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.]