1996 Volkswagen Passat TDi Wagon 1.9L from Finland
Great as long as it doesn't get too cold!
I bought this car from a colleague at work who had bought it from new in Dallas. As it was an American model it had many expensive features as standard and was bought for a good deal less than a similar model would have cost in Finland.
Everything went just fine until the winter... The engine starts first time everytime. The heating works well and reacts quickly, it is a great car and extremely fuel efficient. The only real problem that I have had is that as soon as the temperature falls below zero the locks freeze open; meaning that you can unlock the car but then you can't close the doors!
I have tried every kind of grease and oil known to man and nothing works. This happens because the manufacturer tried to save weight and space by making the lock frame out of plastic and the moving parts out of metal. I have since heard from several others that this is an inherrent problem with the Passat. If you live in a cold climate forget it.
Central locking vacuum piping took a leak and a valve had to be replaced which was expensive.
Passenger electric window only works when it feels like it..
I had the first servicing done at a smaller VW dealer in Helsinki and they were terrible. The car was vandalised whist in their possession and in the end my insurance had to pay for it as they were so stupid about everything. I have since had the car serviced by another VW dealership (Stockmann in Pitäjanmäki) and they were absolutely fantastic; so it just goes to show you that it isn't fair to judge all by the same bad-press.
The Passat is basically a great car - especially as the TDi, but don't rely on it in the winter.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 1st April, 2001
Freezing door locks is extremely common on these cars. I live in Norway, and with temperatures below -30 degrees Celsius the locks on my 94 wagon have been a minor nightmare. It took me some years to figure out a way to avoid the problem. This is how to fix it:
1. Remove the plastic cover and clean it.
2. Use Q-tips and alcohol and clean all moving parts (really really) thoroughly. Let dry (use a hairdryer).
3. SOAK the locks with silicone grease (spray box with nozzle). Then use a thin anti-freeze oil (Eisfrei etc.) on top of this. Take especially care with the tiny knob under (?) the lock.
4. Seal the joint between the door and lock with silicone grease (tube).
5. Coat the inside of the plastic cover with silicone grease (tube).
6. Replace plastic cover. Dry off excess grease, but make sure there is a watertight seal between the plastic cover and the door and between the cover and the lock.
7. Give the locks a squirt of silicone grease every autumn.
I did this two years ago, and my locks have worked fine ever since. My passat has been extremely reliable. I have driven it 197.000 km, and except for a broken horn button, there has only been exchange of normal wear parts. It is a warm (yes, I have the petrol engine) and predictable car on winter roads.
Thanks for the advice! My 96 Jetta & 99 Passat do the same thing here in Oklahoma, USA. Will try it.