2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T from North America


Very reliable car, fun to drive


I didn't encounter any problems at all with this car.

At 42000 miles I did the 40K inspection at the dealership where I purchased the car. Besides the regular 40k inspection two open recalls (water pump and heated seats) were resolved.

As long as you keep the up with the maintenance plan, I found Volkswagen very reliably (so was my 2000 GTI). I did not encounter any of the problems other user seems to have on both cars.

General Comments:

This car was very reliable for me so far. Since purchase 10 month ago I already drove 12000 miles with this car.

Even on hot weather, I drove through Death Valley and around Moab a lot last Summer, I did not encounter any problems. The AC works very well on this car, compared to my earlier car, which was a Volkswagen GTI 2000.

As I live in Colorado, I really like the big trunk space and the fold-back rear seats. I frequently carry my skis and mountain bike with me on the weekend so for me the trunk space was a huge issue when buying this car.

I wouldn't recommend keeping the standard all season tires (15" 195x65) as there are quite poor on slippery mountain roads.

I'm very impressed with the fit and finish of the cabin interior. The Monsoon stereo system is a must have. Seats are very comfortable on long trips. Full economy is fine for a non-diesel car, I get around 31mpg (top was 38mpg on I-70 in Utah) on the interstate and around 20 - 25 in the city and mountain driving.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th March, 2008

2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS 1.8T from North America


Fast, fun to drive POS


In the fall of 2007, the car would start to run rough. As though it were only firing on two cylinders. The Check engine light would come on and then start to flash. Rev it up a little and the light would go out and the car would run fine. Took it to the dealership, they told us it was a sludge build up from running 87 octane fuel instead of 92. They said it would not be covered under warranty, but that the oil leak they found would be. So they fixed the oil leak, and it started running fine again.

Another oil leak 2 months later. Fixed and the car started running fine again.

General Comments:

This car is really fun to drive, and if you have so much money that you can't possibly spend it all, it's a car worth wasting money on. If you are like most of the population, and you want a reliable vehicle for daily use, do NOT get a VW. At least not one with a turbo.

I have turned away from VW because of the way they treat their customers. Our dealer has been great, although the service department left a lot to be desired. But VW of America has been a joke. There are a great deal of people who have had engines seize due to sludge buildup, and unless you have documented evidence from a dealer that every oil change has been done, using synthetic oil and a larger oil filter then the car came with, as well as every other scheduled maintenance, you are out of luck. I have heard horror stories of people having to spend in excess of $9000 to replace an engine that should have been covered by warranty.

If you are thinking about a VW, google it first. Take the time to research the class action law suits and the issues people have with VW first. It will pay off in the end.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 31st January, 2008

2003 Volkswagen Passat GLS Wagon 1.8T from North America


Solid, comfortable, but trouble-prone


This VW wagon replaced a 2002 Passat sedan for which we invoked California's Lemon Law because of repeated ignition coil failures. VW fixed the ignition coil problem for this wagon's model year, and we've had no troubles with the coils since.

However, in just four years and 85,000 miles, the car has required extensive repairs of the sort I've never experienced with any of the half-dozen new and used vehicles I've owned before.

The brake rotors needed replacing at about 50,000 miles.

At 75,000 miles, a plastic impeller device in the cooling system failed, causing an overheat and a replacement which cost $900.

At 80,000 miles, the rear passenger automatic window device failed, costing $350 to repair. And at 85,000 miles, the fuel pump failed, causing a no start, and as soon as we drove it home after a $700 repair, the battery failed, causing yet another no-start.

The finish and interior trim have proven hardy; however, the rear of the armrest console includes a backseat cigarette lighter which our toddler son could not help kicking from his booster seat. It's now hopelessly broken.

Wiring on the stereo speakers is spotty.

The warranty is very limited, and major problems began piling up as soon as it expired. In the case of the costly fuel and water pump failures, VW is clearly aware that this has been a consistent problem with these cars, but as of yet, has not recalled the parts and offered to cover its customers' repair bills.

General Comments:

When we started our family, I wanted another Ford for a family car, but my wife persuaded me to go with the VW Passat, noting its stellar reviews in consumer magazines for overall performance, gas mileage and safety.

The car is attractive, the finish quite hardy, the interior is comfortable and durable. The car has a solid feel to it, a welcome contrast to the soda-can quality of many Asian imports. It runs quiet, handles well, and comes loaded with airbags and other safety features that go beyond federal requirements.

However, the turbo engine requires expensive high-octane fuel. The imported parts are very expensive, even for such things as wipers or brake-light lenses. We expected that when we bought it. But what soured us on the vehicle was the repeated mechanical failures, which have cost us a fortune to repair. A customer should be able to get at least 100,000 miles out of a car without any major failures not covered by warranty.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 7th September, 2007

16th Jan 2009, 03:11

I don't trust the automotive magazines like MotorTrend, Car and Driver etc.. They don't keep the cars they test very long, and they seem to feel that as long as a car is not American, then it's automatically a good car. I find this woefully untrue as the American cars I've owned were great cars, and I didn't have half as many problems as my German car loving colleagues. Maybe I was just lucky. Then again maybe not.