This September 06 I have done the following at 58K miles:
Changed air, cabin air filter, oil change with synthetic oil (I recommend Amsoil), new spark plugs (All Yearly). Plugs oil and air yearly for optimal fuel efficiency.
Applied heat conductive paste to the ignition module. (Yearly)
New front brakes (7mm Allen key for caliper Sears 0.97 cents), rotors. New front left driver side axle aftermarket from drivewire.com, rotated tires, changed brake fluid. I just swapped out the axle because the boot was bad.
Changed timing belt, while in there I changed the water pump impeller, thermostat, all belts A/C Power steering and Serpentine belt and new coolant (Prestone Extended Life). Link To My Timing Belt Change Out Photos
Topped off the Power steering hydraulic fluid.
October 2006 Checked differential fluid level and changed. Located passenger side (8mm hex socket and extension). Pumped out about a pint and put in a pint and three quarters. It was definitely low. Used a fluid pump from sears. Next time can be drained from a bolt on the bottom of the differential. This is often overlooked when doing maintenance. Probably never done in 7 years so I would say a two-year check interval with a 4-year change is a good regimen to follow.
Left to do: Transmission fluid and filter change, throttle body cleaning, valve cover gasket.
I use this site for great instructions and tool listings for this car with procedures and photos to do most of the above items. Knowing what tool to use for each part made it a faster. I also used the Haynes Repair manual ($16 at AutoZone) as a reference. There were a few extra items that I have pictured in my photo album above like two extra 5mm bolts to release the lock carrier and the switch on the hood lock that were extra on my Passat. I experienced a few things that were not covered at this fine site and decided to document it here.
I used a small 12 Volt battery to keep the radio and computer info when disconnecting the main battery with no problem. The main reason that you disconnect the main battery is so there is no way to turn the motor over while working on the car and so the airbags don't fire accidentally.
For the timing belt change out process when changing the water pump impeller use new bolts and washers. I found many of the bolts had rust and corrosion. I got the 8 bolts at the VW dealer for $0.38 cents apiece. Get new washers also. I used the old washers because I did not think to get new at the dealer. When changing the water pump I ended up reusing the old metal gasket by cleaning the mating surfaces with a degreaser and used a thin coat of Permatex high temperature gasket maker to reseal. Follow instructions on the tube. I did not use any tools to clean the surfaces because they are aluminum and easily damaged. Do not use two gaskets like the old metal gasket and a kitted rubber gasket that comes with the ECS Tuning kit. The water pump will leak. The seal on the water pump is critical and using some gasket sealer on the old metal gasket will make it goof proof. I hope the above paragraph will save you having to redo the job. I also found that to change the timing belt first put the belt on and then put the tensioner roller into place and then the tensioner.
I bought the ECS tuning kit for the water pump change out which included a water pump impeller with gasket. Later on I found the same kit at the same price with more parts at dieselgeek.com so when it comes time to do this again if I stll have the car diesel geek will most likely get my business. I like the new OEM metal gasket in that kit. The bolts are a nice touch as well as the oil seals. My seals were not leaking but its good to have them just in case. I would like to see new water pump impeller bolts as well as washers in the above kits.
Another great parts source is autohausaz.com with free shipping for orders over $50. Prices are not the same at the sites so it pays to compare and shop around. The ECS kit was far cheaper than separate parts at Autohaus.
A good source for buying tools is http://www.sjdiscounttools.com/ as well as http://ebay.com. The way I did it was I made a list of all the tools I would need for the job(s) listed at the above website. Checked my toolbox for the ones I had and bought the rest. I got a great Sears Craftsman lower range torque wrench on Ebay for 34 plus shipping where to go to sears the same wrench was $74 plus tax. Another option would be to borrow tools like torque wrenches if people are willing to lend.
My reasons for doing it myself are many:
Cost savings. Most of the work is labor which is not difficult. Although I am not as fast as a professional mechanic with air tools who charges $50 an hour ($100 at the dealer) it takes me on average twice as long so in essence my personal time is worth $25 to $50 dollars an hour not to mention sales tax I would have to pay in addition. Parts are usually marked up %100 plus percent. For example ECS tuning kit $259 versus VW parts quote of $640 or local VW Shop $580 parts. If your not going to do the job yourself to save money, buy the parts yourself and have your local VW shop do the work. VW will probably not do this. First verify that the shop will install your parts on the car. I did incur a tool cost of about $100 for this job but the savings are still great. Torque wrenches can be used for other jobs and the tools are yours to keep for life. Using a torque wrench for the spark plugs during a tune up is the way to go with the aluminum head. Don’t forget the anti seize lubricant on the plugs. VW dealer quote $1350 plus tax not including plugs or coolant. Local VW shop quote for job $900 plus tax.
Knowing it was done right. A hurried mechanic is likely to skip some of the time consuming finer points. For example a “reputable” garage in my neighborhood did my front brakes last time. When I did my new pads I noticed that there was a direction of rotation marking arrow on the pads. The old pads were reversed in direction. The pads I installed have adhesive on the back of the outer pads where you have to remove the backing. Old pads still had the backing in place. They just slapped them in not bothering to remove the backing off the adhesive. I use torque wrenches to tighten bolts and spark plugs. A mechanic may take short cuts not stopping to set and use a torque wrench.
Feeling of satisfaction. There is nothing like doing a complex job and finishing it knowing you have prolonged the life of your auto.
It is FUN!
Why change out the timing belt at 60K? I am not under warranty. I want to protect my auto investment. Although VW (who is in business to sell cars and profit from parts and service) recommends 100K replacement interval I live in a city where I spend a lot of time idling at lights stop signs traffic etc. Rollers and belts have a finite life so another way to estimate maintenance interval would be to use the hours of engine time running instead of mileage. I have not figured out how to do this yet.
If you have any questions or comments relating to this VW Passat maintenance site email me at:
passat at elmark.net