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VW Pays To Repair Cars With Engines Damaged By Ice

WOLFSBURG, Germany January 23, 2003; Dow Jones reported that Volkswagen AG Thursday said t will pay for repairs and improvements on about 5,000 engines after the drivers complained of ice damage.

The German carmaker said the move applies to 1.0-liter and 1.4-liter engines in the VW brand's Lupo, Polo and Golf models built since 1997, as well as a few vehicles manufactured by VW's Spanish brand Seat and Czech unit Skoda.

It follows an article this week in German news weekly Der Spiegel, which called attention to driver complaints of engine problems during the recent cold snap.

The problem occurs in cars driven short distances as the engine doesn't get warm enough and water condensation freezes, blocking the flow of oil, VW said.

VW spokesman Jens Bobsien said the move isn't a recall because that term applies only to safety-related flaws.

In addition to reimbursing customers for repairs and adding a part designed to prevent icing in the future, VW said it will offer a guarantee to cover damages from the iced-over engines for 10 years, with no kilometer limit.

However, VW, Europe's biggest auto company, added in a statement that this damage isn't likely to affect drivers of newer cars.

"This problem can't occur in today's vehicles because of permanent improvements in production of these model lines," it said.

Bobsien said the 5,000 complaints account for about 1% of the cars delivered but declined to say how much it will cost VW.