Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair



  • navyguy1990navyguy1990 Member Posts: 71
    Background: I've owned a 2003 VW Passat GLS 1.8T for about 2.5 years and the car currently has 46K miles on it. I've replaced ignition coils and the transmission control module (flooded interior compartment). Just a week ago, there was a torrential downpour and I've had to drive through about a foot of standing water and I drove through at a snail's pace. The engine was fine, but immediately the car's horn now sounds like a toy car honking and four days after the event the MIL (one with engine shape) light came on. In my Sienna I've experienced "check engine" light and all I've had to do was tighten the gas cap and drive about 30 miles for the light to clear. I've driven the car for more than 50 miles and the light is still on. The car seems to perform normally.
    Additionally, after I've replaced the transmission control module about a year ago, the downshift from 2nd gear to 1st gear seems to be little rough, especially as I try to make it up a hill.This is a sporadic problem and I've originally thought that it might be the transmission. I've had the dealer inspect the transmission and replace the transmission fluid. The dealer didn't find anything unusual and the fluid was normal. I still have sporadic problems, especially as the car is warmed up.

    Can you share some thoughts on:
    1. Car's horn
    2. MIL light (how do I clear it), because the car is running fine
    3. Sporadically rough downshifting transmission


    Navy guy who is stationed in Seoul, Korea
  • vwdawgvwdawg Member Posts: 162
    rosie: It's difficult to determine brake replacement intervals without actually physically inspecting them (although I think your Passat would have a wear sensor on the front pads which would alert you when they are getting thin). I'm not a big fan of dealers. My advice? Establish a relationship with a good independent shop which specializes in German cars (where you can actually talk to, get to know, and trust your tech). These shops will have the diagnostics available to do specialized repairs, and including your 75k check. vwdawg
  • krzysskrzyss Member Posts: 849
    The horn was probably damaged by water.
    MIL - are there any OBD II readers in Korea?
    Transmission - no clue.

  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    There's a real good chance that the rear brakes will need to be replaced before the fronts (of course, it's the fronts that have the wear indicator - thanks, VW!).

    The only way to deal is to pull the wheels to check. And be aware that it is possible the outer pad looks pretty good, but the inner pad is more worn. I had that happen on the rear brakes on my '03 Passat, with the original pads. At 20K miles, the inner pads were shot.
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    x2 on Krzyss's post.
  • janice96janice96 Member Posts: 19
    edited October 2010
    As long as people continue to buying these vehicals nothing will be done as far as quality or service. I wanted to purchase an Audi- A4 T Wagon and went to Edmonds section for Audi. After reading all the problems and seeing a Post from someone who has owned Audis sense the late 70's.He put it this way Buy these cars with the extended Audi Warranty and trade before the warranty runs out. If you don't you will Pay and Pay and Pay!! So sounds like the VW is the same. So I personally don't have the time or even want to fight with a dealer or company.I currently have a 08 Suby - 79 Porsche 911 SC - and 06 Toyota Tacoma. My husband does most work to all of these. But these Cars are too Technical!!
    ( VW - Audi that is ) Janice ////////////////////////////////////
  • navyguy1990navyguy1990 Member Posts: 71
    The horn is back to normal. I guess it just needed to dry out. I'm going to get the repair shop on base to reset the alarm on Wednesday.
    On Saturday, my oil dip stick funnel cracked and came up with the dip stick when I tried to check the oil. Good thing you guys advised me on getting a spare dip stick and the funnel set. The local mechanic installed the new set in about a five minutes for free.
    The transmission is still a mystery to me. When the car is warmed up (driven for more than an hour), periodically the transmission downshift little rough. I'm guessing that the transmission control module needed a different programming. I think I can live with it.

    Thank you for your comments. Sure appreciate it.

    Navy Guy
  • nw_vwridernw_vwrider Member Posts: 1
    I have 03' Passat GLS 1.8t that just hit 106000k and the optimist in me is hoping to keep her running for at least couple more years. So, I am curious what kind of "do-it-yourself" tips there are out there that could help me hit my goal.

    The car is in good shape. I got the timing belt/water pump replaced recently, oil changes have been occuring every 4 - 5k miles and I have been on top of all other basic maintenance issue. My coolant must have a leak because i'm replacing that every 3 weeks which is annoying, but I haven't noticed any serious affect on the car.

    So, what can I be doing in addition to all of that to keep the car running? I noticed something about "CV joint" that something I should start planning for? Is there something I can do at home to prevent this?

    Anything would help, thanks!
  • vwdawgvwdawg Member Posts: 162
    Hello vwrider: Sounds like you're taking care of this car...good move. A few notes from vwdawg, based on ownership of five or six Vdubs: 1) Be sure you are putting ONLY VW spec 502.00 synthetic oil in that rig (Mobil 1 0W-40 is best); 2) Make sure you keep a close eye on the CV BOOTS...once they crack and break, your joints will take in dirt and water and soon be ruined. I'm surprised you haven't had to replace the boots already..Vdub boots are notorious for premature failure; 3) If you have a sunroof, be sure to keep your sunroof drain ports clean. Plugged ports can allow water to drain into the floor under your carpeting and ruin the computer which is there; 4) I hope you are putting only G12 (Orange) coolant in the NOT mix green with it...bad move; 5) Look online and access a list of scheduled maintenance for the '03 Passat...would also be helpful to get at least a Haynes or Chilton manual for basic DIY repairs. Good luck....vwdawg
  • duncanatorduncanator Member Posts: 1
    I had the engine replaced on my 02 Passat 5 months ago. There are now a few issues that my local mechanic doesnt know how to fix. 1.) The car doesnt start properly after adding gas, it sputters and i usually have to turn the key twice to get it started. 2.) When running if i give it a good amount of gas it sputters and the power goes drastically down (happens when going uphill a lot). 3.) When car is on and im waiting at a light in drive the car smokes out of the exhaust really bad. The car also sputters at this point. Any help would be splendid. Thanks.
  • campermancamperman Member Posts: 53
    Please bear in mind I am not a mechanic. I did experience the smoke problem in the Passat and it turned out to be gaskets. Had a similar problem in a Saab and it was a trottle body. It would smoke and at times, would just quit runniing. A good mechanic and a diagnostic should point the way. I would get that diagnostic done before I'd let anyone mess around with it.
    I also experienced sputtering problems with another VW which was water in the gas. Once the fuel filter was changed and some additive put into the tank and I ran the thing dry, the problem disappeared.
    There are several posters on here who will be very helpful and certainly know more about these beasts than I ever will. Good luck.
  • photodad3855photodad3855 Member Posts: 11
    Sorry to hear of your trouble. Why did you have the engine replaced? Timing belt??
    Did you get any kind of warranty?

    The timing belt broke on my '03 Passat which destroyed the engine.
    The VW dealer would only give me a 3-6 month warranty on the engine replacement and NO warranty on his labor. I said "no" and sold the car to a junkcar dealer.
  • orion747orion747 Member Posts: 1
    Did you find the source??? I have a similar issue with my 06 Passat 2.0T. One thing I did notice, while it is idling, the high-pitched noice goes away when you pull the oil dipstick out. In other words, when the vacuum is dirsupted, the noise stops. As soon as the dipstick is reconnected, the squeal comes back...

    I plan on working on it later tonight.... I'll keep you posted. If you have any updates, kindly post.

    Thank you.
  • passat2003passat2003 Member Posts: 2
    Hi Joe,
    Did you ever get an answer to this question or get the car fixed? I'm having exactly the same problem - every symptom. BRAKE on, handbrake alarm, no wipers, fan, or directionals in my 02 Passat.
    Appreciate any help you can give.
  • vwdawgvwdawg Member Posts: 162
    Hello All: Very annoying problem with my 2006 Golf. Got into the car last week, started it, and was perplexed to discover that I had absolutely no backlights for my tach, speedo, other gauges, etc. Turn signals, warning lights, etc., all work, but nothing else. I have had to carry a small flashlight (electric torch, for the Limeys here!) so I can see my speedo and verify that I'm not going too fast. My first thought was that someone had accidentally turned the rheostat to off position, but that was not the case. I checked all fuses in the fuse compartment on the left end of the dash...all good. Has anyone had a similar problem with their V-dub? Annoying, frustrating...a somewhat dangerous issue...would appreciate any solutions or suggestions. Thanks! vwdawg :mad:
  • campermancamperman Member Posts: 53
    Hello, vwdawg. I had a similar problem with a Saab and it took a full day to remove the dash. One light in the cluster had burned out and caused almost the whole dash lighting to go. It was a cheap fix except for the time involved. My son called tonight with a similar , not quite identical, problem however in his case it turned out to be a fuse in the engine compartment. fuse box which is an easy fix. I am not sure how your car is set up but if there is a cover under the dash you might try removing it and also removing the radio. It might allow access to the light or at least view the cluster and decide how to approach the repair. This can be an expensive job to get done at a dealership if the dash has to come out. Buying one of the good repair manuals might give you some guidance. Or you might visit your local library where there might be a manual and a photocopier.
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    When you said you checke dthe fuse, did you visually check them or use an ohmmeter? Maybe one looks okay but is still broken?
  • passat2003passat2003 Member Posts: 2
    edited November 2010
    Anyone have a clue on this - my '02 Passat 1.8T sedan 92K miles shows red BRAKE indicator on dash when started, then when driven the HANDBRAKE ON warning and buzzer goes off intermittantly, and while all this is happening, the wipers, directionals, fan motor and radio do not operate. Car drives and runs fine otherwise all the while. After driving for a varying period of time - up to 25 minutes - the BRAKE lights go off, the buzzing stops, and the other electrical items start up and act perfectly normal again. Brake pads/rotors are new all around, fluid level is ok, handbrake is not on. Suspicious item is that when working OK and using directionals in the 'lane-change' mode (not clicking all the way into left or right turn, but leaning on the lever), sometimes it makes a growling sound like a relay tripping in and out coming from the left dash area - done that since new but the rest of the problem is relatively new, Has to be related. Is that in the directional switch or ???Appreciate any help.
  • vwdawgvwdawg Member Posts: 162
    Hi altair4: Just did a visual on all of them...I'll try the ohmmeter approach. camperman suggests checking the "under the hood" fusebox. Do you know if there is another fuse located there that might cause this? Thanks to both you and camperman...I'll report back on what I find. vwdawg
  • connecticut2connecticut2 Member Posts: 41
    I am looking into getting a 2010 Passat and was wondering if folks who owned it would give me their take on it...

    thanks much...
  • xyzzy1954xyzzy1954 Member Posts: 11
    Hey there,

    For what it's worth, I have a 1999 Passat GLX, so maybe this info is out of date.

    The first 80K miles were a dream. I loved the car. But then stuff happened: oil leaked from the valve cover gaskets, making an awful smell; the air conditioner couldn't hold pressure, but no leak was detectable; the boots on the CV joint/axle wear out; the Bosch controller on the abs brakes went bad, causing most of the instrument panel to go haywire ($600). A switch on the air conditioner has gone bad($200 parts, $300 labor). The CV axle fell apart at 130K while I was driving (no harm done, i was literally across the street from my repair shop!)($300).

    So as others around here have said, if you like the car, buy the extended warranty, and when that runs out, get a different car.
  • photodad3855photodad3855 Member Posts: 11
    I had a 2003 Passat. Loved driving it. CV boots needed replaced under 30,000 miles. Bad part was the expense of a simple oil change; requires synthetic brand. Don't skip on the synthetic oil. You'll get sludge problems. Worst part for me was my timing belt broke and trashed the engine. Had 96,000 miles on it. Sold it to a junkyard auto dealer. If you can afford the maintenance, go ahead!
  • campermancamperman Member Posts: 53
    Run away quick.
    I wouldn't have another Passat under any conditions. Cannot afford the repairs, the downtime and the embarrassment. There will NEVER be another in my driveway. Test drive an Altima or the Maxima if you want a good car.
  • connecticut2connecticut2 Member Posts: 41
    Thanks for everyone's responses. Has anybody tried using the 87 Octane gas for the Passat? Also, how is it in the snow?

    Thanks again..
  • vwgrrrlvwgrrrl Member Posts: 19
    I have a Passat that's about 6 years old; the manual recommends Premium/91 gas. I usually use Plus/89 and have no problems. I have tried Regular/87 and I definitely felt a difference. The car pinged a little and the turbo didn't kick in the way it should. Plus is basically a combination of Regular and Premium.
  • vwgrrrlvwgrrrl Member Posts: 19
    edited November 2010
    2004 Passat 1.8T - Has anyone experienced the oil cooler leaking into the coolant reservoir? When this happens, they have to flush out the whole system. It's big job and an expensive one at that. What I want to know is... how did this happen??? What causes it to occur?
  • connecticut2connecticut2 Member Posts: 41
    I've scoured this very helpful forum in trying to determine whether I need to buy an extended warranty on a new Passat and it looks like the culprits for the majority of big item repairs were a timing belt and CV Joint. The new Passat has a timing chain, so that's no longer an issue. As for the CV Joint, it's NOT covered by the extended warranty. In fact, the extended warranty does not seem to cover any of the items mentioned on this forum as the root causes of the issues. I am a newbie to the VW world, having to come from the Japanese cars, so I am reaching out to you guys for the advice on the need for an extended warranty.

  • vwgrrrlvwgrrrl Member Posts: 19
    altair4, this is a totally delayed response to your post but i wanted to let you know that after shutting off the HVAC air recycling button, the issue was resolved. never knew leaving that on could cause fog. something so simple. anyway, thanks!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Really, an extended warranty that won't cover a drivetrain item? That's a pretty lousy extended warranty. Surely there must be better ones out there.
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    LOL! I had to read my original response and even then, I don't remember writing it! Glad that my post helped solve your problem.
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    I'll bet that the coverage extends to the CV joints, but only as long as the boot is intact and hasn't torn, allowing the joint to be contaminated. That's how every extended warranty I've ever seen has been written. 'Course, I've never seen a CV joint fail that wasn't contaminated by the boot being torn that's pretty much a non-issue.
  • abetterlife1abetterlife1 Member Posts: 1
    Hey everyone.... Need some major help. I hope someone here might be able to answer how I take the throttle body off my 2006 Passat? It needs to be cleaned and I can not figure out or find how to take that sucker out. I even went out and bought the from autozone because they said it would tell me... Either I don't know how to use it or to me it doesn't say and was a waste of money. I have read a lot about cleaning the TB but what I have read has been for older Passat's and the TB on those are easier to get to. Please.... Does anyone have any direction for me?
  • connecticut2connecticut2 Member Posts: 41
    Thnks for your response - that could very well be the case. The 7/70 extended warranty is provided by CNA and is about $1500. It tells you what it DOES NOT cover - basically wear & tear stuff, such as belts, hoses, etc. I am not seeing anything about the CV joints NOT being covered, but then again, it could be masqueraded under a different name....
  • mcubbymcubby Member Posts: 1
    I have a 2000 Passat that has an exhaust leak somewhere between the turbo and exhaust manifold that i cannot seem to locate and neither can the local repair shop. I'm thinking about tearing it apart myself but interested in knowing if anyone else has dove into this pond. The shop said that would have to charge me time and materials to tear it apart until they could locate the source of the leak. Any suggestions?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    doesn't the old "stuff a rag in the tailpipe and put it on a lift" trick work any more?
  • vwdawgvwdawg Member Posts: 162
    mcubby: Other than Shiftright's suggestion to "stuff a rag" (worth a try, anyway), I would suggest a second opinion. Are there any other dependable shops in your area? Unless you have undying faith in this shop, check with another one and see what they can find. Even the best of shops aren't perfect...go for it. vwdawg
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Are we ascertaining an exhaust leak based on sound or on smell? If it's on sound, then surely the stuffed rag has pretty much *got* to work---if by smell, it could be an oil leak rather than an exhaust leak.
  • campermancamperman Member Posts: 53
    I would normally have agreed with the "stuff a rag in the tail pipe" because that worked well. Having had the car from hell, a 2000 Passat, I be concerned with the sensors in that exhaust. As I recall there were 6 altogether and they were expensive suckers. I had sensors telling me I had problems with the exhaust and 11 different codes came up. I never could fix everything on that *&()#@%. I would be tempted to take it to a good dealer and have them check it out. Some private shops do not have the right diagnostic tools to give you the proper readings for a VW. Once you know the problem you could take it to your mechanic to fix.
  • campermancamperman Member Posts: 53
    edited November 2010
    as a matter of interest I believe altair4 was kind enough to post the ETKA site for all schematics for the 2000Passat, some time ago. Unfortunately, I do not have the site address but I saved all the schematics. Try ETKA2000Passat. If that doesn't work send me an email at [email protected] and I will sent you the schematics for the whole car including the exhaust system. Mark
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Well if you decide to tear into it yourself be really sure to clean off all connections *before* you disassemble any exhaust joints; also don't use any kind of fluffy or lint-y rag to clean parts, and finally, if you install new parts, keep them in the box until you're ready to install. Work CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN on any turbo system.
  • washpawashpa Member Posts: 1
    Changed the tensioner on 2000 VW Passat GLX 2.8L. Can't get the car to start. Several times I thought it would start, but then it fails. Any gotchas come to mind? :surprise:
  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    TIming belt tensioner? Something out of alignment? Off by a tooth on the belt, maybe?
  • thegaginatorthegaginator Member Posts: 1
    Did you ever fix your problem? i broke the same part on my shifter and i was wondering how you fixed it. thanks. [email protected]
  • connecticut2connecticut2 Member Posts: 41
    I picked up a new Passat a couple of month ago and, if the gages do not lie, has been averaging about 13 mpg. I drive mostly in the city and has been using a mixture of 89 and 91 octane gas. The gage that shows the current mpg is all over the place, so it's hard to figure out what I am getting when driving. But the gage that shows average mpg shows about 13 mpg since I have picked up the car. The car currently has about 2000 miles on it and I was wondering if anybody has experienced a similar problem.

  • altair4altair4 Member Posts: 1,469
    Why don't you fill the tank, record your mileage on the odometer, drive it awhile, and the refill. Record the amount of fuel you put in the tank and the mileage again. Divide the miles by the gallons and you'll get an accurate rendition of your fuel efficiency (MPGs).
  • krzysskrzyss Member Posts: 849
    Which engine do you have ?
    I think any of them requires 91+ so why are you adding 89?

    How much do you idle?

  • nnlogisticsnnlogistics Member Posts: 4
    2004 Passat awd, V6. I just got back from my Auto repair and was told the one side - flex pipe was rusted thru. He called VW and they wanted $1100 for the part????? He welded somethibng else in. I suspect it was solid pipe about 10 inches long. The car has 70,000 miles.

    Is this a common problem on this model at this mileage?

    Does anybody have an idea of what he has done? Is my assumption correct?

    Will the joint eventually fail because it can't flex?

    Does anyone have or know where I can find an exhaust diagram and parts breakdown for this car?

    Have a great New Year!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Sent the diagram to you via your e-mail.

    Shiftright, Visiting Host
  • mel101mel101 Member Posts: 1
    I want to get some feedback on the maintanence costs of the 2010 Passat Wagon. I am in the market for a new or new used car. Right now I am considering either a brand new 2010 Passat wagon or a 2008 Mercedes R350 (31,000 miles). THe Passat is on clearance and is going for a great price of $27,519. THe Mercedes is going for $28,999. I have always loved the look of the Volkswagon products but I want to get some feedback on the reliability and the maintanence costs. Current VW owners please provide me with some feedback. My husband would rather have me buy a new car instead of getting a used Mercedes.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H EdmundsAdministrator Posts: 11,114
    Have you driven the R350? It is big & heavy, with a large turning radius, and, IMO, not that great visibility.

    I'll let current owners comment on the reliability of their VW wagons, but neither is likely to come without issues. The difference with the VW is that you'll have the full warranty to start with.


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