Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

All photo credits: VW
All photo credits: VW

I don’t know if the W8 Passat was as unreliable as everyone remembers it to be, or if it was only that people who expected something approaching Camry-grade reliability from what was a reasonably exotic vehicle got loudly turned off by it. But I just know some of you out there have owned these things.

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Illustration for article titled Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

Again, the W8 Passat is kind of a pinnacle wait why did they build that kind of car. A V8 Passat would have been weird enough. A W8 Passat was extra strange. And you could get it with a manual and all-wheel drive and in a wagon. That’s a lot checked off on the imaginary Unexpectedly Cool Car Checklist (UCCC).

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Illustration for article titled Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

The B5 generation Passat also finds its way burrowing into my brain-holes because it’s a handsome car. The siren song is loud, though its exhaust restrained.

Illustration for article titled Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

Like the rest of VW’s production W-engine family (though VAG experimented with other designs), the engine is basically two banks of VR engines. In the Passat’s case, effectively two VR4s enmeshed for 4.0 liters, 270 horsepower at 6000 RPM, and a 273 lb-ft of torque at 2,750.

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Illustration for article titled Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

These cars were odd enough that I assume all records of their “usual problems” have been scrubbed from the internet and put in car reliability jail, for fear that their evil words might leak out of your computer screen and hop into your car’s ECU, immediately throwing a check engine light.

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Illustration for article titled Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

But again, I really don’t know if these cars were as bad as everyone thinks they are, or if the big problems come down to parts availability, or if there is one blessed W8 owner among you who has never had an issue because you dutifully respected every suggested maintenance schedule and so regularly call Wolfsburg they just start telling you how their day is going over there.

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Illustration for article titled Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

If you have owned one of these cars, let us know in the comments below. Remember to post a picture of it, too!

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

Have You Ever Owned A W8 Passat, The Most Infamously Unreliable VW?

Whoa whoa whoa - you did NOT just say that!

Them fightin’ words. Are you totally forgetting the Touareg v10 TDI? As a former owner, allow me to remind you of the basics:

- 5.0 liter v10 twin turbo diesel

- Electronically controlled air suspension with SIX INCHES of adjustable height with “x-tra offroad mode”

- Electronically controlled center AND rear diff lockers

- 4 zone climate control

- 2 full-time batteries - one responsible for accessories, one responsible for starting, but BOTH sharing responsibilities if the other failed (more on that)

....

Let me share some of the joys of owning one for exactly one year:

1. One turbo failed. This required dropping the entire drivetrain out of the bottom of the vehicle. ~30 hours and special equipment and a ~$1400 turbo later, it didn’t work right. And that was the dealer master mechanic “fixing” it. I won’t get into things like the dealer breaking and then re-installing the broken driveshaft, as I blame that on the dealer.

2. One battery failed. The one under the driver seat. The driver seat that requires a 17mm triple square socket to remove. Because one battery failed, a complex and untraceable decision-making process was performed by the vehicle and it decided it wouldn’t start with either battery but it WOULD continue to allow battery drain from various accessories. I had to replace both batteries ($250/per battery at walmart rates believe it or not). One battery was under that seat, the other required 18 10mm bolts to be removed. EIGHTEEN.

.....

I actually bought an aftermarket warranty that paid for $7k worth of work conducted in that one year of ownership. I then sold it - firesale style - and it had drivetrain issues.

I would have LOVED an AWD w8 passat 6mt instead :)