1999 VW Passat 2.8 Good/Bad/Otherwise

ryanm2, Oct 5, 5:51am
110km on the clock, sedan, 4motion passat. Ive taken it for a test drive, it goes real good. Anything i should be checking for! The cambelt service etc has not been done yet but been told good for at least 120km.

mugenb20b, Oct 5, 6:07am
The car is just at the right age / mileage where it should be avoided.

ryanm2, Oct 5, 6:14am
so any passat over 110k should be avoided! Shelf life less than a fresh lettuce then!

mugenb20b, Oct 5, 6:19am
I'm only stating my opinion based on what I've seen. Other posters here will no doubt disagree with me. It may well end up being a good car for you, but IMO, that's a good time to sell them, not buy them. On a positive note, they are a nice driving car with plenty of comfort and safety features.

franc123, Oct 5, 6:21am
Its more a case of doing so at your peril, plenty of people have regretted buying one of these, especially import versions with no service history. You need to be doing the timing belt as soon as possible, and the thermostat and especially the water pump, if you don't catch it in time the plastic impeller (the bit that moves the water around) starts slipping on its shaft and eventually fractures and falls off at random and you get blown head gaskets if you notice it quick enough and a siezed and wrecked engine if you don't.VW knew these parts were crap but instead of recalling them all just let nature take its course, if the heater doesn't seem to be working too well it could be a sign that the pump is starting to fail. The internal timing chains between the cams also stretch and cause running problems.ABS units also give their fair share of grief as well as a few other electrical niggles.While its all working properly you will have a ball, they are a nice car to drive and their open road behaviour especially is far better than equivalent era/sized Jap cars, ditto safety equipment.

ryanm2, Oct 5, 6:42am
the abs module has been fixed, the owner told me that. I checked the air con whilst driving it and it was fine. Ive heard about the impeller problems from other threads. It drives so much better than our current Jappa though.

vtecnet, Oct 5, 8:22am
I like these cars, but be prepared in the next couple of years to replace the heater core and every plastic pipe and housing in the engine bay to keep it going they crack and leak. well thats the Story of my Golf VR6, with 126,000ks on the clock.

ryanm2, Oct 5, 8:51am
yeah, im still rather keen on it.

fordcrzy, Oct 5, 8:56am
sucker for punishment

wsnownz, Oct 5, 9:34am
NZ New with full service history, yes. If not, then no.

thejazzpianoma, Oct 5, 8:17pm
Great car but you must do the cambelt change immediately as the morons have completely ignored the time component of the timing belt change. Timing belts ALWAYS have a time component and this one should have had its SECOND change by now as its 120K/5 Years from memory.

Make sure you do the job properly with new thermostat, waterpump etc.

I don't know why people get so excited about the very few faults these cars actually have. In the case of the waterpump its completely irrelevant as you need to change this straight away anyhow.

They are a nice easy vehicle to do the timing belts on as the whole front comes off giving you unparalleled access, it does take a little while to do thats all.

You can get excellently priced genuine parts locally from Qualitat or online from fcpgroten.

Excellent choice, just go over it well and check everything is in order as someone who ignores the time component of the timing belt change will likely have ignored other things too. I would be paying particular attention to make sure its not running hotter than it should.

These are a good reliable car but most on here seem to think that reliability is the sole product of the badge on the front and nothing else. So like any car of that age weigh it up on its merits, if its been abused and neglected there may be quite a list of things to catch up on or that might give you grief. Same goes fora Toyota or anything else. The good news is there are plenty of well looked after ones around so if that one is not up to snuff you won't have to wait long for one that is.

Such a shame that every time someone considers one of these there is a mad rush to get the poster back in the "box" by those who love to repeat the wives tales but have never owned one themselves.

mugenb20b, Oct 5, 11:32pm
Why does one need to own one to know what they're like in the reliability department! Is it not good enough to get an opinion from someone that has worked on a few!

mugenb20b, Oct 5, 11:38pm
Depends on which Toyota you're looking at. A 4 cylinder Camry will be on the road a lot longer than a Passat even though they are very basic cars. The engine will outlast the body. The Passat has a galvinised body (but it has to, because in Europe, they spray salt on the roads in winter) so it won't rust away which means SFA. As they get older, no idiot will invest huge money into it to keep it going.

thejazzpianoma, Oct 6, 12:56am
Thats right, working on a few does not give you any real idea what reliability is like.

Trying to make out that engine is somehow unreliable or not long lasting is an absolute joke. Those engines are capable of massive milage with nothing more than scheduled maintenance and are one of the most reliable and efficient 6 cylinder engines of their time.

Not only that because they are timing belt driven most are still in very good shape as they tend to get a good going over at service time as opposed to a chain driven engine of the age which has usually been neglected.

Your comment about no one investing in them to keep them going is even more absurd. There are many very well serviced examples around, quite a number of VW/Audi owners are excellent with maintaining their vehicles no matter how old. Service costs are little different from any other 6 Cylinder timing belt driven car of the era.

Anyone with some common sense who has owned one will know that as well. Parts prices in particular are very good, especially considering the quality/design.

ryanm2, Oct 6, 4:02am
Cheers - the one i was after has sold. (not to me). However, i have found another, this is a 1.8T wagon. As good as the 2.8! The fact is, it will be driven as a daily driver a lot more than long trips. 412634308 . This one is out of town so would have to travel with the intent of buying. Cheers.

thejazzpianoma, Oct 6, 4:36am
The 1.8T has plenty of grunt and is a little cheaper for a timing belt and a bit cheaper on fuel than the 2.8. Its another real cracker engine, about the only problem is some idiots try and run them on crappy mineral oil and not change it often and they sludge up. So pay attention to the Turbo and how the oil is looking etc.

Also, same situation with the waterpumps so check that as appropriate.

Towbars may not be super cheap to fit. Its not the towbar itself but the canbus vehicle management system which can mean a trailer wiring loom is required and can cost.

That said, I am only assuming its canbus as that was about the introduction point for it. Also there is a sneaky way of wiring the trailer lights cheaply by simply fitting very low draw relays to the rear lights. I have not tried this myself but am told it works well.

Just did a quick google and it looks like you can buy the wiring kit cheap enough. Do a more thorough search but the first link to come up produced this:

Still an extra cost but not the end of the world by any means.

mugenb20b, Oct 6, 4:40am
OK, let me explain this in another way. Of all the Volkswagens on the road in NZ, how many of them are 15 to 20 years old! How many Toyotas do you see on the road that are 15 to 20 years old! I'm not talking about numbers, but ratios. You see heaps of VWs around, but most are fairly new, the same applies to Toyotas, but there's lots of old "shitters" around too. The point I was trying to make earlier, is that if someone buys an old Passat one day that's 20 years old, it simply won't be worthwhile keeping it going. As for their engines, I wouldn't have a clue how reliable they are, but I was reffering more to their electrical and transmission problems.

thejazzpianoma, Oct 6, 4:46am
I really can't be bothered with this any more. Your "observations" are completely unscientific and mean nothing. There are actually an awful lot of VW's of the era on the road considering how many we had in the first place. VW's have been gaining popularity here for the last 20 years whera's Toyotas are fairly constant. For example we got almost none of the previous Passat to the one being looked at here. That said there are quite a number of B5's on the road where I live, its odd to go to the supermarket and not see one in the carpark.

As for the supposed transmission problems etc the Passat transmissions last well. Most of that is just nonsense with people not distinguishing between Golf VR6's, Passat's etc.

I am sorry if I sound curt but your disinformation be it well intentioned or not is of no help to the OP and only makes an expensive buying decision more difficult and confusing.

If you really want an idea of how reliable they are look at this

That overall rating is really very good for a car of that age and sophistication.

mugenb20b, Oct 6, 4:47am
Plenty of grunt, yes. Cambelts are easy to replace once you've done one, but the inner crank pulley (the important one) has no timing mark on it (thanks VAG!). The cambelt replacement can be a bit dear, as you need to replace the hydraulic tensioner, tensioner bearing and compulsory piss arse little water pump. Not to mention a 30 minute fight with that massive stupid aluminium engine mount that doesn't quite fit in its space (thanks again VAG, awesome engineering.). Serpentine drive belt is not cheap either.

mugenb20b, Oct 6, 4:52am
OP can buy whatever he likes, I'm not going to stop him. I'm just saying what I've seen and observed. OP, good luck with your next purchase. I'm out.

thejazzpianoma, Oct 6, 4:53am

vtecnet, Dec 12, 9:52am
Since fixing the faults with my VR6 i've had no further issues touch wood, passed 2 Wof's without issue also. my model uses a Timing Chain, however I have changed the water pump as a pre-caution, also changed the electric aux water pump as it was leaking.