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Back to School Checklist: 2001 Volkswagen Passat

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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.

Girl beside Volkswagen Passat

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.
Tire of Volkswagen Passat

  • 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.
Valvoline Maxlife on engine

  • 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.
Bosch car battery

  • 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.
Coolant and transmission fluid

  • 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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