Honda Acura vs. VW Passat

I have a 2000 VW Passat GLS v6 with 116,000 miles on it. It still runs great but little things are starting to fall apart. The sunroof doesn’t work; the air-conditioning is intermittant; 3 of the 4 power windows don’t work; there’s a slow coolant leak; the leather upholstry is tearing; the ABS brakes don’t work; the driver’s side key hole doesn’t work. Is all this worth fixing?

I saw a 2005 Honda Acura with 144,000 miles on it at a Honda dealership. Should I use the $7000 I have to buy this car, or spend a couple thousand and fix up my Passat? Is that a lot of miles for a Honda?

The answer is to only buy that 144k mile Honda IF you can verify through hard copies of maintenance receipts that it has been maintained at least as well as the mfr specifies.

Yes, Hondas traditionally have MUCH better reliability and durability than VWs, but that Honda reputation goes out the window if the previous owner(s) were not diligent with maintenance.

For instance...does this engine have a timing belt?

If so…when was it replaced?
How about the brake fluid and the coolant?
What about the transmission fluid?

Don’t take anyone’s word for maintenance.
Only accept hard copies of maintenance receipts, and then demand adequate time to compare them to the mfr’s maintenance schedule.

The bottom line is that this “reliable” Honda could be a ticking time bomb waiting to explode in your wallet if the previous owners (there could have been several) did not maintain it adequately.

You should do neither. An Acura with 144,000 miles on it could be very good if it has been meticulously looked after. If not, it may be ready for repairs.

The VW is a devil you know, so I would fix it just enough to keep it going while saving up for a newer car with much fewer miles. In the condition it’s in it will have virtually no trade-in value and selling it privately as a running car will be dubious.

Most VW owners sell the car as soon as the warranty runs out and let the next owner face all these expensive repairs.

In other words, I would just keep drivng it with minimal repairs and then sell it for parts. The coolant leak could be something simple; forget fixing the sunroof, the power windows could be simple; if not forget it.

Finally, it boggles my mind how a car (even a VW) with so few miles can need so much work. Only people who carry animals have torn leather upholstery at that mileage.

“Only people who carry animals have torn leather upholstery at that mileage.”

As I stated previously (in a different thread), I knew somebody whose VW Golf had lost almost all of the driver’s seat upholstery (and the padding underneath the upholstery) w/in ~3 years. At the time, I attributed it to his job (a lot of in & out of the car) and his size (tall and heavy-set), but now I am beginning to wonder about VW seat material quality, just like I wonder about the durability of their window regulators and a lot of their electronic components.


Have you lived in the southwest?

The sun can be pretty brutal, and if you don’t regularly treat your leather seats, the sun will destroy them

OP’s car is plenty old enough for wasted leather seats

@db4690 I can understand if a car is constantly parked in the hot sun, it could affect the leather. On the other hand, I wore a pair of leather shoes nearly every day while living in the tropics and did a lot of walking. They were resoled twice and I still have them, 14 years later. They were made in …Germany!


My advice:

Forget about the sunroof . . . as long as it’s closed properly, leave it alone

If the leather seats are already torn, there’s not much to be done about them anymore

As for the windows, do they make noise?

If so, you need window regulators and/or motors

Regarding the ABS . . . you need to retrieved the ABS fault codes. At least your regular brakes still work

Get that slow coolant leak taken care of, before it becomes a big problem

I advise you to make sure all the maintenance is up to date

If you’re not sure about the timing belt, you’re probably overdue

“Driver’s side key hole doesn’t work” . . . don’t you have keyless entry?

Never give up your car for another one with even higher mileage . . . no point in that


I’ll wager you cleaned and treated the leather

I’ll also wager most car drivers rarely clean and treat their leather seats

Call me a cynic, if you must

I believe I’m a realist

Yeah, I wouldn’t do either. The VW is on its way downhill fast and will be money pit. There are no Honda Acuras, either Honda or Acura but not both, but I wouldn’t be anxious to get one with that mileage. Maybe something in the 60-80K but not 144K. Look at the difference in cost between new and used and you might be surprised at how high used cars are and how low new ones are with mega warrantees and low interest.

@db4690 Yes, I’m careful about footwear care. I have extremely narrow feet and can only buy expensive shoes at specialty shops. A sale at Sears or Target has nothing for me. Looking in the closet, the newest ones are 1.5 years old British Clarkes and the oldest date from a trip to Peru in 1998 where I had them custom made. My loafers are SAS from San Antonio, Texas and cost $150.

My hiking boots are Zamberlans made in Italy and cost $350 and come with their own special wax.


It’s ironic that a car’s leather seats, which cost far more than a very expensive pair of leather shoes, are often not taken care of at all

From my experience it’s going to cost you more than a couple of thousand to get these items fixed. Are you a VW fan? Do you enjoy driving these cars? There are certainly many people that do, but the true VW owners understand that dropping a couple thousand every now and then on maintenance and repair is routine and becomes more frequent after the car ages a bit. Which is why they trade every 5 years.

You’re going to have to fix either the A/C or the windows, windows will probably be less. Do you have to have ABS fixed for safety inspection in your state? Have the coolant leak fixed immediately. Have the other items inspected and estimated. Also, look for a newer car with fewer miles than that Acura.

“It’s ironic that a car’s leather seats, which cost far more than a very expensive pair of leather shoes,”

Going off topic here @db4690, but one of my customers sells shoes. At the Nordstrom Salon. The least expensive pair of shoes he has there are $499, some as high as $2500. What kind of woman buys these things?


“What kind of woman buys these things?”

The kind with a sugar daddy husband

The billionaire . . . Meg Whitman, for instance

Those who think they deserve those expensive shoes

Over the years I’ve seen any number of acquaintances get themselves into financial trouble, buying stuff they couldn’t really afford, but they felt they deserved it

When their credit was trashed, and their belongings got repossessed, they started to think differently

I used to have this friend who “needed” to be around fine young looking ladies. He always had expensive girlfriends . . . but only so long as he spent a lot of money on them. One time he gave his credit card to the lady at the time, and said “Go to the mall and buy yourself some shoes. Hell, buy yourself 2 pairs of shoes.”

She came back with 2 pairs of shoes, for which she had spent close to a grand . . .

This guy was an extremely fast and intelligent mechanic. He had a mind like a steel trap. He never forgot a fix . . . handy if you have the same oddball problem 5 years later. He was so fast, you’d have to guzzle a few redbulls to catch up to him.

But he had no common sense, and he had a poor grasp of money. He didn’t understand the difference between financing and leasing a car. He was leasing a car (a super flash car, of course) for a few years. It turns out he thought he was financing it . . .

Every weekend he would go to Vegas and blow wads of cash on who knows what . . . spending money like there was no tomorrow

I haven’t heard from him in a few years . . . I figure he’s the type that won’t live to be an old man

I think your VW is nearing the end of it’s life as a reliable driver. It can almost certainly fixed enough to keep going, but returning it to like-new condition, for the long run it would be more economical to sell it and purchase another car. $7000 for an Accura with 144k? That’s a possibility as long as you are certain it has been well maintained and driven conservatively. If not, me, I’d probably use that $7000 for a Corolla or Civic instead.

It's ironic that a car's leather seats, which cost far more than a very expensive pair of leather shoes, are often not taken care of at all

Really? Just look at the number of people with $30k and up vehicles who don’t even realize it comes with an owners manual.

“Really? Just look at the number of people with $30k and up vehicles who don’t even realize it comes with an owners manual.”


It actually goes to a more basic level than ignoring the Owner’s Manual and/or not maintaining their leather.
We have had a significant number of posts over the years from people who have ignored their CEL for an extended period of time. The champion in this witless competition was a woman (from Maine, IIRC) who posted the following, a few years ago:
My CEL on my Suzuki has been lit up for the past 16 years. What could be wrong with it?

We constantly have posts from people complaining about a malfunction in their “well-maintained” car, but after we question that person, it turns out that the vehicle has received no maintenance whatsoever, with the exception of a few oil changes at extended intervals.

My neighbor–who is a very nice person–drives a Lexus RX, and I told her (and her husband) over a year ago that her left tail light was burned-out. It is still burned-out.
That RX actually has two tail lights on each side–one mounted adjacent to the rear window, and one mounted in the bumper. The first to burn out was the left-side one adjacent to the rear window. Now, a year or so later, the left-side one mounted in the bumper is also burned-out.

This morning, I watched her get ready to drive to work in a heavy snow storm.
What did she do?
She got into the car, turned on the wipers, and drove away.

Needless to say, all of the rear lights and her headlights were completely obscured by a heavy layer of snow, so the remaining functioning tail light on the right cannot even be seen by those who are driving behind her. If she gets rear-ended, I am sure that she will believe that the other person is totally at fault, and that she shares none of the blame.

The bottom line, IMHO, is that an incredible percentage of the population is either so incredibly lazy or so incredibly distracted by everything else in their lives that they pay very little attention to the vehicle that they need to transport them to…work…job interviews…scheduled medical appointments…and, perhaps even ER visits. Most of these folks will only focus on how their car functions when it ceases to function, and they will only focus on maintenance when it gets to the stage of needing major repairs. The slogan of these folks (which I have actually heard many people say) is, “All I know is that I put gas in it and it goes”.