1990 Volkswagen Passat GL Wagon 2.0 16V 4-cylinder from North America


Not worth the cost of repairs


Automatic transmission failure, particularly when hot.

Cooling system problems (in part due to after-run heat sensor being left unmounted by someone who previously worked on the car. Independent VW tech said this is a commonly forgotten item due to its placement on the rear of the valve cover bolt. Even the dealership missed this when checking the cooling system).

Ignition problems. The condition of the ignition wire that has the induction sensor on it is critical. This caused occasional engine cut-out and stumble. It looked fine, but wasn't. Ignition wires for this car are particularly expensive and must be purchased as a set.

Front wheel bearings noisy.

Delamination of rear side windows.

Power window problems, particularly rear windows.

Plastic trim likes to break.

Radio speakers buzzy or inoperative.

General Comments:

Good handling car for a wagon. Good brakes and overall ride feel. Not very quick.

HVAC works well. Comfortable car with lots of cargo space when the rear seat is folded down. Four people can ride comfortably.

Gas mileage is decent.

Early electronically-controlled automatic transmission is very expensive to repair - will cost more than the value of the car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd December, 2017

1990 Volkswagen Passat GL 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland


Loved it


Oil pump, coolant leak, new light switch, very minor rust spots, plus general wear and tear that I wouldn't really regard as faults like new brakes and so on, plus a timing belt change and regular oil changes.

General Comments:

Excellent all round car and one of my first I remember very well and left a good impression on me and influenced future cars I would buy, that generally being larger family/executive saloons and so on.

This isn't going to be one of those reviews that raves about how good older cars were and how newer ones are not as good - If I were to drive this car again, it would undoubtedly feel dated in 2016, however looking back it was very good for its time - nice interior quality feel, adequate acceleration and economy (38MPG+), and a very refined ride and handling. Interior was also very roomy for me at nearly 6 foot tall, and being a GL model, it had enough options, most things were electric.

What I don't get is why this was not a more popular car in the UK when they were new - it was better than similar rivals at the time in my opinion. Not a VW fan boy, just a general observation. Driven a few Ford Sierras and Vauxhall Cavaliers (good cars), but the Passat was slightly better at the time I would say, and was priced similarly.

As I said, of course new cars have come a long way in over 25 years, but I find it interesting to note that at 15 years old and with 160,000 miles on it, it was scrapped only due to being low in value and needing too much work to justify the cost. It was serviced on time, but I think the previous owner drove it hard and a faulty oil pump and high emissions killed it off. But over the course of time I had it, the car was very reliable and didn't break down or cause me any major headaches until the bitter end, which is more than can be said for some newer cars I've had recently.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th August, 2016

1990 Volkswagen Passat CL 1.8 from Bulgaria


Affordable and genuine German craftsmanship


The dash panel has cracks.

Due entirely to my fault, a year after I purchased the car, the original water pump blew off and had to be replaced.

At 200,000 km, the back shock absorbers gave way and had to be replaced.

Otherwise, nothing major has gone wrong with the car so far.

General Comments:

The Passat is now 17 years old and has no rust whatsoever.

The interior - except for the few cracked parts on the dash panel - is still in very good shape.

Since it is a station wagon, it provides with a lot of space for luggage.

The car is very reliable. On many separate occasions I have made long journeys with it - from Normandy to Istanbul. I have also driven it down dirt roads and dry river beds on a number of occasions.

I can say one thing - the car is made to last.

The only problem I find with this car are the poorly engineered door handles (a very important detail that has somehow, unknowingly how, escaped the attention of the German constructors).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th February, 2008