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VW Passat engine oil sludge failure results in no love from VW

10 year old Passat, low mileage (60k), all maintenance done at dealership on schedule, engine all of sudden has oil pressure light go off on the freeway. Had it towed and diagnostics done, plenty of oil in the crankcase but its turned to sludge. Enough damage so I need to get a new engine ($5k+ in parts alone). What caused this? Shouldn’t VW be liable to some extent since all maintenance was done properly by me? Apparently there was a known oil sludge warranty that expired after 8 years. But since I have low mileage I didnt have the problem as early as most. VW Customer Care is only offering $750 voucher toward repair or new VW. This seems like a crime! Help!!!

What was the oil change schedule (time/miles)?
If there were a lot of short trips the standard schedule isn’t enough. Was there a “severe service” schedule?
Was the oil level checked regularly (at least every 1000 miles) between changes?
Running more than 1 qt low can cause sludge.
A clog in the PCV system (not just the valve) can cause sludge.
Not using oil that meets VW’s specs can cause sludge, but I hope the dealer wouldn’t do that.
Is this a turbo engine? Synthetic oil is generally a good idea with those.
There’s generally no need to go to the dealer to repair an out-of-warranty car.
You should be able to get a good independent shop to install a rebuilt or low mileage used engine for less $$.

Oil sludging is caused by not changing oil often enough based on driving habits, enviro conditions, fuel and oil quality, and state of tune.

Your car only has 60k miles over a 10 year time frame and requires a severe service schedule.

Your post is a bit confusing. At the start you state all maintenance was done on schedule at the dealer and halfway through you state all maintenance was “done properly by me”.
Does that mean one and the same or what?

I really don’t think a decent oil would turn to sludge in 5000K miles or 6 months. Some info is missing here? In a low mileage car you still need to change the oil at least every 12 months.

You will find this interesting!

A class-action lawsuit and any settlement are often not related to mechanical principles.
The bean counters weigh the costs of settlement against what it might cost in court and facing a mechanically inept jury.
Every company on the planet has been sued in a class-action; often more than once.

I’ve personally seen sludged engines of every make. Some of them were barely recognizeable as engines by the 25-30k miles mark and were beyond repair.
The common denominator is every case was extended oil change intervals; even those stated to be “religiously maintained”.

I just love how all you guys jump on him for not maintaining the car properly when he stated that all maintenance was done at dealership on schedule.

Well, my question is, maintenance done on what schedule? By miles or time, and severe or regular? How did you drive the average 6000 miles per year? Dino oil or synthetic? All of these answers can clear up some of the grey area on your original post.

If you look at the link I posted, I do believe you will come to the conclusion this is an issue due to manufacturing specs gone bad rather than owner maintenance gone bad. In case you missed it

I see no reason at this point to blame the owner who says he has done all recommended, and ignore there is a sludge problem as evidenced in the link provided.

Most european cars have extended oil change intervals nowadays. That means 10K between oil changes, if you use the proper oil, usually 0w40 fully synthetic

However, based on the OP’s mileage, it is clear that the car probably falls under the severe usage category.

That means that by the time 10K have elapsed, the oil is pretty darn old

If the car only gets used only for back and forth driving, such as short trips to the corner grocery store and back, that is the worst kind of driving, and the formation of sludge is a very real possibility.

Many owner’s manuals clearly state that oil needs to be changed at least once a year, regardless of usage.

If that did not occur . . .

@BillyC, all maintenance done “on schedule” doesn’t mean squat. Car makers make a lot of ill-advised recommendations which also include lifetime auto trans fluid and valve lash adjustments that are unneccesary; along with the bogus recommendation of how to “audibly” inspect lash. They make those recommendations with a straight face…

VW, like all others, cover themselves with a “severe service” disclaimer which applies to 90%+ of all cars on the road. The cut and paste from VW below:

Q: My Volkswagen dealer is suggesting shorter maintenance intervals than what is written in my Owner’s Manual. Is this correct?

A: The service intervals schedule in your Owner’s Manual is based on vehicles operating under normal conditions. In the case of severe conditions, such as extremely low temperatures and/or excessive dust, it is necessary for some services to be performed between shorter scheduled intervals. This applies particularly to engine oil changes and the cleaning or replacing of the air cleaner filter element.

I had a 2002 passat that I bought new. It was a pile of junk and after 37k I sold it. Volkswagen did extend the warranty on the sludge issue. They sent me a letter but I think it was for original owners.

I agree with BillyC.
This is the first question the OP has asked on this forum.
He asked it in full sincerity.
His vehicle is one that VW has admitted as having engine sludge problems.

Yet the majority of replies are of the holier-than-thou form, jumping to assumptions about how the OP maintained the vehicle, and degrading enough to ensure the OP will never return to this forum again.

If the OP were a customer who came to your shop for business, is this the way he/she would get treated?

Totally gunned up motor by 25-30k miles? Like 2yrs of avg driving? With 4-5 oil changes during those 2 yrs?

Not patting someone on the back and nodding full agreeement with their opinion hardly constitututes bashing someone.
Being curious about lack of info, conflicting info, and asking for details is hardly harassment.

Would the OP get treated crudely when entering a shop for business? That would depend demands, atttitude, refereces to :“crime”, and so on.

Many car makers admit to sludge problem and settle lawsuits so that means nothing. The bottom line is that sludge is preventable based on miles/time/oil type/ environment/state of tune/gas quality/etc.

The worst gummed up motor I’ve ever seen in my life was a 25k miles Subaru engine in a 2 year old car bought from new. Sludged beyond recognition and not even repairable…
The owner on this one insisisted the engine design was bad…

Oil sludging is not a new phenomenon. Back in the 1950s and into the 1960s, this was a problem. Often the passages through the cylinder head to the rocker arm shaft would plug up. For certain Chevrolet 6 cylinder engines and certain Ford V-8 and 6 cylinder engines. outside oil lines were available.
These outside oil line kits may have been available for other engines as well.
Unfortunately, outside oil lines were not possible on stud mounted rocker arms. These were only available for cars that had rocker arm shafts. I bought a 1955 Pontiac in 1962 from a Rambler dealer and his mechanics had overhauled the engine. However, that Pontiac did not have an oil filter–it was an option that year and my Pontiac did not have that option. The rocker arms were lubricated through the studs and I continually had problems with oil sludge plugging up the passages through the studs. Apparently, even though the engine had been torn down, the passages through the block to the head and the passages in the head retained some the sludge. I changed the oil twice as frequently as called for, added an oil filter, but I still had the problem. I finally got rid of the car.
I also had the problem on a 1965 Rambler Classic 550 with the 199 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine that was just introduced that year. I bought the car in 1965 with 7000 miles on the odometer. I changed oil every 2000 miles–twice as often as specified in the manual. Even so, at 95,000 miles, the rocker arms began to chirp and I found that the rocker arms weren’t getting oil. An independent shop pulled the cylinder head and cleaned out the oil passage. Apparently, this was a design problem as there was a sharp bend in the oil passage in the block. The mechanic cleaned it out by chucking a piece of old speedometer cable in an electric drill and cleaned the passage similar to the way roto-rooter cleans sewer lines. My cost was less than $40 including a new head gasket. This was back about 1972–you can’t get those prices today. I had no more problems in the time I owned the car.
My point is that I guess an engine can sludge up because of a poor design. Apparently, some manufacturers haven’t licked this problem.

Thanks barkydog for the very interesting link, will go back to VW Customer Care to see if I can get them to step up their commitment.
Re the confusion about who did the service - VW dealer did all service, to specs and on schedule. My comment about “all maintenance was done properly by me” simply meant that I set up appointments and made sure the service at the dealership was schedule and exectuted per plan, on schedule.
Would love any other tips anyone has, thanks

Have you checked on VWVortex and TheSamba web sites for more info?

And the maintenance schedule was based on standard mileage and time (more mileage than time I think), not on severe or other schedule. Most of my driving was around town, smaller trips. Does that make it severe usage? I guess I woudl assume the opposite - severe usage is using it a LOT.
Its not a turbo. I assume the dealership put in the correct oil, not sure which one.
Sounds like it should have been changed more fequently due to low usage?

Nope, severe is lots of short trips that keep the engine from fully warming up. Your use sounds like it would be severe.