2002 Passat GLS 1.8T Sedan Oil Consumption Issue

In the 6 years (60,000 miles), I’ve had this car with mainly city driving, I noticed that my Passat is consuming oil. I took the car to a local auto shop, one that is listed on your site as very good, to determine why the “STOP THE CAR…” alert is being displayed at times. They told me that I was about 2 quarts low on oil. So, they topped the oil off, and told me to monitor the level every few days. So, after about 2 weeks, I noticed the oil level starting to decrease. Now, after 3 weeks, the oil level is halfway down between the recommended range on the dipstick, and there are not any oil puddles in my garage or where I park at work. After searching online, I found many people reporting engine failures and an oil sludge issue due to not using synthetic oil. For the 5 yrs I’ve been driving this car, I didn’t know synthetic oil needed to be used. I guess, shame on me for not completely reading the owners manual. My question to you is: What are my options without having to spend thousands of dollars to diagnose and fix the problem? I’ve noticed from online searches that more than a few people have experienced something called “oil sludge problem”. What is this, and the cause? I have been getting oil changes within the recommended 5,000 range over the time I’ve had the car which was purchased new from a dealer in 2002. Last, when I placed my finger in the cold tailpipe, the substance on my fingers was black and powdery/not wet. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Jim

You’re burning oil. If it’s less than a quart every thousand miles or so, it’s considered normal for this engine. If it’s more than that, you need to have a mechanic who specializes in VWs take a look at it.

VW engines are famous for burning some oil as part of their normal operation. VW considers one quart per 1,000 miles to be “normal.”

I don’t think you have an oil sludge problem. Don’t spend any money, just check the oil on a regular basis and refill as necessary. Quarts per week or month is meaningless. You need to start measuring quarts of oil vs. mileage, and keeping track of it.

I suggest synthetic oil for the 1.8T, and any other turbocharged engine, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find it “required” by the owner’s manual. Yes, shame on you for not reading the manual.

The substance inside EVERYONE’S tailpipe is black and powdery. This means nothing.

The catalytic converter is burning up the oil. You’ll never see any oil smoke until the oil consumption becomes REALLY bad, but you probably won’t own the car by then.

Please check the maintenance schedule that came with the owner’s manual (I know, more reading). Your mainly city driving may fall under the “severe service” schedule and require more frequent oil changes. There are always mileage and/or time schedules, and whichever comes first is important.

As usual, McP has described everything perfectly. I’m in 100% agreement, including that part about using synthetic on turbocharged engines.

Sludging problems are caused by inadequate oil change intervals most of the time.
Often the factory or dealer recommended oil change interval is not frequent enough.

You have a 7 year old car with only 60k miles on it so this means your car no doubt sees a lot of short hop, stop and go driving, and/or infrequent use.
In a case like this 5k miles is far too long to go between oil changes and keep in mind that time (in months) is also a factor.
In some severe cases an oil change may be needed every 3k miles or 3-4 months; it all depends.

Light duty use of the car can also cause the tailpipe to soot up so all of that substance may not be oil.

You oil usage is not an indication of a sludge problem.  Let's hope your normal driving conditions and other factors have helped you avoid the sludge problem.  It is time to read that owner's manual.  I would suggest a change to an oil that meets the VW specifications and it will be synthetic.  It may also require something more specific than synthetic, like a 505.XX specification.  If so you may find it in the store or may need to go to VW to buy it. 

Don’t assume a mechanic (or ever a VW dealer) will use the right oil. You do need to be careful about that.

BTW you need to start checking your oil more often. That includes any other car’s you may have. Letting the oil go low enough for that light to come on can result in engine damage.

Yea, that oil usage sounds like it is within norms for any modern car (not just VW)

 [b] I have been getting oil changes within the recommended 5,000 range  [/b] 

I suspect if you read that owner’s manual it is more like 10,000 miles for normal driving. Changing it out more often may have saved you from the sludge.

I own a 2003 GLX Passat with the same oil consumption problem. I bought it in late 2006. I finally read the owner’s manual when the “…stop the car oil message…” came on and discovered the synthetic oil recommendation. I sure wish the dealership said something. I can’t even get to 3,000 miles before I’m atleast 2 quarts low.

I had the VW dealership change the oil and even they didn’t put the synthetic oil in. I called them to chew them out and they said they put in oil that won’t harm the engine. Will actually switching to synthetic oil reduce the oil consumption problem? It’s so much more expansive than standard 5W30 oil. It’s a $60 oil change versus $25. I’m not one who wants to babysit my car, so I guess I should look at selling it before I ruin the engine.