By on September 24, 2012

Whenever we post about a Volkswagen, comments about reliability (or, more specifically, the lack of it) inevitably follow. So few will be surprised that, with the latest update to TrueDelta’s car reliability stats, the 2012 Passat again received subpar marks. Though the big sedan’s score is better than earlier, it remains considerably worse than most other 2012s. Digging through the repair reports, a common cause emerges. Ignition coils aren’t failing. Nor are window regulators. Instead, the most common problem for these cars happens to be rattles.

VAG certainly knows how to engineer a car without bits that squeak and jiggle. The far more complex new A6 and A7 have had hardly any problems so far, rattles or otherwise. So what happened with the new Passat? Don’t quickly blame the new Chattanooga plant: the “hencho en Mexico” 2012 Jetta is also prone to rattle. (Mysteriously, the 2011 Jetta fares better.)

These updated reliability stats cover owner experiences through the end of June 2012 (scores elsewhere are about 14 months behind). Among recently redesigned cars, the Passat is the exception rather than the rule. In addition to the A6 and A7, the FIAT 500, Honda Civic, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Accent, Hyundai Veloster, and Subaru Impreza are all doing well so far. Initial data for the 2013 Mazda CX-5 suggest it will be joining them. The Ford Focus isn’t among the best, but “about average” is an improvement over Fords redesigned a year or two earlier (Taurus, Fiesta, Explorer).

TrueDelta will update its car reliability stats again in November. The more people participate, the more models we can cover and the more precise these stats will be.

To view the updated repair trips per year stats:

Car Reliability Survey results

Michael Karesh operates truedelta.com, a provider of car reliability and pricing information.

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123 Comments on “Car Reliability Stats Updated, Passat Problems Pinpointed...”


  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    The more things change….

    Those rattles are what finally made me sell my MKIV. Great drivetrain, fun to drive, far more reliable than what I’d been led to believe… but the RATTLING. It drove me insane.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      Watch your back Michael, the VW employee will get you for not denigrating GM and pumping up VW – regardless of the FACTS.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Volkswagen… Yeah, rattles, electrical problems, weird stuff… call me back in 5 years, and we’ll see how “reliable” this car is… or 10 years… unless it has already been parted out, or sent to the salvage yard!

  • avatar
    Fugue

    Love everything about my MKVI GTI except the… rattles. Thankfully the dyna-audio system acts as a built in cover up…

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Rattles are annoying, and certainly a quality issue, but they are NOT a reliability issue. A rattle will not keep you from getting to work on-time. A new car designed from the get-go to be MUCH cheaper to build yet with as many or more features, built in an all-new factory by new employees and they have rattles? Color me shocked…

    I think as cars have gotten MUCH quieter, every little rattle annoys that much more.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Rattles certainly are a reliability issue. They are undesirable, and people didn’t pay money in order to get them.

      Just because the car doesn’t stop dead in its tracks doesn’t mean that reliability isn’t the issue.

      • 0 avatar
        icemilkcoffee

        But it is a built in characteristic of a cheap car. It’s not something that’s broken and needs to be fixed. Hence it should not factor into the quality ratings.

      • 0 avatar
        iainthornton

        You’re trying to say that you can’t rely on the car if the dash rattles? So you can’t use it?

        It’s certainly an unpleasant issue. A build quality issue. However, it’s NOT a reliability issue.

        And I’m not surprised. Volkswagens for years seem to have had more than their fair share of irritating rattles.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        “But it is a built in characteristic of a cheap car. It’s not something that’s broken and needs to be fixed. Hence it should not factor into the quality ratings.”

        If your customer demands no rattles, then dashboard rattles are most certainly quality issues.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Dashboard rattles are absolutely a quality issue and as such should factor into quality ratings. I suspect icemilkcoffee mis-typed and meant they shouldn’t factor into reliability ratings. Rattles pretty much define the absence of quality.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        An item that routinely breaks before its expiration date is, by definition, unreliable. You can’t rely upon it to work as it’s supposed to, hence it is unreliable.

        You can decide for yourself whether that matters to you, but you can’t argue that things that break before their time are somehow reliable.

        And when did the Passat become a “cheap car”? They aren’t selling these things for $5 at Walmart.

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        ^ +1. I’m with PCH on this one. If an interior quality issue becomes a detriment to owner satisfaction, that’s a huge problem.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        This is why TrueDelta is nice. They actually break down ratings into specific problems rather than just giving a “thumbs up/down” rating.

        That way if your definition of a reliable car is “I didn’t need to have it towed to the dealer for a mechanical or electrical failure” you can make your own call on what you see.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ……But it is a built in characteristic of a cheap car. It’s not something that’s broken and needs to be fixed. Hence it should not factor into the quality ratings…..

        I guess that’s the difference between inexpensive and cheap. I once rented a Toyota Paseo and for a “cheap” car it was pretty sturdy. And it was free of rattles, even at 30K rental miles.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Just like Pch101 has said, rattles in a vehicle can drive a person insane.

        Even if a rattle or rattles don’t leave you stranded, any notion of quality gets undermined with each successive bump in the road, and as you slowly, surely grow more and more angry.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        +1 PCH
        A failing trim fastener or adhesive that is losing it’s bond is unreliable. If I buy a cheap car I may expect to hear wind noise, road noise, engine noise; I may expect to feel cheap materials, feel more engine and road vibrations through the steering wheel – this is all built within the factory specifications. I do not expect to listen to the car falling apart around me after a few thousand miles as trim fasteners fail to do the job they were specified for.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      Sure, it may just be what VW deemed an acceptable compromise in the face of the Passat’s new mass market target. On the other hand, given how much of the competition are built rattle-free despite otherwise similar specifications, it could suggest that something else has been overlooked (like Van Halen”s brown M&Ms).

      I think it’s safe to say, if it justifies a repair under warranty, it’s of note.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Ahhhhhh, the never ending love story of the American-Who-Thinks-He/She-Is-Smart-&-Not-Wanting-To-Be-A-Lemming—Becomes-A-Victim-Instead.

      It’s a classic.

      Boy meets the only relatively affordable car with a German badge.

      Boy falls in love for several inexplicable reasons.

      Boy suffers for a long, long time and is emotionally scarred as a result of making an emotional impulse buy.

      So roll your windows down, and enjoy the last rush of warm-ish weather, VW owners, and sing it loud and proud, as you roll down the broken concrete side streets of east side, west side, south side or north shore.

      I hear you, baby, shakin’ that ass
      Shakin’ that ass
      Shakin’ that ass

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Yes, squeaks are a reliability issue. Know why? The customer says it is. This is a similar point to defining quality. A quality car is whatever the customer is calling quality. 0-60 times, squeaks and rattles, handling prowess, ease of ingress/egress, mileage, whatever.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    While you are correct that it’s not an issue that will strand an owner, it’s still an issue. And if the competition doesn’t suffer from these rattles, it’s an issue that can sway a potential owner to a different car.

    Both of the Jetta’s I’ve rented for a multiple day stints suffered from, among other things, rattles. No, I was never stranded, and truth be told, I liked both Jettas — a lot. But in both cases, I wondered if the squeaks and rattles were teething pains for a new model, or a long term issue. Given this report, it sounds like the latter.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    Fundamentally, what are the causes for a dashboard rattle? What action(s) create the noise? Most develop over time, so I envision degraded insulation material as a main cause.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      My car has two rattles. I traced one to a loose glovebox (The glovebox is removable. I wedged some cardboard underneath, and it sorted it). The other rattle is in the passenger door card, and I have a feeling it’s a piece of plastic or a screw or similar dropped in there when I had the speakers replaced (both front door speakers had blown).

      This is a cheap car from the bad old days of GM. 6 years old now, a model launched in 2000. The car has had a very hard life, and every day must pass the heavily rutted track at the end of which I live. I think it’s acceptable to have a rattle or two with that sort of use.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Squeaks and rattles in new cars are typically caused by 2 things.

      Squeaks are usually the result of 2 surfaces or components rubbing against each other. Once located, they can often be resolved by loosening the fasteners to the affected components and repositioning them. In cases where they cannot be adjusted sufficiently, they can be insulated. Commonly used is foam tape.

      Rattles are typically a loose component affected by vehicle’s suspension interacting with the road surface. Usually the source can be traced to loose fasteners, or broken components.

      Of course some rattles can be customer or externally induced. I’ll never forget the car with the rattle in the sub frame that the dealer couldn’t isolate. It was coming from the subframe, but neutralizing it didn’t help, so the tech replaced the subframe. The noise was still there. When the Field Engineer inspected the vehicle, he found a golf ball in the radiator support.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @danio…Can you please return my ball.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s usually a tradeoff in the rattle resolution. I used to have a persistent rattle in the rear seat of 2006 RAV4. It only happened if the seat was set rearward (yes, amazingly, RAV4.3 has adjustable rear seats) and unoccupied. I could not figure it out. So I just started reaching across and pulling it forward a bit every time nobody was in the rear. Even if Toyota fixed it by warrantly, it would involve a series of extremely annoying visits to the dealerships, where “free” is not.

      • 0 avatar
        friedclams

        My dad told me a story about a friend of his who had a Nash back in the day. There was an annoying rattle in the fender that drove his friend nuts. Finally his friend took off panels trying to find the source of the rattle… Inside the fender was a jar with a note in it saying, “You finally found me.”

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        @mikey: Titleist?

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @ Shaker….yeah thats the one. If I recall it was all white and round,with little dimples in it.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        @mikey: It’s a reference from a Seinfeld episode, where George Costanza is pretending to be a Marine Biologist to woo a young lady, and he “saves” a whale by pulling an object from its blowhole that was put there by Kramer, who was practicing golf from a pier…
        (From imdb)
        George Costanza: The sea was angry that day, my friends – like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. I got about fifty feet out and suddenly the great beast appeared before me. I tell you he was ten stories high if he was a foot. As if sensing my presence, he let out a great bellow. I said, “Easy, big fella!” And then, as I watched him struggling, I realized that something was obstructing its breathing. From where I was standing, I could see directly into the eye of the great fish.
        Jerry: Mammal.
        George Costanza: Whatever.
        Cosmo Kramer: Well, what did you do next?
        George Costanza: Well then, from out of nowhere, a huge tidal wave lifted me, tossed me like a cork, and I found myself right on top of him – face to face with the blowhole. I could barely see from the waves crashing down upon me but I knew something was there. So I reached my hand in, felt around, and pulled out the obstruction.
        [George reveals the obstruction to be a golf ball]
        Cosmo Kramer: What is that, a Titleist?
        [George nods]
        Cosmo Kramer: Hole in one, huh?

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Yeah, the 1st gen CR-V had reclining rear seats as well. Don’t know about the following generations.

  • avatar
    Lampredi

    So why is it people buy Volkswagen? The usual trade-off is between reliability and driving enjoyment, but with Volkswagens you get neither – they’re as dull as kitchen appliances, and the only “excitement” they offer is making their owners worry about when they’ll break and how expensive the repair bills will be.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      They have that definition of excitement in common with ‘real’ luxury cars like BMWs and Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      You’re not the first person to ask this!

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I’m convinced VW buyers are either a) drinking the VW Kool-Aid, or b) not doing their research. Not everyone reads car blogs.

    • 0 avatar
      challenger2012

      I agree 100%. For the life of me, I have never been able to understand why people buy VW? The cars are expensive compared to better quality Japanese and now some American cars, and worse the repair parts are expensive, as well. I knew a guy who bragged about his turbo diesel (I don’t know what model it was), until the turbo charger went out at around 60K miles at a cost of $2,400 to repair it. When comparing reliability, VW is always towards the bottom of the list. I do have to say the interior is well laid out, but for 20% than most cars, it better be.

    • 0 avatar
      KitaIkki

      Maybe it’s the styling? With few exceptions, VW design has always been conservative and timeless, inside and out. Compare the Passat to the Sonata, for example, the Passat is likelier to remain “fresh” years from today (whether it lasts that long is another story) In recent years VW has upheld the classic Teutonic virtue of design simplicity better than Mercedes or BMW.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      VW owner here, and we’ve had several in the family, and believe it or not, they’ve all been good.

      Only midsize-ish car on the North American market with a diesel engine – that’s why I bought my first TDI used with 95,000 km on it. I sold it years later with 462,000 km; current TDI was bought new and currently has 395,000 km on it.

      Aside from that, the suspension and in particular, the steering, seem to be much better sorted than on most anything else in its price class, but I will grant that the new Ford Focus is darn near the equal of a Golf in this regard. Nothing else that I’ve driven comes close.

    • 0 avatar
      glwillia

      I almost bought a new MKIV Jetta 1.8T 5-speed back in the day because it was really fun to drive and I loved the interior/exterior styling. Then I did some research and discovered what a trouble-prone POS it was, so I changed my mind. In retrospect, I’m really glad I did.

    • 0 avatar
      svan

      Lampredi-
      I bought a VW because I didn’t perceive the tradeoff you do. If you haven’t stomped on a current-generation TDI’s gas pedal, you’re missing out. We scared the hell out of a salesperson in a mk6 GTI, sold us on the value of DSG because we got to 160kph before we knew what was happening. I don’t know what else to say, they make good cars that are fun to drive if you stay away from the base engine.

      Having lived in a mk4 without significant problems and having had 150k km of enjoyable km out of it, I consider it money well spent.

      I think Karesh’s lemon-odds are the most important number, and I would not rate squeaks as contributing to a lemon. But don’t let anyone tell you it’s not a defect.

    • 0 avatar
      dts187

      @Lampredi

      I ended up buying a GTI this summer. I decided I wanted to buy my first (and probably only) brand new car. I was looking for a quick hatch that’s fun to drive, comfortable for a daily driver, and under $30k. My choices were GTI, WRX, Speed3, Volvo C30, and I even test drove a V6 Mustang and Civic Si just for perspective. Here’s what I came up with:

      GTI: Incredibly nimble. Quality interior. Feels very solid. Not as powerful as others but very satisfying to drive. Good dealer experience.

      Speed3: Very very quick. Interior is acceptable. Holy mother of torque steer. Not a fan of the “arrest me now” hood scoop. My insurance company apparently is not a fan of cars with “speed” in the name. Dealer initially treated me as if I was just a kid trying joyride in their cars. I had a talk with the sales manager and that changed. Still left me with a bad feeling about the dealer, though.

      WRX: Very quick. I like AWD. Interior is not OK. I test drove a sedan and a hatch and both rattled and squeaked. Not a lot of legroom. Dealer was ok.

      C30: Felt the least nimble and responsive. Quick enough. Very slick interior. Holy mother of god the seats are amazing. Awful, awful clutch. Did not like the black cladding on regular models and stepping up the R Design didn’t seem worth the price. Dealer was very accommodating.

      I ended up with the GTI. It felt like the best fit for me and offered the best mix of fun, comfort, price, and quality. I get excited every time I’m going to drive somewhere. I’ve started going out on drives just to drive. I never thought I’d end up wanting a car with plaid seats (or any VW) but I was completely sold after driving one.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    So what if anything is VW doing about this, or are they too busy with world domination to concern themselves with such a trivial problem? No wonder they can never keep up with the Camry in sales volume, no rattles there.

    • 0 avatar
      Jesse

      I know it’s not a Camry, but I just rented a Toyota Sienna that had an annoying rattle in the driver’s side door. The van had all of about 5k miles in it.

      In fact, the only new car I ever bought, an ’05 Matrix went back to the dealer to address rattles.

      I know this anecdotal, but I hardly think Toyota is immune.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        None of them are immune. I rented a Chrysler Town & Country and it had about 15K miles on it. One trip up north and that van had a half dozen rattles in it on return.

        Doesn’t bode well for the same van at 200K miles.

        Sounds like VW just cheaped out too much on their Passat. In Europe it’s supposed to be a nice grownup’s car, Here it maybe is aimed at the price conscious owner? I don’t like to buy vehicles that are dfumbed down for the US market where cheap rules and quality is something only a few brands proclaim to offer the folks with a mere mortal budget.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The number of new cars I have been in that don’t have ANY rattles or squeaks approaches zero. They simply ALL have some. There are too many moving bits in the interior of a car, particularly any car with a hatch or folding rear seats to have no extra sounds. Leather seats rubbing against the center console can make a noise. Firmer suspension agravate this – on my BMW there is a very noticable difference in minor noises between when the summer runflats and the winter non-runflat tires are on the car, for example. The winter tires have much less impact harshness.

      I think a lot of it is expectations – the more people pay for a car, or the more of a luxury reputation the brand has, and the quieter the car, the less tolerance people have for any little extraneaous noises.

      Camrys have just as many rattles as anything else, and I have had rental Camrys with <1K on them.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        Recently driven Journey, FR-S, Cobalt, Civic, Cruze, Mazda CX7, Nissans none had rattles, I was under the perception that rattles were a thing of the past, I guess I was wrong!

      • 0 avatar

        When owners report as many rattles as they have for the new Passat, the problem is well beyond the typical level. As mentioned in the post, owners of the new A6 and A7 have reported almost no problems. Same goes for the other listed new 2012s.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Instead – in addition to cheap materials, the previous Camry was plagued by misaligned panels/panel gaps (pretty much all the reviews of the previous Camry noted this).

  • avatar
    vwgolf420

    My Golf has a number of creaks/squeaks more so than rattles. It doesn’t bother me that much. They seem to be a tad bit worse in cooler weather. Before anyone blames the Mexican or US factories, note that my car was assembled in Wolfsburg, Germany.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I’d like to add that our German built VAG products have never had rattle problems from the 2008 Passat to the 2006 A3 to the 2011 A4.

    The Mexican built 2010 Jetta I had rattld apart in the first 10 months including the four loose ENGINE SUBFRAME BOLTS.

    If you’re looking for a common thread between the Mexican built Jetta and the Tennesee built Passat, I’d look to the quality of the work force. Tennesee is something like 45th in the nation for high school drop-outs and Mexico is, well, Mexico.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      And yet Toyota can build reliable – and quiet – Camrys in that other backwater, Kentucky.

      Ford Fusions built in Mexico have been among the most reliable vehicles in their class.

      Plenty of German-made VWs and Audis have been very troublesome.

      Perhaps the problem rests with the manufacturer, not the workers.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        The problem is processes, procedures and material (design, type) that is used. Take the person out of the equation. I rarely, if ever, accepted a defect caused in a manufacturing environment in 20 years as Supplier Quality as “manpower” related. 99% of the time, it was a process or procedure that had failed. If Honda and Toyota can manufacture parity vehicles in Ohio and Kentucky, then it’s not so much the workforce (they can be trained), as it is the methods utilized. Both transferred very similar systems to what is used in Japan and were successful. Engineer it in (quality, reliability) and engineer it out (defects).

        Side comment…glad to see the Fiat 500 scoring well. I still have a real soft-spot for that little bugger, and am looking forward to test driving the Turbo when it arrives. Not that I’m in any position to buy…but it’s fun to look!

      • 0 avatar

        geeber,

        Quite right. Even problems that seem to be due to assembly are actually due to the design–the relevant parts should have been easier to assemble properly. Anyone who has assembled anything knows that some parts go together well with little effort, while others take a lot of effort and still don’t go together well. Or stay together well.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “Anyone who has assembled anything knows that some parts go together well with little effort, while others take a lot of effort and still don’t go together well. Or stay together well.”

        Last month my wife bought a couple pieces of IKEA storage furniture for the kids’ playroom. Both pieces were in the same price range. One assembled in 5 minutes easily and is sturdy. The other took 40 minutes and is wobbly and will probably fall apart within the year. How one company can be so different makes me feel a bit sympathetic towards GM. OK, maybe not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “Perhaps the problem rests with the manufacturer, not the workers.”

        We have a winner, folks.

        The whole point of an assembly line is reduce the importance of the individual in building the product. If a guy on the line has a headache or a hangover or a bad hair day, it shouldn’t matter much because the system should include checks and balances that can correct for that.

        These problems come down to parts, engineering and the **management** of the production process. Squeaks are often caused by two pieces that are rubbing together, which is a design flaw. If there are problems in the assembly, then it’s up to management to address those problems, which may require a redesign of the part or a reworking of a portion of the process.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        ….These problems come down to parts, engineering and the **management** of the production process…..

        I don’t know…I read on the internet that it is always the fault of labor, especially if that labor is unionized…

        You are correct in your statement. Old-style assembly was highly dependent on the workers’ attention to quality. Today, most assembly processes are designed to eliminate that variable…look at almost any modern car and the panel fits are excellent. You are far more likely to see misalignment in exotica…

      • 0 avatar
        mr_min

        Geeber, spot on
        If an assembly worker requires a special way to put a part on a car, then the engineering team from the manufacturer engineer back to the design engineer haven’t done their job in stopping the process being dependant on the operator.

    • 0 avatar
      TNVOl1954

      It is embarrassing to hear all of the problems with VW Passat. It is frustrating to find a car that drives as good as the Jettas and small BMW’s and you have to move in next door to a service department. I listen to all these European car fans bragging about their German cars going100K miles and only had to have water pumps, cv boots and a few exhaust valves. That is pathetic! I have owned Hondas and Toyotas from 1982 through 2002 and never put less than 180K miles on any of them. I hardly ever washed them, much less have them worked on! I admit the German cars are more fun and exciting to drive, maybe, part of the excitement is going on a 500 mile trip and wondering if you will make it back home! Any car company that cannot build a motor that will give you at least 100K trouble free miles is a POS car company!!!

  • avatar

    I understand the point about rattles not affecting reliability when the latter is strictly defined. But, when selecting among the available English words that might describe the frequency of repairs–quality, reliability, durability–reliability is the best fit.

    Like Inuit has more words for snow (true? myth?), more detail-oriented cultures might have more precise words on the topic. Those of you who speak a language other than English–what does that language offer?

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I just don’t understand why VW can’t get their arms around quality control and make their cars “non-disposable.” It’s almost like they’ve just consciously decided they’re going to be a car rental agency that just leases everything.

    If you raised the price of their lineup across the board by $2,000, but had “Toyota” reliability, there would be lines around the block to actually buy them.

    Car rattles are a BIG deal to me, especially when you’re buying an upscale car. I’m not an engineer, but making a car relatively rattle and squeak free should be easy in this day in age for one of the largest car companies on Earth.

  • avatar
    ern35

    I have come to understand that Jettas built in Mexico are NOT spot-welded, but LASER-WELDED—-meaning, by definition, that they are ‘more solid’—and thus ‘no rattles’. In fact I have seen a VW ad expounding on this.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      The integrety of the steel body is not an issue. The problem with modern cars is that they are made to be easy and fast to assemble, and thus many, many of the plastic interior bits snap together with often single-use fasteners. In days past, those panels would be screwed together. The snap together bits don’t necessarily hold as tightly, and are easily damaged. Also “cost control” means that some of the little niceties like felt to seperate bits is left out. And cheaper harder plastics are used. All of this contributes to rattles. And God help you if you have to take anything apart – unless you replace all the fasteners and are VERY careful, it will never be the same again!

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Actually, I find the interiors of late model vehicles to be easier to disassemble with less casualty than cars of the pas, say 90′s vehicles. The parts are fewer and appear to be better thought out.

    • 0 avatar
      Number6

      …means nothing. A shoddy laser weld can be just as bad as a shoddy spot-weld. And for what it’s worth, the laser welds a much smaller spot than the electrodes. I call marketing BS on that one.

  • avatar
    NYCER

    The Passat is a death-trap!
    The problems with the Passat (I have a 2012) exist because VW “went cheap” on all their cars in 2012. (E.g. drum brakes on the rear wheels in the low-end Jetta! I thought drum brakes went out with the ’41 Ford!)
    I had a 2009 Passat station wagon and it was one of the best low-priced cars I ever owned. 2,000 CC Turbo, DMG transmission, tight body – solid and quiet. My lease ended and instead of buying it I mistakenly thought that VW had some principles and would improve on their product. My error! The new Passat has one outstanding quality; IT’S CHEAP JUNK ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
    The 5-cylinder motor roars in your ears for want of insulation, doors close with a cheap rattle, road noise is barely tolerable, you feel every pebble through the steering wheel, and the transmission is so terrible and unresponsive that if you’re in stop-and-go traffic and you lift your foot off the accelerator it simply does not respond the next time. What do I mean? Just this; you step on the gas and nothing happens – as in zero, nada! It’s really fun if you’re crossing an intersection in city traffic! What do you do? Floor the gas pedal and pray – and of course be ready to slam on the brakes when it does respond so as not to plow into the car in front of you. Good going VW!. It’s the first car I’ve ever had that I’m afraid to let my wife drive.
    Sooner or later some Passat driver is going to get broadsided because of this lethal problem, and when it happens I hope they sue Volkswagen and the VW dealer for every dime they have.
    Meanwhile, I drive every day in mortal fear of my and my family’s lives and pray for the day.

    • 0 avatar
      racingmaniac

      Um, Passat doesn’t have rear drum, and 2013 Jetta won’t neither….And that 2009 car MSRPed in the $28K, the current one starts under $20k. They went cheap, and they are also cheap…..

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “(E.g. drum brakes on the rear wheels in the low-end Jetta! I thought drum brakes went out with the ’41 Ford!)”

      You do realize that drum brakes are *still* common, right? Not something that went away 70 years ago?

      Drum brakes on the rear is almost no sacrifice at all; they’re more than adequate for the lower brake load on rear wheels on normal vehicles, and make the parking brake system simpler.

      Rear drum brakes are still ubiquitous on trucks, and not unknown on sedans and hatches and coupes.

      (In order from a site search of Edmunds.com and almost or entirely 2012 models: Corolla, Fit, Lancer, Cruze, Sonic, Jetta, Sentra, TransitConnect, iQ, Silverado, Accent, Fiesta, Focus, fortwo, Escape, Yaris, Soul, Prius, xD, Mazda2, Compass, Versa, Insight, Civic, Caliber, Cube, Patriot, Canyon, Regal, Tacoma, Colorado…

      Why, it’s almost like compacts, sedans, vans, SUVs and full size trucks are all commonly sold with rear drum brakes…)

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      The Passat is a death trap…because the rental-spec Jettas have rear drum brakes?

      If you’re afraid of owning a car with rear drums, you shouldn’t be leaving your house in the morning. Or making posts on the internet.

      • 0 avatar
        NYCER

        Maybe you could take a course in reading comprehension at a local high school. That might help.
        Also, someone mentioned that trucks have drum brakes. Sorry, no comparison. Industrial application vs. a cheap automobile substitute in 2012.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      The purpose of the brake is to stop the rotation of the wheel in a controllable fashion. A drum brake is perfectly capable of causing a rear wheel on any car to lock up. The only time it’s not up to par is in deep water (it sheds water slower than a disc brake) and it doesn’t cool as well as a disc brake and that’s not going to be a problem on a sedan. The deep water scenario is the only time drum brakes are going to loose a braking test. Disc brakes win for possibly lower unsprung weight and “cool looks”.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        I doubt if the rear disc brake assembly weighs less than drum. At least on my BMW there was a separate drum parking brake in the rear hub. Anther thing folks who think rear drums are so bad fail to realize is just how little work the rear brakes do at all in a FWD car with 60% of the weight on the front axle, before you account for the forward shift during braking.

  • avatar
    CrapBox

    Does this mean my Rabbit, which has been reliable and rattle-free for the past six years, is going to fall apart on my way home from work this evening?

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    The Passat may be cheapened compared to the previous generation, but it’s not a cheap car. It’s more expensive than the competition, with a cruder base engine (cast iron block, no variable valve timing, uncompetitive power and fuel economy specs)

    It’s especially galling since the sample Passats are still nearly brand new.

    Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford and Hyundai manage to offer mid-size cars at a lower price, with better engines, and without rattles.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    I have driven a few used Lexus that were more than 10 yrs old and had plenty of miles and no rattles, it’s all design and execution at the assembly line. the much maligned Dodge Journey is an exceptionally quiet car despite all its shortcomings.

  • avatar
    shearwater26

    I own a 2012 Jetta SE with the 2.5L 5 speed manual and the mid-year disk brake upgrade. I’ve got about 10,000 miles in 9 months. One buzz/rattle, coming from the dash piece that surrounds the headlight control. I popped the offending piece out, added electrical tape on the back side to isolate the piece from the rest of the dash, no more buzz. My previous car was a 2007 Mazda 3 that had a headliner rattle from day one. Do I think VW has cheapened the build process? Absolutely. Do I think this makes for a less engaging driving experience in this class? No way. Folks are too caught up in the specs. Drive the manual, it’s a fine car at this price point.

  • avatar
    spyked

    Here is the reason people buy cheap (or expensive) VWs, especially in the U.S.:

    Drive a VW (any VW, a cheap Golf or Jetta is fine) at 80mph on a freeway OR a bad potholed road.

    Then drive ANYTHING else from Asia or the U.S., and give yourself at least TWICE the price of the VW car.

    You know which car felt better at speed on even the worst quality of road. Somehow, someway, in the last 20 years, VW has been able to make a car that is firm/sporty feeling (or at least perceived that way) while AT THE SAME TIME being solid, stable, and soaks up bumps. Even a $30k Asian car feels brittle and sketchy…but handles pretty good. Some American cars feel luxurious, but can’t turn on a dime.

    The Europeans, even at the lowest of the low end VW, have this ride quality/handling thing down to a science.

    It doesn’t hurt that they are inexpensive, safe, comfortable, and attractive.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know. I was in a rental Bug about 3 years ago and it was a really unpleasant experience. It had about 12k miles on it, and it squeaked like covered wagon. It wallowed through turns. Maybe it would have shined soaking up potholes at 80 MPH but based on what I saw during my 2 days with it, I wouldn’t bet on it. It was the worst new-ish car I have driven in recent memory.

    • 0 avatar
      Wagen

      “Drive a VW (any VW, a cheap Golf or Jetta is fine) at 80mph on a freeway OR a bad potholed road.

      Then drive ANYTHING else from Asia or the U.S., and give yourself at least TWICE the price of the VW car.”

      Exactly. There are people out there that care more about how a car drives the 360 days a year it’s not in the shop than the rattles or the 5 days a year it spends in the shop. These same VW buyers would never buy a Toyota. Remember the “Drivers wanted” ad campaign?

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      **Spyked: Drive a VW (any VW, a cheap Golf or Jetta is fine) at 80mph on a freeway OR a bad potholed road…Then drive ANYTHING else from Asia or the U.S., and give yourself at least TWICE the price of the VW car.**

      Nah, you just haven’t driven the right cars. The Mazda3 provides that ‘German’ feel of a solid, tight chassis while also being able to soak up bumps, all wrapped up in an affordable, reliable package. My ’08 Mazda3 w/ 40k miles on the clock is still tight with a quality interior that hasn’t deteriorated. The VWs I’ve been in that are a few years old all have some interior bits that are falling off or otherwise haven’t held up through the years.

      My newly acquired 370Z also happens to have the same suspension characteristics you speak of – it actually is fairly forgiving on bumps, but without any handling tradeoff. The Infiniti Gs also have that solid, yet forgiving ride quality – purposely a bit softer than the Z, of course.

      Heck, my friend’s 2000 Lexus GS that I rode in yesterday *still* provides that kind of handling – and it didn’t squeak or rattle once over some very choppy pavement.

      • 0 avatar
        skotastic

        Ummm…you can tell yourself what you want, but a Mazda3 or 370Z do NOT have a German car feel…

        Both are good cars, and I’d take a Mazda over a VW (ok, I did) for all the obvious reasons, but you definitely lose that premium German feel that the Mk.V/VI/VII Golf has. Then again, you probably gain in the wallet I suppose post-warranty.

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    You get what you pay for. Be it a ‘German’ car built in Tennessee or Mexico, or a ‘Korean’ car built in Alabama.

    Difference is, Hyundai/Kia seems to have their ‘shit together’ and for the same price, Vee-Dub…well…doesn’t.

    Hey Wolfsburg, ready to put money into NA and tell China sink-or-swim?

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    My 2012 Jetta has a rattle in the door. It’s a little irritating, but not irritating enough to make a trip to dealer just so they can not fix it.

    Most every car I’ve had, new or used, had rattles. Fords, Hondas, Toyotas etc. I’m as skeptical as anybody about VW reliability, but you’re going to sandbag their numbers based on…rattles? Come on.

    • 0 avatar

      If people care enough about a problem to get it fixed, it counts. Ask people to report only problems they think should count, and their overall opinion of the manufacturer or the car biases the results. We do our best to level the playing field.

      To put things into the proper context, the total estimated repair frequency is 58 repair trips per 100 cars per year. So about half the cars won’t go to the shop for anything, even a rattle, in their first year.

      As noted by another commenter, we do uniquely provide site visitors with the ability to see not only this number, but the actual repairs behind it.

      Not enough? We do have rattles coded as rattles in the database, so we could potentially offer the option of reliability stats with the rattles removed…

  • avatar
    Ex Radio Operator

    My 2008 STS didn’t rattle when I bought it and 60,000 miles later it still doesn’t rattle. It was one of the last ones built that model year, so maybe they had figured out how to screw them together right.

  • avatar
    Jim K

    Not all cars rattle. I have a 2011 MB c350, purchased 13 months ago and now have 24k miles on it. Not one rattle or squeak. Build quality is excellent, despite all the criticism of the w204 interior. I love it, reminds me of the w124 interiors. The sport package with 18′s is a bit harsh, but the overall build quality is excellent.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I had a 2009 Highlander for 43K miles. No rattles.

    I have an 2011 Highlander with 22K miles. No rattles.

    I had a 2007 Camry with 88K miles. My brother bought it from me, and it has developed a slight rattle. Not sure what it is, but it sounds like it is comming from the trunk.

    I have a 2012 Camry Hybrid with 5K miles. It has a squeak that is from the door pulls, but only when I am travelling a rough street. This is the first squeak I have ever had in a new Toyota … and I am upset about this problem. I expect better from Toyota.

    I have and have had a number of new Honda/Acuras, including a 2010 Pilot, a 2011 Pilot, a 2012 Pilot, and a 2012 TL. Never a rattle in any of those cars.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    The family across the street has a 2011 VW Wagon ( I think Passat ). That car has been towed several times. Once for the fuel injectors. Not sure what the second tow was for.

    He just bought another car. He went Honda. Why? Because his 86 Camry is still running, and he felt Honda was just as good. No more VW for him.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I’ve owned or leased about 15 cars (I think?).

      The last 8 consecutive ones have been Japanese.

      I have had not one rattle, let alone PROBLEM, with a single Japanese vehicle, whether it was made in the U.S. or in Japan.

      The one VW I owned and the MANY VWs that friends and family have owned? Every single one has been plagued with issues of all kinds from the literal start.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I have had not one rattle, let alone PROBLEM, with a single Japanese vehicle, whether it was made in the U.S. or in Japan.”

        And the rest of the story is that you buy new and trade to a newer car around 50,000 miles – right? ;)

      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        2003 Honda Civic Sedan Si (Canadian Model, US EX Equivalent)
        Problems within 4 years:
        - Manual tranny problems
        - Suspension issues repaired under warranty
        - Fuel filler lid release cable broke (common issue)
        - Brake switch malfunction
        - Engine mounts broken. Didn’t fix it, returned after the lease, wasn’t inspected, hope the engine didn’t drop out on the next owner.

        My car was built in Canada. So I’m not sure if that has anything to do with it. Oh, but squeaks and rattles? Not one.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    My past two cars (08 Camry and 11 Prius) both had rattles. Turned out, in both instances, it was my garbage in the glove box and console that was causing the noise. I wonder how many of the reported noises actually came from the car?

    One more note on the recent crop of VW’s, specifically the Jetta: They may not post great numbers beyond the cost of entry, but they really are solid offerings. By that, I mean the 2.5 may have disappointing power and EPA numbers, but my real world experience with the Jetta (if LA can be considered the real world) left me impressed. The power was nice, the automatic transmission shifted well, and the mileage was a solid low to mid 30′s, even though I didnt baby the examples I rented.

    They were way too much fun to drive to baby.

    I’m not a VW fanboi by any means. Any attempt I made to purchase a VW was met by a horrible dealer experience. That being said, I do think they are solid offerings at a really nice price.

    • 0 avatar

      We only count problems when something is done to the car that makes them go away–so we can be sure there was a problem with the car. Problems that turn out not to be problems with the car itself don’t count.

      • 0 avatar
        KalapanaBlack

        This might be nit-picky, and you may have a solution already in play, but-

        what if, say, the car is taken to the dealer, for a “rattle,” the dealer moves something in the glovebox that’s rattling, thus FIXING the problem, and tells the customer exactly what they did. The customer would assumedly count this as a dealer fix, since something was done by the dealer to fix the problem during a service visit, even though nothing was actually done to the car itself.

  • avatar
    skotastic

    Somewhat unrelated, but I’m happy to see that the FIAT 500 is holding up well in terms of initial reliablilty.

    Of course we’ll see how they are doing in 5 years, but maybe they will turn out to be fun respectible little city cars on the used car market…

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    It happens to some rental car operators. Every now and then we fall hard for a car. I fell for a pretty rare at the time in rental fleets 2008 VW Passat. Black car with rims and a light gray leather / vinyl interior. It arrived at my location with 10K and milked it at my location for another 22K driving it myself and giving it only to my regulars as a thank you rental. At 20k Passat developed a squeaking rattle. I became friends with the VW dealer down the road. We went on rides together to hear the noise that came from the rear seat passenger side area. We would get it back, rent it and get the same words at the end of the rental. Amazing ride, check out for a squeaking sound. After a 3rd trip to VW I one-wayed the car to another location. I was going to buy that car. Pain later healed and I fell for a rare loaded Maxima. Then a customer crashed it. Later I got her a loaded mazda driven by one executive. Car was never ever rented. Or rattled.

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      The trouble with complaints about rattles is that we all treat our cars differently.

      When I returned a Chrysler T&C rented for work it had developed some rattles at a low mileage b/c the roads up there are crap.

      I’ve given rides to folks who insist on slamming the doors on my cars FAR too hard.

      I’ve ridden with folks who think nothing of driving through every pothole along the route at speed.

      What rattles up north may never rattle here for me b/c our roads are good and I treat cars well. What is rattle free for me might be a nightmare for someone else b/c they’ve put the vehicle through hell and never gave it a thought.

  • avatar
    Alexdi

    Rattles and untoward noises have been my chief complaint with my ’10 Maxima that I’ve put 24K miles on. I’ve literally pointed out something new every single oil change, and the oil on this car goes every 3750. I even had the right mirror replaced on one trip because it started whistling at highway speeds. The sunglass holder is custom-lined with foam, as are the cupholders. It took them two tries to eliminate one nasty rattle from the headliner. I don’t think Nissan understands just how offputting unexpected noises can be.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    To TrueDelta’s credit they do somewhat cover this gripe – at least better then JDPower and Consumer reports.. But my principle issue with reliability measurements is this..

    We need to know how often the car is effected by the problem not just which one is the best. I don’t care for example that say NVIDIA graphics cards fail more then ATI ones (made up stat) because in reality they almost never fail..

    What we need is stats which show the chances of – ‘side of the road’ reliability problems – and other stats which show the chances of some minor electrical problem – or annoying quailty control problem..

    I have heard this – almost all cars are now pretty reliable. So that you don’t have to just buy based on reliability. Your chances of getting stranded from a well maintained car is low.. I can see how quality would be a factor. But now we are free to choose cars based on things like looks, comfort, performance, gas mileage and utility..

    Back in the 80s – well you might be smart to just choose the more reliable ones. Of course this only holds true if in fact in modern cars the ‘strand you beside the road’ breakdowns are overall pretty rare. (Which I Believe is actually the case)..

    So downmarking say Passats for rattles is important information – sure. But some of us want to know if that actually means they are actually unreliable.

    • 0 avatar

      Very few cars will leave you stranded during the warranty period. The great majority of problems are relatively minor. I’ve been working on a system to rate problems by severity, but this is much easier said than done. It also requires larger sample sizes. So the more people get involved in the survey, the sooner this weighting can happen.

  • avatar
    Tennessee_Speed

    It’s my understanding that VW will be opening a research center in California that will be addressing issues like reliability & quality in their cars built in North America. I’m sure they’re aware of the quality issues like rattles; they’d better be if they want to increase their market share in the U.S.

    I test drove a ’12 Passat, 2.5L gas automatic. The major issue for me was the rapid up-shifting of the 6 speed automatic. It’s done for mileage reasons, but it saps the acceleration of the car. They need to have a setting that holds the lower gears longer. Other than that it was a fine driving auto with no strange noises that I could tell.

    I may wait for the upcoming 1.8 gas turbo due in the ’14 Passat models to replace the aging 2.5 5 cyl. model. VW had better get it right – they have 9 competitors who build a decent alternative in the mid-priced segment.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    Nobody mentioned this yet but unlike any other problems rattles are subjective experiences. What is an irritating rattle for one person may be unnoticeable to another person. Therefore it may make sense to note rattles as some kind of defect but not on par with an actual part failure which is objective and measurable.

    I know from my own experience that the reaction to rattles is directly proportional to your expectations. When my 11 year old 740i rattles and it rarely does, it annoys me. But the same rattle 5 years ago when the car was only 6 years old would drive me crazy because I expected perfection and nothing less from the car. Nowadays I don’t expect perfection just a good solid quality which the car has in abundance even with an occasional rattle. My 12 year Taurus was a symphony of rattles but I hardly noticed it. I expected it to rattle and it did that and more.

    So my question is how do you quantify rattles? I don’t think you can. Hence when I hear that a Passat rattles I just say to myself well it’s built in Tennessee and it’s inexpensive so it’s not that surprising. Were it built in Germany and cost 5K more I’d be a lot less forgiving.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    No rattles in my 2012 Civic, which the critics said was too ‘cheap looking’. Looks like they spent $ on real quality and not “perceptions”.

    • 0 avatar
      DubTee1480

      Hell, my 2005 Civic doesn’t have rattles :)

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Kluttz

        My 2006 Civic has many rattles, all of which I have figured out. Most of them are temperature-sensitive; that is, at different ambient temperatures I get different rattles. Strange, especially from Honda. My previous Accord had a few, too, the major one being the sunroof drip pan,which was right over my head (and ears). I still love(ed) both.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        My wife’s 2005 Accord is a different matter, but she seems to be harder on cars – clipping curbs, backing into bushes and scratching the bumper, etc. The Civic does have an awful clutch creak that I think (hope) I’ve traced down the the slave cylinder push rod needing replacement or lubricating. The Civic has mostly highway miles on it, I give it no more than a year or so of driving to work in the awful streets around where I work before a rattle develops somewhere.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    My wife drives the 2009 Pontiac G6 with about 60K miles on it and she complained about rattles. The interior sunroof shade DOES rattle over railroad tracks and the like, and there WERE other rattles I couldn’t identify.

    One of which was the air dam underneath the front of the car. That didn’t get figured out until the car was in a minor accident, requiring the replacement of the air dam and a fender. The body shop I use noticed that the air dam had been loose for some time, negating any trust in the Buick dealer’s service department where I bought the car. They swore that they could not hear the rattle and nothing was loose. Done with them.

    Amusingly, the source of the other rattles were also discovered after the trip to the body shop. For security reasons, she took out all of her CRAP that was in the car. Junk stuffed into the glove box, the console, the door pockets and stuff in the trunk. She’s not really a pack rat, but keeps a lot of stuff in the car.

    The drive home from the body shop was revealing as the air dam issue had been solved and without 40 lbs. of crap in the glove box and console, the car was dead quiet. Except for the sunroof slider.

    But we still like the car.

  • avatar
    buck__wheat

    I keep reading comments about who in their right mind would own a VW. I own a MKIV Jetta. So far it’s at 140,000 miles, but has never failed to start, and never had a major issue aside from a window regulator. I’ve owned a number of VWs, racked up over 300,000 miles on some (a 5 cylinder Quantum and a VR6 GTI) and have never had an engine/turbo/transmission problem. Every vehicle that I’ve sold has been due to rust (this goes for all my cars, not just my VWs). Looking at rust warranties, VW’s and Mini’s rust warranty are 5 years longer than the next best one out there among low and mid-priced cars.

    I drive rental cars at least 200 days a year and have driven just about every manufacturer’s car. I’m really not impressed with the vast majority of them and I’ll include the current base Jetta in there. Few of them have the steering feel or tracking of VW’s in my opinion (again excluding the base Jetta). Only when you get into cars in a higher price class do they seem to match/beat the damping and steering characteristics of my aging Jetta. The two rentals that come to mind are a Volvo S60 and a Cadillac CTS.

    VW also offers combinations of vehicles that no one else does. I was pretty excited to hear about the Acura TSX wagon coming to the States as an eventual replacement for my Jetta. Acura decided that people who drive wagons don’t know how to operate a clutch pedal, so off the list that car came.

    So in a year or so, I’ll be passing the Jetta down to my kids and buying another car. I’m looking around for station wagons, and see only about 6 of them out there. Add a stick shift and you’re down to VW. The corrosion warranty and the TDI engine make it almost a forgone conclusion that I’ll be buying another VW.

    I’m sure there will be some of the smarmy Honda and Toyota owners who will accuse me of being a VW PR rep working under cover, and I am only one data point, but I am a data point with well over 1,000,000 VW miles under my belt and a few hundred thousand miles of Ford ownership to my name. My experience is VW’s stand out in paint, drivetrain, and interior material wear. They lag in rattles and in the electrical department, but they’re nowhere near the level of crap that a lot of TTAC comments portend.


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