12th Jan 2016, 10:30
I dunno man, I had another one of these a few years later, and with frequent oil changes and the coolant replaced every now and then, I got 250,000 miles out of it with no engine problems. Gonna need to get a review of that Passat on here soon; it was even tougher :) I hear what you are saying though, gaskets can still go at any time. I suspect this one we had was also driven hard as well as not maintained correctly, which didn't help the gasket that's for sure, and getting to 170,000 miles like that is pretty good going.
12th Jan 2016, 12:23
Gaskets can't be maintained, you are right, but maybe the original reviewer meant the head cracked. They can be protected though. A "blown" gasket can be due to many things that are not always the car's fault. I knew a guy who replaced coolant with water to quick fix a leak during summer, and sealed it forgetting to change for an antifreeze mix when winter came round. Needless to say it froze up and cracked the head, and that was the end of that car.
16th Jan 2016, 02:55
"I got 250,000 miles out of it with no engine problems."
You owned this car from new to 250k miles and never replaced the head gasket?
I highly doubt this, unless it was a much newer VW with an all alum. block and head. That's the only way this is possible.
16th Jan 2016, 15:53
Original reviewer here again. Thanks for the comments so far guys. My 250,000 mile Passat I had after this was a 1994 facelift one, though I'm pretty sure it was the same engine (2.0 petrol 4 cylinder) from the old generation. To clarify the head gasket on the older car, it was never diagnosed properly. Some mechanics just guess. It could have been a crack in the head making the oil mix with water, as someone suggested the previous owner to me might have made the mistake of not changing the coolant or using an incorrect mix at some point. Either way, I was quoted a ridiculous repair bill to replace the head, which on a 12 year old 170,000 mile car at the time, it was more economical to scrap it, so that's what I did.
That aside, what I'm getting at here is since I had an otherwise reasonably positive experience with that car (I'm not a particular VW fan, I just appreciate older cars more and more each day), that's what made me buy another and I had little to no problems with it. This car also had more or less full history; sure it could have had engine work at some point before me, but not that I could find in its receipts.
To sum up, remember also that in the UK we have German built VWs here. A lot of the bad reviews for VW on this site seem to come from USA, and I think unfortunately the VWs there are built elsewhere and not in Germany, and build quality suffers for you guys, from the old generation to the new.
Nowadays I hear of people have lots of problems with newer cars due to electronic things and costing way too much to repair. I used to drive newer cars, but it was a false economy. Expensive problems with injectors and DPF filters on diesel models and so on, was a nightmare. But the older cars I've had since the Passat were - a Mazda 6, Honda Accord, Skoda Octavia, Ford Mondeo, Vauxhall Omega (Cadillac Catera in USA) and serviced them on time to high mileage with no problems. So, give me an 80s or 90s built car, and despite their quirks when they get older, I'd happily take them to the end rather than pay thousands for a new car. It's never been more economically beneficial for someone to drive an older car even in 2016. Happy motoring :)
17th Jan 2016, 15:44
Gentlemen, regardless of what caused the head gasket to go any car, I think a problem nowadays is peoples' belief that cars can't make it past 100,000 miles without serious problems. This was the case back in the day (we're talking 60s/70s) when it was a big deal if a car got to 100K. Those days are gone, it's easy to expect a car to do anything around 200K without serious problems, certainly cars of the last 20 years or so, if they have been serviced on time and driven correctly. How you drive a car is also important.
Incidentally, this very car, the Passat from the early 90s, I did hear of one with the clutch and transmission lasting to nearly 300K. Most people can't drive that kindly, and burn out clutches in well under 100K. It's all about how you drive it that counts as well for parts to last the length of the car. As if you need any more evidence, please check out this video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbgTmJ-nDCg
Now I know what you might say, that's a car from 2002, but still a car developed in the 90s and with the aluminium head as someone suggested, you can see why it gets to 500,000 with servicing and timing belt changes alone. I think there's a video of a million mile Lexus doing the rounds on YouTube right now as well.