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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 2001 Passat (b5.5) and it is long overdue for some repairs. I'm not so sure I'm the best candidate to fix my car at this time, so I'm hoping some of you seasoned owners might be able to help me out.

According to Merchant Tire a few months back (oil change discoveries, imagine that), they said I need a right side valve cover replacement. I assume this will address what I think is an oil leak. The car eats oil. Or leaks it. Either way, there's some sort of problem in that area. Merchant also said that I need a power steering fluid exchange. In addition, they put a note mentioning that i have a torn outer cv boot and need to replace the cv axle.

Outside of all that, I have a leak in the back passenger side which I think is part drain plug and part leaking seal on the door. The driver back side is starting to do it too and the leak comes from the corner of the seat/plastic meets area of the floor. runs down the side into the floor.

I have a corded tire and another that's probably needing to be replaced. That will likely not be cheap, and i also need balance/rotate and probably desperate need for alignment. When they fix the oil leak it'll be an oil change as well, I'm sure. The A/C also possibly needs to be recharged (it one day just started blowing warm air instead of cool. It tried to cool, but was like it was on empty of what cools it). Then the drain plugs in the sunroof most definitely need to be unclogged.

So the list:
clear clog, find leak (this might can wait)
new tire(s), balance/rotate/alignment
A/C recharge (assuming that's the cause)
CV Axle replacement
Right valve cover replacement and oil change/replacement
Power steering fluid exchange
windshield wiper replacement
labor (very generalized expectations...)

I think that covers everything. I just want to know if anyone might know a very generalized ballpark breakdown of what a mechanic would charge for these repairs? I am looking toward a local shop that specifically works on VW cars, but am game to look around for best quality + deal matches. I just am trying to figure out my budget to know if I should just do it all at once, or just fix the immediate repairs and fix the others later.

If there are things that can be easily repaired by me with minimal tools, I'm game to hear, but let's assume a mechanic is probably going to have to do most of this work. I think I can figure the wipers out for myself, just threw them in as an afterthought.

Thanks in advance.
 

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OK, here we go, for what it's worth:

- For the water leak, you may have a hard time getting a dealer to do it. I had a leak in the rear sunroof drain, and the dealer wouldn't touch it. "You wouldn't like what we'd have to charge you." It's seriously a lot of time consuming examination, fiddling and testing. Still leaking? Repeat as necessary.

- A decent tire in a standard size, mounted and balanced, think $175 - $200. Times four, or two at minimum. Alignment $100 - $150.

- A/C charge with diagnostic and leak test, another $100 - $150. If they find a damaged component (and they will, if the system is empty) add $100 to $1500.

- Axle replacement with decent parts, $400 - $500. Cheap parts less, but you don't want that.

- Valve cover replacement, maybe $100. BUT, and it's a big but, you may wind up spending many times that. Generally, when the valve covers start to leak, it's because the PCV system is clogged. If so, that needs to be cleaned out or the new gaskets will just start to leak. Further, the cam chain adjuster seals often leak at the same time. You may wind up doing the entire PCV system, both VCGs, and the CCA seals; doesn't make sense to do a partial job. On a V6 at dealer prices, that could be $800. Oil change, another $50 - $70.

- Power steering fluid change should be another $100 or less. I'd be curious why they're recommending it, though - while it's a good idea, it's not part of normal dealer maintenance.

- Windshield wiper? You mean the blades? About $35 for the set, and if you can't install them yourself, you're driving the wrong car. Or maybe get a bicycle... :p

- Labor rates where I live are $89 to $115 per hour. Your region may be different (probably more).
 

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Here's your list in priority order:
So the list:
The corded tires; if it were my car, I'd even be hesitant to drive the thing with tires that have the cords showing.
Sunroof drain.
CV Axle. Either re-boot it, or get a rebuilt from raxles.com. Replacing the axle is an easy DIY, the boot somewhat less so.
A/C. It's near the end of summer, but it's still handy for defogging. Any auto shop can do a leak test and refill. Here's to hoping you don't have an expensive leak. Don't DIY this; doing it properly requires expensive equipment you don't have.
Valve cover gasket. Might as well do the chain tensioner gasket while you are in there. Also consider changing out the suction jet pump and PCV valve, as PCV clogging is the most common cause of VCG leaks.
PS Fluid, but no rush.

Of course do wipers and oil on an as-needed basis.
 

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So the list:
clear clog, find leak (this might can wait)
new tire(s), balance/rotate/alignment
A/C recharge (assuming that's the cause)
CV Axle replacement
Right valve cover replacement and oil change/replacement
Power steering fluid exchange
windshield wiper replacement
labor (very generalized expectations...)
1) Sunroof clog? The nipples should have been cut under recall. Check and see if this was done. Possible free repair for you. If not, clearing any possible stoppage entails removing the headliner, grab handles, lights, etc from the ceiling. Not that bad of a DIY, but time consuming. This is a menial job with lots of time, so most places are going to quote a high price in an attempt to avoid dealing with it.

2) New tires can be purchased as a set for under $500, and I'm not talking about crappy tires either. Tirerack is having a sale on Kuhmo's right now, $204 for a set of Senses. Not a high performance tire by any means, but a name brand that is perfectly adequate for DD duty if you are a conservative driver (I'm assuming you are based on your post)

3) A/C recharge varies based on where you live, but it quite inexpensive. I've never had to do this before, but a friend did and it was under $100.

4) Axle replacement price varies widely based on what kind of axle you use. Aftermarket axles are dirt cheap, but a lot of people have had vibrations, etc isssues with them. OEM's are good, but not cheap. Raxles are expensive, but have a lifetime warranty and are better than OEM (my personal favorite)

5) Valve cover replacement? You mean the gasket? Figure on an hour in labor + the cost of the gasket. Oil change is around $75 for a full synthetic change.

6) I'm guessing about $100 for the power steering fluid replacement

7) Windshield wiper replacement?!? This is literally a 2 step process. If someone is charging you to do this, I don't know what to say.

8) A good independent VW mechanic will be your best friend. Find someone you trust, that uses quality parts and backs their work up. Remember, there is no cheap way to own a German car. Pay now, or pay later...
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your help! I took her to Der Wagen Haus in Greensboro, NC to have a look-over. From what he gathered in the things he saw, didn't think the valve cover needed replacing (didn't see any leaks). Just told me to watch the oil every 1000 miles, which I have. It's my first V6, so I guess it really eats oil. :thumbdown

Definitely need a new CV boot/axle, so that will be replaced. He went ahead and checked the rear drain holes and cut them for me. There was a tiny bit of water in the left side, but I think the interior leakage is probably from the door seals. NC has been a right little monsoon state this year. I will also get the A/C done when I get the CV boot done. He didn't think power steering needed replacement. Tire and alignment with Merchants was around 200 for everything. The car no longer vibrates (yay) which it'd been doing since they did the last balance, and I'm no longer driving around on a corded tire which was scaring me a little.
 
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