• Aug 4th 2010 at 9:31AM
  • 20
The fifth-generation (1996-2005) Volkswagen Passat was always a bit of a problem child for the German automakers and its vehicle owners. While it was both handsome and a pleasure to drive, it was afflicted by numerous mechanical maladies, including engine sludge and an issue with a heat shield that could contact the exhaust system and potentially trigger a fire in the engine compartment. In 2007 and 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted several investigations into the various problems that were reported, which later led to a recall to install a new heat shield and adjust fuel lines.

Among the body of complaints that didn't result in a recall were potentially defective ignition coils which could lead to stalling and/or engine fires. Now NHTSA has reportedly opened a fresh investigation into those ignition coil packs which have reportedly caused at least 10 fires in the past two years. Prior to the earlier investigation, there were 78 complaints of crashes resulting from engine stalls or fires.

Up to 199,000 vehicles built between 2000 and 2003 could be involved if this investigation precipitates another recall.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req.]


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  • 20 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Passat's are hot!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Silly Passat, car fires are for supercars!
      • 5 Years Ago
      because it is loaded with thenical problems the Passat is the world wide most sold sedan... 15million Passat were produced since 1973 till 2007 ... from late April 2006 till Nov 2007 allone VW has produced one million Passat... it has already passed the Ford Model T in the all time production numbers and it fights hard vs the Honda Civic in the all time production number top10 ranking 8midsize sedan vs small hatchback).. VW is the only car producer with 3 models in the top10 best selling nameplates of all time... Golf over 26million (2008) beetle 21.5million and Passat ~18million (2010), it always amaze me that so many people all around the world buy such bad products if you belive the BS claims in the internet..
      In the UK the Passat recived since 1999 each year tons of best used car buyer awards... internet meets real world..
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have a 2003 passat & take care of it well. 130000 & still going. My only problem has been rear brake pads & discs. Take care of your Passat & it will take you where you want to go.
      • 5 Years Ago
      VW/Audi already have a coil recall campaign going to replace bad ignition coils. www.vwcoils.com and www.audicoils.com
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, I have two stories of my own:

      1. Consumer Reports surveys a whole bunch of Passat owners and says that those years of Passats aren't worth buying used, have below-average reliability, and that Volkswagen cars generally have more problems in their later years than most other carmakers. I'm inclined to believe their data rather than your anecdotes.

      2. But if you insist, my Passat '04 has been fixed under the previous recalls, had an engine sludge and rough-idling problem, its trunk struts failed after 4 years and its electronic trunk release works only intermittently (who makes trunks that don't work!?!), had a water leak, an under-hood component came loose and made groaning sounds when turning, and the buttons on the built-in garage opener fell off after 1 year of use.

      I'm not buying Volkswagen again any time soon, and will be replacing this one within the year.
      • 5 Years Ago
      People shouldn't claim that VW's aren't reliable when talking with other automobile enthusiasts, for the purposes of auto enthusiasts. If we want to talk about which car to buy in a particular segment for someone you know that likes to pick up their motor oil and coolant at 7-eleven, then okay a VW will not be reliable. But I for one don't come here to exchange ownership information with folks that couldn't care less about a car beyond it's looks and turn key idiot proof nature. And having that internet argument with folks that insist that reliability is the same as idiot proof is a race to the bottom.

      Having said that, as a consumer product, I was so impressed with my first year MK4 Golf that I bought with 90k miles already on it that I picked up another one - with 220K on it. Over a year later still no regrets and either of these cars is every bit as reliable for me as anything legendary you care to mention- 22R pickups - whatever.

      As for consumer reports, did you care to notice and share that the last few years of VW Rabbit/Golf have higher recommendations for reliability than Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra? Or that a 2009 Passat or Passat CC has a higher reliability score than a Nissan Maxima? In fact, when I flip through the 2010 cars issue of CR, EVERY VW model is recommended, which as you know requires at least average reliability survey scores. Let me put it another way - name a brand that your proud of owning and I'll tell you about their top technical issues experienced for their 1999-2005 model years - if you want to play that game.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Recently our 02' Jetta started to do the Stall thing while driving. I guess I should invest in a new coil for the poor thing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I never had any problems with my '04.5 Passat. I guess I was a fortunate one.
        • 5 Years Ago
        My wife's 03 Passat 1.8T had the heat shield replaced under recall a few years ago. 125,000 miles and no major issues so far.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I can vouch my silver '00 B5 GLS Wagon (same exact combo in pic)...at 83k, it never had any major mechanical problems mentioned above. Btw, my coilpacks are still the original and reliable Japanese Hitachis.

        Only major part replaced was the ABS module (had it rebuilt) and the rear brake discs/pads (2nd set) at 80k. Minor stuff replaced were the old diverter valve, old rubber vacuum tubing for silicone ones, coolant temp sensor...No sludge issues here as well, thanks to using genuine Grp IV German Castrol Syntec 0w30 religiously on the 1.8T.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Rincon
        Considering that I've personally seen several Passats of this vintage with all sorts of engine maladies I'm gonna go ahead and call total BS on your Mexico theory. VWs have been known for electrical and engine issues pretty much since VWs existed and long before they were built in Mexico, so your claim that being made in Germany makes a VW more reliable is plainly absurd.
        On a side note, my issue isn't even that they have so many problems, it's that even on a problem that's caused a decent number of crashes VW didn't bother to do recalls for most of the affected cars and will just replace your coil packs after they've failed/caused a crash/set your car on fire/etc. Not exactly the way to build up trust in your cars.
        The same problems are seen in Audis that are pretty much all Made in Germany so your argument that it's some Mexico thing is ridiculous. It's the actual parts themselves-the coil packs, the power window components, etc. that VW did a lousy job engineering.
        • 5 Years Ago
        240,000 miles and counting on my 02, never skipped a beat. I think Sam's a little misled when it comes to calling this Passat a "problem child." Went to the dealership for an oil change back in 04, and the mechanic said "look at the cars on the racks - see all those Jettas and Beetles? They're up for major mechanical failures. See the Passats, just yours and that other one? Oil changes. Why? Jetta's made in Mexico, Passat's made in Germany."
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ricon is a fanboy spreading disinformation.

        It's been proven countless times that the whole 'lol Mexico' argument is a crock of poop.

        But of course they'd rather have you think otherwise.

        Even if the mechanic said that doesn't mean he's bloody right. It's just like anyone; you can't take everything they say for granted.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Same with my '03. It just turned 50,000mi, and while there's been several recalls already (the heat shield and coil packs if memory serves) the car itself has been very reliable.
      • 5 Years Ago
      These faulty coils can lead to some really scary situations for drivers. CarComplaints.com has received numerous reports of engines hesitating in intersections or while on the highway!

      This page on vwproblems.com has some good information on the issue:
      http://vwproblems.com/problems/ignition-coil.shtml
      • 5 Years Ago
      I had a 2000 4Motion that was an absolute joy to drive. Luckily, I purchased an extended warranty through my bank when I researched the cars questionable repair record. Brakes, exhaust, suspension, interior and exterior molding issues. Warranty cost me 2K and the repair bills totaled 13K. I love to drive these cars so let's hope they work all the kinks out.
      bassheadjazz03
      • 5 Years Ago
      First off, the B5 chassis is 98-05. Second, just leave this horse at the glue factory already. We're into the 2nd ignition coil recall, which, they finally got the part design right. And lastly, the majority of the engine problems I see in those cars are from not having correct fluids (93 oct fuel, synthetic oil), and bad care on the 1.8t motors.
      • 5 Years Ago
      My youngest daughter has an '07 Passat. No problems so far according to her.
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