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Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair



  • I was/are kinda in the same boat. I have a truck I liek to drive, and made
    the mistake of driving an 08 Passat Wagon. I am in love with it. Loved how it
    hauled [non-permissible content removed] and just handled. I want it BAD! but, i too am unsure of VWs
    reliability, and I would lose ALOT of money on my trade since it is a giant [non-permissible content removed]
    tax deduction. So, in 3 years, I willl get a VW Wagon, or 5 series wagon, and
    finally be happy.
  • I just pulled off the timing belt on my 2001 passat. I'm using a Haynes manual, and the belt tensioner in the manual is different than the one in my car. the one I have seems to simply use a rod protruding from the lower left (from the front of car) to push the tensioner and tighten the belt. can't see how to loosen it. anybody can help?
  • I bought my Passat used two years ago with 50,000 miles. Car Fax report showed zero activity for the life of the car excepting one previous smog check.

    the car has been awesome. it now has 106,000 miles on it. the only problem I've had was the flasher/turn signal unit went out at about 80,000. It cost about $40 at the dealer for the new unit, and about 15 min to put it in. I know this car doesn't have a great reliability reputation, but mine has been excellent.
  • Some suggestions:

    1. Never, EVER use a Haynes manual as a reference guide for a VW. I highly recommend purchasing the Bentley manual (the VW bible).

    2. The Haynes manual that you have probably has information for your Passat up to early 2001. Your car is more than likely the 2001.5 - which had a lot of design changes to the engine - including the hydraulic tensioner that you have (the one with the rod protruding from the lower left). This tensioner adjusts the timing belt tension automatically without the need for human intervention (except to replace the tensioner itself).

    3. If your car is indeed a 2000 through 2005, the water pump is integrated into the engine block. If you see a cogged gear that the timing belt drives - that is your waterpump. I would HIGHLY recommend changing the water pump at this time due to the fact that the factory water pumps have plastic impellers that have been known to disintegrate around the 60,000 - 70,000 mile mark. The water pump should be replaced with the improved aftermarket GRAF water pump with the metal impeller.

    If you do not have any of these items, I would STOP what you're doing, and order a complete timing belt service kit from

    Here's the complete link specifically for your model passat

    Trust me, this will save you a lot of headache$$$$$$$ in the long run.

    Good Luck...
  • Yeah, it may be five years later but I had the same problem! Maybe someone will read this in the future.

    My condition was temperature related and similar to yours. If I really gave it the gas, the exhaust sensor light would flash to indicate potential problems with the catalytic converter. This all happened after I hit a deer and had quite a few repairs to the front left side of the car.

    The problem was diagnosed by Northland VW in Cincinnati. It was a broken spark plug wire. He found it by spritzing water into the engine as it ran, then saw sparks. It was very tough to find because I could not produce the problem for any dealers. They replaced all the spark plug wires.... then ended up replacing them again 4000 miles later for a regular maintenance!
  • thanks for the reply. I do have a new water pump to put in, although it too has the plastic impeller. As for the tensioner, I've taken it off the car and put it in a c- clamp to compress it back down...there are holes in the rod and the casing to allow a thin pin to be inserted to hold it in place.

    Question: do you think this tensioner needs to be replaced? When I compressed it in the c-clamp, a small amount of hydraulic fluid came out.
  • Here's a rule of thumb when replacing the timing belt - replace everything (timing belt, tensioner, serpentine belt, water pump, thermostat, etc.). Since a timing belt job requires hours of labor ($$$), you might as well give yourself a piece of mind by installing new parts.

    In other words, if you just replace some of the parts, and one of those components fail, you're looking at a $5000+ engine replacement job.

    So play it safe - and replace everything. And do not install that plastic water pump - get the metal one. Based on my personal experience (I have two 2003 1.8Ts - one Passat and one Jetta), and the experiences of many VW mechanics that I've worked with over the years - the plastic waterpump has a life expectancy of 60,000 - 65,000 miles before its starts to disintegrate.
    The metal water pump will extend your timing belt change intervals to the 90,000-100,000 miles (close to the factory recommended 105,000 miles). With the metal water pump, I make it a point to change the belts (and associated components) every 90,000 miles (to be on the safe side).

    That being said - everything I have just stated assumes that the car has regular oil changes not exceeding 5,000 mile intervals with a VW 502.00 specification motor oil (at the VERY MINIMUM) or a VW 503.01 specification motor oil (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). The majority of timing belt failures are due to factors other than the timing belt itself:

    1) Sludge - leading to a seized engine which causes the timing belt to break
    2) Failed timing belt related components:
    - Plastic water pump disintegrates - plastic pieces jam the water pump
    while the timing belt is moving - causing the belt to break

    - Timing belt tensioner failure - causing the timing belt to break

    - Running an engine with the same timing belt past the recommended
    change interval (i.e. well past 105,000 miles) - leading to timing belt
    failure due to excessive wear.

    Here's a list of motor oils I recommend (using the newer VW 503.01 specification - HINT: every oil in this specification is synthetic):

    Mobil 1 0W-40 (Available at most major auto stores)
    Castrol Syntec 0W-30 (Available at Auto Zone, and selected auto stores)

    Oil Filter - Use the factory MANN oil filter specifically for the Passat 1.8T ONLY!!!! Most of the aftermarket oil filters (Fram, etc.) are of inferior construction (rubber bypass valves, rubber anti-drainback valves, etc.).

    The VW factory oil filters are not only robustly constructed, they incorporate an internal steel ball-bearing bypass valve and steel ball-bearing anti-drainback valve which aids in regulating the oil pressure while the engine is running, and prevents dirty oil from flowing back into the engine after the engine is turned off.

    Good luck, and let us know how your timing belt job worked out.
  • all good advice. thanks. I'm running into another problem....I don't seem to be able to get the new timing belt over the sprockets. The tensioner has the pin in place, the timing belt matches the old one, but it just doesn't seem long enough to pull over the sprockets. I expected a tight fit, but this is ridiculous. I must be doing something wrong. any ideas?
  • Final result:

    I finally got the timing belt on....after about 5 hours of tugging, stretching, cursing and inserting several breaks to restore my sanity, I got it on by getting it on the crank, water pump and tensioner pulley and about halfway on the camshaft. Then I put a wrench to the camshaft and turned it, pulling the belt onto the cam in the same manner I used to put bicycle chains back on...
    I must confess that I decided to take my chances with the old tensioner and the plastic water pump, in no small part due to the fact that parts were not available for several days and I need this car on the road. I will be sure to do this again in 60,000 miles and order the German Auto Parts kit and do it right. I can't tell you how disappointed I was that I didn't know about this product before I started. I also changed the plugs and oil, and the car runs fantastic. BTW, my experience is that those platinum plugs are worth changing at 50,000 miles, not 100,000.
  • I must confess that I decided to take my chances with the old tensioner and the plastic water pump,

    If your car is at or above 60,000 miles, you're rolling the dice by re-using the old tensioner. But the bigger risk is re-using the old water pump. Case in point: When the timing belt/water pump was changed on my 2003 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T (73,000 miles) and 2003 Passat GLS 1.8T (65,000) miles, the water pumps on both cars disintegrated when they were removed (not worn, but DISINTEGRATED). This is based not only on my experience, but the experience of several VW mechanics that I've worked with over the years.

    I realize you need to get your car back on the road, but you have to ask yourself - is it worth risking a potential $5000+ (for the engine alone without the labor) engine replacement? Keep in mind, the 1.8T is an Audi-sourced engine, not a VW engine - which means $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$....
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 845
    and 1.8T was widely used by many different VW vehicles (Skoda, Audi, Seat and VW brands).

  • hey guys, im new to this site, and am looking and reviewing all the details about passats. im looking into buying a 2002 Volkswagen Passat GLX Wagon that i found on sale. hes asking $8,750, but im hoping to get it for $8,000. here are some details about it:

    60,000 miles. Beautful Car, Owner sale, Fully loaded, one owner and very low mileage , V6 engine. Recently fitted with new tires, brakes and battery. All scheduled maintenance completed. Purchased new car and must sell.

    he also told me he had an oil leak but just recently got that fixed.

    so, what im asking is, if it all checks out, does this seem to be a good deal. anything you would suggest me asking him? he said i can take it to a mechanic, which i will, but you guys have any tips for me
  • The first thing I would investigate is whether the timing belt service has been performed. At 60,000 miles, the main concern usually isn't the timing belt itself, but the water pump (with a plastic impeller) that has been known to disintegrate at the 60,000 - 70,000 mile interval.

    If that isn't the case, the seller should knock at least $750 - $1000 off the price (which is what will likely cost to have the timing belt service performed - which includes the timing belt, serpentine belt, tensioners, water pump, thermostat).

    If these terms are met and you wind up purchasing the car, I would then do the following:

    1) Purchase the timing belt service kit from It includes everything you will need - including the improved aftermarket water pump with a metal impeller. Do this and you will extend your timing belt service interval from 60,000 to 100,000 miles (as recommended by the factory).

    Here's the link for the timing belt service kit:

    2). Find a reputable mechanic who specializes in VWs, and have them install the timing belt kit (that way you will only have to pay for labor). I would not take it to the dealer because not only are their labor charges much higher, they will insist on installing their factory parts (including the plastic water pump) - and you will pay accordingly $$$$$.

    Also find out whether the following recall items have been addressed:

    1) Brake light switch
    2) Coolant temp sensor

    In addition, check the condition of the brakes - especially the rear ones, as the rear brakes tend to wear more quickly than the fronts on Passats.

    Good luck...
  • thanks for the info, i went ahead and forwarded him my post and your post. i actually left out the fact that i know he just got the timing belt recently changed, but not sure if he did the rest of the timing belt service like the water pump, thermostat, etc. i also talked with my mechanics about the car a bit and they pretty much said the same thing. thanks for the help, it was paragraphed and explained well where i could send it to him and see if he gets the hint
  • I recently had timing belt, tensioner, water pump, etc. replaced on my 2002 1.8L Passat at 98K miles. I noticed a rough ride after the repairs and the "engine light" lit within the next day. The dealer replaced a leaking vacuum hose to solve the engine light issue at no additional cost but the rough ride continued. Nearly 4 weeks later, the rough ride still continues.
    I noticed an earlier post suggesting a loose engine mount. Could this instead be due to an inproper alignment of the crank and cam shafts (incorrect timing)??
    I will be returning soon to the dealer to get the problem corrected on their dime (it is not only annoying but is probably damaging my engine) since the car ran smoothly prior to the repairs.
    Any other suggestions for getting the dealer to acknowledge this problem and to fix it??
  • bjssbjss Posts: 51
    Great post! Was just getting read to take in my 2002 GLS wagon (1.8T) to replace the Timing belt, water pump, Thermostat, Serpentine belts....called the dealer, was quoted $1600 to complete. Looks like the Timing belt service kit on the website you recommended is ~$285..I plan to order and take to a reputable mechanic (if I can locate) and have them install. Have you had any issues with the parts ordered from I assume they meet all VW specs. Also, any idea on how I can locate a good VW mechanic (Dallas, TX Area)? Thx
  • misto7misto7 Posts: 6
    I just had the same timing belt service done on my passat (2003 1.8T with 98K miles). No rough ride so far, but I did notice that my temp gauge is now dancing between 0 and straight up. Dealer offered to take me right back in as soon as I can get back there. Curious... how much did you pay for the service? Mine was $929 but I got 10% off the labor.
  • sclaarksclaark Posts: 6
    I was quoted 850-1100 for a timing belt service from a European Specialty VW dealers where I live. the floating temp gauge could be due to a bubble in the cooling system. When the heater core is drained, you need to follow a certain, simple procedure for re-filling or an air bubble can/will develop. I did my belt draining only the radiator and block to change the water pump.
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690 (a.k.a. GAP) is highly regarded in the VW enthusiast scene. I've been dealing with them for years and have had no issues whatsoever. They specialize in VW OEM parts and aftermarket VW parts that meet or exceed VW specs. I purchased the timing belt kits for my 2003 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T and my wife's 2003 Passat GLS 1.8T and have been more than happy with the quality of the parts.

    I'm an East-Coaster, so I wouldn't personally know any mechanics in the Dallas area.
    However, here's a link (specific to your area) that has some recommendations for VW mechanics:
  • bjssbjss Posts: 51
    Thanks for the reply..found this shop in Dallas that specializes in VW's and Audi's (shop name - 'Lord of the Rings')....have seen several good posts recommending them. They quoted me $900 for the Timing belt service.
  • vogpoohvogpooh Posts: 1
    We just got a passat and have been having issues when you come to a stop. It has died out on my twice and I'd say about 85% of the time it feels like it's going to die out... It acts like if it were a clutch you didn't put the clutch in. I have had it to the shop twice and they told me they dont know what is going on... They did tell me that I needed to put prem. gas in it not regular. I find it hard to think that with 55,000 miles on it that it all of a sudden needs this gas, they told me because of the Turbo.... I think since putting this tank of prem. in it that it's acting up more... Any ideas or suggestions??? Thanks!!
  • greatcarsgreatcars Posts: 66
    Just try to use premium gas for a few tanks and see if it works better. If it's designed that way you can't complain too much if it's not fed with the design standard. Remember this car was designed by the German.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Is it throwing any codes? If so, post 'em and see if anyone can help you. You can get the codes read for free at Advance Auto or Autozone.
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    Good deal! Much better than the $1600 quoted by the dealer. The lion's share of the cost of a timing belt service for the Passat consists of labor, as the "nose" of the car (including the front bumper) has to be removed to access the timing belt due to the longitudinal (north-south) positioning of the engine, as opposed to a transverse-mounted (sideways) position.

    I'm confident you are in good hands. Good luck, and keep us posted!
  • greatcarsgreatcars Posts: 66
    So where can I buy a Bentley manual or even a Haynes manual on 2008 Passat? I went to pepboys and advanced autoparts and did not find any.
  • Had similar problem with temperature guage bouncing between 90 and 180 on my '02 Passat 1.8T with 92,000 miles. Had the sensor replaced to fix. Then a few weeks ago, I got a notice from VW that they extended the warranty for the sensor to 100,000 miles / 10 years for 2001-2003 Passat with the 1.8T engine, 2001 Betten, Golf, GTI, and Jetta with the 1.8T engine, and 2004 GTI and JETTA GLI with the 2.8L engine.

    They gave me a form to get reimbursed if I had already paid to have this repaired. I am in the process of getting the dealer to provide me a breakout of the repair service so I can send this in to VW.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Looks like Bentley only goes up to 2007 at this date.

    Haynes is notoriously slow on bringing out updated VW manuals. They don't appear to have a manual available for the B6 Passat, with the most current model available being the B5.5 2005 model.
  • donky88donky88 Posts: 1
    i recentely upgraded my original clutch to a stage 3 racing 6 puck clutch and replaced the original dual mass flywheel with a light weight single mass one . The probolem is now i need to replace my outer cv joints and i was wondering if their is any high performance cv joints or complete shafts that will cope with the increased stresses that the new clutch is dishing out
  • joninslcjoninslc Posts: 1
    I took my 2001.5 2.8L 4Motion Passat in to the dealership today for a check engine light and they reported back to me just now that I have a faulty Hydraulic Tension Adjuster for my Cam position. I Am not a car guy per se, but my Passat has been running fine. I'm getting nearly 20 MPG's and no loss of power.
    They told me the repair is $1,300 or $2,200 for both tensioners.
    What do you guys think? Can I fis this problem for less and what should I be looking out for? Thanks you in advance.

    Jon in SLC.
  • greatcarsgreatcars Posts: 66
    I have 08 passat turbo. I don't like the AC much and think their air outlets are little too high and can't be precisely pointing to where you wish the air flow blows. I found the AC is as cold people expect on a new car. Maybe that's just my perception. I have to turn the fan to 3 or 4 to feel cold for the first 10-20 minutes and the outside temp is around 80. later I can change the fan to 2. The fan is very loud at 3 and 4.
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