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I've had a Volkswagen Passat for a little over a year now, and it's been driving without any major issues so far. However, I've noticed the ride feels just generally "worse" that it did before.

Everything I've noticed makes sense considering I've put about 15,000 extra miles on it: the engine is a little bit louder than it used to be (especially when I first start it), the car vibrates a little when idled when it didn't used to, and a few other small things that I'd expect to come with use.

While none of these are urgent or major problems, I can't help but feel they're indicators that something urgent or major is on the way. A louder engine or an engine that vibrates more than usual seems to me like a symptom that something isn't working as well as it used to, and I'd really rather not wait for something to go wrong before getting it looked at.

I've gotten the oil changed, brakes checked, tires rotated, etc. regularly, but without being able to pin this vague behavior on anything specific, I don't know how to ask to get it looked at. What I really want to do is to have someone check over everything and make sure it's working like it should be, and that there are no impending issues on the horizon.

Is this reasonable, and if so, how do I go about doing this? This is my first car, and I'd like to keep it healthy for as long as I can.

(NOTE: I'm also a little worried because I don't know much about cars, and it feels fiscally irresponsible to say, "hey, can you find literally anything at all wrong with my car? I'll probably pay for whatever you tell me is wrong because I don't know any better." Whichever approach I take, I'd appreciate if I were somehow protected against that.)

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    Welcome to mechanics.stackexchange, It would be helpful to know the exact model and engine type, some info about your car usage would be also helpful – Martin Dec 6 '18 at 21:33
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You can begin by buying a live-data enabled OBD scanner, plugging it into the OBD port, having a read at the live-data and "doing the homework" to know what values you should be expecting from an engine in good working order, and what the ones actually sensed and displayed really mean.

The only way to avoid the fiscally irresponsible, as you said, pathway, is learning how your car actually works, how to diagnose it and how to fine tune it, all by yourself. In other words, learn how to be your car's mechanic. No other way, unfortunately. You have to do your homework, as stated above.

Other than this, good things to begin with would be to give a good cleanup to parts which benefit from a good cleanup, such as the MAF and MAP sensors, the throttle body and the EGR valve. Each part requires its own specialized cleaner (for example, a MAF requires a residue free contact cleaner), no universal cleaners unless you want to damage something.

  • I would question the wisdom of "cleaning things for the sake of it". Personally I've never cleaned an engine sensor since computer control was first introduced, and I've never had a sensor failure either! Just follow the manufacturer's service schedule (and don't waste your money changing the oil every 3,000 miles, especially if you don't know what cheap garbage is going into the engine rather than the correct specification!), get the servicing done by a VW dealer not "some guy who knows all about cars," and don't lose any sleep over it! – alephzero Dec 7 '18 at 0:17
  • Trust me, bring out any sensor involved in the A/F ratio formation (except the O2 sensor, which should only be replaced), clean it with a suitable cleaner and put it back into its place, and your engine will feel very different from before. Yes, modern ECUs adapt to dirty sensors over time, but this kind of adaptation eventually reaches its limits. Personally, coming from science studies, i'd rather learn the workings by myself and repair/tune up by myself or, when i can't do something due to a lack of space or tools, let a trusted mechanic do the work, than let a dealer touch my car. – Al_ Dec 7 '18 at 10:45

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