1997 Volkswagen Passat SE 1.8 petrol from UK and Ireland




Thermostat, and a leaky rocker cover gasket. Cheap and easy fixes.

Air con stopped working, never bothered to get it fixed.

Driver's door handle felt flimsy sometimes but did not break.

Everything else was wear and tear during the time I had the car - brakes, exhaust, oil changes, etc.

General Comments:

A brilliant car and a huge improvement over the previous model, which was regarded as dull but still a decent car. This car, although redesigned from the ground up, inherited the old car's mechanical reliability and functional interior, laid out logically.

I bought it confidently at only a couple of years old with low mileage and history. Silver paintwork shined brightly. Most were silver, for some reason from the late 90s onwards this was a very popular colour for a lot of cars. It was clearly looked after and I continued to look after it for many years and it served me well. Spent quite a lot on maintenance, which was not always cheap, but was worth it in the end. Never once broke down on me (a flat battery aside, that I should have changed before it got too old).

As mentioned before, the interior was laid out well and was very comfortable. SE model means most things were electric. To drive, the 1.8 petrol engine gave good economy and performance, and the gear change was slick and involving. Handling was predictable as any front wheel drive car however; not very exciting.

Overall it was a very good car that I only traded last year for a newer Passat, but after nearly 20 years and almost 200,000 miles, I think I got my monies worth out of it. Still a popular sight on the roads in the UK; if you see one of these older shape Passats in good condition with history, then go for it - it still feels very modern and it's a great everyday car to drive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th February, 2017

14th Feb 2017, 04:22

In no way these were the only repairs you did. I had the same car from 0 to 150000 miles, and had work done on the engine, suspension, transmission electric modules, all door actuators, and the list goes on. A good car if you can repair it yourself, but by no means a car without repairs.

1997 Volkswagen Passat TDI 1.9 turbo diesel from North America


Keep up with the maintenance, perhaps do some yourself, and this will save you money in the long run


I have had the following done for:

Regular maintenance - Timing belt, brakes, front struts (rear also need done).

Issues needing repair - IP timing needed reset (did myself), ignition switch replaced, IP gasket leak, coolant line damaged by the leaking diesel fuel.

General Comments:

This car is fun to drive. It is very peppy for a diesel and gets 50MPG highway. I have gone almost 900 miles on a tankful (18 gallon tank). Yes, I have to put some money into it, but then again it has 280K miles and is 13 years old.

Because of the year Passat, it is very roomy for a VW. I use it to commute 60 miles each way to work, and it does that job well. Heck, I only paid $2700 for the car. After I have put 100K miles on it, I will have only depreciated it by maybe $1000. Try that with a new $30K car and see if your depreciation is as little money as mine.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th June, 2010

1997 Volkswagen Passat TDI 1.9L turbo diesel from North America


Love the engine, but everything else is problematic


Typically poor design quality and reliability, both for the 1997 Passat and my previous 1987 Audi Coupe. Both vehicles had door lock and window regulator problems.

My current Passat is on its 6th window regulator. The problems are not due to abuse, but because of inadequate design for the intended use.

Door locks fail from normal use, and I have modified them to prevent these chronic failures.

General Comments:

The TDI engine is a wonderful engine, and something that VW has done very well. If maintained properly, it just keeps on running. That is why I still have this car, otherwise it would have been scrapped a long time ago.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 10th September, 2009