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What VW Phaeton Owners Complain About

Jim Yu January 21, 2013 All Things Hoon 75 Comments


A lovely bunch, us.

Under the Phaeton’s audio controls are two identical ashtrays/cointrays.  Owners were complaining that they did not pop out at the same speed.  Enough people complained to the poor VW dealerships that the manufacturer actually came up with a solution.

Technical Solution 2013463, “Slow Opening Ashtrays”, instructs the tech to remove the ashtray assemblies, unscrew the J523 display unit above the ashtrays, place his hands inside the spaces where the ashtrays used to be, gently lift the J523 display, and reset the display down so that its weight is evenly distributed on top of the two ashtray assemblies.

Again, a lovely bunch, us Phaeton owners.

Image source: VW Vortex Phaeton forum


  • Jay_Ramey

    Why are there buttons and letters on that Empire dresser?

    Oh… that's not a dresser.

    • Polo77

      They are just pissed that they were the poor suckers that actually purchased a VW Phaeton.

  • TurboBrick

    Typical VW sloppy build quality. This is why they aren't a top tier manufacturer, they just push the cars out of the factory without bothering to synchronize the ash trays. "Let the dealer fix it", like malaise era Detroit.

    Dear VW jihad, please don't burn me, that was obviously tongue-in-cheek.

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      [youtube nd5WGLWNllA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nd5WGLWNllA youtube]

      • http://www.Hooniverse.com Jeff_Glucker

        Is that the dude from Iron Chef?!

        • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

          Yup. And I think he shared co-hosting duties with Seacrest during Season One of American Idol.

          He's like the Peter Scolari to Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies.

      • http://hooniverse.com/ Tanshanomi

        Dang. That actually makes we want a Pheaton. Thanks a lot.

  • http://hoonart.wordpress.com/ Bryce Womeldurf

    The idea of an ashtray being just below the stereo just seems wrong to me. It reminds me of my old '97 Sentra that had pull out cup holders right below the stereo. They resulted in quite a few wet laps (and I don't mean a wet race track). This seems like you'd end up with ashes on your stereo or possibly a burnt button or two. Not really great for longevity of an electronics-heavy car.

    • Manic_King

      Aah, but Herr Dr. Professor Haupt Engineer has designed that miniature chrome protector plate, visible above the ashtray, to reduce the risk. Probably impossibly exact calculations have shown that this small detail is big enough for 99,97% of owners 99,01% of time.

      • http://hoonart.wordpress.com/ Bryce Womeldurf

        Oh, I didn't notice that. I'M AN EMBARRASSMENT TO MY GERMAN NAME!

    • Mad_Hungarian

      Easy fix. Don't smoke in the doggone car!

      • http://hoonart.wordpress.com/ Bryce Womeldurf

        Well, yes. That's what I would do. Thank goodness I quit years ago.

  • dukeisduke

    How about a YouTube video of ashtray races? And WTH is "BOARD PC"?

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      By the way, I checked my coin trays. The passenger side tray is unacceptably faster than the driver side tray.

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      That's a European model. My button is different. That RESET button on the bottom left is in every Phaeton. Think CTRL+ALT+DEL.

  • http://hooniverse.com/ Tanshanomi

    This is precisely the kind of thing that the First World Problem meme was created for.

    <img src="http://i.qkme.me/3snipk.jpg&quot; width="512">

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      This wins everything. Thank you!

    • Van_Sarockin

      Is there a foundation for grieving survivors we might make donations to? This is a tragedy far beyond anything ever experienced in all of human, whale and kitten experience.

      • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

        Yes, please make a check out to "Hooniverse VW Phaeton Timing Belt and Water Pump Replacement Fund". It's tax deductible.

        • joedunlap

          You mean timing chain. Yeah, you know, the ones (as in multiple) at the rear of the engine that require separating the engine from the trans to service them. OH YEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH.!

  • http://o2richenvironment.blogspot.com/ engineerd

    True luxury is having one ashtray for cigarette ashes and one ashtray for cigar ashes.

    • TurboBrick

      Or the his/hers cigarette pack holders in the front armrest (Buick Century).

  • danleym

    Of all of the complaining Phaeton owners, how many actually smoke inside their car?

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      I'll bet Stallone smokes in his. And Kim Jong-Il.

      • danleym

        Kim Jong-Il is dead. So that makes one. And I'll bet Stallone isn't on the Phaeton owners forum. Could be wrong, but I doubt it.

        • Syrax

          Kim Jong-Il ashes maybe?

  • wolfie

    That this would be an issue people would complain about,leaves me baffled. Seriously,I thought this was a satire post.

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      Oh no, this is not satire. Oh, noooo.

    • Vavon

      Hear, hear!

  • OA5599

    <img src="http://www.trophies2go.com/images/productimages/Participant-Peaked-Ribbon-(qty-25).jpg">

    Someone was recently telling me that the parent of another kid on her kid's basketball team thought that, instead of awarding an MVP trophy to the player who contributed the most for a win, that the team should give ALL the players an award. Guess whose kid spent the most time riding the bench.

    This Phaeton fiasco strikes me as more of the same. The person in the other seat has an ashtray that opens at a superior rate to yours, so instead of personal improvement, the "fix" is to dumb the other one down to an identical level?

    Besides, people who don't smoke (at least not in their cars) keep the ashtrays shut. People who use them keep them open all the time for convenience. How often do both sides open simultaneously, anyway?

    • Devin

      When a 10 year old finds his way into your car, everything will be opened simultaneously to see which thing opens fastest.

      I distinctly remember doing this, don't remember what car I was in annoyingly enough.

    • http://hooniverse.com/ Tanshanomi

      This post offends me. Why must you make the combative assumption that "faster" equals "superior"? This sort of typically Western Male Capitalist thinking is what's wrong with humanity. Stop trying to pigeonhole every human interaction into your testosterone-soaked categories of "winning" and "losing." When will you realize that it doesn't matter how fast we open the ashtrays of our hearts to the tobacco residue of universal love; what's important is that we do it with the selfless synchronization of social harmony.

      • OA5599

        Where did you see me say that the faster ashtray was the superior one? The slower one endures longer. Phaeton owners seek as much endurance as they can cram into an $80K Volkswagen.

        • FuzzyPlushroom

          Ah, but those who truly lack endurance would have bought a Continental in the first place…

  • JayP2112

    Really isn't anything new- the ancient JET's A4 page had complaints the new A4 had too many lights on the dash and console. This guy counted them, and huffed about it for a week. I'll admit I had a tech chasing a squeaking turbo for 6 months.

    The real issue was the POS tensioner. One guy tried to get a class action going but failed to get interest. Class action on the console lights not dimming at the same rate might have had some traction.

  • http://www.automobile-catalog.com/ P161911

    But do the rear seat passengers get more than one cigarette lighter?
    My 1967 Imperial convertible had cigarette lighters in the door for the rear passengers.

  • http://crasstalk.com DogsOfWar

    Imagine the horror of one of the ashtrays becoming inoperable. It's a good thing they decided to make that a redundant system.

  • Van_Sarockin

    I have to say I'm upset and a bit disappointed over the fix to this problem. Removing attatchment screws so more weight bears on the ashtray frame? Really? I was hoping that there was a new bracket to better support the weight of the entertainment cluster. Or a procedure to check and calibrate the gas pressure within the ashtray damping piston assembly. I weep for the future of teutonic automotive engineering.

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      I think the "fix" is kinda BS too. I think it's just a way to placate the owners. I imagine the repair is effective 3% of the time.

      • Dean Bigglesworth

        60% of the time, it works every time.

  • Joe_Btfsplk

    My personal preference is a Pepsi can with about a tablespoon of liquid left in the bottom to give you that wonderful "hisss" sound when you flick the ash in.

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      I did that with a paper cup once and my Jeep's center console caught on fire.

      Good times.

      • pj134

        If you didn't want to light your console on fire you shouldn't have ashed into your paper cup of everclear.

  • http://roadworkuk.com Rust-MyEnemy

    Have you checked that your Phaeton can still cruise at 300km/h while maintaining a constant cabin temperature?

    I'd check that if I were you, stat.

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      The U.S. models are electronically limited at 130 mph.

      *Sad face*

      • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

        At around the 1:00 mark, you can see he's going about 130 mph on a wet road.[youtube vmwSWThpX1E http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmwSWThpX1E youtube]

        • duurtlang_

          He also mentions that this 5.0L V10 TDI has already done 275k km (171k miles).

          • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

            Thanks for the translation!

          • Rob

            I used to go 120-130mph quite comfortably and safely in my 92 Subaru SVX. Very quiet, controlled, composed. Loved it.

            • http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/52703 mdharrell

              I once went 113 mph in my worn-out 1959 Ford sedan. Noisy, erratic, dangerous. Loved it.

              • http://www.Hooniverse.com Jeff_Glucker

                I once went probably 105 or so in a Jeep Wrangler… Never.Again.

                • FuzzyPlushroom

                  My 244 can manage 102, at least.

                  That was enough.

                • pj134

                  My Cherokee only went up to 85 on the speedometer but my brother said he was doing about 115 to 120 to catch up to me.

                  My Cherokee didn't have brakes… and the driveshaft had issues…. I may have launched a groundhog with a perfect spiral over his car that day…

              • pj134

                This message has been brought to you by the National assoc… screw it. Slow Car Fast Union. This message has been brought to you by the Slow Car Fast Union.

  • http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/52703 mdharrell

    <img src="http://hooniverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Smoking_Package.jpg&quot; width="425">

    I'd be far more upset that the wood grain doesn't match.

  • wolfie

    My other assumption would be that my expectations for people of the means to own and maintain an VW Phaeton,would also have the intelligence to understand the damage they are doing when they smoke.
    Also this is most likely responsible for the high suicide rate among VW Service technicians.
    And I would love to hear what they call people who complain about ashtray acceleration rates.

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      There's an old guy I see driving around. He alternates between an AMG CL and an Aston convertible. He is always smoking his cigar, with the windows rolled UP. I can't imagine anyway wanting to buy them used.

      • wolfie

        We are all old guys,always somebody younger and wiser.

        • http://www.washington.edu/news/archive/52703 mdharrell

          That's one of the joys of teaching. I get to assign their grades.

      • Van_Sarockin

        I'd believe that happens a lot in Phaetons. I rented an Opel Vectra in Frankfurt, and the thing reeked like four Burgermeister's had been smoking cigars in it nonstop for the past month.

    • Devin

      Ashtrays can be used for other things! I used mine for holding parking stubs and spare change. Also gum wrappers.

    • rmac54

      Many current Phaeton owners are 2nd or 3rd generation owners and not the people of means to have bought new. And many are knowledgeable about mechanical issues and can keep them going at much lower cost than those who would rush to the dealer because the ashtray speeds don't match. Love mine, can't imagine ever having been able to drive such a car. Sorry to hear about the service techs …

  • pwned88

    If I was the tech fixing that problem I'd fill the trays to the brim and spring load the bastards. Or epoxy them shut.

  • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

    I have never needed to push the defroster buttons in the Phaeton.

  • k1llallh1pp1es

    Can i just say, so late in the comment thread that it will never be read anyway, that this is why i love car people? A story about Phaeton ashtrays (which Tamerlane, ahem, i mean Maxichamp, put out ages ago) has comments that make me laugh AND laugh out loud on a cold January night, that normal people around me think i'm nuts, is why i care about this website (and Tamerlanes Blog) and all the community so much. More!

    • http://karakullake.blogspot.com Maxichamp

      That means the world to me. Thanks! Comment more– here and on my blog please.

    • jeepjeff

      You'd be surprised. There are a few folks who monitor the 'latest comments' side bar…

  • http://www.frontierleasing.co.uk/ Marina Smallwood

    It's an unavoidable fact for every car to have its quirks. I just can't understand how this tiny detail can be an issue. Why let a slow opening ashtray of all things ruin the overall vehicle?

  • Sir Brian Middleton

    Does the world simply not understand that each Phaeton has it's own soul? The cars heal their faults if left alone to do it. I imagine if you tested the ashtray speed disparity after a few days the Phaeton would have swapped them round just to amuse you. I note my V10 TDi LWB Phaeton is now worth 50% at least more than I paid for it, I doubt anyone anywhere will ever build such an eccentric and superb car again.

  • http://www.bestchauffeured.com/ Peter Gould

    This is just too hilarious. Of all the things that could possibly be cause of complaint in this car, it had to be the ashtray?

  • http://www.rochefinance.com.au/ Isaac Anzio

    There's only one question in my head right now – what's with all the complaints? The ash tray is a minor feature. There shouldn't be a need to make such a fuss over it.

  • Tim

    The ash trays in my phaeton are just fine. I guess I don't have time to use a stop watch on them. I don't smoke so I use them for coins. I also just installed sommer (German Engineered) garage door openers. These are number one. Very quiet.. People complain that these are slow too. I think they are fine.


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