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Problems with 99 VW Passat GLS



  • I'm in new car mode and would like some comarison feedback from anyone who's driven a 328/528 series BMW (6 cylinder) vs. a Passat GLX. What are your 'objective' thoughts on performance, quality and reliability?

  • Has anyone noticed a metallic knocking sound from the rear left seat? ( mine is a 99 GLS on the road since July 99. Once the seat back is dropped, the noise disappears,possibly a fit issue. Also don't skimp with fuel,use the good stuff to avoid ping. Turbo lag will decrease with lower fall temps as the intercooler needs cool air to work properly. Otherwise "quelle belle voiture" it rocks & draws looks (black pearl on black leather YIKES)
  • This car is the absolute worst car that I have ever owned. I have 67,000 miles on the car and have probably put over $3,000 into the car in repairs. The latest is the power steering pump went. The VW dealer quoted me $780 to fix it. Whoever heard of a power steering pump going on a car less than 3 yrs. old? I would not advise anyone to buy this car.
  • SporinSporin Posts: 1,066
    Yup, I've heard some bad things about the 97 and older Passats.

    Let's be clear though ...
    The current Passat, starting with the 1998 model year is a 100% NEW car which shares NOTHING with the pre-1998 Passats. 98+ Passats are built on the same platform as the Audi A4 and A6, utilizing the same chassis, suspension, engines, and tranny.

    Just want to make sure everyone is clear on that.
  • Eric,
    I happen to own both a 328i and a Passat. I don't think you can really compare them. For starters the BMW is quite a bit more money, and one is RWD and one is FWD. The only way is for you to drive both cars decide what you like and dislike about both and apply your own subjective importance to each item. I read too many posts especially in the car topics that seem to offer the definative judgement about a certain auto vs. another. If we all liked the same things there would only be one type of car. For instance the Maxima vs. Passat where people say the Maxima is better because it is bigger. Well that's only if you want or like to drive a bigger car!
    What is most important is what you like, unless someone else is going to buy it for you.
    P.S. I obviously like both the BMW and Passat because I brought both.
  • Ticking noise is there. To me, it sounds like the seat frame flexing. Ignore it. Ride is first rate. Power steering is weakest feature, overboosted as in all the Audis. Clutch grabs higher than I would like, but you get used to it. Spacing is too wide between 2 and 3rd gears. Beautiful low end tourque makes realaxed around town driving a breeze. It is odd thw way the gas peddle gets sucked in on near stall starts, but it's just a quirk. If you are not stalling the car on takeoff at least twice a week, you are probably riding your clutch. Best brakes I have ever had, and I've had two Porsches. The suspension is a little mushy, and the overall drivers feel is short of BMW or Porsche, but kills Camry by a mile. (Don't know about Hondas -- hate the way they smell. VW Leather is so sweet smelling) I wish the drivers seat had a tilt adjustment for the bottom seat cushion. VW service is low end of scale. After years of selling nothing, they suddenly have three hot cars and can't handle the volume. Free maintenance only aggravates the problem. Re 5sp vs Tip. Tip makes the engine noisier, especially on the highway. But it's fun for an automatic. 5sp keeps you involved, but is not as relaxing. On the other hand, no enthusiast would want to be without it. I paid 21,000 plus tax. The only car I would prefer is the Audi A6 2.7 Twin Turbo with 6-speed. It runs $40,000 plus. For value, Passat is best deal on the road, despite a few shortcomings.
  • My new Windsor Blue 1999 Passat GLX Sedan 6 cylinder is driving me crazy. I have had it less than 3 weeks and in the shop 3 times for the very annoying halting at speeds 55 to 65. Each time I am on the freeway going along at the speed limit it feels like it is losing speed, I have had 3 different people from the dealership go out with me on test drives and they all agree they feel it but say it is NO PROBLEM and I should just get used to it because ALL PASSAT cars do this, IT IS THE WAY THEY ARE MADE????? I am now trying to check with other Passat owners to see if this is the case? Am I crazy is it just my car? It does not do this at any other speeds but 55 to 65. Please help I want to drive it off a cliff and buy a Toyota like my last car, never one problem , my son now drives it. Any info would be greatly appreciated. thanks Susan
  • Same problem noted here in Raleigh, NC. Very strange and annoying "pulling" down in speed of the engine around 60 mph. Almost like it wants to downshift, but has no reason to, while the gas peddle is being held steady. Mechanics told us same thing: "That's just the way they are". I think we're getting something else soon. Scared it indicates a bigger problem looming on the horizon.
  • I have difficulty in trying to decide what is a fair offer. Figures such as suggested retail, holdbacks, invoice and add-on items are all confusing at time. Do you use a percent of the suggested retail price? Thanks
  • Start with what is the exact car that you want, which includes the VW options that you want. Non VW options are referred to as Dealer "packs" (another term is additional dealer profit) and are not applicabe to the Passat. I say that because no matter what they say about supply this car is a second or third year body style, and the competition is too hot for a mid-size vehicle of this class to warrant adding "packs". Then check around and see what the going rate is in your area. I saved $1000 by going 60 miles out of town. There are dealers that want to sell you a car that day and ones that don't. It has to do with a lot of factors I won't go into, but that's the way it is. I think it is most simple to deal in $ over invoice.
  • gusgus Posts: 254
    For buying and pricing questions, please visit the Smart Shopper Conference. Please try to save this space for maintenance/repair related questions.

    Conference Host
  • I am considering a 2000 gls passat w/the tiptronic trans. I would like the V6 but am concerned that the city mileage is only rated at 18MPG the 4 looks better at 21 anybody have any comments on fuel economy around town that they would like to share?
  • looking at the problems on VW Passats (looks LIke A lot) versus problems on the late model Maximas (I can't find much at all) I getting scared off buying the VW. I currently own a 92 Nissan Stanza, it has 77k miles on it, the only thing that has gone wrong is the passenger power window switch broke ($33 for a new one)
  • SporinSporin Posts: 1,066
    If, from reading this and other threads, you have deduced that the Passat has "a lot" of problems, then by all means, buy the Maxima. I almost did the same, and now am so glad I didn't.

    Over 9000 flawless miles on my 99 GLS 1.8T Passat. Remember, EVERY manufacturer puts out a few lemons.
  • some more than others...
  • I got the response from Grace and I am wondering if there are others out there that have the same problem with the Passat GLX? What can we Passat owners do about this problem,I just bought mine 1 month ago and the dealer says I just have to get used to it. The haulting at speeds of 50 to 60 is soemthing I can't get used to since it is the speed limit here in No. Calif.I have been assured it is not a safety problem but I am going to try to get a new car or money back or something. I do not reommend a Passat because all of them have this problem. Please others respond so I know it is all owners not just 2 of us. How did this car get to be Car of the Year?
  • I am seriously considering leasing a Passat GLX and am looking for any advise and input from someone in the Cleveland, OH area. I just moved here and have never lived in a climate like this before. How does the Passat perform in the snow?
  • We picked up our Passat GLS last Friday and love it. I noticed the driving speed as being quite different from anything else i have driven- this was apparent in the test drive. Triptronic is also a different feature than what I have driven, maybe that is something for the owners who are unhappy with the way it drives at higher speeds to look into. I plan on learning how to best utilize this system. Yes- there is definately some diferences in this car all the way around. It is not flashy, overly costly, yet it is compact, stylish, roomy inside and 100% luxury & comfort. As for as the speed lag, etc... my guess is that it is something to do with the triptronic system?

  • I just got off the phone with VW of America and they do not intend to do anything about the GLX lag or halting problem which happens to all of these models( GLX V6 ) at freeway speeds of 50 to 60 mph. My lawyer has advised me to take the car back to the dealership and give them the keys. I do not want the car and this problem was not disclosed upon purchase, therefore I should not have to keep it. Do any of you Passat owners intend to keep yours with this problem? Please respond, I think I am in for a huge fight. Susan
  • squantosquanto Posts: 12
    just out of curiosity.. what were your previous cars?
  • I have driven a Toyota 4 runner 1993 for the past 7 years and loved it wish I had it still. Before that a VW Cabriolet 1986. I decided to go back to a gas saver smaller car, big mistake. I had to replace the fuel pump on the VW 3 times in the 1st year, why didn't I remember that before I bought the Passat, short term memory loss.
  • arualarual Posts: 1
    I am looking to buy a 2000 Passat GLS V6. Does somebody know when they will be available in US (NYC area)?
    I was looking for a 1999 model but nobody seems to have what I want: GLS V6, automatic with leather interior; no sunroof, moonroof or any other package. I hope that with 2000 model I will have more luck even though I am getting a little worry after reading all the messages. I still want to buy this car but I will test mine on the highway before I put the money down!
  • ulm911ulm911 Posts: 1
    I leased it in October 97, was the 2nd person in Arizona to drive one. It's a 5 speed, 4 turbo. I had a lot of trouble in the beginning like, defective dash board, instrument cluster, a/c belt tore off, & gas gauge error. That all happen the first year, but now it's trouble free. It's fun to drive, but I wished I had the VR6 engine in it. Turbo engine lags, which I hate. I think my old 92 Passat is faster than this 98.
  • I have been so extremely excited to buy a new Passat GLX, but am now seriously considering getting something else. Although I do realize that all manufacturers make a lemon or two every so often, this seems outrageous. Unfortunately, I too can't seem to find another car that compares "looks wise" and has so many great gadgets. Thank you all for sharing your maintenance stories! It's a real eye opener! Maybe I'll look at an Acura 3.2.
  • newwestdnewwestd Posts: 157
    You will see problems on any site - please take this into consideration. It is human nature to gripe about problems, but few will bother to take the time to find a forum to talk about little or no problems. Would you?

    Consider how many people must read and participate in these forums, and that there are a just a handful of owners scattered around the USA with problems. What are the percentages? 1/10 of 1%?

    I am not defending the Passat in particular although my friends with newer Passats and Jettas have had zero problems. I believe that you may find this trend on almost any car site - just do your homework!
  • squantosquanto Posts: 12
    I know 2 '98 passat owners. Both have had quite a few problems with the cars. Nothing big like a blown engine or tranny, but lots of little crap. Power window stopped working. Tape player ate tape on first try. Weird noises coming from within the car. Intermittent electrical/electronic problems. Broken cupholders.

    Neither seemed terribly upset about the problems, mostly because it was all covered by the b2b warranty. Mind you that the warranty runs out in about 3 months (man, how time flies when you've got the worst b2b warranty in the industry).

    i think they have more to say when they have to open their wallets and start paying for overpriced vw parts (if they ever get them.)

    i too was very excited about the passat, mostly because of the styling and overall driving experience. my excitement has certainly waned because of quality concerns, and the relatively large price tag on the v6.

    i won't be paying top dollar for what i perceive as a "risky" purchase.

    the reason i asked susan about her previous car is because; based on how well the passat has been selling, a lot of accord, camry, and maxima owners are probably buying them. i can see why they would, considering the boring (or plain ugly) styling major japanese midsize sedans.

    i expect that it is quite a shock to the system when you step out of a car that started every morning for the last 5 years, that was rarely to the shop, (and when it was you dealt with a decent service department that knew what it was doing) and suddenly are presented with a vehicle that isn't nearly as reliable or refined, supported by company who's attitude is "you just have to get used to it."

    if you drive a honda around for 5 years you start to think that all cars are that good. then you get a wake-up call from vw.

    but you do your homework. you read the car rags, you read Consumer reports (god only knows how CR got reliablity data on a car in it's first model year '98). you read all about the "new" vw. you rationalize that the passat is really an audi a4 (an upscale brand that doesn't break, yeah right)

    unfortunately, i don't think the passat is going to live up to the expectations that were set for it. unfortunately, a lot of previously happy accord and maxima owners will be wishing they had their "boringly reliable" car back...

    if you want styling and driving, buy the accord as you family hauler and get a bmw 3 for fun. the way the passat price is rising (over 29k sticker for auto glx), it only a few grand under bimmer territory. oh yeah, you get a warranty too.

    consider how many cars you can get in the 28k-32k range, and you really start to wonder why anyone would risk that kind of cash on a passat.

    pull up ....
  • Susanhuff1, go to and post your question/issue there. There are plenty of very helpful people there who I'm sure can help you, or can at least share some of their experiences.
  • Most fun car ever owned - 1972 Alfa Spyder.
    Far and away least reliable car I ever owned - 1972 Alfa Spyder.
    "Life's a trade-off"

    Current owner of 1999 Passat. Love it, no problems to date.
  • aw5aw5 Posts: 1
    Hi. Have a 1999 VW Passat Wagon GLS 5-spd. Love it. Drives and rides awesome. What is the problem, you ask? Hmmm....brakes that squeal like crazy (at 5000 miles). The stereo works only when it wants to, and the best part? Well, at 1000 miles the clutch started making noise. At the same time, the gas guage quit working. My car was in the shop for 10 days while VW replaced the fuel sensor and to fix the clutch, they had to take out the whole transmission. VW got the design of this car right, now they need to get the quality right. As much as i love driving this car, i would never recommend it to anyone without warning them of the potential reliability problems first...
  • squantosquanto Posts: 12
    help me understand why the passat can't be as fun as it is, but at least nearly as reliable as say a honda accord?

    why do these two not seem to go together in some vw passat owner minds?

    a bmw 3 series (also a very engaging car to drive) is fun but also ranks as near the best in reliability.

    for months i've been pondering the single question as to why some vw owners posting here rationalize that reliability and fun can't co-exist. reliable cars are boring and unreliable cars are fun...

    the passat has interested me for some time but i've hand enough first and second hand experiences (including this board) that don't instill me much with much confidence in this car.
This discussion has been closed.