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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: 848
    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,
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