2000 VW Passat with 45,000 miles -- Repairs vs. when to change to new car?

Hi everyone, I would like to ask you for your advice about my 2000 VW Passat which has very low mileage (45,000 miles) and has routinely been maintained at recommended time/mileage points. Due to the age of the car, I am needing to replace various parts that age and northeast weather conditions have affected (such as brakes, various rubber parts that have cracked, and most recently the anti-lock brake system computer is failing). At what point should I consider buying a new car vs. continuing with repairs to keep this car up? With such low mileage, does my car have more years left in its life then if it had much higher mileage? If my car still has several good years left, then I can justify putting money into these repairs. Do you think it is worth it? I would really appreciate any advice you all might have. Thanks a lot!

“northeast weather conditions” . . . if I were you, I’d pay somebody to go over it with a fine toothed comb. that includes driving over various road surfaces, and putting it on a hoist to carefully inspect for rust

“anti-lock brake system computer is failing” . . . please elaborate

Does the fault code indicate the control module itself is faulty? When you clear the code, does it come right back?

if this car has a timing belt, and you haven’t replaced it yet, you’re way overdue, by time

I don’t think anyone here can give you meaningful advice, because we can’t see the car. Generally, a well-maintained car is worth keeping, but if the body or undercarriage show signs of rust the end is inevitable and near. Have the body and frame thoroughly inspected by a reputable shop to determine if it’s time to cut and run or fix it up.

It’s hard to say from the info you provide, but my instinct – based on owning an older VW Rabbit years ago – is that you should probably part ways with this car if you absolutely need a reliable and economical ride. Even though it only has 45K miles, time takes its toll. Especially in Boston’s winter and salt air.

Hi db4690, asemaster and GeorgeSanJose,
Thank you all for your advice. It does sound like I need to get it looked at carefully. Not being as knowledgeable as you all are, I’m sorry I can’t elaborate too well, but the ABS brake fault light came on and the VW service department said it was the ABS computer system starting to fail when they looked at it and that if not replaced, the whole ABS system will likely fail. About half a year ago, I had to replace some parts in the undercarriage that was rusted (again sorry I can’t remember the exact part to tell you so I would have to look it up in my repair receipt). There does not seem to be any rust in the body. If I have recently done the replacements of the rusted parts in the undercarriage, is it likely I might still be able to have a little more time?
Thank you all for your time/thoughts!

I think rust can be compared to that mythical hydra creature

If you chop off one head, another will appear to take its place

I think about $100 or so spent for an inspection will give you the answers you need

Whoever you go to, tell him you’re thinking of buying the car, and you’d like to know what he thinks is necessary, and if the body is okay, or rotten

This car needs to go to someone who’ll put 20+K miles/year on in. Your minimal use contributes to the rusting issues. Trade it while it has some value, and enjoy your new car.

First you have to deal with the reality that your car is 14 years old. Regardless of the miles, it is old. Stuff like rubber and plastic deteriorate over time. Even if the car had -0- miles; rubber, plastic, and fluids degrade. Just like stuff in your fridge goes bad whether you eat or not, similar with your car.

2nd, even with the low miles a 14 year old car really doesn’t have much “value” anymore. A replacement of similar size would be $25,000 but your car isn’t worth much anymore - I’d guess about $2,000 to 3,000.

Your car has virtually no value, but if you can fix it and keep it going a few years then it might have some benefit to you. Money spent on this car might keep you from spending more money on a new or newer car. As a car ages you can expect to spend more per year on repairs. At this point your car has little to no trade in or resale value. Putting more money into it for repairs is really a matter of how much you can afford, and what a new car would cost.

Figure what your monthly payment would be for a new car purchased with a loan from a bank or credit union. Then decide if you want a new car loan payment, and most likely higher yearly insurance premiums. Then you can decide if a new car is worth the money to you. To keep your old car you should budget $2,000 to 3,000 a year for repairs. Some years you’ll spend less, but another year you might spend more, ie. if the tranny goes bad on you.

I dunno but when a VW starts to have electrical problems, you might be happier with something else.

My neighbor had a Passat and dumped it at 65,000 miles; too many repairs that should not happen with a good car.

Something went wrong with the shift mechanism on the automatic and it cost $1000 to fix. This type of thing happens to good cars at perhaps 300,000 miles.

The timing belt tensioner is a weak point on this car as well.

2000-ish VWs were in the ‘bad period’ for VW. I’d be looking at a new(er) car.

You are the original owner? I assume so since I can’t imagine you bought the car 3 yrs ago with 36kmiles.

I would dump it. I had a 2002 that I bailed on after 37k bought it new and took really good care of it. Sold mine in 2005 and that was one of the worst cars I had.

Some years ago, I was asked for advice about a 2006 Mercedes-Benz E350

I said as politely as possible that they should get rid of the car as quickly as possible. Because it has the most unreliable engine, coupled with the most unreliable transmission, coupled with the various electrical problems that chassis was known for, not to mention the expensive brake problems, etc.

What happened?

They shot the messenger

I apologize if somebody reading this has one of these and has had excellent experiences with it

But as far as I’m concerned my example is from the “dark ages” of Benz

Your minimal use contributes to the rusting issues.


2000-ish VWs were in the ‘bad period’ for VW.

I wasn’t aware that they had successfully exited their Bad Period.

Well, the VW Golf and Jetta have been average to better-than-average in CR ratings for the last 5 years, and several Audis are now the same. Will it last? Who knows. But the outright disasters that were VWs/Audis around 2000 seem to have been greatly reduced.

"Your minimal use contributes to the rusting issues.


I am assuming OP lives where it rains and maybe snows. Driving a lot will keep the car drier on average.

The ABS computer is an easy fix if you have some mechanical ability . Mine went out and I drove for 6 months without it .
That car is due for a timing belt and tensioner change which costs about $1200. My '99 Passat has 180.000 miles in it and I love driving it but the heater is failing and that’s a $1000 job to fix .
Take a look at ModuleMaster.com for info on the ABS and PassatWorld web site for lots of info on this car .

BTW VW service departments are notorious for inflated repair costs … find a reputable VW specialist .
And further … my car has no visible rust except for some surface rust on the muffler … the car is galvanized and they rarely rust . I live in New Jersey which is a rust belt State .