Doctor Diesel

Comfortable SEAT

Hello Doc, I bought my ex-Motability SEAT Altea XL 1.6 TDI DSG auto first registered in August 2011, in late July 2014, with under 13,000 miles on the clock. It came from car hypermarket Fords of Winsford, in Cheshire, complete with new MOT certificate, and they changed the number plate to my personal number. We have found it a very comfortable and enjoyable car. The SEAT main dealer at Crewe serviced it and tested it in July 2015, it had its DSG gearbox oil replaced along with the EGR valve, and the timing belt replaced, during the following eighteen months. Recall work was also carried by the main dealer in 2017. The servicing from 2016 to the present day has been carried out by a trusted local garage and it has been MOT tested locally as well. The car has now done 53,200 miles and, when started from cold, it throws out smoke and runs roughly until it has warmed up. Thatís when the temperature gauge shows about 70 to 80 degrees Celsius, then it clears and runs normally, and revs freely in all gears. The fault only reappears when the engine is left to go cold. We first thought that it was possibly glow plug problems, but a check carried out by our local garage found no fault, neither have any warning lights shown on the dashboard, or when it is hooked up to their electronic diagnostic test machine. I would be grateful for any advice. 


Malcolm R Neville


Dear Malcolm, 


I am presuming that it was in fact a faulty EGR valve that was replaced ñ an item which has often given problems on 1.6 TDIs. Personally, I think there’s a good chance that the EGR valve is playing up again ñ choked up maybe, and not activating when it should, probably on account of this. Activating exhaust gas recirculation helps the engine warm up quicker, and also reduces emissions, and the engine will probably run badly if, as you are experiencing, the EGR valve is not operating properly, and when it should do. It might be possible to get it and the EGR pipes and system cleaned successfully, if your local garage knows what it is doing, or you could even try a bottle of DIY EGR Valve Cleaner ñ I have had very good reports in the past of successful rescue acts with Wynns EGR Valve Cleaner, and it certainly usually does the job, if that’s the problem. Alternatively it could be the injectors that are gummed up (What fuel are you using, I am wondering?), perhaps from using cheaper fuel without good detergent additives. There are different additives that you can try for injector cleaning, although a couple of tankfuls of premium diesel might do the trick. 


I would add that you might benefit by using manual override on the DSG gearbox when starting off from cold, and keeping engine speeds higher than the automatic gearbox might otherwise do. This will help give you a faster and better warm-up, and then you can switch to auto when all is running well. Try and keep the engine speeds up to around 1,800 to 2,200rpm. 


Please update me if and when you have anything to report Malcolm. I would much appreciate knowing if my advice has been of any help to you! 


Best regards,

Doc Diesel


Hi Doctor. Thank you for your reply. After I had e-mailed you, I looked through the receipts and paperwork that I had from the SEAT main dealer that I had used for the work I had done to the Altea during the first two and a half years I had owned the car, and before I started using a trusted local dealer to service it. This included the work I mentioned, fitting new brake discs, and of course the emissions recall work. VW informed me in late 2015 that a recall would be required, but it could not give me an indication as to when it would take place. It was eventually carried out in late 2017 and the car appeared to be alright until this recent problem cropped up. Having looked through their letter, which I received after the emissions job was complete, I discovered that it stated that if any fault appeared on any vehicle that had emissions adaptation work carried out by an official SEAT dealership that could have been caused by the alterations, then if the mileage was below 160,000 or the period of time from the work being carried out was within two years, the Volkswagen Group would be prepared to look favourably on a request to rectify said fault. So I then contacted Crewe SEAT and explained the problem and suggested that my car was covered by the promise made in the letter. They requested that I bring my vehicle in for it to be checked over, and found it required a further software upgrade, which they carried out free of charge. The car is now fine, and I have been very impressed with the service that I received from this dealership. 


Best regards, Malcolm


That’s brilliant Malcolm. I’m a great fan of SEAT, who have had a great resurgence in recent years. But the dealers still seem to be a bit of a mixed bunch. You seem to have got a very good one, so I am very pleased to admit that I was wrong when I suggested that you avoid the main dealer. 


As regards the problem that was so efficiently sorted by SEAT Crewe, we know that plenty of owners with 1.6 TDIs had problems after the first software update, and I guess they found a way around that, and this was what sorted your car. If it gives you no problems, I shall mention the good services of Crewe SEAT in my published letter. Happy motoring, and best regards, 


Doctor D

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