Volkswagen Passat (2011–2015)

What's good

Fuss-free and good to drive.

Plenty of engine choice.

565 litres of boot space.

Five-star Euro NCAP rating: 91% Adult Protection; 77% Child Protection; 54% Pedestrian Protection; 71% Safety Assist.

Passat Estate 2.0 TDI 170 Bluemotion Sport voted Practical Caravan and 'What Car'  2011Towcar of the Year and also winner of 1,425-1,574kg Class.

Passat Estate Sport 2.0-litre 170 PS TDI BlueMotion won ‘1425-1574 kg' class in annual 2012 Towcar Awards (joint venture between Practical CaravanWhat Car? and The Camping and Caravanning Club).

Volkswagen Passat Estate Sport 2.0-litre 177 PS TDI BlueMotion voted 2013 Tow Car of the Year in ‘1425-1579 kg’ class for 3rd year running. Each car goes through a series of towing tests at the MIRA proving ground, including 30-60 mph acceleration, 30-0 mph braking, a hill start and an emergency lane-change test.  Cars aren’t just rated for their towing ability; What Car?’s expert road test team score each car for regular driving, safety, running costs and value for money.  The Camping and Caravanning Club’s technical team check practical details such as boot space, how easily extension mirrors can be fitted, and whether the spare wheel provision is suitable for towing.

Passat estate Executive Style 2.0-litre 177 PS TDI 6-speed wet clutch DSG BlueMotion Technology won the ‘1425-1579 kg’ class in 2014 Towcar Awards. "The electric parking brake held car and caravan still on the 1-in-6 slope, and this year’s test car was fitted with DSG, which means there’s no clutch pedal to worry about – this made tackling the hill even easier than in previous years."

1-4-2017: Positive feedback of NOx emissions fix on 2014 VW Passat EA189 1.6TDI: "I had my 2014 Passat 1.6 TDI fixed at the end of January and didn't notice any problems. I was worried it might need to be driven at higher revs before changing gear thus ruining fuel consumption but this was unfounded on both counts. As the warmer weather has come recently the consumption has improved further and is at least as good as it was beforehand. I tend to get 40-45 mpg in town driving and 50+ on a motorway."

2-4-2017: 2nd Passat 2.0TDI owner reported his car was "immediately quieter and returned more MPG" subsequent to the NOx emissions fix.

16-12-2018: Positive report of EA189 2014 VW Passat 1.6TDI updated with NOx Fix nearly 2 years ago. "For the first 5-6 months after the update there was a noticeable improvement in mpg (2-3) which may have been due to the cleaner/engine flush that was used alongside the service. (I was charged for the cleaner which seemed a little cheeky). It still performs at least as well as before the update nearly 40k miles later. (It seems about 1 mpg better averaging low 40s - not much of my driving is on motorways)."

What to watch out for

2011/2012 Passat 1.8TSI DSG has 7-speed dry clutch DSG, not the later, more robust 7-speed wet clutch DSG.

11-1-2013: Warranty on DSG 7 speed dry clutch DQ200 gearbox extended to 5 years or 150,000 kilometres in Russia, China and late Australia . (1.4TSI Passats have 7-speed dry clutch DSGs. 2.0TDI DSGs are fitted with wet clutch 6-speed DSGs.)

1-10-2013: Extraordinary problem that when the car's Bluetooth is paired with a Samsung Galaxy phone, the Bluetooth can interfere with the signal from the car's remote key and switch off the engine when driving. The fix was to re-programme the car's keys and seemed to be a problem known to VW dealers.

11-10-2013: Report that sat nav truncates instructions, making it useless and possibly dangerous. Dealer unwilling to fix.

22-2-2014: Clutch failure of 2011 Passat 1.6 TDI at 27,000 miles. Replaced at cost of £800.

8-7-2014: 2012 Passat 2.0 Bluemotion estate has needed a new rear wiper motor, a complete air conditioning unit replacement (out of warranty, but brilliantly covered by my VW garage), and yesterday while owner's wife was driving she heard a clunk from the engine compartment, noticed smoke billowing out from behind and stopped the car, which then burst into flames and is probably now a write off.

24-5-2015: Report of parking brake of 2012 Passat manual occasionally applying itself as the car sets off from a junction on release of the clutch. Then releases and behaves normally.

27-7-2015: Clutch of 2011 Passat, bought secondhand in 2014, failed at 24,400 miles. VW paid 70% of the cost. Apparently the dual mass flywheel was not replaced.

9-8-2015: 2012 Passat TDI showing "hot spots on flywheel and clutch plate" after 31,000 miles. Also, engine suffering timing problems believed to be due to the flywheel: lot of stalling and varying revs. Reader believes DMF to be faulty. But might also be a failing clutch slave cylinder.

19-8-2015: Water pump gasket failures seem to be prevalent in 2013 Passat 2.0TDI CRs in India.

26-11-2015: Volkswagen announced fix for EA189 1.6TDI and 2.0TDI engines. A “flow transformer” will be fitted directly in front of the air mass sensor on the EA189 1.6TDI engine. This is a mesh that calms the swirled airflow in front of the air mass sensor and will improve the measuring accuracy of the air mass sensor. (The air mass sensor determines the air mass throughput, which is a very important parameter for the engine management for an optimum combustion process.)In addition, a software update will be performed on the 1.6TDI. The workshop time is expected to be less than a hour. The EA189 2.0TDI engines will get a software update. The programming time for this will be around half an hour. The objective is still to achieve the applicable emission targets without any adverse effects on the engine output, fuel economy and performance. However, as all model variants first have to be measured, the achievement of these targets cannot yet be finally confirmed. Based on this, service concepts are currently being developed for all 28 EU markets concerned. The aim is to implement the update in the first vehicles during a recall starting in January 2016. However, to compete the entire recall is likely to take until the end of 2016. Volkswagen will contact all customers and endeavour to consider individual customer needs during the implementation of the recall to avoid any disadvantages for the customer such as possible loss of mobility. All customers will be offered free courtesy cars if required. Since the beginning of October 2015, all Volkswagen customers have been able to check for themselves whether their vehicle is affected by the diesel issue. At every customer can enter their vehicle identification number to obtain clear information.

23-3-2016: Complaint that foglights of 2014/64 VW Passat Executive Estate car filled up with water. VW dealer service desk blamed "driving through puddles". Water is forced into the lights through the 'beather' holes, but then can't drain out. Cost of replacements was £166.58.

28-3-2016: Manual transmission of 2012 VW Passat 1.6TDI bought used at 54k miles in May 2015 failed in October 2015 with loss of 2nd and 4th. Car out of VW used car warranty. No help from supplying dealer or from Volkswagen. Different, friendly VW dealer discounted cost of replacing transmission, clutch and DMF with new exchange unit to £2,552 and AA contributed £465 to this because of type of cover owner had.

27-4-2016: Report of 2011 VW Passat 1.6TDI needing new EGR valve. Owner quoted £900 by his dealer. Contributon by VW was refused.

16-8-2016: Report of failure of gearbox of 2012 B7 Passat due to the flywheel damaging the transmission casing.

3-9-2016: Report that since emissions software re-map 2012 Passat 2.0TDI the car needs to change down earlier and appears now to have an issue where the blue motion occasionally decides to stop and restart the engine on low/descending revs.

22-10-2016: Report of mpg of 2013 Volkswagen Passat 2.0TDI mostly used on motorways dropping from about 50mpg to 40mpg with no change in driving style, conditions, weight, etc. Likely to be the EGR getting gummed up.

30-1-2017: Report of VW Passat 2.0 TDI DSG Highline going into local VW dealer for the emission recall 232R7. Today the EMU warning came up with an "engine fault in diesel engine go to your garage workshop." Ownere spoke to dealer and booked the car in for 15th Feb, the first available date. Probably a blocked EGR.

3-3-2017: Report of 2013 Passat 2.0TDI 180 DSG getting NOx emissions fix 3 weeks ago. Trip is now showing a consistent 7% worse fuel consumption, and the burner is coming on more than it has ever done in the last two years. The DSG is slower to change down.

19-3-2017: Report of Passat getting NOx emissions fix in February. 2 weeks later glow plug light and catalyst converter light came on. Took it to VW. They confirmed EGR valve and replaced it for free. Now owner cannot sense the turbo kicking in. Took it for a drive, went 40 mph took his foot off the accelerator and clutch and car was driving on its own at 25mph on 4th gear.

23-5-2017: Report of DMF failure and also leak from transmission of 2012 Volkswagen Passat 2.0TDI Bluemotion at 32,000 miles. Assumption that failure of DMF led to damage to transmission casing or shaft seal.

2-6-2017: Mixed bag of problems reported with 2012 VW Passat 2.0TDI. Went in for NOx emissions fix in August 2016 and soon after stop/start stopped wortking. VW dealer eventually fixed at no charge and even apologised for the inconvenience. Then on 2nd June 2017, owner started car and 4 warning lights in orange all came on together. One says Stop/start error on dash, electric parking brake stopped working, ABS and traction lights are on along with a sterling wheel symbol.

19-9-2017: Report of nightmare with 2015 Passat B7: " I have a car 2015 VW Passat on finance. I have had the car around 10 months now and in the first 6 months of ownership I had two issues with the car,
one being the car would sporadically die whilst I was driving and the second being the car would have a loss of power in second gear and I would have to turn the car off and back on again in order to get it to work. These issues have since been resolved after some updates inc emmissions update I had done to the car in April. However these updates have caused new issues which after 9 times of going back to the dealer still are not resolved to the point where I don't want the car anymore. It is too much of a headache having to take the car to the dealers at least twice a month since April. The issues I have with the car are auto hold brake comes on and doesn't release the brakes, also the auto emergancy braking keeps coming on even when there is nothing infront of me and now after the second to last time of taking the car to the dealers the car has this high pitched noise coming from the brakes and the dealer expects me to pay for a new set of brake pads again after the brake pads and discs were changed on May 11th. After 4 months of constantly bringing the car back with no resolution and chasing dealers to get the car booked in and for people to not call me back and i have to be changing my work dates in order to get an appointment where i can get a loan car aswell is all now too much. I told them I reject the car."

20-9-2017: Report of 84,500 mile 2013 VW Passat 1.6TDI catching fire whilst being driven. Woman driver heard a crackle and thought it was the radio which in turn she turned off and in an instant smoke started to pour into the cabin via the air vents on drivers side and from fuse box. She jumped out of the car and rang her husband who was with the car within 5 minutes and could see the inside of the car full of smoke and smouldering plastic on fuse box cover. He ripped off fuse box cover and was met with a small fire that had melted / destroyed all the fuses and wiring harness. With the fire out, smoke then started to come from the bottom of the seatbelt by the pre-tensioner He ripped out the trim and smoke disappeared he disconnected battery and called rescue service. (We wonder if the DPF overheated while regenerating?)

16-10-2017: Report of failure of a/c compressor of 2013 VW Passat, serviced independently since local VW dealer closed down.

27-10-2017: Futher report of more problems with 84,500 miles 2013 VW Passat 1.6TDI (see 20-9-2017), owned for less than 6 months. Car returned repaired on 19-10-2017 and everything thing seemed fine until the wipers stopped working , lights started to appear on the dash and countless other problems, then on 26th October (a week after its return) the car refused to start.

31-10-2017: Report of engine management light flashing on dash of 2011/61 VW Passat 1.6TDI EA189 that had not had the NOx emissions fix. Turned out to be a carboned up EGR valve. Dealer quoted £1,040 to replace it, not covered by issues consequential to the emissions fix. But these EGRs have always been highly prone to carbing up so owner should at least be due some goodwill towards the cost.

9-11-2017: Report that increased fuel consumption and fluctuating temperature gauge on 76k mile 2013 VW Passat 170 BMT TDI Alltrack DSG in colder weather is a known fault as a result of the failure of an in-line thermostat between the DSG gearbox and oil cooler. It is an easy fix (15 mins). Car had FVWSH and emissions fix couple of thousand miles ago followed by 10-15% increase in fuel usage and recently the erratic or fluctuating temp gauge issue.

1-2-2018: Report of drains from panoramic sunroof of 2013 VW Passat B7 becoming blocked, leading to water stains on headlining.

24-4-2018: Report of failure of ECU of 2013 VW Passat 2.0 TDI Bluemotion Tech Highline Estate at 47,000 miles. First showed a number of warning lights and error messages relating to Traction Control not working, Electronic Braking system not working, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System not working, cruise control not working etc. Booked into VW servicing dealer and on the day would not start and had to be recovered to the dealer who diagnosed that the ECU unit had failed and needed replacing at a cost of £1,642 (parts and labour). VW failed to offer any contribution to the replacement cost of the ECU.

4-5-2018: Report of transmission bearings failing on 2012 VW Passat estate at 30,000 miles. Car purchased from independent garage.

23-5-2018: Report of 2014 VW Passat 2.0TDI needing new front brake discs and pads due to corrosion pitting of the discs at 24,000 miles. VW dealer quoted £750 for the job (nearly twice what it should cost).

25-7-2018: Report of a/c compressor failure on 2013 VW Passat 2.0TDI soon after EGR failed and was replaced after the NOx emissions update. Quoted £800 to replace.

13-8-2018: Report of automatic brake auto hold of 58k mile 2013 VW Passat B7 intermittently not working. Shuts off whilst driving then comes back on then off and on, etc. When it goes off the dashboard fills with various amber warning signs which suggest low tyre pressure, ABS deactivated and steering fault. Owner told it might be caused by a dirty Mass Airflow Sensor sending the wrong signals to the ECU so it does not realise the car has been braked to a standstill. We wonder if it might be the brake light switch.

25-8-2018: Report of intermittent 'shudder' for a few seconds (a little like a misfire) when 2013 VW Passat B7 Alltrack 2.0TDI is under very light throttle (just enough to maintain speed), or backing off very light throttle into deceleration. Car has 106,000 mioes, had the NOx emissions software update and a new EGR that failed 2 months after the update. Recently had cam-belt and water pump changed. Has always been regularly serviced and run on Super-diesel. Problem seemed to have worsened since the cam-belt change, but owner had that re-checked by the garage (a very good reputable independent) and timing etc is all OK. Fuel consumption is unchanged and fine (c. 44 mpg on a run) and the car pulls and runs well under normal acceleration. Local VW dealer then had it for a week running numerous tests to try and identify / eliminate possible causes. Turned out to be what they described as a ‘back-flow’ issue on three of the injectors. They were replaced (at eye-watering cost) and the car is now running better than ever.

27-9-2018: Owner of 2011 VW Passat TDI claims he never saw starter motor recall recall letter issued 7-3-2018 or its follow up. Starter motor subseenetly caught fire. Owner put it out with his own extinguisher. VW replaced the starter motor and made good the damage, but car now smells of burned plastics and owner is worried the fumes may be toxic.

14-4-2019: Report of engine management light of 2011 VW Passat 2.0TDI estate intermittently coming on, seemingly from the EGR: Code P0403. Not affecting performance. More than 2 years since EA189 NOx fix. Quoted £700 for replacement EGR.

1-8-2019: Report of failure of clutch slave cylinder in VW Passat 2.0TDI Bluemotion at 46,000 miles.

6-8-2019: Report of failure of No 1 injector in engine of VW Passat 1.6TDI Bluemotion 6 months after the NOx emissions fix. Should be covered under VAG's 'Trust Building Measure'.

8-8-2019: Report of two failures of a/c compressor of 2013 VW Passat 2.0TDI DSG; first time after 4.5 years; 2nd time 14 months later. Dealer replacing it FoC. Might be due to the belt being too tight. Another report of the a/c bracket failing on a Tiguan.

29-12-2019: Report fof one family's VW Passat B7 and B8 2.0TDI manual estates both cutting out occasionally without warning at slow speeds and take several seconds to restart. Alarming on roundabouts, etc. Possible caused by a sticking brake pedal switch.

37 Problems reported since 11-1-2013


20-06-2012: In response to a lawsuit from nearly one thousand VW owners, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has officially stated that it is presently impossible to determine whether or not the DSG gearboxes require a recall, the Economic Information Daily reported today. Jiang Suhua, partner of Beijing-based Yingke Law Firm, received a letter from AQSIQ saying that, "following expert analysis, investigation and authentication of issues mentioned by consumers with the DSG gearboxes, [we] are still unable to determine whether or not [they] are defective." AQSIQ has previously stated that if they found that the DSG gearboxes were indeed defective, they would adhere to the appropriate legislation and issue a full vehicle recall in order to protect customers. An official from the AQSIQ's Defective Product Center, who wished to remain anonymous, personally believed that the main reason VW has received such a high number of complaints is that it did not fully consider China's driving environment. In Beijing and other large cities where congestion rates are very high, drivers are forced to constantly shift gears, placing a considerable amount of strain on the transmission. The climate in western Sichuan and other regions is extremely humid, while several cities boast high rates of pollution, both of which may have further exacerbated issues. "We are extremely concerned… about the issue with VW's DSG gearboxes," AQSIQ said, confirming that it had requested the manufacturer to promptly resolve the issue and satisfy consumer demands on numerous occasions. Its Defective Product Center, meanwhile, is conducting various tests and experiments on the gearboxes to analyze the source of the problem. AQSIQ stated that it will continue to analyze the problem in order to determine whether or not it poses a legitimate safety risk. Last month, VW issued an officially apology to Chinese drivers affected by issues with its DQ200 dual-clutch transmissions. It also announced that it would be extending warranties for DQ 200 seven-speed and DQ 250 six-speed gearboxes to cover ten years and 160,000 km.

4-11-2015: EA888 1.8TFSI and 2.0TFSI engines recalled in USA because the rear camshaft lobe is prone to unexpectedly shear off from the shaft. The failure causes reduced engine power and loss of vacuum pump power, cutting vacuum supply to the brake booster and eventually resulting in increased braking effort."A reduction in engine power and/or increased need for braking effort after vacuum reserve has been depleted while driving can increase the risk of a crash," a statement cautions. The campaign affects approximately 92,000 vehicles including the 2015-2016 Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Golf, Golf GTI, Golf SportWagen, Jetta and Passat. In notifying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, VAG stated that the root cause of the camshaft failures has not been fully understood. The company is still continuing an in-depth failure analysis and development of a repair solution, however a fix may not be ready until the end of the first quarter next year.

7-3-2018: R/2018/062: VW Beetle, Eos, Golf, Jetta, Passat, Scirocco, Sharan, Tiguan, Touran: On vehicles with diesel engines and stop/start system, the starter motor may be permanently activated because the return spring in the solenoid switch is bent or broken. If the permanent current supply to the starter motor is not noticed, overheating of the component with local scorching damage and a vehicle fire is possible. FIX: Recall the vehicles that are likely to be affected and replace the solenoid switch. BUILD DATES: 1-3-2011 to 30-11-2011. VINS: WVWZZZ16ZBM100164 to WVWZZZ16ZBM130266; WVWZZZ13ZBV034137 to WVWZZZ13ZCV009398; WVWZZZ1FZBV013207 to WVWZZZ1FZCV009587; WVWZZZ1KZBM692205 to WVWZZZ1KZCW500862; WVWZZZ3CZCP002191 to WVWZZZ3CZCP000031; WVWZZZ16ZBM100164 to WVWZZZ16ZBM130266; WVWZZZ7NZBV032922 to WVWZZZ7NZCV009132; WVGZZZ5NZBW103889 to WVGZZZ5NZBW124589; WVGZZZ1TZBW087337 to WVGZZZ1TZCW002324; WVWZZZ3CZBE360689 to WVWZZZ3CZCE523000.

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