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This is a time consuming process, that should not be done, unless you are sure of your mechanical skills, the thermostat is behind the timing belt (why VW ever did that I do not know). You will have to remove the front bumper, and put the front of vehicle into what is called service position, meaning the front end of the car, radiator and mounting moves forward a few inches. It sounds complicated but its not really to bad.
Then you will need to removed the serpentine belt and power steering pulley. Remove timing belt covers. Then either removed the top portion of timing belt and then remove thermostat housing, or if you are really patient, you can try to squeeze the thermostat out from behind, but it is not easy at all.
All in all, this job for a DIY is probably around 5-8 hours of work and I would not attempt unless you have done something like this before.
well if you car has the two part headlamp take out the turn signal housing. and slide out the headlamp housing out in the direction to where you remove the turn signal housing. if you have the one piece housings you have to completely remove the front bumper to remove the headlamp housing
For a 2002 Passat, it looks like its the bumper cover. Unless you mean below the bumper grill, then that's called the front spoiler / or lower valance. check this out- https://www.1stvwparts.com/partscat.html
If you are talking about the passengers side than you will need to remove the bumper cover start by removing the screws in the fender and remove the liner remove the side lamps and screws on top and under the front of the bumper you will see the crash sensor mounted to the support ONE question those sensors rearly ever go bad way r u replacing it?
you have to take off head lights and signals because there is a bumper bolts behind them ,remove engine shield underneed and front tires splash shileds front side bolts ,take off front grill there is a bolts forr bumper too.
and you may need the get your a/c refrigrant **** with recycling machine because condenser and radiator come out togethar so you have to disconnect a/c lines from the condenser to take out radiator. good luck!!
Your car is may overheats for diffrent reason just make sure problem is the radiator or thermostat if its not you still gonna have same problem after at all.
you need to remove front bumper , remove front into service position , remove aux belts set timing marks up ( you will need to use locking tools ) lock crank and cam shaft remove belt replace belt and tensioners . please note it is also use full to check water pump