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Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair



  • The malfunction indicator lamp recently came on in my 2001.5 Passat wagon. Before this occurred, the engine had been making a strange sound like the sound of helicopter blades for about 2 weeks. Having recently had the mass air flow sensor replaced at a local VW dealer, I decided to take the car back to the dealer; I suspected that the problem might be related to that repair. At first, the dealer said that the codes coming from the computer indicated a bad speed (camshaft) sensor. The dealer also said that the camshaft adjuster was bad and would need to be replaced. After replacing these parts, however, the malfunction indicator lamp still did not go out. The dealer then asked me whether I had had the timing belt replaced. I replied that I had done so at the same time that my defective water pump was replaced; this work was done by a highly rated independent repair shop (I didn't take it to the dealer because I never suspected that the coolant leak would be due to the water pump, which is covered under the powertrain warranty). The dealer then discovered that the timing belt was flopping against the timing belt cover and that I would need a new timing belt and belt tensioner. After making those repairs, however, the malfunction indicator lamp still did not got out. The dealer then discovered that the tab on the crankshaft that fits into the crankshaft pulley was missing, and they believe that the tab must have been broken off when the timing belt was replaced. According to the dealer, I now need a new engine (either short or long block) at the cost of ~$9,000. I asked whether they could simply replace the crankshaft, and they said no but did not provide any reason. I am going back to the dealer tomorrow to have them contact the independent shop that replaced my timing belt. I am really hoping that the independent shop will acknowledge that the problem was their fault. If not, I am up a creek because the dealer has already staked out their position and will not admit that the problem was due to a mechanical defect in the crankshaft. I am caught in the middle. The car is only worth about $9,200 in a private party sale; thus, if I have to cover these costs, I don't know what I'll do. It seems that the best course of action would be to take the car to some repair shop that would replace just the crankshaft, but that will still be very expensive. Does anyone have any advice? Are there any legal channels I could go through to fight this (perhaps VW arbitration?)? :sick:
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    NO idea about arbitration or any other legal recourse. But finding a salvage engine would certainly cost less than what the dealer is suggesting.

    Out of curiosity, was the timing belt tensioner replaced by your indie replaced the TB and water pump? At what mileage was that work done and how long before the helicopter sound appeared?

    Lots of people on Passat boards across the web recommend changing out almost everything that the TB touches, including the tensioner when the TB is replaced.

    Good luck with your tough situation.
  • Thanks for your reply. I hadn't considered the salvage engine option. No, the indie repair shop did not replace the timing belt tensioner although they did replace the camshaft and crankshaft seals and all drive belts. The timing belt was replaced at just under 66K miles at the end of March. The mass air flow sensor was replaced at just over 71K miles at the end of July. The helicopter sound didn't occur until about 3 weeks ago at approximately 75K miles. Thus, there is about 7 months and 9K miles between the timing belt replacement and my current problem.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You might even be able to find an AWM (the engine code I believe your 1.8T has) engine with fewer miles than you are already carrying. 'Course, you'll end up doing the TB again!

    Some of the online vendors sell the complete kit - TB, tensioner, water pump, etc.
  • I have a 2001 Passat Wagon with an intermittent problem: the tailgate will refuse to open for no apparent reason.
    After flipping the electrical lock 5 or 6 times or taking a short drive, it's back on again. Any ideas?

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    My guess would be a bad liftgate microswitch.

    Google "replace Passat microswitch" for details.
  • I have a 1996 passat, when i bought the car everything worked. Since then i have had some water leaking into the floor of my car and i have also realized that the radio is not working any more. Do you think these two things are connected?? also, when the running lights are on should the dash lights be on too?? finally, suddenly my passenger door wont open unless i push above the door handle while pulling the handle...any suggestions on any of these??? thanks
  • I have an '02 Passat 1.8T that I had left sitting idle for about a week in our garage. When I went to start it this morning, the starter would turn but the engine would not fire up. It's not the battery; as I said, the starter engaged fine and all the accessories and lights worked. And I made sure that I had the clutch pedal fully engaged, so that shouldn't be the issue, either.

    I'm racking my brain trying to figure out what the problem is. There were no issues last week when I parked it.

    What's going on?
  • My 2001 Passat did the exact same thing on Sunday. Belts are all intact. Battery is good. Starter is turning. All fine when I parked it on Wednesday. Mine is an automatic.
  • I have a 2005 Passat GLS. I have notices that I have developed cracks in the "wood grain" (looks like plastic to me) facing on the interior door handles on all four doors. Is this common? Should I make them replace it? I am still in the warranty period.
  • Couldn't hurt to try. Worst they can do is decline to perform the fix. I had a myriad of warranty work performed on my '02.
  • brozhnikbrozhnik Posts: 172
    70K on my '03 Passat 1.8 without a problem - until two nights ago when I hit, of all things, a raccoon on the highway. Not an ordinary raccoon - a big, strapping, well-fed one.
    Anyway, the main damage was to the belly pan or whatever you call that plastic shield-thing underneath the engine - the front end of it got torn off and I heard a scraping sound underneath as it dragged under the car. I pulled off the road, took a look, AAA came out, and the guy wired the pan back on with black plastic wire clips. A small chunk of the thing was torn off but it is more or less in place.
    The dealer estimates $362 to replace it, but I notice German Auto Parts offers the part for $129. Hmm.... doesn't look that hard to install, even for a non-DIY type like me. And I don't think there's any hurry, since most of the old one is jerry-rigged onto the car.
    Any cautions or advice on this or on installation?
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 845
    Somebody mentioned that W8 under tray fits 1.8T and V6 and it is cheaper. Try this.

  • Have taken the car to my dealer twice and they cannot find the cause. Help! Has anyone else experienced the same problem.

    First the water leaked to thr front drivers floor, now the back floor is flooded.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    See message 2029 in this thread...
  • I recently took my Passat to the dealer to have the rightside cv boot replaced and some recalls (passenger side seat heater switch, driver side seat heater). Now, water is leaking in on the floor of the passenger-front side. I pulled up the carpet and the floor was soaking (and yes, the stench gave it away and was the cause of the investigation). I poured water down the windshield and noticed water coming in from behind the dash. Has anyone had this problem? Is it coming in from the seal of the pollen filter. I'm a little suspicious b/c I never had this problem until after I got my car back from the dealer.

    Any advice is very appreciated. -Thanks
  • I just posted a question w/ the same problem; I'm getting water in the passenger-front floor. I pulled up the carpet and noticed the water coming in not from the sunroof drains but somewhere from around the battery or pollen filter area. And yes, there is a lot of leaves debris, dirt, etc in that area. I'll remove the battery and try and do some cleaning as suggested.

    I'm new to this posting so this may have been mentioned already. But check the nipple like rubber hose coming out at a 45 degree angle near the upper portion of the frame where you open the door. Here you can see the nipple is flat on the edge - this is where the sunroof drains into. If you open the sunroof and pour water in this area (be careful), it will come out this nipple (on both sides). If it *doesn't* come out then your nipple/hose is plugged. Stick a small twig (not too sharp) in the nipple and wiggle around to see if water comes out. This should fix it. I saw this done at the dealer.
  • robr2robr2 BostonPosts: 8,862
    I'm blushing at this post.

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Some have suggested cutting that flat section off the drain hose. I'd be concerned about spiders and such getting up in there and building a nest and making it worse.

    Personally, I give those nipples a squeeze after every car wash to make sure they stay clear. I also watch them when I get in the car in rain. I always watch for water dripping from them.

    Finally, yeah, you really need to clean out that cowl section by the battery and brake booster. But it could be that the seal is shot around the cabin air filter. It's a craptacular design. You can search the web for how to repair/upgrade that gasket with RTV or other sealant.
  • Altair, do I need to remove the pollen filter housing to do this? I looked at it the other day and it seems that I can't get to the back left nut holding it on. There is a black strip across the bottom part of the windshield that is preventing this removal. Does this need to come off, and if so, how?

  • Altair, I couldn't find the info on Google for repairing the cabin filter gasket. If you've done this b4, what search criteria did you use?

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Sorry - Yahoo (not Google) this:
    passat pollen filter seal

    First link has another link, and that should give you pics of the job (or it did this AM when I tried it). Sorry, rules here preclude giving any more clues than that. If you show your email, I'd send you the link.
  • Altair, that was helpful as it provided good insight into what was needed. However, I'm a little concerned about taking the pollen tray out since it seems very hard to get to, being under the windshield drip strip. Have you taken this off before or do I need to remove it to get the tray out?

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You know the expression, "those who can't do, teach"? ;)

    I've never done this with my car, so I can't answer your question! I do, however, watch that cowl area to make sure it's clear of any debris and I watch my sunrood drains to make sure the actually drain.
  • feilofeilo Posts: 128
    The cabin pollen filter is not hard to get to - Google "passat cabin filter replacement" and you should find some helpful sites with directions on getting to and replacing the filter amongst parts sites. I have done it a couple of times over my 4 year Passat ownership - just be careful to re-seat the seal strip properly after you are done. All the best!
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Hey, Feilo!

    Yeah, the filter change is easy...I've done that myself. I was trying to get him to the page with the repairing / resealing instructions for the foam gasket under the actual filter (haven't needed to do this one myself, though).
  • feilofeilo Posts: 128
    Long time no time no post ... ;)
  • I did remove the cabin air filter tray the other day and found that it wasn't mounted properly during manufacturing. (The plastic cowel at the bottom of the windshield comes off quite easily since it snaps off.) I could tell this b/c the imprint left on the rubber seal was inconsistent, hence, the leaking problem. Unfortunately, the rubber gasket was torn and cracked so I went to get another gasket and guess what, the dealer won't sell you the gasket so you have to buy the entire tray unit for about $40 - way to screw us VW. I did purchase, applied some silicone sealant to mounting area and reattached. All pretty easy actually.

    Thanks to everyone for their help.
  • I have a 2004 Passat with OnStar. We want to replace the stereo with an aftermarket one. Will the OnStar cause a problem with the wiring? We don't need the OnStar functionality.
  • bronsonbbronsonb Posts: 170
    Considering you posted this a month and a half ago, you've probably already fixed the issue regarding the belly pan. We had to replace the belly pan on our 1999 Passat, but the dealer only charged us $165 for the pan and no labor since they were changing the oil at the time. I know the skid plate attachment is a tad different on the 2003, but not MUCH different. Heck, I'd take a chance on the one for $129. It's held in by 5 screws under the car and two in each wheel well. Shouldn't be that hard to install.

    Good luck
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