CONSUMER WATCH | With no clear fixes for error-ridden car, VW dealer settles in faulty Golf 8 GTI matter

09 May 2023 - 12:54
By Brenwin Naidu
A Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI similar to the one owned by Ashleigh Masher.
Image: Supplied A Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI similar to the one owned by Ashleigh Masher.

After taking her cause to social media, a frustrated Volkswagen Golf 8 GTI owner is finally rid of the vehicle that was a source of disappointment since purchase.

Mbombela resident Ashleigh Masher bought her car new from Hatfield Volkswagen Northcliff in Johannesburg on February 17 2022.

Outlining her experience to TimesLIVE Motoring, Masher said the car exhibited issues from the day delivery was taken, displaying an error message on the instrument cluster which eventually went away.

“I notified the salesman who said he would speak to his technical team, but never did,” she said.

According to Masher, on arrival at home after collecting her car, she noticed that the front bumper was loose, with a detectable panel gap. She was told that this was how the vehicle was made. It emerged that the bumper needed to be refastened into place with a new screw.

Three months in, more concerning issues surfaced, when Masher saw a warning on the cluster reading: “Travel assist is currently unavailable.”

The travel assist function combines adaptive cruise control with lane-keep assist to facilitate semi-autonomous driving.

Masher said that after displaying the warning, the car switched off while driving and could not be restarted, which prompted her to book it into the dealership for inspection.

The owner reported a variety of error messages.
Image: Supplied The owner reported a variety of error messages.

“The car was booked in, but no faults came up, so they told me to fetch it. The error resurfaced so I took it for a test drive with the technician and it popped up again,” she said.

A diagnostic report had been requested and Masher was taken aback by a 44-page document recording electronic errors. After spending a fortnight at the dealership, it was decided that the steering wheel needed replacing.

Masher explained that the replacement steering wheel did not solve the issue, with further errors being displayed. This time, the warnings on the cluster indicated malfunctions with the rear traffic alert, park distance control, front assist autonomous emergency braking and stop-start systems.

By the time she went public with her grievances, Masher said the car had been in and out of the dealership for nine months, with no clear remedy.

“They also made me reposition the tracking system in the car because they thought it was bringing the faults. The technician who fitted the device said it was nowhere close to any electronics or anything that could trigger an error.”

In her correspondence with TimesLIVE Motoring on April 25, Masher said she had been driving home the week before when the vehicle’s low coolant warning light illuminated, forcing the vehicle into limp mode.

“I managed to stop the car and tried to restart; the car had to be jump-started. Keep in mind I had my baby with me in the car and where we were, there was no signal available.

“The next day, my brother topped up the coolant tank and noticed that the brake fluid was low. The car started, but 30 minutes later when I took my son to day care, it struggled to start.”

A replacement steering wheel did not remedy issues.
Image: Supplied A replacement steering wheel did not remedy issues.

“After dropping my son off at school, the coolant and electronic errors all came up at once, so I drove the car straight to the dealership.”

On April 24 Masher outlined her issues in a Facebook post, which was shared as many as 2,000 times, generating 1,700 comments.

“I pay an insane amount of money for a new car that is technically broken. I am scared and nervous to drive it with my son in the car. I have been fighting with Volkswagen South Africa and the dealer principal with no helpful outcome,” she explained.

TimesLIVE Motoring reached out to the communications department at Volkswagen South Africa, which responded on May 3. The feedback was brief: “The case has now been resolved with the dealership.”

Masher confirmed on April 28 that the dealership had agreed to settle the financed balance of her Golf 8 GTI in full.

She has since bought another vehicle, a T-Roc from Alan Hudson Motors Volkswagen in Mbombela, where she previously had bought a Polo GTI and reported a positive experience.

TimesLIVE Motoring reached out to Hatfield Volkswagen Northcliff dealer principal Paul Vermaak for comment, asking whether the root cause of the Golf’s issues were identified and for confirmation on the steps taken to resolve the situation with the client. Vermaak declined to comment.


  • If you've got a motoring consumer matter to share then please contact the author.