Volkswagen Passat Turbo Issues

So my guage spikes past 190 going up hills and at long idle. Mechanic replaced the waterpump and thermostat -- then fan sensors gratis, when that didn't help.

A quickie oil change place fouled the G12 coolant several years ago with green stuff... I replaced the coolant with new G12 about two months ago, and the problem soon started.

I'm wondering if running bad coolant could have corroded the radiator and caused this problem... Strangely, when I run the heater to cool the engine down, it sometimes blows cool air, even though the engine is hot... Might circulation through the radiator be an issue?

I'm also wondering if -- even though I don't have oil and coolant mixing, or power loss -- if an exhaust leak through the head gasket is causing the problem. The mechanic I usually rely on -- not the dumba** who did the water pump -- seems to like that one.

Anybody have any ideas?

--Danny F.


  • www5www5 Posts: 4
    This sound similar to what we have been fighting for months.
    Our mechanic pressure tested the engine and found no leaks. This is what he thought he would find since he has had very few problems with head gaskets. Our last fix was to replace the radiator core. To date that has fixed the problem for 2000 miles. Our mechanic said the passages in the radiator were extremely small.
  • If you drove the car with the mixed coolant - even for a short period of time, chances are the damage has been done. The mix of green and G12 coolants formed a gel-like substance in the cooling system passages of the engine, radiator, heater core, and associated parts.

    All of that stuff has to be flushed out of there. At best, the damage done will be minor, such as a radiator or water pump replacement, and at worst, replacement of the heater core or your engine may be required (the latter two are very labor $$$$ intensive)...

    In the future, have your minor service (oil changes, etc) done by the dealer, and major repairs done by a qualified private VW mechanic.

    ...and stay FAR away from the quick lube places!

    Good luck...
  • Was your coolant brown and mucked up at one point?
  • I have the same vehicle and just uncovered the similiar issue. I had a slow leak after taking my passat to a quick lube oil change. Car appears to run fine and is not overheating, but the coolant is brown and mucked up. What does that mean?
  • 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
  • We had this happen in our 1998 Passat on the passenger floor. (I was sitting in the passenger seat when we made a left turn and water dumped on my feet - there went those shoes)

    It was a clogged drain in the area in front of the windshield where there is a grill. Leaves and such get in there and clog it - then it fills and over flows down in the passenger compatartment. (It is called the cowl in our other car - not sure if it is standard term)

    We had body work to be done and the guy cleared out the leaves and such and cut a few extra drains in it for us. Hasn't been a problem since.

    Good luck
  • zorro3zorro3 Posts: 5
    I originally posted this as a reply, but reposting it here so that its in the correct category.

    I have a 2000 Passat 1.8 Turbo which started billowing out a huge cloud of white smoke from the exhaust with an oily smell. Taking off the intake hose I found a small amount of oil on the inside. There has been no recurrence of that smoke bomb or oil smell for three days, and the car has run normally. A mechanic informed me this would certainly point to bad turbo seals and I should replace the turbo but I am a little suspicious of that analysis since he didn't inspect anything other than the hose.

    I am no means a mechanic and i plan to take the car to VW since they presumably have the equipment to diagnose this. I was wondering if the oil residue in the hose could be related to crankcase ventilation and whether the white smoke could be a defective oil cooler or other factors than turbo seals.

    The oil was about three quarters of a quart overfilled which may have something to do with it; I intend to get another oil change.
  • From what I gather, this lube joint might have mixed standard glycal alcohol coolant (the green stuff) with your pink Volkswagen G12. If not flushed soon, you'll end up in the same rabbit hole I just climbed out of. After replacing the radiator, water pump, thermostat and rebuilding the head gasket, I'm $3,500 poorer. The combination of the two liquids forms a gel that blocks up the cooling system.
  • prop3prop3 Posts: 1
    MY 2002 Passat 1.8 Turbo recently developed this same white, oily smelling cloud of smoke coming from the exhaust pipe. The first time this happened, it was very cold (5 degrees F) outside. The problem went away later that day when the temperature warmed up outside. There was no problem for several days after. Then, again on a very cold morning, the same cloud of white smoke, that smells like oil! I have parked the car, waiting for an answer from anyone, and warmer weather. This sounds similar to your problem. Have you had any responses? A would appreciate any suggestions, thoughts or comments. Thanx.
  • This happened to my passat twice!! as well, on cold mornings after the car had been sitting overnight and I had driven more than 50 miles the day before. There were three days between those two incidents where the car was driving normally. I have asked an independent VW mechanic and the dealership who believed I had no serious engine problems such as bad valve seals/valve guides, rings, head gasket, or turbo damage since otherwise I would have continuous problems, not just one or two isolated incidents. Some oil residue in the turbo intake is a normal thing for these cars and not an indication of bad turbo seals.

    I added Sea Foam which cleans contaminants out of both fuel and oil systems (its also an anti-gel) and the problem hasn't recurred since then. It can be used in the throttle body and intake manifold but I didn't attempt that. (Seafoam recommends you do an oil change fairly soon after using it)

    The other day my car was in the shop for a timing belt change; a vacuum compression test on the car came up normal.
  • I had this problem but on the driver side. It resulted in a lemon law suit. The problem was finally resolved at 150 miles left on the warranty. The cause was the engine housing module seal needed to be replace. It took 9 months for 1 of 2 different VW dealers to figure this out.
  • h8passath8passat Posts: 3
    I have the same problem - drivers side rear footwell fills up with water. Cause does not appear to be battery drain or pollen filter housing. What do you mean by engine housing module, and how much did it cost?

  • i have this same problem - a drain needs to be cleared- there is a recall that you have to do - i set up appt to ge mine done in conjunction with another issue that might involve ignitor coils or MAF -

    for leak i know pollen filter has to be changed b/c of spore build up and leak can get into a manifold area around wheel
  • My 99 Passat (1.8L) has a new turbocharger and I have test driven it for 3-4 miles and stopped back to the garage. While it was still running to "cool down" I popped the hood and the tubocharger itself was glowing pretty good. Does anyone know what an acceptable temperature should be? If it's too hot, what could be the problem? I tested the oil supply line and the coolant supply line. Both show positive flow rates... Thank you for your help..
  • Are you using a motor oil that conforms to VW specs (hint: all are synthetic)?

    Other than that, if you popped the hood right after driving the car at high speeds, the turbo could get hot enough to glow. That's why its a good idea to let the engine run for a couple of minutes before shutting it down to allow for the temperature to stabilize.

    Check the engine temperature gauge. The needle should be dead center (190 degrees) F.
  • Thank you for your help, Brian
  • I am contemplating buying a Passat or Passat Wagon, but I am getting conflicting information about using premium fuel vs. regular fuel. One dealer told me that it was acceptable to use regular fuel because there is a sensor in the engine that automatically adjusts the engine/fuel consumption. Another dealer told me that using regular fuel will lower fuel mileage (makes sense to me because that is what happened when I previously owned a car that used premium fuel) and that the turbo would be damaged by the regular fuel. Both cannot be correct...or maybe they are both wrong...or does the truth like somewhere in between?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    1) It is acceptable to use Regular fuel but not recommended.
    2) Regular fuel will have absolutely zero affect on the turbocharger. Period, full stop, the end.
    3) Running low octane fuel in a 2.0T will cause the ignition timing to be retarded so much so that at wide open throttle, the maximum power output will significantly reduced.
    4) Running low octane fuel in a 2.0T will cause the ignition timing to be retarded so much so that at any given cruising speed, the fuel economy will be reduced to the point where you'll end up paying more for fuel for any given distance traveled than if you use the recommended fuel.

    Best Regards,
  • Thanks. Appreciate the information. Sounds like neither dealer was quite right....
  • 2002 1.8t car overheated and dumped all the coolent.when i removed the filler cap the resovire was full of oil. called the vw dealer and questioned the service manager about a headgasket problem he says its most likely the turbo since the car is not smoking or running rough. i removed both the oil and coolant lines from the turbo and there is oil in the coolant port.since the dealer is 500kms away i have to do this job. so would this be a seal replacement or a complete turbo job? new turbo is 1250 bucks. or would you know where i could get mine rebuilt?tks roy
  • ifcoifco Posts: 2
    Where to begin. Turbo blew, oil in the coolant about 2 years ago. VW cleaned out coolant system with Simple Green. That is all they ca use because of Environmentalist. About 6 months ago no heat from heater. Brought car to VW and now they say new heater core, $1200.00 to repair. Is there another way to clean out the core. Also trunk leaks for no apparent reason. Any suggestions??
  • ifcoifco Posts: 2
    my 2000 passat had the same problem. The warranty was good up to 100,000 miles. So, check it out. VW would not pay for the tow.
  • rwheeler1
    bought a new turbo and installed. did not make any difference.done a leakdown test on the engine, did not lose a pound from either cylinder. how many other ways could oil get into this engine.lost.
    this car will soon be on ytube gettin trashed buy a very big backhoe.
  • kmd3kmd3 Posts: 1
    My car resently started shaking while I was idling at a red light. The engine light came on and I had it towed to my mechanic. He said that 2 of the 4 ignitor coils were bad. He thought that this was odd since I don't have many miles on the car yet. Has anyone else had this problem? What did you do about it? Are there any recalls that I might not know about?
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You can get oil in the coolant at the oil cooler, right above the oil filter. The cooler exchanges heat between the oil and coolant. It's not an uncommon issue. You might want to check your oil for coolant, too. Coolant is muy mal for the bearings....

    Google this: passat oil cooler leaking
  • torino5torino5 Posts: 4
    When I start engine in the morning you can hear some noise coming from the bottom of the engine(like exhaust leak noise) and continue for about 2 min. and after everything is great.There is no smell, no smoke,full power.VW specialist told me the problem is….exhaust gasket or manifold crack or leak(under the turbo) something like that.Is anyone know how to change exhaust gasket or manifold(he told me needs to remove turbo).Is it a big deal…
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Are you sure it's not the secondary air injection pump (part of the smog equipment)? That pump will make the car sound loud for the length of its run time (about two minutes, under certain temperature conditions).
  • torino5torino5 Posts: 4
    It's not that car sound loud,Its just different kind of noise mixing with engine sound
  • I am considering buying a 2008 Passat 4-cylinder sedan which has a turbo engine. Some people have told me that buying this car is a mistake because it is difficult to repair this type of engine and there are a lot of problems with a turbo engine. I know nothing about engines but this doesn't sound correct! Please help... Thanks
  • I would be very careful. Perhaps VW has corrected the many, many flaws in the early versions of this model. I had the 99 version and have spent a fortune and still have some problems that simply can´t be corrected. Assuming that its a better car now (?!) you also should consider the fuel economy with the 4 cyl turbo. Mine has never come close to what it is supposed to get. I currently get:
    14l/100 km city and 11 l/100km highway. That is poor for a 4 cyl. Its supposed to get 11 and 7 l/100km. Yes part of that is due to faster driving, but certainly not this much. Hereś one clear suggestion I would offer - If you must buy this car, get the 6 cyl! It will give you the same mileage yet you will have more power and cheaper gas.

    And finally, I h8passat.

  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    I get 23 mpg (US) around town and 32 on the Interstates on any trip over an hour with my 2003 1.8T. At 55,000 miles, I haven't had any unexpected issues.

    Follow the maintenance to the letter. Don't skimp on the specified oil (synth) or fuel (premium). These cars aren't a Honda, but they do reward you with a unique driving experience. If you can't commit to the idea of rigorous maintenance, it's probably not the car for you.
  • kinctkinct Posts: 59
    I had a 99 Passat 1.8T and the reliability was nothing less than stunning. I had the car up until about 5 weeks ago - sold it @224,800 miles - it was still running like a champ and the first person to look at it bought it. The only time it had been towed was when a truck backed into it at an intersection (he decided he wanted to go left instead of right and had to back up to make the turn). Even then, it would have driven, but he pierced the radiator and I didn't want to take any chances.

    The absolute keys to making this engine last:

    - change the oil & filter ever 5,000 miles, using only the synthetic oils that meet the standards VW publishes for this engine (in my case, Mobil 1 0w40). If at all possible, do it yourself or take it to a mechanic you totally trust. Any clown can wag his head up and down and swear they put in Mobil synthetic when instead they put in the cheapest swill from a discount store. And then yes, you will encounter problems!
    - change the timing belt & tensioner. I did mine (IIRC) at around 120k miles and 214k miles. Yes, I waited a little long, especially the first time. I believe this is supposed to be done at 105k miles intervals.

    somewhat less important
    - change the air filter periodically (~60 k miles)
    - change the spark plugs (~60 k miles)

    I absolutely loved the car. My new car is an Audi A4 2.0T. So, a similar turbo and it will get a similar treatment from me.

    BTW, gas mileage was excellent - if I REALLY tried, on trips, I could get 34 mpg (miles travelled / gas pumped - not the mileage from the inaccurate trip computer). More normal averages were about 32 mpg highway (except in winter, when they change the fuel blend here in the northeast US and mileage on all my cars drop 8-9%.)

    Two minor complaints:
    - it did leak some power steering fluid - an annoyance, but not a big deal. I had this leak around 160,000 miles. Every oil change I just checked the level of fluid (I kept a bottle in the garage). Just added a small amount when I did oil changes.
    - for a long time, the car did burn through headlights. It seemed like I was replacing one every 6 months (way too often). My last set was a halogen set (if I recall correctly). The parts store only had them left. Oddly enough, they went something like 3 years - still going strong when I sold the car. But early on in the car's life - this was an annoyance.
  • This is the exact problem my Mechanic just found on my 2000 Passat. Need to know the following. First he mentioned that VW has a 10 warranty on this issue, is this correct, and does that apply to the second owner of the car? Does anyone know?

    Second, they can fix the housing, can they get the oil out of the coolant. ? is this VERY costly.
  • It is precisely the Secondary Air Pump that is making the loud "noise". Its function is to make sure any unburned residual fuel (remaining after the engine is turned off) is properly atomized and burned upon startup. My wife's 2003 Passat has that same characteristic.
  • Still having trouble? I finally addressed mine. Turns out that in addition to small leaks at the battery drain and pollen filter housing I had a more significant one at the ECM module. This is where most of my water was coming in, going thru the driver side footwell to collect in the rear footwell behind. The ECM compartment itself had filled with water as well, causing intermittent electrical problems.

    So I had a garage find the ECM leak and address it with putty. Testing with water to find that leak, addressing it and then draining the ECM compartment and ensuring it was working OK - 300 bucks total.

    If that helps you or anyone else that´s great - caused me tons of trouble over the last 2 years.
  • I have a '00 VW Passat Turbo. Past couple weeks, when I start the car after it has been sitting, there is a high pitched "squealing" noise. I believe that it is coming from the turbo. It stops after about a minute. Any ideas....suggestions....?
  • jett4jett4 Posts: 3
    Can anyone tell me were the Fuel Filter on my 1999 VW Passat 20V Turbo is located?
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    You should find it under the car, just in front of the right rear tire. There is a plastic body panel that runs the width of the car that covers it. You will need a 10 mm socket and a screw driver to remove that cover (two nuts on each side of the car and one screw in the middle).

    Use appropriate, safe methods to access this area (ramps or jack stands).

    The fuel line is under pressure - it will spray fuel if you don't pull the fuse for the fuel pump while the car is running. Sad to say, I don't have the number handy for the fuel pump fuse.

    My '03 model had the fuel filter connected to the hoses with one-use clamps which had to be cut off to replace the filter. I bought fuel line clamps at Advance Auto to replace those. Yours may be different - some years used banjo connections on the lines to and from the filter (remember: VW = Varies Widely).

    You might want to put a smear of anti-seize on the bolts that hold the filter in place as well as that plastic belly pan.

    Good luck.

    The fuse number might be #28, on the driver's side of the dash, but I can't guarantee it.
  • zlingenzlingen Posts: 1
    Have you received a response about this? My Passat does the same thing, but I've only had it for a month (used) and haven't taken it anywhere to get it fixed. I read elsewhere that, "It is precisely the Secondary Air Pump that is making the loud "noise". Its function is to make sure any unburned residual fuel (remaining after the engine is turned off) is properly atomized and burned upon startup. My wife's 2003 Passat has that same characteristic."

    Have you looked into it further and is this really the case?
  • mike373mike373 Posts: 1
    My daughter has this turbo passat, yesterday she drove home from work (about 30 miles) shut the car off, then about 30 min later wanted to use it and it wouldn't start. Acts like it's vapor locked, it has happened before but mechanics can't find anything. Anyone had similar problem? What needs to be done? Is it vapor locked or is it something else? Thanks.
  • tomj2tomj2 Posts: 8
    Own a 2003, 1.8T, 60K miles. Gas mileage has declined about 25% in last year. Car runs perfect and even had VW look at it. Found nothing wrong. Anybody ever have same problem?
  • I have a new 09 passat sedan. It is 2 months old. The motor seems to be getting noisier by the day, especially when it is idling at a stop sign or the AC is on, or I am accelerating. Is this normal for a VW or a turbo motor? I am not familiar with this brand. Most new vehicle motors are very quiet when new.
  • Yes, I have a 2003 passat, 1.8T, 88K miles. My mileage has gone down about 20%, and runs a little rough over 50 mph. Had it check 3 times, they can't find anything wrong. Very frustrating.
  • I have a 98 Passat. Smoke filled the engine compartment and smelled like burning clutch. It then stopped and there is oil splatterd around the engine compartment. I can see oil right on top of where the oil filter is. I start it now and it runs but afraid to drive it. Any advice would really help.
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    What engine? Could be a failed oil cooler gasket. If you're not a DIY kind of person, you'll need to get it towed in for repairs. Personally, I wouldn't drive it until someone looks at it and gets to the bottoom of the problem.
  • It is the 1.8 Turbo 4cyl. has 170,000.0 miles on it. I don't think I will be driving it until I know what the problem is, I don't want to make things worse. It still starts right up and sounds good.
  • I advise any VW 1.8 owner :lemon: to take a serious look at this website link.
    Your vehicle sounds like it is starving for lubrication.
    LINK: il_sludge.shtml
    Robb :shades:
  • I think Im having problems with the fuel filter but i am unsure. Yesterday I stopped at the gas station and put 2 gallons in it. Drove out of the parking lot and the car started cutting out and finally died. It would start back up for a minute or so, then struggle to stay running, then die again. Today, I tried to start it, it ran for a minute than as soon as i pulled out of the drive it died again. Please let me know if you know if Im on the right track or not...
  • My 2003 Passat has 160,000 miles on it. Love the car, but little things that keep breaking are killing me. Now my check engine light floats in and out and crankcase fumes are so bad that I have to keep the air recirculator buttom pushed on so that we can breathe! It is running like it should with no unusual noises but I think that the valve cover gasket has "blown out" again from too much pressure. Always used synthetic oil in the engine and I bought the car new. Any ideas before I have to take it back for another $500 plus repair.....
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    edited November 2010
    I'd look real hard at the complex PCV system that the Passat has. It's often cited as the culprit for causing oil leaks around the valve cover gasket. The system clogs and that allows the engine to overpressurize.

    Take a strong flashlight, and look all the way around the valve cover. Chances are, it's leaking at the rear of the engine and dripping oil on the exhaust system.
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