Synthetic Oil 2003 Passat GLX

Tom & Ray,

The past four times that I have gone to my local “national chain” oil changer the manager has said, “You know this is synthetic, right?”

I respond, “No, just use the same oil as the last time”.

I have check your site (is that my mistake?) and I see postings on the VW Jetta and nothing on the Passat.

I thought that I should ask an expert, where would I find one? Oh, perhaps you could help me out here. Does my 2003 Passat GLX (6 cylinder) need synthetic oil?

All the best,

Another confused consumer

By the way, as a Peace Corps Volunteer (2003 - 2005) in Moldova (Eastern Europe) I saw many people driving Russian Built Latas; for the life of me I cannot figure out how they keep a '73 Lata running on the dirt roads in Chisinau…

Do you have the owner’s manual? The Mobil and Pennzoil web sites both indicate you car needs synthetic, but the manual is the final word.

A lot of VW vehicles require that the oil used meet certain specifications set by vw (like the VW 502.00 spec for example) and only certain oils meet this specification. At the lube shop I work at we only have one oil that meets this specification and it is a synthetic. Check your owners manual and if it mentions a specification like this then the manager is probably right and you aren’t running the correct oil for your vehicle and sludging of the engine may result

Please read the owner’s manual. It will list the oil requirements for your car. Follow those recommendations.

The past four times that I have gone to my local “national chain” oil changer

You are lucky your car is still running. Avoid all quick oil change places unless you really hate your car. They have far too many problems, usually caused by inexperienced under trained over worked employees and a profit first attitude by management.

VW spec 502 is the type of oil you need for your car - and the only oils sold in the US that meet that spec are synthetic .
Second mistake - using a chain oil change place .

Follow the previous posts on oil choice. The manual is the last word on what you need, not some poorly trained kid at a national oil change chain. Yes, most Volkswagens need a special oil and nearly all those are synthetic.

The Peace Corps volunteers drive LADAs, and yes, keeping them on the road is constant attention and knowing how the beast behaves. A friend in Canada bought one dirt cheap back in the 70s. He ended up buying another one to ensure one was running when he needed it.

A refinery manager in Bolivia, I met, had a Lada Jeep (Niva). He had 350,000 miles on it, but could afford his personal mechanic paid for by the company.

ADHD Passat Owner…

The brand of cars you saw in Moldova (and the rest of the ex-Soviet Empire) is actually called LADA and not Lata.

Here’s a good overview if you’re interested:

Inside Russia they are called Zhigulis, the Lada name is used for export models mostly. Lada means “beautiful lady” in Russian.

The saving grace of these cars is the large downwardly slanted “glove” box, which will hold 2 quart bottles of vodka!

The saving grace of these cars is the large downwardly slanted “glove” box, which will hold 2 quart bottles of vodka!

That’s so that if the party doesn’t find you, you can throw a party.

All the VW/AUDI 500.x oils are, by our definition, synthetics.

You’re the reason that VW/AUDI had sludge issues around 2000-2002. They had very few spec’d oils available in the US and sold too many cars to typical American consumers who were too cheap and too busy to go to the too small a dealer network. After VW/AUDI took a bath all of a sudden lots of oils (all synthetics by our definition) became certified/approved.

Oil is oil, right? Nope.

You would be far better served if you had been OCD instead of ADHD. Then the thought of anything but the spec’d oil …always filled to exactly the FULL mark would be a mandate.