Page 2 of 2012 - 2013 VW Passat TDI forum FAQ and buying guide

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The TDI engine in VW Passat

The Passat TDI's CKRA engine is the not the same CBEA/CJAA engine used in the Jetta, Sportwagen, and Golf TDI.  There are a few differences in the engine tuning, emission tuning, and fuel system vs the smaller cars beyond minor differences for the heavier car.  The VW Passat TDI engine tuning is different because the car's heavier weight requires the use of Adblue exhaust fluid to meet emissions in all 50 states and Canada.  Adblue fluid is consumed in the emissions system to break down NOx.  While this seems like a drawback, it lets the heavier Passat is rated 1 mpg higher for both city and highway vs. the lighter cars with a similar engine.  See 1000q: Adblue fluid and DPF FAQ for more details on the emissions system and information on Adblue like storage, safety, and technical specs.  Adblue is filled through this port in the trunk, click to enlarge the thumbnail. Since Adblue costs around $12/2.5 gallons, VW's estimate of 5 gallons/15,500 miles means Adblue costs about 0.155 cents/mile or about a penny every 6.5 miles. Your mileage may vary! If everything else is equal and using the EPA estimate for mpg and VW's estimate for Adblue consumption (and including VW's 3/36k service in the USA which includes Adblue refill), at 86,000 miles you've saved about $190 in fuel vs. a Golf-Jetta and spent $77 on Adblue. This is not a significant difference so consider it a wash. In case you're worried that this is a difficult service, below is my video showing how easy it is to add adblue to a Passat TDI.

The engine itself also features a slightly different fuel system (1 vs. 2 electric fuel pumps, solenoid vs. piezoelectric injectors), and intake/exhaust system. The intercooler is an air-water unit instead of air-air intercooler.

The engine must only use VW's 507.00 spec engine oil.  This is a synthetic oil approved for long life 10,000 miles in a diesel engine and will prevent any warranty challenges on wrong engine oil claims.  It's also very low ash.  Too much ash will shorten the lifespan of the DPF filter.  Read the FAQ for the long answer on how ash will clog the filter.  To the right is a TSB that lists engine oils that meet 507.00 spec, click to open.

Using biodiesel in a VW Passat TDI

The emissions system is why VW does not approve of greater than B5 for use in their TDI.  While they've never approved the use of any greater than B5, the concern is that the post combustion injection for the DPF filter regeneration can cause excess engine oil dilution over the normal oil change interval of 10,000 miles.  See the FAQ above about the emissions system for a full explanation. Some states have bio fuel mandates and in response to Illinois having some biodiesel in the fuel, VW will cover up to B20 in TDI registered in Illinois. To the left is a thumbnail of the letter they sent out Feb 2013.

They cannot void your car's warranty because of biodiesel use!  Laws vary but generally speaking, if they refuse a warranty claim on the engine or exhaust system claiming the fault was caused by biodiesel, you would have to fight them and prove that it wasn't caused by bad fuel.  For more basic information about biodiesel and VW, see 1000q: intro to biodiesel

Check your state and federal emissions laws before modifying your emissions equipment.  Again, see 1000q: Adblue and DPF FAQ for detailed information on the emissions system.

TDI engine problems

First, this exact engine and some major components are new although it's similiar to older models. Based off those similar engines, here are some of the most reported problems. There have been a few complaints of high pressure fuel pumps (HPFP) on this engine type failing and causing damage to the fuel injection system. There is not enough data to determine the exact causes of HPFP failure beyond speculation and this article will state just the facts. For some theories on these problems, please comment in the VW Passat TDI forums. It would not deter me from buying a TDI since all car makes, even the ones made by "the reliable brands" have a few lemons and internet forums tend to spotlight problems, not the cars that are running fine. In addition, the Passat TDI engine and HPFP is different from the Jetta-Golf-Sportwagen. VW lowered the fuel injection pressure, raised the fuel line pressure, and changed the pump/injectors which may increase reliability. The Passat HPFP has a longer stroke, its piston and bearing have a different finish, and the pump body is slightly different. VW also changed the piezo injectors on the Jetta-Golf-Sportwagen with solenoid injectors for unknown reasons. The newest (2014+) generation Golf-Audi A3 TDI engine also changed to solenoid injectors. Although the engine is rated for the same power as the Jetta-Golf engines, the turbo is slightly smaller which brings on the power slightly lower. Combined with slightly different tuning, it compensates for the heavier car.

In April 2013, VW extended the warranty to 10 years/120k miles for the exhaust backpressure flap and issued a new replacement part. This flap is for the EGR. The mechanism is exposed to the elements and can seize. This is not a recall and they will not replace it unless you have error codes for the exhaust flap.

VW Passat 9w7 bluetooth

The Passat uses VW's high bluetooth, the 9w7 module.  It displays in the instrument cluster display or navigation screen (if equipped), stores your phone book, voice dialing and prompt, caller id/call history, and ad2p wireless bluetooth streaming for playing music over the radio.  For examples of the bluetooth shown over the navigation system, see the FAQ articles on the GPS.  Here are some demo pictures with a RNS510.  The RNS315 screen is a little smaller and slightly different but has the same functionality.  Early RCD510 do not have a phone button or menu on the radio but starting midway through the 2012 production, they do. This was a rolling change.  See 1000q: 9w7 bluetooth retrofit and features for more pictures and details on functions. 

The Passat come standards with 9w7 except if you have the RNS315 because that unit comes with an internal bluetooth. Swapping to another radio will require adding 9w7.
rns 510 bluetooth

KESSY explained

KESSY is Keyless Entry Start and exit SYstem.  It unlocks the door or trunk if you touch the handle and if the key fob is within a few feet.  Combined with the engine start button, it lets you enter and start the car without removing the key fob from your pocket.  This is part of the SEL trim level.  My only complaint is that there's a blank off plate on the steering column where the ignition switch normally is, shown below.  It would have been a cleaner look without the blank off plate.  If your key fob battery dies you can still use the metal key to enter the car and the start button will still work.  For the first time, the VW Passat has a remote engine starter as well. NOTE: it's normal for the engine to shut off when the car is unlocked. See more on this in the below section "Why isn't the engine remote start working on my VW Passat?"

When you lock the doors from outside, just press the button on the door handle. Don't put your hand inside the handle when pressing the button.
vw passat kessyvw passat kessy range

One quirk of KESSY is that if you leave the car without shutting the engine off, the engine will continue running.  If a first driver goes somewhere else with the key, the second driver won't notice that they don't have the key to restart the engine after shut down (won't start). 

To answer one common question, with the engine running you can lock the car from the inside and it will continue to run. However, if the engine is running you cannot lock the car from the outside using the handle or fob. The only way to leave the car locked with engine running (with KESSY) is to lower the window, lock the door using the inside switch, and then use the remote function to raise the window.

NOTE: There is a trunk valet switch in the glovebox. If your trunk won't open, check this switch. This is not mentioned in the owner's manual! (thanks for the tips ironpen)

VW Passat iPod cable and adapter

VW's iPod cable is part of their Media Device Interface.  It's a data port under the center armrest that comes with an iPod adapter standard.  It gives full control over iPod functions like playlist, shuffle, and play-stop-skip, etc.  It also charges the iPod.  You can buy other adapters with a different end like USB, mini USB, or 3.5mm.  See 1000q: VW iPod and aux-in FAQ for detailed features of the MDI device. The article also shows how to retrofit the MDI adapter.

What is the coming home feature on the Passat?

Coming home turns on the exterior lights when you lock the car. The idea is that you have convenience lighting when you come home and lock the car, hence the name "coming home".

Is that real suede on the SEL comfort-sport seats?

No, it's Dinamica, a high quality brand of microfiber that looks like suede. It's durable and fire/stain resistant (clean with simple soap/water). The rest of the leather seating area is made from leather which is slightly more breathable. It's advertised as pill-free which means it should wear better than Alcantara fake-suede. Dinamica contains no leather - it's made from polyurethane fibers and recycled polyester. Dinamica is also found on Mercedes Benz as an upgrade (and where most also think it's real suede). You can read more about Dinamica on their site.

What's the tow capacity on the VW Passat TDI (DSG) or manual transmission?

1000 lbs, 165 lbs tounge weight

Why isn't the mirror down feature working on my VW Passat TDI SEL?

First, you must have memory seats. This was not on Canadian models. Even if you change the coding to make the checkbox appear, if you don't have memory seats you shouldn't have a highline door module and this feature will not work. To set the amount of tilt, set the parking brake, move the transmission to neutral, and turn on the ignition. Press the desired memory button and shift into reverse. Adjust the mirror. The car will remember which key fob you used for which seat position.

How do I get the mirrors to get linked to a memory seat position?

To link the power side mirrors to a memory seat position, once the seat is adjusted you turn on the key, set the parking brake, move the transmission to neutral, turn on the ignition, adjust the power mirrors to the desired position, and then hold the Set button for a second and your memory number. You should hear a chime. (thanks for the tip darrelld) ***Related common question and answer on how to set the memory seat position to kessy fob.

Why isn't the engine remote start working on my VW Passat?

The owner's manual doesn't differentiate between a locked or unlocked car. Its procedure will only work on a locked car. Therefore, if the car is locked, press lock once and engine start twice. If the car is unlocked, press lock twice and engine start twice. If the car is in your driveway or at the dealership, it'll probably be unlocked which will cause the procedure describe in the manual to not work. (Thanks for the tip ironpen and darrelld!)

Also, it will shut off when you unlock the car. This is how it's designed. Remote start is only available with auto transmission.

Why isn't my trunk release button working on the key fob?

Check the trunk lock button next to the tire pressure monitor reset button. It's in the glovebox.

What's the actual tank capacity in a VW Passat TDI? How much diesel will go in the fuel tank?

On a fully drained (manually emptied) fuel tank to where fuel is spilling out of the filler, 19.3 gallons. You won't be able to add this much unless you manually drain the tank and it's very bad for the fuel pumps to run them dry. Many people complain of not being able to fill the tank all the way because of foaming. Diesel fuel foams much more than gas and the tank shape is such that if there's lots of foam, the fuel filler will click off sooner than normal. Slowing the rate of fueling near the end will help fill the tank.

The Adblue light came on, what do I do?

Add Adblue fluid and then turn the key to the ON position for 30 seconds before starting the engine for the sensors to calibrate. Then read your owners manual because this one and many other essential tips are covered in there.

What's that faint clicking noise under the car on cold starts?

A noise could be many things but the Adblue system calibrates itself on cold starts.

What are those white crystals in the trunk?

Someone spilled Adblue fluid. It's not corrosive to painted metal or carpet and will wash out with warm water. However, if the spill wasn't caused by you it means whoever did the service is being messy or not using the correct filling tools and should clean it up for you. See the Adblue FAQ for more details and fluid info.

Can I install lowering springs for VW Passat?

Yes, see this forum post for pictures of the H&R springs: http://www.myturbodiesel.com/forum/46043-post14.html

Complaints and problems with the 2012 VW Passat TDI

My biggest and the most common complaint is that some options aren't available. Xenon HID headlights are a very common option in this price range but you can't order them. A color multifunction display would have been nice since it was on the last generation Passat and distinguishes it from the Jetta-Golf-Sportwagen.

There have been some reviews that the new Passat's suspension is softer than the last Passat. This is true - the suspension has been retuned in response to complaints on the last Passat that it was too hard. Suspension comfort is pretty subjective and if you don't like it the shocks and struts are pretty easy to change.

The 8 way power seat is limited vs. the last generation's 12 way power seats. The last gen seat could move the front of the seat up-down. The new seat bottom front is fixed - only the bottom back can move to adjust bottom tilt. Also, the power lumbar used to be able to move front-back and up-down. The new seat only moves the power lumbar front-back. The seats are still comfortable to me but before they were adjustable in every way.

The rear seat trunk pass-through is a hatch with no hinge - it just falls off in your hand. IMHO, this is a design mistake since this is one area that people can see. It's secure because it has the latch on the top and two tabs on the bottom but some people might think that the assembly line forgot to attach the hinge or will misplace the hatch. Click to enlarge the thumbnail.
passat pass through seat

VW Passat TDI transmission gear ratios

The gears 1-6 ratios are the same on the manual transmission cars as the Jetta-Golf-Sportwagen but with different final drive ratios. You can use these numbers with 1000q: wheel, gearing, and tire calculator to calculate the engine rpm at any given speed and wheel size. The DSG ratios are the same as the Jetta-Golf-Sportwagen ratios.

gear 2012 manual 2012 DSG
1 3.77 3.46 
2 1.96 2.05
3 1.26 1.30
4 0.87 0.90
5 0.86 0.91
6 0.72 0.76
final1 3.68 4.12
final2 2.92 3.04

Standard RCD 510 radio vs. optional RNS 315 or RNS 510 GPS navigation systems

Both the RNS 315 and the RNS 510 systems will be available in the Passat in addition to the standard radio.  Here is a comparison between the three headunits:

-The RCD 510 is the standard radio and is also found in Jetta, Golf, Sportwagen TDI, and Tiguan.  It has HD radio, a 6.5" touchscreen display, and an SD card slot to play music.
-The RNS 315 is also found in Jetta, Golf, Sportwagen, and Tiguan.  It has a 5" touchscreen display and an SD card slot to play music.  No HD radio yet. It's the nav in the SE w/nav package.
-The RNS 510 is found only on the SEL Passat and older models.  It has HD radio, a high resolution 6.5" touchscreen display, SD card slot to play music, and a 45 GB hard drive to store music/map data.  You can pan the map using the touchscreen.  It can also play video DVD when the car is stopped.

***Early delivery cars and Passat that haven't yet had the software update have voice control function of the RNS 510. It made response slow so VW decided to remove this feature and replace it with Siruis travel link. Unless you explicitly tell them, the dealership will do this in a software update. Even if you tell them not to, if they accidentally do it there's no way to get it back. Travel link adds weather, gas prices, movie listings, etc.

To play DVD when the car is in motion, see How to unlock RNS 510 VIM with CD. Of course, see the TOS Agreement for the legal disclaimer and always give you full attention to safe driving!

The 315 has a slightly faster and newer interface.  Like Audi, it uses a physical knob to scroll through some menus.  The 510 has a larger higher resolution screen and it's all touchscreen interface. I don't like that you have to scroll through the long menus with your finger because you have to pay attention to where you're touching but the larger screen looks better.  Full specifications, feature lists, and video demonstration on these units are available at 1000q: RNS 315 FAQ and 1000q: RNS 510 FAQ.  The chart below only applies to 2012 and newer model year units (there were slight feature and version updates over the years).

  RNS-315 GPS RNS-510 GPS RCD-510 radio
screen size (inches) 5" touchscreen 6.5" touchscreen 16:9 6.5" touchscreen
resolution (pixels) 400 x 240 800 x 480 400 x 240
cd slot single cd single cd  6 cd changer in dash
plays video DVD no yes no
storage for music/navigation maps SD cards for music and new maps
4gb internal flash memory for current map data
external SD card slot and 
45 GB hd (15 nav, 25 music)
SD card slot for music
iPod interface aux input and MDI compatible aux input and MDI compatible MDI interface
bluetooth call from phone book on the screen? yes, when equipped with high bluetooth yes, when equipped with high bluetooth yes if it's a mid-2012 and later car
mp3 CD compatible yes, also WMA, AAC, Ogg Vorbis yes, WMA (not copy protected) yes
HD radio support no yes yes
traffic subscription available? no yes N/A since it's a radio
can you retrofit backup camera yes yes no
satellite radio siruis internal siruis internal sirius internal
amplifier power 4x 20 watt 4x 20 watt 4x 20 watt
displays information on the instrument cluster yes yes yes
GPS 3d and bird's eye view yes, both yes, both N/A since it's a radio
split screen GPS mode no yes N/A since it's a radio
made by: Technisat VDO Continental Delphi
Euro unit is made by Blaupunkt

Here is a side look into the Chattanooga factory where the Passat is made.

Differences between Euro and North American Passat with pictures

As discussed on the last page, the Euro and NA Passat are very different. One of the main reasons for the differences is cost.  In addition to saving on transportation and labor, the new Passat is built with less features than the old worldwide B6 or Euro B7 Passat to reduce cost.  The Euro B7 Passat is a revision and facelift of the B6 Passat which was deemed too expensive for North America.  VW decided that NA, especially America, wanted a bigger, cheaper car so that's what they made.  While some people might not like these changes and want a "true" European car, if you're reading this you're interested specifically in the VW Passat TDI and there is really no alternative.  See the specs chart below comparing it to the Camry hybrid to see why.  See this forum thread if you wish to discuss differences.

As a side note, the North American Passat is also be sold in China with Chinese spec equipment at a higher market level. The Chinese Passat has optional HID, LED taillights, LED DRL, (all of which can be retrofitted to the US car), color MFD, and more.

Here is a quick list of changes on the NA B7 vs. the last B6 or Euro B7:

-premium audio by Fender-Panasonic instead of Dynaudio
-no HID xenon headlights
-no LED taillights
-about 10 cm longer wheelbase and body than Euro Passat
-fuel door release button removed, you now push on the fuel door flap (w/doors unlocked) to open
-manual instead of electric parking brake
-umbrella storage inside door removed

Below are large thumbnail pictures of the NA B7 Passat (upper) vs. the Euro B7 Passat (lower).  Click to enlarge them.  As you can see in the first picture, most if not all of the interior and exterior are different.  Listed below is a short list of things that might not be obvious at first glance.

european usa canadian passat differences europe usa passat differences

-The headlights/taillights/ bumpers are a different shape.
-The NA Passat has a little lip that makes the car smile, the Euro Passat has more of a frown. The edge of the lower grille also ends curved up instead of down.
-The NA Passat's bumper seam goes straight back from the headlight, the Euro Passat goes down. The top and bottom rear of the front fender is also different.
-The front window ends in a point in the NA Passat.
-The chrome trim is different and lower in the Euro Passat.
-The rearmost window is a totally different shape.
-The rear door is a totally different shape.

In the middle interior picture, the Euro seats are sport seats, the US seats are comfort seats. This is not a US-Euro difference. However, the US spec Passat has the anti-whiplash headrests. The height is adjustable but the tilt angle is not. The Euro Passat has the Touareg/Phaeton headrests. These back of the headrest is fixed and the front slides on a 4 way axis to go up-down, forwards-backwards.  The steering column trim of the US spec Passat has a blank off cover for the ignition switch instead of like the Euro Passat (which does have a key slot).

-The US armrest sticks out. The armrest of the Euro Passat is flush with the area underneath it.
-I can see a homelink transmitter in the driver's side sunvisor on the US Passat.
-The kickpanel trim is more pieces on the US spec car.
-The design of the NA dashboard and gauge pod is similar to the other US Spec VW. The Euro Passat is similar to the last mk5 Passat.
-The side view mirrors a different shape.
-The power side mirror adjustment is in a different location.
-The side window blowers are in the dashboard instead of in the A-pillar.
-The NA Passat has a door unlock button on the pass side.
-The door cards and center console are totally different.  By this point I gave up trying to spot the differences because there are just too many.  They're different cars.

2013 vw passat tdi

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