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Volkswagen Passat Engine Issues

I want to know if anyone else has had this problem. If it does sound like a ignition coil problem, is it too late to get it replaced free because of the recall?

Here is my problem:

I was sitting in a drive through waiting for my order and my 2003 passat started shaking like it wanted to stall. The engine light came on and luckily I was about a mile from home. I drove slowly home and when I got out the catalytic converter seemed unusually hot.
I have been googling this issue and ran into a couple others saying this is a misfire problem and probably a faulty ignition coil. I read there was a recall on this issue, but I never heard about it until now. Unfortunately I don't have records of every single oil change. So, I've read that VW may not cover this. Is this true?

Any help is definitely appreciated!


  • i just had the same problem with my passat this afternoon. MIL Engine light, erratic engine rpm, as if threatening to stall at any minute, basically running rough. Can you tell me what you found was the problem? Tomorrow I am planning to check it out. I am thinking it is a damaged catalytic converter. I read in the owners manual running out of gas would damage the converter. Although we ran the tank down we did not run out of gas, still ...
  • Regarding the "unusually hot" CAT. What do you mean? Was it huffing and puffing? Does yours have a temperature gauge on it? Was it melting? -- Did the light flash? A flashing light indicates a misfire, especially during acceleration. I doubt the "faulty ignition coil" is the problem on an '03. My '02 had the recall performed, but no problem. I have 118K mi on mine. Receipts for oil changes should have little to do with an emission system problem. How many miles on yours? Federal states have 8yr/80K mi emission warranty - that covers the CAT and the fuel injection/ignition system ECU. Original warranty covers most else. California is probably higher. Spark plugs are maybe 24K mi - these are classified as a maintenance item. They should last double that. May be due to poor fuel.
  • It was the ignition coil, the little black thing that attaches to the top of the spark plug, causing the engine to misfire. I read on another site that if ran much after misfiring will cause the CAT to get red hot. I also read that if you continue to run the car it will cause severe damage.

    To diagnose, I had my wife start the car and removed coil after coil until nothing happend, then I took that coil off and started car and removed the rest until it REALLY started misfiring. Then I took the suspected bad coil and switched it with a good one. Then, my misfire was on that plug.

    Ignition Coil = $34.00

    Very easy to fix. Just pop the coil off the plug, disconnect from the wire, and plug back in. Fixed my problem. The check engine light went off after a couple days as well!

    Good luck to you!
  • I have 99 VW Passat V6. it has been leaking transmission fluid and making a loud rubbing noise when accelerated, I took it to the Mechanic who changed the Oil pan but this did not fix the problem. Upon Further investigation the Mechanic told me a Pump inside the Transmission was broken. My car was towed back to my house were its been parked for about a month. about 2 weeks ago I tried to start the car but it did not start, I assumed it was the battery because the Auto locks and the lights in the car were not working either. My car is now at another transmission shop being inspected to find out exactly whats wrong with it, but the shop called me to say that the car wont start at all, and he believes its the timing belt. Can anyone please assist me.. Is that possible?
  • ana99ana99 Posts: 4
    I mailed this letter to ABBY BACON @ DICK HANNAH VW DEALERSHIP IN VANCOUVER, WA. It has been over a month and still no reply.
    I am having trouble receiving an accurate diagnosis on my 1999 VW Passat. I was experiencing hesitation when accelerating from a stopped position. I brought the car in and a repair was done. When I picked up the car, the “check engine” light was on. I brought this to the manager “Tyson”’s attention. He asked me if it was on when I brought the car in for service. I told him that it had not been on until I picked up the car right then. He then proceeded to tell me that the fuel in the NW was notorious for causing engine problems, and to buy a fuel additive. I was skeptical with this answer, but did as he suggested. The light stayed on. When I returned he told me that they would have to diagnose the problem.

    I opted not to leave the car for any further work. Not long after, my car began beeping and other lights in the dash lit up. The oil light, ABS light, and brake light are always on now. The tachometer doesn’t work at all. The car won’t switch over to standard shift. The A/C stops cooling when the car is idling, it blows out warm air. I did not trust your service department, so I took the car over to Tom’s Performance. They could not get a reading from my car’s computer. I then tried Peter’s Automotive. They could not get a reading from my car’s computer. I asked for a recommendation, they said to try Rey Reece VW.

    I brought my car to Rey Reece, who diagnosed the car. They found a wire unplugged, the “check engine” light went out when they reconnected it, and that light is no longer a problem They did not address the tachometer not working, nor the fact that the car will not manually shift. My husband and I fear that the problem lies within the computer system itself. Obviously, we are not auto mechanics, but why would all of these problems happen at the same time?

    All I ask is that you give this problem a complete and accurate diagnosis. I would appreciate it if your best mechanic could look at this from all possible angles.
    end of letter.

    I don't want to spend thousands of $$$. I have not seen any definitive answers to these issues in this forum, but I may not have looked closely enough. The car beeps sporadically at least 5 times per hour. The brake, ABS, and oil light are still on at all times.

    Any input would be appreciated.
  • I just had this happen to my passat 03 yesterday and it was diagnosed as the same thing, the coils. I wish I would have had time to do research before agreeing to the dealership replacing them for me, they are charging a fortune.
  • ana99ana99 Posts: 4
    I still don't have any answers concerning the oil, brake and ABS lights that are constantly blinking in my dash. The car also beeps for no apparent reason at least 10-30 times an hour as I'm driving. Someome must have had a similar experience. Any suggestions on a good informative auto helpline for answers?
  • reidkreidk Posts: 46
    Try one or more of the VW/Passat Specific sites, and / or try "Googling" for your problem(s) + Passat.
    Also have a '99 (V6 5spd) and would certainly be Concerned if it exhibited behavior such as you describe!
    The local (SE MI) VW club has a lot of useful info, including recommended service shops - you might find a similar listing in your area.
    And don't forget to check out AUDI references as well - local owners group site was very useful in resolving problem last year.
    Reid / SE MI
  • I have the same problem! As soon as the car starts the brake light and abs come on then the oil light and the tach goes to 0. If you find out what it is pplease post a solution!
  • ana99ana99 Posts: 4
    I never thanked you for your helpful suggestions. I've been reading posts on a few different forums, I'm dismayed that so many have the same problems, and no real answers.
  • ana99ana99 Posts: 4
    It's been a month since I first read your response to my post, have you found any answers? I've been reading a lot of threads on different forums. No closer to fixing this beeping HELL.
  • gls99gls99 Posts: 1
    My 1999 GLS displayed the same signs. Eventually, the tach would quit and the entire instrument panel went haywire. The dealer initially said it was the instrument panel and replaced it. No luck. They stuck the old one back in and finally came up diagnosing the ABS module as the culprit. Once that was replaced, the problem went away. Luckily I had separate warranty insurance as the cost was almost $1,200.
  • bigjon2bigjon2 Posts: 1
    hi i own a 1997 20v 1.8t sport passat ive owned this car for 3yrs and a problem has started.whilst driving in any gear the car suddenly loses all power when accelerating hard and nearly throws you through the windscreen when i take my foot of the acc pedal power comes back until the next time accelerate hard.ive had my car in 3 differant garages all vw/audi specialists no faults found ive just discovered that if i turn of ignition the rest of my journey continues without a problem and acceleration is superb! PLEASE HELP just fitted new cam belt and all 20valves after belt snapped possibly due to this problem
  • kblurplekblurple Posts: 1
    Just got a 2007 Passat 2.0T wagon and love it -- everything about it, except for the sticker on the gas tank door that says MUST USE 91 OCTANE or HIGHER.

    Do I really need to use 91 octane or higher? Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.
  • stephangstephang Posts: 9
    My understanding is that you do not have to, but it is highly recommended. Using 87 will affect the gas milage. More knowledgeable input would be also appreciated.
  • krzysskrzyss Posts: 849
    You have high compression forced induction engine. You must use 91 octanes.


    PS I bet occasional use will not harm the engine but I bet its output would be significantly reduced.
  • YES YOU DO! If you want to. My '02 loves Ethyl when the outside temp is above 90. I don't use it unless I am hauling a load, or I might alternate tankfuls of reg/prem. Mileage will suffer w/reg, but the cost is a factor - 20-30 cents difference. I once got 40.7 w/prem - now 35 w/reg. 1.8T/Tip - 122K mi. ( highway of course ). The knock sensors
    will retard the ignition timing to compensate for the reg fuel. You MIGHT be able to tell the difference in performance if you clock it and drive hard, but who drives like that in town anyway?
  • 600kgolfgt600kgolfgt Posts: 690
    When using fuel other than premium, the engine's computer and two knock sensors work in unison to "de-tune" the engine at the first sign of a potential knocking situation (the air fuel mixture detonates before the piston reaches full compression position). The consequence of this is that your engine is not operating at its full horsepower potential - and a subsequent drop in fuel economy.

    Saving $0.20/gal using regular just isn't worth the hit in fuel economy...

    In other 3screwsloose said...:-)
  • jeepfreak3jeepfreak3 Posts: 1
    We recently acquired a VW passat for my mom from a police auction.....we had it running for about 15 minutes and then we shut it off and couldn't get it started some months later we put in a new starter (car part store said it was toast) and it started right up....but only ran for about 15 minutes...until it got warm...and now it wont start again..

    any ideas on what the problem is...or do I have a car to part out. It has the 4 cyl in it and the starter was new.

    Thanks a bunch.
  • vwguild1vwguild1 Posts: 98
    Probably drugs in the gas tank ;)
  • dmjadmja Posts: 3
    I have a 99 Passat GLX i had the throttle body sensor replaced and now cylinder 3 is misfirng and breaking the spark plug. Mechanic says i need a new engine. Has anyone had this problem?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Which engine? The V6? How exactly is the spark plug being broken?
  • dmjadmja Posts: 3
    It's a 2.8L and number 3 cylinder,the piston or valve is hitting the plug and bending the plug tip.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Sounds like you need to have it "borescoped".

    Let us know how you make out.

    Best Regards,
  • dmjadmja Posts: 3
    Thank You for the info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I have a 94 vw passat glx and around last november I was on my way to another city close by about 50miles or so. About 15mins till I got there my car just started slowing down. I just let till it finally stopped and shut the car off. I got out opened the hood and there was alot of smoke and some kind of white liquid that had been sprayed all around the engine. After that had to get it towed back to my house because it would start. I took it to a mechanic and he told me the motor was no good. He put in a new battery and had me continuously try starting the car for myself until if backfired really loud and he told me there the motors done. I would like some info on rebuild kits or even a used engine im only 17 and cant afford to me lol :( ne help or opinions would be nice thanks.
  • i have a few word effors in the original post sorry bout that. had to get it towed back to my house because it would NOT start. I'm only 17 and cant afford to MUCH. Sorry about those mistakes.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    I assume that your GLX has the same engine as my old 1995 Passat, namely the 2.8 liter VR6 motor. Yes, no?

    If yes, then I hope you have a fair amount of experience in building engines as the VR6 is a fairly complicated beastie. A better approach might be to get a used motor from a bone yard and put that in. VR6 motors aren't the most common engine out there, but with a little perseverence you should be able to find one in good condition.

    Best Regards,
  • Yes its a 2.8 liter VR6 motor.Ive looked for used motors all over even on ebay ive only found a few of those and havent been able to find even one rebuild kit for my car ne ideas of where to look online?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    How do you even know if you can rebuild it? Once overheated (I'm assuming that that is either what caused your engine to fail, or the failure ultimately resulted in an overheating event) that unusual cylinder head (that covers both banketts of pistons) can warp or crack. Another significant possibility following an overheating event is a cracked block.

    If after you've disassembled your engine and had it checked, you find that the block and head are still serviceable, you can buy all of the necessary parts for the rebuild from your local VW dealership. They won't be cheap but they will have the parts.

    Best Regards,
  • I just had my driver side cat replaced on my 2001.5 GLX, and when I got the car back there was no heat. Is this a coincidence or could they have bumped something? Before I spend thousands replacing heater cores and water pumps I want to know if there is a logical first step.

  • Thrown a code on cylinders 2 and 3, purchased 2 new coils and put them on 2 and 3 and also put in 4 new spark plugs. It continues to run like crap..
  • I am a third owner of a 2000 VW Passat and ever since I have owned the car, i have had nothing but issues. I recently (2 months ago) have replaced the Turbo in the car (1.8) ~$2000.00 later, my new and honest mechanic, who openly told me, get rid of the car, because its only going to give you more trouble. What I dont understand is VWOA is responsible for these issues, and they should take full responsiblity that they made a hunk of junk. The guy who sold it to me totally stuck it to me, he new i was desparate for a car, and not knowing because im a broad he took total advantage of the situation ~ To all the people who are even looking at the VW Passat turbo especially, dont buy it, you will be in for a costly ride. My car also does something funky in the morning ~ if the temperture is above 35 degrees, when starting it starts doing what i call the engine dance, the check engine light blinks and then after for about 2 minutes, it stops blinking and the engine stops making noises like its going to blow up. If the tempature is below 35 degrees, it doesnt do it at all, just the stupid "Emissions workshop" light goes on after i take off ~ anyone ever heard of this? What a PIECE OF CRAP, VW of America, go back to Germany, I hate you! Oh, and a FYI: I am the victim of the oil sludge issues that are happening with these cars, my mechanic cleaned out my car for hours ~ If you live in RI and you need a excellent mechanic, A & W Tire in Smithfield, John the owner is a GREAT GUY and very very honest!:mad: :lemon:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    I'm afraid that I need to rain on your parade a little. The VW (and Audi) turbocharged engines are no more or less reliable than any other turbocharged engine, ASSUMING that they are properly maintained. Said another way, you cannot simply dump in any old dime store brand of oil like you would for a 1975 Chevy and expect it to continue to run.

    If you read through the posts regarding the care and feeding of VW turbocharged engine (on this and other sites), you'll notice that a high quality fully synthetic oil is REQUIRED, and if you don't, sludged engine and coked up turbocharger bearings will be the guaranteed result. In your case, blaming VW for the failure of the first two owners to properly maintain your car is a tad disingenuous don't you think?

    Best Regards,
  • Shipo

    Im not going to disagree with you there, the previous two owners obviously didnt take care of the car. However, you simply cannot deny that there has been issues with the 2000-2003 Passats on the turbo issues and the sludge problems. I knew a person that bought the car brand new, that experienced sludge issues. the only thing I need to do is try to get an oil change every 1500.00 miles to make sure the suldge doesnt build up again. Yes I do blame Volkswagon of America for not looking into these issues, even the NSTA (hope i got that right) has statisics on these cars that they (VW) made poorly. Google VW passat, you find more problems than praises... :lemon:
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Sorry, I still disagree. For the 2000-2003 1.8T engines, once VW identified the need for synthetic oil, they published the 502.00 oil specification and announced that the oil requirements for the older cars were retroactively changed to require oil that met the new spec. In addition, they extended the warranty of the older engines so that if you could prove that you'd maintained your car to the requirements in effect at the time, they'd buy you a new engine if yours failed.

    The problem here is that many service centers, dealership based, chain (Jiffy Lube et al.) and independent shops chose to ignore the new directives and continued to use whatever oil was on hand. The obvious result was a bunch of 1.8Ts that were sludged to the gills. Once again, not VWs fault, they took action when they recognized a problem and then had to deal with the fall-out of folks not heeding the new standards.

    FWIW, I've owned a couple of turbocharged engines myself, and after hearing the horror stories of oil belching turbocharger bearings, I always used synthetic oil in my engines. Not surprisingly (to me anyway), both of my cars made it past 100,000 miles with zero hint of any issue with the turbo. Back in the late 1990s when the 1.8T made its debut, I told everybody I knew who had one to make sure to use synthetic oil. Those who did never had a sludge or turbo problem. Those that didn't... Well, you can guess the rest.

    Don't believe me? Ask around here; there are a number of folks who post from time-to-time who have your same engine in their VWs and Audis. They'll tell you that the 1.8T is a very good, very strong engine that will easily last the life of the car, IF properly maintained (i.e. VW 502.00 or 503.01 spec oil and no oil change intervals of more than 5,000 miles).

    Best Regards,
  • yes i was just wondering if a vr6 motor from a 93 passat would fit in a 94 passat? I believe they have the same engine but was just wanting to make sure.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    I'm 99% positive that the 1993 mill will fit in a 1994 Passat. You could call your local bone yard and ask them to check their interchange guide.

    Good luck and keep us posted. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • Nice response, shipo - couldn't have said it better myself..:)

    Being a current owner of two 1.8Ts (2003 Wolfsburg Jetta @ 107,000 miles and 2003 Passat GLS 1.8T @76,000 miles), I definitely concur... These engines will last a long time with proper maintenance...

    Welcome to the era of personal responsibility (or lack thereof) - buy things on emotion without doing the proper research or homework (especially on a big-ticket item like an automobile), don't take care of said item properly, then find someone to blame (sue) when something goes wrong - the Great American Pasttime (nowadays) :(
  • I own 99 VW Passat GLS, everytime I gas up the car does not start I have to pump the gas pedal a few times, then it eventually gets going again. I recently change the fuel thinking that was the problem, well it was not. Anyone have the same problem?
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    The guy who sold it to me totally stuck it to me, he new i was desparate for a car, and not knowing because im a broad he took total advantage of the situation ~

    Sorry to hear of your troubles with your Passat. Too bad you hadn't found this website before you made the purchase. I guess now you know why the guy sold the car. Being desperate is the worst condition to be in when car-shopping.

    Personally, I would never buy a used turbocharged vehicle, period. Too many issues can come to haunt without full knowledge of the previous care and feeding of the engine.

    Oh, and Shipo, the 2003 manual (see below) doesn't specifically say you need to use synthetic, but if you read between the lines and the specs they want, you'll realize it soon enough. When I bought my car, the recommended 5w-40 was only available in a synthetic formulation, to my knowledge. The manual, IMHO, could have been clearer.


    Here is a link to Motul's outline of what the VW specs really mean:
    Motul VW Spec Sheet.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Interesting page. Thanks!

    One thing I find interesting is that your manual doesn't seem to allow for 502.00 oil. That seems to be contrary to what the bulletins that VW and Audi have published over the last couple of years have indicated. Hmmm. That said, I wouldn't use anything less than a 503.01 anyway so it won't be an issue for me if I end up with an A3 2.0T (I drove two yesterday and geez, what a fun car).

    Regarding the Motul link, that was pretty informative too. That said, I'm stunned to see that they're recommending an OCI of 18,600 miles when using a 503.01 oil. I'm thinking that only a fool would go more than the recommended OCI on these cars regardless of whether you're running Motul, Mobil 1, German Castrol, or any other approved oil. :confuse:

    Best Regards,
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    503.01spec was really difficult to find in '02 when I bought the car. I received the addendum to my manual from VW that in fact lists 502.00 oil as the recommended spec. I'll post that when I have a couple of minutes.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    I got my first BMW in 1999 and that car needs oil that meets BMWs LL-01 oil spec, a specification that generally runs hand in hand with VWs 503.01. Back in 2000 when I did my first oil change on that car I had to buy Mobil 1 0W-40 from a Porsche dealer down in Dallas vial mail-order. By 2002 I was able to occasionally find 0W-40 at my local Autozone, and once the started occasionally stocking it, they were more than happy to order me those 6-quart mini-cases and even sell them to me at a slight discount if I bought four or more cases at a time. That was when I started using 0W-40 in all three of our cars (even though two of them call for 5W-30). ;)

    Best Regards,
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    Owner's Manual update for use of 502.00 Spec Oil (sent to me by VWoA for my 2003 1.8T model):



    And here is the Time/Mileage Chart from my manual (basically 5,000 miles or 12 months unless driven under severe conditions):

  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,148
    Color me shocked. :confuse:

    So, let me get this straight, the owners manual that came with your 2003 Passat specifically recommends 503.01 oil for your gasser Passat. Sometime after purchase, VW then sends you a suppliment that calls for 502.00 oil. Hmmm, odd.

    BTW, thanks for the pages. ;)

    Best Regards,
  • altair4altair4 Posts: 1,469
    "Yes" to all of your points. 'Course, I'm using 503.01 M1 now, though.
  • Hey folks,

    I just read in another forum that there could be a potential issue with the V6 engines on the newer B6 Passats.

    Has anyone here ever experienced an Oil Pump Bolt failure in their V6 Passats?

  • I bought 08 Passat 2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A. The country of origin of engine is Hungary and transmission is from Japan. I wonder if all Passat engines are from Hungary. Is there a concern that the quality of the engine may be inferior than if it's made in Germany?
  • From my experience with cars in general (and VW is no exception) reliability is always a factor of Design, Part Quality and Build Quality.

    The older Jettas had a ton of issues in the US, but hardly any in Europe. The design is the same, but the parts and final assemblies were different - with obviously different results.

    The VW Bugs are so badly designed (electrical), even the Puebla plant couldn't possible make it any more unreliable like they did with the older Jettas.

    I don't know about the quality of the Hungrarians, but from personal experience, the Mexican and Brazillian plants don't know the meaning of the word "Quality." The only VW cars I will ever buy have to have the major components from Germany or Japan - because VW has poor quality controls on their outsourcing / off-shoring operations.

    That said, this is the Passat, and VW will be shooting themselves in the foot if they allowed an inferior built engine into their flagship product.
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