By on July 23, 2015

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The longstanding joke around modern Volkswagens stems from the widespread illumination of the Check Engine Light — CEL, for short. Forums lament the seemingly overwhelming complexity of the modern People’s Car, all the while mocking. The four-cylinder volume models tend to get the bulk of the bashing, but when VW adds valves and cylinder heads, the complexity goes up exponentially.

Certainly, Meatloaf sang of a Mk3 Jetta in his timeless classic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” even though the Dasher was on the showroom floor when the record hit shelves.

It’s a shame, really. Modern VeeDubs are wonderful driving cars when working right. Jack loved the big Phaeton so much he owned two. This Passat calls to me. $5500 for a midsize, all-wheel-drive wago, with an eight cylinder engine? This dad would love heading to soccer practice in the big VW, especially with a custom exhaust fitted like the one below:

Of course, if I were feeling particularly flush, this thirty-thousand-mile example for $20,000 would be tempting.

Alas, these big, complex engines come with a price. Maintenance is, at best, pricey; at worst, debilitating. Take a look at the timing chain setup. Theoretically, timing chains should require less work/maintenance than a belt, but the plastic tensioners wear. Note that this view is typically right against the firewall, meaning the engine needs to come out.

TimingChain-W8-sm

The newest cars, especially those on the MQB platform, seem much improved. Ditto the oilburners — they don’t seem to be plagued with the problems of petrol-powered Volkswagens. But, every time I’m tempted by the stunning looks of an older VW, I’m reminded of the below flowchart, found on yet another forum.

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103 Comments on “Crapwagon Outtake: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion...”


  • avatar
    Timothy

    The flow chart is perfect and thanks to Brian’s Garage in Needham, MA I was able to keep Priscilla Passat (2002 B5.5 V6) on the road well past most Passat sell by dates. The water pump finally did her in at around 164,000 miles which really pissed me off as nothing was wrong with the car. Started every day without issue, AC still worked, and the body was in pretty good shape for a car that was 13 years old and had been subjected to the daily Boston commute.

    Sigh. I miss her so.

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      Amazing coincidence! I was on my way to Brian’s this morning to get my wife’s 2005 A6 a new alternator. But the Audi died half a mile from my house, stranded me, and I had to get a flatbed to our local mechanic. 2 hours/170 bucks lost.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      > The water pump finally did her in at around 164,000 miles which really pissed me off as nothing was wrong with the car.

      OEM water pumps for those engines have a 60K-90K replacement interval due to the plastic impeller. Anyone running an OEM water pump on these models over the replacement interval is asking for trouble, as illustrated by the 164,000 mile case-in-point.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “OEM water pumps for those engines have a 60K-90K replacement interval due to the plastic impeller.”

        Does VW actually have in the owner’s manual to replace the water pump at this mileage or is this really a “failure interval”?

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        Yep. And I followed that to the letter of the law. Changed the timing belt, tensioners, pulleys, and water pump at 90k. Had planned on doing it again.

        For those not familiar with the 2.8V6 it’s a pain in the ass to the tune of about 1200 bucks at the aforementioned Brians Garage.

        The car owed me nothing and the thought of putting another grand into it just didn’t make much sense. SO… off to Ford I went and got the ST.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      So why not replace the pump if there is nothing else wrong with the car?

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        That’s what I thought, having replaced on relatively cheaply on a Vulcan V6 powered Ford I once owned, but maybe this one you had to pull the front clip on and cost more than the car was worth.

        • 0 avatar
          Timothy

          Because it’s a VW product and to access the water pump you need to take the entire front end off the car.

          It’s also worth nothing that it sounded as though the engine had ingested some of the pieces.

      • 0 avatar
        ExPatBrit

        The timing belt on the V6 also drives the water pump, so the pump seal fails then the bearing which then seizes up and snaps the belt.

        Interference engine 30 valves make contact with 6 pistons.

        Not pretty!

        I had a B5 V6 Audi, I ignored VAG’s 105,000mile or 4 year recommended service intervals and replaced everything at 65,000 and 130,000.

        I sold the car in 2008 but I see it around, must have 250,000 miles on it by now.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        See above.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    Awesome.

    Will this be followed by a piece on bad Honda brakes?

    Followed by another on Subaru head gaskets?

    Followed by another on Mazda rust issues?

    And finally a treatise on boring Toyotas?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Well Chris’ Crapwagon posts have included Ford, Jaguar, Mazda, Nissan, Honda, GM, BMW, and others.

      Also, let’s not pretend like the W8 was anything other then a bad idea.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        I still remember the showroom signage from at the local VW store when the W8 was available. The usual Germanic gloating “everything we know how to do all done at once” or some such marketing wank. The folks at VW must have had a grand old chuckle smearing that scheiß over a car with some serious engineering flaws.

      • 0 avatar
        Timothy

        I often wonder how many of what drugs during what time frame the engineer who thought up the W8 had done.

        Seriously that must have been some good shit.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          All you geniuses like to talk through your hats.

          My brother owned a 2003 6MT W8 Passat from new, until 2010 when he bought an Infiniti G37. His wife had the 2002 1.8 T Passat.

          No problems at all with the W8, but the four was the usual VW nightmare.

          So come on, what serious engineering flaws occurred in the design of the W8, or W12 or W16 in the Veyron?

          Or is it just the usual blather and piling on with yucks from the intellectual giants of the Internet?

          Are any of you well-known engineers competent to judge design flaws? You know, people worth listening to?

          I highly doubt it, but am willing to be surprised.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The W8 had cam adjuster problems. Many needed to be replaced around 60K miles ($7000 job). The torque converters fail, and replacing anything takes forever or costs $$$$. It just isn’t a reliable engine, or package, by any means.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    The W8 is indeed a nightmare to service. It’s sole purpose was to work out the bugs in the “W” engine design before putting it in the Phaeton and the Veyron. I’d never even think about touching one, and I love my ’04 1.8T M/T wagon.

    The four-cylinder engines? It’s actually a pretty reliable engine; the internals are sturdy and as long as you keep up with t-belt changes (this is the case with any interference engine with a belt) and oil changes, it has a more-or-less indefinite life. As with any turbo engine, it can develop strange misfire and boost issues, but the OBD system can help with that a lot, and either internet forums or a knowledgeable mechanic can take care of the rest. (Again, this is the case with just about any turbocharged engine.)

    • 0 avatar
      gtemnykh

      “long as you keep up with t-belt changes” Don’t they have a reputation of snapping the belts prematurely? I thought I read that 1.8T guys would swap them every 30-40k as a precaution.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        30-40k? No. 60-80k is the norm. (Admittedly, still less than the official factory interval of 105k… that was a little over-optimistic.)

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        Just sold a 99 A4 1.8T MT with 175k miles. Didn’t get much for it – had been thru a minor hailstorm. Purchaser wants to use it as a winter beater. Had the belt done at 60-70K intervals along with a non-OEM water pump (no plastic impeller) plus belt tensioner and pulley bits and pieces. I won’t pay today’s Audi prices, but I did like the car.
        VAG missed the opportunity really screw people up but not melding the worst features of the W8 and the Audi 2.7 biturbo. Would you like to know where those turbos are? Just inboard of the driver’s right ankle and the passenger’s left ankle and they do like to leak.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “VAG missed the opportunity really screw people up but not melding the worst features of the W8 and the Audi 2.7 biturbo. Would you like to know where those turbos are? Just inboard of the driver’s right ankle and the passenger’s left ankle and they do like to leak.”

          Did a trans job on an S4 with the 2.7TT. Sadistic German torture.

          • 0 avatar
            chuckrs

            Nothing new. Indy mechanic who worked on an 124 coupe I owned related working on an Audi 100 whose owner thought she’d graunched the gears. No worries, he’d just drain some gearbox oil and look for shiny flakes. Didn’t find any and also didn’t find a way to fill the gearbox. RFTM, => take gearbox out of car to fill. Claimed to have tipped the thing up on two wheels like the stunt guys do and put as much oil in as he could thru the drain. No filler tube on my 2002 A6 Tiptronic, either…

          • 0 avatar

            I find many of my jobs on the e46 are $19 parts under 2 hours of labor. If I didn’t DIY I couldn’t drive the car.

            I recall an S4 also had the dreaded plastic tensioners, which require pulling the engine, or “why is that S4 almost affordable ?”

  • avatar
    qfrog

    My general theory on cars is that the higher spec and higher the purchase price (trucks are often exempt) the shorter the expected life span on the vehicle is. The unseen best if enjoyed before date that you see printed on beer bottles is actually the end of the extended warranty written by VW or Audi in this case. At that point the vehicle will very quickly become beyond economical repair by a dealership and is ready for replacement with a new unit. What happens to the cars that are past their best by date, well they often end up at my mechanic for a while until the owner/user either replaces the car with something newer or simply can’t afford the repairs and the car eventually will find a way to remove itself from the roadway by means of mechanical failure. How quickly a car moves through this progression has a lot to do with how expensive the car was initially and how expensive parts are and how involved repairs are (how expensive it is to pay somebody else to fix the problems).

    The W8 engine gave the passat a bit more power and a path of reduced resistance to being sold for scrap metal a whole lot sooner than the lower spec variants of the same name.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So much to love for me 8 cyl, AWD, station wagon…

    My wife may be understanding problems on a very old classic car but not on one 10 years old with low mileage.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You’d be better off with a 4.2 V8 Allroad, seriously.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I don’t know dude. The suspension will go so so wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Hmm, that’s a fair point on the ABC or whatever Audi called the air suspension. I’m sure there’s a conversion kit available for any which have not had their air stuff bite the dust yet.

          The 4.2 is reliable, and the suspension conversion can be a known cost and a one-and-done situation. The W8-4 just keeps on biting!

          Where would you stand on a similar vintage E420(?) or whatever 4MATIC vs. the Allroad?

          I think the Audi would come miles ahead in that showdown. Plus to me at least, the Allroad looks better than the early-mid 00’s E-Wagon. (Though there will always be something “moneyed” about an E-Class wagon.) Oh, and the Allroad will be thousand$ cheaper to buy.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Allroad STILL looks freaking great. It didn’t get the 4.2L until, what, 2004? It was a 2.7T affair before that.

            I was never a fan of that era E-Class. I think they look old and lumpy.

            Gimme the X-Type wagon because I am truly insane.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Had to check: 4.2 V8 available in the US from 03-05.

            Man the next gen C6 Allroad which we didn’t get was a looker too.

            http://images-2.drive.com.au/2010/08/04/1743136/Chrysler-300C-00220070221202111.jpg

          • 0 avatar
            qfrog

            Some of the 4.2L engines have been reliable. The BHF of the S4 which is largely the same as the engine in the allroad 4.2 is not really known for being long lived. Scored bores, timing chain/tensioner issues, valve stem seals and warped plastic valve covers priced at $600/ea are all par for this course.

            The 2.7T is the one to have, with the 01E gearbox.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think the Allroad 4.2 is the same exact one used in the A8. It was reliable in that application!

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    In before the: “Well my cousin’s friend has one that has been trouble free, and I own a tuned B5 S4 which puts down 350 AWHP that I daily 40 miles each way a day in city traffic that has never had an issue because I replace everything that breaks before it breaks. PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE BRO.”

    It is always VAG or BMW threads that brings this guy out. Like the guys from Everyday Driver said, they get more “passion” from these two groups whenever reliability comes into question.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Well, you have to watch it with any “interested party” and to that group I would also add websites whose all-but-stated purpose is to rag on VW-Audi products (such as TTAC).

      Let’s be honest.

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        Why do you think the ever changing group of editors and writers here at TTAC have a grudge or agenda against VW?

        What would be the cause of that?

        Were any of them fired by VW, or shut out of press events by VW?

        Please elaborate why they have adopted this as a goal

    • 0 avatar
      vtecJustKickedInYo

      I have a 2001 B5 S4 with 170k Tuned at Stg 1 ~320 HP. Its my only car atm and I drive it across the east coast on a fairly regular basis. I always keep a spare ignition coil and icm in the trunk and keep up with Audi recommended maintenance intervals. If you do that, won’t have issues.

      People always give vag a bad rap because they usually have too little too late repairs. Its all about preventative maintenance. Except the Beetle, after 60k it should be in the junkyard :D.

      Yea, Im that guy.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I like VW. I love my VW wagon. I wouldn’t touch this with a 10,000 ft pole.

    Reliability data I’ve seen on the brand shows you have decent odds of owning a reliable VW–if you’re careful with model/drivetrain. Simple seems to be good. A 12 year old W8 would not fall into that category.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It falls into “most complex possible.” Seriously, I can’t think of anything besides maybe a W12 Phaeton in recent VW history which is more complex.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Funny I just posted this in an unrelated thread:
    As an ex-Passat owner (B5 1.8T) just be sure you are familiar with how to remove the door panels so you can replace the power window regulators. They will break… and often. Ownership of that Passat swore my wife off VeeDubs for life. However compared to the forum posts full of CEL errors, sludged engines and various electrical ghosts-in-the-machine, ours was (darn I say it?) basically trouble free. It had a coolant leak the dealer could never track down thus I had to top off the radiator every few months. The real problem was various interior bits constantly snapping off in your hand as if they were made from balsa wood: things like the glove box door (WTF on that for sure), sunroof switch, cruise control, etc. But mechanically the car was fine, it returned 30 MPG and had plenty of turbo grunt.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Huh… I spend a lot of time on PassatWorld, and while the window regulators can fail (as with any car), it doesn’t appear to be a particularly huge trouble-point. I don’t recall anybody posting about having to replace them repeatedly. I don’t think your experience is typical.

      And yes, forums are filled with tricky problems. As are the forums for any car. Few people post to car-specific forums to say “Hey! Another trouble-free year!”

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Sorry, but his experience with the regulators is definitely typical for that generation of Passat. I have replaced these myself – first time, almost four hours! Second time, about 1.5 hours (same car, same door, 1.5 years later, so the replacement ones aren’t any better, cheapo plastic parts grrr). I’m sure the dealer tech doing them regularly easily could knock one out in under an hour.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          My brother’s friend simply turns away VWs with broken regulators, just too big of a pain in the butt to replace given the book time.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            This is what I don’t like about most VWs and many German cars in general. Things are far more complicated than they need to be. In many modern cars, a windor regulator can be replaced in 30-45 minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      “It had a coolant leak the dealer could never track down thus I had to top off the radiator every few months.”

      I’ll bet it was the coolant flange gasket and the dealer knew it, but the dealer didn’t want to do the job because they knew it was a PITA to replace. Look it up.

      The flange and gasket cost ~$20 but sit at the back of the block between the engine and the firewall. Several hours of back-breaking labor to replace a tiny part. At the mileage these fail at, you also risk snapping any number of hoses that must be removed to access the flange.

      We never had a front window regulator fail on our B5.5 1.8T. With 166k miles, I consider ourselves lucky. Oddly, the rear driver regulator failed.

      We did have intermittent light stuttering under boost on the highway. It was tricky to diagnose because it would come and go. It was irritating enough to give me pause when I consider buying another turbocharged car.

    • 0 avatar
      Forty2

      Leased an ’03 B5.5 1.8T 5-speed. Loved the way it drove. Left rear window regulator failed twice, both times fixed under warranty. Almost bought the car off lease but realized owning a VW out of warranty would probably have been a bad idea. Replaced it with an ’07 Audi A4 Quattro 2.0T six-speed, leased, that went back to VAG once that lease ended. Drove beaters after that, having decided leasing was a waste of money.

      I did drive the V6 and W8 models, all with manual trans, before deciding the 1.8T was actually more fun to drive. The V6 felt lumpy and coarse, and the W8, while powerful, also made the car very nose-heavy. I could have gotten the W8 6-speed at a huge discount but the residual was so poor it made a lease too expensive.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I recently had a customer with a 2006 Passat 4motion with the VR6 eat a timing chain guide. They too are on the back of the engine up against the transmission. They decided to part ways with the wallet sucking beast.

  • avatar
    tylermattikow

    A Mercedes E-Class, V8 or V6, is going to be a much better choice. Not cheap to maintain but cheaper than the Passat W8.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Agree. If you must go this way, the E39 540i wouldn’t be a bad idea either. At least you can find parts and wrench on it without reading a shop manual that starts every procedure with “1. Remove the engine”

      That said, the 540i is not a great choice, either. The inline-six versions are better. Not great, but better, and they don’t have a truck’s steering rack like the 540 and the Mercs do.

      Plus side: the W8 Passat isn’t actually that fast, so stepping down to a six won’t lose you much.

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        I think most E39s have reached the end of their expected lifespan. I had a 2003 540i M-sport for about a year and couldn’t keep on top of all of the various fluid leaks (coolant, oil, power steering, transmission) and other things which went wrong, and it wasn’t even a daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      We’ve got an ’05 E350 and an ’02 S500 in the family, and it seems like the major components that keep a Mercedes running are far *cheaper* to maintain than VAG products of similar vintage. All of the M113-derived engines are pretty darn bulletproof up to at least 200k miles, and they’re easy to work on. The 5G-Tronic transmission is also a really long-lasting item, especially if you do an occasional fluid change. The 7G-Tronic had some teething problems in its first year, but after that they worked out the kinks and its just as good as the 5G.

      The needlessly complex gizmos are what go wrong with the 2000s Mercedes (power trunk closing hydraulic pump? That’s a thing?!), but those don’t strand you by the side of the road or force you to scrap the car.

      Depreciated old Benzes continue to be one of the great bargains of Craigslist.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I found an online VW forum thread which had that great flow chart in it. Here’s the original question that started the thread:

    “I am currently trying to sell my TL and going back to a Passat to put a little cash back in the savings account. I found a 2002 Passat W8 4-motion with 115k for $6500 at a dealership. I don’t know a lot about the W8s or 4-motion models….”

    Holy Crap.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Much sadness will occur.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        No doubt. May as well have posted:

        “Hey folks, I’m a little tight on money right now, so rather than just efficiently bankrupting myself by burning all of my future paychecks before they hit the bank, I thought a long, slow, painful hemorrhage would be a more interesting way to do it. Does this used W8 sound like the trick?”

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That man needs serious help.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Meth is a better choice than a W8

        • 0 avatar
          greaseyknight

          The p71 at least will always get you where you need to go…

          The back seats are cozy I hear, and 3 hots and a cot at the local slammer sure beat living in your broke down W8 Passat.

          • 0 avatar
            mankyman

            Can anyone chime in on what is likely to go wrong net with my 2004 V6 4motion. It now has 80K miles. Timing belt + water pump + alternator have gone in the last 4 years, along with the coolant sensor. Other than that everything functions (for now). There is a bit of an oil leak in the front passenger side of the engine, but I don’t think it’s from the cam chain tensioner gasket or the valve cover gasket. It seems to be coming from a line going to the oil cooler. Strange. And the coolant expansion tank seems like it might be leaking. And there’s a sloooooow leak in the A/C.What expensive repairs do I have to look forward to?

            My other car, a P71 Panther was, I thought, extremely reliable, but it blew a spark plug recently and stranded me in a very bad spot. It will take years for the Panther love to return.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            Mankyman,

            Your best bet is to post your problems/questions over at the forums at passatworld.com (I’d answer them, but I have a 1.8T…) There are plenty of folks there that can help you out.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “My other car, a P71 Panther was, I thought, extremely reliable, but it blew a spark plug recently and stranded me in a very bad spot. It will take years for the Panther love to return.”

            Lisle makes a good little kit to fix this. It has a 2 in 1 cutting/threading bit and a bunch of threaded inserts. Fairly easy to DIY, the last one I did in 30 mins.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      Goodbye TL with transmission problems.

      HELLO timing chain problems.

      • 0 avatar
        mankyman

        Thanks Danio. That seems like a pretty quick repair. Is it a kit I could take on the road with me?

        Actually i had no choice but to leave the P71 in the hands of a back-woods mechanic. He told me he used a high-temperature cement to put a new plug in the hole, which i am guessing means JB-Weld! It has held this far, and i doubt i will ever need to change the plugs again.

        If it happens closer to home I might take a stab at doing it myself. I have heard Time Cert and other kits are good. It just scares me a bit drilling out the head and having to make sure all the metal chops are gone.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Yes, the kit is small you could put it under a seat and easily forget about it. It’s in a plastic box maybe 10x6x2 inches.

          To keep the chips out of the engine, you coat the bit in axle grease which collects the chips then take it out to clean it off maybe twice throughout the cut. It then bottoms out once the threads are cut. The shaft that holds the bit is nearly the size of the spark plug hole, so its pretty easy to get it straight. I’ve even done one that wasnt perfectly straight and it’s been on the road for a year with no issues.

          The inserts that come with it are basically time serts. Once you thread them in, you smack it with a hammer to set it in the head then put the plug in.

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      That guy would probably be better off with an old V12 Jag or somethin, at least that would probably be easier to get the engine out of.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You’re all about the old twelve cylinder Jags, aren’t you?

        • 0 avatar
          NoGoYo

          I don’t even want to own one, I just want to drive one!

          Also, I genuinely think the XJS is a beautiful car, and it certainly looks a lot better than the non-roadster E-type to me.

          As for a Super Coupe, ha, I’ve seen more XJSes than Super Coupes…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Link time! Here’s a pristine one!
            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Thunderbird-Super-Coupe-/191634474763?forcerrptr=true&hash=item2c9e4e070b&item=191634474763

            And this TurboCoupe! Something looks off about it.
            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Thunderbird-Turbo-Sedan-2-Door-/121704256150?forcerrptr=true&hash=item1c56239296&item=121704256150&autorefresh=true

            And what’s a Thunderbird Elan!?

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Ford-Thunderbird-Elan-Sedan-2-Door-/281755329591?forcerrptr=true&hash=item4199ed2437&item=281755329591

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Thunderbird Elan was the mid-grade model between the base and the Turbo Coupe. Later replaced with the LX, which eventually became the base model (and then the only model) on MN12 cars.

            I think that Turbo Coupe has a non-factory body kit, that’s what’s off about it.

            Nice Super Coupe though. I think I’d rather have a dark colored one personally.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Thunderbird Elan: APPRAISED VALUE $9700”

            Maybe 9,700 Monopoly dollars. This is another 3-4K ride and the digital dash makes its possibly TMU, IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ahh, thx. I like the Elan name better than LX – and I’m surprised Lotus didn’t have something to say about their use of that name.

            The non-factory kit looks awful, and that car is effectively rurint.

            Agree RE: dark color. Like black or navy would be better. The red makes the rather cheap window trim stand out too much.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Lol, didn’t notice the $9700. And not with those dried out unobtanium trim bits, and questionable and dirty paint quality.

            Maybe $9700 for an equivalent Mark in a good color, pristine condition with rare Bill Blass trim package or something and 50K miles.

            So since I’m browsing, lookie at this special lady. Rear continental landau applique and centre console – waaat!

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lincoln-Mark-Series-Diamond-Jubilee-Mark-V-/321807754730?forcerrptr=true&hash=item4aed3ca5ea&item=321807754730

            And here’s a rare rose mist Conti sedan. Not sure what the c-pillar emblem is.
            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lincoln-Continental-1-OWNER-52K-COLLECTOR-QUALITY-SHARP-SHOW-OR-DRIVE-/261958104238?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3cfdeb74ae&item=261958104238

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            $9700 Monopoly dollars seems kind of high.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can’t imagine a mid level Fox T-bird having too much unique to it. Actually what you want is this:

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lincoln-Mark-Series-LSC-Sedan-2-Door-/271933637634?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3f50820402&item=271933637634

            This example is especially nice: “The transmission has 1400 miles on it since a rebuild ”

            I say this is a possibly buy.

            Here’s another buy, although its not a Fox

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Lincoln-Mark-Series-Base/281755196261?_trksid=p2047675.c100009.m1982&_trkparms=aid%3D777000%26algo%3DABA.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20131227121020%26meid%3Dbfec6f6ca133423289f5eb14184c984c%26pid%3D100009%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D1%26sd%3D271933637634

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            On the MY87 Conti:

            Looks clean, but much like the Elan guy the dealer is smoking crack at 7K. These Contis were not beloved in their time, nor are they particularly collectible (not to mention the digi dash and digi odometer). Def worth something, I’m guessing dealer paid 2-3K tops and wants 6 (I think these had electrical problems too the Townies did not have, plus air ride sheesh).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Off topic but I kind of want a Lotus now, just because. But damn the MY07s go for 30K-40K still. I thought new at the time they were only in the 60s.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ooooooooooo:

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Oldsmobile-Ninety-Eight-98-ELITE-71K-/261635411851?forcerrptr=true&hash=item3ceaaf8f8b&item=261635411851

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I can’t get into those final Ninety-Eights. I know they suffer lots of electrical woes, and something about the lines just didn’t age well. Nor do the sides match up with the front in terms of styling. Just a big meh from me on that one.

            Plus, I feel the Ninety-Eight should have been a B-body, along with the Custom Cruiser. I think THAT was a mistake. But I can understand a little how the Buick and Olds versions would have been too close in price, and they were trying to go more modern with Olds at the time. For that era, I’d rather have a black LSS.

            Now, normally I don’t go for things which have had customization but good lordey.

            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Oldsmobile-Ninety-Eight-Holiday-4-door-hard-top/161768388195?_trksid=p2047675.c100005.m1851&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D29979%26meid%3D86c09b3a227c4b30801ef3a1352bf8f3%26pid%3D100005%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D6%26sd%3D261635411851

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The power of 3800 compels you.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I know, I know. The 98 was just so staid, even for GM of the early and mid 90’s. Especially compared to the other stuff they were putting out then. I mean the sales of that thing overlapped with the huge Riviera, the LSS, and the Park Ave Ultra (a better car by all accounts).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Just let the XJS go, man! Go get you a SuperCoupe and relaxxx.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    Most VW owners have stockholm syndrome. I know, I’m a recovering VW addict.

    I made all the same excuses – it’s only a window regulator, MAF sensors are easy to replace, brake light switches are cheap…on and on and on.

    The final straw was a new intake and intake valve walnut blast that cost $1500 – at 60k miles. I finally saw the light when I looked at the other car in my driveway – an 04 Grand Cherokee 4.0L.

    Sure, it had a bad IAC once and during a scheduled transmission service the tech found a spring with a broken end. But at 175k it still runs great with only scheduled maintenance. My family’s Toyotas all seem to hit 200k without any fuss.

    Sorry – you can keep your German engineering surprises. Nice steering and brakes simply aren’t worth the headache.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Hi, my name is bball40dtw, and I am also a recovering VW addict. I realized I had a problem when I hit rock bottom. VW of America explained to me that the vaporlock my R32 was experiencing was a feature of the vehicle.

      I feel especially bad because I got my wife involved with VW ownership. Now I fear our daughter may eventually have this horrible disease. Only with the support of my family, friends, and the Church of the 3800 have I been able to live a normal life. Praise be to the L67, the creator of power and torque.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Depending on your VW, there is an extended warranty on the intake manifold. Check it out.

      The walnut blast usually is called for around 90k…YMMV.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Model, drivetrain, and year matter in regards to VW reliability.

      Regardless, if you are the type of owner who views a vehicle almost entirely as a tool or appliance, the brand probably isn’t for you. And if you owned a MkIV, the improved reliability since then probably is of little comfort.

      And VW brakes outside the GTI aren’t that nice. Spongy pedal, mediocre performance. It’s the steering, suspension, drivetrains, and ergonomics I enjoy.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        Our B5s brakes were spongy for sure, however my brothers Golf 337 had the best stopping power of any car I’ve been in to date. His current Golf R is pretty good too. My brother has owned several VeeDubs but he tends to trade them in 2-3 years (loves leasing). The first 4 years our B5 was great… then it fell apart, literally as noted in my previous post.

        My benchmark against my wife’s ’00 B5 was an ’02 Dodge Dakota as both vehicles were bought new and parked in the same driveway. The Dak is a vehicle that has more black circles in Consumer Reports then squares on a Eggo waffle… yet it outlasted the Passat and is still going strong. I tow my boat with it every weekend. The interior is perfect aside from driver’s seat wear which is completely reasonable given its age.

      • 0 avatar
        zerofoo

        I had a GTI – it was a fabulous car to drive – when it ran right.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “Most VW owners have stockholm syndrome.”

      No, man. I drove a Saab. *I* had Stockholm syndrome. The VW guys have Wolfsburg syndrome.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    You have to admit – it’s a lovely shade of blue…

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Knock on wood, my wife’s 07 Rabbit has been trouble free for the last 2 years. It doesn’t drive anywhere near as well as I thought a Teutonic car should… the steering is slow and the suspension wallows. Tires it came on are awful too. But it starts up every morning and gives her no issues. The stars aligned on that one.

    While the driving dynamics are disappointing it is a much nicer ride than its competitors. Great road trip car and very practical too.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      My 2.5L 2006 Jetta with a 5 speed was perfect. Everything I bought after it….not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      If your Rabbit is the five cylinder, then you probably have one of the highest statistical odds of owning a reliable VW. My five cylinder Sportwagen hasn’t given me any problems over 63K miles.

      I think the “Baby Bimmer” reputation I remember hearing in regards to MkV Jetta/Golf platform was overstated. Maybe more Baby-Merc. They’re heavy FWD economy cars, so they don’t dart and weave like a sports sedan. They do, however, fulfill the “Teutonic” stereotype by smothering road imperfections without becoming sloppy and providing a sense of quiet solidity rare in the class. The steering ratio isn’t all that quick, but for EPS there is actually some feel there, some natural buildup of effort off-center, and it is dead stable on the highway. They are excellent higher-speed long-distance cars compared to a Corolla or Civic or Elantra.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    (At my recommendation) My wife bought a 2003 VW Passat (B5.5) GLS (1.8T) new. I loved the car. It had a lot of personality. It was roomy, had full safety equipment, still only weighed 3,000 lbs. It was plenty quick and delivered good mpg. We didn’t have a lot of problems with it. The first problem was when the oil change (non dealer) guy, forgot to completely bolt on the underbody shield. Almost all the other dealer trips were for recalls for problems that we didn’t experience (coils and oil sludge come to mind). When the car was 6 years old it was totaled in an accident. The only wear item at that time was prematurely cracked pleather on the rear seats. (perhaps due to chlorinated bathing suits). We replaced it with a used Acura TSX. The TSX is probably a better car, but it has much less personality.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    Our neighbours have one up these — as a DD to compliment their Vanagon Syncro (yeah, talk about a pain fetish). It’s actually a pretty nice car, and from what they tell me it’s been surprisingly reliable. It’s definitely well-built, though IIRC Canadian MSRP was over $40k all said and done, so it guess it better be.

  • avatar
    Chan

    This long-ago B5 owner agrees with that chart.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      As does this current owner of a B4 TDI (Phew! Drove it to work today and nothing fell off, but there’s still the return trip home tonight so fingers-crossed).

      There are about 137 straight pins holding my entire headliner in place so I can see out of the back windows . . . and I only dare attempt to open one out of the four power windows, lest they decide not to return to closed again.

      The things one will do for that driving experience and 45mpg . . .

  • avatar
    iganpo

    Years ago GM ran these big test drive events where they have their vehicles and many competing models around for you to drive around a coned parking lot. I got to drive a Passat W8 4Motion there, and it felt like a PIG — heavy and pointless. They also had a BMW 323i, which was underpowered but sublime otherwise. Anyone thinking of 2000s era German car should definitely consider the E46 BMW 325i-330i. Mine’s still going strong at 150K mi, just minor repairs typical for any car that age, although a little more costly to repair than Japanese or domestics, and no catastrophic failures.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    Ah, yes. In 2003, I get a phone call one evening from my kid brother, at a VW dealer with his wife. There’s a Passat W8 4Motion wagon the dealer wants to sell em cheap. Like $15k off, making it not much more than the 1.8T FWD they were originally looking at. In no uncertain terms, I tell him NO, stay as FAR AWAY from that thing as possible.

    Fortunately, he listened, got the 1.8, though still not exactly thrilled 6yrs later about the POS that turned out to be, but I reminded him it was FAR better than if he got the W8.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    “Meatloaf sang of a Mk3 Jetta…”

    To think, all these years I thought that song was about a baseball game :D

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Had to chuckle about removing the water hose flange from the back of the engine. When i brought my 1991 Mazda Miata i was warned about the rear heater hoses behind the cylinder head leaking and causing the engine to overheat and instant death of the head gasket. Well i brought the hoses and they also told me to replace a small rubber plug in the back of the cylinder head. This a rear wheel drive 4 cylinder car what could be hard about that! My hands have never forgiven me nor my back nor my wife. They could hear me 2 blocks away. All i could see was a small Japanese engineer in Tokyo smiling at the thought of that small rubber plug. Cars are cars. The days of simple 4 & 6 cyl engines are long gone. People that lease cars today with a full warranty are on to something. I usually run my cars for 10 years or so then look for something newer. Our family cars (2) are just coming up on 5 years old approx 45,000 miles and have been trouble free but at almost 80 year of age i might think of leasing. I just got a 1990 VW Cabriolet with 60,000 orig miles back on the road and enjoy wrenching on it. Nice and simple and during the summer i can put the top down and enjoy a little sun. This one for what it cost me i can afford to keep for as long as i can drive.

  • avatar
    Mach

    I must be a glutton for punishment! Just a few minutes ago I arrived home, driving my 2003 Passat W8 4Motion wagon (it’s even the same color as the one in the picture). My particular specimen has over 195,000 miles on it, and literally everything still works on it (even the headlight washers, just checked them this morning). Feel free to ask me anything about it if you’re curious. Yes, I know it’s a pretty ridiculous vehicle, but how many of you can say you drive a truly “unique” car? It’s the only car ever produced with a W8 engine (with good reason, sure). It’s not a remarkable vehicle in any way except that it is virtually unstoppable in the snow, but I smile every single time I get behind the wheel. I know she’s on borrowed time, but I like to think that she’s found a good home to live our her last days. Still, I am tempted to only buy half tanks of fuel at a time to minimize the losses when she finally gives up the ghost.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    I’m a recovering VAG addict as well. Owned two B5 A4 Quattros: one 1.8T and one 2.8V6. The 1.8T wasn’t actually that bad. The issues I had with it were the annoyances like window regulators (replaced all but one), coils, MAF/temp/O2 sensors, etc. I guess it helped that I avoided the sludge monster by only using Mobil-1 and changing it every 5k miles. The 2.8 was worse for me. Much harder to work on, twice the number of sensors failing, and all of the other annoyances that I had with the 1.8T. I can’t even imagine what a W8 would be like. Now I have an E39 and E46 (both I6). Cooling system overhauls every 80k miles are considered preventative maintenance, but they have been relatively trouble free otherwise.

  • avatar
    manny_c44

    B5.5 in the family just crossed over 200k miles. It burns some oil and the coolant needs topping off every few months but it is still nice to keep in the high revs, nice whistle and strong pull. Really enjoyable to drive even at 13 years old.

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