Diagnosing VW Passat Oil Leaks & Burning Oil Smells

Do you have a VW Passat oil leak? Does your VW Passat have a burning oil smell? We've noticed in our own service repair facility that the VW Passat V6 30 valve 2.8 liter engines can develop oil leaks as the car gets older and advanced in miles. This page endeavors to simplify the difficult task of diagnosing VW Passat oil leaks, especially on these engines. If you are getting ready to spend money on the repairs associated with having different seals, gaskets, and hoses replaced, please read this page addressing VW Passat oil leaks.

The Four Most Common VW Passat Oil Leaks

Applies to 2.8 liter V6 30 valve engines

  • VW Passat Oil Leaks - Cam Chain Tensioner Gaskets and Seals
  • VW Passat Oil Leaks - Valve Cover Gasket Seals
  • VW Passat Oil Leaks - Camshaft Seals and Plugs
  • VW Passat Oil Leaks - Front and Rear Crankshaft Seals

If your vehicle has in excess of 100,000 miles on it, the oil leaks may be linked to a blocked crankcase breather hose system. Search our blog articles for information about the explanations and repairs of clogged Audi VW crank case breather systems.

What Causes VW Passat Oil Leaks and Smells?

Buildup of sludge on VW Passat engineMany VW Passat's have a rough service history. We consider 'rough' to be irregular oil changes, extreme hot or cold climates, a lot of short driving where full engine temperature is never reached, and excessive low RPM city driving. This produces a great deal of condensation and moisture to form within the engine, causing a buildup of sludge. Many owners have bought a VW Passat without knowing the oil change and driving history. If you own or have bought an VW Passat with over 100,000 miles that has oil leaks, the crankcase breather system should be treated as suspect. If you remove the valve cover and see a lot of resinous accumulation in the valve train area, this indicates that the vehicle already has heavy amounts of oil sludge build up throughout the engine. Suspect number one is the VW Passat crankcase breather system. For more information and illustrations about the VW Passat Crankcase Breather Hose System us our website search and you will find a variety of information explaining how this buildup happens and how to fix it.

Years of rough service history as mentioned above, cause contamination to take place inside the engine which clogs the VW Passat crankcase breather hose system. Due to this blockage, the air flow generated within the engine crankcase is restricted and will not allow the system to breath properly. When the engine is running, pressure builds up in the crankcase and causes oil to push out and leak from the weakest parts of the engine.

Please Note: The information and pictures refer to a VW Passat equipped with a V6 2.8L engine. However, this information can also be applied to other VW models and engine configurations. For example, many VW Passat models with 4 cylinder 1.8L turbo, VW Jetta, Golf, or Beetle models with 4 cylinder 2.0L, or 5 cylinder 2.5L gasoline or diesel engines, have been subjected to rough service history. All VW Jetta, Golf, and Beetle engines and configurations have crankcase ventilation breather hose systems. If your VW Jetta, Golf, or Beetle has oil leaks from the front or rear crankshaft seal areas, there is a strong possibility that the vehicle has experienced a rough service life. Technicians should inspect the crankcase breather hose system for restriction caused by a buildup of oil varnish and sludge. A previous rough service life doesn't have to mean the end of your car's engine. Take action and immediately start using the recommended VW oil specification in your car.

To prevent this buildup, Blauparts recommends using Ravenol motor oil in your VW Passat. Made in Germany, Ravenol is an advanced synthetic motor oil that is specifically engineered to meet VW Passat oil specifications extending VW oil change intervals, while fighting against sludge build up in the valve train area. Varnish and sludge build up eventually leads to crankcase breather hose restriction, excessive crankcase pressure, and subsequent VW Passat oil leaks. Ravenol's unique oil formulation has the ability to substantially reduce internal engine friction, resulting in increased fuel mileage, reduced emissions, and extended engine life at an affordable price.

VW Passat Oil Leaks: Cam Chain Tensioner Gaskets and Seals

When the VW Passat camshaft adjuster seals and valve cover gaskets leak, they typically cause a burning oil smell. The passenger side cam chain tensioner seal is located on the backside of the cylinder head and will drip oil onto the down pipe causing this smell. This VW Passat leak is best seen through the passenger side wheel well as pictured (Image 1). The driver side cam chain tensioner seals will leak down onto the A/C compressor and oil filter area (Image 2).

VW V6 2.8T cam chain tensioner gasket leak area

VW Passat Oil Leaks: Valve Cover Gaskets

When the VW Passat valve cover gaskets are leaking you will get a leak along the entire outer edge of the valve cover, which then begins to leak down onto the exhaust manifold. There will also be significant leaking into the spark plug chambers of the cylinder head (Image 3).

VW Passat valve cover gasket leaks

VW Passat Camshaft Seals Plugs

VW Passat Oil Leaks: Camshaft Seals and Plugs

When the VW Passat camshaft seals are leaking, you'll find oil down the front side of the engine. There is usually an oil trail between the seam of the timing belt backing cover and the cylinder head. This oil trail continues down onto the underside of the oil pan making it easy to determine a leaking passenger side camshaft plug and seals (Image 4). The driver’s side camshaft plug’s and seals can be much harder to pinpoint. This is because the symptoms are similar to those of leaking cam chain tensioner gaskets. Typically, the driver side cam seals leak down onto the A/C compressor and oil filter area, similar to a leaking cam chain tensioner gasket. The best way to diagnose the leak on the driver side cam seal is to laterally look and see if it's leaking.

VW Passat Oil Leaks: Front and Rear Crankshaft Seals

When the VW Passat front crankshaft seal is leaking you will see a trail of oil down the front and side of the oil pan. This is many times misdiagnosed as a leaking VW Passat oil pan gasket (Image 5). The rear VW Passat crankshaft seal will cause a collection of oil to accumulate and drip from the bottom of the bell housing area (Image 6). Crankshaft seals are made of very reliable materials and as a rule don't fail. The root cause for their failure is almost always due to a blocked crankcase breather hose system. With a clogged system, crankcase pressure within the engine is not released. This pressure along with the engine oil is then driven out of the crankcase past these front and rear seals.

VW Passat Crankshaft Seals