B4 Passat TDI - how reliable ?

e300d

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 17, 2005
Location
Caledon Brampton Mississauga
TDI
2xBEW wagon 1xALH wagon..both gone...no more diesel for now..have few Mercedes CDIs in family..but now its a Miata and Suburban for me lol...miss the TDI game
Hello,

Would anyone be able to comment about the B4 Passats?

I am wondering how reliable they are.

Common problems and usual maintenance.

How is the suspension? Is it a complicated set up?

I am looking at a 96 Passat TDI with 190000 km, what should I look for?

Thanks.
 

rsd

Veteran Member
Joined
May 4, 2005
Location
Montreal, Quebec
TDI
97 Passat Wagon TDI
I've got a 97 B4 wagon. Bought it two months ago. I had to change brakes and there was a little bit of rust. I bought this model because it's reliability....and it's good looks of course. :p (kiddin) From what I've been reading, most of your issues are going to be with non mechanical pieces, A/C, power windows, ignition switch. That seems to be brand specific, all my VWs had electrical bugs,(85 Golf, 94 Golf, 86 Jetta, 78 Rabbit, 80 Rabbit)but the mechanicals ran 320000km+ (for gas cars).The best part of the TDI is it will cost you less to sit in traffic on the Don Valley Parking Lot.
 

hover_one

Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2000
Location
6 acres west of Waco
TDI
Jetta '03 GLS TDI Navy Blue
My opinion, (yours may be different) Best car I've ever owned. Cost per mile is half of that of my family gasser--therefore I have to do twice the driving...


Common problems: Door handles need to have a roll-pin re-seated every few months, window regulators need replacing, the cup-holder is an engineering disaster, changing the oil filter is a pain in the butt. Air conditioners seem to be wearing out about now, but that's to be expected on a ten year old car. Your car may need to have the "fifth injector fuel line" plugged to reduce smoke (a ten minute fix). For the most part--minor stuff. Keep your timing belts changed and use synthetic oil and you will be rewarded with many years and miles of driving in style.

Usual maintenance: Timing belts! every 60 000 miles without fail. Fuel filters are easy to do your motor mounts may need to be replaced (2 of the three are easy to do).

Suspension is not complicated. Front struts are removeable as a unit by undoing total of three bolts. Replacing the rear shocks involves removing the rear seatbelt retractors, and the inside deck-(behind the headrests back to the rear window) that's where you get to the upper bolts of the shocks...(about 30-45 minutes of prep-work if you've never done it before).

Summary: buy a set of metric wrenches and you won't be sorry owning a B-4 Passat TDI. Happy trails...

John
 

JETaah

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
Jan 18, 2001
Location
mi 48836
TDI
96 B4V, 1999.5 jettaIV,2005 BEW Beetle
Some common problems on an aging vehicle would include:
Under-hood hose ruptures of the turbo/turbo control variety
Intake clogging due to EGR/CCV design
Oil leaks due to the CCV oil return pipe design.
 

GoFaster

Moderator at Large
Joined
Jun 16, 1999
Location
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
TDI
2006 Jetta TDI
The power supply for the circuit board in the instrument cluster is notoriously weak. At some point, VW or their supplier seem to have fixed this without telling anyone, because the '96's seem more prone than the '97's. Mine went out three times before a mystery supplier to a local dealer figured out how to fix the board for good.

Roll pin in the door handle ... if the outside handle is reluctant to open the door, remove the screw that holds the handle in and push the roll pin back into place. Easy 2 minute fix.

Expect the usual stuff that's going to be found on an 8 or 9 year old car. A/C. Power windows (although I've not had trouble with that). Brakes. Wheel bearings. Dampers at all four corners.

I have 444,000 km on mine. Yeah, it has been in the shop a few times, but it has by far outlasted any other vehicle I've ever owned.
 

fastvicar

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2003
Location
Lancaster, PA, USA
TDI
1996 Passat, Indian Red
Found a B4 wagon for my sister. Things I look for:

-windows work (to operate up & down--not to look through)

-AC works--not a real problem area, just typical of all cars 10 yrs. old

-dashboard/mileage correspond to car condition (many instrument clusters were replaced with "0" miles showing on them)

-the ECU is housed in a gray metal case. Early units/pre-recall had a black "BK" ECU, not really a problem but it could indicate that the previous owner wasn't meticulous with maintenance. They are located under the hood under the black plastic wiper tray. Remove rubber strip and fasteners then lift up on plastic tray to take a peek.

-Ignition switch works properly.

Mechanically these cars are fantastic. Rarely does anything need to be fixed, just routine maintenance. With proper setup they can be quite entertaining to drive, too!
 

twob4s

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 14, 2004
Location
Madison, WI
TDI
Passat, 1996, Blue
Just wanted to point something out on the door handles. While yes the rollpin does work its way out, a small layer of JB Weld will keep it from popping out.
 

Lug_Nut

TDIClub Enthusiast, Pre-Forum Veteran Member
Joined
Jun 20, 1998
Location
Sterling, Massachusetts. USA
TDI
idi: 1988 Bolens DGT1700H
Early units/pre-recall had a black "BK" ECU, not really a problem but it could indicate that the previous owner wasn't meticulous with maintenance.
Some of us specifically search out these BK units for their onboard diagnostics capabilities that the OBD II compliant GQ units do not have. The presence of the BK is not indicative of "benign neglect" but is merely a sign of that specific ECU not producing the symptoms that are required before VW will approve of a swap.
Be aware that the ECU swap from BK to GQ also mandates a swap of the injectors from 190 bar units to 220 bar units. A mismatch of ECU and injectors IS indicative of poor maintenance.
 

LNXGUY

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jan 10, 2004
Location
Barrie, Ont, Canada
TDI
'05 Jetta TDI Wagon
My oldman just picked up a '96 Passat, now I need to learn this car in and out


Car has 250,000km's on it.. Anything I should take care of right away? I plan on doing a TB change in a few weeks, switching the oil over to synthetic etc.. What about EGR cleaning? etc?
 

BldgCode

Active member
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Location
Virginia City Highlands, NV
TDI
Passat-1996-Green
I just purchased a Like New Stock 1996 Passat 5 speed with 29K Miles. Instrument cluster had been changed at 6K.Ignition switch had been subject of recall. The great Performance was totally unexpected. Has the BK black ECU, going to install 2nd stage Rocketchip soon. I plugged the 5th injector fuel line & will change relay 109 as soon as I locate one.

If only it was all wheel drive.

Bob F
 

fastvicar

Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 11, 2003
Location
Lancaster, PA, USA
TDI
1996 Passat, Indian Red
Early units/pre-recall had a black "BK" ECU, not really a problem but it could indicate that the previous owner wasn't meticulous with maintenance.
Some of us specifically search out these BK units for their onboard diagnostics capabilities that the OBD II compliant GQ units do not have. The presence of the BK is not indicative of "benign neglect" but is merely a sign of that specific ECU not producing the symptoms that are required before VW will approve of a swap.
Be aware that the ECU swap from BK to GQ also mandates a swap of the injectors from 190 bar units to 220 bar units. A mismatch of ECU and injectors IS indicative of poor maintenance.
I should have clarified that IIRC the BK was replaced by the GQ when the recall was done on the 5th injector. If the VIN should have been in the recall window & it wasn't done, what else wasn't done? You're right, BK isn't inherently a sign of trouble, but the GQ seems to be the preferred ECU--especially for chipping. I was not aware of the injector swap.
 

TheMadcap

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 1999
Location
Harrisburg ,PA,USA
TDI
Passat 1996 Metallic Green
Have you checked with Jeff about getting a Stage II Chip for the BK ECU? Because I have in the past and he wouldn't do it. He told me to upgrade to a newer ECU before he would chip it. If he is chipping these ECU's now please let me know.
Thanks
 

BldgCode

Active member
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Location
Virginia City Highlands, NV
TDI
Passat-1996-Green
Have you checked with Jeff about getting a Stage II Chip for the BK ECU? Because I have in the past and he wouldn't do it. He told me to upgrade to a newer ECU before he would chip it. If he is chipping these ECU's now please let me know.
Thanks
Just ordered pair of 28 pin dip chips from Jeff ( Rocket chip) for Black ECU 028906021 BK.As per Jeffs instructions.Here is his E mail & mobile Phone #

jsr@blazenet.net 717 676 8755

Bob F
 

TheMadcap

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 15, 1999
Location
Harrisburg ,PA,USA
TDI
Passat 1996 Metallic Green
Awesome. Let me know what you think when you get the chips. Do you still have stock injectors? I contacted Jeff about the chips, we'll see what he says. Thanks
 

BldgCode

Active member
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Location
Virginia City Highlands, NV
TDI
Passat-1996-Green
Awesome. Let me know what you think when you get the chips. Do you still have stock injectors? I contacted Jeff about the chips, we'll see what he says. Thanks
I am usually running at 6000 ft. Jeff suggested," Stage 2 & stay with stock injectors to prevent overfueling".

Bob F
 

BldgCode

Active member
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Location
Virginia City Highlands, NV
TDI
Passat-1996-Green
Awesome. Let me know what you think when you get the chips. Do you still have stock injectors? I contacted Jeff about the chips, we'll see what he says. Thanks
Installed chips, kept stock injectors. Car runs terrific, one difficulty encountered is blinking glow plg indicator light when letting off accellerator.gos out when stepping on the gas. Thinking I need to clear Emissions code but cannot locate OBD connector, Anybody know EXACT location of this connector ( 1996 Passat)?????
Thanks
Bob
 

jck66

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Jan 4, 2001
Location
Greenwich, CT, USA
TDI
12 Passat SE / 14 BMW 535d
Between the ignition switch and the radio. Look for the little engine symbol and yank off the small piece of plastic trim.
 

BKmetz

Administrator, Member #10
Staff member
Joined
Sep 25, 1997
Location
Illinois
TDI
2015 Passat, titanium beige, 6MT
Anybody know EXACT location of this connector ( 1996 Passat)????? Thanks
A picture is worth a thousands words, so here you go! The secret location of the OBD/Vag-Com connector.


The secret OBD/Vag-Com connector EXPOSED!!!



A NEKKID OBD/Vag-Com port is not very sexy...
 
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