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Volkswagen Passat 2005 and earlier



  • Thanks.

    From what I gather, AWD in my area may be overkill. Even the occassional drives to the snow do not require it. This is great news! I can get the GLX 5-speed, save a few bucks, gain some power, and still feel safe.

    Again, thanks for your input.
  • sometimes leasing a used car, 2 or 3 years old, can be almost as expensive as leasing a new car. Because of the vagaries of the marketplace, a new Saab may cost less to lease than a used Passat GLX.
  • I'm in the process of buying a new car, and one of the models high on my list is the Passat. I haven't read every message on this board regarding the Passat, but I've heard that VW's are perhaps not the most reliable cars over the long haul. Is this really true, or is this more a case of a handful of unhappy VW owners being very vocal? The other cars I'm considering are the Accord, Camry, Subaru Outback, and a few others. Whatever I buy I plan to keep for at least 6-7 years, so I want to get something that won't become a huge repair liability once my warranty expires. I guess I could always get an extended warranty if I chose the Passat, although that might add another $1,000 or more to the total purchase price. Thanks for any advice you guys might be able to share.
  • If you want a car you'll never have to worry about, get a Camry or an Accord. That's their stock-in-trade. A Passat is unlikely to be as trouble-free as those cars. I have a Camry and a Passat in my garage. Guess which one I prefer to drive?
  • Yes, it is a case of a handful, though a large handful, of unhappy owners being very vocal. And they have a right to be. Afterall, they paid a premium, over Camcord, for their cars. They expected more, and often in return got less. We tend to be vocal when we feel cheated. Frustration has been compounded by the many incompetent dealers and service mgrs. Often even the "good" service depts. have long waits for appts., weeks instead of days; and then no parts in stock. If the great ride and handling are all you care about, the Passat is the car for you. Or if you own another car or two. You know, I think we all tend to love the more difficult child just a little more.
  • The headlights on our new 2002 Passat have proven to be the poorest performing lights of any car I have driven in 20 years. In the low beam position, both sides offer poor illumination, and additionally the left side seems to be aimed much lower than the right. You can count to about 1.5 seconds before you reach whatever they are shining on at 60 mph. On the high setting, they are OK, but not as good as other manufacturers. We called the VW service department, they said there is a service bulletin stating to use the fog lights to help out. This gives more light in close, but again, nothing beyond 30 or 40 feet. Anybody else have the same performance out of this vehicles lights????
  • Thanks for the feedback. I'm going to have to do a bit more research on this board and other VW boards to get myself up to speed with regard to maintenance issues, dealers, and the like.

    I definitely would choose the Passat over the Accord/Camry for the ride and driving experience (as well as the looks). The Passat is a better car in terms of safety as well. But, considering I plan to keep this car for 5-7 years, I think you have to give the advantage to the CamCord in that department.

    I'm still a few months away from making a decision and there are lots of test drives in my future. All of the VW's (even down to the Golf) are loaded with lots of standard features not found on similarly priced cars. And with the new 4 year/50,000 mile warranty it's an attractive package. Thanks again for the info.
  • I'm of the same opinion and in fact, share the same issues as you do. I have a Camry now, that has never given me any trouble. It's a nice, smooth-riding car and it does everything well, but I wish it had better handling and "snazzier" style. I really like the Passat for styling, handling, and as you pointed out, features that many other cars in this class do not offer. It has a luxury feel to it that's really nice. However, it does cost a bit more and its reliability is a concern, in spite of its excellent safety ratings and rave reviews from the critics.

    The Passat is a car that people either love dearly or hate if they've had a lot of problems with it. Those people who feel they've been "had" by VW and that their Passat is a lemon do seem to be very vocal, sometimes more so than those who have had a great experience with the car. I guess that's like anything else in life. People who've had a good experience tell 3 others, whereas those who've had a bad experience tell 30 others. (or something like that).

    I have been tossing around the idea of trading my Camry for a Passat but I'm still undecided. I want to feel comfortable and happy with my decision and have no regrets. There are many good things to say about both cars, they are both excellent choices. However, I'm in no rush and I'm not pressed to get rid of my car, so like you, I'll continue to read and research until I'm ready to decide.

    Good luck in your quest!!

  • arjay1arjay1 Posts: 172
    This topic has been written about in great detail here.
    You just can't say a Camry or Accord is more reliable than a Passat, or the other way around. I am on my 3rd VW. All three have been problem free. Was my flawless Golf, Jetta or Passat any less reliable than a Camry or Accord? I don't think so. You can't get any more reliable than no problems.
    Are the odds of getting a perfect Camry or Accord higher than the odds of getting a perfect VW? Maybe. There are plenty of people out there complaining about there Camry and Accords as well.
    Is peace of mind your highest priority? If so, go with the Camry/Accord. Will it be perfect, probably. Will your VW be perfect, probably! It's not like you are buying a British car, odds are you will be fine.
  • Anyone seen the new Monsoon on the 02's with indash CD built in ? Seen one peaking into someones car but havent seen or heard it powered up. If so, is it any different other than the CD ? Looks like the display is a lot larger than the old monsoon , additional stuff displayed of the LCD (whatever its called) ??

    Thanks in advance
  • I understand what Silvercrown is saying. There is a Passat problem board under Maintenance and Repair here on Edmunds.
    I made some of the comments below on that board in the past but am repeating them on this board because of the current discussion.

    Before the web I would have bought the Passat, for all I would have known was that I loved the test drive and that the Passat received great reviews in magazines. It wouldn't have been possible to hear about the experiences of very many owners. But with message boards, that experience is right before our eyes. And the experience is troubling.

    One possible answer, which some Passat owners give, is that people with complaints are more likely to post on the various boards than people who are happy. That is no doubt true. But surely it is equally true of owners of _all_ cars. And yet, if you read the boards for different vehicles, the Passat boards (vortex, club b5, edmunds-vwpassat) have more complaints than most of the others I have seen. That is especially true if you try to factor in the number of vehicles of a particular brand on the road. {You would expect Honda Accords to generate more complaints than Passats because there are more of them.}
    I'll call this the complaint to cars ratio.

    I currently drive a trouble-free Honda Accord EX. Maybe it is especially difficult for us Honda owners to buy into the Passat because so many of us have grown accustomed to reliability.

    How do Passat defenders respond to my point about the "complaint to cars ratio"? I would like to see evidence that it makes sense to buy a Passat, but every week or so there are comments on here that make me doubt that.
  • What's the most reliable and cost efficient way to purchase an extended VW warranty? Is a manufacturer's warranty the best way to go?

    I need to purchase an extended warranty for my 2000 Passat V6, since I have 23,500 miles on my original warranty of 24K miles.

    As I recall, there is an internet site where one can purchase an extended warranty that is apparently universally accepted without hassle but is available at a lower cost than one would pay at a dealer. I found the site once, and haven't been able to locate it since. It was not one of those one-size-fits-all Warranty Gold type companies, but had the Volkswagen name on it. However, I don't think it was endorsed by them. (As I write this, I'm wondering whether this is the way to go...)

    Any help in locating this company's website would REALLY be appreciated --- also any advice about the overall best way to get this done quickly and efficiently from a good source.
  • Thanks for your input. I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one facing this situation. You're right in that you can't go wrong with a Camry or Passat. Keep in mind that the Passat now has a 4 year/50,000 mile warranty, but that's no guarantee that when you get to 53,000 miles you're not going to have a major repair of some sort. I haven't even test driven one yet, but just sitting behind the's almost like an Audi or BMW...very nice.

    Based upon looks, road manners, and the fun factor, the Passat is the clear winner. But the bullet-proof reliability of the Toyota line can't be beat either.

    There are just TOO MANY choices out there when it comes to new cars. I'm only 39, but I believe there used to be a day in this country where you only had a choice between Ford, Chevy, Dodge, and Chrysler...not no more!! :)
  • It's good to hear that you've had such a good experience with three different VW's. I remember growing up we had a VW bug that lasted close to 10 years if I recall. VW's are by no means bad or unreliable cars. There are definitely other cars out there with far worse reliability records (not that VW's record is horrible or anything).

    I think a lot of problems with cars can be prevented by just performing the recommended maintenance on the car. Oil change every 3,000 miles, factory recommended maintenance every 7,500 miles, and so forth. I've done that with every car I've ever owned and had absolutely no problems at all (3 cars over 100,000 miles trouble free)...Honda, Mazda, and Toyota.
  • My '99 Passat has had all kinds of weird problems with windows, guages, etc. Now it burns a quart of oil every 800 miles or so. Still, it is good car, and has never left me stranded. I don't think it will be too reliable long term, so I am now looking to dump it... but I might actually replace it with another Passat. New car, new warranty, a little more HP...

    The lease deals are so cheap right now that I might be able to simply trade cars and wind up with a LOWER lease payment than I have now with zero money down... my only new cost would be the license and tags.

    This looks like a pretty balanced list of issues, under the heading "What problems have you had with your new Passat"

  • Thanks a lot. I'll check out this thread and the rest of the VW Vortex forum as well.
  • I've been tempted to buy a Passat but have been spooked by the same quality problems mentioned here. For perspective on this you might want to go to the Microsoft Carpoint site (I hope it is okay to mention that here!) and click on the "consumer reviews" area under the Passat. Some folks love their Passats, the ones who haven't had serious trouble. A concerning number seem to regard their cars as lemons. It seems to be either/or. That is, you get a good one or you get a bad one.

    One thing is clear. VW has a dealer and service network that stinks. There are good ones out there, but they are rare. I'd be much braver about taking my chances with a Passat if I knew the local dealership was one of the rare ones with a good service department.
  • hmmmmmmm, I hardly see this discussion board as a scientific survey, so you can thrown this "complaint to ratio" out the window, consider, vw hoping to sell 300,000 passats this year, might have 1000 or so actual reported problems (not responses and general talk) on Edmunds for model years of the past 3 or 4 years, well you have [non-permissible content removed] data. But, your point is well taken, hey, if you are willing to spend an extra couple of bucks for the nice styling, drive, and comfort of a passat, why not drop an extra $1k and cover your car bumper to bumper for 100k miles? Over 4 or 5 years, you are looking at $2-300 per year for this coverage.
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    I've only had my 2001 Passat for 5,000 miles,but so far it is the best car I've owned. It has brought me more joy than I would have imagined.
    I do respedt the Camry,and actually like the brand new one,but all I remeber about the 98 my wife had is the color...
  • timtrantimtran Posts: 29
    I can tell that you are a smart cookie. I think you should wait a little bit longer, because cars are getting better and better with time. Honda Accord will be redesigned next year, the new Toyota Camry is better than the last model, and VW Passat will have a couple of new engines... Never resist to the temptation: do your homework carefully and make the right decision before you buy. If something turned out wrong, at least you could say that it was bad luck instead of stupidity. In terms of reliability: if we can use statistics to prove the popularity/reliability of a certain car, we must realize that VW sells nearly as many Passats worldwide as Honda does Accords and Toyota does Camries (in the 400,000s yearly). My opinion is that they must be as reliable, otherwise they could not have moved such a large volume of cars.
    In terms of personal experience, I own a Toyota Avalon (Camry's brother), a Honda Accord and a VW Passat. I think they are all good cars. If I had to keep just one, I would probably the Passat. I feel more "connected" to it when I drive. But again, it is only my opinion. In other words, you cannot go wrong if you pick one of the three.
    Good luck with your future purchase.
  • Thanks for the feedback everybody. I thought I might only get a few responses to my question, so I appreciate everybody's helpful input.

    I've got a lot of homework and research to do, but if I end up buying the Passat, I think I might spend the extra money and get an extended warranty. I didn't realize there were so many issues with dealers, though. It sounds as if VW's have become very popular, but the dealer networks have not been able to keep up with the number of new owners and the related new work load. Thus, you end up with long waits for appointments and parts that are on back order. I never had that problem with the Honda or Toyota cars that I've owned in the past.

    However, in terms of driving enjoyment, standard features, and looks, the Passat has the Accord and Camry beat in my opinion. This will definitely be a tough choice. Thanks again.
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...all of the anecdotal evidence in the world, posted here and elsewhere, doesn't add up to a statistically significant sample.

    That's why you go to independent data-gathering organizations with data bases large enough to get beyond the relatively tiny sample that shows up on online message boards [and I don't care how many of them there are...the numbers are still a tiny % of the owner base]. The two that are the biggest and most trustworthy, Consumers Union and J.D. Powers, both agree that no VW model currently imported is going to be as trouble-free, either in the short or long run, as the Honda/Toyota/Nissan competition. That mirrors my own rather extensive experience over the past 40 years, as well, but my experience is like all those other micro-samples...too small to mean anything.

    Buy what you want for whatever reasons you want; just don't let us yield to the temptation to deny the data because it doesn't happen to fit what we want to believe, or doesn't support the decision we want to make for other reasons. Love the car for what it is, but be realistic about what it isn't, as well...

    And incidentally, those same large data bases suggest that the turbo-4 will in fact be more trouble-free than the V6, no matter what your intuition may tell you.
  • Interesting about the turbo4 vs V6, good news as I have 1.8t,.

    Thanks for the info.
  • dpr5dpr5 Posts: 32
    The large data bases do tell you that you are less likely to have a problem car if you buy an Accord or Camry than a Passat. No car line is 100% perfect. However I do think it is important to note what has happened over time.

    CU rates the Passat as average reliability. If this was 1991, I would not buy any car rated average. Honda's and Toyotas in 1991 were the cars to buy if you wanted reliable transportation. The gap between average and better than average was huge.

    Over the last 12 years the European and American cars have improved there reliability to the point where several models are as or more realiable as the Honda's and Toyotas of 10 ago. And those Hondas and Toyotas were reliable. Honda's and Toyota have also improved their relaibility but the gap has narrowed. Hondas and Toyotas are still rated much above average. However the relative average rating of the Passat now points to it being a reliable car.

    If my 2001.5 Passat proves to be as reliable as my '87 Accord was I will be very very happy. So far with the first 7000 miles that has proven to be true. And it is lots more fun to drive.

  • You are quite welcome, SteveM327. That's the beauty of these boards. We can get perspectives from many people who we may not otherwise come into contact with. There are many choices out there and it's hard to choose between them due to the many factors that are involved in a major purchase like a car.

    Storyteller: I have visited this site and I agree with you. The Passat owners there generally rate their cars at 9 & 10 or 1 & 2 (out of 10). There's a wide gap, they either love the car and would recommend it to the world or warn everyone else away from it. It's quite interesting to see the responses. I think you hit the nail on the head regarding VW's poor reputation for dealer service. I, too, would feel better about buying a Passat if I had the assurance that any problems that I might have would be dealt with in a timely and efficient manner without a huge hassle.

    Timtran: Thanks so much for the compliment! I try to make wiser decisions in my "old age". LOL
    You made some good points about worldwide VW sales in comparison to the competition. I never really thought about it that way.

    Dpr5: Another excellent point about reliability history over time. I think our expectations have gotten higher over the years. I know that I have been spoiled by my trouble-free Saturns and Toyotas. Or maybe I've just been lucky. Probably both.

    It is interesting that the turbo 4 gets a higher reliabilty rating than the V6. Intuitively, I would have thought the opposite because I'm not familiar with turbo and it somehow seems riskier than a non-turbo engine. However, I like the smooth, quiet, power of a V6 (and my last 3 cars have had V6 enginers) so I guess this is not the best news for me regarding the Passat.

    In a perfect world, we would be able to have all (or most) of the things we want in a single vehicle without having to settle for less or make difficult trade-offs. I'd love to have a car with the many virtues of a Passat, the reliability and excellent dealer network of my Toyota and at an affordable price. Am I asking for too much? Right now, it's just a beautiful dream.

    However, we still have so many excellent choices out there and the cars are getting better over time. It's a wonderful thing and it generates lots of great discussions like this one.
  • dill6dill6 Posts: 120
    Tom and Ray Magliozzi (Click and Clack) say the 6 is really crammed in there and will be difficult and expensive to work on after warrantee if anything big goes wrong - they recommend the 4.
  • big_guybig_guy Posts: 372
    I have read a lot here about VW having a poor support network and service departments that do not perform to expectations. I have yet to encounter any of that. I have a 2001.5 Passat, 1.8T w/ Tiptronic transmission. I just rounded 4200 miles on it and have had no problems. I will be bringing it into the dealership for oil & filter etc. (recommended at 5000 miles) and I will have a better feel for the service departments performance after that visit . . .

    On the other hand, I have yet to have an enjoyable experience at a Honda dealership. Hondas are very popular here where I live, and my impressions from the dealerships has been that they feel superior and treat customers like stupid cattle. I have never been able to get a Honda salesmen to negotiate a fair deal and I have left the dealerships with a sour taste in my mouth everytime. Is this experience typical for Honda dealers? Probably not, but it is MY impressions. People may feel the same way about VW or Toyota. Impressions about cars, dealerships, and service departments are extremely subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt.

    Just my $.02
  • jrct9454jrct9454 Posts: 2,363
    ...again, for whatever that proves.

    I've purchased several Hondas from the local dealer [which is family-owned, not corporate, again, for whatever that is worth] and have never had trouble getting a market-correct price. Service has been timely and inexpensive compared to the EU makes I've owned, including VW.

    There are only two VW dealers in our immediate area...neither does much dealing, and I have had little direct recent experience with their service departments, though at least one of the two has a reputation locally for being slipshod and expensive to boot.

    And my Hondas and Toyotas have simply spent far less time at their respective dealers than any of my VW/Audi products. All that driver-involvement is great stuff when it works...but my "appliance cars" can be and are driven, at least by me, with the same amount of brio I use when I drive my German cars. Guess I just don't get bored as easily as I'm supposed to...
  • I am at 43,000 on my GLS now... only times I've been to the dealership for service was at the 5k, 10k, 15k and 20k free services. I had three warranty jobs at those services. Two were related to my window and a squealing noise (couldn't duplicate), and they were able to fix my gas guage which stopped working. I used 3 different dealerships for these services/warranty work. One dealer kept my car all day just to change the oil, and returned it unwashed and smelling of the mechanic that was inside it. The other dealer detailed my car both times I was there and immediately gave me a loaner Passat while they checked my car out for the warranty problems -- but they didn't fix the problems. The third dealership took 3 days to fix the gas guage -- but they did fix it -- but returned my car unwashed.
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