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Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair



  • Did you ever figure out what was causing this as I am having the same issue. My car went dead about 4 weeks ago, couldn't find anything wrong. Was OK for 4 weeks and now the problem is back, excactly how you described.
  • jenm24jenm24 Posts: 1
    I have a 99 Passat with the exact same problem. Anyone know what it is yet? Anyone know how to fix it?
  • I have not figured out what the problem is, but it has stopped for now. I disconnected the battery during the week once I got to work (dead batteries after a long day at the office are no fun) and at night. On Friday night I left it connected just to see what would happen and the fan ran a couple times but the car started. It has now been more than a week without the fan running at all. Go figure. My wife picked me up one of those battery jumpstart machines just in case. I still want to know what the hell the problem is, but hopefully it can wait until the next oil change.
  • I just took my 03 Passat in for an oil change and was told their is a leak and I need to replace the camshaft tensioner and timing belt at $510 and $650, respectively. Aren't the two related and easily fixed at the same time. I was previousl told approx $650 for the timing belt and to replace it around 90K miles but now the tensioner also, is this reasonable? Also should I expect to get another at least 90K mile with no problems?
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Timing belt is on the front of the engine. Camshaft tensioner is under the valve cover at the rear of the engine's valvetrain (on the 1.8T). The timing belt has a tensioner, too, but it's not called the camshaft tensioner.

    Does the $510 price on the the TB include all the associated parts? While you are in there, you might want to consider replacing the water pump, the t-stat, the rollers and tensioner. I would, especially if you're planning on keeping the car. If the $510 covers it all, it's an outstanding price. ECS Tuning has an Ultimate Timing Belt kit for $279 that includes:
    Timing Belt
    OEM Tensioner
    OEM Tensioner Roller
    OEM Idler Roller
    Hepu OE Water Pump With gasket
    Wahler OE Thermostat with O-ring
    A/C Belt
    P/S Belt
    2) 1.5 Liter bottles of G12 Coolant

    Can't tell you if the $650 for the cam tensioner is good or not. Looks fairly labor intensive, to me.

    The mileage to change the TB is a real crapshoot. I can tell you this, though: while VW suggests a 105K miles changer interval, the editors of the shop manual (Bentley) suggest 60K. I have an '03, mostly city driven, and I'm getting this done next autumn when I'm at about 60,000 miles.

    If your car is mostly highway driven, maybe you'll make 90K. If you are mostly stop-n-go, maybe you won't. The problem is that if the TB goes, the valves get smashed and the repair is pricey.

    So, how many miles on your car? What engine is it?
  • If I may add to this discussion:

    If the timing belt is the original one, I would highly recommend changing it between 60K and 65K. The reason being that the plastic impeller on the waterpump begins to disintegrate at said interval. I had the timing belts changed on my two 1.8Ts at 73K and 65K (respectively) just for that reason.

    As far as the timing belt itself, here's a guideline to follow:

    1) If you have a 1.8T Passat prior to 2003, the timing belt is more than likely the older design which should be changed at 60,000 miles. The newer replacement belts is a robustly constructed redesign which will last 100,000 miles.

    2) If you have a 2003 or later Passat 1.8T, the engine has the upgraded timing belt which will last 100,000 miles.

    My advice to you is to purchase a complete timing belt kit with the upgraded metal water pump, improved timing belt, tensioner, serpentine belt, etc. from places like or ECStuning (approximately $280-$300), and have a private VW mechanic perform the installation (approximately 4-6 hours labor). You will save hundreds of dollars, and the improved timing belt and metal waterpump combination should last for the next 100,000 miles before you need to have it changed again -

    (CAVEAT): provided you also have the oil changed every 5,000 miles with a VW 502.00 or VW 503.01 specification motor oil (hint: motor oils in both specifications are synthetic only) - lest the engine may suffer from the dreaded sludge monster - and all bets are off.

    If you have the dealer perform the installation, chances are you will get the improved timing belt, but they will install the factory plastic waterpump - which means you will have to change the timing belt every 60,000 miles (because of the plastic waterpump) - and pay several hundred dollars extra for the privilege.

    The same timing belt guidelines should apply to the V-6 model Passats (30-valve engines).

  • Hi all,
    I own a CPO 2003 VW Passat with 48 k miles on it. Looks like the battery needs to be changed.Does anyone know if the battery is covered by the CPO warranty.Also what is a " good battery" for VW Passat 2003 and any pricing info would be greatly appreciated.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    I had the timing belts changed on my two 1.8Ts at 73K and 65K (respectively) just for that reason.

    I'm curious about how the impellers looked on your two pumps. Did you get a chance to see them after their removal?

    So, basically, you are saying the belt will go 100K, but the pump won't, so change the whole thing out since they're all going to be disassembled to reach the pump anyway. Good advice!
  • 84,200 mile, 1.8T engine. The $510 and $650 covers all parts and labor, the water pump was replaced under the recall, just last year. I'm taking it in next week to have both repairs done. I drive highway miles and I agree that the alternative is lots of damage that could be avoided.
  • I have a 2003 Passat 1.8T, have had the oil changed every 5,000 miles with a VW 502.00 motor oil by the dealership from day one. I could have saved $20 going to a regular shop but after what I've read about the sludge--I want this to be on VW if something were to happen. I feel they should know their product better than anyone else.

    I will ask and consider replacing the plastic for metal waterpump. Thanks for the tips!
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You wrote:
    ...the water pump was replaced under the recall, just last year...

    What recall was this? I have a 2003 1.8 T and this is my first hearing of a recall involving the water pump. I know about the one for the fuel pump. Please share some knowledge! Thanks!
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 845
    if owner can prove that oil was changed each 5K miles and oil used was the proper one.

  • My wife has a 2003 Passat GLS 1.8T. The warranty is 4 years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Looks like your four years are up, so unless you have an extended warranty, I doubt if the dealer will replace it for free.

    Now on to your battery question. I just had the battery changed on her car with an Interstate battery (which I highly recommend - I also replaced the battery on my 2003 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T with an Interstate battery). I don't know if it was just me, but the factory batteries don't seem to last as long as they used to (only 4 years on both cars). Maybe its due to an ever increasing number of electronic components, computers, and sensors that are in most cars nowadays. I replaced the original battery on my 1997 Jetta a couple of years ago (the original battery lasted 8 years).

    I would stay away from the factory batteries - as they are outrageously expensive, and don't seem to last as long as a reputable aftermarket battery.

  • I'm a US Naval Officer stationed in Seoul, Korea and am about to wrap up a deal for a 2003 VW Passat 1.8T GLS. The car appears to be in pristine condition with 36,600 miles and thought it was a bargain at $11,000. The seller claims that she has used synthetic oil since new, so I'm hoping to avoid any possibility of engine sludge.
    The VW emblem on the engine cover fell off, because the adhesive melted from the engine heat. Is this normal?

    I'm purchasing this vehicle in lieu of 2003 Toyota Sequoia, because of reported reliability issue with the Sequoia.

    What are the most common problem area that I should focus on.

    Appreciate your insight.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Is this a US spec car? I've got a 2003 1.8T GLS, too.

    About the emblem - yeah, they fall off. Look around under the hood, though. They often get caught on the passenger side of the engine, down by the heat shield. That's where mine was!

    Here's some random thoughts:

    So you already know about the sludge issue. Use 502.00 or better yet, 503.01 full synth oil (M1 0w-40 is what is commonly available in the States). Use the larger spec'd filter (the old VW diesel filter). Don't exceed 5,000 miles between changes.

    It's a turbo - let it cool down a couple of minutes after harding running before shutting it down.

    Clean the drain plugs in the plenum area. There's a drain under the battery and one under the brake booster. This will keep water from accumulating and leaking into the car. The transmission and comfort control modules are in wells under the front carpet - big issues if these get wet or corroded.

    Expect the rear brakes to wear out before the fronts at about a 2:1 ratio.

    TIming belt needs done around 60K. Have the water pump, tensioners, t-stat, and rollers done then, too.

    My CV boots started cracking around 45K. Catch 'em before they actually rip and you can get away with just having the boots replaced rather than new driveshafts.

    Stay on top of the maintenance. VW's need more TLC than most cars and probably lots more than the other cars you see in Seoul.

    Watch the door bumnp strips on the front edge of the rear doors for any signs of lifting. The tolerances on the doors is very tight and if they start to lift you will hear a crunch and be looking at some body work on both doors.

    Use the OEM spark plugs for this engine. NGKs, but I can't recall the number. They're pricey but seem to work best.

    Clean the slush filter regularly. If you follow the air intake before the air filter box, you might find a fine mesh screen - a few leaves or a piece of celophane can really starve the engine for air.

    That's about it....good luck with the purchase!
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "So you already know about the sludge issue. Use 502.00 or better yet, 503.01 full synth oil (M1 0w-40 is what is commonly available in the States). Use the larger spec'd filter (the old VW diesel filter). Don't exceed 5,000 miles between changes."

    I believe that in Korea the best oil is the Shell Helix (I don't remember the grade), but it is a full synthetic and is both 502.00 and 503.01 certified. ;)

    Best Regards,
  • Thank you for your insightful advice.
    I'm suppose to pick up the vehicle this coming Monday.

    It is a U.S. spec vehicle and the lady told me that she bought it new in California and had it shipped here two months after the purchase.
    The emblem was turned into a local VW service shop for reattachment, but the shop didn't attach it back on. She's suppose to get them to reattach this weekend. The seller couldn't remember the name of the synthetic oil, but she told me that it was more expensive than Mobil 1 and cost about $7/quart at the military exchange (purple bottle?).
    I'd be sure to check the trouble spots that you've pointed out. The seller told me that she replaced the brake pads every 15,000 miles and that the car is on it's 3rd set (36,600 miles thus far on the car). She also complained about the brake dust build up on the alloy wheels.
    Do you take your vehicle to a local dealer? I'll be forced to order the replacement parts online and provide them to VW-Korea service center, because replacement parts run about 2-3 times the U.S. price. The labor runs about 1/3 of U.S. mechanic labor, so I'm trying to take advantage of both worlds.
    There are plenty BMWs, Mercedes, Volvos, and Hyundais on the military base, but VWs are quite rare.
    Thanks again for your advice.
    Navy guy in Seoul, Korea
  • Does Shell Helix come in a purple bottle?
    The seller keeps mentioning purple bottle that costs about $7/quart.

    Thank you for your advice.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Hey Navyguy, (former) Marineguy here. ;)

    The Shell Helix 0W-40 and 5W-40 (both of which meet the stringent 503.01 oil spec) is in a black bottle. - zzz_lhn4_3_1.html&FC3=/sg-en/tailored/shell_for_motorists/oils_lubricants/helix_- - new/products/ultra_ga_0707.html

    The bad news here is that even though I thought it was sold throughout Asia, I cannot find any references to Korea. :( Check your local autoparts store, and carefully look at each of the synthetic oils that they sell. If the bottle states that the oil meets either the VW 502.00 or (preferrably) the 503.01 oil spec, then you're good to go. ;)

    Best Regards,
  • Shipo,
    Thank you for your advice on the synthetic oil. I'll carefully check the military exchange shelf for the right oil.

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    The "Purple Bottle" sounds like Royal Purple if she bought it at the military exchange, but I'm just guessing. Royal Purple is one of those "boutique" oils...Shipo may have more thoughts on that. I'm not sure if they're compliant with 502.00 or 503.01 or what they have. I'm sticking with M1 in my engine.

    About the brake dust...the OEM pads can be pretty dusty, but some of the after-market ones are much worse (Ate pads, for one). Others are much less dusty and the dust they make is lighter in color. Specifically, I'm thinking of PBR brand, Deluxe Plus pads. They're about equivalent to OEM for stopping power, dust less, and last longer.

    I get some service done at the dealer (mostly oil changes to keep the sludge warranty fully in place). Other stuff I take to a local independent garage that specializes in German makes.

    You might want to check out the following for parts:

    There are others. You'll need to make contact with them about shipping to you there.

    Thought of something else about maintenance:

    VW recommends that the brake fluid be changed out every two years regardless of mileage. I'm following that guideline, too.

    If you get a BRAKE Failure message, start searching the web for places tht will refurbish your ABS module.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    As far as I know, Royal Purple is NOT certified to meet any VW standards of any kind.

    Regarding Mobil 1, yup, great oil, I use it too. I was just trying to give our buddy in the Navy different options just in case it isn't available in the PX. ;-)

    Regarding brake pads, I used the PBR/Axxis Deluxe Plus pads on my 530i and they were wonderful. Good stopping power, no noise and no dust. I wish they were out for the Audi A3 as it looks like a good possibility that my wife and I are going to be filling both of our garage bays with a pair of 2008 Audi A3 2.0Ts. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    I hear ya about the PX thing. Having never been in the military, do they handle only stuff from the US, or do they also sell other products (like the Shell Helix you mentioned)?

    A pair of A3's? Schweeet! I'm waiting on the Jetta TDI wagon to get here and for the techs to get familiar with it. Might be in line for one in about a year or so (I won't buy a first year production model....and, yeah, I know it will be out in Europe before here, but that still doesn't count in my view!).
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Looks like 0w-40 M1 is available in Korea:
    Mobil 1 Korea

    And it looks like Shell has a 0w-40 and 5w-40 on their Korean webpage:
    Shell Korea (click on the engine in the cutaway car).

    Motul's Korean website:
    Motul Korea
    Their 8100 Ester E-tech is 502.00 and 503.01 compliant.

    I have, of course, no idea where you would buy these in Korea, but at least you know that you have some options that meet the specs for your engine.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    "I hear ya about the PX thing. Having never been in the military, do they handle only stuff from the US, or do they also sell other products (like the Shell Helix you mentioned)?"

    I don't remember what the PX carries as I left the Marines back in the late 1970s. That said, my guess is that you can buy lots of U.S. domestic market stuff as well as a healthy smattering of stuff from the local market.

    Regarding the Jetta TDI, a TDI Sportwagon is extremely attractive to me too, however, I don't know if I want to wait for another year or more for the initial bugs to get worked out and for the dealers to stop charging a premium for a car that is surely to be in high demand.

    As a side comment, Mrs. Shipo decided on adding another member to our family in the form of an 80 pound Labrador Retriever, and as such, normal sedans are kind of out for our future transportation needs as our Lab needs to get schlepped around fairly frequently. While the A3 is a tad small for fitting all four of us plus our puppy, I doubt that we'd ever need to fill them up that full (we’d either be carrying the kids or the dog but not both at the same time), and if we do, we're planning on keeping one of our two current mini-vans for when the need arises. ;)

    Best Regards,
  • My bad, it was the fuel pump. It seems like there were so many, I got them confused--sorry. The last one I'm aware of is the brake switch.

    By the way, are there any other gaskets, belts, hoses etc. that I should consider changing while they've got it all opened up for this service?

    Only after asking, the service guy suggested serpentine belt at least. I'm going to have VW change any gasket, belt and hose they can access at that time. I wondered aloud why wouldn't you just change out what you could since all the parts work together to run the car or at least recommend this upfront and let the customer be well informed and decide. This way it all starts out on the same page--my thinking. I could just see it now, timing belt changed and then the serpentine belt goes-another $500 repair. He couldn't tell me how much wear in mileage I should expect to get on the the other nearby parts so that's why I'm opting to have any gasket, belt and hose they can access changed. I also asked about the water pump and was told it is metal--will have this double checked and confirmed also.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    I dunno what else you can do while the TB is being done. That list of parts that I posted earlier is pretty comprehensive, but others here may be able to help you.

    You wrote:
    I also asked about the water pump and was told it is metal--will have this double checked and confirmed also.

    I was at my dealer about three weeks ago and I was talking with one of the techs about the water pump. She told me that the metal pumps are available aftermarket (like by Hepu) and that the VW part still has a plastic impeller. I'd make real sure about this before they do the install, if the plastic piece really concerns you.

    BTW, at my dealer, they'll install parts other than VW's, but their warranty won't cover that part. YMMV....I'm thinking I'll get mine done by a German-specialist indy.
  • Shipo and Altair4,
    Thank you both for your time and words.
    I know for sure I can Mobil 1, since I put that in my wife's Toyota Sienna. I'll check for other synthetic oil while I'm at the PX auto parts store.
    They are usually good about stocking high demand items, but I've discovered I need to order the filters (oil, fuel, air) and other low demand items on my own.

    Since VW Passat is such a rarity on base, the associated parts are difficult to find.

    I'd be sure to check out the websites and if needed, google for me.


  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Keep in mind that while there are LOTS of grades of Mobil 1, only one of them meets the VW 502.00 and 503.01 oil specifications, and that oil is Mobil 1 0W-40.

    Best Regards,
  • Shipo,
    Thank you. I'll look for that specific viscosity Mobil 1.
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