Would anyone care to hazard a guess who would have pulled out this Passat’s computer, and for what purpose? I came close to buying this lemon. Fortunately, a Vehicle Inspection Report showed two specific trouble codes: P0420 for the catalytic converter, and P0304 for a misfiring cylinder. There were other troubles, such as a brake warning light due to worn-out front pads and rotors. Total estimated cost to make the car legally drivable in MA – $2k+.

That doesn’t look like an engine control computer; it’s a module for something.

The term “lemon’” should not be used when describing a used car; especially one that has apparently been beaten into the pavement by the prior owner, or owners.

Brakes are normal wear and tear items and the poor running is likely due to neglect. Chronic poor running could be the cause of any converter problems.

Volkswagen Passat
Would Anyone Care To Guess The Model-Year ?
Would Anyone Care To Guess The Miles On This Car ?
Would Anyone Care To Guess The Selling Price ?
Would Anyone Care To Guess . . .


It would be phenomenally rare to find someone who sells or trades in a car because it is in good condition and they want to do a favor for a complete stranger. Usually, they get rid of a car because they are tired of fixing it, or they have neglected it to the point where it now costs a lot of money to do all the necessary repairs. Or because it now will not pass inspection without spending quite a bit of money on it. I also agree that the term “lemon” should not be used to describe this car unless it is a low mileage 2011 or 2012 model. New cars that have problems a new car should not have are lemons; used cars that have been abused and neglected or have accumulated wear and tear are not lemons, they are well worn used cars.

Good for you getting the car inspected before you bought it. If you buy a used car, you have to expect some repair and reconditioning costs in the 1st year. $2,000 is in the ballpark. New brakes, tires, and struts are commonly required in a used car. VW’s in general have lots of electrical problems as they age and the automatic transmissions are prone to failure. I’d stay away from used VW’s as you continue your search.

My daughter just traded in an '01 VW Jetta wagon. It needed a new trans at 65K miles about 5 years ago and they are trading it because the trans is going out again. They bought a new Honda Fit with a manual trans and hope it lasts longer and needs less repairs than the VW.

That’s the strangest looking Passat I ever saw. I didn’t know they could make them flat and square like that.

As to the question of who pulled it out, it was the butler in the lavatory. Did I win anything?

It was me! I admit it. I pulled out that Passat’s computer. Unfortunately, I don’t know why I did it.

Apologies for saying lemon. Well-worn 2003 GLS. Claimed odom 120k. Actual odom turned out to be 139k. Asking price KBB ‘good condition’ (which turns out to be $4k). VIN check showed it was originally leased, in NV. Currently registered in a ‘no VIR sticker required’ county in TN.Not a complete stranger, but a former room-mate.

Still wondering who’d have pulled out a module from ANY car and left it dangling like that, and what they hoped to achieve thereby.

That dangling module could be a sign of a problem (diagnosed, never found, erratic, or whatever) and someone was yanking modules and wires in a futile hunt for a ghost electrical problem.
I think you’re better off passing on this one.

Being a lease vehicle can also be a handicap and could be why the car was running rough, needed a converter, etc. Many people who lease cars know they are not going to own them for the long term and they have no intention of taking care of that car. They will do and spend as little as possible and the next person down the line will be the beneficiary of their neglect.

This is true even of lease cars with a measly 20 or 30k miles on them.

Was the car being sold by a dealership that sells a lot of cheap cars and offers bad-credit financing? This could be their disabler box. Dealerships like that often install a device in their cars that allows them to shut the car down and locate it via GPS to repossess it when their bad-credit customer predictably fails to make payments on time.

It could also be some sort of alarm that was ripped down.

Either way, as ok says, I think you were right in passing on the car.

It wasn’t on a dealer’s lot. A former room-mate owns it. I’d like to believe he didn’t deliberately try to take advantage, but I found that dangling module suspicious. He said the warning light had ‘always been on’ but was caused by nothing but ‘vapor-lock’. After the inspection report came up with converter and misfiring cylinder, I had to wonder if he bought it like that in NV in 2006, or the trouble-light was more recent, and he knew its cause, and some amateur mechanic had said he could possibly get into the module and turn off the light. I sent an email asking if he knew when the black box was pulled, and why. No reply as yet.

I am constantly amazed at people (like that roommate) who assume that it is normal to drive around for…months…perhaps years…with the CEL lit up. No matter what might have caused the CEL to start glowing a few years ago, that original problem could have cascaded into…God only knows how many problems in the meantime.

And, as to vapor-lock…ummm…no. I call bogus on that one, unless this 2003 VW was the only one made with a mechanical fuel pump.

Walking away from this gem was a very smart thing to do.

“I am constantly amazed at people (like that roommate) who assume that it is normal to drive around for…months…perhaps years…with the CEL lit up.”

We’re lucky we can afford to do something about it. I know someone with 4 cars, and I think they all have glowing CELs. They just can’t afford to do anything about it. One of the kids is a mechanic, so I think they know why the CEL is on, but people with low incomes have to make choices about where to spend money.

Yes, income level does undoubtedly have something to do with it in many cases, but I have known relatively affluent folks who could well afford to fix a car problem, and they seem to assume that “everyone” is driving around like that.

It reminds me of some of the parents with whom I dealt when I was a school counselor.
When discussing their child and his/her arrest record, it was absolutely astounding how many of these parents told me something along the lines of…“oh, almost every high school kid has a criminal record”.

Since I was in a position to know the criminal background of my counselees (due to a lot of communication with the local PD), I could authoritatively inform these misguided parents that their kids were in a minority of…perhaps 5% of the student body. However, since their kids hung around mostly with other jailbirds, it is safe to say that at least 90% of their kid’s friends did have a criminal record.

I suppose that it is easy to rationalize that something is “normal” if your environment is filled with similar situations, and I think that this is what many folks are doing in reaction to a lit-up CEL.

have to agree with OK’s post…I can’t pull up the bigger picture, but it really doesn’t look like any sort of computer. It looks like a power connection, and the harness that would plug into it isn’t there. Were it the vehicle computer, you wouldn’t have a light on the dash, wouldn’t have any codes to read, and it wouldn’t run at all.

This could be as simple as a charging pad for a phone. Are there any markings on this little “module”?

Brakes are a normaly wear item, and something that should be checked on any used car, regardless. So really, you have 2 codes to check out. A misfire could be as simple as a fouled or worn out spark plug - and they may even be original. If the crap coming out of that cylinder is bad enough, it could also be turning on the code for the cat not cleaning the airstream enough. To my way of thinking, this whole thing could be right as rain with $30 worth or parts.

Or the whole thing could be a complete waste of time.


This pic shows it a bit better. Looks like it was pulled out from under the mat, or from behind paneling, and was too much trouble to put back.