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Volkswagen Passat Sludge Issues



  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    Hello Passat Owners: I have been reviewing the Passat "oil sludging" discussion, and it seems to be the most emotionally charged (and SCARY) Edmunds forum I have ever read). I own a 2002 Passat 1.8T with 78,000 miles. I purchased it with 55,000, and it seems to be running fine. I have all maintenance receipts from day one, and some work, including oil changes, was performed at a local dealer, some performed at private garages. I haven't reviewed the data on what oils have been used, but I will do that. I do most of my own "non-technical" maintenance myself (fluids, brakes, exhaust, etc.), so I HAVE done several oil changes. However, the owner's manual that CAME with the vehicle very specifically states that ANY
    quality oil that meets certain SAE service standards (and not necessarily synthetic!) is OK for the Passat. When I read some stuff on Edmunds about 1.8T oil sludging, I became very concerned, as I have used some Castrol non-synthetic, another time Valvoline non-synthetic, in this vehicle. Now I read all the stuff from the Passatphiles about Mobil 1and other high-quality synthetics as being absolutely mandatory, plus all the scary stuff about VW demanding synthetics and documentation of oil changes for sludging warranty coverage. How in the hell can they now require synthetics when the manual itself states otherwise, AND more or less cut the knowledgeable do-it-yourselfer out of the maintenance realm? (There I go, getting emotional myself). I might go so far as to say this sounds "un-American" or certainly "anti-free trade" if they're claiming one has to patronize their dealers or the private garages. I also have one other question regarding viscosities...I have a five quart jug of Mobil 1 0w-30 synthetic in my garage. Would this weight be inappropriate for my 1.8T, particularly for Minnesota summer driving. Appreciate feedback on all of the above. Thanks! vwdawg
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    A few comments:

    1) VW issued a statement in something like 2003 that supersedes the language in your Owner's Manual. The language in the statement is fairly concise in that not only are you required to use synthetic oil, but synthetic oil that meets at the very least, the VW 502.00 oil specification. Said another way, conventional oil is unacceptable, as is synthetic oil that doesn't meet 502.00.

    2) The person/dealership you bought your car from should have provided you with the updated oil change requirement document.

    3) Their maintenance policy does not preclude you from doing all of your own oil changes, just keep the receipts.

    4) The Mobil 1 0W-30 is of an acceptable grade, however, it is not 502.00 compliant, and as such, should not be used in your car.

    5) The only 0W-30 generally available in the States that meets 502.00 is Castrol Syntec 0W-30 (and it's made in Germany).

    6) The only Mobil 1 oil generally available in the States that meets 502.00 is Mobil 1 0W-40.

    Best regards,
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Couple of documents for you:

    The "sludge letter" from VWoA:



    The original Oil Spec for my '03. The key was, and still is, that it really wants the owner to use 5w-40 for changes. 5w-40 only comes in synthetic.

    Then came the supplement to the owern's manual. Note the 502.00 SPec that it mandates:


    IMHO, the 0w-30 you have isn't appropriate unless it meets at least VW Spec 502.00. Good luck.
  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    Thanks to both altair4 (#257) and shipo (256) for very valuable FYIs on this very disturbing subject. It looks like VW changed the manual for the '03 Passat to reflect the changes in oil specs. Unfortunately, the previous owner never provided the supplemental documentation from VW, so I have been blissfully ignorant (until now) of this problem. I know there are limitations to what the manufacturer can do, but I suspect that there are thousands and thousands of owners of older Passats who have no idea that this issue even exists. It seems reasonable to me that since VW created the problem in the first place, they should have at least SOME accountability here. Is there any documentation out there on litigation outcomes? If I end up with an oil sludge problem, I would certainly consider legal action, at least on a conciliation court basis. Comments anyone? Thanks! vwdawg
  • alman08alman08 Posts: 282
    you're talking about $1000 - $1400 for a timing belt job?
  • vwdawgvwdawg Posts: 162
    A question for shipo, altair4 or anyone else with 1.8T oil sludge experience or advice: I have seen references on the various forums regarding remedies for oil sludge problems, such as "de-sludging" procedures and certain "flushing" agents that might be helpful in removing existing sludge formation. Since I do not know the earlier history of and oils used in my 2002 1.8T Passat, I was wondering if anyone has had success with any particular procedures. Would any of them be helpful as a "preventative" treatment to eliminate any sludge that may have already accumulated, even though there are no current, obvious problems. Thanks to all. vwdawg
  • Well here it is 2009 and VW wont help me a bit.!!! I have a Passat 2000 and it has SLUDGE..which was removed by the best mechanic I know anymore. Not even a week into enjoying my car...WAMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Head gasket out!!! So I am so broke from always putting money into the stupid piece of %$&* that now it sits in the driveway. I called them and begged them for help. If anyone is misleading people it is you.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Was your car properly maintained? Do you have the receipts to prove it? Even if you do, at some point all manufacturers will stop providing free support on their older products, and I'm thinking that a car that is ten model years old is well beyond the point where any manufacturer (VW included) will provide (or even should provide) free relief when a problem surfaces, even known a known problem.

    Case in point, I had a transmission go out on an older car of mine a couple of years back. The car in question was eight years old at the time and had well over 100,000 miles on it. Did I get upset because the manufacturer had no intention of buying me a new transmission? Heck no, I just ponied up for a new tranny and drove that old car another 70,000 miles before finally trading it in.
  • Hello all,

    My turn to chime in.
    I am the new owner of a 2002 Passat, 1.8L Turbo, it has 104k miles on it. I have only had it for about 3 months and so far no problems. I know it is a time bomb…, but… a few more things to add.
    First of all, the previous owner “luckily” had an accident which required an engine rebuild (the head was replaced and supposedly the oil system was completely flushed out). I have little details about this occurrence but will try to get a service record through the dealership where it was serviced (Crystal Lake, IL). The timing belt (and water pump) was changed as per the recommended service schedule.

    The previous owner has evidently used regular oil only (gasp..) and changed it at 5000mi intervals.
    I have read hundreds of posts on various forums, and I think it is safe to say that synthetic oil only should be used, as well as shortening the intervals to 3k. My guess is the previous owner has: 1) been very lucky 2) has a relatively new engine which may have prevented the problems from appearing 3) has been good to the car in the sense where he was always careful to have the engine in the “normal” operating temperature before putting more stress on the engine and using the turbo.

    In my case, I drive the car very short distances to work (only 2mi one way to work), which I know is not ideal as the engine barely warms up and then is shut off. I am also being very careful not to rev it up when the engine is cold, and similarly I try not to have the turbo kick in before properly warmed up. On the weekends I give it more of a chance to warm up and operate in a more normal fashion.

    Nevertheless, I am more than warned of what can happen.
    Time for an oil change has come up. I went to Jiffy Lube, they quoted $65.. they however know that synthetic is needed. The local VW dealer charges something like $80 with synthetic. This is all pretty expensive, but as we know, much less than facing the cost of a major repair like an engine swap.
    I am considering doing my own oil change, but to be honest I have never done this, and even though I am mechanically inclined, I am a bit reluctant knowing the problems I can cause if the job is not done correctly. I hear that some people buy their own oil, then bring it to a shop to have the oil change performed.
    I also read about the oil filter, apparently the “large one” should be used. I did some research but couldn’t find the part number (found these on ( item3): 068-115-561-B-M63 and 068-115-561-B-M67; not sure which one is OK to use).
    I don’t want to take the chance of having some random shop put in just some regular filter which may cause problems, and would rather bring my own.

    Do you care to comment and offer suggestions?

    Obviously a lot of you will say “sell the car as soon as you can” “run while you can” and other “lemon” comments.. with reason I am certain. I have read about enough very disappointed and angry VW customers who will forever turn their back onto this auto manufacturer.
    I would like to give it a chance, mostly considering the fairly new engine. Also, selling this thing now I will not be getting ahead (I paid $5100 for 102k, not an awful deal for a mint-looking Passat) and I cannot afford to buy another car now.
    I do not even want to think about VW doing anything for me, as I am the third or fourth owner and (some) oil change receipts are definitely missing.

    Thank you.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    VW part 068 115 561 B is the correct, larger oil filter. This was used in older diesel VWs. I don't know abou the numbers.

    Personally, I bring my own oil to the dealer; they've had no problem with it. I use Mobil 1 0w-40 which meets the appropriate specs for the 1.8T (VW Spec 502.00). But then I'm still covered by the sludge warranty and I guard my oil change receipts like they are the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    Changing the oil on the 1.8T has some peculiarities to it. First, there is a belly pan that is attached with half-turn attaching hardware and a 10 mm nut. Second, be very careful that you drain the engine oil, and NOT the transmission (don't laugh - it's happened to ots of people). To gain access to the oil filter from above, simply loose the clamp on the large intake hose and push the hose out of the way. Others movethe coolant reservoir but I don't like to mess with the electrical connection on it.

    I'll probably start doing my own oil changes once thesludge wrranty expires. I doesn't look that hard at all - I've seen worse; my wif'es Accord has thefilter way up on the back side of the engine and it's directly above the exhaust pipe. Nasty bit of design, that.
  • Hey altair4,

    Thanks for your response. Like your comment about your receipts ;-))

    Your advice is priceless and will prove very useful.

    For what it's worth, I received an answer from pelicanparts yesterday, they say both filters fit the same, the only difference is the brand.

    I went to the local Autozone last night, got Mobil 1 0W40, as well as the matching filter (Mobil 1 M1-301) they recommended. They have a deal I won't advertise here but it's worth it I think (I am NOT affiliated in any fashion).

    Now it's just a matter of crawling under the car..

    Thanks again for your help, wish me luck.
  • Hi again,

    altair4, I wanted to say thank you again.
    I changed the oil myself last week, so far so good. I used the oil and filter I mentioned before.
    As for what you called belly pan, yes, I removed that large plastic cover, also noticed there were not very many of those half-turn screws left (only 3).
    I was able to get to the filter (i'm skinny) without taking the hose off. You can wedge your arm in there but it's tight. I used an old leather belt to screw the oil filter on and off, worked pretty well. I checked regularly after the oil change, I have not noticed any leaks so far. I wiped the filter with a paper towel a few times, there is no leak either.

    I will change the oil it every 3000 miles; during the week my trips are very short (2mi), and VW does recommend more frequent oil changes in these adverse conditions.

    Voila :-)
    Wish me luck; good luck to other Passat owners as well.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Hey, I'm glad it went well! Like you, a lot of my weekday trips are short, but I manage to get the engine good and hot for extended periods on the weekends. Personally, I'm changing oil at about 4,000 miles, which amounts to twice a year for me.

    Regarding those belly screws...the front ones are important, especially that 10 mm nut on the front. If these fail while the car is at speed, the bellypan drops to the road surface and self-destructs. The back ones are important, too, if you live in an area that gets lots of snow. If they're missing, the pan can kind of act like a snow plow and break the belly pan.
  • I have 2007 VW Passat 2.0T with an alternator charging problem. It charges intermittently or not at all. It does not charge the battery fully. The alternator and battery has been replace, however it did not fix the problem. Wiring harness has been check and was found to have good continuity. The mechanic suspects that either the Vehicle System Control Module or the Engine Control Module is faulty. I understand electronic very well; however without schematics for the two modules, I am not able to determine how the two Control units function together. From high level wiring diagram we can see there are two wires that appear to be routed to the alternator field windings. Can you provide any suggestion of what could be the problem or an explanation of how the two unit work to maintain proper charging. B.T.W. the generator warning lamp has never turned on (even though the battery voltage drops below 10 volts).


  • Hi Gary.

    I am no expert on these things, but first let me say I think you need to get a second opinion from a reputable mechanic (VW preferably, but not at the same garage you are currently using).

    Second I have these thoughts on the problem...

    In order for an alternator to generate electricity the field needs to be energized. This is done (to start with) from the battery voltage. I would check the field terminals to see if there is voltage there when the car is running. If not you have to find out why... a loose connector on the battery? broken wire? bad ground? at the alternator?

    Since the alternator light is not on I expect that the alternator is working, but the connection to the battery is faulty. This can be confirmed by measuring the voltage out of the alternator... it should be around 14 volts when the car is running.. if it is working properly. If you are getting 14 volts at the alternator, check the voltage at the battery. If this is not 14 volts when the car is running, explore the connections between the alternator and the battery.

    I once had a Chevy Cavalier where a heavy wire had a small hole in the insulation and antifreeze leaked inside. This caused the copper wire inside to corrode and eventually disintegrate to the point where it would not conduct electricity any more. The wire looked intact but the conductor was not.

    I would not think the vehicle control unit would be participating in the actual charging of the battery. You do not mention replacing a regulator but then a lot of times those are actually part of the alternator. Check to see if it is a separate component, this would be less expensive to replace than the vehicle control unit.

    Part of the field circuit is a 'exciter diode' assembly it converts the alternating current to direct current to be fed back to the field (in case the battery does not have enough juice to properly energize the field). This is actually part of the regulator in some vehicles, in others it is part of the alternator. If your car has a separate regulator and that was not replaced it is possible this 'exciter diode' is faulty and not properly energizing the field.

    I hope this helps.

    Jim M
  • I have a 2002 Passat 1.8t that does just fine until I've been on the freeway for about an hour when the Stop Engine light comes on warning of low oil pressure. I figure it is sludge related, but I've heard more about pressure problems at idle than at 65 mph.

    Is this likely a coked up intake screen? Any thoughts on cleaning this kind of blockage without dropping the pan, a real p.i.t.a. and $750?

    thanks y'all,

  • Hi.

    The only time I have seen that "STOP" indication on my dash, it was accompanied with the OIL light. However, after having the codes read (they wanted to replace the cam adjuster mechanism $750 for the part!) and having the car stall and refuse to run for 10 to 15 minutes. I had a conversation with the VW technician. We came to the conclusion that the Cam Position sensor was faulty. This is on the outside of the 1.8 engine block and cost me about $250 to have replaced.

    That was two (or more) years ago and I have not seen the Oil indicator or the "STOP" message since.

    I actually ran some "Auto-RX" through my Passat and took the oil filter apart to see if there was any sludge dislodged. There was none. I have had synthetic oil at each oil change (every 5000 mi) since I owned the car more than 4 years ago.

    It is a difficult process to take the oil filter apart but if you are mechanically inclined it might be worth the effort to see if you do actually have a sludge issue.

    I hope this helps.

  • My apologies! In my response above I mentioned "Cam Position" sensor. That was incorrect I should have said Crank (shaft) position sensor. It was an easy (read relatively inexpensive) repair and the car has not given me those indicator problems since.

  • I advise any VW 1.8 owner to take a serious look at this website link.

    LINK: il_sludge.shtml
    Robb :shades:
  • drdewdrdew Posts: 3
    lookin at a 99 passat 1.8L turbo. seller has all maint. receipts but i'm not sure what oils pass vw spec. owner states 5w-30 synth. i'm in touch with him through email, haven't spoke on phone yet. any info on this oil spec list. i'm new to these vehicles and lookin at some of these reviews, maybe i should look at some other models. any input would be helpful, thanx.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Given that A) the 1.8T engine is extremely sensitive to the oil used in it, and B) very few 5W-30 oils, synthetic or otherwise, are generally available in the States are certified to meet the VW/Audi 502.00 oil specification, I think I'd be holding the seller to an extremely high level of documentation.

    FWIW, the following list identifies the currently available oils that are certified to meet 502.00 (or better): - 023.File.pdf

    Best regards,
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    I know of no 5w-30 oil available in the US that meets VW's 502.00 Spec. Castrol Syntec in 0w-30 ("made in Germany" on the back label) does meets it, but that's about as close as I can get. Mobil 1 5w-30 doesn't.
  • drotsedrotse Posts: 23
    Go to and read.
    I bought a 2001 passat with 84K for my son.Then I had my son keep records on oil change intervals. We used Amsoil and their filters. At 117,000 the engine sensors showed NO OIL PRESSURE. Then it did te thing these engines are famous for.

    THen the dealership in Eua Claire did the $3,900.00 repair on the engine and it is great to this day.

    I got catigated by the "upper powers to be" of this website for my backing the REAL benifits if using Amsoil because of the political position of most of the UPPER NOSINGNESS of the administrators of this website, because they said Amsoil did nor apear on VW's approved List. However Just call the Eua Claire dealership and ask for Joe9 Theservice manager) and ask him agour David from Columbus, Ohio and ask him about me.

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I could care less what "he" says, Amsoil is NOT certified to meet any VW/Audi specifications, and as such, it is worthless for used in any VW or Audi automobile.
  • My 2003 Passat 1.8 t engine experienced a catastrophic failure at 129k miles. I am original owner and have followed ALL of the recommended maintenance procedures. My car is in excellent shape and I am heartbroken. I had it towed to a very reputable mechanic who showed me the damage. I just had my 130k maintenance done by the dealer in Sept 09 and had not hit the 5k mark for the next oil change.

    SUMMARY: Originally thought it was just a problem with the valve cover and oil got into spark plugs. Rear timing chain failure, intake camshaft failed and key way on timing belt pulley broken. #4 cam bearing burned and scored from lack of lubrication or oil pressure. The oil mark in the engine is at the full mark but very dirty.

    QUESTION: Is this possibly related to the sludge problem I have been reading about and if so, how can I prove it. :sick:
  • drotsedrotse Posts: 23
    If you want to call VW dealership at 715-830-111, the dealership in Eua Claire.

    Ask for Joe the service manager and find out for yourself. This dealership did over $3,900.00 worth of work (under warrenty)on the 2001 Passat that I bought that had 84K on it when purchased. Then failed at 117K. JUST BECAUSE I KEPT GOOD RECORDS AND USED AMSOIL. Until you do that is the argument that you are using against the use of Amsoil is bogus !
    Mister shipo MAN UP and make the call !

    For that fact call anyone call and see !

    The dealership in Brookpark, Ohio (GANLEY VW) the dealedship in Columbus, Ohio (BYERS) they all say the same thing. Come on MAN UP !

    You keep saying the same thing. If anyone wants to call then let them! and report back.

    I know this is not a popular issue when you go against a MODERATOR of a thread but if you are going to say I am wrong then I would say that you must do your research and keep enphasizing the fact that also people need to do their research and MAN UP. I have never heard you tell someone CALL THE DEALERSHIP AND FIND OUT! 715-830-1111. Call AMSOIL and MAN UP! Ask the question folks ! It is a great oil and educate yourself.

    Why not try to find REAL info.
  • drotsedrotse Posts: 23
    HAve you tried to go to the dealership in your locale area. Why did you not have it towed to a VW dealership ?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    edited February 2010
    The point you keep missing is that if any one dealership chooses to support Amsoil for use in VWs that's their choice, and any failures then become their responsibility. Said another way, that in no way means that VW corporate appoves of the use of Amsoil in their cars.

    Long story short, Amsoil is NOT approved for use in any VW sold in America. If you care to counter, point me to a place where specific language (in writing) can be found that says so. Come on, your turn to MAN UP.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    So you used Amsoil and the engine failed?
  • 2003 passat oil changed at specified times. At 45000 miles engine failed due to sludge. VW replaced the engine. At 101,000 miles same problem with sludge. Oil also changed at specified times. No engine damage but the engine needs a 1400 dollar clean. VW will not do the clean out. Is there anyone who could help me out with this problem in a legal way ?
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