By on October 12, 2007

07jetta20t_01_hrgb1.jpgMy name is Tony and I’m an ex-VW owner. Like most exes, it’s taken me a couple of decades to overcome my bitterness to the point where I can render objective judgment on the German automaker’s products. As a test drive reveals nothing about long-term reliability, I will mention it no more and judge the facts at hand. One of which is Volkswagen automobiles are still beset with mechanical and electrical gremlins. Damn! So, the Jetta. Nice looking car, eh?

Of all Vee Dub’s U.S. products, today’s longer, wider Jetta has the best proportions. You can savor the style at the bottom of the Jetta’s A-pillar, where the intersection of the sedan’s roof, windscreen and hood flow with the go. The Jetta’s jewelry works equally well; the mid-sizer’s maw isn’t a cartoon and the circular taillights are a far more elegant solution than the Rabbit’s wraparound lamps. In fact, the Jetta’s sheetmetal displays plenty of good old fashioned German gravitas

akinaghost1145.jpgInside, things move from serious to grim. While liberal use of the latest laser welding technology has created a car that meets or beats its German siblings for torsional rigidity and low amplitude door thunkery, the latest Jetta could well be the official automobile of The 300. That said, even latter day Spartans might have appreciated a little more color, or a few more cupholders, or some polymers that weren’t as unyielding as a Persian army commander’s worst nightmare. 

To ameliorate the interior’s dark, monochromatic monotony, VW’s designers placed pseudo-aluminum stripes across the Jetta’s dash and doors. It’s about as effective as smiley face lapel pin on an undertaker’s suit. Aft of the driver’s door, the pillar is hollowed out to offer a bit of lebensraum for tall drivers. Unfortunately, the rock-hard plastic causes multiple insults to tender elbows. The Jetta’s center armrest moves fore/aft and angles up/down, but it’s got less padding than Cliff Notes.

volkswagen-jetta_25_2006_1600x1200_wallpaper_07.jpgAt this price, leather upholstery is fashioned from the cow’s cheaper sub-surface layers, then burnished, painted and scented with ein spritz of eau de bovine. I mention this because my test Jetta’s stiff plastic seats smelled more like leather than a Bentley Continental. Better yet, the Jetta’s chairs continue the nameplate’s tradition of offering plenty of room in the caboose.

The Jetta’s rear compartment accommodates two adults almost as easily as an ’07 Accord. Unfortunately, the center armrest is so over-engineered (storage compartment, cupholders, key-locking pass-through) that it’s uncomfortable for both arms and backs. The Jetta’s trunk is enormous, with non-smashing hydraulic hinges and a level of finish that will allow mob abductees to feel entirely pampered if, well, you know.

07jetta25_10_hrgb1.jpgTaken as a whole, the Jetta’s cabin feels like what it is: a Passat that’s undergone a radical plushectomy. While my ’08 tester’s fit and finish were frickin’ flawless, they pale into insignificance compared to the unforgiving slabs of petroleum-based concrete that line the creature capsule.

Our tester “boasted” VW’s infamous 2.5-liter five cylinder powerplant; an engine that sounds like a four and drinks like a six. Once you get past the mill’s overly aggressive tip-in, the Jetta accelerates with upmarket ease. The six-speed automatic’s well-judged ratios ensure seamless though glacial progress. No surprise there. With 150 horses trying to motivate 3230 lbs. of Puebla’s finest, directionally-challenged drivers go nowhere slow. More specifically, an autobox-enabled sprint from zero to sixty takes all of 9.1 seconds.

07jetta25_04_hrgb1.jpgOnce underway, the Jetta’s electric power steering serves-up a strange combination of anesthetic road feel and Soloflex-level resistance. The wheel’s rim is pleasingly fat but the diameter feels small; more so because of the relatively quick steering ratio. The Jetta’s ride is downright soft, almost pillowy, complemented by good isolation and minimal wind noise. Rock the wheel a bit on the highway and the car porpoises unpleasantly a full half-beat behind your inputs, more Flint than Wolfsburg.

Guide the Jetta around a tight corner and the fully-independent suspension (front McPhersons and a rear multi-link) keep the car’s body motions in check. In fact, at low speeds, it’s easier to upset a Buddhist monk than a Volkswagen Jetta. Blast into some high speed sweepers and the car still maintains its longitudinal cool. But string some curves together in a sporting fashion and the aforementioned vertical softness undermines any advantage delivered by the Jetta’s body control.

07jetta25_05_hrgb1.jpgI guess the “drivers wanted” are of the bunny slipper wearing and hot cocoa drinking variety. While that’s no bad thing in and of itself, it’s clear that the Jetta is an anachronism. Its hair shirt minimalist cabin evokes a time when VW’s build quality compensated for their monkish interiors. These days the marque’s quality is a barely-remembered myth, and there are plenty of $20k-ish sedans offering both comfort AND reliability.

Sigh. Is there no getting past the “r” word? No, I guess there isn’t.

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109 Comments on “Volkswagen Jetta Review...”

  • avatar

    You can’t buy a volkswagen without gremlins. They are automatically built into every car they produce. Volkswagen- The Yugo of German Cars.

  • avatar

    Ahhhh, the Jetta. I have such fond memories of my first new car… well, until they weren’t so good anymore.

    Over the summer I was particularly enamored with looking at a new Jetta and test drove several variants: diesel, 2.5 and 2.0t.

    During one of the drives I realized that the Jetta had improved considerably over the years. It’s still a beautiful and well designed car with a lot of features and capability. Even more to the point, the competition has improved at a faster pace.

    There are still times I wish I had VW’s elegant solutions and highly finessed features available on my Subaru… but I like the Jetta better as a beautiful, well-crafted… memory.

  • avatar

    So….. I can assume when year-end sales are totalled we will be reading about the “Jetta 6”?

  • avatar

    Everyone I know who bought one of these things has problems with it. The silver color is a defacto chick car for sure. I see them with burnt out lights everywhere, headlight, turn signal, brake light, etc.

  • avatar

    My daughter’s Jetta underwent a tiring and expensive series of breakdowns until we dumped it and bought her a Honda. But wait…. haven’t the wise scribes of this site said that reliability is no longer a factor in buying a car? They’re all so good it is no longer an issue?? I beg to differ, and concur with Mr. Sterbenc re the utter fecalness of VW products.

  • avatar

    I may be the one who disagrees, based on personal experience. my wife owns a 2002 VW Golf, and it’s been quite trouble free. Before we met, she complained about endless transmission issues, but I’ve noticed nothing wrong with it. I now use it to commute 50 miles a day, and have a replace burnt out lights only about every 3 months. Beside that, the only problem for the last 30,000 miles were a failing spark plug wire, and a door control issue. I don’t consider it too bad for a car that just reached 80,000 miles. I don’t know if it’s just me, though. The one thing I love is that the car still feels rock solid and drives almost as well as a new one does, and I hope to drive it another 60,000 miles before changing…unless I got a raise and can buy an A3 sooner than expected :-)

  • avatar

    ’98 Passat V6 here, with 107k relatively trouble-free miles. Sure, there are some minor gasket leaks. I had to replace the control arms (8 of them…but it was a DIY afternoon). The rest has been routine, and most of it very accessible and manageable for a moderate shadetree mechanic. Minor electrical gremlins, but all conveniences. Never had an unexpected bulb burnout, but that may be due to disabled DRLs ;)

    I am semi-seriously considering a Jetta tdi wagon as my next car, but I’ve yet to see consistent proof that the brand can be good as daily workhorses. Sure, mine is doing great with regular TLC from a caring owner, but what about when I have two or three kids and no time for that anymore?

    My bottom line has always been: If you are interested in doing most of your own maintenance, VWs are very rewarding on the whole. If you are wholly dependent upon a mechanic (or heaven forbib, a DEALERSHIP), then steer clear.

  • avatar

    i have an ‘05.5 Jetta 2.5 with a five speed, 42k miles, only problem so far was the rear brake pads wearing out abnormally fast. I drive the snot out of it, it’s not stock, and it takes a beating and keeps going.

    VW gets a bad reliability rap from the same type of whiny nerds who bitched that the Mini’s cupholders weren’t large enough for a Latte. The car starts up every morning and puts a smile on my face. What new car doesn’t have a few problems?

  • avatar

    Some more “Truth”

    1. 170 lb.-ft. torque @ 3750 rpm. Civic = 128 @ 4300
    2. 2008 has received a power bump to 170 HP. Civic = 140 @ 6300
    3. The 2.5 is 23/30 under new EPA. Civic = 25/36
    4. Anecdotes = Not reliability data [enter Sajeev]
    5. The author was honest about his bias. [although IMHO a very biased and unfair review]
    6. Recent price drop

    Quiet, powerful, Good enough handling, boot space = 2 stars?

    [I own a Civic]

  • avatar

    3. The 2.5 is 23/30 under new EPA.

    The EPA web site gives the “new” rating as 21/29.

  • avatar

    “What new car doesn’t have a few problems? ” You’ve got to be kidding, right? There are numerous foreign and domestic at vast price ranges that don’t have premature brake issues and force owners into a lightbulb ritual every other month. You slam your hard earned $$$ down for a 21st century vehicle and expect the 21st century technology to go with it. Don’t you find it odd that the rear brake pads go out before the front pads? Lets not even talk about fit and finish. Body panels that look like they need a few more hours on a english wheel, door handles that come off in your hand, and major engine components that go on strike at 50k. Did I mention resale value? There’s sticker shock for you. You can’t help but feel sorry for the poor souls who are so upside down in their car they can’t even begin to trade up. As far as any VW owner can hope for is to trade up.

  • avatar

    The Jetta, from the German word meaning Jet Stream.

    I own a Jetta. A TDI in fact, and really love the little machine. But with all relationships, there are periods of disappointment and frustration. I agree with the reviewer with these points:

    -The Interior is spartan. But I like Spartan. I get into a Toyota interior, and I’m overwhelmed with shiny fake wood and wierd looking knobs. Call me old fashioned (at 27, thats a hard feat), but I like it…. fakey aluminum not withstanding, it looks bad, and it scratches easily

    -Reliability. Coming from owning several 80’s era Audis, I can say the Jetta isn’t bad. However, the rear brakes wore out at 30K miles. Then after the repairs/replacements and much consternation, the driver’s side shoe got hung up on the interstate at 70mph, resulting in an embarrasing incident where it looked like my car was on fire. The driver’s door lock doesn’t always lock, as the sensor can’t tell when what “locked” is. I have a rattle in my dash, and in my roof (all I have to do is press on it, and it stops, but still annoying). My “Don’t Touch Me!” engine cover came off and lodged itself into the engine bay. The most heinous of all…. the rear speaker crackles when I play Coast-to-Coast AM, due to George Noory’s deeper voice.

    -The seats have held up remarkably well though, no leather wrinkles. But if you look at polyester from the 1970’s, it has done the same thing. I don’t mind though, I kind of like it as I don’t have to condition it like my Porsche.

    -The car has a light touch that makes commuting a breeze, especially after driving my Boxster (S version only!!!) for awhile. I like the diesel clatter (especially when I fill up and well-meaning “rednecks” come out and go, “Don’t put that in there! It’s Diesel!”)

    I love the car, but I liken it to that very attractive girl that was a best friend in high school that you wanted to date. You will always follow her around with a love sick expression on your face even though they do things that make you want to slap them around with a large tuna. The Jetta is the same way. So many things are executed brilliantly, and the looks, fit and finish, and driving dynamics are excellent. However, those little annoying things make you want to hand it over to Jeremy Clarkson for some proper thrashing.

    That said, I would much rather drive a Jetta than a much more anonymous Asian counterpart (Civic not withstanding).

    P.S. I get as many comments about my TDI Jetta, and whether or not I will use BioDiesel as my Boxster… the world becomes stranger everyday.

  • avatar

    Too bad, because they really do overachieve in terms of appearance. VWs, especially the Jetta, are aesthetically quite polished and balanced but the reliability is seriously compromised. That alone has kept me out of a Passat for the last six auto purchases.

  • avatar

    OK, so I fix cars for a living and see them all, bare naked as it were. My wife loves hatch backs and has always bought Golfs.

    The ’88 was good, the 95 wasn’t a problem. But since 2000 I’m seeing multiple, multiple problems from which I profit.

    Honestly, I really would rather not have to commiserate with so many VW owners, but what can I do, if the problems are built into the recipe?

    So this time around we bought a Mazda3 hatchback. Comfortable, fast, reliable and loved by all. The contrast with a Golf of today is enormous.

    I’m asked consistently if the latest VWs are getting better and the answer is I don’t know and won’t know, for some time. At the moment, I still feel that VWs MIGHT be a risky buy without an extended warranty

  • avatar

    Tony – VW has definitely had its share of quality issues and you are right to mention this in your review but how many stars were deducted for this reputation as opposed to the experience that you had with the review car? I have re-read your review and both the fit and finish and handing of the Jetta you tested seem to be up to the standard expected from this market segment – was there something I missed?

  • avatar

    I don’t know anything about VWs.
    What’s the light bulb issues?
    Do they have a turbo on the alternator?

  • avatar

    cynder: Jetta, “beautiful”, really???

    obbop: Very clever ;)

  • avatar

    I am not convinced that Tony has overcome his bitterness. The Jetta is no less reliable than any other german automobile. If you want the most reliable car with all the appeal of driving a washing machine, but a Toyota. The Jetta is rock solid, fun to drive, and has very high safety ratings. Heck of a car for the money. Not much more than a Corolla, but man, what a differance.

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    Gotta say that we we’re bitten by the VW bug (virus?) a few years back, albeit in Golf form – our first and only VW experience. Our laundry list of problems included (in order!) a driver’s door that didn’t line up with the frame (VW’s fix – duct tape??? What???), a passenger’s seat that would not lock in place (serious danger, “fixed” a half dozen times), green and white “goo” in the engine visible under the oil cap (we we’re told we weren’t driving far enough – yet were exceeding our 15k mile/year lease limits!), failure of the turn signal indicators (had to use the hazard light button to signal lane changes/turns on a 800km return road trip – must have been pleasant for people following us), the regular monthly bulb replacement, failure to start during damp spring months (never resolved – flatbedded numerous times – dealer never found a problem). After 20 months (!!!) of a 48 month lease and 35k miles (or a possible 60k) we turned the vehicle in and received a few thousand dollars as a cheque from the dealership for our trouble.

    We’re typically not too fussy about quirky vehicles – heck we’ve had a Land Rover Freelander for two years (known as notoriously unreliable in Land Rover circles – given other LR products, this is saying something!) that we love, and it’s had numerous minor issues – the yearly sunroof replacement is my personal favorite. But it never fails to start or get us were we want to go. Toss in a BMW 3 series coupe & a Mini Cooper S, we don’t have what would be considered a super reliable set of vehicles – yet, I still would take anyone of them over a VW… Though this is probably partially due to the local dealership experience; VW was poor, while the same local company owns the BMW, Mini & LR dealerships – where the service is generally super (thank god!)….

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    If you are interested in doing most of your own maintenance, VWs are very rewarding on the whole. If you are wholly dependent upon a mechanic (or heaven forbid, a DEALERSHIP), then steer clear.

    I call them stealerships. Margins on new cars are soft, but service departments make a killing.

    Factor in German parts with stealership rates and I can understand why VW is taking a bath these days. Entry-level German cars aren’t a good value proposition anymore.

    And I still think the Jetta looks like a Corolla from the back. Yuck.

  • avatar

    I have a 2006 Jetta GLI with almost 50,000 miles on it and have had ZERO PROBLEMS with it. I drive it in a very enthusiastic manner, and the car is been a delight through and through.

  • avatar
    just another car guy

    The thing that I can’t understand is how VW owners will defend thier poor quality cars? If a domestic vehicle owner has a problem, they lambaste thier vehicle. I’m in the car business, and while I don’t personally sell Vee-dubs, I’ve got friends who do. According to my buddies, they might sell them, but would never buy one. That should really say enough about the cars. Vee-dubs sell a lifestyle, not quality, in my humble opinion.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    I know anecdotal reliability evidence isn’t particularly helpful, but here it is anyway — for 3 wretched months I owned a certified pre-owned Golf. In that time, the transmission leaked out all of its oil and toasted itself. Then the replacement transmission grenaded itself (literally — chucks of metal shot out of the transmission housing). Then the brake rotors warped, the door sill leaked on my arm in a rainstorm, the AC ceased functioning.

    But what compounded my dwindling lack of faith in the car itself was the absolute incompetence of the dealer to fix these problems. After the second transmission, they reconnected everything but handed me a car with a steering wheel that was off-center and the gearshift had too much play in it (they had forgotten a linkage). Upon the AC going out they charged me for a freon recharge that did nothing — and then when they sheepishly admitted that the problem was a disconnected wire they refused to refund me the freon recharge that I didn’t need. Then the plastic oil pan shield fell off (having been improperly put back onto the car after they did the transmission work) — the day before I was to sell it!

    To me, a fussy car can still be worth the effort if you get good service. But VW has foisted bad cars upon us and simultaneously choked their own dealers into rejecting warranty repairs; those dealers also seem not to be hiring the best mechanics, and with the reliability problems they are overwhelmed with work.

    Too bad.

  • avatar

    My ’99 Passat was like my ex-wife: beautiful, a great ride, but in the end nothing but trouble and heartache.

  • avatar

    Here’s a telling anecdote from a guy in a purely-VW extended family (19 lifetime dubs, 4 currently)

    I just got off the phone with my mom, who drives a 2002 Passat V6 4motion wagon. She was at the dealer for routine maintenance and they mentioned she needed new rear brakes. They quoted her over $600 for pads and rotors (I can do Brembo rotors and low-dust PBR pads for about $120 in parts and an hour of my time).

    This may not seem relevant to this review…however, THIS is one of the main reasons that VW continues to get the reputation it does. There is a customer service mantra that says (paraphrased) that handling your customers’ issues with integrity/fairness/kindness can actually net you better results than having been trouble-free to begin with. In that regard, VW effectively drops the ball twice–first with the quality, then with the handling of the issue. IMHO, of course.

  • avatar

    If you are going to buy a Jetta, then get a TDI. Of course, if you are going to buy a Diesel in the USA a TDI is really your only choice. VW has been the ONLY manufacturer to offer Diesels in virtually every model in the USA for the past 20 years. You hear lots of noise about Diesel that always seems to be “coming soon” but at least VW has consistently delivered on that promise since 1980.

    If you stay away from VW dealers and their Grand Theft Service Dept.s then you should be OK. My 2002 Jetta TDI has well over 100,000 trouble-free miles on it and every one of those miles averaged 1.28 ounces of fuel consumed. I’ve done most of my own service work once the car was out of warranty.

    That said, I’d love to see Diesel offering from some other manufacturer in a compact car. Maybe then I’d have experience with another marque so I can make an honest comparison with VW.


  • avatar
    Sammy Hagar

    No love for the Polio, the Rat and now the Jetta. Can’t wait for the Lupus review…

  • avatar

    2005.5 Jetta with 25000 miles on it and zero problems.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the ridiculous problem with certain Jetta interior parts. Two of my friends WERE Jetta owners; a 2000 and a 1998, both with the 2.0 manual. Both cars had light color interiors. The door handle armrest assembly had this thin rubber coating which discolored and wore off after a few years, making the interior look like complete junk. Must be why they changed to the Spartan look. Oh yeah and both cars were fraught with annoyances, major and minor.

  • avatar

    While I can’t/won’t argue with the rest of the article, I’m going to have to stick up for the interior. Materials may not be the best, but appearance-wise, I likey. Looks simple and functional, and is ‘on-trend’ in terms of the use of small hits of color amongst a neutral field to denote the important stuff.

    You wanna see austere? Come for a ride in my 2000 TT. Black on black, with, um, a few hits of that dreaded aluminum. But y’know what? It looks gooood.

  • avatar

    Interesting to see some discussion on VW reliability rather than uniform VW bashing.

    I’ve noticed in both CRs data and in TrueDelta’s that VW’s reliability averages fairly close to the Detroit triplets. A bit worse, but far closer to them (on the average) than the 2.8 are to Toyonda (Nissan is schizophrenic some bad some good, Ford does stand clear of GM and Chrylerabus a bit on the good side).
    Vdub probably has more right to howl about the aledged “perception gap” than Detroit.

    Just some thoughts.


  • avatar

    Stylistically, I can’t stand the new Jetta. I liked the old one; it was chunky, but it wore it well. The new one reminds me of a guy who goes to my gym, a short, chubby Italian guy who has been known to wear velour track suits. The overlapping curves of the grille emphasize its visual bulk in a way that’s not at all appealing. The weird kink in the C-pillar (and the chrome molding of the rear side windows) looks so much like a production flaw that I had to study it to realize it was like that on purpose. Its stock wheel are too small, while the optional bigger wheels (especially the 18s I see on some models) make it look like it’s on stilts — something is amiss with the wheelhouse proportions. And the tail looks like a frowning clown face.

    In short, it’s neither pretty, sleek, nor muscular. It makes me more sympathetic to the Corolla, which may put me to sleep, but doesn’t usually make me wince (except in S trim).

    I think the current Mazda3 and Civic are on the porky side, weight-wise, and the fact that the Jetta is nearly four hundred slugs heavier is shameful. It taxes the standard engine, drags down its real-world fuel economy, and does nothing for its handling. For all that, it’s priced like it’s a premium car (you can pretty easily run a higher-line model to $30K), when it’s just not.

    When I bought my current car the new Jetta had just come out. I took one look at it and crossed it off my shopping list. When I saw the prices and specs, I knew I’d made the right choice, even before we get into the question of reliability and gremlins.

  • avatar

    I think it’s still look the like the older Jetta, it never change. I never like them

  • avatar

    adehus: You wanna see austere? Come for a ride in my 2000 TT. Black on black, with, um, a few hits of that dreaded aluminum. But y’know what? It looks gooood.

    Second that. Don’t need no stinkin’ frills. Give me simple but thoughful layout, big knobs with tactile feedback and don’t try to be cute. Frankly, I wish the Boxter/Cayman interior was as austere as the last-gen TT. Or, frankly, as austere as the 356s and early 911s used to be.

  • avatar


    You note that the Golf has been relatively trouble free, but you have to replace burned out bulbs every three months? You have much more patience than I do.

    When it comes to VW in general, I know people from both camps. Some people have had no problems, and some people have had tons of problems. What I do know is that everybody I talk to is amazed at how high the cost of regular maintenance is on these cars. Anything more than an oil change and it could be three or four times as expensive as other brands.

    I have never been in love with VW, but my impression is that they have been trying to be Audi-lite for too long. That being said, I wouldn’t mind a diesel Toureg.

  • avatar

    I currently own two Jettas. I’ve owned one for just over 3 years (bought used), and the other I’ve had 4 years (bought new). The first one the wife’s car – a 2000 TDI with an automatic, which was bought with about 93000 miles on it. It now has 127000 miles. In that time, I’ve replaced: head light bulbs (once); tail light bulbs (once); 4 engine glow plugs, battery, A/C compressor, alternator, brakes, tires, shocks/struts, and the timing belt. Everything’s been routine maintenance, except for the A/C compressor and alternator.

    The second is a 2003 TDI 5 speed. I bought it new in 2003, and it now has 98000 miles on it. So far I’ve replaced the coolant temperature sensor ($10 part), rear brakes, and tires. The timing belt is due soon (about $600), and I’ll need some new tires again, but it’s been very reliable overall. I like the spartan interior. It’s very European, and plus they’re both diesels, so that fact typically eliminates having to fill up at the same pumps as the idiots in giant SUVs and minivans.

    My parents own a 2005 Jetta TDI, and as a result, I discovered that I prefer the interior of the last generation over the current generation. VW tried to bling up the current Jetta, especially with the stupid chrome grille. I haven’t driven the 2.5, but I don’t think I’d want to based on what I’ve heard from people. But the bottom line is that my Jettas have been pretty reliable overall. I plan to own both of them for about 10-15 years, which shouldn’t be a problem based on my ’85 Jetta that’s still going AFAIK.

  • avatar

    Of all Vee Dub’s U.S. products, today’s longer, wider Jetta has the best proportions. You can savor the style… Inside, things move from serious to grim.

    I’m not even sure what he’s reviewing here. the last generation jetta? that had great proportions, a nice wedge shape that was beautiful on first viewing (though they’re so common it got boring). the new one is uggo from front to back, but I think the passat wears the new look better.

    and the interior? I had a 2001 GTI, and I thought the interior was terrific. simple black leather, a bit of dark woody stuff (I would have preferred aluminum), that terrific minimal deep blue and red light scheme. I’m not sure how different the new cars are, but I think they’re similar. what do people have against a simple, functional, elegant interior? what exactly do you want in there that’s not there?

    reliability.. the anecdotal evidence has added up enough for me to believe that VW has a problem. I had some issues (a couple of snapped-off plastic doodads inside, and the window regulator issue twice). I wasn’t happy about those things — but I was happy every time I got into the car and drove.

    the new GTI is supposedly much better (if a bit goofy-looking; the mk4 was a bit plain but classically satisfying) and if I weren’t now firmly committed to RWD (and buying interesting used cars from now on) I would have been happy to have one, possible reliability issues and all.

  • avatar

    VW’s certainly have their quirks – my ’83 Quantum coupe had its share, but I got it for cheap (mismarked at the dealership :) ) as a used car, then ran it without major incident for another 160K miles.

    I currently drive a Jetta ’06 TDI, average about 30,000 miles a year, and haven’t spent a single day in the shop other than the scheduled maintenance while averaging about 40 mpg in mixed driving.

    I have several friends with VWs, some diesel, some gasoline, and they’re all happy with them. They’ve had more than their share of lemons over the recent years, but it’s not as if other makers are flawless. We used to have a Civic that required major work every other year. My Jetta and even my Fords ran circles around that piece of junk.

  • avatar

    Regarding the soft-touch plastic peeling from the door (which affects several models in that era, including my Passat).

    In order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack in the late 90s, VW started packing in a lot more upmarket and standard features into their cars. This meant dampened everything and soft-touch everything.

    So when the soft touch starts peeling, one is sort of torn between “Was I glad to have it while it lasted?” or “They should never attempt something if they don’t get it right!” Tough call…Honda and Toyota are fairly firmly in the second camp, while VW (company-wide) tend to be very innovative, even at the expense of reliability.

  • avatar
    Pelle Schultz

    Based on what I read, this sounds like a solid 3 stars. And I don’t even like the looks of the Jetta, or the sound and performance of its 5-cyl thrasher. I particularly don’t get the ‘trashing’ of the interior: I was in a rented Camry last week, and the quality of its interior materials was appalling, the design bizarre, and the fit and finish was…unfinished. Did I mention that its 4 cyl. mill had an overly aggressive tip-in and thrashed violently (but ineffectively) under heavy accleration? And wannabe Bangle butt to boot?

    I’ll take the VW any day.

  • avatar

    Yeah, they’re pricey, but they’re also the safest car in this class. My girlfriend had a potentially fatal highway crash that resulted in a broken jaw – and this is on one before they came with airbags.

    She’s owned 3 and all 3 have been very reliable into the mid-100xxxs.

    As far as looks (other than the chrome faceplate), interior, performance, and comfort, I’ll take this Jetta any day over the Camry, Civic, Corolla, whatever.

    Hello Mazda 3 engineers, make your window and power mirror switches light up like the Jetta when the lights are turned on.

    This is the same site that gave the Grand Prix 2 stars. Come on, 2 stars for the new Jetta. Why even have a ratings system???

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    In order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack in the late 90s, VW started packing in a lot more upmarket and standard features into their cars. This meant dampened everything and soft-touch everything.

    Right on the money, ash78. That along with the Germanic feel is what really sold me on the last-gen Jettas, they were something special in this crowded market. They don’t seem that special anymore.

  • avatar

    Most people are incredibly anti VW (except maybe the GTI). CR loves to rip on the VW. Yes VW has had some problems, but my VWs have been pure quality. Most new cars these days are pretty darn reliable. Its just not that big of a deal and not really that much more unreliable than others. What is he talking about regarding low quality VW plastics. Is he insane. Sure the color scheme on the jetta (all black) was dour, but my 2006 GLI has better quality plastics then japanese and american cars costing 50% more. VW makes the best interior plastics, quality and design wise. I don't see what he is talking about. Since when do VWs/Audis have bad interiors. That "fake" strip of aluminum, at least in my GLI aint fake. Its all real (something the competitors dont give you). I am sure the GLI corrects the handling and engine criticisms. VW gives you a better std warranty as well than your boring honda/toyotas.

  • avatar

    Do these same problems afflict Audi? Seems like VW is getting just slammed here, and I’m wondering what experiences people have had with the A3, A4 and A6 models.

    Just wondering.

  • avatar

    jkross22: Stick around this site, the bashing of Audi reliability comes up often enough. :) I’m a satisfied Audi owner myself, but haven’t really had it long enough to offer a fair assessment of long-term issues.

  • avatar

    I am still in love with my 95 Golf. It still carries me to rididulous speeds if i ask it to, still corners with the best on them, still puts a smile on my face at 210,000 miles. Still parks in stupid small spots, still hauls a suprising amount of stuff. Still seats 4 or my ever increasing-in-girth friends.

    I treat it mostly like an old dog who will do anything you want, who will still play hard and even die for you if u want. It is dying now, collapsing like, well, an old dog, a faithfull friend.

    geeze now im all sad.

  • avatar

    I never had the pleasure(?) of owning a VW, however I have noticed that of all the 90s cars I see here in nyc, every single jetta has body panels that are loose, falling off, or just gone. I swear, every single one. I have heard nothing but horror stories from jetta owners. And more than a couple. As far as brakes going at 30-40k, well that’s about how long your pads are supposed to last (assuming it was just pads and not calipers that needed replacing). And yes rear brake pads on all cars, not just VWs wear out before the front ones. There is nothing unusual about that.

  • avatar

    # timoted :
    October 12th, 2007 at 7:06 am

    You can’t buy a volkswagen without gremlins. They are automatically built into every car they produce. Volkswagen- The Yugo of German Cars.

    Gee, I guess I’ll have to get rid of my 230,000 mile 1997 Yugo 2.0 and my 105,000 mile 2003 Yugo 1.8T.

    I also had a 200,000 mile 1975 Yugo and a 624,000 mile 1987 Yugo. I guess my efforts to properly maintain them and all the relatively trouble-free miles I’ve accrued was a waste of time.

    Thanks for steering me out of harms way! I guess I’ve been making a mistake driving Yugos for the past 25 years…

  • avatar

    I’ve recently rented a variety of small cars while my Civic has been in the body shop after being rear-ended. The Jetta I rented was O.K., but I can’t justify the purchase price. Yes, the interior looked cheap, the suspension struck me as being stiff, instead of Volkswagen supple, and the car was surprisingly noisy. I also rented a Focus (90% of the car the Jetta is at about 75% of the purchase price). The car that really impressed me, though, was a Mazda 3 2.0. Another cheap interior, but it was really responsive and handled well. Still, I was glad to get my Civic back.

  • avatar

    The thing I hate most about VW is they really do make cars that you can fall in love with at first sight, only to have it break your heart into little tiny pieces and handed back to you in short order.

    I like VWs, I like the way they look, feel, and drive. Nothing can compare to VW for under 30 grand. If GM made cars half as desireable as VW they would not be in the situation they are today.

    The problem is VWs are JUNK!

    The last reliable VW I have had any experience with was an 1986 GTI! My brother owned it for 2 years before some thief stole it out of our driveway one night(Queens, NYC). Since that time I have watched the following VWs literally melt-down before their owners eyes:

    88 Jetti GLi 16v (brother Gti replacement, bad engine)
    91 Passat GL 2.0 16v (Girlfriend’s car,2 trannys in two years)
    93 or 94 Carrado VR6 (the most beautiful, fun to drive POS ever made. Bad gearbox, BAd brakes, poor interior trim, bad electricals, Witness that you can’t find a single Carrado anywhere today!)
    98 Jetta 2.0 (Too many problems to list)
    99 GTI VR6 (the cheap years at VW, ugly poorly built, full of problems)
    00 Passat 1.8t (to be fair the owner modded this baby out so I guess I will put the blame on him)
    99 Jetta GLX VR6 (Tranny issues, bad electronics)
    04 Passat GLX v6 (Why buy a BMW when this car is sooo nice! Live with this thing for a year or two and you will happily pay an extra 5 to 10 grand to drive german but never touch a VW again.)

    VW proves out the idea that nothing is free in life. VW feel so nice because that is were VW puts its money. Everything else on the car is garbage. Work with me here OK.
    Lights that blow out?
    Warpped brake rotors?
    Trim pieces that fall off?
    Coil packs that die in 3 months and the replacements die at the same rate?
    Poor weather seals?
    Wheel bearings that wear out after only 10,000 miles.
    Coolant pumps that fail?

    Need I say more?

    This is the stuff of a manufacturer that is serously cutting corners to save pennys for itself at the expense of hundreds and/or thousands of dollars to its costumers.
    Buy at your own rick!

  • avatar

    I bought an Audi A3 2.0T FSI last year. By most accounts it is essentially an upscale VW GTI with 4 doors (because the 4-door VW GTI had yet to arrive in the USA). Everyone tells me horror stories about VW reliability (or lack thereof).

    I suppose that German cars are less reliable than Japanese cars in the same price range, on average.

    I have driven Hondas almost exclusively before my A3. But Honda is turning me off. Honda vehicles (except for the S2000 and the Acura TSX) are just getting too big. Honda’s used to be “just right” (to quote Goldilocks). Now they are too big, in order to compete with Toyota for the all you can eat crowd.

    German cars are still “just right” in terms of size and performance. I guess TTAC is right; I would give up a bit of reliability to have a car that looks and handles right.

  • avatar

    I know of 4 people at my workplace with late-model Passats or Jettas that have had serious problems, including electrical issues, bad water leaks that led to various problems, and in one case a car that died on at least two occasions for no apparent reason while in motion. Of these 4, three have given up or will be giving up on their cars. The fourth will most likely keep his ’01 Passat, which has been relatively trouble-free (but he did have to deal with a spate of ignition coil replacements), but sell his wife’s ’03 Passat wagon.

    My own experience with VW long ago was not good either. My ’75 Rabbit was a hoot to drive (when it was running), but it really was a pile of junk considering all of its many problems. We’re talking about several “no starts” because of carb problems and cracks in the floor pan under the front seats. Also excessive oil consumption.

    Not learning from my mistake, I bought the supposedly “improved” ’79 PA-built Rabbit. It was better, but still I had to replace the fan blower motor at around 25K miles on my dime. Plus the driver seat back came from the factory with only one of the 2 hooks securing it in place (it was a 2-door). The manual shift linkage broke while I was shifting from 1st into 2nd, rendering the car motionless (covered under warranty). This car never developed the appetite for oil that the old one did, but it was recalled by the EPA for excessive hydrocarbon emissions due to valve stem seal hardening. This clearly was one source of the oil consumption problem.

  • avatar

    AKM: I now use it to commute 50 miles a day, and have a replace burnt out lights only about every 3 months.

    Wow. Just, wow. Burnt out lights every three months isn’t a big deal? 99 Dakota, 00 Bonneville, 01 Protege, 03 Vibe, 06 Mazda3. Covers the last 8 years or so. Three burnt out headlights. Two on the same night on the Protege after 150k miles. And that’s it.

    I know, none of those are VW’s. But none of them had any serious issues either. Certainly nothing like the laundry lists being written about here. Throw in the fact that VW’s are on the pricey side, and I have to wonder why anyone would want the hassle.

    VW: Hey, at least when that car plows into you because your lights had burnt out and he couldn’t see you, you’ll probably live!

  • avatar

    You know, this review has two of the things that regularly raise my blood pressure a bit. God knows they are common components of the usual opinionated auto evaluations because if they weren’t I wouldn’t be so upset by them. First off is the usual anecdotal blather about a cars reliability, repair history, or utility. God knows we should all put faith in whatever miniscule sampling of owners or friends of owners or cousins of a girlfriend of owners say. That’s the kind of hard hitting subject matter that makes for a compelling read. My wife had a ’98 Beetle for 140,000 miles or so with out any problems. That absolutely must mean that every VW made in the last 10 years is a paragon of utility and reliability not seen since the Ford Model T. How can you not draw that conclusion from what I just said? Now I do put more stock in what something like TrueDelta says about matters such as this, I just don’t put that much value into what someone’s Uncle Maury blurts out. The other thing is the continuous low lever buzz that car interiors are too black, too grey, too hard, too plasticy etc. I really have no idea what these people want. Will they be happy when we have pastel interiors completely made from injection molded silicon? I hear the next new Audi will have the new Gummy™ furnishings in cherry or grape. I personally like dark interiors and I’m thinking a lot of people do since even when given a choice many choose them. Oh yes, hard plastic is billed as the greatest evil since Lucas made electrical systems. Its plastic for crying out loud and it’s usually hard. I’m perfectly happy with my plasticy interior; it works in an honest way. I surely do want to hear about a cars interiors color and composition but I’m more interested in its ergonomics and functionality. Rant over.

  • avatar

    brendan from Canada: i’m shocked at the incompetence of your stealership. no start in damp/cold weather? I’m not even a VW tech and i know it’s the coil packs. Put in the older-style Hitachi coilpacks and boom, problem solved.

    I still believe most people who complain about the reliability and maintenance costs of VW’s are missing the point. I’d rather have more upkeep and drive a car i truly enjoy driving – and i love driving my Jetta, 2.5L slowpoke motor and all. People who go “oh my god a 90 dollar oilchange!!!” need a Honda. it’s not that hard to do your own oilchanges. Unless you’re lazy. Then get a Honda.

  • avatar

    I have a 2006 Jetta and have had zero problems. It is a classy car and everyone comments on it, which they never do for a Civic or Mazda3. I’ve gone through 3 Acuras before this.

    Oil changes are expensive, since VW makes you use all synthetic oil to address engine sludge issues (mostly in turbos).

    The interior is a little bland and monochromatic during the day, but it comes alive at night. Red LEDs illuminate your hand on the shift lever and blue and red colour combo contrasts nicely on the dashboard.

    With some favourite tunes on the 12-speaker MP3-capable stereo, I could drive my Jetta all night.

  • avatar

    Is it too much to ask for a car that is not only a nice drive, but is reliable as well? I like a nice driving car too, but I also believe that I shouldn’t have to do a damn thing to my car, and it shouldn’t give me any trouble. That comes before anything else, and it’s the reason I wont even consider most brands; especially German ones.

  • avatar

    Oh goodness, the VW diehards have really come out of the woodwork on this review.

    Can’t we all be rational about this? Let’s not resort to making the argument that people who scoff at VW’s reliability issues “just don’t get it.”

    VW’s have absolutely archaic reliability problems, and thus upkeep costs past the warranty date, at levels that are unheard of in modern cars (even worse than other German brands). To think that this somehow only applies to people who don’t do their own oil changes is absurd.

    At the same time it’s also quite obvious VW makes some really wonderful cars. More expensive than Toyota’s or Honda’s, but quite a bit better too (at least in my opinion).

    If you happen to be a lucky owner who had a trouble-free VW… well then, my hats off to you. But it’s silly to pretend that just because your car’s been trouble free all VW’s are the same. Statistically, they’ve been really junk as a whole.

    Take the blinders off and just say it once, “On a whole, Volkswagen makes atrociously unreliable cars.” You’ll feel a lot better. Then get back into your own (trouble-free) version, blow by a few Corolla’s on the freeway, and smile knowing you’ve managed to grab a rose without the thorns.

  • avatar

    The biggest problem with the Jetta is the weight. I know that most cars grow over time, but the golf and jetta should not! They will leave their niche (actually the Jetta already has). The Jetta should be a little sport sedan with european handling and style combined with a little zip at a bargain price. That is what Jetta means.

    I had an 07 as a rental in Denver. It couldn’t take the altitude, and the ride was not as good as one I had driven several years earlier.

  • avatar

    I’ve purchased two VWs new in the past. The ’86 was a great car except for the plastic visor clips which failed at least once a year. The ’92 not so great and was traded off early in ’94.

    Since that time I’ve shopped VWs every time we were looking for a car, but haven’t been able to bring myself to buy one. The hit or miss reliability is a big turn off.

  • avatar

    Volkswagen products = Detroit-level quality at Toyota/Honda prices. It’s been that way ever since US emission control requirements finally killed off the original Beetle and it was replaced by the abyssmal ’75 Rabbit.

    You’d think that after 32 years, VW would realize this isn’t exactly a sound business model for long-term solvency. Although since they’ve managed to stay in business in the US over all this time, they’re apparently doing something right. My guess is it’s entirely due to those slick VW marketing campaigns.

  • avatar

    “Although since they’ve managed to stay in business in the US over all this time”

    Much of that time VWoA has lost money, often lots of it. Right now the are loosing a fortune in the US. Only their European profits have kept the boat afloat.

    What I don’t understand is how European buyers put up with such spotty reliability? Does VW build better cars for that market or is the US market more demanding? The infamous coil pack fiasco was not a US market only thing.

    The recall happened in 2003 and for some reason only covered 2001-2003 model year vehicles:

    Scads of customers were having the problem in 1999 and earlier. That is a very long time to not take action on a systemic problem.

    If you want to see an active discussion group, check out:

  • avatar

    I’m a travelling salesman and have wore out three jetta’s a 98, 02, 06 amassing 400,000 trouble free km. The car is comfortable for hours on end, rock solid in heavy snow and rain and generally a good car to have as your office. Cup holders? how many drinks do you have going at the same time? Backseats are for kids anyway, do you let your kids eat in the car? No, I love my jetta and will be buying another.

  • avatar

    What do you people want. With all this typical gang up on VW bashing, do you really want to VW to go away.

    Its the only affordable german make out there.

    Do you want to only have the bland choices of the japanese or the cheapo products from america.

    As a car enthusiast, I scare at the thought of Toyota and honda (note how they sell zero sports cars and their cars are bland as heck) continue to take over the world.

  • avatar

    I happen to like VAG products myself, but VW needs to get a clue and understand that if you want to sell mainstream cars to Americans that they need to be consistently reliable. Or, if you are going to insist on selling cars that aren’t quite so reliable that you need to make up for it by providing a really low price (ala the Big 2.8), easy-peasy service (ala BMW) or enough combination of driving dynamics and cachet value to make up for the deficiency (think, BMW, Mercedes and some of Audi products.)

    I’ll say the same thing to the VW cheerleaders that I do to the domestic fanboys — you do your preferred company no favors by making excuses for them. If you really want VW to succeed, then you should be complaining yourself to upper management, letting them know that you like the products for their road feel, but won’t be returning next time if they can’t get the basics right, and that there are good reasons why VW is no longer the import market leader in the US.

    In part, VW is a victim of its home market. Europeans tend to drive less than Americans do, so the issues that become evident with mileage tend to show up later. Many Europeans don’t require their cars for commuting and basic errands, so if the car does break, life isn’t quite so bad as it would be for an American without functioning wheels. And many European professionals are provided with fleet cars as a part of their employment benefits packages (cars are used as a way to provide compensation without the tax hit that would be demanded if paid a higher salary), so many of them don’t own these cars for more than a couple of years before getting new replacements.

    Americans need their cars too much on a daily basis to put with the end result of these problems. If VW provided free maintenance and a better dealer network, that could soften the blow, but they seem as bad, if not worse, than the domestics in trying to make amends from their mistakes. VW just doesn’t seem to be serious about quality and they’re paying the price for that attitude, which is strictly their problem.

  • avatar
    P.J. McCombs

    What amuses me about Volkswagens is the common defense that they’re so much more interesting to drive than a Civic or Corolla.

    Sorry. It just isn’t true. It was even less true of the Mk. IV–mass-market versions of the Jetta and Golf have had numb steering, soft, blowzy suspensions, clunky shifters, and long-winded clutches since the Mk. III. Civics have long been firmer handlers; even with the Mk. V’s more agile chassis, there’s not much in it between them. A Mazda 3 is nimbler and more communicative.

    VW’s base engines deserve special mention. 0-60 in 9+ seconds, and the EPA’s site rates the Jetta 2.5 at 19/28 MPG. Seriously.

    I love what Volkswagen does with its interiors. But, as was previously mentioned, this company has sustained itself for the last decade by selling a “lifestyle.” Clever marketing, mixed with the brand’s subtle appeals to Euro snobbery, make owners feel like they’re joining a unique club of noncomformists.

    VW should be steeling itself for when perception catches up with reality, IMO.

  • avatar

    “Do you want to only have the bland choices of the japanese”

    I don’t consider them bland. Or if they are bland, I don’t care. Maybe I’m just a bland person.

    “(note how they sell zero sports cars and their cars are bland as heck)”

    Honda has the S2000, and has a response to everything else VeeDub offers on the sporty scale, except for the R32.

  • avatar

    vwbora2.5 :
    October 13th, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    I’m a travelling salesman and have wore out three jetta’s a 98, 02, 06 amassing 400,000 trouble free km.

    really? 3 worn out in 400K km?
    I can get that out of ONE toyota.

    come on over to the dark side…

  • avatar

    really? 3 worn out in 400K km?
    I can get that out of ONE toyota.

    come on over to the dark side…

    I had 624,000 miles on ONE VW – 1987 VW Golf
    My current 1997 Jetta has over 230,000 miles, and my
    current 2003 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T just turned 103,000 miles.

    Thanks, but you can keep your dark side.

  • avatar

    I think some people confuse quality vs. reliability.

    Check out the following discussion – I think it puts things in their proper perspective:

  • avatar

    All the scare stories makes me want to buy a VW even more.
    PJ- absolutely correct on the nonconforming “club” of VW owners. It’s a pretty powerful feeling.
    Come to think of it, one can have the same feeling owning a Land Rover. Maybe there’s some good psychology in this lack of reliability?
    Vento97- add the word durability into that comparison.
    quality- fit and finish, how the car is put together
    reliability- how the car’s systems work everyday
    durability- how long the major systems last.

  • avatar

    My Audi 5 cylinder had a nice growl to it. Does the V-dub 5 sound that much different?

  • avatar

    What do you people want. With all this typical gang up on VW bashing, do you really want to VW to go away.

    I really don’t much care.

    Its the only affordable german make out there.

    So what? What does it matter, what country it comes from? I just want a good car that fits my needs and doesn’t give me any crap as long as I maintain it regularly.

    Do you want to only have the bland choices of the japanese or the cheapo products from america.

    Yeah, the Japanese are hella bland. The Civic SI, Subaru WRX and Legacy Spec.B, Honda S2000, Mitsubishi Lancer and Evo,

    Thank God for Volkswagen. At least they produce a really sweet AWD rally-replica for around 25k…oh wait, never mind, that’s Subaru…but at least they’ve got a brilliantly handling roadster. Wait, that’s Honda. But they DO have a powerful turbo hatchback – except, shit, so does Subaru. At least their styling can be distinguished at 100 feet from a Corolla, right? Except not.

    As always, I find that this sort of brand-snobbery to be not much more than bigotry.

    As a car enthusiast, I scare at the thought of Toyota and honda (note how they sell zero sports cars and their cars are bland as heck) continue to take over the world.

    Uh, kindly let me know exactly which sports cars VW sells. The GTI is about as close as they come, and it’s a luxurious hot hatch at best – and it would get its tailpipes handed to it by a WRX or Ralliart Lancer for the same price. And clarify for me how the Jetta and Passat are NOT bland.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    I’ve accumulated nearly 400,000 trouble-free miles on the three VWs that I’ve owned since 1987. I’ve also owned a Volvo, a Mazda, a Honda, a couple Fords and a Jeep, so I don’t consider myself a VW loyalist necessarily. With the current exception of a delicate cupholder, my current car, an S4 Cabriolet has proven 100% trouble free in three years. Yet somehow my neighbor (a geeky and annoying middle management type) drives two Toyotas and never misses an opportunity to educate me on his infinite knowledge of VWs reliability issues. Of course his knowledge of this is not from his own experience, and my VW (Audi) has proven to be much more reliable than either of his vehicles. So has my Volvo for that matter.

    VW did encounter major failures with ignition coils in their 4 cylinder engines several years ago. While I was not affected, I know others who were. Deservingly, it caused their quality rankings to tank. And because of the volume of this problem and lack of an immediate fix, they handled it very poorly. As we can see, true or not, the stigma of this still sticks around.

  • avatar

    # vento97 :
    October 14th, 2007 at 8:34 am

    I had 624,000 miles on ONE VW – 1987 VW Golf
    My current 1997 Jetta has over 230,000 miles, and my
    current 2003 Wolfsburg Jetta 1.8T just turned 103,000 miles.

    Thanks, but you can keep your dark side.

    624,000 miles…nice! was that on one engine?

    As for the dark side, I’ve got a Toyota *and* a VW, so I don’t know what that makes me.
    My GTI just turned 85,000 miles–no problems yet, but still to early to tell. All the horror stories have scared me into thinking it’s fragile, so I pamper it. Hopefully that’ll help it make it last a little longer–time will tell: I’ll get back to you in 2015 with my report.

  • avatar

    (I’ve been lurking on TTAC for months, but as long as we’re trash talking VW, I might as well join in)

    Too bad VW is stuffing their new models with questionable electronics; maybe if they offered true base models like they did in the past their quality rankings wouldn’t have plummeted in the last decade.

    I had a 1992 turbo diesel Jetta (68hp, woohoo!) with no options (I’m talking crank windows, manual locks, and no A/C) that gave me 10 years and 250,000 kms of trouble-free ownership. It probably would have run for at least another 5 years with minimal issues, but I was ready to move up market. Big mistake: my 2002 Audi A4 was a steaming pile. Yeah, I was bitten by the ignition coil bug, and the horn bug (replaced twice), and the radio bug (ditto), and the antenna amplifier bug, and the wiper linkage bug (“fixed” three times, and then finally replaced) and numerous other bugs, and then… drum roll please… at 120,000 kms, I had to replace the steering rack at a cost of $2000. That was the last nail in the coffin… the Audi was gone after less than four years. Oh, and by the way, the dealer service was crap, but you knew that already.

    Anyway, I’m a Volvo man now. VW/Audi will have to make reliable cars for ten years before I even consider buying one again. No, scratch that, I’m done with them.

    The only thing VW has going for it right now is that their cars are a blast to drive. Well at least the last generation Jetta was (tried a friend’s); haven’t tried the latest one and won’t be trying it any time soon.

    When should I expect the VW death watch to start?

  • avatar

    VW/Audi will have to make reliable cars for ten years before I even consider buying one again. No, scratch that, I’m done with them.

    Ditto. I’ll buy a GM or Ford before I touch another VW (I’ve had 3 over the past ten years).

  • avatar

    I’m not a fan of VW’s.
    I think all cars have some type of a problem, a car is such a machine with so many moving parts and electronics that it’s incredibly difficult to create it perfect, unless someone will be able to track all problems in one car and keep fixing them to the point that it will be perfect, unfortunately it would take so much time that you will find yourself driving a new car that is actually old.
    As long as we ask for more advanced features in our cars they will give us problems.

    Here is a list of things that went wrong with a Mazda 3 hatch I bought new in 2006

    One bad door speaker.
    Lower control arms in front.
    Engine mount (#3).
    The dash clock can’t keep time.

    All were fixed quickly and with zero hassle at the dealer during regular oil changes.

    It does not mean that my next car will not be a Mazda, I bought this car more with my heart than anything else and I love it.

    I know at least 2 VW owners that love their car and will never buy anything else.

  • avatar

    My ’06 MkV GTI is a ton o’ fun in a smaller package. It has more rear headroom than a Jetta due to its squared off roofline, but no trunk of course. This isn’t the cheapest car to operate due to its need for high-test and synth oil, but I don’t care. The 2.0T is the best turbo 4 banger out there. It just begs to be flogged and I’ve got the tickets to show for it. My wife can leave the DSG in auto and she’s happy as a clam. I can row it and get off on the exhaust burp and bottomless pit of torque. After owning workaday Subies, Toyotas, and Nissans, it’s nice to jump in a car that makes me want to drive hard and fast. It’s been reliable too for what it’s worth.

  • avatar

    “With all this typical gang up on VW bashing, do you really want to VW to go away.”

    No, but I do want them to build a reasonably reliable product and to STAND BEHIND IT WHEN THERE ARE DESIGN PROBLEMS. Yes, I am yelling, because so few auto manufacturers understand the basic point of standing up and dealing in a forthright way with systematic design/production problems when they happen. Most companies, VW included, seem to be on an endless quest to minimize their warranty expenses by sticking the customer with the cost whenever possible.

    As far as “soul” goes, for my most recent purchase I test drove both an Acura TSX and the current version Passat. Guess which one is a better Drivers Wanted vehicle … the six speed TSX. Who wants a push-button electric parking brake on a VW of all things? Great, one more thing to have mysterious electrical problems and expensive post-warranty repairs. The current Passat went backwards from the previous generation in interior quality. Some sources have reported that the Audi division pushed the VW division to cheapen the Passat interior so as to push customers who wanted something nicer into an Audi.

    I would love for VW to bring a uniquely German point of view set of vehicles to the US at affordable prices, but they have to be both great drivers cars and not be a massive reliability crap-shoot. In recent times the German companies are not living up their legendary engineering and build quality reputations. About 8 years ago we bought a high end Bosch dishwasher, which proceeded to fail once per 9 months just as soon as the warranty ran out. When it was only six years old I ditched it for a less expensive KitchenAid which has been going strong for three years now without a single problem. Plastic parts and wiring failed on that Bosch piece of junk with regularity, and we are not hard on appliances.

  • avatar

    My friend owns a 2000 Jetta, and this is what went wrong on his car just within the past 2 years or so:

    went through several coil packs

    window motors gone on all 4 windows – which resulted in windows literally falling into doors. In winter. Window motor assemblies had to be replaced.

    oxygen sensor – gone, along with some other sensor (forgot which one)

    numerous oil leaks

    numerous brackets inside the engine bay snapping off due to the very, very poor quality of the plastics. This obviously results in things like hoses and such no longer being held in place properly

    lights failed/burned out many times, both headlights and brake lights. The bulbs would literally burn out, even melted the light housing once. This is with OEM VW light bulbs

    starter – burned out

    check engine light never goes off. neither do some other status lights

    several suspension components broke

    interior falling to pieces. Cupholders literally snapped off. The glove compartment no longer closes as its door broke off. Various trim bits and pieces fell off or came off at one end. Again, this is on a 7 year old car.

    my favorite – the engine oil dipstick tube broke. The thing just crumbled – he wasn’t even pulling the dipstick out, it broke during driving. I was amazed that something so ridiculous could even happen, but after looking at the tube I saw how it could – the tube itself is made out of very fragile low-grade plastic. Why not make it out of aluminum or something, VW? We had to fish the plastic pieces of the broken tube out so they wouldn’t fall through into the engine.

    This is all on a car that is just 7 years old. I have never seen anything like this on any 7-year-old Toyota, Honda, or even Nissan – the quality of assembly, materials, and engineering that went into that Jetta was absolutely appalling.

  • avatar

    # Sammy Hagar :
    No love for the Polio, the Rat and now the Jetta. Can’t wait for the Lupus review…

    The Lupus is dead, its now the Fix.

  • avatar

    We own a 2006 Passat, and have had it for 2 years next month. It’s a fun car to drive and has held up well to my wife’s 50 mile round trip daily commute.

    Inside and out it still looks and drives like a brand new car, even with about 45,000 miles on it to date. It’s fun to drive and gets really great gas mileage. We continue to get compliments on it, even though more and more are on the road.

    All our VW has needed is gas, oil changes every 7500 miles, and a new set of tires. The only problem we’ve had is a check engine light at about 5000 miles, which was taken care of in 20 minutes with a software update at the dealer.

    I’m a bit stymied by the bad reputation VW has for reliability and customer service. All around we have had a very good experience, both with the car and the company. It could all change tomorrow, but right now we’re happy VW customers and really enjoy our Passat.

  • avatar

    “Good Handling”

    So, let me get this strait a POS car is an OK purchase because it has good handling right from the dealer?

    Coming of automotive age in the 1980s I might be a bit jaded here but if you are in search of good handling the Tire Rack and thousands of other establishments thoughout this country will sell you a very good suspension upgrade for just about any car you can think of. Couple a suspension upgrade with a set of good lightweight rims and some VR rated tires and you can make any damn car handled considerably better than stock.

    Back in the 1980s just about every car for sale including BMWs and MBs could do with some decent susupension work if you were looking to pull more than .79g on a skidpad. Cars were, just cars back than, German cars have always had very good handled characteristics but that was NOT the there main marketing focus than. It was just one of their virtues.
    For that matter Hondas in general have also always been very good driving cars with good road handling built into the stock suspension, any dual wishbone Honda with a set of decent low profile tires will handling like it is on rails.

    VWs are fun but in reality they are so overhyped that it is laughable to read some of the stuff submitted here by the VW fans. VWs are like expensive designer garmets, they look great on the rack, they are expensively priced but when you put them on you realize they are poorly made, lack linings, have cheap buttons and zippers, and fall apart after one wear. VWs appeal to the same type of folks that buy $50 t-shirts because of the brand name.

  • avatar

    I love my ’06 TDI: It is fun to drive and it is the ideal size. The ergonomics are superb. The car handles beautifully and the steering is precise. The 5spd manual is smooth. The 40+ mpg diesel is slow off the line but once underway, it has amazing power- I can put 4 adults+ luggage in this car and cruise up I-70 in Colorado to the Eisenhower Tunnel at 80+ mph. I prefer the TDI vastly to my wife’s 05 Subaru Outback XT. Granted with only 16k on the car, problems could loom ahead but so far it has been perfect. Plus the car looks good- somehow it escaped being “Banglized” and has a far cleaner look than most Germans cars being offered today.

  • avatar

    I think when you compare the “handling” or “driveability” of a plain VW to a plain Subaru or Honda the VWs are better. You have to buy the special models of Subaru, Honda, Mazda to get the same feeling.
    And the Passat is better than the TSX, Legacy, Accord, etc… because you can buy a wagon version

  • avatar

    Wow, a VW and Jetta beat down. You didn’t mention the Jetta’s illegitimate design twin the Toyota Corolla.
    When I was in Nagoya last year they had one at Toyota and guys were laughing how it look like their Corolla.

    I am sure the Germans aren’t laughing.

    Is the Jetta that bad? I have a B5.5 Passat and no I never driven a Jetta. Sat in a couple of Jettas in the showroom and was not impressed. I was told the Jetta’s inline 5 is half of the Lambo V-10 design? Either way that does not bode confidence knowing Lambo pre Audi parts.

    My Passat has it’s gremlins but has been reliable.
    All I can say, VW’s are not Honda reliable but no Japanese car drives like a VW.

    The worst part of VW ownership are the dealers network!!

  • avatar

    a_d_y_a said:
    Some more “Truth”

    1. 170 lb.-ft. torque @ 3750 rpm. Civic = 128 @ 4300
    2. 2008 has received a power bump to 170 HP. Civic = 140 @ 6300
    3. The 2.5 is 23/30 under new EPA. Civic = 25/36
    4. Anecdotes = Not reliability data [enter Sajeev]
    5. The author was honest about his bias. [although IMHO a very biased and unfair review]
    6. Recent price drop

    Quiet, powerful, Good enough handling, boot space = 2 stars?

    What good do hp and torque do if the car is slower? In terms of 0-60mph, Jetta sits at 9.0s and Civic sits at 8.6s. Not surprising, since the Jetta has 600 lb more in curb weight.

    Heavy, slow and unreliable. Do you really think it should get more than 2 stars? The American car buying public has made its point loud and clear. Honda sells more Civics than the entire VW+Audi brands combined.

  • avatar


    It’s a perfect storm: VW still sells cars with the mentality that everyone would gladly spend a weekend a month working on them (for fun!). They also seem to have an unspoken contempt for America’s misunderstanding (or distaste) for their cars.

    Meanwhile, Americans are baffled by just about anything that might happen to their car before the 100k mile mark. Plus, they place little to no premium on intangible driving characteristics. If the hood can’t be welded shut for 5 years, it’s “unreliable.”

    It takes idiocy on both sides to create this situation. I can’t say I really blame either group, but VW is supposed to be looking out for its shareholders, and by failing to keep up with competitive pressures, they’re the guiltier party.

  • avatar

    I really get a kick out of everyone defending the quality of their VW’s. I drove a 1990 Ford Taurus to over 250k miles on the original tranny and engine. Wasn’t that a notoriously crap car? Yes, on average it was, but I must’ve got a good one, and it still ran when I sold it for $500. But when I did replace it I went with statistics over gambling on another Ford. I moved over to the much better reliability odds of the Honda Accord.

    Thankfully for VW they have been good at marketing and have proved able to fool young buyers into their lifestyle image. (Doesn’t VW have one of the youngest buyer profiles?) Unfortunate for the young VW buyers is they usually don’t have the money upfront for their overpriced Jettas, nor can they afford the electrical/engine sludge/build quality/general crappiness problems. Thankfully Toyota gave young buyers the Scion. A brand with the cool lifestyle image, minus the VW problems.

  • avatar

    I gotta say I’m impressed with the MKV GTI. Seems to be a really great little ride for the price.

    I’ve heard all the horror stories as well. From owners. From family members. However, I’ve been surfin the forums for several months and I’ve actually been surprised at the lack of stories I’ve heard on the MKV’s. Sure there is always that one guy with something, but it doesn’t seem to be any worse (maybe even better?) than what I hear on the Miata boards I’ve been a part of for 7 years.

    Obviously not many MKV generation cars are up in high-mileage territory yet, but the past VW owners I knew (almost all of them with MKIV Jettas and last generation Passats) had problems with them pretty much right from the get-go. Audi’s were not known for their quality either. Now I’ve not heard any big issues on the MKV’s, and I believe the past year or two, the entry Audis (A3/A4, which are very similar to the VW cars) have actually become recommended by consumer reports. Combine the Audi + lack of issues I’m hearin on the MKV and I have to start to wonder if VW might really have changed.

    I’d like to think so, cause I’m seriously seriously considering getting the GTI. Manual or DSG…….hmmm…..

  • avatar

    Owning a VW, for me, is a real love/hate proposition. I have an ’01 GTI 1.8t. Bought it a year ago with a mere 40k on the odo. THe one down side was it had an automatic tranny. Oh well. Driving it reminded me what I loved about German cars. The seats were supportive and well-bolstered and the handling had that traditional connected-to-the-road feel. In short, it’s a fun drive.

    At about 49,000 miles, the transmission decided to eat itself. We’re talking complete “it was working one minute, then it wasn’t”. Luckily, VW extends the warranty to second owners. 50,000 miles. That’s great! Except, after talking with VWoA, while I was covered according to milage, I was outside the time-limit by 3 months. No appeal. Sucks to be you.

    So VWoA declined to warranty a replacement transmission that only had 49,000 miles on it. I got stuck with a $3,800 bill and a solemn promise to myself to never go near a VW product again.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I enjoy driving VW’s. Unfortunately the one’s I enjoy are no less than 15 years old and usually have a minimal level of electronics (save the Corrado’s).

    I will say that the TDI package in the Jetta is a pretty good choice for an enthusiast. However, I would strongly prefer a mid-90’s Passat TDI wagon. You get a lot more space, a better ride, and similar real world fuel economy results.

  • avatar

    I love VW’s from afar. the last two times I was in the market to buy a new car I was so close to buying a Passat or Jetta, but then the reliabilty demon popped into my head and told me “you’ll be sorry”. I used to work for Nissan NA and traveled to many dealerships that also sold VWs and Audis. The service managers shared some interesting opinions with me and I now will never own a VW or Audi but will secretly lust for them from afar. Here are two thoughts that service managers shares with me 1. For every 1 Nissan that comes into our shop for service there are 5 VW’s (keep in mind in the markets I travelled there were twice the number of Nissan’s on the road). 2. “Never own a VW/Audi only lease one.” The reason being you can turn it in when the warranty runs out and not have to pay for expensive repairs.

  • avatar

    I’m reading about all these reliability issues… and must speak up.

    I had a Rabbit way back when, and it was stellar, but that’s not the point. The point is that, really, truly, every brand has its problems. Over the past nine years, we have had two Lexuses and four Audis. We are about to trade our second Lexus (RX330) in for an ’08 BMW X5 4.8i, which is coming in December. But the thing is, while the Lexuses have been mechanically pristine, they are not well-built like a German car is. The rubber door lining came off of the back door, some interior trim pieces are loose (or all the way off), and the seats wear out very quickly. In the case of my Audis (I have two right now), they have been just as mechanically reliable as the Lexuses. However, they are perfectly built, too.

    Maybe this is just because I’m a good owner and don’t kill my cars, but I’m still a very aggressive driver and these are just my experiences.

  • avatar

    Coolcar2, see my other post as a reference.

    I have had…

    A five year lease on an ’00 A6 2.7T quattro. It was after leasing a ’95 Acura TL, which was reliable but extremely boring. The A6, on the other hand, was fabulous, and its only problem was the headlight washer cap flying off on the highway.

    A used ’98 A4 1.8T quattro that I bought for my son in 2002. It’s retired now, but we had it until it was eight years old and it ran like a pro. Unfortunately, he put a coffee-can exhaust, custom rims and a blow-off valve on it; this caused the resale to plummet to a dismal $5K.

    An ’05 S4 Cabriolet bought in April of that year. Replaced the A6. It’s been two and a half years already, wow, and it’s quite easily the best car I’ve ever owned. Amazing engine, space for four adults, beautiful inside/out (Sprint Blue) and completely reliable.

    An ’06 A3 2.0T DSG bought as my winter car, to replace the A4 that my son couldn’t take with him to college. Fantastic. An unexpected gem. 3 Series-scaring speed, relative practicality, style, luxury features and frugality. No problems.

    I will always have at least one Audi in my garage from now on. There may be a BMW, Porsche, etc. on the side, but the cars are more than I could’ve expected. You really don’t want to miss out on these things.

    Furthermore… DON’T lump Audi with VW in terms of reliability. In the rankings, they are now far, far ahead. They are, in fact, the most reliable European luxury brand at the moment! That doesn’t sound like much, but they’re inching up on Infiniti, according to CR and most JD Power rankings.

  • avatar

    I had a 2004 Acura TL. Numerous problems including transmission, tires, paint, seat contols, speakers, and many rattles. My 2006 Jetta TDI has been perfect over its 44000 miles. My wife’s 2007 Passat has had a bulb burn out. That’s it.

  • avatar

    I have an 08 Jetta with 12,000 miles on the clock. So far I have averaged 24 mpg in town and 33 on the road. Build quality seems to be better than the “American” cars I was considering at the time.

  • avatar

    2005.5 New Jetta Value Edition 2.5 Liter PZEV, Inline 5 Cylinder. Leased vehicle April 2005 for 48 months. Currently @ 27,500 miles. ALL work done at dealership. Faulty CD player died within the 1st two months, replaced and covered by warranty. Two recalls: fuel line clamp & headlamp adjustment modification, both free of charge. At the begining of 27k miles, the engine failed to turn under fair/warm conditions. Two other times before this it failed to start but that is because the key slipped from my fingers as I was putting it in the 3rd position. In all three cases I was able to start the car without a problem on the next turn of the key. Rear brake pads were more than twice worn than the front brake pads. On one occasion on the 210 freeway I had to brake significantly hard (but not hard enough to trigger ABS) and I felt the rear end of the car wanting to push the front end of the car to the side. Could be that the VW designed the car to brake harder at the rear (the reason for the accellerated wear on the rear brake pads) to allow for better steering upon braking? Though the stabilization system seemed to have been wrestling with the rear end of the car at the time the car slowed down from ~65 to ~40 MPH. OR perhaps compensation by the stabilization system is what is causing the abnormal wear on the rear brake pads, which is telling me that the car is a bit sloppy at handling if it were not for the stabilization system??? Anyway, no real problems with the car, I truely enjoy it. Put it in sport mode when on inclines and the torque will move you. Ah, almost forgot, the front-right window will occasionally stop partway up on automatic roll-up and then open itself all the way, ignoring your control button to stop…after it stops at the bottom, you will only be able to roll it back up by holding the control button on, to reset, remove key and reinsert. Secondly, whenever I have a cellphone charging in the car and/or I slowly turn the ignition, the clock & trip-odometer run the risk of reseting themselves (clock to 12:00 & trip counter to 0.0 miles)…this has happened to me 8 times, all of them after the 15k mile mark….this messes you up a little if you make constant use of the trip counter. Finally, don’t ever have a dealership replace a light bulb…I was charged 32 US dollars to replace a rear-right $3 brake light (burnt out @ 24k miles). Change it on your own, the owner manuals show you how to do this easily.

  • avatar

    I laugh at the quality perception issue. Yes, Jettas are far from being the perfect car. News flash: so are Toyotas. Check the recall lists.

    I’ve never owned a VW, but i got to mess with them a fair bit. My dad loved his. A former girlfriend destroyed hers with abysmal driving. (I really couldn’t complain about minor irritations when every single body panel was smashed and/or scratched). And then there was my college roommate’s GTI. Again, after all the abuse he gave that poor car, it never let him down. Sure, it let him suffer on occasion, but it never left him sitting.

    So, no, VW is not perfect. But if one wanted a decent compact sedan or wagon, the Jetta is not a bad choice.

  • avatar

    I disagree with parts of the review–I love the interior of the car, I think its perfectly styled. Find me any other car in this price range that looks as upmarket as this one does, outside or inside.

    Re the cons, I agree that handling could be better. The engine could have more power (I could have spent more on a 2.0T if I wanted, however) and be quieter. And one thing you got wrong–it doesn’t ride like a dream and wind noise is excessively high.

    As for the reliability–yes. Volkswagens are wonderful cars to own while under warranty. I don’t think they are very good propositions after that. My 2006 2.5 also has had the infamous rear brake pad issue at only 21k! Also had the rear tail light issue. I drive it hard, but that’s still ridiculous. My dash clock also doesn’t keep time (looses several minutes a week) which I find amazing–never had a digital clock that wasn’t accurate.

    Otherwise, I love the car. Great sound system made even better with the flawless iPod adapter. The 6-speed autobox does a nice job. I really haven’t had any other problems with the car. I’m halfway done paying for the thing, however, and I imagine I will sell it to some college student within a few months of VW Credit cashing my last check. I know from friend’s experiences what miserable POSs these cars can be when they start getting up there in their years.

    That being said, I’m still smitten by the V-dub bug–I’m a fan and always will be. This is my second Volkswagen and there is probably another one in my future sometime. For now, however, I think I’ll experiment with some nordic unreliability and make my next purchase a Volvo or Saab.


  • avatar

    Interesting review…. I guess you don’t like the aesthetics, huh?

    I was really more interested in all these gremlins that people complain about, not really being up on VW quirks.

    Some advice – not just this review either – bit more substance, bit less hip, k?

  • avatar

    2 decades is a long time to get over a car, hate to hear the tales from the ex-girlfriends! It would be better if you did stick with the facts and not witty quips akin to words scrawlled on bathroom walls. All in all, I have two issues with Tony’s review, 1) All automobiles use plastic in the interior, call it what you want but they use it. I would rather have the Jetta’s monochromatic look accented by the silver strip than the alternative; 4 different colors and 3 different textures all within 6 inches of each other. 2) The “sounds like a four and drinks like a six” comment show’s how far off base you really are – the facts please! Like a 5cyl, it gets gas milage almost a good as a 4, and allow me to remind you, driving a Corolla or Senta 4 banger is lesson in noisy futility. From your comments, one might think the Jetta is advertised a “Perfect” as all cars are? Well they’re not, none are, especially economy cars…. like the Jetta. At least the Jetta has one thing you don’t… a loyal following!

  • avatar

    Tony still doesn’t like VW’s. I do, but I would not buy any of the models not made in Germany. I believe that the US Jetta and New Beetle are made in Mexico or Brazil.

    My car is a 2003 Passat GLS station wagon 1.8L Turbo, 5 speed manual, US specs.

    101,800 miles

    List of problems:
    55k miles – Fuel Pump replaced under warranty in Val d’Aosta, Italy. I think they thought it was 55k km.
    96k miles – each of the 4 coils went south at about 2 week intervals.

    That’s all.

    I did replace the timing belt at 76,000 miles rather than the 120k miles they recommend just to be sure.

    Same clutch (no slippage), same rear brake pads, replaced the front ones twice. Starts every morning, afternoon and evening. Gets great gas mileage. A couple of weeks ago driving the autostrada A4 from Verona to Vicenza at 65mph with cruise control on it got 37.4mpg according to the trip computer. Cruises at 95 for hours and gets 24 to 25 mpg.

    I don’t know what happens to other people and their VW’s, but my experience with them has always been great. I’ve owned about 10 of them in 42 years of driving, Bugs, 411, 412, Jettas and two Passats. The ’96 GLX VR6 was similarly problem free.

  • avatar

    I’m on VW #5. My last one was a 96 Golf GL, which I bought with 125k miles and took up to 213k. The last two years were rough, with oil leaks, tie rods and various other “gremlins” to the tune of $1500 a year which drove me (hehe) to my latest love, a 2003 Jetta Wagon 1.8T. Still, it wasn’t a bad car for $4000 in 2003, and I got 6 good years out of it. The one before that (95 Golf III) was totaled, as was my first Golf (an 86). Maybe my loyalty comes from surviving two awful wrecks with barely a scratch either time. The only lemon was Golf #2, an ’85 (there’s the first problem) that turned out to be a salvage from a fire (I randomly met the original owner in a supermarket parking lot. Suffice to say, he was shocked to see it). What I’m trying to say is, maybe I have no complaints and have sworn to only drive VWs forever because I always buy “pre-loved” and bypass the dealers. Who knows. Incidentally, the Carfax on my latest turned up a pretty alarming problem. The cigarette lighter was replaced twice at around 40k and 45k miles. It’s now up around 75k. We’ll see how it goes.

  • avatar

    2006 GLI – Daily driver as a consultant. One major problem so far, the cam follower for the cam driven high pressure fuel pump disintrigrated and ruined a cam. Thankfully it happend at 59,700 miles and was covered. Audi has a TSB for this problem, but VW does not? I reported on TrueDelta.

    I love this car! It is so much fun to drive. The fit and finish is excellent and my interior is anything but cheap.

    I recently rented a Pontiac G6, there is absolutly no comparison.

  • avatar

    We purchased our 2004 Jetta TDI new. Since that time we have had many problems including pealing paint which VW says the 7 year body warranty does not cover unless there is a rust hole through the body… What a joke! We received a letter to bring the car in for a glow plug recall back in Oct of 2009. Ever since our car will not start in the cold without following a long process. VW informed us that in order to start the car in the cold (cold being anything below 0 degrees Celsius) we must turn the car on and off at least 3 times letting the glow plug light go off each time, then let the battery crank the engine until the engine is warm enough to run on its own. This cranking of the engine on battery power takes up to a whole minute. Needless to say this is very hard on the battery and starter. VW tells us that everybody who had the recall is experiencing the same problem but that they will not have a fix for at least another year because they need to design a new product, apply for patents etc. It is unbelievably frustrating to have your dealer send you a letter so that they can break your car and then be unwilling/unable to fix it. I will NEVER deal with the company again. Their advertising is misleading ie: Rust guarantee and their recalls are not properly tested before implementation ie: glow plug recall. I could go on with the other problems we have with the car but it would take all day. Based on my experiences I recommend avoiding this company.

  • avatar

    I know VWs are not as reliable as Asian cars but I know from stats that are a lot safer in an accident and handle better. Since I’m a Shae tree mechanic fixing my VW is not a big deal. I’d rather be safe, however I always advice others to buy a Toyota Corolla the most reliable boring car that has been the best seller in the world. My 1999 VW V6 180000 miles still drives like new.

  • avatar

    Didn’t realize I had posted back in July 2009 – Here’s a brief up-date.
    Still driving and enjoying my 2006 GLI, daily- now with 175,000 miles. Replaced the original brakes and front wheel bearings at 125,000. Paint still looks good, leather and interior mostly looks new. The aluminum accent strip is real. The interior plastics are high quality and soft. Replaced the diverter valve. I recently replaced the intake manifold motor which went bad. Car ran but was underpowered. Also did the timing belt and water pump as standard maintenance.

    I just developed a loud hum, think it’s a rear wheel bearing. Probably should do the shocks and control arms/bushings. The ride is not as tight as new.
    Overall not bad, and it’s still a nice car. May replace it with a Passat TDI in a few years : )

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