1999 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T from North America


To buy or not to buy? Here's the answer


Various front suspension repairs. Costly (very).

Transmission electronic component. Not so costly, under warranty.

Various door/windows actuators. Very costly to repair and in parts. Typical issue.

Ignition coils. Expensive and typical issue.

Other glitches, mostly electrical that are often time expensive to repair in labor time and parts.

Front brake rubber (flexible) fluid lines cracked and broke while braking on the highway. The vehicle totally lost its braking power; managed to slow down using the hand brake. If you notice the front flexible brake lines to be slightly cracked at their lower end (where they connect to the brake caliper), replace immediately. This is the same for all 6-7+ year old vehicles.

General Comments:

This is a comfortable car, best suited for highway driving. It's economical (on the highway), very comfortable, including for tall persons, and the driving position is perfect and extremely well designed. The driving pleasure is relatively good, but again, especially on the highway. The car has some character about the driving feeling, and generally speaking it's very well balanced and put together.

Mechanically speaking, the engine and the transmission in this car are generally problem free. Some other components of the vehicle are also built to last.

However, there are some specific expensive components in the VW that are not built to last. Those include suspension components and several parts (actuators) that involve electronics. Please note that there are many suspension components, and quite a few electrical parts, so do not think there are only 2-3 parts that are going to break.

Do not buy second hand if you are going to have the repairs done at the VW dealer. I repeat, do not. Buy it only if you have a local mechanic specialized in European imports. It has to be specialized, because the labor on this vehicle is very specific. There are a lot of things that are very hard to figure out how to replace, compared to other vehicles.

If the car has been regularly serviced, the suspension components are OK, and the doors and windows actuators have been repaired (they usually fail after 7-8 years), this might be a good buy. I would suggest not to buy a vehicle that has more than 100K miles, or at least do not pay too much for it, say $2000-$3000 over that mileage.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 3rd July, 2013

4th Jul 2013, 08:54

Your pretty much are right on the money, although I might question some of the repair intervals, as being overly lenient. I've owned both a late '80s Audi and late '90's VW Passat TDI. The TDI definitely had the best engine mechanically. The window and door mechanisms on both were ridiculously poor designs. Failed multiple times in under 200K miles. Electronics were more like Lucas than what VAG touts as German Engineering. Unless they are really proud of failures?

The dealer I originally bought my Passat from was the only good VAG dealership I have ever dealt with. All others were just a money pit. I eventually ended up doing all the work myself; at least then I was only getting ripped off for the part cost. And there are various online sources for genuine VAG parts, that are slightly cheaper than dealers. And yes, specialized shops are probably your best bet otherwise. But expect to pay well for the repairs.

1999 Volkswagen Passat Sport 1.9 TDI turbo diesel from UK and Ireland




ABS sensor £11.99 off eBay; this fault was present when I bought the car.

Central locking does not work correctly; again, I knew about this prior to purchase.

It needs a track rod end to cure a knock from the front.

General Comments:

This is the best £550 I have ever spent. The car is so cheap to run. 40 MPG at least round town, and up to 60 on a run.

The car is on 203000 on the original engine, gearbox, clutch, fuel pump, injectors etc. Only thing that's been changed are the over complicated front suspension arms. Can someone point me towards a modern diesel that can achieve this?

A couple of years ago I sold a 5 year old TDCi Mondeo with only 128k on the clock, that needed dual mass flywheel, rear wheel bearings, handbrake cables and calipers, and fan belt pulley and tensioner. Rubbish.

Anyway, back to the Passat; it handles like a bath tub, there is lacquer peeling off the roof and upper tailgate, but I love it. The engine pulls like a train and is still returning its factory MPG figures. No other car I have ever owned has done this.

Everything still works, apart from the central locking, but you can still lock/unlock it via the internal button.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th August, 2012

5th Jul 2013, 05:19

Glad you like your Passat, though I will say that my 2005 Volvo V70 D5 is up to 296,000 miles and still runs like new, and with the exception of an intercooler, is all original with no big repairs. It still gives up to 48 MPG, which is very impressive given it's a 2.5!