SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- I agree with the other 2003 Passat owner review here. Bought it because it was a nice car. Leather interior, sunroof, premium sound, TipTronic transmission, good looks, heated seats, everything, etc..... In the initial years I owned it, first 40-80,000 miles, an engine mount broke (which has since broken again), transmission seal/gasket broke/ leaked, water pump, CV boots replaced 1 & 1/2 times along with one axle.
Fortunately, these were all under warranty. This is what I can think of off the top of my head. It's been years now and I should have written reviews on every discussion forum I could find then. I didn't. Since then, I'm at 160,000 miles. Brakes have never worked well, I believe contributing to an accident I was in. The car just didn't stop when I had to jump on them. Heater no longer works, driver door mechanism electronics no longer work, meaning no more warning buzzer that the door is open or the lights are left on, no seat belt warning (which is kind of an improvement), etc.... $525.00 or so to repair.
Car locks itself whenever it feels like it, not all the time, just whenever. Both catalytic converters are gone. $1,500.00+. Transmission is leaking again $225.00. Electronic key no longer works, I was told not a battery issue. $120.00 + to replace electronic key. I'm sure there's more but I will end it here.
I've taken very good care of my VW and it still looks great. No dents, no dings, a couple of scratches, one from my bike and one shopping cart scratch, that's it. Still a good, cool-looking piece of junk. If you have any smarts, you will stick with Toyota or Honda.... My opinion. Certainly better cars if not the best. I'm not a Toyota or Honda salesperson, and actually wasn't very pleased with my Toyota T100 either. They were just a bad model for them. But if I was to buy a new car, it would not be a VW.
I leased a 2006 Passat from Palisades Volkswagen, in Nyack, NY. It was a 4-year lease. During those 4 years, it had numerous repairs (fuel pump "melted," both boot blocks cracked, coolant system crack, and then your various brake jobs, 8 tire replacements, and more - I drive a LOT). Every time I diligently took it in for service, it had recalls to be fixed. While I had VWs before, this Passat seemed to be laden with defects. With 9 months left on my lease, faced with more repairs, I talked to my sales person and voiced my dissatisfaction, wishing to turn the car in early and pay the penalty. I wanted to be rid of the car and its headaches.
He, now the finance manager of that dealership, told me to turn in the car with the remaining payments, and that would be it. When I called VW Credit to get the exact amount of payments left, I was surprisingly informed I could not turn in my car, regardless of my agreement to pay the penalty, because it would then be considered a "Voluntary Termination" and would adversely affect my credit. I had never heard of this, nor had the salesman who leased me the car when I called him to confirm!
According to VW Credit, I have to wait until 90 days before the lease was up, and that was the earliest I may turn in the car, even paying the penalty! I made it painfully clear my dissatisfaction, and my intent to purchase another car, and pleaded to turn in this car to be rid of it and its headaches. Had I leased another VW, they were ready to let me break the lease. (I had broken 2 previous leases when I moved up into another VW.) But since I was not, the same consideration vanished.
I was a loyal VW customer for YEARS, and touted the brand when everyone else I know steered clear of it. Had they looked at their policy and realized that they could recoup the value of the car more quickly on their lot than in my garage during the next six months, they would see that allowing me to turn it in - paying a significant penalty - would be more beneficial to them, and a win-win for both. Now, I will use my connections to virally spread the word of my dissatisfaction so that future VW customers can make a more educated decision on whether to do business with VW.
In this economy, with the magnitude of auto choices available, VW needs to brush up on their understanding of brand management and customer loyalty. When customers vanish, so does the brand.
I recently brought my car into the dealership since the check engine light was on and was informed that the camshaft needed to be replaced. My car only has 77,000 miles, but is outside the VW power train warranty. The repair is $3,000. All that VW would do to assist in the repair to stand behind their product is offer me a $1,500 voucher toward a new Passat. I do not want a new headache! If you are looking for a new car that will only last 70,000 before major expenses start to occur, buy a VW.
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI -- I leased a 2006 VW Passat and it's been in the shop for various problems 6 times in less than 3 years... Engine valve, sunroof leak, faulty wiring, engine lights and bad battery. I have contacted VW numerous times and have gotten nowhere. I requested to be let out of my lease several times and they refuse, sometimes flat out rude about it. DO NOT BUY A VW!!!!!!
ROSWELL, GEORGIA -- German cars look great, drive great, nice and tight, athletic and fun, but be warned, their reliability is at the bottom of the list surpassing even lower-end American cars with repair problems. The new Consumer Reports came out of the most problem riddled cars of 2004 and VW was at the top of the list along with BMW 5 series and several Mercedes models. I bought a production year car (1999). I will not make that mistake again, yet even after 5 years the Passat is still one of the most unreliable cars ever made. Oddly enough, the Passat wagon and sedans were ranked #1 in quality/value by the same company that condemned it.
So to clear up the confusion, I will list the problems I have had in my 99 Passat GLS wagon with 88k miles. My car has never been in an accident, mistreated in any way, and has been fully serviced, maintained, and garaged. 1) Brake rotors must be replaced - rotating is not an option (very expensive to install). 2) Purge valve clogged. 3) Complete failure of the turbo system. 4) Rear passenger door has never closed correctly. 5) Rear passenger door won't open from inside. 6) Rear passenger door window fell out of track - standard garage could not repair. 7) Oil changes very difficult due to placement of filter and undercarriage protector.
8) Wipers totally suck even with replacement blades. 9) Console broke suddenly. 10) Rear cup holder broke. 11) Gear shift cover flap broke. 12) Rear wiper has stuck from day one. 13) Carpeting will not clean - it traps hairs and shrapnel. 14) Battery went all of a sudden. 15) Two exterior lights have burnt out. 16) Interior rubber parts are flaking. 17) Power locks actuator broke. 18) Undercarriage cover cracked and fell off on highway. 19) Recall on power window motor. 20) Windshield is poor quality. 21) Lighter socket broke (not a fuse issue).
Now my car is going in for scheduled maintenance where the timing belt will have to replaced ($550)
and a complete tune-up, new rotors, etc. I'm scared! My advice to buyers would be for them to determine if the "fun factor" is more important than reliability. At the very least, if you must buy German, buy extended warranty and be prepared for operational downtime.