Mystery free battery charger with a new Jetta

My GF bought a new car last night, a Volkswagen Jetta. When we were test driving the car, there was a small device sitting in the back seat, one of those solar battery chargers that plugs into the cig … I mean accessory power socket. I saw this and figured maybe it was there because the car had been test driven a lot – it was Sunday evening – and maybe the car was sitting with the doors open a lot, and maybe the salespeople had this just to keep the charge up on the battery.

We drove off the lot, and at our next stop I noticed the device was in the trunk, thinking that it was left there by accident, when we next chanced to be near the dealership, I hopped out with the solar battery charger to return it to the dealer (what can I say, I’m a nice guy). After getting over their shock at seeing the car back there, they told me to keep the thing, explaining it’s function to me (duh!).

So … should I be suspicious? Is this a quiet way of making up for some deficiency in the car? I presume one of these things costs like maybe, what, $100. I find it difficult to believe it’s a freebie.

I bought a jetta in 2000. Didn’t come with one, a buddy bought one 7 months ago, and he didn’t have on either.

I’d say they just wanted to be nice to you. No problem with the car that I know of.

I have two VW’s, one a 97, the other an 01. I never got anything like that, and I’m not aware of it being typical. I talk closely with a whole network of VW loyalists, and that is a new one on me.

My girlfriend bought a 2003 Jetta a few months ago. Most of the Jettas on the lot had one plugged in. The salesman explained it keeps the battery charged up while the car sits for extended period without being started. They gave her one too, just in case she ever needed it. It would seem that if anyone ever did store their car for an extended period, it would be garaged or at least covered, making the device useless. It does look like an expensive device (you can buy one that does the same thing from from $25 to $100). We have not had any problems with the Jetta battery, although she has never left it for longer than 7 days. It would have been nice if they had given her some other freebie, maybe even one she could have used!

Mystery Solved

My GF was driving me around last night, and I browsed the manual, and the solar battery recharger is in there. As chriscya and the dealers say, it’s there for when you leave the car sitting for extended periods of time.

How strange. I wonder if VW considers that a problem. Other car manufacturers don’t seem to consider it a problem.

Well, ideally you’d unplug the battery when the car is going to sit for a long time to keep it from losing its charge, but if you’re leaving it outside, you’d probably want the alarm and immobilizer working…

Are we all becoming so cynical now that when we get a free gift we start looking for the catch :slight_smile:


Eh, maybe VW was just being a bit more responsible than your average faceless multinational.

Nah, can’t be. Must be a Vast Small-Car Conspiracy.

Dr.J’s Cabrio came with one, too. I just figured it was something VW started doing last year.

Maybe new VWs have something that slowly drains the battery when it’s parked and these are now required to keep the battery charged.

I suspect that’s the case. Some sort of always on electronic thing that consumes small amounts of battery power all the time, and which therefore makes a solar recharger very handy.

However, I don’t think my girlfriend would be willing to conduct an experiment to verify this hypothesis.

Maybe she can improve her daytime gas mileage by plugging it in. We may even be able to sell gasoline back to the service station, the gas meter will run backward!

Any modern car has gizmos that drain the battery-alarms, clocks etc. - all these slowly and surely do it.
To get back onto Volkswagen cars, I’m fairly sure in their Golf handbook they mention a month before it could start to be a problem. Obviously many other factors must be taken into consideration, like the age/condition of the battery.