Steve New Reader
2/16/23 2:48 p.m.

Been having an internal debate with myself on this with no conclusion, tabling it here to see what the group may think. 

2010 Passat, 190k, DSG that is acting up when dead cold and every once in a while when hot. Makes me look like someone who is just learning how to drive stickshift at best, breaking traction in the rain/ice/snow at worst. All signs point to the prognosis being a failed mechatronic unit, warped clutch pack, faulty dual mass flywheel, or all three. I don't want my wife to drive it as it is troublesome to explain it's quirks, which was the point of adding it to the fleet. 

Possible options:

  1. Replace parts all at once or one by one (2500-3000 all in, labor is my own)
  2. Replace part outside (mechatronic, 1k), if does not fix, move car along
  3. Replace entire transmission with used (1k) (high risk)
  4. Sell entire car with disclosure of issue
  5. Deal with the issue until I have more bandwidth

When the DSG behaves, it's lovely. I have an automatic where I can high five my kiddo in the back seat, and also have the direct connectivity of a clutched transmission. When it misbehaves, I hate the car. It is comfortable, quiet, and presents much newer than it is. It wasn't a decision of opportunity, we were looking for a sportyish, nearly full size wagon for me to daily drive. 

I imagine at best it's a 4500-5000 car, it presents very well, but has this known issue. It's a consideration on the repair or sell. 

So here I am, stick with the devil I know and repair the Passat? Or cut loose and move it along? 

If it was five years ago, I'd hop into my 100 series and drive that every day, and sell the Passat. But with one kid at home and a preggers wife, the thought of doing the repair or the selling of a car right now is absolutely daunting. That's probably not a reason to not do either task, as it only leaves me with dealing with the issue, which removes a car from circulation for the whole family. 

Be me, what are you doing, or not doing, which this thing? 

84FSP UberDork
2/16/23 2:58 p.m.

Wonder what a replacement DSG trans can be had for?  They have been selling lots of them for many years.  Would be it be worth gambling on a used unit?

RacerBoy75 Reader
2/16/23 5:20 p.m.

I'd go with the replacement route. 

dculberson MegaDork
2/16/23 5:32 p.m.

At 190k miles, replacing a clutch in a typical manual transmission would not be at all surprising. So I wouldn't be shocked to find your clutch just flat worn out. The computers shifting these things aren't always gentle on them! Granted this was an old one, but when I pulled the SMT transmission from a 2003 MR2 Spyder it was utterly roached at 99k miles. So 190k miles is pretty impressive, considering.

As far as whether to repair or replace - what's your time availability for hobbies these days? I have done major auto repair since having kids but it's taken both careful planning and an understanding wife. I tried to keep it mostly to evenings after the kids were in bed but I definitely spend a couple valuable weekend days out in the shop. Is that going to be OK with you and your wife??

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
2/16/23 5:52 p.m.

Soon to have two small kids, I would choose consistency and reliability.  Sell the VW as is and buy a better family hauler.

dps214 Dork
2/16/23 5:58 p.m.

At 190k, even if it is a "cheap" fix, how much longer are you really expecting it to last and be reliable? Seems like the move is to just move on before dumping any money into it and while it might still have a little bit of value to it. I'd guess the value now with a questionable transmission is probably about the same as the value in a year or two with it fixed but a few years older and >200k miles on it and starting to run into other issues.

CyberEric Dork
2/16/23 6:14 p.m.

Tough call.

I had a friend who ran a indie repair shop, and he claimed it always made financial sense to repair over replace, even if it were an engine. But that doesn't factor in the ease of ownership.

I'm usually a fan of repair over replace, but the fact that this is a VW with 190k and you have multiple kids (and therefor probably less time to deal with car issues), I'm leaning towards replacing. I have a hard time imagining you getting $5k on a 190k Passat with a known trans issue, but maybe some VW geek would do that. If you could get that much, $5k puts you well on your way to a nice second gen Mazda5. Great for kids, fairly fun to drive. 

Feedyurhed UltraDork
2/16/23 6:27 p.m.
John Welsh said:

Soon to have two small kids, I would choose consistency and reliability.  Sell the VW as is and buy a better family hauler.

I agree with this. Replace.

dj06482 (Forum Supporter)
dj06482 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
2/18/23 4:26 p.m.

How many cars in the fleet total?  If it's two, I'd suggest replace.  

With two (or more) kids, it's tough to find blocks of time for the major work you're describing.  We typically run a fleet of 3 (and sometimes 4), which enables me to take a vehicle off the road for a block of time if major repairs are needed.  This has come in handy many times over the past few years, I had a lot of work on our '17 Odyssey when we purchased it in 2020 with 193k on it, I replaced the rear subframe and a bunch of other stuff on our '06 Rav4 last winter/spring, and the Saab has been tying up a garage bay almost continuously since August of last year.  Actually, the Rav4 was just down again for a few weeks while it was being repaired from an accident late last year.

My other question is how does this fit in with the rest of your car plans.? If you were thinking of replacing something in the relatively near future and this accelerates things, then that might not be a bad thing.  If things are tighter financially than you'd like, I may look at repairing a little harder.  As was mentioned before, repairing is generally cheaper than replacing, especially with used car prices being what they are.  It looks like they've dropped a little, but are still higher than "normal."

I took the repair route last year with our '06 Rav4.  In the fall of '21, I noticed the rear subframe had significant structural rust.  With two soon-to-be teenage drivers, I looked at our options.  With the rusty subframe, it wasn't really worth anything.  Taking it to a dealer/shop would have been thousands of dollars for all the stuff I replaced (dealer likely would have been about $6k).  Anything decent to replace it (we've owned it since new and have maintained it over the years) was somewhere between $7-10k.  So, I made the decision to tackle the job on my own.  I started in December of '21, and due to a million competing priorities, drove it out of the garage again in May of '22.  It was about $1k in parts (rust necessitated a bunch of other parts being replaced, like parking brake cables, backing plates, control arms, springs, etc.), and I don't want to know how many hours of labor.  But, in the end it gave us a decent car that was a known quantity, and it's been the perfect vehicle for my oldest to learn to drive on.

Which ever decision you make, my best advice would be to involve your wife in the decision, as it'll impact her.  The last thing you need is any additional stress in your marriage!  Thankfully, my wife has the patience of a saint, but even saints have their limits!


Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/18/23 4:29 p.m.

Used transmissions are cheaper than a new mechatronic unit, and are usually okay.  Recalibrating them is tricky and requires a Ross-Tech or similar.


I have only had to replace them after a CV bolt falls out, which allows the little strap to saw through the case.

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