breaks as you hit the starter. At least one of the cylinders has the exhaust valves closed and the intake valves wide open. Gas is sprayed in and the spark plug ignites the mix. The explosion has nowhere to go except back into the composite intake manifold. The composite fails to contain the explosion.

Yes, it all fits. BigRedDog keep us informed. Let's see if JKUCSMA nailed it.
 

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3 general possibilities...
jk's suggestion, Bag's question, leaky fuel pressure reg.

Either way, be very, very glad the manifold is "plastic" - it's a very easy fix.
Metal manifolds will fail as well (no manifold can handle those pressures), and the results can be far more, shall we say - spectacular (holes in hoods, grills, etc.).

Good luck & keep us posted.

J
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Gentlemen:

Thanks for all your comments. I'll respond to your quries the best I can.

Grey Matter: Backfire... --- very possible

Vegas Matt: Open wide and swallow... --- Let's hope not. It sure looks like the blast went from right to left (bottom left photo).

JKUCSMA: Timing failure... --- Good guess, my service manager and the VW regional case manager suggested a cam failure or a problem with the variable valve timing... with a spark ignition.

Nickm: ... and it will never happen again --- It will never happen again only if they identify the cause.

AndrieK: One bad apple --- The problem is that if there's one there's bound to be another.

Spockcat: Boom --- My son said it wasn't as good as our old homemade works. (He's right!)

Chitown alex: Really sucks --- damn straight. I'll tell you about my dealers later, right now they're my best friends.

Nickyt: Timing chain breaks (we'll see), intake valve open (it looks like two cylinder plenum were blown open, 2 and 5 counting from either end), gas, spark --- yea, yea, yea… I’m starting to see the picture.

Bagger: Right fuel --- 93 octane, since new.

2vwatatime: Metal manifolds --- I've had backfires before, but they've always gone back out the exhaust without ever damaging the exhaust header, pipes or muffler. The use of plastic in the intake manifold was most likely a weight savings strategy. I'm sure they weighed the consequences.

So in summary let me clarify how serious I believe this problem to be. If the source of this problem is not identified, it is going to happen again. And when it blows, I don’t want to be in it…

Thanks again for all your input.

 

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No offense, but you're confusing intake & exhaust (far more common) events. Trust me on this, but you most certainly do not want a metal intake if it's the fuel reg...
J
 

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Holy Shnickey! Thank goodness for warranties! kaboom
 

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Wow! That just hurts to see that!
 

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I cannot be certain of how similar the two engines are, but you may consider checking out the B6 Passat forum over on VWVortex. There are MANY owners on there with blown (for various reasons) 3.6 VR6s.
 

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I think the general Achilles Heel with the 3.6 is a bolt on the oil pump that comes loose or shears off, causing oil pressure issues that can lead to engine damage. I thought this was an issue with the early productions of the 3.6 and has been addressed in the later ones, but i'm really not sure.

Matt
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
2008 Volkswagen Touareg – The Exploder and the Phoenix

Gentlemen:

The dust has settled - new title in pocket - VWoA has given me a new car.

Right after my last post, a VW service manager called to tell me that my vehicle had exploded because it had 18% alcohol in the fuel (VW only allows up to 10% alcohol). He said I must have gotten a “bad tank of gas, maybe E85”. He continued to reassure me that Volkswagen would repair the problem because the car was so new, even though “According to your owner’s manual the maximum allowed is 10%.”

So VW is telling me that my actions caused the problem and violated the warranty. How could I refuse their generous / magnanimous offer? Easy.

VW’s explanation of the cause of the problem was totally inadequate. Even if there was E85 in the tank there should not have been fuel in the intake manifold. Long story short, there was a problem with a valve in the evaporative emissions system that allowed a full tank full of gasoline vapors to be pushed up into the intake manifold. That and the apparent backfire constituted the required fuel/spark to ignite.

The lessons here are many:

· Don’t believe everything you hear.
· Don’t rollover just because your opponent is a big corporation
· Do understand how things work
· Do find out how if you don’t know
· Do standup for your rights as a consumer.

There’s more if anyone’s interested.
 

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I would say show them the receipt (with 93 octane) You had just gotten a tank full of gas right? As far as I know 93 octane does not contain alcohol? (I could be wrong)
 
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