'95 VW Passat - should I repair it?


I need help with a dilemma. My '95 VW Passat died on me yesterday. (GLX VR6 w/5 speed manual transmission; 130,000 miles; car is in great shape.) I was engaging the clutch when a stop light turned green, and the engine just sputtered. Nothing happened when I stepped on the gas, and the car stalled. I tried to restart it. The engine would crank, but wouldn’t start. So I had it towed to the VW dealer.

The dealter called me today saying I need a new ignition switch for $450. I question this as the car was already operating when this problem came up, and the ignition seemed to work when I turned the key. It’s almost like the engine wasn’t getting gas. (And there is gas in the tank.)

I’m afraid that if I spend the $450, it won’t fix the problem. Then I’ll be faced with putting even more money into this car that’s worth $3,000 at most. Plus, I already need to replace the headliner, which will cost $300.

The car is a great car for my teens to drive to the high school and to learn how to drive a manual transmission. So, here’s my question.

Do I go ahead with the repairs? Or is this car junk? Thanks.


I’m not certain about the diagnosis. A car doesn’t usually sputter if it loses ignition. It just stops. However, the dealer has seen the car and apparently made the diagnosis. I suppose that if it is the ignition switch, it could have made intermitent contact and thus caused the sputtering. If the dealer will guarantee that this will solve the problem, I don’t think you can buy another car for $450.

As far as the headliner is concerned, I purchased some plastic “bolts” at Advanced Auto Parts that go right through the material into the backing. This was called a “headliner repair kit”. This repair will hold up the headliner and really doesn’t look too bad. For less than $10, this seemed a good alternative on my 29 year old Oldsmobile. On anothe old car, I purchased a “headliner repair kit” from J.C. Whitney. It consisted of wood bows. These bows could be cut to length and would fit under the metal trim at the side of the car. The wood would bend in an arc and hold up the headliner. I think this cost $10-$15. Unless you are very cncerned about original appearance on a 12 year old car, this is the route I would take.


Are you sure? An ignition switch for $450? Is they are changing another ignition part? Have you checked the price of the part online? Why would you take a '95 to the dealer. If it is the switch I will get a quote from couple of other shops and might even be worth towing the car to them, or at least negotiate with the dealer.


Age old question.

Take or hopefully not tow it to a VW independent shop for analysis and 2nd opinion.

If you have cash sitting around for a new vehicle go for it. Financially if this can be repaired for under $1000 and you get another year (likely) out of it even 6 months your far ahead of replacing. Thats the logical end the emotional end is different.


Whatever is wrong with the car, it’s probably nothing serious, especially if was running fine up until this point.

Like the other poster said, I would press the dealer on how confident it is that this is the offending part. There are several electrical parts that could have gone out, many of which are not cheap, but once replaced should fix everything. So to start throwing in new parts, at $450 a pop, to all the could be this in the ignition system would be really wasteful.

btw - i just checked and the “electrical portion” of a 95 Passat ignition switch goes for $12/discount.


Thanks for all the posts. Just to update you, the reason I take such an old car to the dealer is that I haven’t found an independent shop that I trust. I’ve used independents in other cities in which I lived and know the benefits of that. I just haven’t been as fortunate where I live now. The good news is that the VW dealer consistently gives me good service.

As for the repairs to the car, I pressed them on the root cause. Low and behold, they found out that the fuel pump went out, which is consistent with what I experienced the other day. But the car also needs some new ignition stuff, too.

I’ve decided to go ahead and repair the car. With a new one, I’d have higher insurance, higher personal property tax (which is based on the value of the car), and a newer car sitting in the high school parking lot, a/k/a demolition derby.

Thanks again for the posts.