Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Volkswagen Passat estate?
It’s a large car so check the bodywork extremities for any scuffs picked up in supermarket car parks. Check the alloy wheels too, for kerb damage. Make sure the rear seats fold and raise as they should, and that the electric operation of the rear tailgate, if fitted, works as it should. The interior is durable and hard-wearing, but you should check all the electrical systems thoroughly. It’s also worth checking the suspension carefully, especially if you plan to carry or tow heavy loads.
What are the most common problems with a used Volkswagen Passat estate?
Rear wheel bearing housing
The metal housing surrounding the rear wheel bearings of Passats built between 21 and 29 August 2017 might fracture in extreme circumstances. You may notice an abnormal noise coming from the rear of the car and uneven tyre wear. If left, there is also the possibility that a wheel could fall off. Check with a Volkswagen dealer to make sure this recall has been carried out.
A small number of cars built from 2 November 2015 to 31 May 2017 could have a problem with the sunroof trim which hasn't been bonded correctly to the frame. Any VW dealer will be able to tell you if your car is affected and sort out the issue for you.
Too little engine torque at low speed
A software update is required on examples made between 9 October 2018 and 28 May 2019 in order to increase the amount of torque the engine provides at low speeds to improve drivability.
Airbag and seatbelt tensioners
A problem with the airbags and seatbelt tensioners on examples made between 1 May and 31 October 2016 could mean that they don't perform effectively in a collision, increasing the risk of injury to occupants. Check with your dealer to find out if this recall applies to your car because all the faulty parts will need to be replaced.
There have been two recalls related to head restraints. The first is for a faulty spring in examples manufactured between 5 to 18 May 2018, and the second is for the locking mechanism in the front headrests that might not function correctly in examples made from 14 Feb to 31 March 2018 and will need to be replaced. Speak to a Volkswagen dealer for further information.
Lights may fail without warning
An issue with the programming of the onboard supply control unit means the driver may not be warned of a light bulb having failed in some examples constructed between 1 June 2015 and 31 October 2016. It’s also possible for a message to pop up suggesting there’s a fault when there isn’t. Find out from your nearest dealer if your car is affected because new software will need to be installed to fix the problem.
Child lock failure
The child locks on some examples made between 25 November 2015 and 14 April 2016 might disengage without warning and allow occupants to open the rear doors. If your car is affected, a technician will need to inspect the locks and install new ones if they’re found to be faulty.
There have been two recalls relating to the rear seat backrest. A small number of Passats built between 1 May and 31 August 2018 may have been fitted with seats where the welds on the backrest head restraint mounting could fail in an accident. A further recall was issued for cars made between 12-22 February 2019, again for faulty welds on the rear seat frame. In both cases, your Volkswagen dealer should be able to tell you if your car requires a replacement seat frame to solve the problem.
Electronic stability program (ESP) may fail
A problem with the hardware of the ESP system of examples made between 20 May and 30 June 2015 could cause this safety feature to malfunction and compromise safety. It only applies to a small number of cars, but check with your local VW dealer to make sure it has been taken care of.
The anti-trap feature on the panoramic sunroof may not kick in if the glass panel is being closed from outside the vehicle when using the global close function from the key. It applies to Passats fitted with a panoramic roof that were built between 17 February 2015 and 15 February 2016, and cars that are affected will need to have the global close function removed from the panoramic roof in order to prevent possible injuries.
Is a used Volkswagen Passat estate reliable?
The Passat did get a good score of 92.1% in the Executive car class in our most recent reliability survey, but rivals such as the Skoda Superb and Ford Mondeo did better. Volkswagen as a brand finished in 20th place, out of 31 manufacturers, in the same survey.
If you would like to see the full reliability list, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.
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