It finally happened. After months of constant commuting and long road trips and, we finally managed to roll the odometer on our Four Seasons 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI past the magical 10,000-mile mark in September.
10,000 miles isn't just an arbitrary milestone for celebration: barring any unforeseen consequences, it's the first time Volkswagen says a new Passat should go in for scheduled maintenance. According to the owner's manual, service intervals fall every 10,000 miles, but the first 10,000-mile check-up is rather simple. Technicians are instructed to inspect brake pads, change oil and oil filter, rotate tires, inspect wiper blades, and if necessary, top off the urea-based AdBlue diesel emissions fluid. That last point is somewhat unique to the Passat TDI: while Jetta and Golf TDI models use a near-identical diesel engine, neither one boasts the Passat's selective catalyst exhaust trap, which requires the use of AdBlue.
Our service visit was hinged largely upon a fluid change, although we did ask our dealer to look into a slight rattling sound our editors have occasionally noticed a rattle coming from from the headliner. Our dealer allegedly couldn't replicate the errant noise, and sent us on our way. The total cost for our visit: nothing, as Volkswagen's Carefree Maintenance program provides free basic scheduled maintenance appointments for the first three years or 36,000 miles of ownership.
Outside of our scheduled check-up, our Passat hasn't required much other upkeep during the time it's been in our care. We did replace the daytime running lamp bulbs when both burned out late last month. Replacement bulbs run $6 per pair, and the owner's manual says both are user-serviceable items - but the act of replacement isn't as straightforward as it seems. Most forward lamps are only accessible through small openings in the inner fender liners, but the DRL sockets are located on the underside of the lamp housings. Slender hands are ideal for the job, but they're no guarantee of success, as associate Web editor Ben Timmins found.
"I checked the bulb and the filament looked fine," he wrote, "so I jiggled it back in place and tried to screw it back in. It wouldn't go in, and I was powerless to figure out why because trying to insert and remove the DRL socket from the housing is a process you have to do blind. A member on a VW forum detailed a way to change the DRLs by removing the headlamp assembly, which requires removing the grille."
Did it work? Indeed, though Timmins notes putting things back together wasn't quite as easy, thanks to a few hidden mounting clips. "It's understandable VW doesn't advise its owners to remove plastic pieces every time they need to replace bulbs. Then again, the manufacturer-recommended solution is a joke that will leave you like me: with stuck bulbs and nicked hands."
We're not sure either a dealer or novice can repair our complaints surrounding the Passat's navigation system. The clunky interface and spotty route guidance - which routed senior Web editor Phil Floraday off a freeway, onto slower county roads, and eventually back to the same freeway after a few dozen miles -- frustrated Floraday to the point where he almost swapped cars in the middle of a weekend.
"What really irks me with the system is the auto-zoom feature and the lack of a distance scale when you try to zoom. There's also no way to zoom out enough to see the entire route unless you choose the entire route overview, which doesn't allow you to zoom back in. Operation is clumsy, actual guidance isn't very good, and the interface looks really cheap. I won't be using the navigation in this car again."
Associate Web editor Jake Holmes echoed many of Floraday's sentiments. "The system often gives confusing directions like 'take the second street,' and zooms in and out so you can't see pertinent information on the display. Moreover, I can't find a way to get a list of the route directions before departing, which means I'm often in the dark about the route the nav has picked. I'd opt instead for a more sophisticated aftermarket unit."