1996 Volkswagen Passat Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1996 Volkswagen Passat as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

Reverse gear failures and noise in the manual transmission models are common.

The water pump and/or other cooling system may develop a coolant leak. Oil leaking from the  valve cover gasket is also common.

Ignition wire breakdown is common, resulting in misfires.

A damaged water pump impeller may cause an engine overheating condition. Our technicians tell us the repair should include replacement of the water pump, thermostat, and flushing the cooling system.

A coolant leak may develop after oil filter replacement. The coolant o-ring seal can be damaged if the oil filter housing turns when removing or installing the oil filter. The recommended procedure is to hold the filter housing when tightening or loosening the oil filter.

Because of issues with the glow plugs and/or the glow plug wiring harness from the control relay, the Check Engine Light may illuminate.

    Throttle body failure is not uncommon and can lead to shifting issues with the automatic transmission and other drivability concerns.

    To ensure longevity of the engine, our technicians recommend to follow the maintenance schedule for the timing belt.

    Cars using biofuel typically have problems with injection pump failures; symptoms can include a "no start" condition or external pump leaks.

    Extensive transmission damage can occur in some of the automatic transmission models when the transmission oil cooler fails and allows coolant to mix with the automatic transmission fluid.

    The Check Engine Light may illuminate as a result of a oxygen sensor and coolant temperature sensor fail. Replacement if the failed part will be necessary to correct this issue.

    Poor drivability symptoms—including hard starting—can be caused by coolant temperature sensor and oxygen sensor faults.