Buying review of the Volkswagen Phaeton 2002-2016 Common Issues Engines Inspection

Hello everyone and we wish you a happy 2020.

We hope to bring you lots of buying reviews this year, this is your channel when it comes to buying review information. We love second hand cars and looking for those special vehicles that are worth giving a second life.

We kick off the year with a very special car, the Volkswagen Phaeton, once built to compete with the likes of the S-class, BMW 7-series, Audi A8 and Lexus, the Phaeton was a car that had to meet extreme demands by its spiritual father, Ferdinand Piëch, who passed away last year august.

The phaeton first came to the market in 2002 and was built until 2016. Quality wiss and engineering wise this car is probably one of the best cars in the world. Comparing this car to a watch; “This car has a swiss movement in the case of a 50 euro watch”. To many people it looks like a big passat, but the attention to detail is great.

If you want a luxury car but do not want to draw too much attention to yourself, this car is perfect.

This car came to the light partly because the car was a prestige matter for Ferdinand. The Bentley uses the same chassis as this car, so you know it rides superb. Also noise isolation and engine choices were up to par.

Think about the W12 engine for instance, two VR6 engines glued together at the crankshaft. This meant lots of power and the W12 is not as big as the traditional V12. Overall its a well equipped and luxury sedan, it’s also full of safety features.

Lets see if this car is really that reliable and what are some of the issues with this type of car.

Engine wise the car starts with a couple of petrol VR6 engines;

The 3.2 and the 3.6 VR6 engines with a power output ranging from 240 to 280 HP. The VR6 engines are quite bulletproof being in production since the early 90’s.

As always be aware of some oil consumption, this is kind of expected with VW engines and does not need to be a problem, unless it uses a little of oil every 1000 KM. This will only happen with cars that had a heavy life and where not maintained well. In the phaeton not really a problem cause these types of cars have been bought by people with money and not the type to blast down the highway with a cold engine.

Back to the VR6.

Its weakest point is a serpentine belt tensioner. Motor stuttering may be caused by broken coil pack while flywheel bolts are easily broken or can unscrew due to strong pressure or high rpm. Besides, this motor consumes much fuel.

However, in total, VR6 engines are rather enduring and don’t cause many troubles. They can run for more than 150,000 miles (250,000 kilometers) with no faults.

The V8 engines are also quite good, the Phaeton has a 4.2 V8 that produces 335 HP and 430 NM of torque. This engine was also used in the Audi A8. Not much to report on this engine other then its a pleasant companion that comes standard with 4 motion to bring all the power safely on the road.

The biggest petrol engine is the 6 liter W12 from Volkswagen, this is engine produces either 420 or 450 HP and 550 or 560 NM. The power output for such a big engine is not enormous so I figure that it still has quite some reserves and does not need to work that hard. In the basis there are two VR6 engines glued together. The VR6 being reliable, this W12 engine is reliable. Only thing is that this car will not have great mileage since it consumes quite some petrol.

Let’s move over to the diesels, there are lots of V6 TDI diesels with power output from 225 until 245 HP. And the biggest diesel is the 5 liter V10 TDI. Power output 313 HP and a whopping 750 NM of torque. In today’s world with so much attention to the environment this V10 diesel is a nightmare for the green hippies, back in the early 2000’s this was Volkswagens statement that they are a force to be recognised.

The Timing gear train on 5.0 V10 diesel can mangle and can be 10 hours labour just to get the engine out. There can be oil feed problems to the camshafts. Costs of labour on these engines are massive, it cost a lot of time to get to the engine itself since it take all the space possible in the engine bay. Only let work get done by a Volkswagen specialist. These engines and cars are quite rare so I figure knowledge is limited. 

There is not much information on the rest of the car in terms of chassis, drivetrain, rust.

This car was engineered for perfection, it had to meet extreme requirements. It is in fact a Bentley with a Volkswagen jacket on. They were never really a big success since most people went for a Mercedes, BMW or Lexus instead.

The people who bought them loved them, but in this market segment appearance is everything and in that respect, the Phaeton was just a big passat.

This might be one of the most interesting cars to buy at the moment. Can be bought for about 20-30 K in euros. Still quite a lot of money but only a fraction of the original price back in the early 2000’s.

They are built like tanks, but don’t spent every last penny you have on them. Keep some cash in hand for potential repairs. These are big and complex vehicles but they are built to conquer whole continents at high speeds in great comfort and it’s whisper quiet inside.

Thanks for watching this buyers review and we hope to see you guys in the next one.

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