P0353 is a generic OBD2 code that indicates that ignition coil “C” has an issue with the primary or secondary wiring circuits. It has the same meaning for the Volkswagen Passat as it would any other vehicle. It is typically caused by a bad coil pack or wiring harness issue, although there can be caused by other factors. It’s important to determine if it is the primary or secondary circuit that has thrown the code. Luckily, it’s easy to determine which one is at fault.
P0353 Ignition Coil “C” Primary/Secondary Circuit → Malfunction
Primary or Secondary Wiring?
The primary wiring is the wiring harness leading from your Passat’s ECM/PCM to the ignition system itself. A short, open, or poorly ground wiring harness is almost always what causes P0353 when it is the primary wiring side that has thrown the code.
The secondary side of the equation is the spark side. Which means that plugs, plug wires (if so equipped) or the spark plug itself is causing your Passat to throw P0353. Ignition Coil C indicates the problem is in cylinder three. You’ll need to look up which cylinder is number one on your engine. Different manufacturers use different methods. Here’s a pretty good explanation of how how to locate the third cylinder.
There is a really easy test to determine if it is the primary or secondary wiring that has thrown this code in your Passat. Move the ignition components (coil pack, plug wire, plug) from cylinder C to another and clear the codes. If the code “moves” from cylinder three, you now know that it’s a secondary issue. If it stays, it’s a primary. We go into this in greater detail below (go straight there).
P0353 Symptoms: Volkswagen Passat
- Check Engine Light– The check engine light may be all that you notice when you have this code, particularly if it is caused by an intermittent wiring issue with your Passat.
- Misfiring– P0353 might be accompanied by P0303. P0303 indicates that there is a misfire in cylinder three. Resolving P0353 will typically clear P0303 as well. Misfiring can lead to a lack of power, and/or engine hesitation.
- Rough Idle– You vehicle may idle rough if the third cylinder isn’t getting enough spark. You very well may smell raw fuel as your Passat’s engine runs as well.
P0353 Causes: Volkswagen Passat
These are the most common problems that cause P0353:
- Wiring Issues (short, open, or bad ground)
- Bad Coil Pack
- Loose Connection at the coil
- Bad PCM
The first goal of diagnosing P0353 is determining if you are dealing with a primary or secondary wiring problem in your Passat. If you do that, you’ve eliminated half of the variables.
Voltage Test (Optional, but time saving)
The first place that you would want to start looking for what could be causing P0353 in your Passat would be the wiring harness. You can use a digital voltmeter to check if the coil pack is getting the proper signal. You would want to set it for A/C hertz and check to see if it is between 5-20hz.
If it was between 5-20hz, it’s highly likely that the coil pack has gone bad. Although, it could also be a bad plug or plug wire as well. If it has no signal, it’s time to look at the wiring harness. If you don’t have a voltmeter, you can use the parts swap method to help you determine if it’s the primary or secondary side causing your problems. See directly below ↓.
A great way to determine if it is an ignition related component, and not a wiring issue, is to reset the trouble code and swap the coil, plug, and plug wire (if equipped) with another cylinder. If the misfire “jumps” to the cylinder that you’ve just swapped your Passat’s ignition components into, then you know that you are looking at is a coil, plug wire, or (most likely) coil pack failure.
If the misfire did move cylinders, you can go ahead and replace the plug, plug wire, and coil pack. If you are on a tight budget, you can keep resetting the code and swap the ignition parts back one at a time until the misfire returns to cylinder three. Start with the coil pack.
This method is only as difficult as the third cylinder is to get to.
If the misfire failed to move from the third cylinder, then you know that you most likely have an issue with the wiring harness going from the coil pack to the Passat’s PCM/ECM. Take a look at where the harness plugs into the coil pack. Is it damaged or loose feeling in relation to the other cylinder’s connections? If so it may need to be replaced.
If the misfire is intermittent, go ahead and jiggle the wiring harness and see if it has an impact on the way the engine is running. If it does start or stop misfiring, you know you’ve found your problem. Look anywhere that the harness bends or touches anything sharp. Look to see if it looks burnt anywhere. Check for damage and repair the wiring accordingly.
Make sure that it has a solid ground.
If you still can’t find the problem, it’s time to take a look at the PCM. This is the least likely answer, and an area where it may be time to call in the pro’s.
Conclusion: P0353 Volkswagen Passat
P0353 is usually pretty easy to diagnose through the swap test, even if you don’t have any specialty diagnostic tools. If there is anything you can add, please leave a comment below. Good luck fixing your Passat!