2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T from North America


This is the worst car I have ever owned


Turbo gasket was not installed properly and it leaked. Fixed under warranty.

Fuel pump went at 28,000 miles.

At 40,000 miles the radio LED went blank and the back drivers side window would not roll up and down. Had to fight hard with customer service to get it paid for despite warranty. Got the car back from the dealer and one headlight pointed directly towards the ground. I have no idea why! I fixed it myself.

Fog lamps have a short in them and immediately blow the fuse when they are turned on. This happened at 60,000 miles.

At 78,000 the turbo blew. The dealer states that the bearing in the turbo wasn't getting properly lubricated. Friction caused pieces of metal to break off of the bearing and travel through the engine as the engine and the turbo are on the same oil loop. These pieces of metal ruined the valves, piston heads, cylinder walls, etc. The engine has to be replaced and despite a perfect maintenance record, VW will not pay a dime towards the repair. They will extend the warranty on oil sludge for people who don't conduct oil changes at regular intervals, but they won't fix a problem for a customer who cares for his vehicle perfectly. I have to pay for a new engine to be installed. I found on-line that VW has had to replace over 400,000 1.8 Turbo engines.

General Comments:

This car performs okay, it is not fast, but has a little umph to it. The turbo isn't bad when it isn't falling apart. The car is safe and handles nicely when it is running.

However, the car is completely unreliable. VW continues to manufacture cars with electrical and drivetrain problems. Please, please look up reviews of VW's cars and customer service on-line before you buy. If after reading all these reviews, you still want to buy a VW? Then your asking for the headache you are going to receive. Buy the extended warranty on the drivetrain. The customer service in my opinion is the worst in the business. They only have a five year 60k warranty on the drivetrain enough said! They have no confidence in their own product.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 5th August, 2005

18th Aug 2005, 09:04

Interesting comment on the Turbos.. As an old farm boy, I'm used to having turbos on our large John-Deere Tractors and we never seemed to have trouble. I"m SERIOUSLY considering buying a Passat with the TDI, but this post has me thinking twice.. My concern it whether or not this is Maintenance related OR Quality related... Any help would be greatly appreciated... hrngman@hotmail.com.

22nd Aug 2005, 18:43

My wife and I are on our second turbo Passat GLS. The first was a 99, the current one is a 2003. We love the car, but have had a few issues. Mostly minor electronic things with the exception of the replacement of a sensor in the engine. The customer service is the worst I've ever experienced. The customer service alone has convinced us that we've bought our last VW.

24th Aug 2005, 09:27

Volkswagen's 1.8 Turbo four is a disaster. Every time I go to see my mechanic, there are at least three 1.8T Volkswagens and/or Audis in his shop, each with their own set of problems. The turbo, timing belt, and ignition coils seem to be the most common problems. Now, to top it all off, an oil-sludge problem has become widespread. It is such a shame to me that VW and Audi, with all of their resources, cannot build more reliable cars. The V6 engines seem pretty good, but I will never own a 1.8T. I don't have much faith in the TDI engine either. My mechanic gets TDIs in there all of the time that have injector failures.

7th Mar 2010, 02:09

Do not buy a VW!!!

Oil sludge problem will wreck your motor. Have 96k on my Passat and the motor needs replacement. VW customer care was no help. Sent in my oil change record, but told it was not acceptable as the oil change interval was over the accepted limit. Funny that the dealership never mentioned possible oil sludge problem when I was getting the extra high priced super duty oil they recommended.

31st Jan 2011, 19:13

I had a Passat (1998) moderate Kms, with a well cared for engine, that inexplicably destroyed itself one day. The mechanics could not say why.

2003 Volkswagen Passat V6 full options 2.8V6 from United Arab Emirates


Comfortable family car with a strong engine


Sunroof malfunction in the heat 2 times (fixed from dealer).

Interior started to unglue above right front door (fixed from dealer).

Central hand rest squeaks annoying (fixed).

Small noise from AC (fixed).

Peeling of the paint of right handle (replaced handle).

Back ashtray and lighter of this car always gets loose and pop out. I have seen several Passats with the same problem.

Leather on the seats wears too fast. Otherwise they are pretty comfortable.

CD changer sometimes malfunctions in the heat. It is during the day 45C.

Aero wipers are very bad. They are made only from rubber, so from the heat they became useless and the rubber broke. Also they are much more expensive than normal wipers.

Dealer is very very expensive.

On 91 000 km changed timing belt, oil, front brake pads... charged more than $1100. Have in mind the car is still under warranty. After warranty support, it will be a rip off

General Comments:

The car is good, interior is nice. I like it very much. It had several small problems, but nothing major. Dealer prices are letting VW down in UAE. If this can be fixed, I recommend this car to everybody who needs comfort and a strong engine. Car is 193hp, but despite this, I do not feel the pick up to be very fast. It is not a sports car anyway.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th April, 2005

7th May 2005, 23:46

Also another update. The car seat belt malfunctioned

Replaced under warranty.