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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,
This weekend, I drove past a B5 wagon with for sale signs on it. Me and my dad drove around back to see if it was a TDI. Alas, I think you know why I'm here.
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It's a 2002 with 142,000 miles and the asking price is $2200. I have done some research (not a huge amount but enough for a good idea) on old threads in this forum. I went and test drove it yesterday and I'm still second-guessing my no answer so I'm posting it here.
The exterior paint job looks to have been redone before. The interior looks dirty from the outside but I've test driven it and it's only as bad as it looks, clean door panels, comfy seats.
The brakes need a job, the wheels are a bit scuffed, the passenger mirror needs replacing, there is something wrong with the exhaust and he gave me mixed messages on what it was, the A/C has a blown or leaking line, the passenger window control switch isn't working, and the instrument cluster display isn't working. Probably some things I've missed but that's most of it except for my two main concerns.
Number one is the electrical issue it has been having. He states a battery drain that he couldn't figure out. It's just a 20s kid who doesn't know a ton about working on cars, although he knew enough to pull fuses. By my guess it's very possible that it's the classic monsoon radio, but if it's not it could be a headache. He said he got the battery and alternator each replaced twice, the latter of which cost him $1100. I know enough not to mess with those things first, but I have seen gremlin catching threads and it doesn't look fun.
The second is just something I noticed on the test drive. It is certainly built as a luxury car rather than a budget S4. But it just seemed a little slow to shift when I hit the throttle, or just not very responsive. We have a 2006 Touareg V8, which had much better response, but it's much fancier and with newer technology. It's hard to put into words but I fear suspect the common torque converter failure.
He said once he made it to salt lake 300 miles away with a quarter tank left, which would be ~16-20 mpg by my understanding (torque converter?). I have a 50 mile round trip commute so I can't say the W8 fuel economy appeals to me. I did read a few threads on swapping a TDI engine in place of a W8, but they seemed to all also involve a manual swap. W8 engines look to not be terribly expensive in a junkyard, about $850 for one with 86,000 miles, but could I instead swap for a 2.0 TDI with the existing automatic, knowing the gearing is wrong?
I have come to a point, multiple times, where the answer I think is not to take it. Mainly, there are passat TDI wagons out there, as well as all manner of E-classes with v6, V8, and diesel engines, in sedan and wagon form. But something about owning this weird, ultimate Passat that needs some love for a cheap purchase price (at this point I would only take a low-ball) keeps coming back to me. Any thoughts?
 

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Where in Utah is this? I've been looking for a wagon like this.
They're great cars, they just have their issues. It's not an easy task to get one reliable, but I think it's worth it. I daily one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm in southern Utah. This is in Hurricane. I could give you the address it's at if you want.
 

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I'm up by salt lake. A number would be great though. If you aren't that interested in it though. I just really want to find a wagon is all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've messaged you with the number and location. Honestly I would feel a lot better not buying it if I knew someone bought it who knew what it was. Because it is parked in front of a busy street, many people looking at it have no idea what it is or the maintenance nightmare it could be if handled badly - some people came to look at the phone number just while I was waiting for the guy, but I think I scared them off (for their sake).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I see a lot of people saying that the W8 is worth the effort for the advantages over other Passats. Having driven only this, how does it compare to the best TDI, 1.8t or vr6 4motion I could find sans horsepower? Is the ride that much worse or more wallowy, or is it just toys that can swapped out? We have an 06 Touareg and a 2000 Beetle Tdi manual but the beetle is so small and the Touareg is bad on gas and ultimately not car-like.
 

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The W8 is beyond compare. It's the best engine imo. The car drives so smoothly and perfectly. The power is amazing, so much torque at the bottom to take off.
 

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The W8 is beyond compare. It's the best engine imo. The car drives so smoothly and perfectly. The power is amazing, so much torque at the bottom to take off.
I think I'd have to agree with most of this.
What impresses me is the how the W8 engine just wants to keep revving all the way up to the fuel cut-off. So many engines start drop off at high rpm's, not the W8. And it's butter smooth all the way.
Very much like the RX7 rotary engine.

While it's not meant to be a race car, I really wish it had more power.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Okay I understand that it's a good engine. My question is, if I care nothing about the engine, am I still going to notice a more comfortable ride thanks to independent rear suspension and better body welds, or will I be just as comfortable driving around in a TDI? I'm not looking for a sports car. As fun as that would be, what I really want here is a large, spacious, comfortable car I can take on road trips. If a diesel will fill that need, I must say I would sacrifice power for efficiency and reliability in a heartbeat.
 

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Well a TDI is going to get you at least twice the MPG's as a W8. W8's do have a few inherent reliability issues.
As far as the handling goes, the W8 handles very well because of it's 4 wheel independent suspension and all wheel drive.
I think any 4motion Passat would handle just great. Honestly though the only 4motion I've driven is the W8.

If your willing to make a sacrifice, I would then opt for the TDI. More reliable overall, better MPG's and cheaper to maintain.
Gotta remember W8's were only produced for a couple years. Limited supply of parts availability and generally higher part cost just because it's a W8.
The market is flooded with TDI's. No shortage of parts.
 
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Currently I own 3 W8's. All sedans with 6sp manuals.
One of them is a 1 of 17 produced.
The other two are identical as far as colors and specs. Those are 2 out of 41 produced.
 

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To get the to the point...

IRS vs VW axle beam
Someone can chime in if they have owned both, but IMO, VW nailed it with their axle beam design. It is smooth, handles bumps and road irregularities quite well compared to an IRS. Very predictable handling and very capable. Even comparing to my 2 Audis 10+ years newer, it still holds up.

By the way, the IRS is only in 4mo Passats. FWD gets the rear axle beam. IIRC, no TDI was 4motion in the US.
 
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Here's my take...

Back when I had my 2004 GLX V6 FWD I had the Bilstein PSS9 coil-overs installed the car handled like it was bolted to a rail.
However, the PSS9 coils are sprung pretty tight (I could actually remove one of the rear tires and the car would still sit even) and going around curves at high speed was exhilarating to say the least but if there any ripples in the road the back end would skip across the road even with the P265 wide tires I had on the rears.
I must admit though that I had the dampers dialed up pretty firm when it did this.

Overall assessment:
To me it seemed as though I never really knew where the threshold of being in control and absolutely loosing it was. The car car handled so well I never was able to actually get the car to go into slide. This not to be confused with the statement above. There's a difference between sliding and skipping across the pavement.

I now have a W8 with Bilsteins (slight upgrade from factory - not the PSS9's though not even close). That car going through curves seems to be more predictable. The back isn't as tight (obviously) but handles curves very well. I can pretty much gauge when the car is going to start sliding.

Overall assessment:
With the current set-up I'm much more aware where the threshold is.


For comparisons sake. There's a curve that I take from one freeway to another on my way to work in the morning. It's brutal. The concrete barriers are painted with tire rash and body panel paint from countless frequent accidents. Going through this curve without prior knowledge will make you bung hole pucker up pretty good.
When I'm driving the W8 I can take that curve doing 70 mph with high confidence nothing will happen.
Now taking that same curve with my GLS or my wife's GLX (both FWD) there's no way in hell I'm doing anything over 40.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
To get the to the point...

IRS vs VW axle beam
Someone can chime in if they have owned both, but IMO, VW nailed it with their axle beam design. It is smooth, handles bumps and road irregularities quite well compared to an IRS. Very predictable handling and very capable. Even comparing to my 2 Audis 10+ years newer, it still holds up.

By the way, the IRS is only in 4mo Passats. FWD gets the rear axle beam. IIRC, no TDI was 4motion in the US.
Thank you. I am glad to know the FWD models still ride well.
Here's my take...

Back when I had my 2004 GLX V6 FWD I had the Bilstein PSS9 coil-overs installed the car handled like it was bolted to a rail.
However, the PSS9 coils are sprung pretty tight (I could actually remove one of the rear tires and the car would still sit even) and going around curves at high speed was exhilarating to say the least but if there any ripples in the road the back end would skip across the road even with the P265 wide tires I had on the rears.
I must admit though that I had the dampers dialed up pretty firm when it did this.

Overall assessment:
To me it seemed as though I never really knew where the threshold of being in control and absolutely loosing it was. The car car handled so well I never was able to actually get the car to go into slide. This not to be confused with the statement above. There's a difference between sliding and skipping across the pavement.

I now have a W8 with Bilsteins (slight upgrade from factory - not the PSS9's though not even close). That car going through curves seems to be more predictable. The back isn't as tight (obviously) but handles curves very well. I can pretty much gauge when the car is going to start sliding.

Overall assessment:
With the current set-up I'm much more aware where the threshold is.


For comparisons sake. There's a curve that I take from one freeway to another on my way to work in the morning. It's brutal. The concrete barriers are painted with tire rash and body panel paint from countless frequent accidents. Going through this curve without prior knowledge will make you bung hole pucker up pretty good.
When I'm driving the W8 I can take that curve doing 70 mph with high confidence nothing will happen.
Now taking that same curve with my GLS or my wife's GLX (both FWD) there's no way in hell I'm doing anything over 40.
Thank you for your assessment. An AWD model looks like the best handling, although I think I wouldn't mind as I am mostly concerned with having a large, comfortable, economical car. At this point I have told the seller I am not interested and I will continue keeping TDI's in mind.
 

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I've had both and would take the IRS over the beam any day. With a non-stock suspension, it's far better riding and the handling is much better and predictable. I never rolled an IRS Passat, but the twist beam is another story :rolleyes:
 

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I will say, my car with coilovers is a great ride. I'm still working on talking to the owner of the wagon, it's just several hours away so it's hard to get there and back quick enough.
However, that'll mean I now would own 4 W8 cars. 🤔
 

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I will say, my car with coilovers is a great ride. I'm still working on talking to the owner of the wagon, it's just several hours away so it's hard to get there and back quick enough.
However, that'll mean I now would own 4 W8 cars. 🤔
That means I'd have to pickup another one. :LOL:
 

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Having owned 3 TDI passats and one Jetta TDI, my experience is that any car with many many small "issues' means previous owner(s) did not do proper maintenance nor repair things as they failed. Unless you plan to do all the repairs on your own and have experience/skill set for it, would pass on the deal. But then that is my experience talking and not yours. Remember, wisdom comes from making many mistakes and surviving. Good luck whatever you decide.
 
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