The Passat is a Reliable car.
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  1. #1
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    The Passat is a Reliable car.

    I don't think Passats are much less reliable or more expensive to own the Accords or Camrys. For this thread I'd like to focus on reliability only, and not get into the issue of quality service.

    If you beleive Passats are unreliable, show me the figures to support the notion.

    There are a number of factors that have lead to the notion that Passat are not reliable. I think there was a time when hondas and accords were much more reliable and less expensive than other cars, but that edge has faded as other manufacturers caught up. I also think that Clubb5 tends to draw people who are having problems with their cars, so that group is over-represented here. Finally, I think people mistakenly lump all VWs in one group when it comes to reliability. The research I did before I bought mine showed that Passats had above average reliability, while other current VWs suffered from worse reliability, and there are some older VWs that really had issues. Finally, there were a couple of well documented problems with early model Passats which have since been fixed (heat shield for Turbos, control arms). All these things combined have lead to a public perception of the Passat as less than reliable when in fact it is above average in reliability closely approaching the reliability of accords and camrys.


    For example, Intelichoice ( http://www.intellichoice.com/ ) publishes 5 year total costs of ownership.
    For a 2002 Passat GLS it was $26,563.
    For a 2002 Accord EX 4 Dr Sedan is was $25,491.

    Or, check out Carpoint where they rate car reliability (http://carpoint.msn.com/). '98 and '99 Passat rating are good.

    Better yet, someone post from consumer reports. I don't have the latest from them. As a survey researcher, I think there data is the best.

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  3. #2
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    Edmunds.com lists the Passat as one of the Top 10 Residual Value Vehicles. If the PASSAT was a P.O.S., why would it hold its value more than the Accord/Camry??


    http://www.edmunds.com/reviews/list/...tml?id=lin9126


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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (NilesFerrier)

    My 99 has had not major problems so far. I just service her the way she wants to be (hehe) and all is good!

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (NilesFerrier)

    The reason why I opted for the Passat instead of the Jetta is strictly for reliability issues. I had major problems with my previous cars (95 GTI 8-valve, 99 Jetta GLX), and I'm hoping the Passat will live up to it's reliable reputation.

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (RichieV6)

    I've never really thought of Passats as unreliable. I was originally looking at all three and when I saw all the goodies that you get with a Passat, compared to the Camry and Accord, they are a totally different cars. It would almost be an apples and oranges comparison in what you are getting for the same ammount of money.

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (Huffster)

    Leave my water leak (origin unknown) everything's been great (not that I have many miles on it anyways). On top of that, any problems with this car are negligible considering that it can save your life. You guys have seen/heard of some collision horror stories (neokai's for example) and the results are almost always good besides the loss of such a great car. That's the kind of reliability I admire my car for.

  8. #7
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    Except for the ICM failure at 50K ($260) which is due to Bosch POS relaibility, I'm happy with my '98 B5 @ 68K chipped miles.

    I've owned Mazda / Toyota / Honda / Acura and Mercedes Benz cars and trucks and I can say that the Passat is better than average for maintenance cost and reliability.

    The worst is my Mazda B2000 P/U which spun a crankshaft bearing at 24.1K miles and the dealer said that my 24K warranty expired and I am on my own.

    The second worst is the Toyota Avalon which blew a rack and pinion steering rack at 20K miles and front brakes had to be replaced 3X before 40K.

    The MB E300 had it's share such as rear passenger window not opening at 15K miles and also the brake booster having to be replaced at 50K.

    The best is my Toyota SR5 4WD P/U V6 5 speed. Logged 160K (20% off-road)and no problem just oil and filter and still had the original clutch and rear brake shoe.

  9. #8
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:<HR>Better yet, someone post from consumer reports. I don't have the latest from them. As a survey researcher, I think there data is the best.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Thanks. I actually appreciate that. Our survey data is one of the most attacked and questioned items that we publish.

    CR data (from what I remember) gives the 1.8T a better than average reliability rating overall, but says to avoid the 1998 model year. The 2.8 has an average rating, but also warns against buying a 1998 or 1999. The biggest difference between the two engines seems to be electrical stuff (I don't see this data in any more detail than what is published) - which makes sense since the GLX V6 has more gizzmos to fail.

    But. A friend at Auto Test Division sends me reader letters almost daily complaining about their VWs. It isn't pretty. Personally - and this is TOTALLY my opinion - I think the Passat's reliability score is going to fall as the years pile up. The same thing has happened in the past with other VWs and Audis. The car's reliability will probably hover around average or dip just below; it won't reach Focus levels, but it simply isn't as troublefree to own as most Camrys or Accords or Legacys.

    Sometimes I truely do wish I had bought that Legacy GT wagon I was considering - but then I wouldn't have met nice people here!

    All opinions my own, not CRs.

    Tom

  10. #9
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (mutcth)

    it looks like a million bucks, let's hope it doesn't cost that much to keep it running.

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    I certainly have no complaints. At 88k I have had no major problems. A few CELs, a bad purge valve and failed micro-switch are pretty much it.

    I kept meticulous records for the first 50k miles and found the Passat cost me ~$.30 a mile to own. I no longer keep accurate records, but my gut instinct says the last 38k have been cheaper, if anything.

    The true test will be the 100k and up miles. I don't know how long I'll keep the car, but I'm not feeling particularly nervous about its reliability.

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (NilesFerrier)

    Speaking of residual value, the Passat is great. I recently posted that my gf's car was in an accident. The insurance deemed it to be totalled. It was a 1999 1.8t tiptronic with 34000 miles. Original purchase price was around 23k. My gf got around 70% of the original purchase price.

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tschlaef)

    You guys are making me nervous. I've had my B5.5 GLX for one week now. The final 'short-list' was the Avalon, Accord, Camry, GX350L (yes, a Hyundai), and the Passat.

    Research and logic pointed to the Honda -- and the GX350L and Passat were real close. Emotion won.

    I was hoping to read raves about how these things never broke -- or at least the major things won't go out 6K after warranty and cost $3200 like the transmission on my overpriced American truck.

    I'm fairly easy on equipment -- but insist on things working as designed/promoted.

    In 37 years of driving, this car is the best and most fun that I've owned.

    Recognizing that people here will 'find the flaws' -- I also see that there's apparently no 'epidemic' or blatant problem (at this point).

    It's great to read about the new $65K car (read a bit of it tonight at the newstand) -- and if VW doesn't trip on it's tie, a good reputation with that car can only help with reputation and resale value.

    Until this car, my exposure with VW was the POS on the streets when I got my license in the 60's.

    I sure hope the "German Engineering" isn't just hype.

    Can't wait to drive to work in the morning.

    (Even the wife is excited about this car -- has NEVER been excited about any car since the 70 Plymouth 440 GTX that she almost bought (but couldn't afford the insurance on).

    Nice forum.


  14. #13
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (03 Trade Wind)

    You know what guys and gals, I know I'm not supposed to talk about service but let me tell you that even if a car is a POS, GOOD SERVICE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. And after owning a VW for 4 years, I realized that many of the dealers I went to could not even do an oil change right.

    I, and 2 other friends (one with has a 00 GTI, and the other, an 00 V6 Passat), will never own another VW again, ever, because of the dealer experience and because more stuff went wrong on these cars than all their previous cars combined.

    On the reliability note... yes, my Passt was pretty good in that it never left me stranded. But let me list off some of the issues that my car had (and mind you, my car was very well maintained).

    Starting with week one of ownership

    Dorm Chime broke twice. I gave up on that.
    Plastic piece under wheel well fell off twice making noises when turning. Finally fixed
    Belts always rattled and had issues.... always. even after replacing belts. I gave up.
    Passenger window switch broke off and fell into the door, twice. I gave up.
    Interior plastic peeled on door and around shifter. Very tacky.
    Both clickers finally died (not a battery issue), and the buttons wore off them. I gave up.
    Transmission issue for the first 2 years.... TCM replaced, it helped, but transmission never shifted right. I accepted.
    Piece of plastic under the car fell off again, making flapping sounds.
    NEVERending valve gasket leak. Fixed 4 times. I gave up.
    Many misfires, and coilpacks. I gave up.
    90% driven on highway, and yet, warped rotors which cost me a fortune.
    Trunk didn't always lock.
    Sometimes severe vibration when idling at a red light.
    CV boot ripped.
    and since it's a 98, I was just waitin' on the control arms to fail.
    Rattles in both doors.
    DV failure.
    ... and the list goes on.

    My dad has put 25K on his Hyundai Accent in 1/2 year, not one single problem. Let me just say I was jealous..... even though cars with fewer amenities have few issues, usually. But all my friends who have Jap cars, and beat the heck out of them, didn't have all the aggrivating issues I had.

    Bottom line is, IF I had had even 'decent' service from VW, I probably would have bought another seeing that it's such a unique and beautiful car. But no more. On VW, I give up. and it's too bad for them since I'm a young driver and will be buying many more cars in my lifetime.


    <![CDATA[You know what guys and gals, I know I'm not supposed to talk about service but let me tell you that even if a car is a POS, GOOD SERVICE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. And after owning a VW for 4 years, I realized that many of the dealers I went to could not even do an oil change right.

    I, and 2 other friends (one with has a 00 GTI, and the other, an 00 V6 Passat), will never own another VW again, ever, because of the dealer experience and because more stuff went wrong on these cars than all their previous cars combined.

    On the reliability note... yes, my Passt was pretty good in that it never left me stranded. But let me list off some of the issues that my car had (and mind you, my car was very well maintained).

    Starting with week one of ownership

    Dorm Chime broke twice. I gave up on that.
    Plastic piece under wheel well fell off twice making noises when turning. Finally fixed
    Belts always rattled and had issues.... always. even after replacing belts. I gave up.
    Passenger window switch broke off and fell into the door, twice. I gave up.
    Interior plastic peeled on door and around shifter. Very tacky.
    Both clickers finally died (not a battery issue), and the buttons wore off them. I gave up.
    Transmission issue for the first 2 years.... TCM replaced, it helped, but transmission never shifted right. I accepted.
    Piece of plastic under the car fell off again, making flapping sounds.
    NEVERending valve gasket leak. Fixed 4 times. I gave up.
    Many misfires, and coilpacks. I gave up.
    90% driven on highway, and yet, warped rotors which cost me a fortune.
    Trunk didn't always lock.
    Sometimes severe vibration when idling at a red light.
    CV boot ripped.
    and since it's a 98, I was just waitin' on the control arms to fail.
    Rattles in both doors.
    DV failure.
    ... and the list goes on.

    My dad has put 25K on his Hyundai Accent in 1/2 year, not one single problem. Let me just say I was jealous..... even though cars with fewer amenities have few issues, usually. But all my friends who have Jap cars, and beat the heck out of them, didn't have all the aggrivating issues I had.

    Bottom line is, IF I had had even 'decent' service from VW, I probably would have bought another seeing that it's such a unique and beautiful car. But no more. On VW, I give up. and it's too bad for them since I'm a young driver and will be buying many more cars in my lifetime.


    [Modified by sfrich19, 7:38 PM 9/18/2002]

  15. #14
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (sfrich19)

    Sorry to hear about your experiences sfrich. I'd be POed too if I were you. I agree about the VW service comment. I've had two oil changes and both times, I had to make them reinstall the bellypan (the plastic piece under the engine that keeps falling off for you). The first time, I noticed that a bunch of screws were missing so it probably would have fallen off had I not asked them to fix it right. The remarkable thing is that for my second oil change, I asked them to make sure the bellypan is installed right and they still found a way to leave a bunch of screws off. So I made them do it right again. If I hadn't checked, I may be on my second bellypan by now.

    Next my, CEL light came on but it went back off after I filled up the car. But I figured since my car was in there for an oil change, they might as will just check the code to see if it really was only the gas cap. They ended up replacing something (I never did quite get a good explanation) but now my cruise control doesn't work.

    Having said all that, I'm still not convinced that my car is not reliable. It seems to me that both of my problems were created by incompetent service not lack of reliability. I shouldn't have asked them to check the code.......sigh.

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (VeeDubb)

    oh yes, I had two belly pans fall off after oil changes. I was naive to let them do my oil changes. I eventually started doing my own!!

    my friend with the Passat, and GTI, also lost their belly pans after an oil change.

  17. #16
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (VeeDubb)

    I don't think there's much argument that Accords, Camrys and Altimas are inherently more reliable, overall, than our beloved Passats. People can bitch and moan all they want about Consumer Reports' reliability data, but CR's methodology is as good as it gets.

    I bought my Passat with my eyes wide open. I knew it didn't have the rock-solid reliability of an Accord or Camry, but I chose it anyway. For me, factors such as steering feel, interior quality, style, and the smile it still brings to my face every time I drive it outweighed overall reliability. If the Passat had the crappy reliability record of some GM cars, I might have decided it just wasn't worth it, but the reliability record indicated that it was a major improvement over other VWs, and that was good enough for me.

    I agree with Tom, however. I have a sinking feeling that my car will start costing me entirely too much money as it passes 60K and higher. Will that drive me to buy an Accord or Camry? Nope. I guess I'll just have to trade it in on a W8 or a B6.

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (JazzMat)

    ........ VW service is a lot better if you don't mind paying $190 for a gascap. (ok, I'm exaggerating there). but really, if you can afford the maintenance and you've got patience, then I guess it's OK to stick with VW. I know the driving pleasure and sensation of owning a VW outweighs some of the drawbacks, but honestly, there is a point that I didn't want to cross. Don't get me wrong, the Passat is a great car, but not THAT great for the amt. of money and time I was spending at the dealer. time and again I tried to convince myself that the car was worth the hassle.. but in the end, VW left me angry, broke, and just jaded as heck.


  19. #18
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (JazzMat)

    I do believe that Japanese cars are, on average, a little more reliable than american and euro cars when both are new (before 100k). But the funny thing is, I see a lot more old euro cars (VW's, Benz, Volvos) and american cars on the road than old japanese cars. I can understand all the old american cars on the road because parts are cheap and its nothing to drop a new engine in, but the euro cars, despite all their electrical issues and minor nagging issues, seem pretty robust to major mechanical failures.

    My cousin started working at an independent garage about a year ago. Before that, he swore by Japanese cars but now he only wants used american and euro cars. Says both of them are easier to keep on the road for a longer period than japanese cars. Of course, he only buys used cars and likes to drive them foreover. But for the average consumer that only keeps a car for 3 to 5 years, it's probably still safe to go with a japanese car.

  20. #19
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (VeeDubb)

    If any of you have had problems with your dealer, you should
    take it up with the dealer and also call or write VW. After every
    visit my dealer calls me a few days later to make sure all my
    issues were taken care of. I don't know if all VW dealer in the
    USA do this, but mine does. It has been two years and 36K miles,
    I've had very little problems, more that 1/2 resulting from driving
    in NYC . Everytime I go in for an oil change I tell my service rep
    any noises and they fix it.

    In any brand, LEMONS do exist. It's not impossible that there's a
    few bad apples in the B5 tree.

  21. #20
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (sfrich19)

    Yeah, maintenance costs are fairly ridiculous. But that's true of all foreign cars (european and japanese). Only american cars are cheap to maintain. Our Volvo maintenance bills makes VW service look like a bargain.

  22. #21
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (JazzMat)

    i think a lot of it has to do with the luck of the draw. I'm sure there are Passats that have been problem free so far, conversely, I'll bet there have also been many Passat "superlemons" like the one mentioned above. If you are lucky enough to get a superbly assembled Passat, it will last you years, and you will be singing the praises of VW to everyone. However, if you do get stuck with a fallible Passat, or one of those Mexican specials, you'd better get in touch with your anger.

  23. #22
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (slny)

    I'm not going to report the dealer to VW despite the incompetent service. I figure people make mistakes and they've had a great attitude about correcting their mistakes and they correct it quickly. For me, attitude is important and I know they are trying. I did report my salesman to VW because he made some false promises to get me to give him good post sales survey marks, then never follows up afterwards or return my phone calls. I figure if somebody is dishonest, then heads need to roll.

  24. #23
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:<HR>I don't think Passats are much less reliable or more expensive to own the Accords or Camrys. For this thread I'd like to focus on reliability only, and not get into the issue of quality service. . . . If you beleive Passats are unreliable, show me the figures to support the notion.Better yet, someone post from consumer reports. I don't have the latest from them. As a survey researcher, I think there data is the best.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The last CR report on Passats that I read showed them average, moving toward better than average, I believe. I've owned many cars in my life, so I have a wide range of anecdotal evidence, which is no where as good as objective survey research. Nonetheless, I've reached some conclusions, for what they are worth:

    1. Overall, almost all cars' reliability have improved over the years. I think that the Japanese manufacturers drove this revolution.

    2. Nobody sweats the small stuff like the Japanese, especially Toyota and Honda. The notion of Kaizen--continuous improvement--while adopted these days by many manufacturers, is still done best in Japan.

    3. German engineering is very clever. But, there is a difference between design and execution. Poor materials betray even the best designs.

    So far with almost six weeks on my W8 Variant, there have been no real reliability issues. However, little stuff has been annoying:

    -- Chip in windshield from gravel (this was probably just "luck of the draw," but the first stone to hit the windshield a day after I bought my W8 took a bite. My Lex was bombarded by stones without getting a chip in 4 years. Weak glass or just a weird combination of stone speed, angle, etc.?)

    -- Right front floor mat threadbare in places. What junk.

    -- Little handle in cargo cover fell off and lost springs.

    -- Slots that cargo cover fit in mangled on one side--thin plastic.

    -- Oil cooler isolation kit installed (which I hope dealer did okay)

    Now, all of these are VERY MINOR things, and are certainly not the kind of things that would make one regret one's purchase of an excellent car. I really am enjoying my Passat so far a lot more than I enjoyed my Lexus GS300, which was a very good car. My point is that these very minor quality issues are not the kind of thing I experienced in my Lexus or Toyotas, Nissan, or Subaru. My Japanese cars had floor mats that did not wear out in a month, and fittings that didn't crumple and fall off.

    I am hoping that my Passat will not be like the last German car I bought new, a 1967 BMW 1600-2 (the year before the 2002 came over here). That car was wonderful for the first year, until the warranty expired. After that, everything began to break and/or fall off. Nobody was able to service it well. I was lucky to sell it for parts for $150 at the end of 6 years.

  25. #24
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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (sfrich19)

    mutcth: In the real world every survey has its warts. It may be easy to pick at the CR data, and it certainly has its limitations, but there is no better source of information out there.
    I think the complaints about VWs have more to do with service than reliability.
    I guess time will tell if Passat reliability follows the general VW trend you point out. Perhaps the Passat, made largely of Audi parts, may buck that trend. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    sfrich19: Your experience was certainly bad, but it does not serve as an indictment for Passats in general. In research your example is what we call anecdotal and so does not carry the authority of survey data such as the CR reports data. First, you are only one person, there are other individuals that had similar problems with their Accords and Camrys. Second, one of the primary reasons people find Clubb5 is because they are having problems with their car and go looking for help on the internet. As such, the sample of owners provided by Clubb5 is biased and over represents those having problems with their B5. In Summary, the most valid way to guage the reliability of the Passat is through survey data such as the CR auto report, and to date that data says the Passat is above average, only slightly behind Camrys and Accords.
    PS. I agree the VW service is not the best, but I have always used independent mechanics anyhow. My other car is a Honda, and my independent gives me better service at a lower price than the Honda dealer. I expect the same will be true for the VW (still getting my free maintainence).

    RichPearl: I had a bunch of little problems like the ones you mention on my Honda, granted its not a luxury car like the W8. Anytime you purchase a car in its first production year I think you’ll see some problems. With so many part on a car there its bound to happen. The good manufacturers correct them.


    <![CDATA[mutcth: In the real world every survey has its warts. It may be easy to pick at the CR data, and it certainly has its limitations, but there is no better source of information out there.
    I think the complaints about VWs have more to do with service than reliability.
    I guess time will tell if Passat reliability follows the general VW trend you point out. Perhaps the Passat, made largely of Audi parts, may buck that trend. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    sfrich19: Your experience was certainly bad, but it does not serve as an indictment for Passats in general. In research your example is what we call anecdotal and so does not carry the authority of survey data such as the CR reports data. First, you are only one person, there are other individuals that had similar problems with their Accords and Camrys. Second, one of the primary reasons people find Clubb5 is because they are having problems with their car and go looking for help on the internet. As such, the sample of owners provided by Clubb5 is biased and over represents those having problems with their B5. In Summary, the most valid way to guage the reliability of the Passat is through survey data such as the CR auto report, and to date that data says the Passat is above average, only slightly behind Camrys and Accords.
    PS. I agree the VW service is not the best, but I have always used independent mechanics anyhow. My other car is a Honda, and my independent gives me better service at a lower price than the Honda dealer. I expect the same will be true for the VW (still getting my free maintainence).

    RichPearl: I had a bunch of little problems like the ones you mention on my Honda, granted its not a luxury car like the W8. Anytime you purchase a car in its first production year I think you’ll see some problems. With so many part on a car there its bound to happen. The good manufacturers correct them.


    [Modified by tenbroeck, 7:14 AM 9/19/2002]

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (NilesFerrier)

    Good point

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    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    [QUOTE]mutcth: In the real world every survey has its warts. It may be easy to pick at the CR data, and it certainly has its limitations, but there is no better source of information out there. [QUOTE]

    Agreed.

    [QUOTE] . . . I guess time will tell if Passat reliability follows the general VW trend you point out. Perhaps the Passat, made largely of Audi parts, may buck that trend. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.[QUOTE]

    CR reports that Audi has less than average reliability, so I hope that the Passat does NOT follow in Audi's path.

    [QUOTE]. . . I had a bunch of little problems like the ones you mention on my Honda, granted its not a luxury car like the W8. Anytime you purchase a car in its first production year I think you’ll see some problems. With so many part on a car there its bound to happen. The good manufacturers correct them.[QUOTE]

    The thing is that the little, irritating problems I've had have nothing to do with the W8 model, with the exception of the oil cooler isolation kit. The poor quality of plastic materials would hold for other Variants.

  28. #27
    1st Gear
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Decatur, GA, USA
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    426

    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (Rich Pearl)

    [QUOTE] CR reports that Audi has less than average reliability, so I hope that the Passat does NOT follow in Audi's path.[QUOTE]

    Dohh! Put my foot in it there. I certainly hope you are right that VW stays on its own path.

  29. #28
    Lisa Simpson
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Ddf, Germany
    Posts
    15,044

    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    Well, look at it this way - once you own a lemon VW (our old Golf) you appreciate a better one. Both of our Golfs have had problems, although the new one appears to be straightened out now. However, I had plenty of problems with my Hondas, so maybe it is me that is cursed!

  30. #29
    Neutral
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Vancouver B.C. Canada
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    8

    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    I had a 99 B5 which had the following issues

    tie rods replaced under recall
    broken driver seat frame replaced under warranty
    Faulty speed control replaced under warranty

    Traded in with 65k in Dec 01 for an 02 B5.5
    No issues with 10k on the clock

  31. #30
    1st Gear
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    Jul 2002
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    Englewood Cliffs NJ USA
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    476

    Re: The Passat is a Reliable car. (tenbroeck)

    Reliability of VW models improves greatly with each year of its production. I think the B5.5 will prove to be a very reliable car.

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