1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX 2.8 from North America


Great reliable car!


Ball joints were a recurring problem until about 65,000 miles. Don't know why, but they're fine now.

Battery blew up at 60,000.

Spring in clutch pressure plate snapped, and had to replace clutch and slave cylinder. This was around 70,000. The technician said there was plenty of life left on the clutch, but we replaced it since everything was disassembled.

ABS modulator I think was defective from day one, since the light would periodically come on, but go off after awhile. Finally, at 80,000 miles, the light stayed on. Since the replacement, no light.

Secondary smog pump at 50,000.

General Comments:

It's been a reliable car, although it requires attention to maintenance schedules. Exhaust, radiator, alternator, coolant pump, and steering pump are all original.

It's very comfortable and drives like a champ, although I don't drive it much now since we just bought a new car in May 2012. The first car since the Passat (16 years)!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th January, 2013

1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX 2.6 24v VR6 from North America


Crap, especially for a German make


The automatic transmission failed 12 months ago. $3300 in repairs.

Ignition coil pack failure.

Leather seats crack easily.

Ignition switch failure (major electrical issue).

General Comments:

I would not recommend this year and model. Local repair shops will not work on it. Two shops said the repair issues are like a "can of worms"; fix one and 2 more show up.

When the car runs, it is fun to drive. The GLX is comfortable and roomy.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 26th June, 2012

30th Jun 2012, 17:39

I had the same problem with an old (1985) VW Cabriolet years ago - but like your Passat, it was old and had over 120k on it. On the other hand, a newer Cabriolet was one of the best cars I've ever owned.

My point is, your Passat is a 1996, and it has a lot of miles on it. I don't think you can judge all Passats based on one that is pretty much used up.

That being said, yes, VW has had some reliability issues over the years, however I've had some very good ones - the '93 Cabriolet being the best.

Also, all of my old Beetles were pretty reliable vehicles.

1996 Volkswagen Passat GLX 2.8L VR6 from North America


Sporty and roomy, but maybe not too reliable


I bought the car under the impression that it had 68,000 miles on it, and paid 4500. That night at home, I was detailing the car, and I noticed a sticker in the door jam saying "The odometer in this car was replaced. Mileage then - 104,000". Basically the dealer sold us a car worth 1500 for 4500. But they didn't know of this sticker either, and were nice enough to take it back a week later, no questions asked.

The day I left the car dealer, the check engine light went on. Since I returned it early, I never found out what exactly was going on.

The wipers, reverse lights, dash lights and radio lights did not work. All of the fuses were intact as well, so that was not the problem.

The radio was unusable. Both VW and Audi have a security system on their radios that put it in "safe" mode if it's stolen, but also does so when a fuse breaks or the battery dies. The instructions in the radio manual did not help fix the radio at all. I recommend anyone with an older Audi or VW to replace the stock radio with something made by Pioneer or Kenwood ($80ish)

I found it especially hard to start from an uphill stoplight without going back in this car. It may have been because I didn't have enough time to get used to this car, but I usually don't have a problem with that.

The air conditioner liked to spit out black foam. though the pieces that came out were small, you could look in the vent with a flash light and see bigger pieces right behind the little "grill" on the vent.

General Comments:

The car is generally nondescript and doesn't seek attention, but it drives like a sports car should. The 2.8 V6 with a manual trans. gave it a really fast feel, and if you know what you are doing, this thing can take you for quite a ride.

However, acceleration is somewhat slow compared to other cars I have driven. If you don't basically redline the car before switching gears, you have that feel where you think you shifted too early, when really you haven't. The higher up you are in the gear, the faster you accelerate.

Handling is great. I have driven a friend's Mazda 3, and though it's similar in size, this car out-handles it. I can make turns that would require the Mazda to make a 3 pointer. When driving faster, I can (but don't recommend) get off on exit ramps without feeling like my car is going to fly out from under me.

On the interior, the black leather seats were unusually luxurious for the car, but they burnt your backside on a hot day, and even after an hour of driving, your back is still sweating. However, I can tell a lot of care was put in to making sure the interior was as high quality as possible.

The gauges on the dash and the radio/AC controls seemed a bit low quality to me. Nothing was actually broken, but it felt like it wouldn't take much for any of it to break.

This car is more spacious than a Suburban. The backseat can fit 3 people side by side, and probably 2 more on the floor in front of them. The trunk was big enough to hold a 50 gallon snake tank at one point for me, and a guitar cabinet as well.

Overall, I would have to say that despite the problems that I mentioned with it, I think it would be worth the money to fix it up and I believe that you could get another 150,000 out of it. The car is solid and luxurious, yet sporty all at one.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd August, 2010