This episode of POTM highlights a longtime PW member and frequent contributor, scotts13. Thank you, Scott, for the time and effort you put in to helping fellow members.
scotts13 said:Passat of the month… this should be a car that's unusual or remarkable in some way. Mine is not. My current car is a late-2004 GLS in Urban/Silverstone gray. 1.8T, automatic transmission, Monsoon, CD changer, leather seats and wood trim. There literally isn't a part on the car that didn't come from the VW dealer, right down to the license plate bolts. At 101,000 miles, it's on its third set of brakes, CV boots, and Michelin MXV4s. I don't even do all my own repairs; as a 59 year old overweight computer geek, I let a mechanic do the greasiest stuff.
What is unusual is that I've had no trouble with the car. You see… I like bad cars. Or at least it would seem that way. I've had Fiat, Alfa, Peugeot, Renault, MG, Triumph, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Ford (shudders) Saturn, Toyota… In some respect, all of them were awful cars - some worse than others. Did you know that a 60's vintage Renault Caravelle had an oil change interval of only 750 miles? Did you know that, if you jacked it up to change a tire, you'd bend the frame, unless you braced special steel bars (helpfully supplied in the trunk) across the interior? After that, and similar weirdness on the others, the B5 Passat utterly fails at being a bad car. It actually has the best mix of performance, comfort, handling, and yes, durability of any car I've owned.
This isn't my first B5. The first was a 2000, Candy White with basically the same equipment but no wood trim or Monsoon. I bought that one at my favorite VW dealer, with 182,000 miles already on the clock. Since I'd run my previous VW, a Mk1 Jetta into the ground at 252,000, I figured I'd get some wear out of the 2000. It needed some things; old cars do. But I kept an ear out for funny noises, proactively fixed what was acting up - and it never stranded me or otherwise failed to perform perfectly. I drove the 2000 to 240,000 miles; the current owner still has it happily on the road at over 275,000. When I inherited a 2004 Saturn from my mother, I immediately traded it for the 2004 Passat mentioned above.
The secret of these cars, summed up, is German philosophy. My grandparents are from there; we commonly spoke German in the house. My family made fighter planes in WWI. A German engineer expects you to take an active interest in the car. He expects you to follow the maintenance schedule; if something is clogged, leaking, broken, or noisy, it's assumed you'll be on it now, not when the car stops running. The Saturn, for instance, had a more rigorous maintenance schedule, but as the dealer told me, they expected and planned for the owner to ignore it. Anathema to the guys in Wolfsburg.
Oh - Why am I so active on the forums? I'm obsessive compulsive (GRIN). When I get involved in anything, I make it my business to become an expert on the topic. Photography, computers, parrots, rocketry, tropical fish, aviation. When I take a minute off from my day job, running a computer service department, it's relaxing to "play" technical expert here.