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Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair

For all the glowing press the VW Passat has gotten since introduction, I have been less then pleased with a number of aspects of the car, and particuarily with the parent company, VW America.
Mine is a 1999 GLS V6 5 speed.

Item 1: The interior carpet mats wore out within the first two years of ownership. Not a big deal, but doesn't compare well with Japanese (Honda) durability.

Item 2: The Passat has great brakes. Trouble is that the brake rotors wear out at the same rate as the brake linings. Be prepared to spend more than $1,000 dollars to put new pads on your car each time you need brakes. (VW America considers this "Normal"). I've never owned car with rotors that can not be turned, even once.

Item 3: The head liner in my car delaminated from the rubber door molding and fell in my lap. $187 to replace. VW Americas response is due the the age and mileage of the car (3.5 years and 51,000 miles) this is a "Normal" occurence.

The Passat is a great car to drive and I really like mine. But don't be fooled. For $25,000 dollars you are getting the same type of build quality they you will in a comparable domestic car. VW will call you once a week during the warranty period to ask if everything is all right but they do not stand behind their product once it is over. You are not paying for a BMW or Mercedes and you are not getting one.



  • Are you saying that this is typical of what all Passat owners should expect or you are only reporting what has happened to you?
  • pkraddpkradd Posts: 358
    The current model - 2001.5/2002 is the one that auto reviewers have been raving about. Major changes were made under the skin and in manufacturing. Sorry about your problems, but they are not necessarily across the board.
  • pkradd;

    I hope you are right that the problems I have highlighted are not across the board with the Passat model. As I said, I really like the car and maybe it is just my particular unit. I will be curious to see whether there are coments, particularly on the brakes. It is my belief that the brake problem with thin rotors that need to be replaced with each set of pads is across the board among all VW products. To me, replacing the brake rotors at 45,000 miles is a premature failure.

    VW may have made many changes in the current Passat model and I hope those who bought them are satisfied. It is my experience, however, that VW America does not stand behind their product after the warranty has expired even in cases of obvious manufacturing defects. Let the buyer beware!
  • sorry you had those problems. they would obviously annoy me too. i also don't think VW stands behind their product enough but in a different way.

    but on the warranty issue, what companies routinely stand by their product by paying for repairs after the warranty expired? i've heard anecdotal stories of where a person here and a person there had something repaired post-warranty free of charge and that includes a couple of VW stories, but if it's out of warranty the manufacturer doesn't have to pay. In the case of "obvious manufacturing defects" that's what the warranty is for.

    For pre-2002 passats I would say the things buyers should beware of is that the 10yr power train warranty is non-transferable. That to me is more a show of their inability to stand by their product, but they have corrected that policy.
  • I totally agree with your comments on warranties and the manufacturers responsibility. While I guess it is debatable the replacement interval on brake rotors, the headliner falling down in a car is not a maintenance item and VW's posture that this is a normal occurrence in a 1999 vehicle is outrageous. You are quite correct that VW has no contractual obligation to repair a manufacturing defect such as this at no charge. But they have lost much more through posts such as this than they gained by a $187 repair.

    On the question of what manufacturer would provide out of warranty support, in my experience Honda has. Its all about the corporate comittment to quality.
  • mliongmliong Posts: 231
    My wife's Jetta had NOTHING but window problems. Two random windows would consistently fail every six months.

    To VW's credit, they covered the cost of repairs for three years, till the last one (where they split the difference due to the "age" of the vehicle). I don't know if many other manufacturers would have done that - certainly not any American brands.

    Outside of that, the Jetta only had the common O2 sensor failure, and an alternator go out at 3 years. It has been a good, reliable car for my and my wife (except for the @#(*%&@^&! windows).

    VW has finally adressed some of the window issues with a redesigned part, but I continue to hear horror stories with the current generation of Bettle/Golf/Jetta lines - from electrical to other knick-knacks.

    Only the Passat is considered the most dependable of the VW lineup, and that's mostly due to the 2001.5 tweaks.

    I'm not sure if VW can afford to have the same reliability as American & Chrysler cars (not American), but at least they have demonstrated to me their desire to stand behind their product - and I have to give them kudos on that one.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,404
    Most Passat owners seem very happy. I can only tell you that you can hardly find a clean low mileage one for sale around here (SF Bay Area).

    As for your troubles, I can tell you that quite a number of cars will not allow the rotors to be turned IF they become warped or damaged. Mercedes for instance. This you can blame mostly on litigation practices in the US.

    As for overall VW build quality, I agree, it is pretty 'average'.

    I'm wondering though why you'd have to pay $1,000 for rotor and pad replacement. This seems outrageous. VW rotors are pretty cheap to buy new, that's the whole idea. I get my Benz rotors for $29 apiece and they are good ones, too.


  • Mr Shiftright:

    I don't know where you get your brake rotors but it is not from a VW dealer (or a Benz dealer either, I suspect).

    My dealer, Springfield VW in Springfield, Virginia, charges $125.96 for each Passat rotor. Brake pads are another $98.50 a set. Front replacement costs $490. Back replacement has been estimated (not yet performed) at $550. I suspect the cost difference on the rear is for the shoes associated with the emergency brake.

    You are very right that most Passat owners seem happy and as I stated, I really like the car. Its just that I've never owned a car that needed $1,000 in routine brake work before 50,000 miles and if not a design flaw, it is certainly not a feature of the Passat product.
  • pkraddpkradd Posts: 358
    One way to save $ is to go to an independent shop that specializes in German cars. Usually you start getting mailings from them after you purchase your car. When my warranty is out, I'll go to a local shop. They charge about 20 to 30 percent less. And they use geniuine VW parts.
  • take it to an independent. you're out of warranty so there's no reason to go to the dealer. I haven't had to replace those components yet but those are eye-opening dealer prices.
    you can always check vwvortex or clubb5 for independent shop recommendations.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    ...which is why we go aftermarket.

    Or buy from the internet.
    For OEM parts for example (

    Front pads: $58.14
    Front rotors: $45.59 (each)

    Rear pads: $41.16
    Rear rotors: $44.00 (each)

    DIY or go to a independent shop.
  • I had meant to place my problem post here. I need someone's opinion.
  • lumbarlumbar Posts: 421
    Town Hall strikes again with another "on point" thread. I've been thinking and thinking about a Passat wagon for about a year now--and can't quite pull the trigger because of too many gripes about VW reliability/quality control. I am sure not disputing that this is a great driving car, and I envy those who've made the leap and have a reliable vehicle. But I think I speak for many who are used to Japanese "drive it till it drops" reliability when I say "Is this car a lot of trouble or not?"

    So that it doesn't look like I'm going solely on rumors, JD Power initial quality for VW is not all that great. Whazzzup?
  • lumbar--I hear ya. Reliability is important to me. 5 of my last 6 cars have been Japanese--I'm currently still the owner of a '92 Camry (176k miles)I bought new that just won't die. The 6th car was an '88 Jetta I bought used several years ago. Had 116,000 on the clock when I got it and it was as unrelaible as its reputation. Finally donated it at 146,000 miles when the steering rack went. Still, I liked the way it felt on the road, and I'd been toying with getting a Passat since the early 90s (back when they were ugly, no less).

    Finally in May I pulled the trigger and got a Passat wagon. 6700 miles later I have no compliants--nothing electrical, no windows falling out, etc. Will I be writing a post 11 years from now talking about my 02 Passat that just won't die? Who knows, but it's been so much fun to drive I may give it more benefit of the doubt than my Camry (which has with the current model *IMHO* became "cosmetically challenged", while the Passat has become beautiful with the '98 style changes).

    Guess it boils down to how important the driving experience is to you. If it's a high priority, you may decide as I did that it's worth the risk.
  • lugwrenchlugwrench Posts: 213
    Is a big improvement over the 2 yr 24K warranty VW was trying to pass off.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Posts: 1,391
    you don't get the 2 yr/24K maintenance anymore.

    You also get longer roadside assistance.
  • big_guybig_guy Posts: 372
    The biggest difference between the US version of the Jetta and Passat is that the Jetta is built in Mexico and the Passat is built in Germany. I have heard a lot more compliants about build quality from the Mexico built vehicles than I have about the Germany built vehicles. Just something to consider.

    I have a 2001.5 Passat GLS w/Tip which I have owned for around 16 months now and I don't have a single complaint. I drives great and I have had no rattles or squeaks (at least not from the car, the kids in the back seat make a fair amount of noise though).
  • pkraddpkradd Posts: 358
    My 2001.5 Passat has its' first "quality" problem. The rubber/cloth band that is over the door opening along the inside roofline (right front) has come loose. Since I have about 800 miles until my 15,000 oil change, I'll wait until then unless it gets worse. Probably needs glue to affix it. Otherwise, the car has been a joy.
  • Was just told that my 99 VW Passat GLS needs to have it's steering rack replaced. It only has 41,000 miles. Has anyone else had this problem? They quoted me at $1200. Does this seem right?

    And while I am mentioning problems, the rubber/cloth band around the door opening came unglued in my car too. Bought some epoxy and fixed it much cheaper than the dealer.
  • pkraddpkradd Posts: 358
    Well, I'm still under warranty. What brand of epoxy do you recommend?
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