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amg_rx7
amg_rx7 New Reader
8/4/08 9:02 p.m.

Well, I can't believe I'm actually considering this but I'm thinking of buying a used VW Passat. Probably a 1998 - 2000. I could use a wagon with decent size space like the Passat and the price seems OK for what you get.

VW "reliability" kinda scares me but I can't think of another car for the price that has the combination of room, looks, decent power and has a manual transmission and is remotely fun to drive.

I don't care if its the 1.8T or V6 as it will remain stock (with the exception of some shocks, springs and air filter). I'm just going to use it as a car that gets driven to places I don't want to drive my RX7 or when the 7 is down for repair (which it soon will be) or shopping and stuff like that. Don't really need it as a daily driver.

Anyone have any input on the problem areas on these cars? What to avoid and what not. I've been Googling around but would appreciate input from the members on here.

Thanks.

Lugnut
Lugnut Reader
8/4/08 9:09 p.m.

And I'm sure this has already been covered somewhere, maybe an FAQ or something... But in anticipation of a wasserhead chiming in on this, pros and cons of an A4 vs. a Passat (assuming same driveline for both, fwd 1.8T for instance).

sanman
sanman New Reader
8/4/08 9:59 p.m.

Ahh vw's, the abusive spouses of the U.S. automotive world. They do one thing well and make you forget about years of abuse. Good luck with that.

NGTD
NGTD Reader
8/5/08 8:21 p.m.

I love how my 99 Passat drives. I have an 1.8T and a 5 spd.

The front control arm design is absolute crap. The electrics are pretty iffy. I am chasing a power lock problem right now that has rendered all my power locks useless. Make sure you use synthetic oil and change it as required the 1.8T's have had issues with oil sludge.

Make sure that you have good VW repair shop and get yourself a Bentley service manual.

kilgoretrout
kilgoretrout New Reader
8/6/08 12:35 a.m.

I almost bought a Passat a few years ago. Then my brother-in-law told me all of the wonderful experiences with his. I ended up with a Maxima if that tells you anything.

Volksroddin
Volksroddin Reader
8/6/08 5:48 a.m.

My brother in-law has a 98 Pasat. He dose'nt teenker with cars but has not had eny major problems with it. He is the type that will drive it untell its dead then bring it back to life just to get a little more out of it.

stumpmj
stumpmj HalfDork
8/6/08 1:53 p.m.

My mother had a 99 Passat that she bought new. In two years of ownership, she accumulated a repair list that spanned 2 full, single spaced pages with two lines per repair. A differnt thing broke every time so it didn't qualify for Lemon Law. She replaced it with an Accord and was much happier. I now DD that Accord with 200k miles still going strong.

I would stay very far away from a 98 Passat. Especially if it's a white, 1.8t tiptronic sedan.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar Dork
8/6/08 2:03 p.m.

If you have to have, which maybe after all this you won't, get a VR6 for what you're doing.

btp76
btp76 New Reader
8/6/08 2:08 p.m.

I had a 98 A4 with the 2.8. It's been three years ago and I'm still angry with the car. I absolutely despised the vehicle.

slefain
slefain Dork
8/6/08 2:17 p.m.

As a current owner of two modern VWs, I must say that they are a "special" kind of car. My wife's 2005 VW Beetle convertible goes to the dealership for everything. I don't want to work on it, nor do I want to learn how to work on it.

On the other hand, my own personal hell is my '95 Passat VR6 GLX. Electrical items randomly dead, door handles suck, and why can't VW makes a ($@&T^( window regulator assembly that lasts for more than a year. But for the most part the car is rock solid. I let things go on it until the point of failure before fixing them. I spend as little money and maintenance time on it as possible. I cannot find a better value/quality car for my needs.

If you're not afraid of quirky German repair tasks, or the occasional trip to the shop to get something done that you don't dare attempt, then they are fine cars. I can't vouch for any engine other than the 12v VR6 or the little 2.0L non-turbo, but both engines are efficient little mills.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
8/6/08 2:55 p.m.
NGTD wrote: I love how my 99 Passat drives. I have an 1.8T and a 5 spd. The front control arm design is absolute crap. The electrics are pretty iffy. I am chasing a power lock problem right now that has rendered all my power locks useless. Make sure you use synthetic oil and change it as required the 1.8T's have had issues with oil sludge. Make sure that you have good VW repair shop and get yourself a Bentley service manual.

Stop chasing and buy a new drivers door latch mechanism.

Biggest issues I have with the Passats:

1: The control arm setup is terrible, I do know of one with the Audi arms in place instead. Same design only alloy. Not worth the expense as they will wear out in the same time.

2: Sensitive oil passages. Bad oil = bad problems.

3: Unhook battery = lock stereo

Things I like:

1: V6 stick 4Motion... GRIIIPPPPP

2: I fit

3: Best fake leather found in $500.00 cars ever.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 New Reader
8/6/08 5:39 p.m.
btp76 wrote: I had a 98 A4 with the 2.8. It's been three years ago and I'm still angry with the car. I absolutely despised the vehicle.

LOL. That is how I felt about my E36. :)

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 New Reader
8/6/08 5:39 p.m.
stumpmj wrote: My mother had a 99 Passat that she bought new. In two years of ownership, she accumulated a repair list that spanned 2 full, single spaced pages with two lines per repair. A differnt thing broke every time so it didn't qualify for Lemon Law. She replaced it with an Accord and was much happier. I now DD that Accord with 200k miles still going strong. I would stay very far away from a 98 Passat. Especially if it's a white, 1.8t tiptronic sedan.

Same with my E36. :)

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 New Reader
8/6/08 5:51 p.m.

Thanks for the input gents. If I didn't specifically want a wagon, I'd look at Japanese cars. Sadly, there are very few Jap cars that came as wagons and that fit adult sized humans in the back seats that in my price range (hoping to keep it under $5k) and won't put me to sleep driving them or make me heave looking at them.

I also need to go test drive a Saab 900 (95ish - 99ish) to see how I like those. They have a big hatch/trunk area but not as flexible as a nice square wagon. They seem to have their own set of issues as well.

Also thought about an E34 BMW wagon but haven't found any worth considering.

Haven't found any manual Volvo wagons either.

Also considered the Subaru Legacy wagon but hard to find in a manual tranny. Many also have close to 200k miles and I don't feel like dealing with that box of surprises. The head gasket issues of the 2.5 scare me more than VW repairs.

Thanks.

Tim Baxter
Tim Baxter Online Editor
8/6/08 6:16 p.m.

Sounds like you want the Subaru Legacy wagon. If you have to, you can swap in a manual, but they are out there.

I'm currently selling mine (so's Tom, coincidentally), and going price on a 99 Legacy is well under 5k, with mileage well under 200k.

They're extremely roomy, and they're tough. Whether you want the 2.2, the 2.5, or the 2.0T, engines are pretty much interrchangeable. Everything on a Subaru is pretty interchangeable.

integraguy
integraguy Reader
8/6/08 7:33 p.m.

I realize both of these car went out of production in the late '90s, but how about an Accord wagon (the last gen. built was the '94-'97) or a Toyota Camry wagon (last gen. built '93 to '96)? With these cars, a bit (okay, A LOT) of searching will get you an Accord wagon with a manual tranny. Or as already suggested, any of Subarus wagons: the Forester, Impreza, or Legacy?

BTW, I owned a "modern" VW product in the '70s, they had iffy electrics back then, too. How about the thermo switch for turning the cooling fan on/off failing EVERY 10,000 miles? It was like, "well, the odo's turned another 10K, better replace the fan switch. To their credit, the cars of VAG are fun to drive, just gut-wrenching to own.

Travis_K
Travis_K New Reader
8/6/08 7:42 p.m.

Subaru legacy isnt too bad, the 2.2 ones are slow though, like mercedes 240d slow. lol My dad has a 96 outback and it has been pretty good, other than the check engine light randomly turning on and off every few days (TPS performance, missfire, cat performance are the codes it usually has). Id get an older passat if you wanted one honestly, like a 90s VR6 one probably. The subaru is fine though if you just want a car to drive and not be too bored by it. lol

NGTD
NGTD Reader
8/6/08 9:43 p.m.
John Brown wrote:
NGTD wrote: I love how my 99 Passat drives. I have an 1.8T and a 5 spd. The front control arm design is absolute crap. The electrics are pretty iffy. I am chasing a power lock problem right now that has rendered all my power locks useless. Make sure you use synthetic oil and change it as required the 1.8T's have had issues with oil sludge. Make sure that you have good VW repair shop and get yourself a Bentley service manual.

Stop chasing and buy a new drivers door latch mechanism.

Biggest issues I have with the Passats:

1: The control arm setup is terrible, I do know of one with the Audi arms in place instead. Same design only alloy. Not worth the expense as they will wear out in the same time.

2: Sensitive oil passages. Bad oil = bad problems.

3: Unhook battery = lock stereo

Things I like:

1: V6 stick 4Motion... GRIIIPPPPP

2: I fit

3: Best fake leather found in $500.00 cars ever.

John, do you mean the actual latch mechanism?

kurtz
kurtz None
8/7/08 12:47 a.m.

I have a 99 1.8T wagon with a 5 spd. If the car wasn't dirt cheap I wouldn't be driving it.

Things that break: Coil packs, ignition module, ABS computer, CCC (convince control computer), exhaust clamps, arm rest, ball joint/control arms

Things that suck: near constant CEL, poor acceleration with the 1.8T, Sunroof drains that clog easy and flood the interior, Battery tray drains collect leaves and water to also flood interior, installing a aftermarket radio can disable your OBDII port, Wheel Bolts, yellowing headlights, Requires premium gas and only makes 150hp, Shifter is a wet noodle, cup holder, Euro Oil

Things that are kinda OK: Tall Gearing for good gas mileage, Stainless exhaust from the factory, Quiet and comfortable at speed, excellent headroom and legroom, Subaru engines easily fit in the back, nice solid tie downs in the back

NGTD, I think I know what your problem is, it happened to me. The CCC controls the power locks, electric gas cap release, etc. It is a black box located under the carpet in front of the diver's seat. Inspect the wiring harness to it for corrosion, you might get lucky and only have to replace a wire or connector. If you are unlucky the CCC is sitting in a pool of water.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
8/7/08 6:45 a.m.
NGTD wrote: John, do you mean the actual latch mechanism?

Yes, the latch assembly has an electronic assembly attached that is the coor lock controller interface. I think it was built through a joint veture between Lucas and American Motors.

Xceler8x
Xceler8x Reader
8/7/08 8:08 a.m.

Buy a Maxima if price is a concern. A mid 90's Maxima will have all the room you'll need and more than most Wagons made now. It will seat 4 adults comfortably and haul your butt over 200k+ miles. They came with 5 spds. I always thought of it as the poor man's BMW.

Otherwise get a Mazda3 hatch. Speed3 hatch if you want something with more "go!" to it.

I owned a 1988 Scirocco 16V. Fun car...when it ran. When it didn't I could pre-write the check amt for $500. It seemed everything was $500 to fix. Busted Alternator = $500. Rotors warped = $500. Door latch mechanism stuck = $500.

dansxr2
dansxr2 New Reader
8/7/08 9:34 a.m.

I thought the 1.8T's were 180hp? I'm not that familiar with the 1.8t's just old school 1.8 8-valve thats in the G60 Corrado I have.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 New Reader
8/7/08 10:58 a.m.
Tim Baxter wrote: Sounds like you want the Subaru Legacy wagon. If you have to, you can swap in a manual, but they are out there. I'm currently selling mine (so's Tom, coincidentally), and going price on a 99 Legacy is well under 5k, with mileage well under 200k. They're extremely roomy, and they're tough. Whether you want the 2.2, the 2.5, or the 2.0T, engines are pretty much interrchangeable. Everything on a Subaru is pretty interchangeable.

That is where my search started. I like subies but they are dog slow. I could probably deal with the power output of the 2.5L but not the head gasket issues. I don't plan on doing any major wrenching on this car. its meant to be a backup for when the RX7 is down for repair or re-engineering. :) Or when we need a car to take someplace where we know it will get door dings or to carry the bikes in the trunk (good luck getting two adult sized bikes in the Maxima's trunk w/o screwing up the derailers and taking them completely apart). I expect to have it for a year and then resell it. Probably won't even put more than 5k miles on it in a year.

amg_rx7
amg_rx7 New Reader
8/7/08 11:37 a.m.
Xceler8x wrote: Buy a Maxima if price is a concern. A mid 90's Maxima will have all the room you'll need and more than most Wagons made now. It will seat 4 adults comfortably and haul your butt over 200k+ miles. They came with 5 spds. I always thought of it as the poor man's BMW. Otherwise get a Mazda3 hatch. Speed3 hatch if you want something with more "go!" to it. I owned a 1988 Scirocco 16V. Fun car...when it ran. When it didn't I could pre-write the check amt for $500. It seemed everything was $500 to fix. Busted Alternator = $500. Rotors warped = $500. Door latch mechanism stuck = $500.

I had an 84 Scirocco. I repaired it often on the side of the road usually in the middle of the night going back home from college. That is actually how I was forced to learn how to work on cars.

I really like the Mazda3 but don't feel like spending $10-14k right now. They hold their value well.

Also thought about the Accord wagon but haven't found one in a manual yet.

Thanks for the input.

Ian F
Ian F Reader
8/7/08 2:14 p.m.

I know this will sound like blasphamy, but if you want/need a more utilitarian vehicle, why not a minivan? I know that throws the stick-option out the window, but I have to admit there are times when havign an automatic in the fleet can be a good thing (says one with 8 cars between two drivers and all of them are manuals).

As a past owner of an '98 A4 Avant 2.8Q 5 spd and a current owner of a '03 VW Jetta wagon (TDI 5 spd), I can't really recommend a VAG. We also had a '93 Passat GLX VR6 wagon (5 spd) and I hated that car with a passion.

If you can't find a Volvo wagon with a manual, you haven't looked hard enough. Volvo offered the V70 with a 5 spd in the US up until '06 or '07. If RWD is more your fancy, then a 240 or 740 with a manual isn't hard to find either. Except VAG-COM makes diagnostics easier, I'd rather wrench on a Volvo than a VW any day...

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