VW problems: help, the Bulli unloads itself!

This is the story of our VW T6.1, first registration July 2020, Coast Edition equipment, 150 hp diesel and DSG gearbox. Bought as a re-import 20 percent below list price, so not a whopping 73,500, but still expensive 58,000 euros.

The savings are a small consolation, because the Bulli not only cost a lot of money, it also has many (electrical) faults.

January 2021, the Bulli has been in the underground car park for five weeks, we press the button on the remote unlocking and nothing happens! The ADAC man measures the battery and says: broken, needs a new one. (My 1 euro camping holiday in the VW California Beach)

With the booster on the passenger seat we go to the branch, new starter battery, we pay 485 euros, after that it says in the small mouse cinema: “Battery weak, charging by driving2.

VW T6.1 California

Always trouble with the battery! After replacing the battery, this message appeared on the central display.

Our friend Dennis is a master mechanic, he measures when he is not in use and says: “It draws electricity!” VW reprogrammed a control unit, pays back the 485 euros, says: Goodwill.

Camping battery the cause

At the beginning of the year the battery didn’t make a peep for the second time, the Bulli was in the garage for three weeks. Again ADAC, again to VW. In the meantime, we’ve watched videos from other California drivers: Yes, the car draws electricity!

We have a guess: if the camping battery under the driver’s seat is empty, the car gets its juice from the starter battery. When we want to pick up our Bulli, the friendly service advisor says: “Sorry, we’re still waiting for technical information from VW.”

A week later we can take the car with us, it is one and a half years old and has been in the workshop for four weeks of its life.

In the meantime, calls for help from other Bulli owners have arrived in the AUTO BILD REISEMOBIL mailbox: “The battery indicator on my one-year-old California Beach is constantly zero, the car has various updates and a new control unit, unfortunately combined with a three-week workshop stay”, writes a reader.

The problem is known

Another reports problems with all electronic assistance systems that VW offers with the facelift. teething? Probably not, because the T6.1 is based on the T5 from 2003 and is the third facelift after the T5.2 and T6.

VW T6.1 California

The Bulli is parked warm and dry in the underground car park, the ADAC has already had to provide jump-start twice.

So a car that is almost 20 years old and in which such problems should actually be a thing of the past! Inquiry at VW Commercial Vehicles. And the surprising answer: Yes, the problem with the discharged battery is known.

VW spokesman Jens Bobsien: “The cause of the increased quiescent current is a control unit for the California-specific scopes. In the camper control panel, the energy warning level is displayed beforehand, which prompts charging. If this display is not acknowledged, the control unit remains awake. If the vehicle is parked for a longer period of time without the acknowledgment, the vehicle batteries will be discharged.”

Holiday care for the Bulli

That means: If you go on vacation for three weeks, you should not only have a neighbor to water the flowers, but also someone who looks after the resting Bulli …

VW says they didn’t have this issue on their radar during development because the cars are constantly being moved, but they don’t stand still for five weeks at a time.

Bobsien: “Our experts have found the cause of the battery discharge and are working intensively on a solution that will be available to customers in the near future.”

It will probably be so far in the fall. Until then, the old Bundeswehr motto applies: Please carry out regular “exercise trips”!

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