1998 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T from North America


What will go wrong today?


Head gasket failed at 13,000m.

Valve gasket replaced 3 times for leaks.

Coolant sensor failed at 10,000m.

Fuel gauge sensor failed at 16,000m.

Driver side window switch failed at 13,000m.

Ongoing brake squealing (dealer has no fix)

Brake pads wear very quickly and will damage rotors without warning.

General Comments:

The Passat's body style and high standard feature list are what sold us. We had a relatively good experience with our '95 Jetta (though it had several initial quality problems) and felt that the Passat was a good step up. As much fun as the Passat is to drive and look at, its reliability has turned us off to VW for a very long time.

The Passat suffers from poor quality control in some areas of assembly and especially in the electrical components. We had several sensors fail early in life. We have never had this problem with Honda or Toyota. Even worse, VW's quality problems appear to be totally random and each failure is something the dealer has never seen before. At least with the Japanese marks, if there is a quality problem, it's very predictable within a given model year/range. VW is very slow to implement fixes for known defects and their dealers are totally in the dark when it comes to fixing problems the first time. Our experience with the Passat continually left us wondering what part of the car would fail next.

The Passat has gained great respect for its styling and performance. I believe the 1.8T engine is the best 4-cylinder engine we've had in any of our cars. But I'm not convinced that VW builds cars that will last a long time or be anywhere near as cost-effective to operate as some competitors. VW is growing so fast in appeal that they're missing the grass-roots importance of establishing repeat customers.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 18th August, 2002

16th Oct 2002, 15:45

Our VW Passat @ 20K just had the engine light come on and left me stranded. The garage man mentioned that this is a common problem as the "Coil" shorted - out. I am not satisfied with this car.

22nd Oct 2002, 22:29

I have had very similar problems. We have owned 2002 Passat station wagon 1.8T for one year. It has only 12,000 miles on it and it has broken down 3 times. In the first week, coolant was blowing in our faces. Three months later it was a bad ignition coil. Finally, one of the cylinders stopped working. I finally lost my patience with the last breakdown, for I was left on the side of the road with my 10 month old baby and dog. Volkswagen would only tow me to the nearest dealer, 50 mile from my home! I paid $150 to be brought home and Volkswagen refuses to acknowledge that I have suffered in any way and has been very rude on the phone. This car has been a huge waste of money. I have owned both a Golf and a Jetta in the past and will never, ever buy a VW again!

1998 Volkswagen Passat S TDI 1.0 from UK and Ireland


Brilliant, economical, practical all round car


Well, not many, apart from a noise coming from the brake pedal, sounds like a spring noise, but hope is not the ABS. I am a bit worried about it, but the dealer has not yet found the cause, so I hope it's going to be OK.

Rocker header gasket was leaking, replaced it in a local garage, not much of a problem.

General Comments:

It's a brilliant car, better than the one I previously owned, a Peugeot 406.

It's more responsive and more economical (around 45-50 miles to the gallon combined).

Cabin is spacious and motorway cruising taken with ease.

Something you should live with is the steering, it's a bit light compared to the peugeot.

My car is the 90 bhp version, and it's not bad at all, but if you need a bit of fun, go for the 110 bhp version.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st June, 2002