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Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair



  • I have a 2005 Passat TDI Station Wagon. I have 99,700 miles on it. I have no idea what it could be sold for. I judge the value to me based on the cost per mile of operation and reliability (ready when I am). I am totally satisfied with this car and will purchase a new one for my wife when she decides to trade her 1999 Audi A6, which I don't expect to be too soon since it only has 91,000 miles on it.

    Thus far I replaced the timing belt and water pump as recommended at 90,000 miles, CV boots and tires at 70,000 miles. Brake pads and belts have not been changed since inspection shows them to still be in good condition. In addition to this there was a recall on a break light switch that was taken care of on one of the routine maintenance stops. Gossett VW in Germantown, TN has provided all oil changes and repairs. The maintenance above has been scheduled and I have had no down time on the car.

    On the highway the car gets 40+ miles per gallon and 32 in the city. At $2.60 per gallon for diesel the cost per mile is $0.065 per mile. Maintenance including oil changes has been $0.033 per mile. This is a total cost of $098 per mile not counting the cost of the initial investment. I paid $20,000 for the car at the end of 2005. Amortizing this over 200,000 miles will equate to another $0.10 per mile. The cost of insurance has been $700 per year for 4 years (99,700 miles) or $0.028 per mile. The total cost at 200,000 miles will be $0.226 per mile. I consider this to be an acceptable cost for a good quality car. This brief analysis demonstrates that the capital cost of a car is by far the largest cost and can only be minimized by amortizing the cost over a lot of miles. Maintenance is cheap in comparison. In this day of rising fuel cost, one must really question the wisdom of owing huge cars that consume 93 octane gasoline running at 12 miles per gallon.

    What is your experience with the TDI?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    edited February 2010
    Sounds to me like now is a very good time to make these transitions---TDI resale is generally very good right now, especially if you don't run up the miles anymore. The Audi at 99K is also ripe for trade IMO, and the new TDI Sport Wagon is a pretty nice rig.

    I'm basing this opinion on the presumption, which of course can be challenged, that running two German cars over 100K and out of warranty is somewhat risky.


  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    hello bio: I own the same vehicle, except it's a 2002. Great handling, styling and ride, but a host of annoying problems, including constant CEL, front suspension, CV boots, coils, etc. Mine has 77k, so I've been thinking about that timing belt change, as Shiftright mentions. I've owned five VWs, and I've lost some faith in the brand due to my Passat experience. I didn't even mention the potential for oil sludging. Be sure you always use the VW-approved oil spec such as Mobil 1 0W-40 or similar, or you could be in for major engine trouble. I think you may have already answered your own question when you said you're "tired of being worried to take my car long distances". That's not a good thing for a $25,000-30,000 vehicle with only 72k miles. I would say go with a Camry or Accord, but you might die of boredom! How about a an Acura TL or an Infinity GSX? Asian dependability with some zip, although the fuel economy won't be quite the same. Good luck. wvdawg
  • I agree; Biomajor has answered his own question. I have no faith in my Passat and have had it for sale for 2 months. Can't even get anyone interested in looking at it. I finally got tired of worrying about it so I bought a new Nissan. If I can't find a buyer in next month I'll give it away. Interesting that we find some cars boring and others exciting. The Passat is one of the most boring cars I have ever owned and is the most unreliable and most expensive cars to repair I have ever owned. I will never own another.If someone wants a reliable car which won't bore you to death take a look at the Nissan 370Z. But get the stick shift and you know you will be driving a fun car.
    I wish the Saab was still available with a good company in the background. The Saab with a manual shift was the best car I ever owned and there was nothing boring about that car.
    Good luck to all who own Passats.
  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    Hi Chuck: I owned a 2005 Jetta TDI wagon for a bit under three years, and it proved to be the best of the five VWs I have owned. It's hard to complain about 42-44 MPG highway mileage. Unfortunately, with four kids in college and private high school, I just got tired of a $500/month car payment, so I sold it with around 55k miles, and for a very decent selling price. Other than a couple of warranty items (one new wheel bearing and replacement of defective window mechanisms), I never had to do anything other than change the oil. My understanding is that the Passat and Jetta TDI engines typically run a long time without major repairs (as long as you use the correct, VW-spec oil!). Since I only had mine for 55k, I guess I can't verify that, but my experience with the Jetta was extremely positive. Good luck! vwdawg
  • I just leased a 2010 Passat and immediately found that water poured out of all 4 doors after a rain causing all passengers to get their feet wet. I took the car to a dealer and the service rep and the mechanic witnessed the problem and also tested another car with the same result, only to be told that there was no fix for it, therefore the car is considered to be working as designed and that I must learn to live with it.
    I truly do not believe that the President of VW and the chief designer would allow their family to be subjected to this kind of treatment and would make sure that a solution would be found quickly for loyal VW owner.(My 3rd. VW)
    This situation is more than just water coming out of the doors:
    1. Water coming out of the doors getting your feet wet.
    2. I live in Ga and temperature goes below 32 degrees and water will freeze in the doors. What happens to the workings to the windows and other working parts???
    3. Rust and mildew can form.
    Has anyone also found the same problem with their Passat or any other VW???
    Please advise.
    Thank you
  • Did you go with the 370z, camperman?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    You mean water is IN the doors, and it comes out the bottom when you open them? Or do you mean that when you open the doors, water drips off the roof and onto your feet?

    If you see a substantial amount of water IN the doors, then either the squeegee (rubber horizontal seal that seals the window as it rolls into the door) is defective or misaligned, or the moisture barriers inside the door might have been forgotten at the factory.

    Bizarre situation on a new car I must say. Doors do have drains for very *tiny* amouts of water that might accumulate but this kind of water intrusion is simply not right.


  • Not yet. I am reorganizing things for retirement and will be selling 2 VW's, house and 40 years of accumulated "stuff". I was looking for something with manual shift to tow behind my motorhome but I just couldn't see a 370Z back there collecting road dirt and stone chips. And it didn't think a tow hitch on the front would be an improvement. I hope sometime through the summer once all the dust settles, that the 370 will magically appear in the driveway of a new house.
  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    hsilv: Unbelievable story...something obviously out of whack here. This dealer should be fired on the spot...find another one that actually takes pride in the VW brand. "Live with it"? What a crock of s--t! If this is VW corporate's position on this problem, it looks like they don't have any interest in repairing the dismal reputation of the Passat. My understandilng is that VW uses computer modules under the front seat carpeting. If that's true, you'll soon be having some major electrical issues when the moisture destroys those electronics. Good're going to need it. vwdawg
  • watkinstwatkinst Posts: 122
    Subaru Legacy everything the Passat wanted to be. Coworker bought his 01 passat the same week I bought my 01 GT legacy. Legacy has been to the shop 3 times in 160,000 miles- not counting oil changes. It even towed a small boat all over the West coast for 5 of those years.

    The passat has been in the shop every 6 months and has 70,000 miles on it. He loves the car but is tired of bumming rides to the dealer to pick it up :-)

    If it makes you feel any better the new VW's are way better than the pre 2005's

    My wife has the 1.8t - Jetta terrible engine but we'll probably replace it with a new TDI Jetta way better car!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    So your Legacy didn't blow the head gaskets?


  • watkinstwatkinst Posts: 122
    Nope - the issue your referring too is an external gasket leak which Subaru corrected in all affected cars overnight at no cost to the owners. I had a minor leak at 80,000 miles out of warranty and Subaru fixed no questions asked and had the car ready 7am the next morning after a 3pm drop off. That was 80,000 miles ago not a issue since.

    Pre -2000 engines had other HG issues crop up at high miles then again my old Toyota went through three head gaskets before I sold it.

    The 2005 and newer VW's are light years better than they were pre 2005. Wifes 2001 jetta looks new just broke 55,000 miles - its been a disaster doors coming loose - rattles from loose interior brackets - coilpack failures - leaks. Failed idle sensor which stranded us etc - etc.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    Yeah, failure rate on Subie headgaskets up to about 2001 was close to epidemic proportions. They install improved gaskets and recommend a coolant additive. Most 2.5L in these year ranges will blow the gaskets around 130K or so, almost for sure. Few escape but some do.

    Passats of course (used ones) we have to watch timing belts and sludging.


  • watkinstwatkinst Posts: 122
    Keep in mind that this was an external leak - not an internal "blown gasket" very - very big difference!

    The leak was external meaning coolant leaking out of the head down the side of the engine and onto the ground. Not into the engine where it damages cylinder heads and such like a "blown Head gasket" does.

    This took place from around 99 to 2001due to the gasket used.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,403
    edited February 2010
    Not so big a difference. I still had to haul the engine out, external leak or no, even though you can do it in the car. And by the time many drivers noticed the coolant leak, the coolant was gone, and with a severe overheat you really have to peek inside the engine---so pull it, freshen the heads, etc.

    That's the thing with these weaknesses we see in various cars---if not addressed immediately, they turn into far worse things. Would I stretch a Passat timing belt to the very limits of lifespan? No way. Would I neglect to use synthetic oil in the turbo engine? No way.


  • watkinstwatkinst Posts: 122
    edited February 2010
    Yes most people don't go poking around when they smell coolant but they sure get all bent out of shape when their car goes up in a cloud of smoke in the middle of rush hour traffic.

    I had a heater hose fail on my landcruiser it took me nearly a day to figure out where the heck the coolant was coming from. Took me another 3hrs to fix it with $10 worth of parts. It could have been a full engine replacement easily if I didn't notice and check the coolant.

    New fancy high tech cars with plastic covers over the complicated bits under the hood are no different you still need to pay attention to them. Though most people get ticked off when something small goes from no big deal to really big deal in a hurry.
  • My Passat doesn't seem to ride as nice as it used to. It even squeeks over bumps. I'm assuming I might need to replace the struts and shocks and maybe the monts. The car has 52K miles and that seems a bit soon to me to replace these suspension parts. Does anyone know of a good place to buy the parts at a reasonable price?
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