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2016 TDI | Dealer says I need to "recalibrate the entire system" after refilling DEF

All,

I have a 2016 TDI and had to refill the DEF tank for the first time. The alarm in the console gave me a range of 500 miles before it wouldn't let me restart the engine. I bought PEAK DEF fluid making sure it lined up with the requirements in the owners manual and added 4.5 gallons. The warning wouldn't disappear, even after following the steps to reset the sensor.

"I started the car without putting the foot on the brake and left it like that for 90 seconds."

I ended up taking it to the dealer, probably the worst experience I've had at a dealer but that's another story, and they said

"The sensor needed to be recalibrated. We have special software that resets and recalibrates the DEF sensor and it's a dealer specific software that's not available to you." They then charged for $180 . So my question is....

- Is this dealer speak and is it as simple as plugging in a port scanner into the OBD2 port and clearing the codes?

- What is the right procedure to not end up in this position. I replaced the DEF fluid within a day of the
warning....should I have done something else?

Thoughts and feedback are most appreciated.
 

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All,

I have a 2016 TDI and had to refill the DEF tank for the first time. The alarm in the console gave me a range of 500 miles before it wouldn't let me restart the engine. I bought PEAK DEF fluid making sure it lined up with the requirements in the owners manual and added 4.5 gallons. The warning wouldn't disappear, even after following the steps to reset the sensor.

"I started the car without putting the foot on the brake and left it like that for 90 seconds."

I ended up taking it to the dealer, probably the worst experience I've had at a dealer but that's another story, and they said

"The sensor needed to be recalibrated. We have special software that resets and recalibrates the DEF sensor and it's a dealer specific software that's not available to you." They then charged for $180 . So my question is....

- Is this dealer speak and is it as simple as plugging in a port scanner into the OBD2 port and clearing the codes?

- What is the right procedure to not end up in this position. I replaced the DEF fluid within a day of the
warning....should I have done something else?

Thoughts and feedback are most appreciated.
I would get my own OBDII scanner, and try clearing it myself.
 

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Where are you in the world?

Click on User CP to update your profile with your model, year and location.

If you are in the US I believe you should have been covered by your extended VW warranty as there was a fault in the system if it needed resetting as you describe.
 

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1. Fill up with DEF to the brim. About 4 to 4.5 gallon tank capacity, maybe a bit more.

2. Turn on ignition with foot OFF of the brake pedal, for 30 seconds.

3. Turn off the ignition.


That should clear the DEF light in the dash.


Your dealership tried to hose you.

Lesson learned: Keep your DEF tank filled up and topped off, so you never see that light again.


Note: time for 30 seconds, not 90 seconds, see if you have better luck.
 

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I would get my own OBDII scanner, and try clearing it myself.
I would know what I'm talking about before telling others to buy unnecessary things.

OP, you got hosed.... I would have serious words with the dealer, and even get VW Corporate involved. I would also not ever go back to that dealer for anything ever again.

These vehicles\systems can be overwhelming, so if you're going to purely rely on the dealers, you will spend a lot. There's lots of knowledge on the net (and even around here...... some is even correct ;) ) so if you're wanting to educate yourself, the opportunity exists.

I'm also fairly certain that the reset procedure is covered in the owners manual, but I gather you didn't bother to read that since you got yourself into this situation..... (read, learn from your experience)
 

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Same thing happened to me around 20K miles. My tank was filled at the dealership during a routine maintenance. The following week, the countdown began. Took it back, they reset it, I drove away, and 3 minutes later the countdown began again... Took it in, and left it there the following day, got a loaner. They had to reprogram the system with help from Germany. Took over a day. But they replaced NO parts during the process. Something having to do with the tank level sensor.

Anyway, it has been fine ever since then, it was under warranty. The AdBlue tank heater failed at a later date after 36K (shorting out) which was replaced by the dealer (and I was charge $100 deductible from my extended warranty) who said it was not part of powertrain warranty or emissions. Sigh.

6 months later, during the court investigation for dieselgate, out of the blue, I got a refund check of $106.35 for the money I paid for the repair, unasked for. Plus it was replaced AGAIN as part of the dieselgate emission fix package with a different part number a couple years ago.

Something is definitely wrong with the people at these dealerships. They abuse their customers, lie about warranty work, lie about mistakes they make in the service area, blame customers for failures. I am truly disgusted with two VW dealerships near me. 5 times I have caught them out (2 service departments) in trying to charge me for work they were either told NOT to perform, or work they said they did but did NOT perform, or mistakes they made, then blamed me for the failure later.....I have NO trust in them at all whatsoever. It's why I just did my own oil change and transmission fluid change myself, and I am still under the 10/100 powertrain and my extended warranty is still in force. I just hate going there now. Only for a system failure. Never for maintenance.
 

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I wonder if you need to do the 'adaption re-learning procedure for the tank level sensor. I saw the option, digging around my Q7's available options in VCDS. I'd go out and check, but mine is still at the dealer.
 

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Something for everyone to remember that have had the emission fix done is you are entitled to free Adblue fills. See page 5 of the this attachment. https://www.vwdiesellookup.com/pdf/VWCourtSettlement_Emissions_Disclosure_3L_SubGen1_Final.pdf
I've had it topped off 3 times and all 3 times I've had to show the service manager this booklet as they are clueless.

You are also entitled to a free tank of fuel when your vehicle is in for the fix. Something I also had to fight with my dealer over.
 

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Not too long after I bought my "new, fixed" 2016 Treg (May 2018, 200 miles from home) my DEF warning light went off (the fuel tank ws full, the DEF obviously not). I took it to my preferred VW nearby dealer and the on-duty Svc Mgr was great. No problem, have a seat and we'll fill the tank, it'll take about 30 minutes. He was correct. I thanked him and he said "any time" if my DEF light came on, just bring it in--no appt necessary--and they'd fill it for free. Great!

Recently my light came on again, while on a 1000 mile trip. No prob, I was 250 from home. After getting home I took the Treg in to the same dealer and the Svc Mgr on-duty said "well, that's a customer responsibility" like filling it with diesel. I was surprised, told him what I had been told the last time this happened--unrelated to scheduled maintenance--and he excused himself to go speak with the "warranty manager". On return he said that there has been a change in policy. The customer is now responsible for DEF fill-ups in the interval between scheduled maintenance, including my situation with a new car warranty still applying.

The PDF linked to above is specifically for a 2012-2014 TDI, although I doubt that the year is significant in this issue. A TDI under warranty is the issue.

I'm reasonably adept mechanically, adding DEF myself is a minor annoyance and relatively inexpensive. It takes far less time than driving to the dealer and waiting!

And yet, I wonder. Is the dealer simply releasing itself of a small burden, or are they on firm ground relative to warranty responsibility?
 

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Same thing happened to me around 20K miles. My tank was filled at the dealership during a routine maintenance. The following week, the countdown began. Took it back, they reset it, I drove away, and 3 minutes later the countdown began again... Took it in, and left it there the following day, got a loaner. They had to reprogram the system with help from Germany. Took over a day. But they replaced NO parts during the process. Something having to do with the tank level sensor.

Anyway, it has been fine ever since then, it was under warranty. The AdBlue tank heater failed at a later date after 36K (shorting out) which was replaced by the dealer (and I was charge $100 deductible from my extended warranty) who said it was not part of powertrain warranty or emissions. Sigh.

6 months later, during the court investigation for dieselgate, out of the blue, I got a refund check of $106.35 for the money I paid for the repair, unasked for. Plus it was replaced AGAIN as part of the dieselgate emission fix package with a different part number a couple years ago.

Something is definitely wrong with the people at these dealerships. They abuse their customers, lie about warranty work, lie about mistakes they make in the service area, blame customers for failures. I am truly disgusted with two VW dealerships near me. 5 times I have caught them out (2 service departments) in trying to charge me for work they were either told NOT to perform, or work they said they did but did NOT perform, or mistakes they made, then blamed me for the failure later.....I have NO trust in them at all whatsoever. It's why I just did my own oil change and transmission fluid change myself, and I am still under the 10/100 powertrain and my extended warranty is still in force. I just hate going there now. Only for a system failure. Never for maintenance.
This is how they get the name VW Stealerships. Because of unscrupulous Service Writers.

In general, everyone at a VW dealership loves cars, and racing, and would rather be working on their own cars, not yours. Not many of them seem to want to work for a living, they'd rather be racing. Just my observation over 40 years with VW's and dealerships. Most of them are corrupt.
 

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Not too long after I bought my "new, fixed" 2016 Treg (May 2018, 200 miles from home) my DEF warning light went off (the fuel tank ws full, the DEF obviously not). I took it to my preferred VW nearby dealer and the on-duty Svc Mgr was great. No problem, have a seat and we'll fill the tank, it'll take about 30 minutes. He was correct. I thanked him and he said "any time" if my DEF light came on, just bring it in--no appt necessary--and they'd fill it for free. Great!

Recently my light came on again, while on a 1000 mile trip. No prob, I was 250 from home. After getting home I took the Treg in to the same dealer and the Svc Mgr on-duty said "well, that's a customer responsibility" like filling it with diesel. I was surprised, told him what I had been told the last time this happened--unrelated to scheduled maintenance--and he excused himself to go speak with the "warranty manager". On return he said that there has been a change in policy. The customer is now responsible for DEF fill-ups in the interval between scheduled maintenance, including my situation with a new car warranty still applying.

The PDF linked to above is specifically for a 2012-2014 TDI, although I doubt that the year is significant in this issue. A TDI under warranty is the issue.

I'm reasonably adept mechanically, adding DEF myself is a minor annoyance and relatively inexpensive. It takes far less time than driving to the dealer and waiting!

And yet, I wonder. Is the dealer simply releasing itself of a small burden, or are they on firm ground relative to warranty responsibility?
The free DEF is only to those who bought their Touareg model years that were pre dieselgate. 2011 -2014 and perhaps a few 2015's that sold before end of Sept 2015. If you had to take your Touareg in for a Dieselgate fix, you get free DEF, as compensation for the inconvenience of them lying to you about DEF usage for the sale of the vehicle.

If you bought your car and it's a 2015 or 2016, and VW had already performed the fix, you weren't promised the low DEF usage in the sale of the car, and you need to provide DEF yourself.



You can go to most any major truck stop and fill with DEF for about $2.70 to 3 a gallon, from a big pump dispenser on the fueling islands.
 

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Thanks for clarifying the dealer responsibility on the DEF post-dieselgate for my 2016 Treg. As I noted, putting DEF in myself (which I have done) is merely a minor annoyance. My confusion was due to the original comment I got from the Svc Mgr, who was confused himself apparently. There's a Walmart everywhere.
 

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The free DEF is only to those who bought their Touareg model years that were pre dieselgate. 2011 -2014 and perhaps a few 2015's that sold before end of Sept 2015. If you had to take your Touareg in for a Dieselgate fix, you get free DEF, as compensation for the inconvenience of them lying to you about DEF usage for the sale of the vehicle.

If you bought your car and it's a 2015 or 2016, and VW had already performed the fix, you weren't promised the low DEF usage in the sale of the car, and you need to provide DEF yourself.



You can go to most any major truck stop and fill with DEF for about $2.70 to 3 a gallon, from a big pump dispenser on the fueling islands.
Or Walmart for less than $8 for 2 1/2 gallons.
 

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BTW TB, although I noted the Walmart source for DEF, your truck stop recommendation implies that the source of DEF, provided it meets basic standards, is unimportant. I've seen comments elsewhere on ClubTouareg.com warning to only get DEF from the VW dealer for reasons of purity and/or warranty.

Do you have any technical thoughts on this matter?

Thanks.
 

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BTW TB, although I noted the Walmart source for DEF, your truck stop recommendation implies that the source of DEF, provided it meets basic standards, is unimportant. I've seen comments elsewhere on ClubTouareg.com warning to only get DEF from the VW dealer for reasons of purity and/or warranty.

Do you have any technical thoughts on this matter?

Thanks.
ALL DEF is identical. It is not rocket science. It is a basic chemical. Hard to make it "wrong".

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is a non-hazardous solution, which is 32.5% urea and 67.5% de-ionized water. DEF is sprayed into the exhaust stream of diesel vehicles to break down dangerous NOx emissions into harmless nitrogen and water. ... DEF is not a fuel additive and never comes into contact with diesel.
 

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NOX emissions are not dangerous. It's the other organic volatiles and crap in the air that tries to combine with NO that makes N 02 an attractant or a catalyst for problematic irritants in the air we breathe. Sort of like a symptom, but not the cause.
 

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So glad I deleted the AdBlue/DEF system on my 2015. Never have to worry about any of the bollocks failing or need refilling.
 

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And how is that post helpful to the OP, when you live in Canada, eh?

The problem isn't the DEF system, it's operator error. They didn't read the manual and follow the instructions.
The DEF system is problematic. Numerous reports of failed pumps, heaters injectors, etc.
 

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The DEF system is problematic. Numerous reports of failed pumps, heaters injectors, etc.
You do realize that was by design, so VW could bilk customers just outside of warranty for a new DEF heater element. The pumps and injectors weren't failing, unless in freezing weather and the heater had failed first. The DEF was too low a temp and freezing and building up white clumps inside the injector, not being consumed in the exhaust. The freezing fluid was wrecking the pumps and the injectors, clogging them. They even reflashed the ECM, claiming it was to help meet the emission standards, when in effect, they were LOWERING the dosage of DEF so they could get the DEF tank and heater past warranty, and bill the customers. It was found by attorneys in email conversations, to save VW warranty repair work and bills, and to stick the customer with the bill instead.

VW was mandated by the courts to redesign the heater element parts, as well as pump, so that it would last a full 120,000 miles without failure to meet emissions requirements by CARB.

As a matter of fact, it was impossible to renew registration in California in 2019 until the new part was installed, and proof paperwork that part was R&R'd under a mandated VW recall service campaign, and then sent off to the Dept of Motor Vehicles in CA with proof of service during registration renewal. I could not get my 2020 registration tag here in CA until the work was performed.
 
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