The Unluckiest Used Volkswagen Passat W8
Haunted? Cursed by a gypsy? Once owned by Pastor Maldonado? I’m not sure what the back story was on my 2004 Volkswagen W8 Passat, but it definitely wasn’t one that included sunshine, daisies, and all the 5W-40 it could drink. On this Friday the 13th consider this vehicle, and though it wasn’t readily apparent when I bought it, it was about to make my life even harder, at least for the next eight months. After months of hell at my former place of employment, and with my brain beginning to melt, I decided that it was time for a new car. Something fun, something unique, something that wasn’t as bland as the beige-on-beige cubicle nightmare I was currently trapped in. RELATED: Click Here to See More Pictures of the W8 Passat
My mind and internet search bar, wandered from car to car. Should I get an E36 M3? No, I’ve had trouble with BMW electronics in the past. What about a Dodge SRT Magnum? Wife said no on the wagon front so that was a moot point. I then went onto YouTube and saw the W8 Passat for the first time. At this point I was doomed, all bets of sensibility and sanity were off.
It was the perfect sleeper. A Volkswagen Passat with a big eight-cylinder engine. Nevermind Mercedes or BMW, those are too conventional. I wanted something with a prototype engine, that also has all-wheel drive, slapped into a car that usually has a 1.6-liter diesel and is driven around by sales managers. How could I go wrong?
RELATED: Check Out the All-New Passat Here
At this point, I should have read forums, or sent up smoke signals at the very least, asking the Volkswagen community for advice. I didn’t, which will become a reoccurring theme in this story. I was too involved in listening to the “unique” W8 roar online. And after months of searching, I finally found one that had potential.
The dealership the W8 Passat was located at was literally in the middle of a cornfield. There was not another soul around for miles, yet that didn’t seem out of the ordinary to me. The price was well below what I had seen other W8 Passats go for, again, this didn’t catch my attention. And the fact that the salesman didn’t want to come with me as I tested the car failed to provide any warning bells whatsoever. I don’t know how many more signs of doom I could have come across, but not a single one swayed me in my zeal for a W8 Passat to call my own.
RELATED: Spooky Stories of Haunted Cars
After a small bit of haggling, and a quick peak under the hood by a mechanic friend, I left with the car and title in my hands. Which was right before the dealership closed for the weekend. Again, how did I miss the signs? With a single hour of ownership under my belt, the check engine light went on and the engine started misfiring. I should have turned around right then and there, dropped off the keys, and said, “Thank you, I’d like my money back.” I didn’t. I kept driving.
That week, I went back to the dealership and made them fix the car. Low and behold, not two weeks later, the problem occurred once again. This time, I took it to a proper Volkswagen dealership, which, in addition to charging me $500 to run a full diagnostic, said I essentially needed a new engine, which would cost a staggering $22,000.
RELATED: Should I Buy a Car With a Salvage Title?
Thankfully, a family friend who happened to be a mechanic said the technicians at Volkswagen must have been smoking something, because he could fix the problem without replacing it. Nevertheless, over the next eight months, and over $9,000 later, he could not. Problems with the car ranged from faulty electrical systems, to a broken infotainment center, to an idler that wouldn’t stay level, to a wiring system seemingly chewed through by mice, and finally, the number seven cylinder which refused to keep compression.
With the bills and service history mounting ever higher, I had the mechanics fix it to a point where it could pass a dealer inspection. I then ran to my local Toyota dealership, and traded that cursed piece of junk in for a brand new Scion FR-S. Thankfully, with the W8 Passat gone, my luck returned and the curse of the Volkswagen gypsy was lifted. At least so I thought it was, until I bought my new Volkswagen Golf R. But that’s a story for another time.