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Problems with 99 VW Passat GLS



  • jag3jag3 Posts: 1
    Have owned my satin silver Passat wagon GLS for one month now without any problem what so ever!

    So far, so great!!
  • squantosquanto Posts: 12
    sorry to hear about your problems w/ the passat. even though you've presented the info in a logbook format, i can pick up the frustration in your words.

    i've had my eye on the passat for some time, but 2 friends have them too, and have had their fair share of problems. it sounds like you may have a real lemon though.

    keep us posted w/ any other problems/resolutions and include comments on how you've been treated by your dealer and vw.
  • We are considering buying a Passat even though we have had Saturns for 6 years. Are the problems everyone's having really minor? Do you really trust a mechanic who can't find an obvious problem? Would it be better to wait a year for the manufacturers to take care of these problems?
  • lynyrdlynyrd Posts: 1
    I too have been considering buying a Passat GLX V6. I thought that this was the year to buy, but when i heard about the changes for next year, i was convinced to wait. All Wheel drive, 10 speaker Monsoon stereo system and an in dash CD, so you don't have to go searching for a disc changer. Also, they should have all the bugs worked out that you've read about.
    But be sure to check out the site so you can find out opinions regarding the 2000 passats when they become available in a few weeks.
    Good Luck!

    Lynyrd (Jeff) Skynyrd
  • sm10sm10 Posts: 1
    I have a 1997 Passat TDI, at first it was great. That was before the passenger and driver side windows fell off the track. Then the driver side front and rear door locks needed repair, not to mention the door always freeze in the winter.I now have 77,000 miles and the head gasket and water pump have been replaced. Two sets of tires,one set literally came off the sidewalls while driving. And the torque is set pretty high so starting off in 1st gear on snow would just make the tires spin .
    Has anyone experienced similar issues with the new Passat as I am interested in buying a 1999.
  • I own a 1998 Passat GLS with the 1.8T and Tiptronic Transmission. I painstakingly researched this vehicle and compared it to the leading cars in its category, the Camry and Accord. The Passat rated very well on objective tests and received good reviews from a variety of reputable sources. After driving the Passat for a year, I wish I had purchased an Accord (even though they are quite unattractive. They are less expensive, smoother, but mostly they are more reliable).

    I have a list of repairs for my Passat which makes me feel like my car is Frankenstein put together in pieces instead of as a whole. Let's see if I can remember at the problems:

    1. New computer
    2. New spark plugs due to fouling
    3. Check engine came on twice before, and is now on again. I guess my Passat is acred of a little rain.
    4. Steering wheel was not lubricated at the factory so it sounded like two pieces of styrofoam rubbing together whenever you turned.
    5. New door panel because the original was ripped.
    6. Tightening of the battery cables by roadside assistance because the car would not start.
    7. New sun roof motors
    8. New sun roof liner
    9. New sun roof switch
    10. New Antenna
    11. New Antenna base
    12. New radio on back order for over six months (although I can purchase the same Clarion down the street today)
    13. New power window switch
    14. A few freaky electrical situations that cannot be replicated by anyone including me.
    14. Poor treatment by Volkswagon of America whose position is that all these problems are normal and have been fixed so why am I angry.

    I know the dealerships telehone number by heart and most there know me by first name since I am in there about every 6 weeks.

    Do not purchase a Passat if you like cars that are manufactured properly and are reliable. If that does not matter to you, the Passat is for you!
  • zderfzderf Posts: 44

    See my thread under Hatchbacks "Tubro Bug Disaster" and "Beetle News".

    I'm hip on the electrical items. Our fly-by-wire throttle is wreaking havoc on us at 585 miles. 2 tow-ins already.. and its been there a week now without resolution. Don't know how VW will treat us, but am concerned based on your expereince.
  • stolistoli Posts: 7
    christenson, your experiences should not come as a shock to all of us former Honda and Toyota owners. We ALL struggled with VWs tainted record before buying the Passat. Some of us even bought the extended warranty so we could sleep at night; despite the fact that it will not get us out of: wasted time sitting in a waiting room, anxiety about the treatment of your car in the shop, and verbal wars with a complete stranger whose got all the lingo you wished you never had to learn.

    Unfortunately, its like going to the doctor in today's world of managed care, the only thing they are managing is cost. You have to educate yourself, articulate your symtoms, and demand the type of corrective action that YOU have learned is appropriate for a given problem. There are two essential resources for the VW owner: VWVortex forums, and VW online technical bullitens. The former will usually tell you about anything important contained in the latter. When I bought my CD changer at the parts dept., the clerk mentioned a $30 programming fee. I told him they don't need programming. He condescendinly stated that I only have a 1 in 10 chance of it working. bull. He stated it was an additional $30 for installation. I said it took 5 minutes to install. I asked him if he had heard of the "Vortex" He stopped looking me in the eye: caught red-handed. I installed it in the parking lot in five minutes and listened to CDs all the way home.

    What I am building up to is my irritation at the mere listing of replacement items when talking about "repairs". You need to distinguish dealership deception and ignorance, from the facts surrounding the problem. Don't forget, the dealerships get paid every time they lie successfully. There are legitimate problems with some Passats, as in all makes/models. Your list above makes the CAR look like the nightmare, rather than an incompetent service department (pretty common with VW, and a valid reason for anyone to think twice). Many of the items you list are consistent with the early-build bugs that are well publicized. Granted, some of them don't look all that familiar. The following looks like 3 unsuccessful attempts to solve a single complaint:

    "1. New computer
    2. New spark plugs due to fouling
    3. Check engine came on twice before, and is now
    on again. I guess my Passat is acred of a little rain."

    Was the computer actually bad? Many on this forum are now left with this impression, whether or not its true. Many of these laundry list type stories actually start with only minor complaint that the dealer shoots at in the dark, causing unbelievable collateral damage to factory-perfect systems in the process. I dropped off a co-worker at VW last night to pick up his Golf with a broken sunroof track. They burnt out the motor while fixing it and stuck him with $300 extra. I am not disputing your problems, just the tabloid-style presentation of them. Please follow up with an in-depth report so we can sort this out...

    - Stoli - flawless GLX with a crappy stereo.
  • Well written post and one that I agree with. Have my 99 GLS V6 since December with just over 8K miles. First problem showed up 2 weeks after purchase, turn signals stopped blinking. Easy fix, new relay but a pain to deal with.

    Second problem was that the trunk became hard to open if I tried to open it from the right side of the release just above the license plate.

    Left side was fine. Dealer told me that it was normal and that I should just open the trunk either from the inside or the left side of the release. HELLO? This guy was about 18, fresh out of high school. Got the shop foreman, he tried to tell me the same thing, even showed me a Passat on the lot and it was even worse then mine.

    Stuck to my guns, told him if there was no adjustment, I wanted a new release. Told me to wait inside (I peeked through the doors). They took the release apart, made an adjustment and now it is perfect.

    But, neither wanted to troubleshoot the problem. Thank goodness both issues were minor. Other then those issues, the car is a pleasure to drive VS the price. When buying a car, look closely at the service Depts. track record with the BBB and VW. (Honda, Ford, GMC etc)
  • I've read about a few new colors, upgraded security system, Monsoon audio option and a few other minor things.... does anyone have any firm info on the synchro? The dealers say not until the 2001 model but they're often wrong. Of course, VWA is rather unpredictable having had the synchro in their literature since the '98 Passat came out!

    I'm also concerned about all the problems I've read about here and elsewhere. Power steering leakage, check engine lights, brakes, door/trunk latches, assorted noises and a whole slew of electrical problems seem to plague Passats. It's even worse the dealers generally seem unable to diagnose many problems and rarely have parts in stock. Worse still, many, if not most, of these problems are only covered by the meager 2yr/24k warranty.

    I've driven the 5-speed V6 GLS and it's a wonderful car for the price, but I'm not sure I want to put up with all the headaches. For a little more money I can get an Audi A4 or a BMW. Even better, a person can actually ORDER an Audi or BMW from the factory with exactly the colors/options they want. 5-speed V6 Passats are so rare you kind of have to take what you can find.

    Any advice or comments on the 2000 models would really be appreciated.
  • jzubrisjzubris Posts: 1
    What month can I expect a rebate? Should I wait until the 2000's are on the lot?
  • I was going to buy a 1999 Passat, thinking that end of the year prices would be significantly lower, but the dealer said they would not be discounting them much because "they will sell anyway". a buying service came up with a similar price. If I'm not going to get a deal, I figured I'll wait for the 2000. I've not bought a new car on my own before, do dealers usually take a hard line on price at the beginning of the model year?

    Anybody know when the 2000 will be on the lots or what these new colors will be? New interior options?

  • pi2pi2 Posts: 3
    Buying a car really shouldn't be the big deal that it is. You should do your research (like on here at Edmunds.) Be sure that you are not married to one color or sometimes a trim level. You'll have a better chance of getting a better price and maybe less of a wait for the car of your dreams.

    In either case, once the dealer gives you an open price (usually list), laugh in their face (this is optional) and tell them you don't pay list and you know what they pay for their car. Offer them some price below invoice. After going back and forth once or twice, just tell them firmly that you don't want to waste their time and tell them that you are willing to pay them X for the car, final offer. X should be between 3 - 5% over invoice, plus the delivery charge. If they won't budge on the price, WALK AWAY. There is always another dealer willing to sell you a car. Be sure to look out for hidden dealer prep charges. You should only have to pay for advertising ($200 or less), documentaion fees (varies, but no more than $150). Be sure that you DO NOT get window etching, under coating or any other crap the salesman want to push off on you.

    Remember, pay no more than 3-5% over invoice, plus delivery charge, advertising, and documentation fees. Least you feel sorry for the dealer/salesman, just work the numbers, for a $25k car, the dealer stands to make just under $1k. All for 30 minutes of work.
  • ins23ins23 Posts: 17
    Hi All,
    I owned 3 VWs (and still own 1998 VW Beetle). I like exterior. Besides that – it’s junk. I’d never buy anything more from VW. Don’t want to talk about my wife’s 1998 GTI 4cl. LOTS of squeaks, rattles from everywhere plus some more serious problems (11K miles only). Traded it in for 1999 Infiniti G20. Well, the difference is like between Chevy and BMW. Beetle is a junk also. I completely gave up to fix *various noises* inside the car (I fixed 3 another serious problem already; 12K miles).
    Passat is assembled in Germany (Golf, Beetle and Jettas in Mexico). So, it should be a little bit more reliable.

    Okay, I understand you all guys: “affordable German engineering”, “Audi for less money”, etc. I had this mania too. I would recommend VW as 3rd or 4th car in the family – just for fun, just for styling (which is really good). Make 5-7K per year. Keep it for 2-3 years and trade it. But if you’re really so crazy about German cars – buy BMW or Mercedes, they have a name and some durability at least (even though they’re not even close to Acura, Infiniti or Lexus).

    Just my 2 cents.
  • I've been researching the Passat GLS V6 with the luxury package for a couple of months. I am considering leasing one in October - - my first VW after 6 years with Toyota (one Corolla, one Camry). I must say that in terms of dependability, the Toyotas have been top drawer, but the styling puts me to sleep. I've already test driven the Passat V6 and loved it. It is sporty to look at, fun to drive, and the fit and finish are distinctly European. However, after reading about the plethora of mechanical problems, I don't know if this is the best fit for me. I've owned a Volvo before and it was such a money pit. I don't want to go through that again. My dilemma is that I am just not finding anything else out there as appealing as the Passat in the $25-28K price range. What do you think? If you had to consider a first and second runner up, what would you recommend?
  • stolistoli Posts: 7
    Be brave, don't worry so much, buy the Passat and smile. There are no cars in this price range with the fit, finish, features and personality of Passat. What? Don't like the blue dash lights? Oh well, I guess it's too late, you've been programmed to expect midsize conformance sedans.

    Reading these forums in order to derive some indication of frequency and severity of repairs for a given model is far from scientific or statistically significant. The minority of owners that have problems with any model come here in an attempt to punish the manufacturer by exaggerating and spreading their story far and wide. If you looked into the Passat owner forums, you would see nothing but smiles and few complaints. Consumer Reports chose the Passat as the best family sedan based upon their own controlled evaluation of almost 2 years of history on this new model. They waited a year, just to make sure it was no fluke.

    Discussions about reliability dominate the forums because there is very little hard evidence on actual dealer warranty repairs (guarded heavily). Lack of data (truth) breeds speculation and story-telling. While the tangible attributes about cars (looks, features, engine, size, etc.) often allow us to reach an easy decision, we all get hung up on fear of the unknown: will I find myself with my head in my hands sitting in the waiting room, kicking myself for being too impulsive.

    Reliability is worth investigating, but don't use rumor as a basis to rule out the best vehicle in this class. VW engineers are taking chances and advancing the midsize family sedan species. The others are too busy trying to clone the Accord. Yeah, this car is not offensive in any way; neither is my refrigerator. Drivers Wanted...
  • kat514kat514 Posts: 2
    I also am interested in buying a VW Passat GLS V6. I test drove one yesterday with all the bells and whistles. I drove the 4cyc first and then the V6. The 4 cyc Turbo jerked and hung up while the V6 was smooth when you let off the pedal after accerlating. I liked it. I went today and test drove the top Honda Accord and it just didn't match up, even though it was $2,000. cheaper. Just didn't seem to the as nice. I am driving a 1997 Nissan Quest QXE and use to the bells and whistles (FOR SALE..BY THE WAY) and really liked the Passat. Had a Jetta 5 years back and really liked it. My husband is 6ft 6in and had the height in the Jetta and Passat. I am on my way to the problem area to see what all there is to read there, but, if the Passat doesn't pan out for me, I will probably keep my Quest and wait...who knows.
  • pi2pi2 Posts: 3
    No matter what car you get, there is always a chance of getting a lemon. Unfortunately, that has to do with the way cars are made and there isn't any way of telling if your car is the lucky lemon until you drive it around. Of course, everyone wants a new car to have low mileage - oh, say 15 miles. It is very likely that a lemon will slip thru and reach a dealership.

    Aside from pointing out problems with our cars (and asking advice), we should also hi-light how the dealers deal with the problem. Case in point: I told my dealer the stock stereo in the car was too boomy and if they could please recode it. I made sure I told the mechanic and told him I have a copy of the tech notes in the car on which code to reprogram. He kept mentioning that is what the bass and treble controls are for. Sure enough, I picked up the car and the bass is turned to -9 and treble is turned to +9. I will just make sure next time to leave written instructions on what to do with the car... Sometimes you just have to know more than the mechanic...
  • SporinSporin Posts: 1,066
    6000 miles, 4 months, NOT ONE PROBLEM.

    I drove Hondas for a long time, and was, like many of you, reluctant to "take my chances" with a VW. I have no regrets and am glad I took the plunge. The driving experience is so fabulous! I love everything about this car. Mine is tight, solid and rattle free. I couldn't be happier.

    Don't be TOO put off by comments here in Edmunds. The majority of people who go to consumer forums are there to complain about problems. Check out to read an enthusiast's forum, a place where peole go JUST to gush about their cars.

    The ONLY bad thing I can say about VW is that their dealer service is spotty at best. Know exactly what you want done when you go in amd don't accept any less. If you have NO mechanical inclination and can't bear to even think about going to the dealer, maybe VW is not for you, these cars require a bit more love and maintanance then Honda and Toyota, but they reward you tenfold IMO.

    VW has a customer for life in this former Honda owner.
  • jarek2jarek2 Posts: 1
    I am planning to buy 99 VW Wagon Passat. I also thought about buying Volvo V70 Wagon. Volvo is much more expensive than VW and VW has the same passanger space but more cargo space. I heard VW has some problems. Are they really serious? It only has 2 years basic warranty and 10 years powertrain warranty. Is it a trick? If they really had confidence in their product why wouldn't they extend its basic warranty to 3 or 4 years?
  • bzinkbzink Posts: 1
    The key to reliable transportation is maintaining the required service. I purchased my 99 Passatt this February. I currently own a 91 Golf and used to own an 83 GTI. I put 210K hard miles on the GTI and was still able to sell it for top dollar and I still see it on the road.

    After reading through all of the posts, the only thing that really sticks out as a complaint I have is that the cupholders are an nconvenience.

    But like uncle Hansz says, "Vy poot cup holderz in zee kar? Duz zee coush hav un schteering veel?"
  • mcqmcqmcqmcq Posts: 1
    I bought my passat gls,v-6,luxury package,leather seats in march 1999. so far, i love problems. i would recommend the car. what else is out there? audi a-6, bmw 3 series, both have no back seats and cost 5-8k more. consumer reports rated it #1. at least they're not biased. the commercials are true, they're fun to drive, but the seats are more taught than a honda and a lot more than a camary.
  • squantosquanto Posts: 12
    the usa is much bigger than germany. people drive long distances. while they are driving long distances they might like to refresh themselves with a beverage.

    that's why there are cupholders in every car out there. i wouldn't buy a car without them.

    i'm not saying i wouldn't buy a passat for that reason (they have them, but suck), but it really gets old hearing that the reason vw cupholders suck [non-permissible content removed] is because you shouldn't drink while in a car.

    this is typical vw owner reasoning. if vw removed the stereo, vw owners would rationalize that "drivers" shouldn't listen while driving.

    slap uncle hans for me. i think he's senile.
  • SporinSporin Posts: 1,066
    I haven't had any problem with the cupholders. Anything that doesn't fit in them, fits in the rectangular "box" under the armrest.

    First Problem:
    I have developed a reoccuring problem with my otherwise perfect 99 GLS 1.8T, manual...I can't seem to get this big grin off my face when I drive. :-)
  • peruperu Posts: 4
    Bought a '99 Passat GLS loaded last month. Also experiencing ticking noise. Mine seems to come from the front passenger side door area. Took it to the dealer. They indicated that there was a loose bracket behind the glove box, however, I noticed later that the front right door hinges were heavily lubricated...the ticking sound did not go away.
    Returned to a different VW dealer and they "siliconed panels"...ticking sound still remains.
    I will be going back to the dealer in a couple of days and try to have this sound found and eliminated. I believe the ticking sound is the lower speaker housing rubbing or moving against the door panel. Will let you know what we found later this week.
  • My 1999 GLS v6 Tiptronic also has ticking noise in passenger side door. Would like to know solution.

    Otherwise, I love this car.
  • mitch22mitch22 Posts: 2
    anyone experiencing loud clicking noise in the
    99 passat dash? Mine occurs with 2,000 miles
    on the car and two trips to dealership have
    been unsuccessful. This noise appears to be
    on the passenger side and can happen during the
    stress of making a turn or when hitting a moderate
    bump in the road.
    I would appreciate any thoughts, suggestions,
  • greg65greg65 Posts: 1
    I just drove off with my new silver Passat V6 with the luxury package. I had to wait over 18 months for the car, but I knew what I wanted and my dealer was patient with me. The dealer took 4% over invoice.

    The reason I chose the Passat was because my family has a history with Volkswagen (starting with a 1971 Camper), and I think the styling is exceptional. Also, it is very clear that the VW engineers spent a great deal of effort designing the car (with the exception of the cupholders (although they're only cupholders)). It also has a quality feel to it that surpasses the Audi (i.e. the sturdy Passat door handles vs. the flimsy plastic "flaps" on the A4). The Passat is the quintessential German car.

    What clenched the deal was the fact that Volkswagens (and other German carmakers) are not obsessed with rear seat passengers like the Japanese and American makers. I am over 6'4", and the Passat is by far the roomiest car in its class. For once, I actually do not have to put the seat all the way back!

    The Maxima was extremely cramped, and I was not a fan of its new styling. Also, if your going to buy Japanese, there is no better value than the Honda Accord.
  • kat514kat514 Posts: 2
    Well, I bought a 1999 GLX V6 Automatic Silver w/all options, just last Thursday. I wanted white but didn't like the look of the black strip across the bottom. I am having a rear spoiler put on the back next week and I talked the dealer (yeah right!) into including the CD changer and a big wooden rocking chair they have available. (Ask for a pair, but..oh well.) I love it. I had been wanting a Sebring for the past 3 yrs and went to buy one, but, needed 4 door and they don't make a 4-door. My husband had the first Passat out before we meet and loved it, so he took me to see this one. I loved it. Feels good sitting in it and driving it. The ride is smooth as silk. Instead of working over every day, I am leaving work and just I haven't had any problems, but agree with the cupholder deal. I love a Pals 1 liter iced tea every day and no way will it fit. I seen an adjustable cup holder that will fit down inside a small cup holder to hold a large to small drink...may try that...there's an idea. It was $6-$7. I would like to know if anyone else has a rear spoiler and does it look good? Drive carefully.
  • Passat 1999, automatic, GLS with Heatable front seats & Sun roof (All Weather Package). Last December, the weather was 16 Farenheat(below 10 Celsius). When I tried to brake, the brake pedal refused to cooperate. Applying pressure on the pedal had no effect. It was like trying to compress a rock. The Pedal did not move. So, on the Highway, for no reason, I was not able to break. I applied a lot of pressure on the pedal without success. Later, after 1/4 mile, I tested the break again with success.

    Unfortunately, 10 miles later, near the exit, the same problem happened. I was sweating like hell... I did not enjoy the driving. I gradually slowed down and stopped the car. Since I'm a PC user used to Windows 95 and NT, I though that a reboot could do the job. So I turned off the engine for a minute. When I restarted it, the brakes were OK.

    Finally, the problem occurred a 3td time close to my place.

    The next day, the dealer tried to explain me how to use my ABS brake. It was the Wrong Answer. I suspected there is a problem with a Valve. When you brake, there is a valve involved. If the valve is blocked, you are toasted. You cannot compress a liquid. The mechanics changed it and the problem disappeared.

    Recently, in a Canadian Consumer Reports, I found out Volkswagen will recall some 1998 and 1999 PASSAT for a problem similar to mine...
This discussion has been closed.