Volkswagen Passat B7 (seventh generation of the model) arrived on the market in 2010 when it replaced the previous Volkswagen Passat B6. Although presented as the new generation, in reality it is only a deep restyling of the Passat B6. It was produced until 2014 when it was replaced by the next generation Volkswagen Passat B8. Let’s see the Volkswagen Passat B7 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 B7 is a mid-range car. It is a serious and severe car, but at the same time it can be interesting and in some cases even fun. As already mentioned, it’s actually just a deep restyling of the previous generation. It maintains its excellent qualities and also its position as leader in the D segment.
Thanks to the rich equipment, the high-quality interior and the modern technologies with which it is equipped, the Volkswagen Passat B7 is positioned higher than its direct competitors and is something in the middle between mid-range and premium segment cars.
Platform and Body
From the point of view of the platform there have been no radical changes. The only difference is the small increase in the wheelbase. The PQ46 platform is used on the Passat B7 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 B7 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).
The front axle of the Volkswagen Passat B7 is equipped with simple McPherson suspension. The rear axle, on the other hand, features a not too complex multilink suspension.
The body design has been completely revised. The first thing that catches the eye are the new headlights and taillights. The overall style has become edgier and more modern. Aesthetically, the car remains current even today. Internally the changes were less significant, but more on that later.
Aesthetically, the car is attractive, especially in the more equipped versions.
The seventh generation Volkswagen Passat is available in two body styles: sedan (4-door) and Variant (station wagon). The German car has a length of 4769 – 4771 mm, a width of 1820 mm and a height of 1462 – 1516 mm. The wheelbase is 2712 mm. The weight of the car varies from 1440 to 1773 kg depending on the version.
In reality there is also a third version dedicated to offroad called Volkswagen Passat Alltrack based on the Variant. Also present is the Volkswagen Passat CC model which is a 4-door coupe.
Comfort and Practicality
From the point of view of the interior space , the situation has not changed. The interior of the Volkswagen Passat B7 is very spacious. 5 mature people will easily be accommodated inside. The front seats are particularly comfortable. You can easily find the comfortable driving position thanks to the numerous adjustments. Volkswagen Passat B7 is one of the most spacious in the segment and even today it has a lot to offer.
The trunk/boot has grown slightly. This impresses with its dimensions, especially in the Variant version (Station Wagon). It has a volume of 565 l in the sedan and 603 l in the station wagon (by completely folding down the rear sofa, it can reach 1731 l).
It’s a good family car. Thanks to the pleasant suspension and comfortable interior, even longer journeys won’t be particularly tiring.
Interior and Equipment
The passenger compartment of the Volkswagen Passat B7 has not undergone radical changes compared to the past (especially when compared to that of the Passat B6 of the last year of production), but there have nevertheless been some improvements. First you notice the new analog clock in the center of the dashboard. The general quality of the interior has increased both in terms of materials, as well as in terms of assembly and ergonomics.
Besides being an ergonomic car, the Passat is also very practical. In addition to the large trunk, there are several storage compartments: rear sofa armrest, doors and seat pockets. Up front there is a large compartment near the passenger’s legs, a space near the gear knob and a spacious box between the two seats under the front armrest.
On the Passat B7, the elements are more durable and more rarely begin to creak over time. The first signs of wear should not appear before 100 – 150,000 km (60 – 95 k miles), but it all depends on the style of use.
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, the gear knob, the climate control buttons and more. 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.
Soundproofing is quite good, but it’s not ideal. In some situations, noise can penetrate the passenger compartment.
From the point of view of electronics and equipment, Volkswagen Passat B7 has taken a big step forward. The manufacturer says that for this very reason it was declared as a new generation and not as a restyling of the old generation.
The new technologies introduced have made it possible to add many useful and modern systems. There may be for example adaptive headlights, driver status monitoring systems, emergency braking system and many multimedia possibilities.
The multimedia system can be quite modern and functional in top versions. Obviously there are also “poor” versions without a display and with the strictly necessary functions. The “rich” versions, on the other hand, have a display, navigator, other useful functions and the high-quality Dynaudio audio system.
In the EuroNCAP safety test, the Volkswagen Passat B7 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 B7 was fitted with both manual gearboxes and automatic DSG gearboxes. The DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox can be 6 or 7-speed. On markets other than Europe, you can find the classic Aisin automatic gearbox (TF60SN version).
The manual gearbox does not give any particular problems and will last a very long time if treated well. This can be 5-speed or 6-speed. Both dislike overpowered (remapped) engines and aggressive driving.
The 5-speed gearbox is from the MQ250 series, the 6-speed gearbox which can be from the MQ250 series or the MQ350 series.
The MQ250 series have good strength and the manufacturer claims 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.
On some cars already at 100,000 km (60 k miles) it may be necessary to change the dual mass flywheel and together with this also the clutch. These elements are not very durable, especially with powerful diesels. You have to spend a lot of money to replace them. However, it must also be said that on some lucky cars, these elements can even reach 200,000 km (125 k miles).
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.
To improve the operating conditions of manual gearboxes, it would be perfect to change the oil at least every 80 – 100,000 km (50 – 60 k miles).
DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox
The automatic Volkswagen Passat B7s in Europe are equipped with the DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
The DSG (Direct-Shift Gearbox) has a bad reputation (not at all reliable). However, there is an important distinction to be made between the DQ250 6-speed gearbox with wet clutches and the DQ200 7-speed gearbox with dry clutches. We immediately introduce that of the two, the 6-speed one is more reliable. In reality they are 2 very different gearboxes and it is wrong to generalize when talking about DSG.
DSG-6 DQ250 dual-clutch automatic gearbox
The 6-speed version (DSG DQ250) was mounted on cars with more powerful engines (2.0 TSI, 3.6 FSI and 2.0 TDI).
This gearbox proved to be reliable enough. DQ250 is an “older” gearbox than the DQ200 and as well as being more resistant, it has also had time to work out its initial problems (which occurred on older models of the brand that fitted it).
The fewer gears means fewer gear changes and therefore the mechatronics are less strained. Wet clutches tend to overheat less and consequently wear less (even in heavy traffic).
With correct use and maintenance, the DSG 6 gearbox can easily reach 200,000 km (125 k miles) with a single replacement of the clutch kit at around 110 – 120,000 km (70 – 75 k miles). However, there are also cases in which the clutches exceed 200,000 km (125 k miles).
Normal clutch wear makes the oil dirty and it is important to replace it regularly to avoid damaging the mechatronics and solenoids.
The cooling system of this gearbox is not always sufficient due to the thermostat and the heat exchanger which allow the temperature to rise above 120 degrees (Celsius). At these temperatures there is an accelerated wear of the mechanical parts and of the electronics.
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.
DSG-7 DQ200 dual-clutch automatic gearbox
The 7-speed version (DSG DQ200) could be mounted on cars with weaker engines and a maximum torque of 250 Nm.
This version of the DSG gearbox really turned out to be very problematic. In the early production period, critical problems could occur as early as 30,000 km (20 k miles). Fortunately, these were almost always resolved under warranty. The manufacturer has modernized the mechanical parts, the electronics and the management software several times.
Already modernized versions were mounted on the Passat B7. These should already have modernized mechatronics, improved clutches, optimized software (you need to check that there is the latest version) and much more. However, only the DQ200s produced since 2013 can be defined as relatively reliable.
The modernized versions of the DSG 7 DQ200 are also not ideal. Owners still complain about clutch wear already at 70,000 km (45 k miles) and other malfunctions on gearboxes manufactured before 2013. After 2013 they live at least 120 – 160,000 km (75 – 100 k miles) when the clutches need to be replaced. Clutch replacement can cost a lot.
The DSG gearbox, although very smooth and fast, may not work properly in heavy city traffic due to overheating. To avoid this type of problem, it is advisable to keep the gearbox in manual mode and not change gears often.
If the car is used aggressively, there is a risk of “killing” the differential which in turn can completely ruin the whole gearbox. To improve operating conditions, it would be perfect to change the oil at least every 30 – 40,000 km (20 – 25 k miles).
Aisin 6-Speed automatic gearbox
The classic automatic gearbox mounted is the 6-speed Aisin TF60SN. As already mentioned, this gearbox is encountered outside the European market. Aisin gearbox is simple and has proven to be quite reliable, but it also has weaknesses.
Among the most serious problems are the high operating temperatures which can overheat the gearbox. Almost all versions of this gearbox are equipped with a weak cooling system, which over time becomes dirty and clogged with residues caused by normal wear on the clutch packs. A clogged and dirty cooling system 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.
Drivetrain and Transmission System
The drivetrain is quite reliable. It is important to pay attention to the integrity of the protections (dust covers) of the constant velocity joints. It is not uncommon for them to start leaking before 50,000 km (30 k miles).
Four-wheel drive is ensured by a Haldex coupling which activates the rear wheels. At not too exaggerated mileage it performs well. It is important to replace the oil in the coupling at least every 40 – 50,000 km (25 – 30 k miles). Even without maintenance, the pump lives at least 120 – 180,000 km (75 – 110 k miles). After 200,000 km (125 k miles) the whole system will have to be checked well, some interventions will probably be necessary.
The situation changes with powerful petrol engines or tuned diesels (with increased power), especially if the driving style is aggressive. Here the stress on the transmission system is greater and the duration is consequently shorter. Also added are possible problems with the cardan shaft and the rear differential.
Suspensions, Steering and Brakes
The suspension structure of the Volkswagen Passat B7 is the same as it was on the B6: McPherson in front and multilink behind.
The suspension has been modernized from the previous generation. On the Volkswagen Passat B7 they are more reliable and durable. Some elements that were previously aluminum are now steel. However, it must be said that they were designed to travel on roads in good condition. On bad roads, they don’t always last very long.
After about 80 – 100,000 km (50 – 60 k miles) the rear silent block of the lower arm on the front axle of the car will have to be replaced. Around the same mileage the stabilizers may also need to be replaced.
Very important is that now the replacement of the silent blocks and ball bearings can be done separately from the arm. This allows you to save considerably. The price of the kit with the arm included is much more expensive.
The rear suspension is multilink and the upper arm has been updated on the Volkswagen Passat B7. This on the previous version wore out and ruined the geometry of the rear axle. Because of this, the rear tires wore out too quickly. In general, the rear suspension shouldn’t cause any problems before 100,000 km (60 k miles).
The ball bearings usually reach 150,000 km (95 k miles) without problems. Shock absorbers last 150 – 200,000 km (95 – 125 k miles) on good quality roads.
On Volkswagen Passat B7 with more powerful engines, the hub bearings are short lived. This happens because of the wide tires and aggressive driving that these cars undergo. Generally it is necessary to intervene at around 100,000 km (60 k miles), but the unluckiest ones have to replace them already at 50,000 km (30 k miles). Even large diameter rims do not help lengthen life.
After 150,000 km (95 k miles) the steering box may start knocking. Also sometimes the power steering may stop working. The steering wheel becomes very stiff and the red steering wheel icon appears on the cluster. It often helps to turn the car off and on again. The problem is in the software and is often fixed by updating it. Sometimes the cause is some oxidized contacts. There is rarely a need to replace the steering box.
The brakes are reliable and do not create any particular problems. The basic system is already quite effective. There may be some inaccuracies in the functioning of the ABS system, but this is usually solved by updating the management software.
The prices of pads and discs are acceptable. The pads are generally sold together with the wear sensors, this could make them slightly more expensive than the simple ones.
Electronics and Electrical System
The electronics of the Volkswagen Passat B7 do not give many problems. Although the electrical system is quite complex, it also proves to be quite reliable. The car is also quite young and more serious problems will probably come with time. For now, the serious problems are caused by third-party factors: water infiltration, accidents that have damaged the electronic system or interventions by incompetent persons .
One of the known problems is with the power windows. Sometimes they may work jerkily. To solve this, you usually have to delete the settings from the control unit and rewrite them again. After that, the problem shouldn’t come back. If this does not resolve it, the mechanism will need to be lubricated and adjusted. Similar minor problems can also occur with central locking and multimedia.
Some owners have experienced problems with the air conditioning first getting loud and then stopping working. Generally the fan is to blame, the life of which is on average around 100 – 120,000 km (60 – 75 k miles).
On some cars, the steering wheel locking system may stop working, preventing use of the car. It is a similar problem to the one that could be encountered on the previous Passat B6.
The alternator lives at least 150 – 200,000 km (95 – 125 k miles). You have to keep it in good condition because the stability of the electronic system depends a lot on it.
The positive part is that the great complexity of the electronics makes them easy to diagnose by computer. However, if some malfunction cannot be recognized by the computer, a very good electrician will be needed to solve it.
It may be disappointing that the prices for some components are exaggerated. Simple original sensors and motors are relatively expensive.
There are numerous control units and everything changes according to the number of options. If you decide to add some functionality, you will need to add the relative control unit and most likely all the other control units with which it interacts will have to be adapted. This process can lead to serious problems if the technician is not competent enough.
Better to avoid cars that have accessories not installed at the factory (rear camera, adaptive headlights or other) because you cannot know for sure whether some mistake was made during installation.
The metal has good corrosion resistance. Small traces of rust are acceptable, especially on cars used in places with severe climates. If, on the other hand, there is a lot of rust, the car most likely suffered accidents and was then badly repaired.
The quality of the paint is good, although its layer is not too thick. The chrome elements and plastics are more resistant than the previous generation, but still tend to lose their shine over the years.
On cars used on country roads at high speeds, the windshield, headlights and radiator grille may have worn out (especially if the roads are dirty). In the worst case, windscreen and headlights need maintenance as early as 100 – 120,000 km (60 – 75 k miles). With urban use, however, the problems should not appear before 200,000 km (125 k miles).
Headlights can lose their waterproofing over time. Penetrating moisture can damage the electronics and also the projector in xenon headlights.
In cold periods of the year, the lock on the tank cap can give out. This usually happens due to moisture entering the mechanism. You always have to be careful to dry it well and possibly it would be perfect to lubricate it periodically.
Door locks also need periodic lubrication to function for a long time. Otherwise you risk not being able to unlock them from the button, but only by inserting the key.
Engines and their Problems
Diesel engines list :
|1.6 TDI BlueMotion
|1.6 l EA189
|195 km/h or 121 mph
|4,3 l/100 km
US: 54,7 mpg
UK: 65,6 mpg
|2.0 TDI BlueMotion
|2.0 l EA189
|213 km/h or 132 mph
|4,6 l/100 km
US: 51,1 mpg
UK: 61,4 mpg
|2.0 TDI 4Motion
|2.0 l EA189
|210 km/h or 130 mph
|5,5 l/100 km
US: 42,7 mpg
UK: 51,3 mpg
|2.0 TDI BlueTDI
|2.0 l EA189
|214 km/h or 132 mph
|5,3 l/100 km
US: 44,3 mpg
UK: 53,2 mpg
|2.0 TDI BlueMotion
|2.0 l EA189
|223 km/h or 138 mph
|5,3 l/100 km
US: 44,3 mpg
UK: 53,2 mpg
|2.0 TDI BlueMotion 4Motion
|2.0 l EA189
|220 km/h or 136 mph
|5,7 l/100 km
US: 41,2 mpg
UK: 49,5 mpg
Petrol/Gasoline engines list :
|1.4 TSI BlueMotion
|1.4 l EA111
|205 km/h or 127 mph
|5,9 l/100 km
US: 39,8 mpg
UK: 47,8 mpg
|1.4 TSI EcoFuel
|1.4 l EA111 Twincharger
|214 km/h or 132 mph
|6,6 l/100 km
US: 35,6 mpg
UK: 42,8 mpg
|1.4 l EA111 Twincharger
|218 km/h or 135 mph
|6,6 l/100 km
US: 35,6 mpg
UK: 42,8 mpg
|1.8 l EA888 Gen2
|222 km/h or 137 mph
|7,1 l/100 km
US: 33,1 mpg
UK: 39,7 mpg
|2.0 l EA888 Gen2
|232 km/h or 144 mph
|9 l/100 km
US: 26,1 mpg
UK: 31,3 mpg
|3.6 FSI R36
|3.6 l EA390
|250 km/h or 155 mph
|9,5 l/100 km
US: 24,7 mpg
UK: 29,7 mpg
From the point of view of the engines there have been no radical changes compared to the Passat B6 of the last year of production. Economical and environmentally friendly engines were installed on the Volkswagen Passat B7. Thanks to this, in 2013 a Volkswagen Passat B7 with 2.0 TDI engine traveled all over the USA with an average consumption of 3.02 l per 100 km (US: 77,88 mpg; UK: 93,53 mpg).
2.0 l TDI CR EA189 diesel Engine
The fitted engine is the 2.0 l TDI EA189 Common Rail. The first thing to say about the 2.0 TDI engine is that it is not the same engine originally fitted to the previous generation. On the Volkswagen Passat B6, you can meet 2.0 TDI PD engines with unit injectors that gave a lot of problems (you can read in the article about the B6). The Volkswagen Passat B7 was fitted with the 2.0 TDI CR Common-Rail on which the old problems have been resolved. The new 2.0 TDI is much more reliable, but it too may have problems.
The 2.0 TDI 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. There could also be problems with the throttle valve due to wear on its plastic drive mechanism.
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.
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.
Common problems of diesel Engines
On diesel engines equipped with a DPF filter, there are the usual problems with the latter. If you drive mainly in the city, the filter gets dirty very quickly and therefore consequently the regeneration process often starts which makes driving your Volkswagen Passat B7 more difficult and significantly increases fuel consumption. If you continue to circulate in the city, the filter will get more and more dirty to the point of having to clean it in specialized centers or change it completely. It happens that the regeneration process starts too frequently and this also causes the turbine to suffer as it overheats.
Another annoying and widespread diesel problem is that of the EGR valve. Sometimes the electronics that control the valve get blocked. Also, over time the valve can become completely blocked due to accumulations of dirt.
The petrol engines mounted on the Volkswagen Passat B7 are almost all with a turbine. The only exception is the large 3.6 l FSI. The bad part is that none of these engines have tremendous reliability.
It is not recommended to install LPG systems on TSI petrol engines. The engines will malfunction and over time large sums will have to be invested in repairs.
Common problems are those related to loss of impermeability in the intake, dirt of the radiators and leaks from the cooling system.
1.4 l TSI EA111 Engines
The 1.4 l TSI engines are from the EA111 family (first generation). 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 engine before 2010 gave big problems, but fortunately the most updated version was already mounted on the Volkswagen Passat B7. In 2012 – 2013 there were further modernizations which increased reliability.
Be that as it may, the weaknesses of this engine are well known. These are: the pistons that are at their limit, the supercharger system with its weak liquid intercooler, the timing chain which has a short duration and tends to slip.
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 engines older than 2012 the timing chain may fail as early as 80,000 km (50 k miles). On engines produced after 2012 – 2013 the life of the chain can be up to 120 – 150,000 km (75 – 95 k miles). The first symptoms of stretching are abnormal noises. If action is not taken in time, the engine will begin to run irregularly and in the end the chain may slip causing serious damage.
There could be problems with the turbine due to the unscrewing of the impeller nut. This problem doesn’t happen too often, but it’s always best to check. 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.
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. The cost of maintaining such an engine can be very high.
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.
The Passat B7 is fitted with both the Twincharger petrol version and the EcoFuel version adapted for CNG operation (to run on methane). The engine that runs only on petrol has all the weaknesses described, but the EcoFuel version has been strengthened and problems with the pistons are encountered very rarely.
For a long life of these engines it is important to keep the heat exchanger clean, to have the pump that cools it in good condition and to have clean radiators and intercoolers. Even if the systems are fully functional, don’t forget to keep the engine temperature under control (especially in heavy traffic and during active driving).
The positive part of these engines is the low fuel consumption despite the fairly large powers. In fact, even with the large Volkswagen Passat B7 it is possible to stay below 9 l /100 km (US: 26 mpg; UK: 31 mpg) in the city.
1.8 l TSI and 2.0 l TSI EA888 Gen2 Engines
The 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TSI engines are both from the EA888 Gen2 series. They are very similar and have similar problems. The EA888 Gen2 family to which they belong greatly spoiled the reputation of the manufacturer.
The Gen2 engines performed much worse from the start. This happened due to the haste that the manufacturer had in their design.
In addition to the short life of the timing kit, the soot in the intake that appears due to the direct injection, there are also the large consumption of oil. These are caused by the failed piston assembly with piston rings not doing their job well. In addition, there is the problem of the oil separator which stops working properly, so oil consumption can further increase.
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. Oil consumption can even reach 1-2 liters of oil every 10,000 km (6000 miles). The situation becomes even worse after overheating or due to long intervals between services. It would be perfect to change the oil maximum every 10,000 km (6000 miles). Furthermore, in order not to lose oil, it is necessary to have a clean crankcase ventilation system, gaskets and oil seals in good condition, you must pay attention to the intake valves (these can get dirty and some of their elements can be worn out, including the oil seals).
The problem of huge oil consumption was a catastrophe, so the manufacturer did several piston modernizations to try to solve it. Precisely for this reason, there are many versions of pistons. In general, over time, the situation has improved markedly, and engines produced after 2011 can be called reliable. On the Volkswagen Passat B7, mainly modernized engines are encountered, which perform quite well.
Sometimes, especially in the summer, the engine can run rough when idling. However, when you add effort (for example by turning on the air conditioner) the engine runs smoothly. Usually solved by changing the spark plugs. If this doesn’t help you may need to change the injectors or ignition coils. On 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TSI engines it is advisable to change the spark plugs every 50 – 60,000 km (30 – 35 k miles). These wear out and if they are not changed over time they lead to breakage of the ignition coils.
Another widespread problem of the EA888 series is the timing kit. On models built up to 2011, it was often necessary to change the timing kit already at 60,000 km (35 k miles). The most modern engines have a timing chain life of around 120,000 km (75 k miles), but in some lucky cases they can even exceed 200,000 km (125 k miles). We must not forget the chain that activates the oil pump. The pump itself is reliable, but if the chain fails the consequences will still be bad. There are cases where the pump chain breaks when starting the engine in very low temperatures.
A dubious choice was to combine the water pump and the thermostat in a single block with a plastic body. Over the years, plastic loses strength and leaks may appear. This should not be underestimated as these engines are very sensitive to overheating.
The positive parts of these engines are: the great resistance of the mechanical parts, the low fuel consumption, the great power and the possibility of increasing it easily. Tuning enthusiasts are able to bring the 1.8 TSI and 2.0 TSI to even double power without huge modifications (at most, the turbines and the fuel system change) and the engines continue to feel good. Slight power increases (for example remapping) do not affect engine life so much and in some cases even increase reliability (for example when they lower the operating temperature).
An engine with increased horsepower will need better oil and more frequent replacements. Furthermore, even if the engine resists well, we must not forget that the gearbox and transmission in general suffer from increases in power.
3.6 l FSI V6 EA390 Engine
The 300 hp 3.6-litre V6 EA390 engine turns the Volkswagen Passat B7 into a rocket. With this engine and 4Motion all-wheel drive, the car brings great satisfaction.
Durability and overall engine strength are good, but there are a few problems here too. The timing chain does not have a long life (maximum 150 – 200 thousand km or 95 – 125 k miles) and the engine must be removed to replace it (a very expensive procedure). Accumulations of dirt on the valves and the pistons are not uncommon (typical for engines with direct injection). The intake and cylinder head of the engine are complex and this also increases maintenance costs.
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.
The large fuel consumption and large expenses of regular maintenance cannot be borne by everyone. In addition, Passat B7s with these engines may have problems with the transmission due to the large horsepower and aggressive use these cars experience.
Coolant leaks could occur, the problem is not serious and often it is enough to change a few pipes.
Conclusions and Advice & Tips for buying used
Volkswagen Passat B7 is a good family car. It is very spacious and comfortable. It’s a fairly reliable car that won’t give you problems too often if you choose a good car and the right version. But, you also don’t have to expect too small maintenance costs, as it is a modern car and in some cases you have to pay a lot to keep it in good condition.
Reliability has increased significantly compared to the previous generation. For a happy use, avoid the problematic engines described above and pay attention to the condition of the DSG gearbox (especially in the DQ200 version).
The main competitors of the Volkswagen Passat B7 are: cousin Skoda Superb, Hyundai i40, Citroen C5 II, Ford Mondeo, Volvo S60 II, Mazda 6 II (GH), Kia Optima, Toyota Avensis III, Volvo V80 II, Volvo XC70, Alfa Romeo 159, Opel Insignia, Renault Laguna, Peugeot 508 and other similar cars. Actually Volkswagen Passat B7 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.