VW Passat "alternator workshop" message coming up!

Hi there - have a 2004 VW Passat estate in great condition with 44,000 miles and all the services etc done. Recent service and timing belt changed in Feb this year.

“Alternator Workshop” message, beeping and picture of battery came up today on dashboard for about 5 minutes then stopped and nothing further on way home (which took about 15 mins).

Having googled I found a few people who have had this message and it turned out there was nothing wrong with the alternator or battery as having had them replaced the message kept coming up…does anyone know if this is a just a message fault??

I’m in the UK by the way but still tune into Cartalk on my Sky TV!

Many thanks,


ps, sorry if this has already been answered, I did a search but couldn’t find anything!

ps…update as I moved the car this morning it’s now making a strange “crunchy” noise as I turn the steering wheel so it seems there is a problem after all - my other half thinks it might be linked to the power steering (belt?? tensioner??) and not necessarily the alternator but as there’s some link between the two that’s the error message the car comes up with. Oh well a trip to the garage tomorrow after all…!

The likely case is your serpentine belt is loose, maladjusted or worn out. However given your recent service with timing belt hopefully they installed a new serpentine also. Take it back to where your timing belt was worked on. It is likely related.

Thanks very much - is the serpentine belt the same as a tensioner as someone else has also suggested it might be this…just checked invoice and yes it had new timing belt and tensioner fitted.

Unfortunately this was done a few hundred miles away in Wales by the previous owner (in a reputable Volvo garage grrr!) and I’m up North in Manchester so don’t want to risk driving all that way to go back to same garage! Will mention your suggestion to my local garage though when I take it in tomorrow,

Many thanks!


The sepentine belt is different than the timing belt. The sepentine belt drives things like the alternator, power steering, AC, and water pump. It is on the front of the engine and has its own tensioner. Check to see it is there and is tight.

Thanks for the replies - well took it for a short spin tonight and no alternator message/battery pic/crunchy sound - but now a slight squealing noise from under the bonnet that gets louder on acceleration so will see what the garage says.

Other half said belts look ok to him - if anything very tight but then again he says he’s used to working on classic cars a long time ago where the belt was looser because of bearings or something so maybe that’s how belts should be now!



Took it to the garage today and the mechanic had a quick look - he reckons it needs a new Alternator pulley, tensioner and belt so it’s booked in for Weds to get the work done. He said it isn’t a huge job and is quite common on Passats and Audis.

Many thanks for all your help!

You’re welcome. Thanks for the feedback and hope that clears the trouble.