B5 Passat good first car?
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Thread: B5 Passat good first car?

  1. #1
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    B5 Passat good first car?

    Hey guys, i am a 15 year old looking for my first car. My friend recently got a 2003 Passat that i got hooked on and now I want one. I am looking at 1999 - 2004 models with the 2.8 V6. Is this a good choice? also how much will insurance run if I have it on my parents plan as them as primary drivers to save $$$? Thanks!

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    i think a passat is as good as any other 1st car , a 2.8 v6 for a first is very nice to start with my 1st was a vauxhall nova 1.2 with a lame 46bhp haha but a quick engine conversion soon changed that to a nice 284bhp : )

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    Quote Originally Posted by john9721 View Post
    Hey guys, i am a 15 year old looking for my first car. My friend recently got a 2003 Passat that i got hooked on and now I want one. I am looking at 1999 - 2004 models with the 2.8 V6. Is this a good choice? also how much will insurance run if I have it on my parents plan as them as primary drivers to save $$$? Thanks!
    My '04 Passat is my first car. It's certainly better than many people's first cars, and they aren't cheap, like you'd expect for a first car. A lot of people stick under 2 grand for a first car, where mine (and any worth buying) will run over 3. It costs a good bit more than a civic to maintain, and is probably more receptive to preventative maintenance. And they really aren't fantastic on gas (and I have the 1.8T). Insurance of course should *technically* be in your name, but hey, we've all been there; under your parents insurance, if they're alright with it, insurance will be negligible compared to fuel costs (assuming you're driving to/from school daily).

    With all that bad out of the way, the good is that you'll have the best student car at your school (apart from the people who's parents buy them brand new BMW's...more common in the states than Canada, as I understand it), and have a blast driving it. Treat it well, and it will treat you well.

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    The best first car is a boring piece of junk. Next best is a used Toyota Corolla. Any car that kids are "hooked on", especially German cars, usually leads to stupid stuff and expensive lessons. Really.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john9721 View Post
    Hey guys, i am a 15 year old looking for my first car. My friend recently got a 2003 Passat that i got hooked on and now I want one. I am looking at 1999 - 2004 models with the 2.8 V6. Is this a good choice? also how much will insurance run if I have it on my parents plan as them as primary drivers to save $$$? Thanks!
    It is luck of the draw as far as reliability base on the previous owner's maintenance habits. A V6 is more forgiving of missed oil changes than the turbo but has some annoying tendencies like clogged pcv tubes and broken flex joints. Your best bet is to learn as much about these cars and know what to look to when buying one. I always bring a laptop and vagcom with me when I'm looking at a car and it has saved me quite a few times.

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    I don't recommend a Passat to anyone on a limited budget (no spare cash after the purchase price) or who is not a repair DIY'er.

    I spend a LOT of time keeping mine going ('00 V6 5 spd) but up to this point have decided it's worth the trouble. I could afford something else but like what I already have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by y2000passat View Post
    I don't recommend a Passat to anyone on a limited budget (no spare cash after the purchase price) or who is not a repair DIY'er.

    I spend a LOT of time keeping mine going ('00 V6 5 spd) but up to this point have decided it's worth the trouble. I could afford something else but like what I already have.
    My dad and i are pretty good when it comes to repairs, and i will have a job once the new year hits in case i need the extra money

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    Quote Originally Posted by mysman View Post
    The best first car is a boring piece of junk. Next best is a used Toyota Corolla. Any car that kids are "hooked on", especially German cars, usually leads to stupid stuff and expensive lessons. Really.
    I totally get where your coming from, but in all honesty I am a really safe driver. I dont do alot of stupid things while driving and im not gonna be modding it or anything. When i said hooked i meant more like i loved how comfortable and secure the car felt along with the good amount of power behind it.

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    As someone who a) has a V6 Passat wagon and b) was 15 once, no...no. It's a terrible first car. It's expensive to keep up and you have to stay on top of the maintenance if you want the car to last. It's worth it if you have the cash and the discipline - well worth it, in fact - but I think it's too much for someone who...doesn't even have a job. It's a great car, and I see why you want one, but I really think you'd regret being saddled with it. Get something that requires less upkeep.

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    I got my Passat when I was 16 and I still have it to this day and I'm 20 now. I didn't realize what I was getting into but like you said, I test drove it and fell hard for the car. I've spent lots getting it up into shape over the past 4 years. If I could go back I'd still get it but do more things myself that I thought were daunting tasks and save more money. It will be expensive and random things will come up out of nowhere costing big money but these cars teach you to be more responsible about owning a large investment. Honestly, get it and spend more time on here searching and DIY-ing.

    I've only owned the 1.8T and only driven for a short while the V6, so I couldn't really unequivocally say the 1.8T is better because its a different engine that I'm not as familiar with. Personally I'm partial to the 1.8T because of its potential and the "less is more" concept.
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    Quote Originally Posted by john9721 View Post
    My dad and i are pretty good when it comes to repairs, and i will have a job once the new year hits in case i need the extra money
    I was going to pile on here about it not being a good idea as a first car, but I'll just freestyle it ... you know which of this makes sense for you.

    A few good things about a B5 as a first car:
    - very safe. VERY. (that said, the best safety feature of any car is the driver).
    - fairly modern technology, yet, still possible to DIY (modern is used loosely here, i.e, it's not a hybrid, or EV).
    - free access to extensive know-how on PW! (would be a nightmare and a money pit to upkeep if it weren't for the peeps here).
    - a lot of fun to drive
    - great sex appeal -- (surprised no-one mentioned that yet ... c'mon people, focus!!)

    A few not so great ones:
    - the car can be quite powerful so even if you are a safe driver that little engine under the hood is begging to be spanked hard and might seduce you into doing something unsafe;
    - some parts are expensive, and some repairs require careful planning and can be fairly long and complicated (you will be buying a 10+ year old car, so it will have serious miles on it, so you might be the first owner of the car who gets hit with all the really expensive maintenance.)
    - if the car wasn't well maintained it can be a lot of expensive headaches. This line of cars is not very tolerant to owner neglect. One example just to give you context: at the end of a long trip you are supposed to idle (the turbo version anyway) for a few minutes before shutting off the engine to let it cool down a little so that the oil doesn't solidify into small bits in the turbo oil lines. You may decide to do that yourself, it really isn't that hard, just a bit awkward if you have to explain it to your buddies, but if the previous owner didn't do that consistently over the several thousands of miles they put in the car, you are going to run into one heck of a nasty clogged oil pickup screen, which if you don't pick up on and fix right away, could destroy that nice engine. Unfortunately, I don't know of an easy or cheap way to find that out. You will have to trust the owner, even if you get a pre-purchase inspection.
    - like some other cars the timing belt on the 1.8 is up front and if for some reason you get into a frontal collision it could cause serious internal engine damage (timing belt will skip and cause the valves to be out of sync with the pistons, ie the piston crowns will hit the valves and the latter bend in the best case scenario).

    For your specific situation:
    - you can work on it with your dad -- how great is that!!!
    - you drive prudently which is awesome, (I usually go off the assumption that my driving skills can always improve).
    - if you have some money, maybe sinking it into things like premium gas, or other "bling" like timing belts and triple square socket bits is not the best use of it.

    My real first car (second really): a mid 80's boxy volvo station wagon. man that thing looked square, but it was extremely safe, very reliable, easy to work on, and the volvo owner community was just awesome. Color blue. The ladies would dig it immensely (go figure, I didn't think they'd go for old boxy eurostyle). The best thing about it: the previous owner did all the preventive maintenance at the dealer, and gave me all the paperwork too.

    If you do decide to buy a B5 be smart about it. Look at a few with the idea that you won't buy them. When you find one that looks good on paper, i.e., the owner records, consider it. If it has lower miles too buy it if you still want it.

    Otherwise, what can I tell you, my wife's honda seems to take anything you throw at it and not break down. looks like crap-o-rama if you ask me. I shift it to D and it goes alright, I just feel like I am dying a slow death. No, not really. I meant to say a slow, BORING death.

    :facepalm:

    Good luck, and let us know what you end up with. If it's a B5 rest assured PW's got your back.

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    Thank you guys so much to all of your input. I will not be buying the car until sometime next summer, so I've got a while to think about it. I will defiantly let you guys know what I end up with. Thanks again!

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    If you're footing the entire bill, very rough for a high school kid to maintain these cars. If your dad is going to help, be absolutely sure not to wrap it around any trees or light poles because he'll never forgive you (ESPECIALLY if he and has driven it). Ask me how I know.

    Unless you have magic powers preventing you from doing dumb things that teenagers do, buy a Corolla or Civic...then get a B5 after you've totaled the Corolla or Civic.

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    Personally, I save $250 every month for maintenance. Maybe that's overkill, but for all the fun to be had with these cars too, it's worth it. Also consider the things you might have to do and tools you might have to buy, right away (or soon after). Brakes, transmission fluid, CV joints/boots, timing belt (that one's probably a bigger concern than others). I'm still working on getting everything up to date; brakes and transmission fluid will be done when the weather's warmer, timing belt probably when taxes come in. Big money right off the line.

  16. #15
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    I'm in a similar situation ref a 15 year old and VWs.
    My son will get his permit next year so we have been talking about cars.
    Of course he want a VW Would we get a B5, hell no... not unless it was one of mine.
    I agree withthe earlier posts, way too expensive for a high schooler to maintain.
    You have better things to spend your cash on.

    Take a look at the 2ltr Golfs and Jettas.
    Very similar build quality and feel but at a lower price.

    We are leaning towards a Mk4 Jetta.
    A great car to cut your teeth on.

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    I got my B5 when i was 17 as my first car. I am 19 today. Learned to drive stick in it, learned about cars from it, even did a big turbo build to it. Mines a 1999, im surprised at the technology it comes with, way ahead of its time. And its so stylish that it doesnt even look like a 1999 car. I absolutely love my B5. HOWEVER, I am still trying to get everything up to date, lots of maintenance work still needs to be done, and when you finish one thing, something else starts to go. I work part time so about 80% of the money i make goes to my B5. I still live with my parents so thank god for that. Sometimes the car can be a pain in the butt but that feeling when you get on the freeway and you hear that turbo whistle and your RPMS start going crazy fast, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that can replace that feeling. I love my B5. Whatever choice you make, have a great time with your car.
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    If you are going to be paying for maintenance yourself, I think a German car is going to be too expensive. Even assuming nothing goes wrong with the car, you still have the following manditory maintenance items every 5k miles.

    Spark plugs = $60 (not including installation)

    Oil and filter = $60 (not including labor)

    Premium 91+ gas every fill up.

    Given that the newest B5 you can buy is now 8 years old, and the oldest is 14 (almost as old as you ) You are going to be seeing the following things needing replacement or be on the brink of failure.

    Control arms

    Timing belt

    Seals/PCV system

    Vacuum hoses

    Engine/Trans mounts

    etc.

    My advice is to do the following.

    1) review your budget, how much can you comfortably spend each month on maintenance? How much money do you have to set aside if a big repair is needed?

    2) Where are you buying the car? Wherever you do it (I would recommend buying from someone on here) make sure to get it inspected and have full maintenance records.

    3) Lastly, do you have or want a girlfriend? I can guarantee you that between the money and time spent on a Passat, at your age a girl will be out of the question as a result...

    In all seriousness, if you can get your parents to help you out a bit financially, the Passat will be a much more luxurious, sporty, and safe alternative to a Honda/Toyota/other snooze box.

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    Plugs every 5k? I've got 5 years on mine.

    Very true about the girlfriend. At 16 she only cares that you drive her around, not what it's in.

    Getting a B5 leads to jealousy that you spend more time and money on your car than you do with her. Then questioning if you love your B5 more than her (which you should never answer honestly). Vicious cycle.

    It really, really pisses my fiance off that I won't let her drive mine. I just can't take that risk.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NEWMAN'SOWN View Post
    If you are going to be paying for maintenance yourself, I think a German car is going to be too expensive. Even assuming nothing goes wrong with the car, you still have the following manditory maintenance items every 5k miles.

    Spark plugs = $60 (not including installation)

    Oil and filter = $60 (not including labor)

    ...

    In all seriousness, if you can get your parents to help you out a bit financially, the Passat will be a much more luxurious, sporty, and safe alternative to a Honda/Toyota/other snooze box.
    I'm not disagreeing with your overall point, but new plugs every oil change? $60 for oil and filter? You certainly don't need to replace plugs that often, and it's not difficult at all to find Oil+Filter for $35 out the door.

  21. #20
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    Hmm, nice job everyone, you scared him off!

    Anyway, I am wondering is it really such a bad idea to get a B5 as a first car?

    - it will be a good learning experience to repair and care for a car that requires some owner commitment
    - some of its life will be spent in non-driveable state while fixing it. a bit of a bummer, but that will limit driving (and the potential for an accident), and when he drives it maybe he will hesitate to push it hard and cause more stuff to break. Sigh, that's got to be cruel ... he'll be driving it like a granny.

    Anyway, money wise it's not a good idea for sure, but heck, what if he likes to DIY? with his dad? (he'll have fond memories of this later on).

    How really bad could it be? If he is not lucky all hell will break loose at the same time. if he gets a well-cared for car he can plan, prioritize and save for some of the repairs and space them apart. This may not be as bad really.

  22. #21
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    I agree, it could be a great first car. It really depends on how realistic you are about the money. It may actually be good on insurance rates compared to other cars because of the many safety features and four cyl, and it is great on gas.
    This is the kind of car that is going to set the tone for your driving career.
    Are you a detail oriented person who like to learn new things and devote time to maintaining your car? If so , you will have one of the classier cars in your class and it WILL impress chicks. (Nice big back seats too)
    Are you the kind of person that doesn't care about anything non Facebook or music related and drives their car around filled with trash and dents because they are too busy with all their other stuff? Well, on the Honda you could have bought, it will just be another trashy high school car, no one impressed, but you get there. If you get the Passat, it will simply sit I your driveway and you will bum rides from everyone else.
    You WILL need to spend money on it and you WILL need to wrench on it yourself and you WILL have to do things the correct detail oriented way.
    Good luck , I would have liked to have a passat in high school, but my Camaro worked too!

  23. #22
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    I guess I'm pretty lucky with my Passats because I've never had any major problems so far. My wife's turbo had the sludge problem but was taken care of by VW along with a revised maintenance schedule. My wife currently has a 2001 GLX 4-motion and aside from replacing the flex joints it's been solid. My wagon (v6 GLS) has been bullet-proof as well. The key for me has always been maintaining them, which I do. Granted, I do most of the wrenching myself because I'm cheap.....

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    I'll be honest... B5's are NOT good first cars. Even if you are mechanically inclined. I've been working on cars (lots) since I was 18 (28 now) and bought my B5 about 3 years ago. It's wonderful, I love it, but at times it is quite a chore to maintain it properly. And expensive. Not to mention I bought the car from the original owner with a huge/awesome folder of proper maintenance records. Even when they're kept up right they can be very expensive. If I didn't do all the work myself I would have paid as much in maintenance by now than I paid for the car. I can't imagine tackling a B5 @ 16 years old

    Some one said it earlier, start with a mk3 Golf/Jetta with a 2.0!! Awesome, awesome cars to learn the basics on. Got one when I was 17 and by the time I was 20 I could to a timing belt in two hours, and literally anything that went wrong with the car aside from the bottom end letting go can be done on a Saturday on the cheap! I learned so much owning several mk3 VWs, they are truly a wonderful first cars if you want to learn to wrench. In my opinion they are much more fun, comfortable, and lovable compared to the other similar econobox's my friends had at the time. I am still REALLY sentimental about them. Anyways, own one of those for a few years and you'll be well inclined to graduate to a B5/5.5 Passat

  25. #24
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    My first car was a 1965 Pontiac; the car was six years old at the time. It survived a huge amount of neglect, abuse, and collision with objects (stationary and moving) while I learned about cars and earning money. I've owned mostly VW/Audis since then; almost a dozen. Much as I love B5/5.5's, if I'd had one instead of that Pontiac I'd have committed suicide.

  26. #25
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    my first car was a 1994-1995 audi 90-S or S-90. it was a nice car and fun to drive but after only 6 months it needed $2800 of repair work. and then it wouldnt start and needed more work. and as we were trading it in, the transmission started to fail. but that didnt stop me from eventually buying another vw/audi. i have since owned 3 audis and a passat. love the cars but if i didnt do 95% of the work on them i wouldnt own one. they are maintenance whores compared to japanese cars. if you cant do the work yourself you better have $2k+ every year on the side just for maintenance work.

    now some of the pro's. they are very safe,witch is important. the 2.8 is also def more reliable and easier to work on than the turbos. and you have less failing parts. but also cant mod as much engine wise.
    so it all depends what you want.

    but regardless if you can afford it or have the tools i would drive a passat over ANY japanese or america car any day. after you drive a vw/audi, everything else feels cheap and shitty.


    now on to the basics.
    i get 5qts of full synthetic mobile1 oil and a purolator filter for about $30 and i do my own oil changes.
    spark plugs are easy as long as you arent impatient and hard. and you can get top of the line plugs for under $60 for all 6.
    so as long as your comfortable turning wrenches go for it.

  27. #26
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    Looking at the total cost of ownership, from the insurance perspective Passats make great first cars. As an inexperienced driver, liability rates on a Passat rank at the bottom for all vehicles which will be a big win when it comes time to write that check. Compare that to Jettas, Golfs, Civics, etc which are on the other end of that spectrum. Passats will typically have 6 airbags, ABS, aren't immensely overpowered and are built like a tank. All of which make your insurance agent happy and get you a smaller premium.

    Take your time, find a Passat that's in good shape, has had regular maintenance and enjoy!

  28. #27
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    Passat is a great car as long as you can either A: afford the maintenance as a foreign car in an american world isnt going to be in your favor money wise. or B: dedicate your life to working on a foreign car in an american world, as 7/10 seeing as your young and new to repairs your probably going to be shopping online for most of your parts which means you need to get them before they break or be driving around to alot of different part stores trying to find what you need. Then when you finally find the part you will be paying out the ass for it because the car is once again....foreign..... And dont forget the special sockets and tools you will be buying for your.....foreign....car to do all these repairs.

    Its a pretty fun car no doubt but taking the European route over the American route for a first car might give you a little more trouble than u might want at your stage.

    One thing more to add....if you do decide to do your own work on these cars, TAKE YOUR TIME with these hex bolts. Theres alot of hex threaded bolts on this car and if there rusted and you dont have your hex socket REALLY snug in the bolt you will strip it and all hell breaks loose. Ive stripped about 3 so far and I get pissed off everytime....

  29. #28
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    Absolutely, its also an easy car to learn stick on if you want to give that a go. But parts are expensive.

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    I've owned my B5 for 3 months, and have dumped $3k in it. YMMV, but these cars are very hard to judge when it comes to their current state - all the maintenance records in the world won't necessarily give you the best picture of the car. And still after sinking 3k into the car (albeit my head had to be replaced) I'm still discovering things that need done that the previous owner didn't do correctly.

    I suggest doing EXTENSIVE research about these cars before purchasing. Just because you may know a lot about cars doesn't mean you know about VW at all.

    I checked mine out thoroughly.

    Green Coolant - looked good.
    Red PS fluid - looked good.
    Red trans fluid - looked good.

    What's wrong?

    VW:
    Pink coolant
    Green PS fluid
    Brown trans fluid

    Car isn't in the shape I thought and wouldn't have bought this one in particular if I had known about B5s before hand. Still gotta do the trans whenever I have more money, sank $2k in this thing in the past month alone, although mine is an extreme case, previous head was warped 0.012.

  31. #30
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    Passats are a great first car IF you have the money to fix it when it breaks. Honestly at this point most b5's are starting to be pretty old. Sludge, control arms, clutch, turbo these are all things that should be checked.


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