Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair

j0eb0b1j0eb0b1 Member Posts: 6
edited March 2019 in Volkswagen
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.



  • frapzoidfrapzoid Member Posts: 127
    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 Member 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.
  • j0eb0b1j0eb0b1 Member Posts: 6

    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!
  • caw103caw103 Member Posts: 63
    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.
  • j0eb0b1j0eb0b1 Member Posts: 6
    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 Member 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 Member Posts: 64,482
    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.
  • j0eb0b1j0eb0b1 Member Posts: 6
    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 Member 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.
  • caw103caw103 Member Posts: 63
    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 Member 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.
  • kingk1kingk1 Member Posts: 3
    I had meant to place my problem post here. I need someone's opinion.
  • lumbarlumbar Member 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?
  • 5speeder5speeder Member Posts: 97
    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 Member Posts: 213
    Is a big improvement over the 2 yr 24K warranty VW was trying to pass off.
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    you don't get the 2 yr/24K maintenance anymore.

    You also get longer roadside assistance.
  • big_guybig_guy Member 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 Member 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.
  • lester10lester10 Member Posts: 3
    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 Member Posts: 358
    Well, I'm still under warranty. What brand of epoxy do you recommend?
  • j0eb0b1j0eb0b1 Member Posts: 6
    It is interesting to start seeing the door molding problem that I reported in thread 6 of this discussion occuring in other cars. I had to have the molding replaced to get a permanent fix. VW Corporate contends this is a normal failure in a 3.5 year old car. Maybe this is one of the reasons they have extended the warranty.
  • neo2kneo2k Member Posts: 8
    It's been awhile since posting in here-- I'm proud owner of a 2000 VW Passat -- with 90,000 miles. Needless to say I've burnt through all possible warranties besides the 10 yr powertrain. Over my 3 years or ownership I've had:

    1) Two oil pans replaced (NYC potholes/construction)
    2) Rear window failed three times (fixed after 3)
    3) Replaced engine mounts number of times
    4) Replaced boot?? whatever that thing is by the tire twice
    5) Catalytic Converter died at 78,000 miles (just made the 80,000 warranty on the emissions system)

    And #6 I currently have the car at the dealer -- Life Quality in Brooklyn (great service) -- with it's #6 symptom. Car won't start. SO far the techs been looking at it for two days, have eliminated the starter and the battery, so we'll see.

    For a car that's three years old (Nov. 17) and the high mileage (all highway -- Toronto, Cali, Chicago, Orlando, Portland, Main and points in between) it's been a pleasure to drive, and I still get looks -- BUT I'm beginning to get worried, especially about this latest problem.

    Any high mileage owners going for the long haul out there -- can give me some encouragement :)

    BTW car's never missed a scheduled maintainance. I also lost the rear cup holder (9 year old nephew)
  • lester10lester10 Member Posts: 3
    Do you really recommend Life Quality in Brooklyn? Where are they in Brooklyn?

    I am also in NYC (Queens) and am looking to get away from going to the dealer for service.
  • carrbrcarrbr Member Posts: 3
    Comments on my 2001.5 passat wagon w/ 4-motion.

    great car but service sucks. list of issues to date:
    1. front seat frame needed replacement.
    2. at 25000 miles transmission replaced. unable to fix, it was clunking going into reverse.(Note: these transmissions are $10,000)
    3. rotors replaced at 35000 miles.
  • tammybtammyb Member Posts: 3

    What was wrong with your front seat frame? Mine seems to be acting up
  • mauislickmauislick Member Posts: 107
    I had plenty of issue with an 89 corrolla wagon....3 staters, struts shocks brakes, stuff breaking in the car (rear view nightday/switch, among other things) the car finally dropped the tranny at 114,000. this is all island driving 40 to 60 with lots of speed up / slow down.

    I had a 02 passat wagon (totaled in rear ender at 17,000k) had the rear window lock button replaced/drl bulbs replaced all free on rattles , squeaks, etc. fit and finshish were complaints about dealer service.(ONE DEALER ON MAUI, lots of opportunity to gouge) but they don't........
    I looked at the alternatives and ordered another passat wagon 03.........was I lucky or was I part of the other thousands that don't come here to complain or praise.....good question, I guess it's in the numbers
  • carrbrcarrbr Member Posts: 3

    The seat would make a rattle noise going over bumps, also if you shake the top of the seat back and forth you can hear it. To fix it, VW had to replace the seat frame.
  • rtraversirtraversi Member Posts: 4
    My dealer just told me that the ABS pump, ABS Control module and the instrument cluster on my '98 passat need to be replaced. The cause (they say) is because I never had the brake lines/fluid flushed (bought the car used) since I've had it, caused a spike with the pump, that blew out the ABS control module and the instrument cluster. (total $1800 repair)

    The bad part is my ext. warranty company (allstate - sucks) won't cover it because I can't prove that the brake fluid has been flushed since I've owned the car. Actually, they're willing to give me a consideration and pay for the instrument cluster ($550). whoopee.

    Anyway, anyone had/heard of this?
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    Yep, over and over again. This article I wrote explains why. The last paragraph sums it up:
  • focus090focus090 Member Posts: 85
    i have a 2002 passat, and my heated windshield sprayers are damn near shooting over my windshield, how can i adjust them myself?
  • dianaw1dianaw1 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 passat and my winshield wipers are VERY noisy. I just took my car in for its 5000 mile check up and asked for winter wipers which I was told there are none for the Passat. I mentioned my problem and they said they adjusted the wipers but I needed new ones. Now the car is only 4 months old, why would I need new wipers? Of course, the dealership did not have any in stock and they said I couldn't find them anywhere except the VW dealership (they're on order). Seems there's been a run on wipers, something about them being redesigned. Has anyone else had problems?
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    Winter blades: Dealership B.S. Go you Pep Boys, Autozone, Wal-Mart and some some there.

    Noisy...mine smears, though the manual says to clean the blades with windsheild washer fluid.

    I'm getting the TripleEdge blades after winter...
  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    Quick clarification: Checked the VW Driver Gear Catalog at home and the website....

    Item #ZVW347003
    In Stock
    Model Years: 1990-2001
  • mulfomimulfomi Member Posts: 56
    I have a 2001.5 1.8t 5 speed Passat that has 21M miles on it. Over the 15 months I have had the car I have had no squeeks or rattles. The only problems I have had is that I lost both DRLs that were replaced under warranty (I also pulled the fuse for them so I save the wear on them) and I had a rear window guide break that was also repaired under warranty.

    Love the car and the way it drives. However I would only recommend it to those who enjoy driving and dont look at vehicles as just a means to get from point A to point B. Those folks can buy the Hondas and Toyotas.
  • pkraddpkradd Member Posts: 358
    I recently had my rear brake left side lights burn out on my 2001.5 Passat . The dealer charged me about $15.00 (not much, of course) for replacement and told it wasn't under warranty. I still have 6 months or so to go on the original as well as an extended warranty to 75,000 miles. Should I speak to them about the charge?
  • gansegganseg Member Posts: 2
    I wonder if this is a general problem. When my brake light went out, I bought a $2 buld from VW and put it in. The old one looked fine. The new one stopped working after 2 weeks. I am thinking about using a fine sand paper in the holder to see if it is a problem with the connection.

    As far as the charge, if it is a problem with the car (because it happens again too soon), I think they should take care of it. If it is just the bulb, then it is like tires and other things that just wear out and are not covered by warranty.

    Any folks out there with a high mileage Passat that can advise me about good preventative maint? I am doing the scheduled stuff and changing my oil every 3,000 miles. I have a '99 1.8T with automatic trans. Thanks.
  • 5speeder5speeder Member Posts: 97
    Curious why you are changing your oil at 3k mile intervals. Is that what the '99 specs require? Or do you have a different reason? My '02 only requires 5k mile changes.
  • jan2269jan2269 Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 passat with about 34,000 miles on it and the check engine light has just come on. Any suggestions as to what I might try? I really don't want to have to take it into the dealer if I can help it. I too have had horrible service problems with VW, but I love my passat. Eventhough, I had battery trouble just 2 months after I drove it off the lot. I had to pay full price recently to replace the battery again. VW wouldn't honor the 5 year warranty on the battery since I had it replaced while the car was still under the standard 2 year/24,000 mile warranty.
  • browneyedgirl2browneyedgirl2 Member Posts: 6
    I have been in the market to purchase a new car for the last month. My husband and I have worked diligently with the local VW dealer to find us a car that fit our liking.
    They located one, on the ship to the states and marked it sold. Whether doing this pushed it through all the checkpoints, we'll never know. But after picking it up for a test drive, 6 times it made a strange grinding noise. Mainly when switching from reverse to drive. It happens after that first initial acceleration and can be felt under the accelerator pedal. It sounds like a pop can being crushed or chains rattling.
    The dealer initially told me they couldn't hear anything but called last night and they definatly did. They said something about it being the ABS and possibly having to get the ok from VW to fix it. Has anyone else experienced this? I'm not sure I believe its the ABS since I was never stepping on the brakes when this noise occured. They said if they can't fix it, they are sending it back. Would that really happen??
    Thanks for any info you can provide. I told the dealer I'd check with other owners to see what insight they can provide.
  • david4862david4862 Member Posts: 11
    Hi fellow auto enthusiasts,
    Do I need to have my new cars oil change sooner
    than the recommended time frame of 5,000 miles.
    I am thinking it should be done earlier.

  • rickroverrickrover Member Posts: 601
    Odd your profile indicates you own a 94 Saturn and are shopping for a Maxima - did a turbo GTI blow your Saturn's doors off and now your mad so you post a bunch of lies?

    I run into this all the time on these boards - My GTI has been perfect - no regrets whatsoever.
  • nippononlynippononly Member Posts: 12,555
    posted on just about every thread on this entire board, LOL.

    I appreciate the problems he or she had, which would make me mad enough to post all over the place too, but please!

    Also, however, I should point out it is really easy to forget to update your profile when you change cars. Also, only one of my cars shows on my profile, but I have two.

    2014 Mini Cooper (stick shift of course), 2016 Camry hybrid, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (keeping the stick alive)

  • 8u6hfd8u6hfd Member Posts: 1,391
    5,000 miles should be sufficient using conventional oil (the $30 VW oil change uses 5w30 conventional oil)
  • frapzoidfrapzoid Member Posts: 127
    Funny I thought this was a board about Passats...
    But since you brought up issues about your GTI then I will too. I have a 1991 GTI with 220,000 miles on it and would you believe that I actually had to replace the alternator at 206,000 miles and new cv joints at 215,000 miles? Jeez what's going to happen next? Thank goodness nothing else has gone wrong but we all agree that a car should be problem-free at least for the first 500,000 miles? I hope my words heavily laced with sarcasm were detected by a few smart people out there. BTW the clutch is the original one that came with the car also the only things that went wrong were the alternator and cv joints (206K and 215K miles. I Have had my Passat wagon for a year now and nothing negative to report. GTI is still my commute car...Electra, which Japanese car company do you work for? Subaru? Hmmm???
  • whskvs2whskvs2 Member Posts: 4
    I, too, had to replace both my front and rear brakes at a cost of nearly $900. I only have 39,000 miles on it and I think this is outrageous. The General Manager at the VW dealership told me he's seen people come in with only 15,000 miles on theirs and the brakes need replacing (luckily they are still under warranty). I called the VW executive offices and customer service, one thinks its odd that the car need both rear and front brakes replaced. My lease is up in May and I will NOT get another VW. I had two Acuras before this and can easily see why they are consistently first in customer service.
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    Wear depends on your driving style, location, etc. 39,000 miles doesn't seem to be outrageous to me. $900? Where are you and who is the dealer? Maybe you need to switch service dealers. Just to satisfy yourself, call a couple of other dealers in your area and see what they would have charged.
  • reidkreidk Member Posts: 46

    Did you ever solve your "Check Engine Light" question?
    Have a '99 (a bit over 42K, V6, 5 spd), and mine has lit up twice: once upon return from body shop (better half had been struck from rear while stopped at light....) and second time after jockeying around in the driveway one afternoon.
    First instance was just a nuisance, probably caused by a bunch of Really Short Trips around / within the body shop - fools the computer. Light turned itself off after a couple of days (as predicted by dealership).
    Second time was more of a bother: car refused to start. Turns out there is a tech note on this (something like "Engine fails to start" - actually found a copy for Audi on the web): ultimate solution in tech bulletin was to simply keep the starter going until engine DID start: that worked, once again light took a day or two to turn itself off, and have not have a problem since (But am more careful about short / frequent start[on] / stop[off] / start[on] cycles!)

    Interesting thing is that dealership did not report either instance at next service: had expected the glitch to show up when they checked the 'memory' of the computer (? a correct expectation anyone?)

    In any event, am enjoying the car even more then when it was new: don't worry quite so much about door dings due to age (although only blemishes thus far are a BUNCH of stone chips, esp on hood, + a new rear bumper....), and handling/fun factor has been improved by addition of 16" wheels & decent tires.
    Can't say whether I would buy another - there are lot of new choices since 1999 - but nothing that seems So Fantastic (for the price!) that I would willingly Trade this one in yet....

    Drive Safely!
    Reid / SE MI
  • unlessunless Member Posts: 2
    Today the trip computer screen on my 2003 GLS wagon (first VW; 2 weeks old; 1700 miles) was just blank (all pixels were a uniform faded red, gradually fading to black) for the first trip of the day. When I next started the car, all was OK. The problem was just with the screen, not the computer (which was computing OK all along). Was this a one-time glitch or the sign of an impending problem? Thanks.
  • sslublinersslubliner Member Posts: 3
    We bought a 2003 Passat Wagon in Santa Rosa, CA on 11/30. One week later, the ABS and Brake warning lights go on, followed by the anti-slip light. Go straight to the dealer, says the manual. After we declined the dealer's invitation to take the car back and have my pregnant wife drive it until the ABS and Brake warning lights come on again, they replace the instrument cluster (forgetting to give us a sticker after they put unknown test miles on our car and took out our odometer.) All was well for 1,000 miles and now the problem has recurred. We are about to go down the lemon law road, if only because of the screw up with the odometer that made us owners of a "not actual mileage" car after one week. My question is: replacement or refund? We like the car, but if these computer glitches--which the mechanics seem to be unable to track down--are common in this model, perhaps we need to look at something else.
  • yorgasonyorgason Member Posts: 3
    I have a 1993 Passat VR-6 which has started having several engine problems. The vehicle sputters like it is either not getting enough fuel or too much and choking. Often wile at a stop the engine just stalls and will start again after about 30-45 seconds. The dealer thought it was the fuel pump fuel filter and then the O2 sensor. After replacing all of those and a few thousand dollars later we still haven't been able to fix the problem. Now that the temperature has turned cold we now get a horrible raw fuel smell inside the car. Has anyone had similar problems or know how to fix this? Please help.
    you can email me dirrectly if you would like @ [email protected]
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