Crapwagon Outtake: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion

The longstanding joke around modern Volkswagens stems from the widespread illumination of the Check Engine Light — CEL, for short. Forums lament the seemingly overwhelming complexity of the modern People’s Car, all the while mocking. The four-cylinder volume models tend to get the bulk of the bashing, but when VW adds valves and cylinder heads, the complexity goes up exponentially.
Certainly, Meatloaf sang of a Mk3 Jetta in his timeless classic “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” even though the Dasher was on the showroom floor when the record hit shelves.

It’s a shame, really. Modern VeeDubs are wonderful driving cars when working right. Jack loved the big Phaeton so much he owned two. This Passat calls to me. $5500 for a midsize, all-wheel-drive wago, with an eight cylinder engine? This dad would love heading to soccer practice in the big VW, especially with a custom exhaust fitted like the one below:

Of course, if I were feeling particularly flush, this thirty-thousand-mile example for $20,000 would be tempting.
Alas, these big, complex engines come with a price. Maintenance is, at best, pricey; at worst, debilitating. Take a look at the timing chain setup. Theoretically, timing chains should require less work/maintenance than a belt, but the plastic tensioners wear. Note that this view is typically right against the firewall, meaning the engine needs to come out.
Crapwagon Outtake: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion
The newest cars, especially those on the MQB platform, seem much improved. Ditto the oilburners — they don’t seem to be plagued with the problems of petrol-powered Volkswagens. But, every time I’m tempted by the stunning looks of an older VW, I’m reminded of the below flowchart, found on yet another forum.
Crapwagon Outtake: 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 4Motion
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