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Volkswagen Atlas: Common Problems You Should Know!

On this blog, we’ve written extensively about Volkswagens and the potential problems each model can have. Today we’re going to discuss one of the more popular SUVs of the German carmaker: the American-made Volkswagen Atlas. Let’s start with a quick answer:

The Volkswagen Atlas has problems with the transmission, which can start leaking or grinding when shifting. Also, the fuel pump is known to sometimes fail, which can cause misfiring of the engine or completely stalling. Furthermore, the engine can sometimes completely stop while driving, which normally indicates a problem with the car’s electrical system.

However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below we will go through each problem that this car can have and explain why it happens, how to recognize it, and how to fix it. Read on!

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1. Transmission Issues

Handling a slippery transmission in any car, especially those with automatic transmissions, maybe a major headache. Volkswagen Atlas has a “manumatic” transmission, which has an automatic and manual transmission mixture.  It’s one of many issues with your car that might start as a minor problem and progressively grow, costing you more money. Repairing a slipping transmission should never be left off.

Symptoms Of Transmission Issues

Fluid Level and Texture

It’s usually a good idea to check the texture of your transmission fluid regularly. Although it does not require a frequent replacement as engine oil, it does degrade over time. Fresh transmission fluid is pinkish and smells slightly sweet. If yours is dark brown or black, it should be replaced as soon as possible.

Here, note the colors for the transmission, which can actually provide a great deal of information.

PinkExcellent
AmberGood
MaroonWearing starts
BrownWearing intensifies
BlackBad

Low transmission fluid levels can cause inconsistent shifting, odd grinding noises, idle mode, and, in certain instances, the check engine light starts to illuminate. You can check the level of transmission fluid quickly if you have a transmission dipstick.

Volkswagen Atlas has a transmission dipstick located in the hood near the engine. It is a long and thin piece of metal with an outer ring. Before you use the dipstick, make sure to keep the engine cool. Do these steps –

  1. Place the car on a level surface.
  2. Place the parking brakes and shifter in the Park position.
  3. Open the hood by pulling the hood release.
  4. Locate the dipstick for the transmission. It’s generally under the front hood, near the engine.
  5. Clean the dipstick with a clean cloth after removing it.
  6. In the gearbox dipstick tube, reinstall the dipstick. Remove the gearbox dipstick after ensuring it is fully inserted.
  7. Scrutinize the dipstick to ascertain the current transmission fluid level. For the COLD (lower) markers, the level should be between the MIN and MAX marks.
  8. If the level is low, use a funnel to add more transmission fluid.
  9. Drive the vehicle for 15 minutes, making sure to choose all of the gears manually.
  10. Repeat the operation once the transmission has warmed up, but this time the level for the HOT (higher) markings must be between the MIN and MAX marks.

If the final reading shows as transmission fluid being low, add some fluid with the help of a funnel. Make sure to use certified Volkswagen transmission fluid. The total cost, including fluid and labor charges, costs about $180 – $200, while the fluid costs about $100.

Transmission Fluid Leak

If your transmission fluid is leaking, you could be in for some severe transmission problems. The leak may not appear to be threatening, but doing nothing will have disastrous consequences. Taking action is the best course of action because, in some cases, repairing a leak is as simple as replacing a gasket or hose.

If you catch a problem like this early on, it’s much easier to fix with a bit of cost of over $150. If you suspect you’re losing transmission fluid, look under your car and call your mechanic right away if you notice any fluid on the ground.

Transmission Noise When Shifting Gears

You may hear unusual noises when you shift gears because your transmission gears wear down over time, most noticeable in low gears. It can cause slipping of gears and delay in shifting, which can further cause the car to become standstill while parking or reversing it.

The problems can arise due to various reasons like:-

  • Wear-and-tear dual-mass flywheel with excessive aggression. While slowing down, this generates a metallic rattle. If there is any kind of movement between the two plates, inspect the flywheel and replace it.
  • Due to natural longer-term usage, the dual-clutch assembly worn out. Although repair kits allow for partial repairs, it is usually recommended to replace the entire clutch assembly.
  • Engine or gearbox mounts that are broken. When you are pulling away from a stop, this can allow for excessive movement, which causes the engine and gearbox to jerk.

It’s a good idea to call for assistance if you hear rattling and hammering noise. Remember that when other systems (like your engine) are out of sync, they can make strange noises, so have the problem evaluated initially.

Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A Volkswagen

2. Check Engine Light Illuminates Frequently In Dashboard

The check engine light is a part of the dashboard of the cat, which glows up whenever something strange occurs in the car. If the check engine light on your Volkswagen Atlas starts flashing, it may indicate various problems, and your vehicle should be taken in instantly.

This blinking light can usually signal a serious engine misfire, allowing unburned fuel to escape into the exhaust system. It can rapidly elevate the temperature of the catalytic converter to the point where damage is likely, necessitating immediate action and repair.

If the issue or code that caused the check engine light to illuminate is resolved, the check engine light on your car will typically turn off on its own. If your check engine light came on because of a loose gas cap, tightening it will turn the light off.

If your catalytic converter is failing and you’ve been doing a lot of stop-and-go driving, the check engine light may have come on because of the converter’s heavy utilization. After roughly 20-40 miles, your car’s light should turn off. If you drive farther than that and the light remains on, you must take it to a service center to have the light and code double-checked and reset.

The average cost for the complete diagnostics and testing of the check engine light is $80 to $100.

3. Fuel Pump

If the fuel pump in your Volkswagen Atlas fails, no fuel can enter the engine. Your Atlas will not run if you don’t have any fuel. With all that in view, most of the clinical symptoms of a faulty fuel pump include the car halting or not starting at all.

Confirm whether your engine’s computer for any issue codes is saved in it before removing anything. The engine may generate a P0087 fault code. The fuel transport pressure can be low, as indicated by this fault code. Any issue codes that are present could provide a hint. You may also receive an oxygen sensor-related fault code when there is low fuel pressure.

There are some common symptoms of a bad fuel pump –

Ranting Noise

The most common sign of a faulty fuel pump experienced in all cars is the ranting noise. It is better to tow the vehicle to the nearest service center rather than continue driving as it may invite more problems.

Stammering When Accelerating

It occurs when the fuel pump doesn’t provide enough fuel pressure to keep the engine running under heavy load or at high speed. When driving up a steep hill (or accelerating), the engine may begin to feel as if it is running out of steam.

It may be due to a bad catalytic convertor. To confirm the suspicion, scan for the trouble codes. If they return P0420 or P0430, then you need to change the catalytic convertor. It may cost you over $1000, including service charges.

Engine Doesn’t Start

It can happen if there is insufficient fuel pressure to atomize the fuel as it enters the combustion chamber correctly. First, examine the ignition system. It’s usually due to faulty spark plugs or a faulty coil pack. The cost of changing the spark plug, including mechanic charges, may vary from $500 to $1000 as per the year of the model of your car.

Some steps must be taken to avoid future issues –

  • First, you’ll want to pinpoint the source of the issue. If your car is leaking, making unusual noises, or not changing gears smoothly, it could be a sign of transmission trouble.
  • Check your transmission fluid levels next. The level of fluid in the transmission is one of the most common problems. It is critical to check the levels regularly and to empty or refill as needed.
  • If all else fails, take your Altas to a mechanic. An expert can assist you in locating the problem with your transmission and repairing it before it worsens.

4. Shutting down of Engine while Driving

The following is a list of the pretty common reasons why your Atlas might die while driving. It could aid in your diagnosis. But, before we begin, is the check engine light illuminated? If it is, then you should start with the first trouble code returned by an OBD2 scanner.

Fuel Is Running Low

If the engine of your Altas is running fine and then suddenly dies, it is most likely due to a lack of fuel. The most likely cause is a low fuel tank, aided by a fuel gauge that isn’t as accurate as it appears. Bang on the tank even if it says there’s fuel in there. If it makes a hollow sound, it is most likely empty.

Also read: Types Of Gas A Volkswagen Atlas Takes (Explained)

Cables For Batteries

Examine the battery cables to ensure that they are clean and securely fastened to the battery posts. Follow the black ground cable until it connects to something. Check that it is secure and that no corrosion or rust prevents making a solid ground connection.

Grounding Of The Engine And The Chassis

For your Atlas’s various electrical systems to function, the engine must be grounded to the chassis. If the cable becomes corroded, it may cause misfiring, slow or no starts, or even the engine to die while driving. This is a common source of a wide range of issues.

Ignition Switch Failure

If the ignition switch fails, the vehicle will deplete the battery’s power supply (which is primarily for starting the car and as a backup reserve).

The ignition system will no longer fire appropriately once the battery has been depleted. Long before the engine dies, you should see either a battery light or an ignition switch light.

If you don’t notice this, then the ignition switch or battery is not at fault. If you did see the warning light, take it to a parts store and have the alternator and battery tested. They should be replaced as needed. The replacement cost would come around $800, including labor charges, and prices may vary as per the year of the model.

Sensors Problem

The crankshaft and camshaft sensors are in charge of informing the engine of where the crankshaft and camshaft are in their 360° revolutions. If they stop reporting this data, even for a short period of time, the car might not know when to start the spark plugs and will stop running.

The mass airflow sensor can also malfunction. If there is a problem with these sensors, a trouble code should be generated. The replacement cost may vary from around $190 to $270, including labor charges, and prices may vary as per the year of the model.