September 30, 2010

My Garage - Changing the Oil and Filter on the Passat W8

With my 2002 Passat W8 quickly approaching the 140,000 mile mark, it is once again time for an oil change. As crazy as it may sound to a gear head, I have always taken this car to the stealership to do what is a pretty simple maintenance operation. This because it is usually combined with some other service and my work schedule has made it pretty challenging to keep up with the maintenance requirements of all my cars especially my daily driver.

This time however I find myself with plenty of time in my hands and so I want to do the work myself. The owner's manual specifies that the beast wants SAE 5W-40 synthetic that follows VW 503.01 specification. The service records show that this car has always been given a diet of Castol Syntec 5W-40 so we are good there. But are we? Really? I keep finding all sorts of discussions in the forums concerning what oil to use in these cars. It is painful. I looked around and found a reference concerning VW specifications @ Opie Oils. With a 140Kmiles running on Castrol Syntec without any issues, I think it will be OK. The question really is... Is all this technological complexity really worth it? For a daily driver? A bit ridiculous... This is definitively NOT like my old Dasher (Passat B1). ;-)


The oil filter I ordered arrived yesterday... The o-ring is to replace the one in the oil filter unit.



I looked around locally and found a good deal on the oil at AutoZone so I stopped by and picked up 10 quarts. (One spare to top off when needed). Looks like I have everything I need!



There is a great writeup on the W8 Forum that explains the process in great detail so I am using it as my reference. The beauty of Internet forums!

I ended up using the following tools to get it done:
  • A short flat-head screwdriver ( (I used a coin instead) and a 10 mm socket to remove the bottom engine bay cover.
  • A 19 mm socket to remove the oil drain plug.
  • A 6 mm Allen wrench to drain the oil from the filter assembly.
  • Channel lock pliers to open the filter assembly.
  • A thin flat-head screwdriver to remove the oil filter cap O-ring.
  • Torque wrench set to 22 lb-ft to tighten the drain plug.
  • Catch basin of at least 10 quart capacity to catch the oil from the crankcase.
  • A small 1 quart bowl to catch oil from the filter housing.


The process began with the removal of the plastic under tray. The oil filter is neatly tucked away in the front of the car on the passenger side behind the bumper cover. I used the Allen wrench to remove the plug from the bottom of the filter cap and drained the oil into a plastic container.


There is at least 1/2 a quart of oil in there...


The interior of the oil filter housing is covered in oil so I allowed it to drain for a while and wiped the rest...


I used two containers to catch the oil simultaneously. That way I can let it drain while I do other things. Notice that I also used my hydraulic jack to raise the car on the passenger side to help drain the oil a little faster.


The O-ring in the filter cap should be replaced with the one that came with the new filter...


With the o-ring replaced and the new filter in its housing it is time to put it back together...


Looks like the drain plug was abused by the service departments that did previous oil changes. I put it back in and torqued to 22 lb-ft. as recommended. The filter went back in without a problem and I added a bit over 8 quarts of oil.


I added a can of Sea Foam to see if we can clean things out a little. I will probably have to change this oil again in around 5k miles. We will see what happens...


Upon first starting the car it stumbled and the chains rattled a bit as the tensioners pressurized. It idled rough for a minute or so but it eventually stabilized. I replaced the lower plastic cover while the engine warmed up. I then took it for a good test drive on the freeway to warm up the oil and called it done.



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