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Honda Accord vs. Toyota Camry vs. Volkswagen Passat



  • Hello

    Could you help me find where to find the TSB's.
    Are they available on some web site. I am looking for TSB'S for Sienna 2004 and Camry 2004

    Thanks regards
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Try asking here: Technical Service Bulletins
  • jwy418jwy418 Posts: 4

    Like Pat indicated in his posting, you can find the TSBs on edmunds. Just do your search on a particular model as usual. Click on Specs and Reviews. Then look at the vehicle features section and double click on maintenance. Everything will be self-explanatory.

    Just remember that there will be some bulletins for the service technicians and does not indicate any real reliability issues. Read the TSBs carefully for reliability issues.

    Good Luck.
  • patpat Posts: 10,421
    Thanks jwy188 for a more complete answer. :)

    You can get there more directly by clicking on the blue Tips & Advice tab at the top of the page, and then on Maintenance Costs (which will show up under the Tips & Advice tab). That will take you to the screen where you can check on maintenance costs, recalls and TSBs.

    Hope this helps.
  • 1bjgcpa1bjgcpa Posts: 10
    I own a 04 Accord EX. Safety features was of prime concern. My other car is a Volvo S-80. If you want one of the safest production cars made selling at a very fair price for what it is look for a two or three year old Volvo S-80. You should be able can find a dealer certified S-80 2.9 with about 35-40 K miles on in for the low $20's. Get the extended dealer warrantee. It is probably one of the safest production cars ever built.
  • I would personally stay away from the Volvo. Reliability is questionable and numbers-wise the Accord does just as well as (sometimes better) the Volvo in NHTSA's injury measurements.
  • Dear friends,

    Thank you for your concerns for my wife. The side impact by a pick up caved in my wife 93 Camry. Her left forehead hit the side window causing a hematoma in the left frontal lobe the size of an egg. She had 3 broken ribs, collapsed left lung and larcerated kidney.

    She's out of intensive care after 1 week but is still in a coma. She barely opens her eyes occasionally and cannot respond to any command. She still shows a lot of pain. Her doctor said cases like hers take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year of hospitalization to recover. It is a very big price to pay!

    If the car had curtain airbag, her head injuries would have been spared. Side airbags would have prevented her broken ribs and collapsed lung! My conclusion is to buy airbags all around for front and rear occupants.

    Besides good brakes with ABS, your concerns with Vehicle Stability Control (Toyota's term) is valid.

    I was driving my wife's 93 Camry (120K miles) one night at about 65 MPH on the freeway. When I changed 1 lane fairly quickly to avoid a merging car, the car's front wheels bobbed from right to left violently. The front tires, which were new Michelins, were sqealing; the front shock absorbers were alternately going through their full travel ranges. The car weaved left and right, sometimes skidding sideway, through 2 freeway lanes for about 30 seconds before it went straight again!

    The car's front end was bobbing up and down so hard, it was completely out of control, I really thought it would roll over. Luckily there was no other cars on the freeway late at night. Otherwise I would have wiped out many of them! I was pretty scared eventhough, when younger, I used to race production cars at high speed, and piloted planes through some severe weather!

    I brought the car into a Toyota dealer. They explained that the front-wheel drive design coupled with worn shock absorbers were most likely the cause of bobbing/skidding problem. But they would not know for sure until they replicate the incident....I immediately bought new Japanese gas shocks for the car! The folks in the snow belt may prefer front-wheel drive for extra traction and control on slippery and icy roads, but not me!

    I decided to buy a Lexus GS300 for its rear-wheel drive, vehicle stability control, emnergency brake assist, its 6 airbags and its beefier frame. It does not have airbags for rear occupants though!

    We were in the process of upgrading to more Lexus when my wife took the 93 Camry out for a local run and got in the accident! I feel very sad that if my wife had taken the Lexus, she probably got out of that accident with much less severe injuries!

    Again, I agree with you 100% that vehicle stability or skid control system is vital to prevent or to reduce probablity of accidents in the first place. The airbags are last-ditch defense!

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences! May God find you in good luck and good health!
  • My friend who was a mechanical engineer for Mercedez-Benz, and a car nut with experience in many brands, vouched for Volvo's cockpit integrity.

    He was driving an older Volvo carrying 3 other passengers on the freeway when hit from behind by a large truck. His car in turn hit the car in front. the Volvo's front and rear crumpled zones collapsed like accordions, but the cockpit was intact. All 4 occupants opened their doors and got out of the car unscathed. All 4 doors were intact. That was impressive. I do not know whether the truck was traveling at high speed, or the Volvo's crumpled zones were just soft!

    Another friend was driving a 01 Mercedez S430 on the back road late at night, at about 70 MPH, in a southern state (won't tell you which one, as he had a few drinks that night) when he rear ended a truck parked (!) in the middle of the road! The front airbag deployed, the car's front end was competely smashed in, but he just opened the door and walked out with a few minor scratches and shaky knees. He swears for the safety behind the wheel of a MB!

    These are true stories! I would not recommmend anyone to check out their cars and their luck that way! My only concern with Volvo, BMW, Audi and Mercedex-Benz are their mechanical and electrical reliability after 50K miles. My sister's Volvo had major problems after 80K miles, besides a lot of accesories that quit early on!

    Have any more war stories on the road, please share!
  • I am deeply sorry for your wife's injuries. DOn't feel guilty because she was in the Camry. It's one of those incidents where second-guessing yourself won't do anything. The most important thing is that your wife made it out and she will hopefully have a full recovery.

    SInce safety is your primary concern you might want to check out the Saab 9-3. It is the only vehicle thusfar to earn a "Best Pick" rating by in side impact. Both the Accord and Camry earned a Good rating with side curtains.
  • brozhnikbrozhnik Posts: 172
    One other feature to consider if you're looking for safety is the car's color. One factor that affects getting into accidents is how easy it is for other drivers to see you coming; and some colors are more noticeable than others.
    The most noticeable color (I remember this from when I worked in an ergonomics firm) is not available on any car I know of - it's that fluorescent green you see on a lot of newer road signs, also on the newer vests worns by a lot of safety workers. They're starting to make fire trucks in this color too.

    But of the commonly available car colors, white is best. (Yellow is good too.) The worst? Grey and black, two of the most popular colors today. Consider a Wal-mart parking lot - grey pavement, grey store, and let's say there's a grey sky, and you don't have your headlights on and you're in a grey car. It's more likely that someone will not see you doming and run into you. In that case we're talking a fender-bender, but at highway speeds it's serious.

    White cars do show the dirt, it's true, so you have to do more car-washing, but the tradeoff is that they "show" themselves when you're driving along, especially at sunset or at night; other drivers are less likely to not notice you. I can't give you the reference but I remember a study that foudn that black cars had twice the accident rate of white cars. Visibility probably had something to do with it.

    Also - daytime running lights are a real plus for making yourself visible. If you don't have them, consider running your ordinary headlights during the day. They'll wear out faster, but again, you're more likely to be seen.

    I wish I knew of a good web site that discussed this issue. Meanwhile, I hope this is helpful. Again, all our best wishes for your wife.
  • ian721ian721 Posts: 93
    That color thing is no joke. My mom had a blue 1980 Corolla that blended into the background so completely that on three different occasions she was rear ended at red lights by people who said they didn't see her.

    It was also a stick shift, and she probably didn't have her foot on the brake. So if you're driving a stick and you're the last car waiting at a red light, KEEP YOUR FOOT ON THE BRAKE. Otherwise you have no lights on the rear to show that you're there and not moving. She got rid of the blue Corolla and bought a bright red one which was much more visible and never got rear ended after that.

    That being said, I just bought a silver Camry (a Standard, so it only comes in silver, grey, black or sand). The silver color on the Gen 5's is very light and is much more visible than the dark grey or black, both of which I think look better. But it's still not bright red, so I always leave the DRLs on. I never liked DRLs until one day a few years ago someone else's DRLs prevented me from smashing into him. That's when I learned their value.

    Not everyone agrees though. This site is pretty funny, The Association of Drivers Against Daytime Running Lights:

    The only point of their's that I agree with is that DRLs should either be mandatory or they should be banned. Because otherwise someday 90 percent of cars will have them and that will make it awfully hard to see the other 10 percent that don't.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    I read an article that said silver is the safest color, which really surprised me. I'm not sure how they compile the statistics to show which colors are considered the safest.
  • brozhnikbrozhnik Posts: 172
    Thanks for mentioning that, bjbird - I just Googled "safest car color" and you're right, a study published early this year found that drivers of silver cars were by far the least likely to have serious injuries - presumably because their cars are most visible. (The study, done at the U of New Zealand in Auckland, controlled for lots of other possibilities. It looked at 1,000 Auckland drivers in the late 1990s.)
    The study I'd seen was done by Daimler-Benz, years ago, and was looking just at visibility. White was by far the most visible. But silver wasn't tested - probably not available back then. (In the New Zealand study white was just average.)

    What are the least safe colors? The New Zealand study found black, brown and green - the earth tones. (Makes sense - they'd blend into the scenery.) A Swedish study found that black cars were worst - they were in 22% of the accidents even though they were 4% of the cars. Daimler-Benz found black, dark blue, and dark red the least visible.
    One last hit on white cars - "The US National Safety Council noted that white is the most visible colour in uniform lighting, but it has low visibility on a light coloured road in bright sunlight and in snow and fog."

    I guess I'd buy silver now. Meanwhile, I'll keep those daytime running lights on...
  • ian721ian721 Posts: 93
    I looked at that same study and was quite surprised to see that red is also difficult to see. I would have thought otherwise.
  • blaneblane Posts: 2,017
    I read a few years ago that yellow is the safest color for automobiles due to its high visibility. When was the last time that you saw a non-yellow school bus?
  • ian721ian721 Posts: 93
    In Guatemala. They take old US school buses and give them wacky paint jobs and use them for public transportation.

    It would make sense for yellow to be more noticable. It would also make sense that yellow cars would get into a higher proportion of accidents just because of the type of driver who would have a yellow car, which may be why yellow doesn't top the list.

    NYC taxi cabs are a good example.......they're visible but the people who drive them are nuts.
  • First off, you can't advertise on Edmunds.

    Secondly, you can get all of the above-mentioned airbags in an Accord standard at $16,000.
  • I like very bright and flashy car colors myself. My favorite color is the bright orange red color associated with rescue and such...It's safe and cool to look at!

    Avoid dark colors for their poor visibility and poor capability to hide dirt, dings and scratches! Black and white are worst in this respect!

    It's definitely smart to make other drivers and pedestrians aware that your car is coming their ways, day and night.
  • ian721ian721 Posts: 93
    The all-wheel drive Passat is the lowest rated car for reliablity in Consumer Reports' entire 2004 survey: - x.htm

    The I4 Camry is the 3rd best in its class, trailing only much more expensive Lexus and Acura.
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    Having owned a 94 Camry, an 03 Accord, and an 04 Highlander, it's my perception that the Toyotas are of slightly higher build quality. Of course, that's only part of what makes a car enjoyable. But it's important to me.
  • cogukcoguk Posts: 7
    awww man! I just spent the past 2 hours making myself try and feel comfortable about the fact that I'm very close to leasing an AWD Passat ... and then you lay that low reliability thing on me! I know that they are hit or miss ... but then so is crossing the road. Just wish VW would give some sort of "money back guarantee" ...
    I'd consider the Accord if I could get a hybrid, but Honda seems bizarrely coy about when they are actually going to appear! My old lease is nearly up!
  • ian721ian721 Posts: 93
    I've never leased before...are you responsible for repairs for a leased car like that? Isn't the car under warranty for anything other than an accident or something that's essentially your fault?
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    I haven't leased either, but I assume that most repairs would be under warranty. It could be a pain to make a lot of trips to the repair shop, though, even if it's not on your dime. However, you'll probably get a loaner.

    I wonder whether the VW problems tend to show up right away, or not for a few years. My friend had a lot of problems with her Jetta, but not until the third year or so. And another friend with a Passat hadn't had any problems within the first two years.
  • ian721ian721 Posts: 93
    I don't know, but I'd really have to like a car A LOT to get one if I had a friend who had had a bad experience with one.
  • cogukcoguk Posts: 7
    Yes. I know that as it is a lease, the theory is that you have less of an issue ... but the reality is that you have to keep running it to the dealership for repair and hoping that it doesn't breakdown on you when you're driving!
    The dealer said that it is the Lemon laws in NY. You have to have had the same problem go wrong 4 times in order for them to have to give you a new car. Until then, its up to you to keep running to and from the dealership. Hmmmm.

    Does the Accord have any quality strikes against it? Recurring problems/product recall - that sort of thing?
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    There was a recall on the 03/04 V6 engines, and there's a current recall on some models for a possible airbag tear. I don't have anything more specific than that.

    I think most people in general are happy with their Accords, but you can scroll through the Problems & Solutions board to get an idea for what people are experiencing.

    I'm a bit of a special case... I traded in my 03 EX-V6 Accord because it had a recurring, unfixable problem with the rotors. A few others had this problem with 03/04 models, but the kinks are probably worked out by now.
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    I had a horrible experience (or should I say many horrible experiences) with a VW Rabbit in high school in the late '80s. VW's have undoubtedly come a long way since then, but my early experience soured me on them forever.
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    The Accord recall isn't for the V6 engine... it's for the automatic transmission on V6 models (all MY2003 and part of MY2004). It's actually a preventative recall. Under very specific circumstances, 2nd gear could be subjected to overheating due to insufficient lubrication. The recall corrects the lubrication issue. Only high mileage units that have done a lot of trailer towing are likely to have issues.

    On another topic, I had a new '75 VW Rabbit. It was a blast to drive, but the fuel system was a nightmare. If you knew what was good for you, you'd make sure that you never flooded it, because it would take hours for the excess fuel to evaporate. Starting it in cold weather was a real crap shoot. And the catalytic converter decided to self destruct, plugging up the exhaust system and leaving me stranded.

    I felt kind of like the owner of a British sports car... it was lots of fun when it was running right, but it wasn't running right very often. ;)

    These issues help explain why VW lead the industry in installing fuel injection on more affordable cars.
  • The low reliability comes from a black mark in the transmission. The 2004 V6 AWD Passat had a flaw in the software for the automatic transmission. This flaw has been fixed, though it took VW a long time to do it. Other than that, this car does not seem to have big problems. I've been driving my 04 for 8 months and it's been great!
  • Bofore looking at the Passat problems and Solutions forum here on edmunds, I too thought that the coil issue was the one that put a mark on this eecellent auto, but after reading through the forum, the variety of problems is mind numbing. This is a car that even VW has forgotten about, what with them getting the new version out soon.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    Passat reliability for 03' is very good in Consumer Reports 2005 Buying Guide, in fact the pattern indicates that VW reliability has been steadily improving each year. It's actually as good as Accord and Camry for 03', better than Mercedes (which is not saying a lot lately) and better than BMW, especially the 7 series.
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    According to, predicted reliability for the FWD gasoline Passats remains at average, while the comparable Accords have predicted reliability of better than average. And the V6 AWD wagon is listed as much worse than average.

    As for other VWs, the Touareg is predicted to be much worse than average and the Jetta, Golf and New Beetle are predicted to be worse than average. This compares to the Pilot at better than average and the Civic at much better than average. Comparisons to Toyota are similar, with both Camry powertrains predicted at much better than average, along with the Highlander, Corolla and Echo.

    So when you look across the entire VW lineup, VW is still significantly behind their biggest Japanese competitors in overall reliability.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    That seems to contradict the reliability reports in the 2005 CR Buying Guide which shows improving reliability up to 2003 where the Passat is listed as better than average reliability. Obviously they don't have long term data on newer models yet, but the trend is in the right direction.
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    I haven't received my 2005 Buying Guide yet... when I do, I'll check the nature of the discrepancy between the guide and the web site and ask for clarification. One of their online experts is a Passat owner, so he knows those stats very well.
  • There's an ad on The Oregonian today for a 2003 Passat GLX V6 4Motion with 18,000 miles, fully loaded for $17.5k. I thought it was a very good buy for such a fine vehicle so I decided to do a quick research. Many of the posts regarding the reliability of this car were not very good including a few that were quite nightmarish. But your link to that CNN Money site was the final blow. My research has abruptly ended.

    I owned a few VWs during the late 70s and early 80s, 2 Sciroccos and one Rabbit Cabriolet. They were fun to drive and actual quite "cool" to own, I must admit. But there were always something. I remember there was more than just a few days living without a simple form of transportation. But then I was much younger and did not want to drive Japanese... Not until the BMW 325 came in the late 80s. Talking about nightmare. An expensive nightmare but it should belong in a different post.

    Well, after all these years of building cars and nothing but cars, VW story is still pretty much the same in term of product quality? It's difficult for me to accept that with all the new technology in manufacturing available in this day and age.

    I'm going to keep my 11-year-old G20 with 180k miles for another few years.
  • The upward trend might be due to the fact that the Passat is more than a 7 yr old platform. How the new one fares will decide whether VW makes the reliability list or gets off it completely.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I have a '04 Passat, so I may benefit from the 7 yr old platform. But, the sad part is, it took VW 6+ years to get the bugs worked out!!!!
  • You know, it might be better for prospective Passat buyers to buy this version, before the new one coes out, as both the reliability as well the deals might be better.

    Enjoy your car. I always wanted to buy a Passat, especially for the excellent interior, but somehow never did. Maybe the next version.
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    I really look forward to reading about the new Passat in the trade mags. It will also be interesting to see how VW addresses the quality issues that are currently plaguing them. If the new batch continues on the same path, VW is in deep trouble.
  • hmurphyhmurphy Posts: 278
    I'm not sure that quality issues would put VW in "deep trouble." After all, the issues have been there for a long time, and people keep running out to buy pretty Jettas and Passats.

    I can't tell you how many people I know who want a VW and don't have a clue about their reliability. They're cute, sporty-looking cars, and that's all a lot of people know or care about.
  • It appears you're right that for now, VW isn't in "deep trouble" but, it is in trouble.

    Recent articles in Fortune and Businessweek have essentially reported that while VW is still making money, it is rapidly losing market share and profits.

    Fortune on North America performance: "The resulting drop in volume has meant that VW's operating profit in North America fell to $65 million, from $769 million, in the first half of 2003." Reference:,15114,490823,00.htm- - - l

    Businessweek: "VW's share price has fallen nearly 50% since then, wiping out $11 billion in market capitalization as profits plummeted at the $150 billion company." Reference: - - ID=10030

    There's another publication which I can't recall offhand which reported that the VW CEO is intensely aware of - and considers it top priority to address - their quality problems (and growing reputation as a low-reliability carmaker).

    As a businessman who cares for stockholders and the companies they invest in, I wish all businesses succeed at what they do. However, the hard reality is that management philosophies and practices can and do fail, and changing a company's trajectory is like steering an oil tanker (Nissan/Infiniti is the exception).

    To make a VW as reliable as a Honda or Toyota, it would have to overhaul its supply chain strategy that dictates the design, engineering and quality control of mostly secondary mechanical, electrical and electronic components (like computer chips, a/c system, etc.) that determine whether a car starts up in the morning and continues to be operational the rest of the day for at least 100k miles.

    If Nissan made its turnaround in less than 2 years with extreme measures, VW might be able to do it in 3 or 4. Hopefully.
  • bjbird2bjbird2 Posts: 647
    Once again, Passat reliability for 03' is very good in Consumer Reports 2005 Buying Guide, in fact the pattern indicates that VW reliability has been steadily improving each year. They don't show anything newer than 03' because these are long term results.Passat is actually as good as Accord and Camry for 03', better than Mercedes (which is not saying a lot lately) and better than BMW, especially the 7 series.
  • talon95talon95 Posts: 1,110
    And again, their web site shows only average reliability, and that's by far the best showing for any VW on that site. I'd like to find out why these 2 sources differ before we claim that all is well with VW reliability. I can't help but be a bit skeptical about the accuracy of the score in the Buyer's Guide, since it's so dramatically different than anything shown by any other CR resource that I've seen regarding the Passat, and it runs counter to the supposedly most up-to-date information (their claim) on their web site.
  • Volkswagen engines burn large amounts of engine oil, (one quart every 1,000 miles)! Why would anyone knowing about this problem,(and it is all over the "net"),want to purchase these vehicles? Volkswagen thinks this is "normal"! ----Do you as an owner, or potential owner, think that this condition is normal?
  • I do not want to be noticed on the road, I want a "quality" vehicle, and Volkswagen with it's engine oil problem is not a quality product!
  • How much mileage was on these vehicles? I have a 2003 4 cylinder Accord with 40,000 miles on the clock, and the transmission shifts very smooth. I also change the fluid once a year.
  • I do not understand the dealer's statement that in order to get this "great price on this vehicle", the car must leave the dealer the same day! ---- That is really "High Pressure Sales Manipulation"!---- In addition, you had to pay for temporary insurance. Was this insurance policy the same coverage as the AllState policy on you old vehicle? This is a bad deal! I would never take delivery "on-the-spot"! And, I would never take deliver on a vehicle until I had an insurance card from my regular insurance carrier covering the vehicle completely.------ As the customer, with the money, I call the terms and conditions of the delivery process, not the dealer! If they do not like that arrangement, I walk to another dealer. ---- Do you really think, that if you took delivery at a later date,(with the proper insurance coverage), he would not have sold you this vehicle at the same price? He / she is in the business of selling cars, not training customers! They want to move this vehicle and make some money!
  • fish8fish8 Posts: 2,282
    Your logic make ZERO sense. I have owned 2 VW's and neither one has burned any oil (I even previously owned the notorious oil burning 2.0 engine). But, if I used your logic my thought process would go as follows: I would do research on the net and elsewhere and would find out that some VW's consume excess oil. I then decide I would never buy a VW because I MIGHT get a vehicle that is affected by this oil consumption issue. But, if you do the same research on ANY make of car you would come to the same conclusion. Some Honda Accords have been affected by transmission problems (my wife's Accord's transmission went out at 70K miles) and therefore Honda's would be off my list. ALL car company's produce bad vehicles. With every car purchase one risks that they will own a problematic (lemon) car. Granted, VW's tend to have more problems than most, but I seem to of gotten 2 good examples and I am sure there are thousands more like me out there.

    As far as VW saying these oil issues are normal, that's just bad business.
  • I enjoyed reading your posting, but your logic leaves a lot to be desired! If you take the time to check the "net" on this subject, you will find out that it is not just a few cars that have this problem. I own a 2003 4 cylinder Honda Accord, because the V6 Accord has transmission problems, and I do not want to deal with the issue. QUESTION: ----Why would anyone want to purchase any vehicle knowing that some of the units have a major problem? That does not make sense! What kind of "logic" is that!
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