• May 17, 2007
Boy, that's one hot car, that Passat. But is it so hot, in fact, that it self-immolates? The NHTSA seems to think that the ignition coil packs are prone to faults that can lead to fires underhood, in the instrument panel, or underneath the vehicle. Passats from 2000 to 2003 are currently under investigation by the NHTSA after 19 reports of spontaneous Teutonic combustion (hey!). Lucky owners who opted for the frugal TDI or spendy W8 can motor along blissfully, while gas-fueled four and six-pot drivers should start parking at the curb. No recall has been issued, but preliminary investigations such as this often end with the manufacturer issuing a recall. If it comes to that, VW's looking at fixing about 350,000 cars.

[Source: Bloomberg via Winding Road]


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  • 22 Comments
      Jamie
      • 7 Years Ago
      this is EXACTLY what happened to my 2003 passat. my boyfriend and i were on a nice drive, and when i pulled over and stopped the car, smoke started pouring from the air vents. sure enough, the engine was on fire. i never had any warning, no check engine light, heck, the stupid temperature gage never went above the 180f mark. i was in the middle of nowhere (i live in idaho), so there wasn't much i could do but let it burn. by the time the police showed, the fire was already out. if there is a recall, i wonder how vw's gonna make it up to me. i lost the whole car.
        martharazor
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jamie
        Jamie, I can't believeit! you just described what happened to me while driving with my 17 year old daughter. Here we are driving along, all of a sudden, smoke from the air vents begin to get thicker so we pull over and get out of the car. My daughter yells, "I see fire!" By the time the firemen arrived, the front of the car was fully on fire. And I to lost a car. I have always heared so many good comments about vw's but having an experience like this really makes one think twice,
      • 7 Years Ago
      2002 Passat - no problems and if there are I'll take her in - go dump on the American Cars, they really do suck.
      • 7 Years Ago
      My 2003 Passat Wagon has been a great car and I've been pleased with it. I just got back from a weekend in the mountains and blowing by other cars struggling up the 10,000' grades was awesome.

      I also had a 2000 GTI which was totalled in an accident and had 120,000 miles on the 1.8t without any mechanical issues. The one problem I had was with the window mechanism breaking although it was covered under warranty.

      One thing about VWs (and European cars in general) is that they aren't the type of cars you can skip maintenance on. Detroit garbage and Japanese cars tend to be much more forgiving in this regard.

      Of note, my 2002 Toyota Land Cruiser has had a number of more costly repairs than either of the VWs although granted, it's a mechanically more complex vehicle.
      • 7 Years Ago
      i have to agree with Jeff. I had a Kenworth that was made in Brazil by Volkswagen. The electrical in that truck was a nightmare. They still used porcelain fuses when everyone else went to the blade type. A dash-bulb burned the circuit-board and all the alarms went off. From low air to oil pressure. The headlight switch burned out one night and I had to have the switch flown in before I headed out the following night. No way the circuit could be crossed to by-pass the switch.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It is unfortunate that they do seem to have electrical gremlins. The tdis are extremely fuel efficient and they have that diesel market. Once some other car manufacturers get some diesels over here I think Volkswagen will be hurting.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Further proof that VW engineers are drinkin' too much lager at their desks, and the Mexicans that assemble the POS are swallowing too many worms.

      Like I always say.... "SHOULDAGOTTAHONDA"
      • 7 Years Ago
      Burn the cars down! Ugly and dull as they are!
      Bryan
      • 7 Years Ago
      DJsyndrome you can win. My grandmothers (not your average grandma she was a police officer) has a 2000 Taurus that has never had a single issue. The Taurus might have not been the best car money can buy, but for an 18k se with the mach sound stereo and the super fast V6 its been well worth it.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Our 2002 New Beetle suffered all kinds of electrical failures in the year we had it - including leaving us stranded for refusal to start and dying while on railroad tracks (fortunately, no train coming and it sure is easy to push those things out of the way). We got out of the lease and picked up a Toyota, which has been electrically sound but just suffered a blown engine due to an oil pump failure, a repair that made the electrical problems seems like chump change.

      You can't win no matter what you get, I guess :
      • 7 Years Ago
      There must be something that people like about VWs, but it's hard to understand why people continue to buy a brand with such a lousy service record.

      The current VWs aren't ugly, but their styling isn't so inspired that it beats many more reliable Hondas, Toyotas, Nissans, Subarus, and newer GM cars.

      VW's substandard service record was well-established when I last shopped for a car in 2003. I didn't even bother to look at any VW cars and have no regrets because VWs haven't improved since then.

      What's the attraction of Volkswagen other than its hippie image that might appeal to now upper middle-aged former flower children who drove VWs to Woodstock and want to relive some of that?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey I just sold my '02 1.8t passat. Talk about timing. Just before I sold it I had the engine light come on but when I took it in the mechanic told me it was because my airbags went off (I had been in an accident) I told him that the light was not on for months after the accident and it only came on recently but he insisted that it was just the airbags. Well a few days later the car started lurching and stuttering so I took it too another mechanic and it turns out my transmission was destroyed and needed replacing. I had it replaced once after the wreck so this was the second tranny I put in. The car had to go before it cost me any more money. I liked it before the accident and I would love to own a new GTI but I can't afford it right now.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Like previous posters have said, no surprises here. My 2001 GTI used to burn out turn signal and brake lights on a regular basis - each one had clear evidence of receiving a spike that had fried the bulbs. In 2005, I had to replace all the spark plugs and 1 plug wire because the coilpack had fried them.

      The last straw was when I had to replace all of the spark plugs and all of the plug wires AGAIN 12 months later. The service advisor also wanted me to replace the coilpacks, but he couldn't assure me that this was the cause of the problem or that this would prevent it from happening again.

      After I coughed up $1100 for the second time in a year, my GTI and I took a final drive to the Saturn dealership, where I was very happy to pick up my new Aura.

      It's such a shame, too - I really loved that car but couldn't stomach the repair bills.
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