I love the VWs. Keep your moon roofs cleaned out to stop weird leaks onto front floors (that is where these computer modules are getting wet and messing the electronics up). There is also a screen in the basepan that will clog and create back pressure in the engine that will ruin turbos. Should also use 1984 VW Jetta diesel oil filter with only synthetic oil on that 1.8 gas engine. Maintain and they last.
I purchased my 2003 VW Passat Wagon new. The litany of repairs required since then has been staggering (e.g. two front end rebuilds; replace water pump; vacuum leaks; two complete ignition coil replacements; seat heater replacements, etc.). I replaced almost every bulb in and out of the car at least twice. It became a running joke to guess which bulb would burn out next. All this occurred before 95,000 miles!
The latest problem is a blown turbocharger (despite using synthetic oil). After owning a nightmare 1975 VW Rabbit, why I even considered owning another VW makes me question my mental status. I'd like to be at the scrap yard to witness my 2003 VW Passat being crushed. It will be the only satisfaction I'd have had since purchasing the car.
Interesting. I had the EXACT same problems. I had 92000 miles on my 1999 VW Passat turbo, and actually had scheduled the car to have the timing belt replaced. Two days before my appointment, the timing belt broke, causing major damage to the engine, valves, cams etc.. Also my ABS system went out at about 84000 miles. These two things seem to be common on the 99 VW Passat.
Another problem I've started to have is during heavy rain, water collects on the floor of the passenger side. Another common problem with this car.
Good luck with it.
These cars are headache and very expensive to fix. I know that if you have a very knowledgeable mechanic that takes care of it religiously, it will be enjoyable, but still expensive to own. The trouble is, there are extremely few such mechanics out there. Therefore, they are out of the reach for most owners, who are left to go to private repair shops and get scammed, or worse, go to the VW dealer.