Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

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pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
43,000 miles
Total Complaints:
1 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. changed oil cooler (1 reports)
2003 Volkswagen Passat engine problems

engine problem

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2003 Volkswagen Passat Owner Comments

problem #1

Jul 282010

Passat GL 1.8L Turbo

  • Automatic transmission
  • 43,000 miles


First, let me start off by making it clear, I LOVE MY VW and everything about it (I simply HATE my local VW service department). This is the first MAJOR problem I have had with my vehicle after 1 year of ownership and over all I would say that this one speed bump does not alter my view on VW products.

Here's the story: My 2003 Passat sat parked in a parking spot at work all day. I drove home with no problems. Later in the evening, after leaving my car parked in the drive way for a few hours, I left for my local Walmart and was called home because of a large puddle in the drive way which was later determined to be oil. Naturally, I checked the dip stick which was completely bone-dry. I pushed the vehicle in to the road and left it over night. In the morning I came out to find yet another large puddle of oil in the road, at this point every last drop of oil in my tank was gone. Even though I had spare oil I decided to have it towed, thank god I did. I took it to my local mechanic (A+ work) and they (along with the guidance of my local VW service dept.) determined that there was a leak in the oil cooler where the oil was being sucked up by the coolant...not good.

At this point I have gotten no where with VW and am looking at a $500 MINIMUM repair bill for something that I was told by the VW service dept is a "common problem" for this model year...

My local mechanic claims this has been going on for a couple months and asked if I had had my oil changed recently. Thinking back, I had my oil changed about a month ago. Apparently every "decent mechanic" is supposed to check all fluids in the vehicle while doing an oil change and if VW had done that, they could have potentially spotted the problem before it happened...of course after confronting VW they denied they didn't check and did everything else to cover their butts.

Unfortunately, with the car being 7 years old, everything is out of warranty which leaves the burden of the bill on me....moral of the story, if the dealer you purchase the used car from offers you an extended warranty (which is the exact same as the factory new car warranty) you take it because you NEVER KNOW what could go wrong on a used car!

Update from Aug 13, 2010: Problem solved!

After having it towed to the VW dealership, I was given an estimate of $1300 for the same repair my local mechanic (who I know very well and has done all of the work on my car) wanted to charge $500 for! Needless to say, it was towed back to my local mechanic.

All-in-all the repair cost $651, not bad compared to $1300...but I'm still curious as to how something like this could happen. Mechanical failure is what I was told but that seems to be just a line of "BS". Something as serious as oil leaking in your coolant should never happen when you spend so much money on a quality car. Still love the thrills of my VW at top speeds though, and now it's as good as new!

(Other than the torn CV Boot, but that's just from the 3 tows I had to encounter!)

- , Lockport, NY, USA

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