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Back to School Checklist: 2001 Volkswagen Passat

By on August 26, 2014

By Courtney Malloy

I have been enjoying my Summer Vacation away from school with my family, seeing old friends and going to as many Angels’ baseball games as I can. My senior year at San Diego State just around the corner I have started a checklist for my trusty VW Passat. I will average over 400 miles a month shuttling around town and trekking from school to home on the weekends so I want to make sure my car is up to the challenge.

My Dad and I have done the basics on the Passat since I bought it my freshman year, including changing the oil. We recently switched to Valvoline MaxLife to help combat the well known sludge problems that affect some older Passats. I bought the car with over 100,000 miles on the odometer from the original owner and now it shows 132K. The VW was very well maintained by its first owner and I have continued to take good care of her and hope to make it through my last year without any costly repairs.


Nothing is worse than breaking down on the 5 in between Orange County and the outskirts of San Diego so my Dad and I have developed a checklist to make sure my car is safe and ready for the round trip.

  • Check tires and air pressures – I do a walk around while my Dad checks pressures when the tires are cold. The owner’s manual states they should be 29 PSI front and 28 rear. I like the ride firm so we set all four corners at 30 PSI. I bought new tires for the rear wheels in June and based on the wear on the front I think they will need to be replaced early next year.


    • Oil level check – Passat V6’s are known to burn oil so I typically check it every 2 weeks, usually coinciding with trips home for good cooking and lots of laundry. My Dad has always been a big fan of Valvoline oil and he suggested that I use MaxLife in the Passat to help prevent leaks and sludge build-up that could accelerate wear.


    • Battery check – Since the battery lives in its own cubby under the hood and out of sight I make a point to take a look and make sure that the terminals are clean and free of corrosion.


    • Coolant and Transmission fluid – I visually check the coolant level when the Passat is cold and parked on level ground. After warm up I take a quick look at the transmission fluid and make sure it’s at the correct level.


  • Wipers and washer fluid – It’s amazing how many bugs I encounter between home and school and I like a clean windshield so I will top off the washer fluid and make sure the wipers are in good condition.

After my check list is complete I know I’m ready to hit the road!

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