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    Thread: '03 Passat W8: Torque Converter and Cam Adjuster Problem in last 10 days

    1. 07-21-2008 11:57 AM #1
      I've been reading this forum for years as I own an '03 Passat W8. Up until two weeks ago, this car ran like a top.

      I had heard about torque converter and cam adjuster issues on this forum, but, never had experienced it in the 95K miles I've owned this car (got it new).

      After a routine oil change (religiously kept to the maintenance schedule), a CEL code popped up that was translated to a Torque Converter service for ~$2.8K. Always one to hold cars unless it is financially no longer viable, I decided after consultation with the service manager and the mechanic to do this service.

      Upon pulling into their garage, the car began a slight vibration (just slight) and another CEL code popped up, but, I did not have a reader available to see what the code was (dealer had cleared the previous one). I asked the dealer to check the code and consult with me once they reported to me what that code was. They never did.

      After 5 days, I received a call that the car is ready, but, the CEL code that popped up was translated to a cam adjuster issue and would cost another $6.5K-$7K to fix. Feeling "bad", they decided not to charge me for the torque converter service and I limped home. They car now vibrates 10x as hard and spews black smoke.

      I was told that the cats will fail once they fill up with carbon, so, this car is a total loss. So, I decided to take them to court.

      Last Friday, I got a call from the dealer (service mgr) and they said that they are going to ask VW corporate to fix the car completely (for free) so that I can at least become a "semi-satisfied" customer. I said "We'll see".

      My question to those of you in the forum is the following:

      * has the dealer ever tried to do something like this to you
      * were they successful in getting them to do the service?
      * was it VW corporate techs that fixed it?
      * did they car work like it did when you brought the car in to them in the beginning?

      Thanks!

      Dean


    2. 07-21-2008 05:03 PM #2
      Don't hold your breath waiting for VWOA to fix anything for free. I am in contact with them for the cam adjuster problem, and I'm even forking over my own money to do the clutch and O2 sensors ($2-3K) and no one is budging. The car's been in the shop almost a month and as soon ass they "fix" it I'm going to sue everyone I can think of. Every W8 owner should be calling VWOA and raining hell, as well as contacting their states Atty General office.

    3. 07-22-2008 11:55 AM #3
      As you know this was a common problem with the W8. When I was still at the dealer vwoa helped many times on the cam adjuster issue. You may also call vwoa for help. Just know that being nice is the key to getting the help. Pissed off customers get pushed aside. Good luck. If you were closer I could give you more help.

    4. 07-22-2008 03:50 PM #4
      I just got word that VWofA and the dealer are willing to subsidize this work. They did not give specifics, but, that will come in the next couple of days. I didn't hear the voice mail well enough but it sounded like they would pay for half of the camshaft work.

      If I (and the dealer for that matter) had known this was a common problem when I purchased the car new in '03, I would have passed on this and just taken a VR6 AWD. But that's neither hear nor there now.

      I know your comments are trying to help, but, me being nice to a company representing the manufacturer of a car that was IMHO known to have issues from the beginning (or at least they are negligent in their testing process) is silly. The fact of the matter is, they've lost a customer and gained a fervent anti-VW spokesperson if they aren't nice to me!!!

      I'll keep you posted on what transpires.


    5. 07-23-2008 12:15 AM #5
      Don't get me wrong I am not on vwoa side. It just happens I was the W8 tech before I left the dealer. I own an indepent vw audi shop now. After doing 30 or so cam adjuster jobs I just feel for you. Also know that this problem did not begin until late 04 early 05. Most of the time around 40K. VWOA was done selling the W8 in the U.S. before the problems began. You can I.M. if you want more info or good pics of what the job really takes. Make sure the dealer has a tech that has good knowledge of this vehicle.

    6. 07-23-2008 02:45 PM #6
      Can you provide info on this "subsidy" as it happens? My car has been in the shop for a month now and the dealer isn't even giving me a break on the O2 sensors or clutch I'm adding to the job. For everyone with a W8 cam adjuster special it probably would help if you called VWOA, as they seem to be "unaware" of the problem.

    7. 07-23-2008 04:27 PM #7
      I just got word that VWofA and the dealer are willing to subsidize this work. They did not give specifics, but, that will come in the next couple of days. I didn't hear the voice mail well enough but it sounded like they would pay for half of the camshaft work.

      If I (and the dealer for that matter) had known this was a common problem when I purchased the car new in '03, I would have passed on this and just taken a VR6 AWD. But that's neither hear nor there now.

      I know your comments are trying to help, but, me being nice to a company representing the manufacturer of a car that was IMHO known to have issues from the beginning (or at least they are negligent in their testing process) is silly. The fact of the matter is, they've lost a customer and gained a fervent anti-VW spokesperson if they aren't nice to me!!!

      I'll keep you posted on what transpires.


    8. 07-28-2008 10:19 AM #8
      OK, on Thursday of last week, I got word from my VW dealer that VWofA and the dealer will subsidize the work of the cam adjusters to the point where the cost of doing both torque converter and cam adjusters will be for the price of the torque converter change.

      So, for both sets of work, this will run me ~$3.5K. I unfortunatley, had to pay for the torque converter, so, I eat that cost (the price above includes that).

      Basically, VWofA understood that situation that I had. A person who has been and is looking to maintain their car for the long term and the design of the car fails them.

      In the beginning of this ordeal, I vowed to never buy a VW/Audi (or even German car for that matter) ever again and told people to do the same. Although the ordeal is not over yet (the car will be ready by early next week), I still will not buy another "funky" German car again, but, I no longer advertise that opinion. If the "fix" works, and over a period of time, I no longer see any other "major" issues, then I will consider another VW/Audi/German car.

      But, this ordeal is not over yet--stay tuned.


    9. 07-28-2008 03:50 PM #9
      my recent experience with VWOA was mixed. From a follow thru perspective, they did what they said they would do in the timelines they first claimed, however, they didnt offer to assist in covering anything even though my w8 had 57K miles and 3 months over the 5 year warrantee period. They told me to deal directly with the warrantee company and that there wasnt anything they could do... even though I bought the warrantee thru a dealership..... luckily, it all worked out OK in the end and the warrantee company paid but what a terrible stress.. not sure whether or not I was going to be out 5 to 8 thousand dollars... the cost to fix is CRAZY high.

    10. 07-29-2008 11:45 AM #10
      OK, on Thursday of last week, I got word from my VW dealer that VWofA and the dealer will subsidize the work of the cam adjusters to the point where the cost of doing both torque converter and cam adjusters will be for the price of the torque converter change.

      So, for both sets of work, this will run me ~$3.5K. I unfortunatley, had to pay for the torque converter, so, I eat that cost (the price above includes that).

      Basically, VWofA understood that situation that I had. A person who has been and is looking to maintain their car for the long term and the design of the car fails them.

      In the beginning of this ordeal, I vowed to never buy a VW/Audi (or even German car for that matter) ever again and told people to do the same. Although the ordeal is not over yet (the car will be ready by early next week), I still will not buy another "funky" German car again, but, I no longer advertise that opinion. If the "fix" works, and over a period of time, I no longer see any other "major" issues, then I will consider another VW/Audi/German car.

      But, this ordeal is not over yet--stay tuned.


    11. 07-30-2008 12:14 PM #11
      OK, on Thursday of last week, I got word from my VW dealer that VWofA and the dealer will subsidize the work of the cam adjusters to the point where the cost of doing both torque converter and cam adjusters will be for the price of the torque converter change.

      So, for both sets of work, this will run me ~$3.5K. I unfortunatley, had to pay for the torque converter, so, I eat that cost (the price above includes that).

      Basically, VWofA understood that situation that I had. A person who has been and is looking to maintain their car for the long term and the design of the car fails them.

      In the beginning of this ordeal, I vowed to never buy a VW/Audi (or even German car for that matter) ever again and told people to do the same. Although the ordeal is not over yet (the car will be ready by early next week), I still will not buy another "funky" German car again, but, I no longer advertise that opinion. If the "fix" works, and over a period of time, I no longer see any other "major" issues, then I will consider another VW/Audi/German car.

      But, this ordeal is not over yet--stay tuned.


    12. 07-31-2008 01:08 AM #12
      for what its worth, a cheap fix... run motor flush thru the engine oil, ( at your own risk, liabilaty issue) I did it in my nephews w8, thru my VW shop, it cleared all the sludge up, and a year later no problems!

    13. 07-31-2008 10:42 AM #13
      Dealer already tried that as per VWofA recommendation. Apparently, the color/consistency of the flush never changed when it came out of the motor. They tried it multiple times.

      I've heard stories (don't know if it was in this forum) where the adjuster casing has a screen where the oil enters the part. The design of the casing filter is such that any kind of out-of-norm movement (like taking down the engine/tranny for a torque converter change) could be enough for these screens to partly disconnect and "fold" onto themselves causing a blockage. It doesn't take long at that point for the problem to get really bad.

      I've had the "misfire" issues on and off for a couple of years now (never knew it could have been the adjusters), but, frequent oil changes have kept it "under control". It wasn't until the car had its first major repair that they decided to fail.

      So, not only will my dealer replace the adjusters, it will also replace the casing around it to make sure that these screens use the newly designed replacement part.

      I didn't know that these casings were a separate part from the actual adjusters.

      Anyone heard of this before?


    14. 07-31-2008 01:39 PM #14
      I'm glad they're "helping" you to a point. However, for a car that has all the qualities of one that should be recalled, I don't feel they are doing enough. Mine has been back together for a week, and they will not return it because they say they can't clear the check engine light. What is really going on is anybody's guess. If I decide to sue VWOA I will let everyone know so that you can jump aboard. In the mean time, you should be calling VWOA if you've had any problems with cam adjusters or torque converters

    15. 07-31-2008 01:44 PM #15
      Keep us informed.

      I believe that the best tactic is a class action law suit. Separate suits do not provide for an overall solution to a problem that is widespread.

      My issue is well known to VWofA as they are subsidizing this fix.

      I still haven't received my car back, although it should be in by early next week. We'll see if we have the same issue.


    16. 08-04-2008 11:30 AM #16
      It shouldn't have had to go that far. To quote you $6500-$7500 additional while the trans is out doing the t/c is harsh....
      Dubs of days gone by -
      85 GTI - Black 5spd
      86 Jetta Coupe - White 5spd
      01 Passat GLX - Indigo Blue 5 spd
      03 Passat W8 6 spd - Pacific Blue

    17. 08-14-2008 03:10 PM #17
      Ugh...I am in the same boat. I bought my 2003 w8 passat 6 weeks ago and now the dealership is telling me it's going to be around $5,000 to fix it. Of course I am at 52,000 miles and just out of warranty.

      My primary complaint is that if these oil screens are coming loose and causing the cam adjustor/sensor to fail, why hasn’t there been a recall yet, if so many people are having this problem? I also read that when this repair is done, that they are replacing this part with the screens, with an updated one. So they fixed this part knowing that it fails…? It’s a known issue, there should be a recall!!

      I have spoken to vwoa and they will not help at all. I would like to offer any assistance in bringing forth a law suit...



      Modified by nickgnelson at 7:59 AM 8/15/2008


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      08-14-2008 08:42 PM #18
      Welcome as a new member of the W8 crowd that has encountered the dreaded cam adjuster problem. Just had mine done recently to the tune of $10k all paid for by VWof A since my car luckily was still under the factory powertrain warranty.

      Check out the website exclusively for the W8 crowd for more info: http://www.w8forum.dk

      Happy Motoring!


    19. 08-18-2008 08:45 AM #19
      The drivetrain warranty is 60K I believe. Make sure you check and do not let them rob you of coverage, because they will try.

      As an update we got our W8 back after 6 weeks, $9K plus $2K of our own money, the car ran for a week and now has broken down again. Seems to be the same problem. VWOA tries to do nothing and I've never heard any details about how they "subsidize" any of this work. Class action or VW buyback/insurance total - for fair value - seems to be the course of action that should be forced on them as most of these cars will probably never really run again.


    20. Member Slimjimmn's Avatar
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      10-15-2008 07:18 PM #20
      The lasto ne I did before I left the dealer business.....
      the car is on an inclined driveway and up on jack stands in the front only
      02 GTI 1.8t:> 42DD 3" turboback, BFI full stg1 mount kit, Evoms CAI, Forge boost hoses, Tacotaco sidemount, Ebay TIP, IE 2.0 coil conversion, IE manual tensioner, 20th front brake conversion, IE emissions delete, 42dd catch can, Koni STR.t & WRD sport springs, Samco Coolant hoses, SMF vr6 clutch kit.

    21. Member 71DubBugBug's Avatar
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      10-16-2008 11:42 PM #21
      Quote, originally posted by Slimjimmn »
      The lasto ne I did before I left the dealer business.....

      i see that a lot when i visit my local dealer, a lot of passats r always being ripped apart


    22. 11-04-2008 03:49 PM #22
      My 03' Passat W8 has been with my local VW dealership for over a month. First they replaced one set of cam adjusters to be told by tech line that they should have done all 4.

      My motor has been dropped twice... I"m about ready to call the BAR and file a complaint.

      Then they had a bunch of other stuff they had to replace.. sorry I'm not techy and don't know what they were, my husband does. My car is covered under CPO warranty so no $$ out of my pocket just a pain in my ass. I've been having to carpool with the hubby in the harlequin golf... LOL.

      I'm pretty pissed that VW knows of this problem and doesn't do a recall. I'm all for a class action. I'm loyal to VW but now is the time for them to return the loyatly.

      Passat W8 owners UNITE!!!
      Missi


    23. 11-05-2008 07:35 PM #23
      Update - VWofAmerica is sending a tech to my local dealership on Friday to see if he can "help" the local tech figure out what the problem is....

      Can you believe it? Still don't have an ETA on getting my car back. So far it's been 31 days...


    24. 11-06-2008 10:47 PM #24
      If it shake with no code the Balance shaft belt slips a tooth and it feels like you lost a few cylinders. My slipped right after the cam adjuster service. So i was terrified.

      After taking it back and them going Uh I never saw that before what could be wrong?.?

      But did it my self in a few hours.
      I hit the books and found that tiny belt keeps the entire engine in balance, no service bulletin no recommended service , nothing at Vw addresses this belt at all. Totally fu by voa to not list a service interval on a tiny little rubber belt, A total 200 with tension pully and cover in parts...

      Say "Balance Shaft belt under the Crankshaft pully?" Just to see if they even know what it is...


    25. Member 71DubBugBug's Avatar
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      12-07-2008 10:51 AM #25
      Quote, originally posted by Miss W8 »
      Update - VWofAmerica is sending a tech to my local dealership on Friday to see if he can "help" the local tech figure out what the problem is....

      Can you believe it? Still don't have an ETA on getting my car back. So far it's been 31 days...

      did he figure anything out?


    26. 12-07-2008 03:10 PM #26
      Redesigned Cam Adjuster????

      I keep hearing references of VW's replacement cam adjusters for the W8 having a redesign to stop all the failures...NOT!!

      Read how many people are on their second set of adjusters. My car was brought in for the adjusters for the 2nd time and now it has a NEW engine.

      VWoA sent a tech down twice for this last cam adjuster replacement and I got to speak with him. He told me that there is no difference between the replacement adjuster and the original. The problem is not with the adjuster. The problem is the motor. The screen in the adjuster fails because it gets clogged with metal fines from the engine. The oil pressure from the engine is enough to blow a hole through the adjuster and then there is a large mass of metal fines and metal screen particals that get lodged inside the came adjuster and causes it to fail. There is no fix. That's why there has been no recall. VW can not fix this problem. The only viable fix would be to replace the entire engine with something equivelent and there isn't anything close except the 3.2L V6 from the Audi.


      Modified by un4givun2 at 11:12 AM 12-7-2008


    27. 12-08-2008 10:47 AM #27
      My car went back at 74K with never having cam adjuster issues in my possession. Maybe more frequent oil changes and/or better quality oil. My car is in another owner's hands for 2 1/2 years now as far as I know. I changed my oil far more than the factory recommends and did NOT use Castrol Syntec. It's not a great oil. Let's be realistic, Castrol was simply the lowest bidder. I was and a still am not a believer in the first oil change being at 5,000 miles.

      I created a big stink on passatworld when I changed my oil at 1300 miles. All the internet engineers condemned me and my engine to a life of doom. I checked the oil new and at 600 miles. At 600, it was 1 qt low. I topped it off and checked it again at 1200 miles. Oil level was fine so I changed it and sent the factory oil for analysis. I think I still have the pdf file they emailed me. That whizz-bang factory don't change for 5,000 mile crap was just that, CRAP. "Copper level HIGH. Oxidation HIGH" among others. "RECOMMENDATION: Change if not already changed and check at normal intervals"

      I used Amp Oil 10W60 racing synthetic that a friend's shop was the sole importer of. I used that up to the 35,000 mile point when it became too expensive for him to continue importing. I changed it at: 1300, 4200, 9700, 15,500, 23,000 - the longest interval I ever went on any car. I sent that Amp Oil to the same lab for analysis to see if I was wasting my money: "Copper,oxidation normal. Sheer of 10W40. RECOMMENDATION: Check at normal interval", 29,000 and 35,000 when I switched to PentoSyn 5W40.

      10,000 mile oil change intervals are B/S in any car. Thank the accountants & marketing departments for that..

      Dubs of days gone by -
      85 GTI - Black 5spd
      86 Jetta Coupe - White 5spd
      01 Passat GLX - Indigo Blue 5 spd
      03 Passat W8 6 spd - Pacific Blue

    28. 12-10-2008 10:38 PM #28
      600 miles on the first quart of oil on a brand new W8? I have a brand new W8 and I just put 600 miles on it. The oil level has not changed.

      I'm not sure I understood the point you were trying to make. I changed my oil every 3-4K and I used Mobile 1 full synthetic. No amount of expensive oil will fix a bad design.

      I change my oil religiously and I use only premium synthetic oils every 3-4K.


    29. 12-11-2008 03:42 PM #29
      I was speaking generally that the oil change intervals and quality oil they spec'd sucks. As for my consuming a quart of oil in the first 600 miles, I don't find it unacceptable for a new engine to consume oil. And leaving that crappy oil in for the first 5000 miles is a definate no-no in my book, particularly with the analysis that came back on it..
      Dubs of days gone by -
      85 GTI - Black 5spd
      86 Jetta Coupe - White 5spd
      01 Passat GLX - Indigo Blue 5 spd
      03 Passat W8 6 spd - Pacific Blue

    30. 12-11-2008 09:38 PM #30
      I agree that you should change he oil the first 500-1000 miles. As soon as mine gets out of the shop for 3 new fuel sending units I will change the oil. It will have about 650 miles on the new engine.

      Eveyone has their own opinion on what is acceptable for oil burn off. If that car burned 1qt in 600 miles you would have had engine codes going off like the 4th of July. It just isn't possible. I have rebuilt several motors myself and if I had an engine that could not go 1500 miles on the 1st quart I would tear it down and do it over.


    31. 12-12-2008 03:12 AM #31
      I have (gasp) two w8's an 03 and a 04.

      Both from new. Both at 75K

      Wifes car, almost zero issues, drives sane no drifting red lining or drag racing. Brakes, tires, set of plugs and filters that is all.
      used liqua moly 5-40 from day one in both, screw that castrol blend the dealers push. Both oil changes at 5k every time.

      Who broke a balance shaft belt. tensioner faults and multiple sets of brakes and tires. Me not her.

      you drive hard, you need more service. end of story. Find a used w8 with a soft driver and you will see a few less problems.

      How many of you have changed the balance shaft belt.... it is a 40k service and after skipping a tooth will run poor. maybe even enough that a dealer will miss diagnose.


      Modified by KubvanTurbo at 11:17 PM 12-11-2008


    32. Member badger5's Avatar
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      12-12-2008 01:17 PM #32
      from what i am reading here is W8 is avoid unless your brave.. is that really the case?

      Considering one for a tow car for my racecar, but i need something i just drive, oil change and use.

      Seems the fix is to simply replace the poor design component for the same poor design one. filter mesh and particle contamination etc if i get the gist of what people are saying.
      why is'nt the oil filtration system picking these up or is it a case of the filters are too coarse for the problem particles? is a finer engine oil filter available?

      Who would advise me to buy a W8?
      or VR 4motion 2.8 motor instead.

      GT35R, Full-Race, DTA S60, SEM, WMI, 8 injectors, SQS Transmission, 1000kg car, >500bhp, Racecar (circuit)
      www.badger5.co.uk

    33. 12-12-2008 01:31 PM #33
      Quote, originally posted by un4givun2 »
      I agree that you should change he oil the first 500-1000 miles. As soon as mine gets out of the shop for 3 new fuel sending units I will change the oil. It will have about 650 miles on the new engine.

      Eveyone has their own opinion on what is acceptable for oil burn off. If that car burned 1qt in 600 miles you would have had engine codes going off like the 4th of July. It just isn't possible. I have rebuilt several motors myself and if I had an engine that could not go 1500 miles on the 1st quart I would tear it down and do it over.

      I'm with you in some respect but it burned 1 quart at the first 600 miles then never another drop so I was fine with it.. I drove the car 100 mph the first night I got it, not bouncing off the rev limiter at each shifts, just a sedate roll up to 100 mph, which was only about 3600 rpms in 6th gear. After the first oil change, I drove it the way I drive every car...

      Dubs of days gone by -
      85 GTI - Black 5spd
      86 Jetta Coupe - White 5spd
      01 Passat GLX - Indigo Blue 5 spd
      03 Passat W8 6 spd - Pacific Blue

    34. 12-12-2008 04:17 PM #34

      I drive better/easier today than I ever have in my life. For the first time I have no tickets on my driving record. Yet, this W8 has been in the shop now 13 of the last 14 weeks. In the past 24 months it has been in the shop for 5 months. It has had the transmission and the engine replaced (not removed, repaired, or rebuilt.....But, REPLACED!).

      This W8 is the most unreliable car I've ever owned in my entire life. Here's a list of cars I've owned since 1982 (in order from most reliable to least reliable):
      1) 1993 Chevy Caprice (just sold it, 140K no repairs & 26 mpg)
      2) 1976 Chevy Impala 220K (water pump, shocks)
      3) 1995 Mistu Eclipse (wrecked at 80K, no repairs)
      4) 1987 Dodge Shadow Turbo (200K, head gasket at 185K, struts & ball joints at 170K)
      5) 1998 Honda Accord (currently own 110K, intake gasket, EGR valve, & ignition switch)
      6) 2000 Dodge Dakota R/T (currently own 60K, upgraded brakes @ 10K, no other repairs)
      7) 1994 Dodge Dakota (Lousy brakes!!, brake rebuild every 10K)
      8) 1989 Ford Taurus, (lots of minor electrical repairs: light switches, window motors, widshield wiper motors, door locks, fuel pump, etc..)
      9) 1992 Taurus SHO 120K (ECU, Coil Pack, Crank Sensor, Cam Shaft Sensor, Water Pump, Fuel Pump, & Alternator)
      10) 1992 Dodge Dakota 4WD (totaled @ 80K, replaced transmission @ 44K, terrible brakes)
      11) 1972 VW Beetle (where do you start? Worked on it every day. Everything replaced at least once.)
      12) 2002 Passat W8, 77K, (currently own, replaced Alternator, Water Pump, Radiator Fan, Cam Adjusters, CV joint boots, Transmission, Engine, ECU, Gas Tank, All 3 Gas Gage sending units, emergency brake cable, timing chain, steering wheel electronic control unit, home link sun visor, carpet from massive water leak) (currently needs hood strut, new red LCD read out in the instrument panel)


    35. 12-12-2008 06:24 PM #35
      Whining about a carpet from a water leak. no way... too funny

      oh my your hood shock has failed. wow I would so not work on your car if you were at my shop.

      i have had over 100 cars in my life.. now have 18 personally, What do I drive everyday for the last 4 years, the W8.

      never even keep a car this long, that's how much I like it. I would never tow a race car with a passat ; thats not right... get a truck!

      Read between the lines when you see a post about how the car has been in the shop forever and I'm a hostile customer and hate the car...

      Now I want to flame it to everyone and kill the love and your resale value with my posts (even though I am moving on)

      Wow
      just wow


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