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I bought this car new in December of 2012. I used to only keep cars a couple years and trade them in. But this car now has 215k on it and the only thing I've ever done to it, besides replace a cracked windshield, a couple of signal bulbs and the front brakes at 150k, is change the oil and add gas. I'm always nervous that something is going to go wrong but not having a car note is too awesome. So, there are a couple of small things starting to pop up that I wanted to get advice on. I figure I would rather drop a bit of money replacing a few things now as opposed to paying that note every month for years. 1. Suspension - When its cold in particular I get a creeking sound from my suspension when I go over the first one or two big bumps in the road. I am thinking that after 215k they surely need replacing. My question is, should I go to a dealer and replace with factory shocks and struts or should I go after market to save money and possibly get better parts. I do a lot of highway driving so I'm more concerned with smooth ride than cornering performance. Getting old I guess. 2. A/C / Heater - I have an intermittent problem with the air handling unit for probably 4 years. It will, at times, only work on the passenger side. It will always blow, it will just blow hot on the drivers side when the A/C is on or cold when the heater is on. It will do this for a day or a week and then start working again. I had the dealer check it out 4 years ago, but of course it started working properly when I brought it in. He hinted at a servo motor that was not opening and closing possibly. Anyway, has anyone else dealt with this? What did ultimately do? 3. The RNS 510 Nav and satellite radio. I've not really had any issues but wondered if there was a way to upgrade this radio with a newer cars version that may have more features or capabilities. I can survive with what I've got for sure but have always been curious if this could be done. 4. Last, I'm in the Houston, Texas area and was wandering if there was a good Passat mechanic outside of the VW dealers in town that might be more reasonable on pricing. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
 

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Two suggestions, if you are really happy with your vehicle save the money you would spend trying to update the radio that is programmed for your specific vehicle, get an estimate for everything and if OK, have the whole suspension checked because what you described sounds like, tie rods, ball joints, etc., etc., but fix anything needed, also fix the cold /heat problem and everything else you are aware of by any mechanic with a recommendation you trust who works on VWs, and enjoy your ride for many more miles while saving $$$.

Or, price a new 2020/slightly used low miliage certified, 2020, 2019, or 2018 Passat with what's left of the exceptional warranty and enjoy a new ride worry free for miles and years.
Happy driving,
 
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