On an old passat it's likely that the covering over the heater control flaps has deteriorated which exposes large holes in the flaps themselves that the air blows through instead of being directed around the heater radiator. If you've ever noticed bits of black foam padding in your heater vents this almost certainly the case.
It's not an easy job to fix, I had to remove my entire dashboard so I could get the heater box out. The flaps are inside the box. After a good clean with some spirit I covered them with a couple of wraps of gaffer tape which has proved adequate and I now have a lovely warm car and nice clear windows in all weather's.
It would be expensive at a garage I expect, it took me a couple of days and if I ever wanted to do it again I think I could do it in one full day.
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That's frustrating. If the fan motor sounds healthy when it does run the you probably have a faulty fan switch. When it does come on if it works at all speeds then it's possible there's a bad connection at the switch but this is unlikely. Unless you have experiance with replacing dashboard switches on a VW you wiil probably have to pay a tech to replace it and at that time the swith could be tested with a volt/ ohm meter to make sure that's the problem. I wish I could help more. Good luck.
check fuses..came across a bora with much same problem..it turned out to be a coolent tempreture switch the heater gauge wasn't working and on diagnostics it was reading -41degrees celcius the fan was not running because it thought it was freezing outside also blew the fuse of the fan also
There are known problems with this vehicle's heater core not getting enough coolant flowing through it to blow hot air.
1) Even if the coolant looks good, there are problems with the heater
core plugging up. One solution is to use a heavy duty cleaner (CLR pipe
cleaner) to back flush the heater core. To know if the heater core is
plugged up, disconnect the 2 heater hoses at the heater core and
somehow connect a hose to one end of the core. Try to flow water
through, it doesn't have to be high pressure, and there should be a
steady stream. If not, try to get the cleaner directly into the heater
core and let it soak. Then back flush it and a lot of scale should be
seen coming out.
2) The other problem is that since the heater core is the highest point
in the cooling system air tends to get trapped in it. This should only
happen if the coolant goes low or someone has opened the system to
service it. There are a number of ways to bleed the system (vacuum
bleed, pressure bleed). One of the hoses should have a small hole in it
for bleeding air, pull that hose back just enough so the hole allows
coolant to flow out of it. Then accelerate the engine and get a good
flow coming out, when no more air bubbles are present, there should be
3)I've heard of bad water pumps with low flow causing issues as well as
an aux. water pump not fuctioning correctly leading to poor heat output
from the heater core. Someone should confirm this as I cannot get much
information on the aux water pump(electronic pump by the alternator
that is supposed to run after the car is shut off).