1990 Volkswagen Passat CL 1.8i petrol from UK and Ireland


Outstanding car, very underrated


CV joint at 190,000.

Exhaust back box at 200,000.

No other faults, very reliable.

General Comments:

I love this car. It's over 13 years old and still looks and drives great.

It's very reliable, even after 300,000 miles.

The most underrated car around I'd say, not many people like it, but maybe they got a bad one. Every car manufacture makes it's factory faults.

I highly recommend it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th March, 2003

1990 Volkswagen Passat GL 4 cylinder. 2.0 Liter from North America


Money pit with a big trunk


At about 130,000 miles Car started losing power and stalling. Turned out to be an oily distributor, replaced distributor and cap, but it needed new seals.

At about 140,0000 miles, Heater core broke the coldest week in January. Could not fix by myself, garage said it would cost $1500. So by-passed core and went the rest of winter with no heat.

A/C never worked.

Door switches for interior lights all broke, 2 shattered, 2 rusted out.

Power seat belts stopped working.

Headlights really dim.

Exhaust system rattle is the loudest thing ever. All the hangers are sagging. Tried everything to fix problem. No success.

General Comments:

Not much good to report. But, besides the above, when the car did run, it was pretty fast in the sport mode.

It has the biggest trunk of any car I ever owned.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th February, 2003

1990 Volkswagen Passat GL 1.8 Dual Overhead Cam from North America


Okay for those with deep pockets and the need to nurture


Transmission, transmission, transmission!! Have I mentioned that the transmission failed, and would have cost more than the car's value to fix?

Window motors failed immediately following my purchase of the car.

The timing belt, which had been replaced twice previously before I owned the vehicle.

The whole exhaust system needed to be replaced (which cost over $1000US, without labor).

Various other minor things that I won't mention, but did fix and cost me a mint.

General Comments:

This car was trouble from the moment I laid eyes on it, but the gorgeous shape the body and motor were in took my focus off of what truly mattered about the car, which was the fact that the transmission had problems.

These transmissions in early 90s model Passats were notorious for being utter garbage, and I'd recommend anyone pondering the purchase of one of these fine vehicles get one with a standard, as they are great as far as I know, and I have asked around.

The car was great other than minor stuff, other than the transmission problems of course. One thing that was annoying was the major vibration it gave when at idle, which was very noticeable and unnerving.

Parts for this particular car, and any from Volkswagen for that matter, and any German car manufacturer are astronomically expensive, and I truly wish I'd done my homework before purchasing the vehicle, rather than after, because it most definitely would have swayed my decision.

One good thing is that most VWs retain their value quite well, and the car I originally paid $550US for, I turned around and sold for $1500US, and that was with a bad transmission, which required a rebuild very soon.

If you've got a never ending supply of money, then maybe I could recommend this type of car to you, but if you're anything like myself, I would recommend something which would be much less to maintain and that wouldn't be breaking down constantly, as Passats do, and most other VWs I'm told.

As I said, it really was a nice car, but it also had major problems, and it wasn't by itself either. I've read that if you're in the market for a Passat, then you'd be wise to stay away from the automatic transmission since they ALL fail eventually, and most sooner in their lives than later. I suppose for a well off person it would be okay, but then I suppose a new car every year would be in order, and there would certainly be no need for an ready made headache.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 8th December, 2002

29th Jan 2003, 00:43

I have had the exact same set of problems that you've laid out. It's as if I wrote the review myself, but I still own the car and am in no position to purchase another vehicle right now. My biggest problem to date is the transmission going into "limp home mode" intermittently, The technicians at Checkered Flag of Virginia Beach were completely baffled. If it isn't new they can't do a thing for you. Sad really cause I love the car. If you have any suggestions or fixes you could pass along I would be very appreciative.


P Soter pete@gomanymedia.com.