What should I look for in a used Volkswagen Passat saloon?
Problems with suspension, axles and electrics top the list of faults, but knocking from the front of the car is often just worn bushes, which are quick and fairly cheap to fix.
Of more concern are gearbox failures (which can hit even newish cars) and catalytic converter faults on diesels. Both will hit your wallet hard.
Ignition coils on the 1.8 turbo engines can fail, causing misfires, but most were replaced under warranty by stronger units. However, to head off trouble, check that all four were renewed and not just whichever one failed.
The What Car? Reliability Index shows Volkswagens are more dependable than average and, within the make, the Passat gives a middling performance. However, mechanically complex cars such as the 2.8 V6 4Motion, which has four-wheel drive, threaten expensive bills after a few years.
For the ultimate peace of mind, go for a 2004/5 car if you can, when VW upped the quality.