Last post on Apr 25, 2013 at 10:07 AM
You are in the Volkswagen Passat
What is this discussion about?
Volkswagen Passat, Sedan, Wagon
Go to NHTSA to file a safety complaint.
Or call Monday-Friday (8 am to 8 pm ET) (888) 327-4236 TTY: (800)424-9153
#3250 of 3340 Looking for used Passat, 2002-2004
Apr 28, 2011 (12:50 pm)
I'm a potential first time VW owner, and I've begun looking at used Passats from 2002-2004. Just recently, I found this forum, and I hope to learn a bit more about the car mechanically from other owners. I thank everyone for their collective efforts in providing other owners and potential owners like myself, with their experiences.
Recently, I found a 2002 VW Passat GLS wagon at an independent used car lot. The car had 95,000 miles on it, and was in immaculate cosmetic condition. It had a clean carfax history (two owners, no accidents, all maintenance appeared to be performed at VW dealers). After looking at the vehicle thoroughly and test driving it, I had it inspected by the local VW dealer. I was ready to purchase the car that day pending the outcome of the inspection. When I got the report from the dealer service tech, I was disappointed and unsettled. The following notes are from their inspection of the vehicle (with approximate costs to fix):
1. front brake pads 5 mm, rear brake pads 8mm
2. engine leaking oil from valve cover and cam seal ($580)
3. oil cooler leaking oil into coolant ($617)
4. hood strut broken ($130)
5. transmission oil pan leaking ($290)
6. lower engine cover missing ($360)
7. right front under liner broken ($130)
8. coolant flush coolant dirty ($160)
9. coolant reservoir contaminated ($180)
10. timing belt has cracks (1,250)
11. battery not holding charge ($250)
12. air bag system has faults and transmission has electrical faults
Obviously, some of these issues are more urgent than others, and some, like the timing belt crack, are just general maintenance. However, I was still dismayed by this report, and choose not to purchase the vehicle. They were asking $5,995, which I thought was a good price, however, considering the amount of work that the car would have needed, I decided to move on and continue looking.
My questions for the forum:
1. Did I make the right decision? I feel that I did, however, I don't have experience with VW.
2. Are some of these problems common? According to the technician, they aren't, other than the cracking of the timing belt, which is general maintenance (I was also expecting this anyways, since I didn't find any records on carfax of the timing belt ever being replaced)
3. what are some of the common problem areas I should be aware of when looking for Passats? So far, it seems the timing belt/water pump is the major service, along with the CV boot, and turbo sludge. Is there any other common issues I should be aware of? Any recommendations and/or advice for a potential buyer?
Thanks for taking the time to read my post, and I look forward to your comments.
#3251 of 3340 Re: Looking for used Passat, 2002-2004 [bcass1]
Apr 28, 2011 (2:38 pm)
Brian. what you see as required repairs are not unusual. That timing belt is a must because should it break you are into thousands to possibly replace the engine. CV, tie rod ends, ball joints are common. I believe that car has 6 rods on each side and they are not cheap to replace. Gaskets? Expensive things to replace. Sensors - I get sick thinking about what I spent.
You will also find that the finishing such as dash, door trim, shifter etc is thin plastic junk. I had problems with the seating material and finish there also.
Absolutely, you made the best decision you could make. The best place for that car is on the dealers lot. Maybe I am prejudiced because the Passat I had was nothing but a major, major expense. There was always something broken and NOTHING was cheap. Advice: Golf appears to be OK. Passat-let someone else keep those problems.
#3252 of 3340 Re: Looking for used Passat, 2002-2004 [bcass1]
by Mr_Shiftright HOST
Apr 28, 2011 (3:49 pm)
Way too much money. My friends who are original owners of their Passat wagon are selling a 2004, clean machine, never any problems for them, for $5900 asking price.
You should expect a *few* issues with any used car, like needing brakes perhaps, or a small oil leak here and there which might not be of any consequence (there are LEAKS and then there are WEEPS...big difference).
So sure, any used car might need $500 in spiffing up, but that laundry list you posted is deplorable. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, I"ll put you in touch with my friends or direct you to their craigslist ad. Of course, I'd recommend you have THEIR car inspected as well. Good luck and yes, you make the right move for many reasons.
#3253 of 3340 Re: Looking for used Passat, 2002-2004 [bcass1]
Apr 28, 2011 (6:24 pm)
It's good you ran away. I wonder why everyone says replacing the timing belt is "just maintenance" -- I didn't replace my timing belt (I had about 90,000 miles on my 2003 Passat). It died. The VW dealer gave me estimates of $5-6K to replace the engine. They would only give me a 3-6 month warranty on their work so I ended up selling it to a junk car dealer. Lesson learned. They are money-sucking pits. First and last one for me.
#3254 of 3340 Passat search continues...
Apr 28, 2011 (11:31 pm)
To the three previous posters who responded to my thread, thanks so much for responding and giving me some affirmation about my decision to walk away from the vehicle. My search for Passats will continue, although I'm a bit discouraged at this point. Nevertheless, considering all the potential issues that could come up on this type of vehicle, I think it would be prudent to avoid independent used car dealers, and look for cars being sold by private parties. At least, you're more likely to be presented with service records to help you better ascertain the history of the car. I've also begun looking at Golfs, and have been searching for Jetta wagons too (although they're rare, and even more so when looking for private party cars only). As one of the posters commented, the Golf seems to have a better record of reliability than the Passat.
My search continues...
#3255 of 3340 Re: Passat search continues... [bcass1]
Apr 29, 2011 (7:43 am)
I have a 2004 1.8T with 4 Motion. I'm one of the lucky few that avoided most of the problems that others have experienced early on. My problems began after 120K. The first thing to go was the ignition coils and apparently this was a recall which VW did reimburse me on. I also had the oil cooler fail around 160K and it is a mess to fix because oil leaks into the coolant and contaminates everything. Another common problem to watch out for is a clogged heater core. Its cost me about $400 to have it flushed out when mine became clogged at 140K. VW recently revised their maintenance schedule to have the moon roof drainage ducts cleaned out every 40K instead of every 80K. I've had mine cleaned every 40K and have never had an issue with a leak but there are several who have had issues with it leaking mostly though because they didn't have it cleaned or maintained.
If you've never had a VW before, be prepared to shell out some maintenance every month to keep it running. I've probably spent a couple hundred a month in maintenance since passing the 120K mark but my car now has over 207K on it and it still runs like new and is fun to drive. Good luck with your search
#3256 of 3340 Re: Passat search continues... [bcass1]
Apr 29, 2011 (10:49 am)
You wrote the following and I added comments:
1. front brake pads 5 mm, rear brake pads 8mm Wear items.
2. engine leaking oil from valve cover and cam seal ($580) Not uncommon on Passats, both engines.
3. oil cooler leaking oil into coolant ($617) Can happen - price sounds high.
4. hood strut broken ($130) I had this problem - $25 at auto parts store and 5 minutes to DIY.
5. transmission oil pan leaking ($290) No idea.
6. lower engine cover missing ($360)
7. right front under liner broken ($130)
8. coolant flush coolant dirty ($160) I had this done at the dealer last year - $90.
9. coolant reservoir contaminated ($180) Buy the part online for $35 at 1st VW Parts.
10. timing belt has cracks (1,250) Probable dealer pricing. An independent garage could save you substantially here.
11. battery not holding charge ($250) New Battery at Advance Auto - $170. DIY installation.
12. air bag system has faults and transmission has electrical faults No idea. SOunds expensive to diagnose.
All in all, you should walk away, but the prices you got for repairing the issues seem high. But that could be dependent on where you are in the country. At just over 90,000 miles, my maintenance costs are running at about $0.08 per mile on my 2003 Passat wagon with the 1.8T. This includes maintenance and repairs, including tires. Doesn't include oil changes, which run me about $0.01 per mile (using Mobil 1 0w-40 Sythetic and a VW filter. I bring the oil, and they do the change and my sludge warranty remains intact without question. So, call it $0.09 per mile or $8,100 over the last 8.5 years. And I haven't done the timing belt change yet.
These aren't cheap cars to own and maintain. They are safe and drive nicely, though.
#3257 of 3340 Re: Passat search continues... [altair4]
Apr 29, 2011 (2:57 pm)
Get your timing belt changed NOW. All the money and time you've spent maintaining your car . . . it'd be a shame to overlook it. Don't make the mistake I did. That timing belt was a death sentence for my Passat.
#3258 of 3340 Re: Need Help from Korea! [sdbuehler1]
Apr 29, 2011 (6:36 pm)
I don't think it's a problem with bleeding. For me, I found out accidentally as the coolant level slowly leaked out causing the alarm to go on. Overall, I think I lost over a gallon. The noise was apparently coming from the coolant reserve tank venting as the level came down. I started getting noise after getting the coolant system flushed out and the service shop told me that the water was leaking around the water pump. I've just recently got the timing belt replaced along with the water pump, and got brand new seals. The noise occurred only once or twice, but after that it went away. I believe you have a small leak in the coolant system somewhere causing the bubbling inside the coolant reserve (overflow) tank.
#3259 of 3340 Re: Need Help from Korea! [vwdawg]
Apr 29, 2011 (6:39 pm)
I guess I'm being stubborn as far as the car, because I've just spent over $2500 on a car which has less than 49K miles and therefore I'd keep the car for a while. I have a teenager daughter who will be driving soon and figured at least I know the full repair history of this one.
Thanks again for your advices.