Volkswagen Passat (2001 – 2005) Review

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Volkswagen Passat (2001 – 2005) At A Glance


+A better drive and better equipped than the previous Passat. Comfortable and has more status than, say, a Ford Mondeo.

-A Ford Mondeo outdrives it in every respect and is cheaper to buy. Not immune from leaks and reliability problems.

Some refer to this 2001-2005 Passat as the Passat B5.5, still longitudinal front wheel drive.

There is no doubt that VW improved its 2001 model-year Passat over the Passat it replaced. The body structure is 10% stiffer. Equipment levels are higher. Prices are down 10-15%. But the question was how good could it be compared to the Mk III Ford Mondeo that shifted class goalposts into the next county.

Happily, for VW fans, it became a much better car than it was. On most versions much of the overlight deadness of the steering had been eliminated, the handling and roadholding was more secure, the fit and finish was of even better quality than before and the two new diesel engines knocked the old ones for six. VW believed they were the most thermally efficient car engines in the world, converting no less than 43% of the thermal energy in fuel into power. What had happened, though, was that VW's VAG parent put more distance between the 2001 Passat and the Audi A4 than between the previous versions. Whereas the new A4 was very classy, the new Passat was simply the new Passat, an improved version of the old Passat. Not the serious Mercedes Benz C Class rival the 2001 A4 was clearly intended to be.

VW Passat 2001 Road Test

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Car seat chooser

Child seats that fit a Volkswagen Passat (2001 – 2005)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

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Ask Honest John

My car has been stuck abroad for over a year. What should I check when I get back to it?
"I've had a Volkswagen Passat Estate parked in an underground car park in Spain. The battery is disconnected. We have not been to Spain since November 2019 and do not know when we can get back. What problems would I have with the car when we get back at some stage, hopefully later this year? Thanks in advance."
There'll be quite a few things that you'll want to check here. You'll need to make sure the tyres are correctly inflated, but you'll also need to make sure the brakes haven't stuck on or seized (depending on its service history, you could well be due a brake fluid replacement). Next, think about the fuel - if it's old, consider draining it or at the very lest topping it up with plenty of fresh diesel. If the cooling system is in good condition (i.e. sealed, not leaking) then plan for a refresh soon after the car's up and running - but pay special attention to the temperature gauge because it's quite likely the thermostat could be stuck or the water pump seized - which means the system won't work and the engine will overheat. Finally, visually inspect the bodywork for rust, the underneath for leaks, the exhaust system for cracks. Also, make sure the battery is fully charged before trying to start it and that you have any radio codes required to hand.
Answered by Keith Moody
Will my 2001 Volkswagen Passat pass the MoT test if the engine warning light is on steady and not flashing?
"Will my 2001 Volkswagen Passat pass the MoT test if the engine warning light is on steady and not flashing? It has been on for several years with no effect on the car."
The engine warning light is an MoT fail, but only for newer vehicles. Diesels that were registered before July 2008 and petrols that were registered before July 2003 are exempt from this rule.
Answered by Dan Powell
A 'no fault' accident has left me without enough insurance money to repair my car - what are my rights?
"Having suffered a "No Fault" accident, I cannot get the other driver's insurance company to repair my car. I own a 2002/2003 Volkswagen Passat 2.0-litre petrol saloon from new, with 59,000 miles and have had it fully serviced since then. My car is being valued at £1300 with a repair estimate of £2800. I cannot identify an equivalent car of the same age in the same condition with similar mileage for the £1300 offer. Am I obliged to take a payment that will not allow me to be put back where I was before the accident or to buy a diesel car with 110,000 - 185,000 miles with the potential problems arising from such a car? Do I have any legal rights in this matter?"
Unfortunately, legally, all the other party's insurer has to do is "put you back in the position you were in before the damage was done" and that has been interpreted by the County Courts as simply paying you "market value" for the car. If you want a full explanation or want to fight this, contact
Answered by Honest John
Oil pressure light in an older Passat?
"I keep getting a "Stop Engine - Low Oil Pressure" message in my 2002 Volkswaegn Passat GLX V6. The oil levels are correct, is it faulty? Can I reset it somehow?"
Might be a blocked sump oil strainer. Might be a failing oil pump. Might be a faulty pressure switch. But most likely to be one of the first two and if you don't fix it your engine will scrap itself.
Answered by Honest John

What does a Volkswagen Passat (2001 – 2005) cost?