Volkswagen Passat B6 (sixth generation of the model) arrived on the market in 2005 when it replaced the previous Volkswagen Passat B5. In 2008 there was a small restyling which brought some modernizations on the technical level and in the interior. Production ended in 2010 when the car was replaced by the new Volkswagen Passat B7. Let’s see the Volkswagen Passat B6 review with the most important information, faults and common problems.
Table of Contents
- Impressions and Description
- Reliability and Issues
- Engines and their Problems
- Conclusions and Advice & Tips for buying used
Impressions, Interior and Comfort
Volkswagen Passat B6 is a mid-range car that manages to position itself at the top of the D segment. As we will see later, from the point of view of comfort, from the point of view of practicality and from a technical and technological point of view, it offers good features and quite a large selection.
On the used market you can find cars with quite low prices and this offers the Passat B6 a good price/quality ratio. But here you have to be careful. The car can have rich equipment and modern technologies, which do not always demonstrate great reliability and long life.
It must also be said that despite the great satisfaction that a Volkswagen Passat can give, the selling prices on the used market can prove to be slightly higher than the competition. This is largely due to the history behind this model and the good reputation it has. If the purchase price matters a lot, it might make more sense to focus on competitors that offer roughly the same things at a lower price. Among the opponents we find Ford Mondeo and Skoda Superb (which is the sister of the Passat). Other competitors will be listed at the end of the article.
Later we will see if the maintenance costs will not be exaggerated to use a similar car. We advise not to save money during the purchase and look for a car in good condition by following our advice.
Platform and Body
From the point of view of the platform, the ideology has changed compared to the past. Here the platform of the Audi A4 with longitudinal engine is no longer used as was the case on the previous generation, but the elongated platform of the Volkswagen Golf. The PQ46 platform is used on the Passat B6 which is an extended version of the PQ35. This means the basic presence of front-wheel drive, with the possibility of optionally having 4Motion all-wheel drive. The engines are installed transversely.
Volkswagen Passat B6 received 4Motion all-wheel drive which offers the additional traction to the rear axle via a Haldex coupling. This system ensures optimum driving stability, maximum wheel grip, as well as an additional dose of sporting thrills.
It must be admitted that with more powerful engines, all-wheel drive certainly comes in very handy (it ensures better acceleration dynamics).
In the planning stage, the manufacturer dispensed with the complex multi-link front suspension that existed on the predecessor Volkswagen Passat B5. Simple McPherson suspension was mounted on the front axle of the Volkswagen Passat B6. The rear axle, on the other hand, features a not too complex multilink suspension.
It is thought that the choice was made for marketing reasons as the Audi A4 and A6 continued to mount the multilinks also in front. Volkswagen customers have been satisfied with this choice as this construction is more reliable and economical to maintain.
The body design of the Volkswagen Passat B6 is calm, soft and elegant. There are no traces of brutality, aggression or severity. Despite the years, the style is still modern. The progressive restyling that began in 2008 mainly concerned the interior and the technical part. As we will see later, some new features have been introduced slowly. Aesthetically, however, it is difficult to distinguish a facelift car from a pre-restyling one.
Aesthetically, the car is attractive, especially in the more equipped versions.
The sixth generation Volkswagen Passat is available in two body styles: sedan (4-door) and Variant (station wagon). The German car has a length of 4765 – 4775 mm, a width of 1820 mm and a height of 1473 – 1516 mm. The wheelbase is 2709 mm. The weight of the car varies from 1268 to 1614 kg depending on the version.
Also present is the Volkswagen Passat CC model which is a 4-door coupe.
Comfort and Practicality
Volkswagen Passat B6 was one of the most spacious in the segment and still has a lot to offer today. The interior space is sufficient, on the front seats anyone will be able to position themselves comfortably, even the rear passengers will be comfortable if they are not particularly tall.
The trunk/boot has a volume of 565 l in the sedan and 588 l in the station wagon (by completely folding down the rear sofa, it can reach 1091 l in the sedan and 1716 l in the station wagon).
Thanks to the pleasant suspension and comfortable interior, even longer journeys won’t be particularly tiring. The general level of ride comfort and practicality is quite high, so we can say with certainty that it is a good family car.
Interior and Equipment
The interiors are aesthetically pleasing and they are still modern. The style is severe, elegant and welcoming at the same time. The ergonomics are very good and everything is easily accessible. The quality of the materials and the assembly are very close to what can be found in premium cars. Someone even considers that in this respect the Volkswagen Passat B6 may turn out to be better than some premium cars of the same years (for example, the pre-facelift Mercedes-Benz C-Class W204 or the BMW 3 Series E90 in poor trim levels). This is precisely one of the aspects that make the Passat the leader in its segment.
Thanks to the high quality of the materials, even on cars with more than 200,000 km (125 k miles) the passenger compartment remains in good condition (if it has been treated well). However, serious signs of wear may appear on some elements at high mileage. First of all, of course, the most used elements wear out: the steering wheel trim and its buttons, the gear knob, the window lifter buttons, the climate control buttons, multimedia buttons and more. The various buttons are a typical weak point due to the “soft-touch” coating (soft touch paint) which wears out very easily. At high mileages, wear and tear on the seat upholstery is also unavoidable.
The good part is that all traces of wear and tear present in the cabin can be eliminated if desired. Some pieces can be replaced, others can be repainted or restored.
From the point of view of soundproofing, the situation is very good. It’s not ideal though, in some situations noise can penetrate the cabin.
Even in terms of equipment, the situation is quite good. The number of features and options does not disappoint. Already in the basic Trendline version you can have 10 airbags, automatic climate control, electronic parking brake and other useful systems. In the more equipped Highline version we find seats in leather combined with Alcantara and a more sophisticated climate control system – Climatronic, adaptive light clusters, RNS navigation system, multifunction steering wheel and much more.
The multimedia system is quite good, even if it may be old by now. Obviously the poorer versions have only the strictly necessary functions. The richer versions have many functions and can have a large display with navigation system. The audio quality of the multimedia system is also quite good.
In the EuroNCAP safety test, the Volkswagen Passat B6 got 5 out of 5 stars. Crash safety is quite good, but to decrease the risk you need good tyres. Tires are almost the most important thing for safety on the road.
Reliability and Issues
Gearbox and Transmission
The Volkswagen Passat B6 was fitted with 2 manual gearboxes (5 and 6-speed), a classic 6-speed Aisin automatic gearbox and the DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox in two versions: 6-speed DQ250 and 7-speed DQ200.
The most reliable and simplest are as usual manual gearboxes. Even here, however, it is not all that simple. As already mentioned, the manual gearbox can be 5 or 6-speed. More often you find the 6-speed gearbox which can be from the MQ250 series or from the MQ350 series. The 5-speed gearbox can be from the MQ250-5F series or from the old MQ200-5F (0AH) series. Just the latter proved to be quite problematic.
The MQ200-5F gearbox is basically of a reliable construction and should handle up to 200Nm of torque. But in practice, on the Passat B6 it is quite weak and in some cases it does not even handle the torque of the weak 1.6 l naturally aspirated petrol engine. It suffers especially during aggressive driving with sharp accelerations. With too active driving, synchronizers can wear out already at 50 thousand km (30 k miles). Around 200 – 300 thousand km (125 – 185 k miles), the differential bearings will almost certainly wear out.
From the MQ250 series, both the 5-speed and 6-speed gearboxes are mounted here. Here the resistance is greater and the manufacturer claims that they hold up to 250 Nm of torque. A feature of these gearboxes is their relatively noisy operation. At large mileages there will be wear of the differential bearings. If they are not replaced in time, they will also ruin the secondary shaft bearings. Gearboxes treated well shouldn’t cause major problems before 300,000 km (185 k miles).
The MQ350 gearbox is very reliable and is the most resistant mounted here. Serious problems can only appear at very large mileages. Among the first elements to fail will be the rear bearing of the primary shaft. Too aggressive driving style will ruin the synchronizers and gear selection mechanism.
The life of the clutch obviously depends a lot on the driving style, but hopefully it can go up to 200 – 250,000 km (125 – 155 k miles). With some engines, a dual-mass flywheel can be fitted. The duration of this also depends a lot on the driving style, it can die already at 50,000 km (30 k miles) or it can last more than 200,000 km (125 k miles). The dual-mass flywheel doesn’t like low speed driving and aggressive use of the clutch.
It is very important to always have the flywheel in good condition. If it begins to make noises, it will be better to intervene immediately to avoid damaging the gearbox or the starter motor. To save money, you can opt for the repair of the old flywheel instead of buying a new one, but the long life will not be guaranteed.
Aisin 6-Speed automatic gearbox
The classic automatic gearbox mounted is the Aisin in two versions: TF60SC (also known as AQ250 or 09G) and TF-62SN (also known as AQ450 or 09M). The Aisin gearbox is simple and has proven to be quite reliable. Despite everything, however, there may be some problems, especially on cars from the first years of production.
Among the most serious problems of the early production period, there is the capricious hydraulic block and the short-lived solenoids. In some cases they broke down already at 50,000 – 100,000 km (30 – 60 k miles). However, the manufacturer quickly improved the structure and the amount of faults decreased significantly. Symptoms of problems are rough operation and loss of smoothness in operation.
On modernized gearboxes the most serious problems are usually caused by high operating temperatures which can overheat the gearbox. Almost all versions of this gearbox are equipped with a water-oil heat exchanger, which becomes clogged with residues caused by normal wear on the clutch packs. A clogged and dirty heat exchanger immediately leads to overheating. These can deform the body, decrease lubrication pressure and accelerate overall gearbox wear.
The torque converter locking system has a fairly aggressive operation which contributes to the rapid wear of the lock-up clutch. In addition to fouling the oil, a worn clutch causes large shaft vibrations that will break the oil pump bushing.
To avoid problems it is recommended to change the oil in the gearbox at least every 40 – 60,000 km (25 – 35 k miles) and if possible add an additional radiator to lower the operating temperatures. In this way the gearbox will be able to live for many miles.
DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox
On the Volkswagen Passat B6 we can find the DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) dual-clutch automatic gearbox. These gearboxes have greatly damaged the reputation of the manufacturer. Initial versions of these gearboxes were mounted and these proved to be particularly problematic.
On the Passat B6, two versions of the DSG gearbox can be found: DSG-7 DQ200 with dry double clutch and DSG-6 DQ250 with wet double clutch. It is important to understand that the two gearbox versions are very different both in terms of technical characteristics and in terms of reliability and longevity.
DSG-7 DQ200 dual-clutch automatic gearbox
The DSG7 DQ200 gearbox in the initial versions was particularly problematic. Since it was fitted with the lowest power engines, it achieved great popularity on the Volkswagen Passat B6.
It is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox with 2 dry clutches. This makes it light and efficient. The high operating speed helps to reduce consumption and increases driving comfort. However, all this only applies when the gearbox is in good condition. In this respect it doesn’t always look good. As already mentioned, in the initial stage of production it had a lot of “childhood” flaws. In the end there were many owners who got this gearbox and this resulted in a great deal of complaints about the DSG gearbox.
The main problems of the first period were the short life of the clutches and the low reliability of the mechatronics. Major interventions could have been necessary already after 40 – 50 thousand km (25 – 30 k miles). The first owners lived hell between constant trips to service centers for update gearbox management software, change clutches or even to replace the gearbox completely. However, it must also be said that thanks to continuous modernization, reliability has increased more and more over the years.
Modernized gearboxes should not give serious problems for at least 120 thousand km (75 k miles) if they are treated correctly. At high mileage, the gear engagement mechanism, the flywheel, the differential and other mechanical parts can be damaged.
The DSG DQ200 cannot handle heavy traffic with constant gear changes and rubbing of the clutches. This leads to overheating and erratic operation. In these conditions the gearbox works irregularly and the clutches wear out quickly.
DSG-6 DQ250 dual-clutch automatic gearbox
The DQ250 version of the DSG gearbox has a different structure and this makes it more resistant and reliable. Here are 6 gears and 2 wet clutches that have a more predictable and stable life. Even on the DQ250, however, there may be problems with mechatronic and management software.
The positive part is that the wet clutches are less stressed and can last at least 120 – 150 thousand km (75 – 95 k miles). The cases in which the original clutch kit also exceeds 200,000 km (125 k miles) are not uncommon. The bad part is that the residue created by normal wear and tear on the clutches quickly fouls the oil. Dirty oil ruins the mechatronic and solenoids. This is precisely why the DSG DQ250 gearbox loves frequent oil changes.
With too aggressive use, the differential can be damaged even at relatively low mileage. The dual-mass flywheel does not always last very long and when it is in bad condition it begins to cause large vibrations which can damage the clutches and the oil pump.
Electronic problems can also happen. Due to overheating, the control block may fail and over time some sensors may get dirty or broken.
If you want to buy a Volkswagen Passat B6 with a DSG gearbox, we recommend to check if the gearbox was modernized during recalls or maybe it was changed under warranty for a modernized one. It is also important to always have the latest version of the management software.
Drivetrain and Transmission System
The drivetrain is reliable on both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive cars. On Passat B6s with front-wheel drive, special problems should not appear before 200 thousand km or 125 k miles (of course, if they are treated correctly).
Passat B6s with all-wheel drive are equipped with a reliable second-generation Haldex coupling. This one needs regular oil changes.
Suspensions, Steering and Brakes
The suspension of the Volkswagen Passat B6 in general is quite reliable and long-lived. Thanks to their simplicity, the maintenance costs are not too great. On good roads, the suspension can live up to 300,000 km (185 k miles) before requiring major interventions.
Obviously at lower mileage there will be small investments to be made. Around 70,000 – 100,000 km (45 – 65 k miles) the stabilizers will most likely need to be changed. A little further on, the rear silentblocks of the front arms may be worn. If the roads traveled are in bad condition, after about 150,000 km (95 k miles) some arms may also need to be replaced.
Around 150,000 – 200,000 km (95 – 125 k miles), the springs, support bearings and shock absorbers will most likely need to be changed. At around 150,000 km (95 k miles) the rear hub bearings fail, while the front ones fail at around 200,000 km (125 k miles).
To maintain good comfort and good stability on the road for a long time, it is important to fit original or perfectly compatible parts.
Overall the steering system with electric power steering is quite reliable. The steering rack may start making noises after 100,000 km (65 k miles). To replace it, you have to pay a large sum in official Volkswagen workshops. Luckily there are third party garages that can fix it for a much more reasonable price.
The power steering fitted is the same as used on the Golf. On the small german car it looks quite good, but on the Passat it is slightly more strained. It may give way, especially if the owner likes to turn the steering wheel when stationary and if you are using wide tires. Breakdowns of the torque sensor occur.
Problems with the electronic steering lock system also happen. These can hinder the use of the car, but this is a purely electrical defect and therefore we will talk about it later.
The brakes look good. They are quite reliable and the durability of the various elements is acceptable. However, it must be said that in the first period of production there could be problems with the ABS operating algorithm (it braked the wheels too much in an emergency). Over time the software has been improved and it is sufficient to install an update to solve it.
Problems happen with the new electronic parking brake. Here too, malfunctions are generally caused by defects of an electronic nature, therefore we will talk about them later.
Given the great age of some cars, some elements may need an overhaul. Thus it may be necessary to repair the calipers and periodically check the brake fluid channels. The latter wear out rapidly if the brake fluid is not replaced regularly.
Electronics and Electrical System
The electronics of the Volkswagen Passat B6 are complex, but work well and can be described as reliable. Obviously there are some malfunctions, generally not too serious. Serious problems are usually caused by third party factors such as intervention by unqualified people, water damage (penetration from outside or capsizes by passengers), or accidents.
Among the small but annoying faults we have the spontaneous opening of the windows and of the sunroof, the seat heating can turn on by itself and there may be other oddities. Fortunately, many of these faults can be resolved by only turning the car off and on again. In some cases it may be necessary to update the software of some control units. However, it is not always possible to completely solve the problems.
As already mentioned, Volkswagen Passat B6 is equipped with the very comfortable (for some) electronic parking brake. The problem is that sometimes it gets stuck hindering the car from moving until the switch is changed. The element to change costs very little and the problem is mostly found on cars manufactured up to 2008. The same problem rarely occurs due to the deterioration of the cables that connect the switch to the braking system.
At higher mileages, the motors of the parking brake can also fail. It generally happens due to corrosion. Fortunately, there are spare parts from alternative manufacturers that save you money.
Often, due to problems with the wiring, the parking sensors do not work either. In general, the amount of wiring is large and therefore the possibility of these being damaged over time is also greater.
The electric steering lock system (ELV module) can be a real big problem if it breaks. If this happens the steering wheel locks completely. To avoid this, when you see the error message “STEERING COLUMN MALFUNCTION“, go to your workshop as soon as possible. If the steering wheel warning light on the instrument panel is yellow, it means that you can go there yourself, if it is red, it means that you need to call the tow truck.
It is a fault that generally appears after 200,000 km (125 k miles). In the workshop they will completely change the steering column because all the elements are united in a single structure. The final price could be big. To save money you can try to find a good technician who will be able to re-solder the controllers.
The great complexity of the car and its electronic system practically hinders any autonomous maintenance by the owners. Without special diagnostic devices and without a computer with the right software, you can only change the engine oil or coolant.
Finally, we would like to remind you once again that the intervention of unqualified people is not admissible. The cars of the VAG group are famous for the great simplicity with which they can be customized. For example, the car multimedia system can be easily removed and replaced with a more performing one (original or from an alternative manufacturer). But even with such trivial interventions, great care must be taken.
For example, if an incompletely compatible car radio is installed, a current leak may appear which will drain the car battery even after a night’s parking. Precisely for this reason, interventions must be entrusted only to specialized technicians who are familiar with the structure of the electronic system.
The Volkswagen Passat B6 is very resistant to corrosion. It has good paint and overall body materials are of high quality. The car is well assembled and if there have been no accidents, there must be no inaccuracies between the various body parts and there must be no major signs of rust.
Only small traces of rust are acceptable, especially if the car has been used in places with a severe climate. If you find severe signs of rust, most likely the car was in an accident and then badly repaired.
As already mentioned, the quality of the paintwork is also very good. The Passat B6 was produced at a time when the paint layer was still quite thick. This gives the paint good elasticity and good scratch resistance. If well maintained, even after many years it does not lose its splendor. Chrome elements, on the other hand, are almost always in a bad state and lose their shine already after 3 – 5 years of life.
On the Volkswagen Passat B6 was installed the DENSO brand air conditioner compressor which is not very reliable. It often gets stuck due to the condensate it comes into contact with. If all goes well, however, it can also live 250,000 km (155 k miles). It is important to always keep the system charged with freon and oil.
After 10 years of life, cases of spontaneous opening of the doors can happen. The interesting part is that it doesn’t depend so much on the mileage, but on the age itself. It happens due to the failure of the locks. Inside these, the microswitches and motors give way. The outside handle cable can oxidize and cause the opposite effect: the door cannot be opened from either the inside or the outside. Luckily it’s not a fault you come across too often.
The power window mechanism lives approximately 8 – 12 years. Sooner or later the drive cable or the whole mechanism will have to be replaced. By replacing only the cable you can save money, but not all workshops are able to carry out these jobs.
The tank lid opening mechanism is another weak point that can give problems even every 60 – 100 thousand km (35 – 60 k miles). It is best to memorize in advance where the cable for the emergency opening is located. It seems silly, but this fault usually occurs in winter and this can be quite annoying.
The AFL adaptive headlights are certainly very useful and pleasant, they offer automatic control of the lighting mode and rotation of the light beam. The bad part is that they don’t last forever and sooner or later there will be expensive repairs to do. In addition to losing the intensity of illumination like conventional headlights (the reflective element burns out), they can also have problems with the positioning mechanism. The complex mechanism may require intervention already after 150 – 200 thousand km (95 – 125 k miles). Projectors are not replaceable in theory, but in practice those from alternative manufacturers can be fitted which will restore or even improve the intensity of illumination.
Taillights with LED diodes are beautiful and make the car still young and modern, but over the years some diodes can burn out and spoil the aesthetics. Taillights are repairable in theory, but in practice, garages don’t always want to disassemble and weld burnt-out diodes. It may be cheaper to find other used lights and fit them.
Among the positive points we can mention the great availability of both original spare parts and alternative manufacturers. You can also save money by fitting Seat or Skoda parts which are ultimately the same as those from Volkswagen.
Engines and their Problems
Diesel engines list :
|Version||Engine||Power||Top Speed||Acceleration||Fuel Consumption|
|1.6 TDI||1.6 l EA189||105 hp||193 km/h or 120 mph||12.4 s||4,5 l/100 km
US: 52,2 mpg
UK: 62,7 mpg
|1.9 TDI||1.9 l EA188||105 hp||188 km/h or 116 mph||12.1 s||5,8 l/100 km
US: 40,5 mpg
UK: 48,7 mpg
|2.0 TDI||2.0 l EA189||110 hp||192 km/h or 119 mph||11.8 s||5,7 l/100 km
US: 41,2 mpg
UK: 49,5 mpg
|2.0 TDI||2.0 l EA188||140 hp||204 km/h or 126 mph||9.8 s||6,3 l/100 km
US: 37,3 mpg
UK: 44,8 mpg
|2.0 TDI||2.0 l EA189||140 hp||204 km/h or 126 mph||9.8 s||5,8 l/100 km
US: 40,5 mpg
UK: 48,7 mpg
|2.0 TDI||2.0 l EA188||170 hp||223 km/h or 138 mph||8.6 s||6,5 l/100 km
US: 36,1 mpg
UK: 43,5 mpg
|2.0 TDI||2.0 l EA189||170 hp||223 km/h or 138 mph||8.6 s||6 l/100 km
US: 39,2 mpg
UK: 47,1 mpg
Petrol/Gasoline engines list :
|Version||Engine||Power||Top Speed||Acceleration||Fuel Consumption|
|1.4 TSI||1.4 l EA111||122 hp||205 km/h or 127 mph||10.3 s||5,9 l/100 km
US: 39,8 mpg
UK: 47,8 mpg
|1.4 TSI EcoFuel||1.4 l EA111 Twincharger||150 hp||210 km/h or 130 mph||9.8 s||7,5 l/100 km
US: 31,3 mpg
UK: 37,6 mpg
|1.6||1.6 l EA113||102 hp||190 km/h or 118 mph||12.4 s||8,2 l/100 km
US: 28,6 mpg
UK: 34,4 mpg
|1.6 FSI||1.6 l EA111||115 hp||200 km/h or 124 mph||11.4 s||7,9 l/100 km
US: 29,7 mpg
UK: 35,7 mpg
|1.8 TSI||1.8 l EA888 Gen0/1||160 hp||220 km/h or 136 mph||8.6 s||8 l/100 km
US: 29,4 mpg
UK: 35,3 mpg
|1.8 TSI||1.8 l EA888 Gen2||152 hp||215 km/h or 133 mph||8.7 s||7,5 l/100 km
US: 31,3 mpg
UK: 37,6 mpg
|1.8 TSI||1.8 l EA888 Gen2||160 hp||220 km/h or 136 mph||8.6 s||7,7 l/100 km
US: 30,5 mpg
UK: 36,6 mpg
|2.0 FSI||2.0 l EA113||150 hp||213 km/h or 132 mph||9.4 s||8,2 l/100 km
US: 28,6 mpg
UK: 34,4 mpg
|2.0 TFSI||2.0 l EA113||200 hp||235 km/h or 146 mph||7.6 s||8,6 l/100 km
US: 27,3 mpg
UK: 32,8 mpg
|2.0 TSI||2.0 l EA888 Gen1||200 hp||235 km/h or 146 mph||7.6 s||9,5 l/100 km
US: 24,7 mpg
UK: 29,7 mpg
|2.0 TSI||2.0 l EA888 Gen2||200 hp||235 km/h or 146 mph||7.6 s||8,5 l/100 km
US: 27,6 mpg
UK: 33,2 mpg
|3.2 FSI||3.2 l EA390||250 hp||246 km/h or 152 mph||6.9 s||10,4 l/100 km
US: 22,6 mpg
UK: 27,1 mpg
|3.6 FSI R36||3.6 l EA390||300 hp||250 km/h or 155 mph||5.6 s||10,2 l/100 km
US: 23,1 mpg
UK: 27,7 mpg
With diesel engines, everything is quite clear and simple. Initially, the EA188 series engines with Unit Injectors were mounted: 2.0 l TDI PD and 1.9 l TDI PD. Over time (since March 2008) they have been replaced by new diesel engines of the EA189 series with Common Rail injection: 2.0 l TDI CR and 1.6 l TDI CR.
2.0 l TDI PD EA188 diesel Engine
Of all the engines in the Volkswagen Passat B6, one of the most popular is the 2.0 TDI PD EA188 with unit injectors. It is famous for its big factory defects that led it to have big problems and to require a lot of money for repairs. Unfortunately this new engine was the choice of most customers who didn’t want the old 1.9 TDI.
Among the most serious problems of the 2.0 l TDI PD EA188 are the breakage of the oil pump, cracks on the cylinder head, problematic unit-injectors (at high mileage) and even the EGR valve which stops working.
The famous problems with cylinder head cracks are not present on all engine versions, but it is still advisable to pay attention to the cylinder head and its gasket.
Oil pump malfunctions cause insufficient oil pressure which leads to premature failure of the turbine and in the worst case the engine stalls completely. The drive mechanism of the oil pump has proved to be problematic and may be in bad shape as early as around 200,000 km or 125 k miles (in some cases even earlier). This is why you need to keep an eye on it and check it periodically (perhaps when replacing the timing belt). It is difficult to tell if a pump is in bad shape without disassembling. In fact, the pressure remains unchanged and there are no strange noises until complete failure.
The unit injectors turned out to be quite capricious, they do not like low-quality fuel and are expensive to repair if there is a problem. In good running condition, they shouldn’t cause major problems before 250,000 km (155 k miles). Problems with the Siemens unit injectors have been recognized as a factory defect and Volkswagen garages are expected to replace the injectors for free or for labor only.
There are frequent cases in which the engine begins to consume oil, even up to 0.5 – 1 l per 1000 km.
The coolant pump can start whistling even before 100,000 km (60 k miles). A new pump could cost relatively much.
At high mileages, there are problems with the turbine, with the flywheel and also with the EGR valve. These are now typical for modern turbodiesels. Power losses are sometimes caused by blockage of the turbine management system.
Particularly at risk are the 170 hp versions which are more loaded and present more problems with injection and turbines. Also, if you don’t pay attention to the first problems appearing, the pistons could end up destroyed.
Despite everything, these engines, if treated well, can go without fatal defects up to 275 – 300 thousand km or 170 – 185 k miles (and even more).
1.9 l TDI PD EA188 diesel Engine
Thankfully the old and reliable 1.9 TDI was still available and at least the Volkswagen Passat B6s with this diesel didn’t bother their owners too much. Here it is available in its EA188 generation.
Until 2009, the 1.9 TDI with unit injectors was installed. It was later replaced by the 1.6 TDI Common Rail. The 1.9 l TDI EA188 is very popular and reliable, but still has some weaknesses.
A loss of power or erratic operation can be caused by a blocked turbine geometry control system. This can happen around 150,000 km (95 k miles) and cleaning the valve could be enough to solve it. When the odometer passes over 200,000 km (125 k miles) there may be problems with the turbine itself, the dual-mass flywheel and fuel injectors. The single bolt fixing system of the unit injectors is not too reliable and over time could give way causing leaks.
In general, the duration of these engines depends a lot on the style of use. The cars used mostly on the highway and at constant speed can reach 300 – 400,000 km (185 – 250 k miles) without serious problems. Those used more urbanly or aggressively will need investment after 200,000 km (125 k miles), but generally still exceed 300,000 km (185 k miles) without fatal defects.
On 1.9 TDIs with high mileage, oil consumption may start to occur. There are also oil pressure leaks at the camshaft. The camshaft is unfortunately not very long-lived, on some unfortunate engines it can be worn out as early as 200 – 220,000 km (125 – 135 k miles). Symptoms of wear will be strange running noises, knocking in the engine, loss of power and black smoke from the exhaust.
At high mileage you will have problems with the EGR valve. On models fitted with a diesel particulate filter, the latter will become clogged over time and begin to hinder the proper functioning of the engine. In case of problems with the EGR valve and particle filter, you will have black smoke from the exhaust, loss of power and increased fuel consumption.
2.0 l TDI CR EA189 diesel Engine
In 2007 Volkswagen replaced the 2.0 TDI PD with the new 2.0 l TDI EA189 Common Rail engine.
The Common Rail version is not flawless, but it is much better than the previous one. Almost all the problems have been solved, but not immediately. Initially there were still some old problems, but after the 2009 modernization the situation has improved significantly.
The versions of the first production period (until 2009) have maintained the problem of the oil pump and its drive system. However, this only applies to versions equipped with balancing shafts. In addition, the piezoelectric injectors of the Common Rail system proved to be capricious. In general, the 2.0 TDI EA189 Common Rail diesel engine is sensitive to the quality of the fuel. At mileages close to 100,000 km (60 k miles) you may have difficulty starting the engine when it is hot. The fault generally lies with the delivery valve or the pressure reduction valve.
The Bosch CP4 high-pressure injection pump could be damaged due to the worn fuel pump in the tank. If the car has suddenly turned off while you are on the road or if the car simply does not start, in no case should you force it trying to start the engine several times. The diesel-free high-pressure injection pump will run dry and therefore wear out. Metal shavings caused by dry running can foul the entire injection system and damage the injectors. The injectors are not repairable (in most cases). The final repair cost will be very high.
In addition, the initial versions of the engine were equipped with an intake manifold with swirl flaps. The drive mechanism of these has not proved too reliable.
Since 2009, these engines have been modernized. The injectors became electromagnetic, the swirl flaps were eliminated, the oil pump problem was solved and other improvements were made.
On all engine versions, leaks may appear from under the valve cover. Often the owners consider this problem insignificant, but then regret it when the oil spoils the timing belt and it breaks.
For the rest, there may be the typical problems of modern diesels: the EGR valve that gets dirty and stops working and the DPF filter that clogs and causes malfunctions (especially on cars used mainly in the city). A 2.0 l TDI EA189 diesel engine treated well, however, manages to live more than 350,000 km (220 k miles) without fatal failures.
1.6 l TDI EA189 diesel Engine
The 1.6 l TDI EA189 was intended to replace weak versions of the legendary 1.9 l TDI engine. It is very similar to its bigger brother 2.0 l EA189 from a technical point of view. It’s a reliable and economical engine, but it’s not ideal.
Among the more prevalent problems it can have are those with the fuel injection system. In many cases the injectors become noisy already at low mileage and then there is even a need to change them (or repair them if possible). The injectors are difficult to repair since they are piezoelectric.
Over time, the problem with the injectors has been partially resolved with various updates and recalls, but examples with noisy injectors are still found. To lengthen the life of the injectors and of the engine in general, it is better to not force it when the revs are low. You have to try to keep it at medium revs.
If your 1.6 TDI engine has noisy injectors, don’t rush to replace them. It may be enough to recode them (after bench testing them) or do a minor overhaul. This way you save a lot of money.
The small TDI does not like aggressive driving and does not like high engine speeds. If you have a smooth ride this engine will last a very long time. The average real consumption is around 6 – 7 l/100 km.
Here too are the typical problems of modern diesels – the EGR valve gets dirty and stops working, the DPF gets clogged and starts to give problems and there are problems with the injection system at high mileage.
With petrol engines it is easy to get confused and here you have to be very careful. This happens because engines with the same displacement can be of different series and of different generations.
For example, there can be confusion with the 1.6 l MPI and 1.6 l FSI engines. The first is with multi-point injection and is the 1.6 l engine from EA113 series. The second is with direct injection and it is the 1.6 l engine from EA111 series.
A lot of fuss can also be made with the 1.8 l TSI and 2.0 l TSI engines. At the start of production the 2.0 l TFSI engine was of the EA113 series. In January 2008, however, the new 2.0 l TSI arrived with the same power but it is an engine from the EA888 Gen1 series (first generation). Already in November 2008 the new 2.0 l TSI EA888 Gen2 engine (second generation) arrived. With the 1.8 l TSI the situation is similar: in November 2007 the 1.8 l TSI EA888 Gen0/1 appeared and in November 2008 it was replaced by the 1.8 l TSI EA888 Gen2.
It is important to distinguish all these engines because they have important technical differences and they all behave differently from the point of view of reliability and maintenance.
With the 1.4 l TSI it is slightly simpler, they are all from the EA111 series, but can be single-turbo (with a single turbine) or Twincharger (double supercharging with turbine and compressor). Here too the differences are significant.
Either way, don’t worry. We will see each engine in part and try to explain everything as easily as possible.
The engines of the EA113 series mounted here were: 1.6 l naturally aspirated with multipoint injection, 2.0 l FSI naturally aspirated with direct injection and 2.0 l TFSI turbo with direct injection.
1.6 l MPI EA113 Engine
One of the most reliable petrol engines is the naturally aspirated 1.6 MPI engine with multi-point injection and timing belt. In theory, the belt must be changed every 120,000 km (75 k miles), but it is better to change it every 90,000 km (55 k miles) to avoid breaking.
This engine is too weak to move the big Passat dynamically. In addition, despite the great reliability, some problems may appear over time.
The reason for the unstable operation of the engine can be a clogged mesh in the fuel pump, a banal crack in the ignition coil or oxidation of its high-voltage contacts, loss of tightness in the intake or problems with the system for changing its geometry.
Around 150 – 200 thousand km (95 – 125 k miles), the valve stem seals and piston rings generally wear out, leading to an increase in oil consumption. At high mileages, leaks from under the valve cover and cracks in the exhaust manifold between the 3rd and 4th cylinders are encountered.
For the rest it is an engine that lives at least 200,000 km (125 k miles) and if treated well can even exceed 400,000 km (250 k miles).
2.0 l FSI EA113 Engine
The 2.0 l FSI engine is technically robust enough, but the direct injection turned out to be a major weakness and brought more disadvantages than advantages. Performance-wise, the situation is quite good, the power is sufficient.
A typical problem of direct injection engines is the accumulation of soot in the cylinder head and in particular on the intake valves. This leads to power losses and increased consumption. Cleaning is a difficult procedure and can require large sums of money. In addition, the FSI direct injection system fitted here is quite capricious and cannot tolerate low-quality petrol.
The thermostat, the phase regulator and the ignition coils are not too long-lived. Already after 100 thousand km (60 k miles), large oil consumption may appear due to wear of the piston rings. A poorly maintained crankcase ventilation system can also lead to oil consumption and leakage.
Here is a problematic EGR valve. This (especially if in bad condition) significantly accelerates the fouling of the intake and the wear of the piston rings.
At high mileage (usually after 200 thousand km or 125 k miles) wear of the camshafts and hydraulic compensators can occur. Be that as it may, if you keep an eye on the mentioned weaknesses, the engine will certainly live more than 250 thousand km (155 k miles) without fatal failure.
2.0 l TFSI EA113 Engine
The 2.0 l TFSI EA113 is a relatively complex engine for the period, the manufacturer has decided to combine direct injection and the turbine. From a mechanical point of view it is a fairly robust engine, but there are some important weak points. It suffers from excessive oil consumption and accumulations of dirt (soot) in the engine head. To eliminate oil consumption, the original pistons must be replaced with reinforced ones.
The timing system (combining a belt and a chain) must be replaced every 90 thousand km (55 k miles). Already at 100 thousand km (60 k miles), the phase regulator or the pusher of the high pressure pump can break. The ignition coils and N249 bypass valve also have a modest life span.
There may also be accumulations of dirt in the intake (typical for engines with direct injection). Problems with the thermostat and intake manifold can also be mentioned. The latter is by no means cheap.
The turbine is reliable and lives between 150,000 km (95 k miles) and 300,000 km (185 k miles) depending on usage. With proper use, it lives for many kilometers.
The engine has good tuning potential, in fact engines of the same series have been mounted on Golf GTI, GOLF R, Audi S3, Audi TTS on which it reaches powers even higher than 300 hp.
The engines of the EA111 series mounted here were: 1.6 l FSI naturally aspirated with direct injection, 1.4 l TSI with turbine and 1.4 l Twincharger with double supercharging (turbine + compressor).
1.6 l FSI EA111 Engine
The second engine with a displacement of 1.6 l is the 1.6 FSI EA111 with direct injection and timing chain. This engine is not considered very successful. In addition to not having great performance, it is also much more problematic than the one with multi-point injection.
First of all there are problems with the direct injection system. This is quite capricious, it cannot stand low-quality gasoline and causes soot to accumulate in the cylinder head, on the intake valves, in the throttle valve and in the EGR valve. The high pressure pump and the injectors are not very good, as well as having a rather rough operation, they start the engine badly at low temperatures and get damaged over time.
Many 1.6 FSI owners complain of a strange noise when starting a cold engine. Generally it is the fault of the phase regulator which needs to be replaced. This usually happens after 80,000 km (50 k miles). The timing chain doesn’t always last long, especially on early production engines. The chain doesn’t like when the car is left on an incline with the gear engaged and without the parking brake: the effort that the chain and its tensioner bears can lead to it slipping when starting the engine.
The thermostat and the ignition coils are not too long-lived. Already after 100 thousand km (60 k miles), large oil consumption may appear due to wear of the piston rings.
1.4 l TSI EA111 Engines
The 1.4 l TSI EA111 engines (first generation) are installed in the Volkswagen Passat B6. As already mentioned, the engine can be single-turbo or Twincharger (double supercharging). They are very popular and widespread on many models of the VAG group.
The 1.4 TSI EA111 is powerful and fuel efficient. It is a modern and technological engine, but it turned out to be too complex and consequently not very reliable. As long as it’s new it’s just fine, but as the mileage increases it can require a lot of investment to repair.
In reality it must be said that the single-turbo version performs quite well. The level of reliability is acceptable, especially on modernized versions of the engine. The main problems are related to the fragile timing chain, an unreliable injection system and there are also problems with the turbines.
On the initial production engines, the timing kit already gave way at around 50,000 km (30 k miles). After several modernizations the service life has been increased and it has become more stable. A well treated engine should have no problems before 120 – 140,000 km (75 – 85 k miles) in this respect.
It sometimes happens that after 90,000 km (55 k miles) there are noises of detonation at low revs. The probable cause is the excessive pressure of the turbine, which can be resolved with an update of the management software in the control unit. The turbine itself is reliable, but the turbine management system sometimes disappoints.
After 100 – 130,000 km (60 – 80 k miles) there could be problems with the oxygen sensor. A new original sensor will cost quite a lot.
Much more complex is the 1.4 l TSI Twincharger engine with dual supercharging. It’s just an engineering marvel with a complex intake and management system. The great complexity makes it more sensitive and more forced than the single-turbo version.
It maintains the same problems of the weaker version, but the probable destruction of the pistons is added. This usually happens due to detonation, so you need to use only high quality gasoline and keep the cooling system in good working order. Fortunately, a version adapted for CNG operation is mounted on the Passat B6, so it has been strengthened and problems with the pistons are very rarely encountered.
Oil consumption is also more pronounced. Generally already after 100 – 150,000 km (60 – 95 k miles) the piston rings can wear out and oil consumption increases significantly.
We have already said that the EA888 series engines mounted here can be Gen1 (first generation) or Gen2 (second generation). The differences are big enough.
1.8 l TSI and 2.0 l TSI EA888 Gen1 Engines
On the Passat B6 you can find the 1.8 l TSI and 2.0 l TSI EA888 engines of the Gen1 generation which are actually quite rare. These are pretty good engines, but very quickly they were replaced by the following Gen2 which proved problematic.
In general all EA888 engines have good power and also have good tuning potential. With a simple reprogramming of the control unit much higher powers can be obtained. Additionally, the Gen1 engines are also quite reliable, but obviously not ideal.
They may have problems with the timing chain which does not last too long (often even less than 100,000 km or 60 k miles). The initial versions of the engines had a fairly flimsy tensioner that could not handle the effort if the car was left on a slope in gear. Because of this, the chain could slip during ignition leading to serious damage. Over time the timing kit has been modernized and reliability has improved.
Due to the direct injection, accumulations of dirt form in the intake (typical defect of engines with direct injection). Due to soot accumulations, the flaps in the intake manifold can also become blocked. You need to pay attention to the ignition system and replace the spark plugs regularly. If this is not done, the ignition coils will have a short life. All of these factors can lead to erratic engine operation.
At high mileage there may be problems with the turbines and some sensors may fail (for example the detonation sensor). Quite large oil consumptions can appear, but this is usually simply the fault of the oil separator.
Despite the already good initial reliability, the EA888 Gen1 engines have been modernized many times and the main weak points have been eliminated. Well treated engines should not have fatal failures before 250-300 thousand km (155 – 185 k miles).
1.8 l TSI and 2.0 l TSI EA888 Gen2 Engines
The EA888 Gen1 series engines were quickly replaced by the second generation Gen2. The manufacturer had little time to adapt these modern engines to the new anti-pollution regulations, so he was in a hurry to present the new generation. The modernization works were done in a short time and this caused a significant deterioration in the reliability of the 1.8 l TSI and 2.0 l TSI EA888 engines.
The Gen2 engines performed much worse from the start. This happened due to the rush that the manufacturer was in. In addition to retaining all the weaknesses of the Gen1 engines, some important flaws have been added here.
In addition to the short life of the timing kit, the soot in the intake and other malfunctions already seen, there was also the large consumption of oil. These are caused by the failed piston assembly with piston rings not doing their job well. What’s more, the problem with the oil separator hasn’t gone away, so oil consumption can increase even further.
The problem of very high oil consumption is more evident on the 1.8 l TSI Gen2 engines, but it should not be underestimated even on the 2.0 l TSI. Different piston modernizations have been made for both engines and therefore there are many versions of these. In general, over time, the situation has improved markedly, and engines produced after 2011 can be called reliable, but on the Passat B6 there are still problematic ones. You can, of course, come across cars that have undergone warranty modernization or the previous owner paid a large sum of money for out-of-warranty repair.
Large oil consumption can ruin the catalytic converter and generally clog the engine with residues and soot. If this dirt clogs the intake system, there will be erratic operation.
Ignition coils, oil pump and coolant pump will not last too long.
As for the life span of Gen2 engines, it’s hard to say anything for sure. Early production engines are very capricious and can be in bad shape already at 200 thousand km (125 k miles). Modernized engines, on the other hand, can even reach 300,000 km (185 k miles) without major problems if treated correctly.
The 6-cylinder engines fitted to the Volkswagen Passat B6 are of the EA390 series. These are VR6 engines with FSI direct injection, cast iron block, 24-valve aluminum heads with phase regulators and 2 timing chains.
These are engines that have a very pleasant sound and offer quite good performance.
3.2 l FSI EA390 Engine
The smallest engine in this family is the 3.2 l FSI EA390 which was only fitted to the Volkswagen Passat B6.
Among the most common complaints are those concerning the large fuel consumption. Here the direct injection system does not bring many advantages in terms of consumption or in terms of performance. From the point of view of reliability, however, it brings only disadvantages. It can not be said that it is so problematic, but there are the typical weaknesses of direct injection. The high-pressure pump does not last too long, dirt deposits form in the intake system.
Another major weakness is the timing system with 2 chains that can only be replaced by removing the engine. The situation is made worse by the fact that the chains and tensioners do not have a very long life, on average 150 – 200 thousand km (95 – 125 k miles). Replacement is quite expensive.
Otherwise there are no major weaknesses. The engine may not start in winter due to condensation accumulating in the exhaust system. Ignition coils have a fairly short life span, especially on early production engines. Over time they have been modernized and the situation has improved.
Problems with the crankcase ventilation system are relatively frequent, usually it is sufficient to replace the membrane to resolve. Better not to delay with the repair of the membrane, otherwise the process of fouling the intake system will be significantly accelerated. Driving with a dirty intake is also dangerous, some fragments of dirt can end up in the engine and scratch the cylinder wall. It would be perfect to do regular cleanings and also clean the exhaust valves that get dirty with soot.
In general, the engine is very robust, if treated well it lives on average more than 320 – 350 thousand km (200 – 220 k miles) without fatal breakdowns.
3.6 l FSI EA390 Engine
The larger 3.6 l FSI EA390 is more widespread, it is found predominantly on SUVs from Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche. The common problems are mainly the same already seen on the younger brother, so let’s avoid repeating ourselves.
Conclusions and Advice & Tips for buying used
Many might say that Volkswagen Passat B6 is a bad car due to the problems it can have on the technical part. This is not fair reasoning. The highly technological engines and gearboxes also give a lot of satisfaction and contribute to saving on expensive fuel. If you do all the math right, the fuel savings can (at least partially) offset the cost of repairs. In addition, the car offers good quality and pleasure that are not cheap. A badly done interior and bad ergonomics can be more annoying than an unreliable engine or gearbox.
Volkswagen Passat B6 is a very practical, comfortable and pleasant car. Be careful which version you choose and you won’t have any major problems.
For great reliability, we recommend the versions with 1.6 MPI or 1.9 TDI engine and manual gearbox. These will be the least problematic. For maximum satisfaction, you can opt for a Passat with automatic transmission and more powerful engine. Better to find an example produced from 2008 onwards, these have fewer mechanical and electronic problems.
The main competitors of the Volkswagen Passat B6 are: cousin Skoda Superb, Toyota Avensis 2, Volvo S60, Ford Mondeo 3, Ford Mondeo 4, Kia Optima, Hyundai i40, Mazda 6 GG, Mazda 6 II (GH), Honda Accord, Citroen C5, Peugeot 407 and other similar cars. Actually Volkswagen Passat B6 is something in between the budget competitors listed above and the premium ones like BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4. So even these can be evaluated for purchase.
The most important thing is to find a car in good general condition.