Audi / VW - Educate me

Discussion in 'Shiny Things' started by 09Prodigy, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. PaddedHat

    PaddedHat Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    732
    I just sold a beautiful 2003 Passat 1.8T after two insanely frustrating years of ownership. Walking away from the deal, with $4K in cash, felt like such a euphoric relief that no words could adequately describe it. The car offers an exceptional driving experience, everything from WOT stick you to your seat acceleration, to an extremely comfortable, refined ride. That said, in the world of modern vehicles, it is an outlier, a spectacular piece of shit. The goal of the German engineering mind seems to be to over-engineer everything, then let the bean counters figure out how to create their visions, using techniques and materials that are several magnitudes less durable that a typical Japanese competitor. I had a great deal of highly qualified free and low cost help from a top notch mechanic who is a good friend. Even with the mechanic, my engineer son and I, we still dumped unbelieveable amounts of time and over $4K keeping the thing running. Some of the shit we went through made me want to tow the car to the local firehouse, and let the smoke eaters burn it for practice.

    Here are just a few highlights. A timing belt change requires removing the front of the car. Now it is possible to move the front end out to the "service position" to allow you to reach down into a small gap and do the work by feel, but it's a hell of a lot easier to just remove the entire front end. While you are doing this work, be extremely careful of disturbing any hose or vacuum control device. The wonderful engineering of the fancy engine shrouding, and noise insulation, traps huge amounts of turbocharger heat under the hood. The car has three separate vacuum control systems that are not capable of surviving this intense heat. After a few years every vacuum control dashpot, valve, port or connector is as brittle as a potato chip and waiting to crack in half as soon as you touch it. Now if you damage a valve, it doesn't seem like a big deal. It's a quarter sized piece of plastic, and there are a dozen of them that look the same in the other loops, right? Sorry, but each one is carefully engineered to that specific location and a dealer only item. Good luck getting a new one in less than a week in Wyoming. Here, in heavily the populated Northeast, it takes three days for the local dealer to come up with the right part. Now be prepared to pay at least three times what the part would cost if it was stamped "GM". That's how the game is played, if VW is the only source. The oil fill tube is another plastic piece of shit that boggles the mind. At some point it sucumbs to the heat and turns to dust. One day, you reinsert the dipstick and the top few inches break off. Once you remove it, take it to the bench and lightly tap it with the side of your hand. With zero effort you can quickly pulverize the entire part into a pile of tiny little plastic chips. The part is only $12 at the dealer, but the car isn't going anywhere until you replace it. The flywheel is a "dual-mass" design. It is a heavy stamped steel assembly that has internal parts that provide for a smoother idle. At 80K miles or so, this thing grenades and the car soundss like a Kobota Diesel tractor when it idles. The new flywheel is $800 at the dealer.

    There are dozens of examples of inexcusable issues like this, that are absolutely unheard of in the competitors products. They also represent a fraction of everything we went through to keep the car running. The car was sold at 105K miles, and still ran and looked outstanding. That said, two different VW mechanics made the statement that, based on experience, a new turbo and a complete rebuild of the front suspension were just around the corner. An older VW/Audi product is something you own when you want a toy to play with. They are not reliable enough to count on as a daily driver, and owning one is the middle of nowhere guarantees two things. You will be spending a lot of time online, at the enthusiast sites learning how to fix the thing, and you will become real close with your UPS guy, as there will be a lot of boxes of parts heading your way.
    #21
  2. SourKraut

    SourKraut Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,286
    Location:
    New England
    My 2003 Passat was flawless for the 74K miles I owned it from new but I traded it in on a 2010 Subaru that was a disaster of a lemon. Subaru replaced the 2010 lemon with a 2011 lemon and I went back to VW. You never know what you're going to get....
    #22
  3. Retro

    Retro Just the Facts Ma'am Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Oddometer:
    34,582
    Location:
    Virginia
    Owned a 96 A6 Quattro wagon for about 5 years.

    Drove beautifully, handled the roads and snow like a champ.

    Comfortable, good mileage, and solid.

    The repair bills were :huh astounding.

    Drivetrain seals, timing chain/waterpump, you name it.

    It was normal for the bills to be $1,500 to $2,000.

    I don't think I'll ever buy another non-certified car of this type, and certainly not one without a comprehensive warranty.
    #23
  4. Retro

    Retro Just the Facts Ma'am Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Oddometer:
    34,582
    Location:
    Virginia
    My wife's on her 2nd mini. Fantastic cars so far with excellent, though really not used warranty coverage.

    Very long service intervals as well.
    #24
  5. Retro

    Retro Just the Facts Ma'am Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2003
    Oddometer:
    34,582
    Location:
    Virginia
    Yeah, well you've got kraut in your name. Cars can sense these things, and the Japanese cars knew your heart belonged to this:

    [​IMG]

    and not this:

    [​IMG]
    #25
  6. SourKraut

    SourKraut Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,286
    Location:
    New England
    Too true;

    [​IMG]

    I've had incredibly good luck with German cars but I do have some rules.

    -No automatic transmissions
    -Assembled in Germany
    -Buy new so you know the history
    -Four cylinder models

    Here's the current one meeting those criteria.

    [​IMG]
    #26
  7. Rogue_Ryder

    Rogue_Ryder 速 Flat Biller 速

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    7,771
    Location:
    Pinewood Springs, Colorado
    This is definitely not typical.

    I've never personally owned a Subaru but I've had 8 or 9 VWs, the last one was a 96 with <100K 5 or 6 yrs ago and it wasn't nearly as good of a car as my Old 70s and 80s A1 & A2 Golfs and Sciroccos. I definitely agree that the German cars are the way to go, the Mexican ones are real trash, they seem to succumb to rust much faster than the German ones and break down more often. If anyone is shopping used the easiest way to tell is the VIN, WVW = Germany 3VW = Mexico.

    I'd still advise anyone looking at any VW or Audi more than 5 years old and with 100K+ on the Odo to take a serious look at something else.
    #27
  8. SourKraut

    SourKraut Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,286
    Location:
    New England
    Trading this German built (Emden) Passat on a new Outback was the biggest automotive mistake I ever made. It was a GL with manual transmission, the absolute base model wagon brought to the US that year. I bought it new in December 2003 when they were clearing out '03 inventory for $21.5K. Oil changes and one set of tires at 55K was all I ever did to it in 74K miles.

    [​IMG]
    #28
  9. mjydrafter

    mjydrafter evil boy for life

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,252
    Location:
    dsm, ia
    I thought briefly about a 03 1.8t Passat (that the owner said needed an oil pump:eek1, the dreaded sludge issue).

    I found this during my research:
    [​IMG]

    :lol3
    #29
  10. TooFast

    TooFast Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,383
    Location:
    Rocky Mountains

    So you sold your Passat in it's first 74K miles during it's early use....just in time apparently based on VWs owner's experience :evil

    Yes Subies don't have the best reliability history, so what's the point to compare cars with less than average reliability??? :puke1

    The point is most consumers who spend $20-30-40 K on a motor vehicle expect it to be reliable....look at what Lexus/Toyota is capable of.... and they make right if problems do develop

    I.E. Mercedes Bend Over recalled every 5 cylinder diesel sedan for crankshaft harmonic dampers failures but never did a recall on the Sprinter vans with the same motor and a higher failure rates
    #30
  11. tdvt

    tdvt Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2012
    Oddometer:
    219
    Location:
    NEK Vermont
    I have my parents abandoned '02 Passat 4motion wagon sitting in my yard. It wouldn't pass inspection with the loose front end (8 sups. links, I think) & the brakes are trashed. It still actually runs quite well & the body work isn't bad for 164,000 miles of Vermont roads & winters. From the parts "kits" available, it seems the front ends are are common problem area. They've also had the oil pressure warning issue, as well as the leaking sunroof, which then corrodes some key electrical components under the floor mat. My son & I are going to resurrect it for this winter then pass it along next year.

    As for a euro car, I love my '98 Volvo V70. I have the base version; no turbo, manual transmission, FWD (not AWD) reasonable to repair & simple by comparison to cars these days. On the other hand, my wife's V70 XC(AWD) really went in the snow & was generally reliable but had so many mickey-mouse issues that we burnt out, It was overly complex & was always $$$$ to fix. We had a love/hate relationship with it but finally sold it last week (205,000 mi)
    #31
  12. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,856
    Location:
    Dubuque, Iowa
    My past three vehicles have been VW's. I drive 50K-60K a year and keep the cars until about 200K rounds. First was a 2004 Jetta GLI VR6. That car ran to 200K on nothing but oil changes, tires, one timing belt and set of plugs. Maybe a couple of bulbs, original brakes, clutch, etc...

    Next up was a 2008 GTi 2.0T. Great car except the direct injection turbo was a problem. Kept carboning up and running like shit. Spent well over 2K on repairs to get it to 160K, but still on original clutch, brakes, etc...

    Currently driving a 2011 CC 2.0T. Love the car and was hoping the got the direct injection problems solved. I was wrong. Just spent about 1.2K getting that sorted out at 70K miles.

    I love the VW's ergonomics, they just fit me. Fun to drive and generally pretty reliable. I would not recommend any of them with the 2.0T direction injection motor, unless you're willing to open up your wallet.
    #32
  13. jdiaz

    jdiaz .

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2002
    Oddometer:
    32,327
    Location:
    Flyover State
    Our Passat hit 80k miles today. Still waiting for it to blow up so I can rebuild it with a K04 big turbo kit. :lol3

    Mike, what did they do for $1200? Clean the valves and replace the intake manifold assembly?
    #33
  14. Nailhead

    Nailhead Free at last!

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2003
    Oddometer:
    6,403
    Location:
    Longmont, CO
    I flirted with the notion of Mini ownership a few years back, but dismissed it because of lack of service/parts availability locally.

    They really do look like cool cars.
    #34
  15. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    18,908
    I could not find anything as nicely detailed, with enough leg room, as the A6. I looked at everything American, Japanese, and European, except for Benz. Nothing was better as far as I could see. No manufacturer made something in which I could straighten out my legs other than Audi and the Passat. I found it remarkable that manufacturers like Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, did not have the leg room.
    #35
  16. Kamala

    Kamala Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Oddometer:
    12,969
    Location:
    Nashoba Valley
    No matter what breaks on an Audi its costs a minimum of $1200!

    No matter what breaks on an Audi it ends up being called "Oh Yeah the Dreaded Audi (insert name of malady here) problem" and every Audi owner is aware of it.

    No matter what breaks on an Audi you must fully disassemble the automobile in order to repair it. Then you are told that even though its just the thermostat you might as well and go ahead and rebuild the engine as long as the car is completely apart. :lol3
    #36
  17. bigsnowdog

    bigsnowdog Sylvan Dweller

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    18,908
    It's good that you don't exaggerate.

    </insert>
    #37
  18. Kamala

    Kamala Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Oddometer:
    12,969
    Location:
    Nashoba Valley
    Wanna Bet?


    [​IMG]
    1/2 way to replacing the Thermostat! Just a few more hours of disassembly left to get to it :lol3
    That stage of disassembly is called "Putting the Bumper in the Service Position"!
    #38
  19. 09Prodigy

    09Prodigy Instigator

    Joined:
    May 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    734
    Location:
    NorCo
    Holy Crap! Glad I asked! lol

    Thanks again!
    #39
  20. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    6,856
    Location:
    Dubuque, Iowa
    Bingo!

    The car still has a rough idle when first started, but it runs fine as soon as you get going. We'll see how long this lasts, because the old GTi redeveloped the problem about 50K later.
    #40