2003 VW Passat, low mileage - time for fuel rail & timing belt service?

I have a 2003 Passat wagon, with 23,349 mileage. My dealer says I need a Fuel Rail service, & Timing Belt service (usually recommended at 90,000 miles, so they say). Costs about $1000.00. They say age of car is determining factor, not the mileage.

What do you think?

What does you OWNER’S MANUAL say? Agree ther is a time factor, and your manual will says so.

“Fuel Rail Service” could be just a $10 can of stuff put through your fuel system. Again ,check the MANUAL!

If a VW needed that $1000 service at such a low mileage, I would not dream of owning one.

On my Toyota, at that mileage and age, the only required service is:

  1. Replace cabin air filter, oil and filter change, CHECK fuel system, replace air filter, and not much else. Total cost about $200!

  2. Check valve gear for noise, included in above charge.

Read your owner’s manual recommended maintenance schedule.

The timing belt will specify “XX,000 miles or X years”. The statement should be interpreted as “whichever comes first”. Your timing belt is probably due.

The fuel rail service is a way to remove any excess deposits from from your bank account. Unless you’re having an operating problem, skip it.

And since you’re past your warranty, you can likely save money by going to a reputable independently owned and operated shop.

Do the timing belt however skip the dealer and get quotes from independents including tensioner(common failure point) and water pump. Fuel rail service is a wallet service, waste of money.

Thank you, I’ll check the manual

Thank you! No operating problems. I’ll check elsewhere.

Thanks for the advice; I’ll check around.

I’d ignore the fuel rail service (I’m not even sure what this is). You are probably due for a new timing belt – $1,000 sounds a bit high for that. If you do need a new timing belt, it may be worth getting a quote for a water pump too.

Also, in regards to timing belt replacement… This is absolutely one of the most important and most commonly ignored pieces of preventive maintenance for a car with them. There are many perfectly fine cars out there that are junked at low mileage because their engines are destroyed due to a timing belt failure.

If you go through this board, you’ll find two or three VW owners just in the past few weeks who had this happen.


Your responses seem to indicate that you have not been referring to the VW Owner’s Manual for your car’s maintenance over the past 6 years. Please understand that almost all maintenance procedures have an elapsed time recommendation as well as an odometer mileage recommendation, with the proviso “whichever comes first”.

Those who do not take notice of the elapsed time factor and who drive their cars very few miles per year are frequently lulled into thinking that they can go for very long periods of time without changing their oil or performing other vital maintenance procedures. Unfortunately, that could not be further from the truth.

I strongly suggest that you have your oil changed according to the elapsed time factor listed in your manual. I recommend that the oil should be changed every 6 months, regardless of how few miles the car is driven, but the manual’s recommendation for oil changes and other maintenance procedures takes precedence ultimately. This is especially important since VW engines have a tendency toward “sludging”, which can effectively kill your engine even if very few miles are on the odometer.

I think her case needs a mechanic to determine better what interval to change items.

If you drive only 3000 miles/year doing maintenance per book will send cost per mile way over the top.

Find an independent mechanic (use the mechanic finder under ‘actual car information’ above), do the timing belt if called for in your manual.

Thank you - sorry for vague answers. Its actually my husbands car - he’s 75 & not real computer savvy, thus I asked the ?s on his behalf. Since he has retired, he does not make long trips, & drives his car into town 2-3 days a week.

He has serviced the car at the dealer regularly - oil changes, etc. in timely manner. He was in for one of the frequent recall ‘free’ fixes when this suggestion was made by the dealer. He has always taken his car to the dealer; I have a wonderful independent repair shop that takes care of my Nissan Altima nicely. I think this has convinced him to shop around before proceeding. I just think this dealer is over-priced & a bit trigger happy.

The maintenance schedule mentions checking the timing belt, 1st at the 60,000 checkup, & again at the 80,000. They don’t give year equivalents, only mileage.

He’agreed to take it by my repair shop & let them have a look see.

Thanks again