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Volkswagen Passat Maintenance and Repair



  • tsf7tsf7 Posts: 31
    I know problems are out there, but my 2002 1.8t has been fantastic. 131k miles and still going strong. However, the problem with buying one used and several years old, as someone mentioned, is that you can't inspect a lot of things, ie, conditions inside the engine. I've used Mobil 1 0-40 and the big Mann oil filters since I bought it certified used in 2004 w/ 30k miles, and I don't let it get a tick over 5k miles between changes. If the car has run for several years on conventional oil and/or not been maintained properly, you could have sludge problems and other issues developing that will be expensive to fix. On these cars, you have to be willing to do or pay for the right service, -- no $15 Walmart oil changes.

    As far as coils go, I've had 2 replaced on a recall several years ago. A third went out on me last year, but the car still ran well enough to get to Auto Zone where they ran a scan and identified the dead coil. About $25 and literally one minute to install and I was back on the road. That is really the only 'problem' i've had with my car.

    Every time I ride in my father in law's Camry, I'm reminded of how much I like my VW. But like I said above, you have to be willing to invest a little more time/money in service and maintenance. If that isn't you, you should buy something else.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    From my records, I've spent $3,152 in maintenance, not including tires, and $675 in oil changes (which I've had done at the dealership since I didn't want any disputes shuld the engine sludge). I could have saved maybe $300 if I had done the oil changes myself, but I consider it cheap insurance given the alternative (and I treat my oil change receipts like they are the Dead Sea Scrolls).

    VWDawg and tsf7 - just curious, do you guys routinely recommend buying a Passat to your friends/families?
  • VWDawg,
    I'm a car guy and I certainly agree with all the enthusiasts that the Passat is a much better ride than a Camry or an Accord, but the exhilaration of driving a finely tuned machine is immediately sapped out of you when these unexpected maintenance issues rear their ugly heads. Having been stranded twice by my car in less than two years, I'm dearly holding on to the belief that this car is much safer than the Korean used cars available in Seoul. That's been the only saving grace, but there's no way in hell I'll let my now 15-year old daughter eventually inherit this car from me, like I've had originally planned.
  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    Hi altair4: To answer your question, after owning my '02 1.8T Passat for 3 1/2 years, I would say "no", I would not recommend the Passat to a friend or family member. Despite my statement that it has been a "generally dependable car" (never left me stranded anywhere), I think the trials and tribulations of owning one outweigh the benefits. No major issues, just a lot of annoying electrical stuff (CEL light seems to be on more than it's off). I do all the work that I am capable of, and fortunately one of my good Audifreak friends has a VAG so I can diagnose problems pretty quickly. I did have the standard coil issues...not a big deal, but before I knew what was going on, that cost me a cat converter ($700). Kraut cars are known for their engineering, but sometimes I believe they are "over-engineered", which adds a lot of unnecessary complexity. The chronic issues with the German cars for me have been electrical, windows, wheel bearings, suspension, and timing belts. I have also expressed concerns on the forum about oil sludge...I would never buy a used 1.8T unless the seller had all service records which confirmed synthetic oil use. In summary, I would say that VWs and Audis are wonderful cars to drive and have great styling, but they're expensive to run. They are best suited to a person who can spend $40,000+ on a new one or $30,000 or more on a one- or two-year old, well maintained vehicle, then sell it after the warranty runs out (or buy an extended warranty). These cars work for me, but only because I do most of my own work. I don't know how many more I will buy, but then again, I don't get too excited about driving most of the Asian cars...dependable, smooth but BORING. vwdawg/audiphile1
  • 2002 vw passast, heard a pop from underneath car, check engine light came on, & car started running rough, (like missing on 1 cyl), code machine at auto zone said cyl 3 mis fire.
    Any thoughts?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Check this out, and plug your car's data in:


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  • 2005 Passat Station Wagon Diesel - I need to change the brake light. It is the lower on the driver side of the car. Can anyone point me to a step by step guide with photos.


    Chuck Hanson
  • cosmocosmo Posts: 203
    The illustrations and directions are for a Golf, but are the same for a Passat Wagon.
  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    theron: I think shiftright has it right...almost for sure a coil problem. You didn't say which engine you have, but the 1.8T "coil on plug" coils have had major problems, and there is a recall for diagnosis and coil replacement at no charge to you. Call your dealer for a recall visit. One word of NOT drive your car for an extended period with this problem...could ruin your cat converter. In other words, get it fixed asap. vwdawg
  • Thanks. I will have to wait until tomorrow when I am at my car again. This looks a little different than the Passat Wagon.

  • That pop not good. Look up heat shield, ignition coil, fuel leak, problems at NHTSA.ORG Don't park this car in a garage.....EVER......
    also see
    This too

    Those are my thoughts.
  • Have a 2004 Passat with a 1.8T - A week or two ago got a CEL with a fault code of P0299 - Turbo Underboost (or something similar). The car's power is considerably reduced - I suspect the turbocharger is not funcioning at all. Any thoughts on how I should go about troubleshooting. Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    You might find this tutorial onP0299 helpful.

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  • I have a 1999 V6 GLX with 164K and every so often the car shakes for about 1 second while driving on the highway at 65. No warning lights come on. Any ideas what could be doing this. I don't loose any power while this happens. Thanks
  • First off let me state that I am not a mechanic. This reminds me of a similar problem I had several times very recently. 2 cylinders were misfiring. Another time it was a dirty fuel filter. Mine showed up in the diagnostic and we reset it. Have to get it checked again later next week. A diagnostic might reveal the problem and hopefully your mechanic can get the proper codes from VW. Otherwise you might have to go to the dealer for the diagnostic. In my experience they are bandits generally. Good luck.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Might want to pll the codes at a place like Advance Auto or some of the other car part stores. They'll do it for free. Then post the codes, if any show, here.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Could be tricky. The fact that no trouble code is thrown suggests to me then that it is not emissions related, so not a misfire. This leaves other possibilities---2 that come to mind (just a guess) would be a problem with the torque converter circuit (converter lock-up) if this car is an automatic, and, more likely, a defective throttle positioning sensor---the latter can easily be checked by a VW-trained technician with a scan tool.

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  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    huffy46: Sounds like a fuel filter problem to me. Have you owned the vehicle long enough to know when it was last replaced? This is one of those service items that often get overlooked unless the car is fanatically maintained. Filters are relatively inexpensive, so if you don't know when it was last changed, it would probably be worth a try, at least for starters. Good luck. vwdawg/audiphile1
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    every so often the car shakes for about 1 second while driving on the highway at 65. No warning lights come on.

    GIve more details. What's the road geography like? Going uphill? What's the frequency of the event? Every time you drive, once a week, every ten minutes? Manual or automatic transmission? Does it happen at the same spot everytime?
  • alen3alen3 Posts: 12
    can anyone tell me how to find out how many teeth are on the timing belt? do i look at the engine code?
  • I drive 100 highway miles per day and the shaking might happen just once during the trip. I had one occasion when I had two but this is rare. I drive in a slightly hilly area, but nothing very steep. I cannot for certain tell you if this happens going uphill or in a flat area. I do drive an automatic. I the past two days I haven't noticed any shaking. Thanks
  • Should I be doing this at the dealer (too expensive) vs any other mechanic?
  • I had mine done at a local car shop that specializes in foreign cars. Much cheaper than the dealer. Had all of the front suspension replaced right before that. Spent around $3000 for the suspension and the timing belt. 13 days later, someone rear ended me and totaled the car. Insurance company gave me nothing for the $3000 I had spent on all the repairs less than 2 weeks before. :mad: :cry:
  • bjssbjss Posts: 51
    Hi all - have a Burning Oil smell coming through vents, particularly strong when stopped and idling. Just had Valve cover gasket replaced (as apparently it was leaking). Now it must be something else leaking oil (none on floor, but must be hitting manifold). Plan to take back to dealer, however, any other thoughts on what it might be? Assuming dealer will say it's not the Valve cover gasket. 02, Passat wagon, 1.8T, 75K.
  • edu6edu6 Posts: 1
    The water comes from the engine compartment,take the cover panel close to the windshield,under the hood.Below the wiper motor there is a drain hole,has to be clean so water will not accumulate and filter inside the car.The space that you have to work is very small,but not impossible to reach,after the first time you will see how easy you can fix that problem.I understand it happens to many VW ,specially the ones are parked under trees.I hope this info can help you ,Ed
  • I've been told my enough people now that starters are easy to replace that I'm going to try it. I have a 2003 Passat 1.8T, I'm pretty sure I've located it, but haven't found any information online to verify it.

    Does anyone have a quick second to help me identify the starter and advise me on how to remove it? I'm pretty strapped right now, otherwise I'd go buy a Chilton's book.

  • I have a 2003 VW Passat with 66k miles on it. The last few days I noticed that the oil temperature gauge fluctuates a bit between 170 and 190. Earlier it always used to stay constant at 190 after the engine has been running for some time. Last few days I see that it goes to 190 and then keeps changes between 170 and 190.

    Is this something of concern and needs to be fixed immediately.Any helpful comments will be greatly appreciated.

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    First, that's not the oil temperature gauge - it's the coolant temperature.

    Now, let's get a little more information to help you. What is the car doing when the gauge drops? Are you coasting down a hill? Are you at highway speeds and see it gradually drop?

    As I see it, you have two possibilities - 1) the temperature sensor for the gauge is bad (it happens on Passats). 2) the thermostat is bad.

    I have an '03. I started to notice that the temperature of the air from the heater was not the "melt your sneaker" hot anymore. Further, I noticed that this was occurring at highway speeds, but even worse if I coasted down a hill at highway speeds. Turned out my thermostat was sticking open ever so slightly.

    GIve more details of when and how this is occurring and I'll bet we can narrow it down for you.
  • Hi,

    Thanks . You're right. It is the coolant temperature gauge that fluctuates.Once the engine warms up it reaches 190 then goes down a bit to 170 and then stays between 170,180 - 190. It happens on both highway or local roads. We are in the Twin Cities and do not have much hilly roads up here. Earlier it always used to stay at 190 constant after running for a few minutes.

    I have not seen much of a difference in the temp. of the heated air but will pay more attention now that you mentioned. Does this require immediate attention.

    Thanks in advance for your help. Appreciate it.
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 845
    Mine does the same thing.
    It stays 190 but when coasting down hill it drops one notch. When I start using power again it climbs back.
    I got MIL (check engine light) and per Auto Zone it is cooling system efficiency problem.

    Do you think broken thermostat could do this?

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