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Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 57,374
    Using wire to clean sunroof drains is risky...some systems have a section of rubber hose in there, and if you knock that loose, you can imagine what it takes to get at it...I would use air pressure myself.

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  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Worth noting, but I only passed along what the shop manual mentioned. I have no idea how stiff or flexible speedo wire is. Personally, I've never used either method, but I do check those drains in the battery area frequently.
  • you should check out the other german car forums at edmund's. especially the MBs. can you imagine plunking down all of that dough--in many cases twice what Passat owners do--and still having the car in shop for assorted gremlins, demons, and the like. What is it, anyway, with German cars? the manufacurers can design these fabulous machines but they STILL don't get the reliability bit.
  • My 03 Passat remains trouble-free at 63K, but I know the routine maintenance is going to be high over the coming miles, what with changing brake pads (fine so far), timing belt, water pump, etc.
    Anyway, here's my question. I know these cars are supposed to have lifetime trannie fluid. But that seems like a bad idea to me (surely the fluid has little metal bits grinding around in it, no?)
    So.. should I get the fluid changed? When?
    If so, any caveats? Like - only have a dealer do it? (Or can any good trannie shop do it?)
    Use what kind of fluid?
    Or can I ignore it and hope it stays good?
  • Let's put it this way - if you get the fluid changed (especially if a different transmission fluid is changed), this will result in leaks in the transmission seals (at best), and rapid transmission wear (at worst). As a former mechanic and 5-time VW owner - my advice to you is this:

    If the fluid says lifetime - DON'T change it under any circumstances. That goes for transmission fluid, antifreeze, etc. These fluids were specifically designed for the metals, hoses, seals used in VW's engines, transmissions, cooling systems, etc.

    If you don't heed this advice, I have a saying that my parents brought with them from the islands:

    "Those who won't hear - must feel..." And your wallet will feel it ($$$$) big time... :sick:

    HTH... :shades:
  • My 2003 Passat has about 53,000 miles. I guess the Right front CV boot tore and the non-VW shop recommended a new axle. They installed an aftermarket axle (saying it was the best choice).

    Now when I take a really hard right turn (steering wheel to the wheel lock)and move (as in parking), there is a click / rub feel - similar to a part-time 4 wheel drive on dry pavement (this did not happen before the repair). The shop told me it could be a stiff joint - give it a few weeks (I did) and it still makes the noise. The shop says the steering may be "over-extending" and it isn't a safety issue. Has anyone else had this problem? Is it really "not a safety issue"? I will appreciate any info.
  • I have a 2002 Passat and the open door warning appears most on the time. It is the driver door. I was unable to find a sensor or something similar. Does anyone know how to fix this problem?
  • 600kgolfgt - many thanks for the advice on the trannie fluid - couldn't be more welcome!
  • I just replaced the front pads on my Passat, which was relatively straight forward. I moved onto the rears, and when I removed the old pads, I could not get the rear brake piston to retrack enough for the clearance of the new pads. I opened the bleeder, and the rear just kept bleeding without the piston retracking any further. I was using mt brake spreader and applied as much pressure as I could (and no, the emergency brake was not on). Any idea what is going on?
  • tf1tf1 Posts: 9
    Is it bug or feature?
    I've noticed my lights (DRL) will not go on at the time I release parking brake. It looks like I have DRL instead of low beam now. Any suggestions? (1.8T, sedan).
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Sure, it's been covered here before. The piston on the rear calipers has to be turned simultaneously while pressue is applied.

    You can rent a suitable tool from Auto Zone and some Pep Boys to do the deed. $35 (or so), fully refunded upon return of the tool. Much more difficult without the tool, but it supposedly can be done (dunno how - I used the tool).

    BTW, the same tool is needed on a bunch of cars that use the rear disc brake as the parking brake.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You wrote:

    I've noticed my lights (DRL) will not go on at the time I release parking brake. It looks like I have DRL instead of low beam now.

    First, let's make sure we're talking about the same things. I have an '03, BTW. There are the headlight low beam bulbs and then there are the smaller "city" light bulbs in the same area of the headlight unit. The DRL are actually the headlight low beams (some say they run at reduced power when in DRL mode). Are you saying that the low beams are not lighting, and all you are seeing is the city light bulb lit?

    Could be that both your headlight low beams bit the dust.
  • tf1tf1 Posts: 9
    altair4, thank you for your attention to my problem. Both at the same time?
    I was driving late evening and noticed difference in low beam(it was brighter couple days ago). I do not have any light at all when I release parking brake. When I turn low beam, those small bulbs goes on(not in the center, but on the radius), so now I use fog lights in the city. I've called VW today, they said check with dealership. I have 47,000 miles, so something might be covered under the warranty. I think it might be fuse(s), I am trying to read fusecard from driver's side(#s 20,21,22 and 23 are possible reasons).
    (Off top, one of my co-workers considering Passat, we might go to dealership this Sat with him).
    Thanks again and let me know what you think.
  • mrjettemrjette Posts: 122
    There is a slight difference in light output between the daytime running lights and the low beam lights. Some night, park in front of a garage door and start your passat. You see the DRLs. Then, turn on the low beam headlights. You should note a slight increase in the light output. The relationship to the parking break is not clear to me, however (I'll play later...). Don't be so quick to assume a fuse. There are many switches that could also be the root cause of the malfunction. At any rate, it is all warranty work.
  • tf1tf1 Posts: 9
    You are right, I had everything as you wrote. But as of now it's a little bit different: no lights at all after parking brake release, pure light(DRL?) after low beam turned on.
    Will try to check with dealer soon. Any ideas, concerning to fusecard from Passatians:)?
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    So you're saying that the low beams actually work when you turn the headlight switch on, but the DRL's don't work when you release the parking brake lever?

    If this is true, then it could be a defect in relay 173, which controls the DRLs, but I've never heard mention of anyone with a similar failure (and I'm on a lot of Passat boards).

    Out of curiosity, what is the condition of your battery? Is it the original battery? Have you ever added distilled water to it (the OEM battery is not a sealed unit but, incredibly, the caps to the individual cells are covered with two labels). Sometimes the Passat's electrical system gets dodgy when the voltage is on the lower side.

    Other than that, I'm out of ideas. Sorry.
  • tf1tf1 Posts: 9
    Just came back from the dealership. You were both right:
    "Both headlights burnt out" according to the invoice. Fixed in 40 min under the warranty.

    I had no low beam or DRLs at all when I release parking lever. These "little bitty" bulbs (not in the center of the headlight, but aside and up from them) would light when I would turn low beam, but it's not enough, they like bulb in simple flash light, so I used fog lights.

    I did nothing to the battery, it's still works well for me. Should I?
    Thanks again for your help.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Glad to hear the outcome went well, with just a simple burnt out bulbs issue.

    Okay, if your battery is the original, it will take distilled water. Taking care of the battery, especially now before the colder weather hits, is important. Even moreso, given that your car is at least 3 years old (mine will be 4 in November).

    Follow the instructions here to gain full access to the battery:

    Stop at step 2 from these instructions.

    Now, if your battery is like mine, it will have two labels stuck to the top of the battery, running end to end. One of those labels will have a hole in it to allow you to see the "magic eye" which reveals the condition of the battery. Peel these labels off and discard.

    Now, you should see six removeable caps. You can use a coin (a quarter works nicely) to unscrew these caps to reveal the interior of the battery. DON'T LOSE THESE CAPS.

    Next, using a flashlight, look into each cell. You should see electrolyte liquid in each one. If the level is low, you'll want to add distilled water until the surface of the electrolyte forms a meniscus or a dimple.

    The typical person will use an old turkey baster:

    And you may need something this big if the water is really low.

    I prefer something a bit more controllable, especially when adding just a little water - an oral medicine syringe for infants:

    You can get one at any drug store for very little money. The benefit is it allows very accurate amounts and placement without leaking. It's much smaller than a baster and easier to handle.

    Don't use tapwater. Use only distilled water. And remember that the electrolyte in the battery is actually acid. Don't get it on you or your car.

    Good luck.
  • tf1tf1 Posts: 9
    Thanks for the info. I've seen battery at the time I changed cabin filter, but did not pay attention to it. I will check it in the next week or two.
    Good luck.
  • Hello!

    I just bought a 94 Passat vr6 5 spd. last week and am unfortunately having the same problem engaging 1st gear. It is as if it is just not there sometimes. For the most part, it shifts smoothly, then all of a sudden, it will not go into gear no matter what I do. Then, it either just goes in or grinds in. I don't know about 5th as I have not yet had any problems (I live in Philadelphia, so I don't really get up to 5th very often). Please let me know if you have figured this out! Thanks. Nicole Miceli
  • I just bought a 96' Passat and when i bought it the ABS light and brake light were both on. it doesnt seem like there has been anything weird happening when i apply the brakes, does anyone know what could be causing this problem? I also have one other question, in the manual it says that there are front and back running lights, when just my running lights are on should my dash lights be on?? thanks
  • I had a problem with water too, my 96 passat was sitting in the driveway for a couple days when it was raining, i wondered why the inside of the car was fogged and when i opened the doors the front driver and passanger floors were soaked!! it went from under the dash to under the front seats. A few days later when it had dried it rained again, this day it POURED!! when it stopped i checked the car and it was completely dry!?!?! now it is damp again, only in the passenger side, does n e one have a clue wut could be causing this??
  • On the way to work this morning I heard something DRAGGING under my car..heart racing I jumped out and got on my hands and knees...turns out it's the PLASTIC engine cover on the bottom...AGAIN! HELP! Do I HAVE to get it fixed? What is it even there for and WHY is it plastic? I'm so confused...My right fog light is also out, do I have to take my car to the dealer for that too? I might as well just have my paycheck directly deposited to the VW dealer! :-P :confuse: :cry:
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 845
    well short answer is that you do not need this piece of plastic but...
    Your front wheel well lining is supported by it (you may get strange noises from linings flapping).
    Your Cd (Coefficient of drag) will likely go up and milage down (if you do any highway driving)
    More dirt in engine bay.

    Why plastic?
    It is cheaper than metal and probably lighter. It does not protect from impacts (as it is not supposed to) just helps air flow and keeps engine bay cleaner.

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    THe only thing I would add to Krzys' comment would be if you do get it replaced (I would), ask them to use the one for the W8 model. It will fit perfectly on any B5 or B5.5 Passat and, incredibly, it's actually less expensive than the one for the 1.8T or V6 model.
  • Two questions:

    1) How many miles are on the car?
    2) Has the clutch been changed recently?
  • mrjettemrjette Posts: 122
    Is the bumper to bumper warranty in effect (under 4 yrs & 50k miles)? If so, the fog light is covered. Has your mechanic removed this plastic to perform any work (oil change, etc.)? If so, perhaps they forgot to put all of the screws back in and caused the issue? It is worth asking about.
  • Not sure about the warranty..I put some calls in yesterday and have yet to hear back. I actually bought the car at Power Volvo in Irvine and it was used, so I'm trying to figure out what the deal is with the warranty. As for the plastic, I can see that its a little broken and the piece with the screw is hanging down, but it looks like it can just be put back in place, so I am going to avoid the dealership at all costs!! pun intended!!
  • brozhnikbrozhnik Posts: 172
    Really basic question but.... this thread has me thinking about the Passat battery. At 65k and 3 yrs, and mostly highway miles, my battery's fine, and this weekend I will go out and check the water as per altair's excellent post.
    BUT... a question.. suppose someday I need a new battery. The dealer will be happy to sell me one at a premium. But what are better deals? In other words - (a) what are the specs for a battery for a 2003 VW Passat 1.8t (my manual says nothing), and (b) which brands/ models out there do people recommend? (C) where would I go to get it at the lowest price?
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Brozhnik, excellent questions there! I've been thinking the exact same thing because I'm at 4 years of ownership, but with far less mileage than you (I'm at 35,000).

    From the research I've done so far, I see some people plunking down about $120 at the dealer. Others are using Auto Zone's Duralast battery in Group Size 48 for about $65. Some say that battery fits well, others say it's smaller than their OEM battery, causing a problem with the hold-down. Others have mentioned using the Sears Diehard.

    I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I have to measure my OEM battery first. But now that the cold weather has hit here, I'll be using my solar panel charger that I picked up from another Dub owner to keep things charged for now.

    BTW, it looks like all the replacements are maintenance-free designs. Not sure if that's necessarily better or not.
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