VW Passat Wagon power issues

I have a 2003 Turbo VW Passat Wagon, 110k miles. Lately it has a serious power problem–I have to floor it to get to 30mph (after that, it does ok, unless we are going uphill, then forget it, we’re chugging at 20-25 mph max). The check-engine light has been on since July; when we took it to a mechanic then, they replaced the timing belt, and said there might be a turbo issue, but it was going to cost a lot of money just to get into the turbo, and the mechanic couldn’t really tell me what they would do once they got in there, so we decided not to go there (at that point there was no power issue). I’m scared to ask, what’s the prognosis? Thanks!

Well, if you already know there’s a turbo issue, then be prepared to just replace it. My question, is why did it go out?

There are tips for drivers of turbo cars that most of them don’t read in the manual:

  • Never race the engine, and shut it off at high RPM’s. Always allow it to idle down for at least a few seconds before shutdown.
  • Always use synthetic oil. Sure, it will run fine on regular dino oil - for a while, but the dyno oil will boil more rapidly, and lead to deposits in the turbo chambers, which can lead to bearing starvation and failure.

If you can, head to your local parts palace, and ask them to read the codes for you. Since the light is on, find out what the computer’s trying to tell you. Get the actual code, and don’t worry so much about their description.

Still, it sounds like the turbo is done.

Good luck,

A timing belt wouldn’t cause the problem you’re describing unless it had jumped a tooth and put the timing off. Did the mechanic check the coil packs? When you lose power is the car running roughly at all? The coil packs on this car were squirrely and often need replacement. Sounds like your mechanic might be grasping at straws.

There were recall’s for those coils, so you might consider heading to a dealer (or calling) with your VIN, and see if you’re affected. However, when the coil packs on ours failed, it ran very,very rough. I could get it to move some, but wouldn’t even try to drive it over 5MPH, let alone 30.

FYI: If you have to have it towed to a dealer for those coil packs, VW will reimburse you for the cost of the tow - IF that’s the only thing wrong.