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Volkswagen Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems for 26 Volkswagen models based on complaints from 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

Drivers of the Volkswagen Passat may experience a clunking noise associated with acceleration from a stop, or downshifting for hard acceleration. This will also be accompanied by a light impact sensation under the drivers feet. Drivers may also notice unexplained changes to their front end alignment while driving. 

This issue is commonly called " VW Subframe Clunk", and is caused by the gradual stretching of the bolts that secure the subframe to the vehicle. The subframe is a large plate that secures to the bottom of the engine bay, and connects the body of the car to the engine and suspension. Over time, the bolts that secure the subframe stretch, allowing the subframe to move and hit the bottom of the car when accelerating.

There are many aftermarket kits that can be installed to correct the issue, and Volkswagen has issued a correction including better bolts, and spacers which fit between the subframe and the car.

There have been several reported instances of carbon build-up in Volkswagen direct-injection motors. Use of premium fuel is recommended, along with allowing the vehicle to fully warm up during drives.

Severe carbon build-up can cause several issues such as rough cold idle, hard starts, decreased acceleration, misfires, black clouds under hard acceleration, and the illumination of the check engine light.

Repair of this condition once severe requires the physical cleaning of the intake manifold and intake ports on the head. Due to its time consuming nature, this repair can be expensive.

Air flow, oxygen, and coolant sensor failure is common.

Condensation in the heater case may cause a musty odor from the heating, ventilation and AC (HVAC) system after sitting for two hours or more. Our technicians tell us that a cleaner is available for the heater case and the drain system should be checked for debris.

Shifting issues due to internal problems in high mileage automatic transmissions can be difficult to resolve without transmission replacement.

An ignition coil or spark plug may fail unexpectedly resulting in an engine misfire and possible illumination of the Check Engine Light. Vehicles equipped with spark plug wires may also develop a misfire caused by a failed spark plug wire.

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

Check Engine Light illumination can be related to a catalytic converter fault. Our technicians tell us a re-flash of the ECM may correct the concern. If not, replacement of the catalytic converter may be required.

One or more power windows may fail. Our technicians tell us this is commonly due to a failed window regulator which will require replacement.

A musty odor may be noted from the heating, ventilation and AC (HVAC) system after sitting for two hours or more due to condensation in the heater case. Our technicians tell us that a cleaner is available for the heater case and the drain system should be checked for debris.

One or both head lights may not work due to premature head light bulb burnout and/or bulb harness failure. Care should be taken to inspect the head light harness connector for damage when replacing bulbs. Damaged connectors should be replaced.

The water pump may fail resulting in engine overheating and possible timing belt damage. Overheating and/or timing belt failure can result in very expensive engine repairs. As a precaution, it is recommended to inspect the timing belt and water pump at regular intervals.

A problem with the torque converter can cause the Check Engine Light to illuminate.

Oil and carbon tend to build up, creating restrictions in the intake manifold. Symptoms will be loss of power (sometimes severe) and poor fuel economy.