1991 Volkswagen Passat GL 2.0 from UK and Ireland


When Volkswagen was Volkswagen


Broken window winder - fixed by myself.

Coolant leak, traced to thermostat housing, common fault, easily accessed and replaced.

Erratic idle - required the throttle body be cleaned out, a cheap fix which only took a local mechanic 20 minutes and cost me very little.

All faults were acceptable at around 100,000 miles when all this happened, plus I don't think the previous owner took care of the car.

Engine burned a slight bit of oil as it got older.

General Comments:

A very nice car that in my opinion was underrated. The Passat from 1988 - 1994 (1990 onwards in USA) with the plastic front grille was very distinctive. Dated looking nowadays, but comes from a time when cars started to get really good. Honestly, this car was very modern to ride in, quiet and smooth. I've driven much more modern cars of similar types, family/executive saloons and hatchbacks, but looking back on this car it held its own. Consider that if I still had it, it would be 25 years old, and could compare to any similar car of the last 10 years in terms of comfort, driveability, and reliability; that's really quite something.

The fun to use manual 5 speed coupled with the 2 litre engine accelerated fine; not the fastest but was smooth. I believe it was the same engine used in the Golf GTi at the time. 36 MPG average fuel consumption was more than acceptable, and the car was 7 years old when I had it and this was still fine.

Being the GL model it had decent equipment, again, good for its day, but no air con and all the usual electronics you might find in a more modern car. To be honest, I wouldn't miss them and I never really had a problem with cars that were not "optioned" up. Electric windows and mirrors is a must though. The car had rear wind up windows and unfortunately, which as I mentioned above, was one of the very few things that broke on this car. That's what I remember most about it, it was one of the toughest cars I ever had; good build quality at a time when Volkswagen was Volkswagen.

A blown gasket killed it off in 2003 after my 6 year ownership and 170,000 miles, but as I mentioned, had it been serviced from new, I doubt that would have happened. It had patchy service history, but I took a chance on it. I tried my best to nurse it through its later years and it still served me well. A car I will always have fond memories off, and was way better than rivals at the time, I don't understand why it wasn't very popular here in the UK. Volkswagens now have a cult following and it's easy to see why in the 80s and 90s how cars like this solidified that image. It's so strong that I don't think the recent emissions scandal will harm their reputation too much - the loyal fan base will always appreciate Volkswagens, at least the older ones.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th January, 2016

12th Jan 2016, 00:14

"A blown gasket killed it off in 2003 after my 6 year ownership and 170,000 miles, but as I mentioned, had it been serviced from new, I doubt that would have happened"

Dude, it doesn't matter how well you maintain an engine, you cannot "maintain" a gasket. It simply fails to seal as it ages.

This is especially the case if it's the head gasket and the block is cast iron and the head is aluminum. The two different metals have different expansion and contraction temps. It's only a matter of time before this or any gasket fails to seal properly.

1991 Volkswagen Passat GL 2.0 from North America


Overall it has been a pretty good car - getting tired now


Was trouble free for first two years, then I brought it to Canada.

Had a problem. The car would start and run fine for a couple of kms, then stumble around at 4-500 rpm or rev to full throttle. Took the dealer several trips to fix, never did find out what they did.

Have gone through several mufflers.

Replaced heater control box twice - overheated. VW claimed they never had any problems with them, dealer told me otherwise.

Replaced alternator twice.

Several brake jobs - normal wear and tear, although parking brake cables have seized.

Door switches for interior lights all have broken.

Heater core blew - VW did a recall for every other model but the Passat (same part number of heater core).

Computer constantly resets - but I'll live with that.

Heated seats don't heat anymore.

Replaced motor mounts twice.

Rear drivers side window regulator replaced twice.

Has overheating issues especially with A/C on in stop and go traffic.

Just replaced both front axles.

Replaced oil and water temp and oil pressure sensors.

And have a nagging power drain on battery that I haven't been able to trace.

Door locks will freeze in cold humid weather.

General Comments:

I still have original clutch, engine leaks a little, but burns very little oil.

Ride is still solid, only very minor rust - was easily touched up and still gets me to work every day.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th July, 2009