By on July 9, 2021

The appointment was made, and the Golf was in the shop for the headliner fixes and trim panel repairs after a most irritating morning appointment to trade keys. The same thoughts kept returning to mind continually, forcing me to consider a salient point: Did I want to continue with this sort of ownership experience years into the future?

Short answer? No.

Everyone’s been saying it’s the best time to sell a used car and the worst time to buy one. Over the past five or six months, anybody who’s approached to ask “What about buying a car now?” received a firm “That’s a bad idea.” response from me. The only people who should be buying into the scarce (used or new), overpriced car market are those who absolutely must have a new(er) car. As I thought about it more, I leaned more into the idea that I was a part of the first group of people described above: Have a used car, don’t especially need it.

You may recall I purchased the Golf at the end of December 2019, when the working world for a lot of people looked different than it does today. Once March 2020 rolled around, the office at my day job closed down; my commute was deleted. Suddenly I found myself with two cars that mostly sat idle, and I mentally kept track of which I’d not driven for the past two weeks. This persisted for the next, you know, year. Just this week the office opened back up for business, but my job will not see me return to a regular commute. I’ll be mostly working from home, with only occasional important meetings requiring an in-office presence. In a year and a half, I’d put less than 6,000 miles on the Golf, and that included some driving around for no reason at all except Lockdown Entertainment Reasons.

Given driving would not return to The Before Times, the seemingly stupid prices consumers are willing to pay for used cars these days, and the irritation I experience every single time the dealer got hold of the Golf, it was maybe time to sell. The dealer’s GM reached out previously to say hello after seeing an article here (hello there!) and said he was interested in buying the Golf. At the time I’d said I liked having two cars (which I really do) and didn’t want to sell. But I came around, as one does when an idea plants itself Inception-like in one’s mind.

That’s what generated the investigation last week into the used car buying services. I checked out those five first, and then when I saw the figures I was getting (or not getting in some cases), I reached out to the dealer and asked for an offer. Easy enough since the car was just outside the office in the service bay, probably in pieces at the time. The reply came back the next day: $22,000. I hadn’t planned on any hardball negotiation on this, and that offer was nearly enough to sound acceptable. There’s something to be said when you don’t have to deal with morons on Facebook who really don’t have the scratch for a $10,000 car, but really want to waste your time on a $24,000 car anyway.

I asked “Any wiggle room?” Received a response the next day, with an attached screenshot of comparable cars for sale (I love seeing comps). He could come up to $22,500. I went to grab my title and check the purchase price, as that’s one of those figures you forget. $22,678, plus $1,587 to the Ohio government. That’ll do, I said. The date was this past Thursday, July 1st. The manager replied that I should come by the next day with the title and to sign forms, and I picked 10:30. The next morning I was there promptly with keys and title in hand.

The manager greeted me at the door. The paperwork was ready, which consisted of two or three different forms for me to sign. In a two-minute process, I handed over the title and key, and was informed the check would be in the mail. Then I went off to the service bay to get the registration and plate off the Golf, and my stack of car napkins – can’t lose those. It was unlocked with the keys in it, parked off to the side. I hopped in and gave it a once-over for old time’s sake.

The headliner issues I’d pointed out were fixed, though there were new oily smudge marks on the headliner here and there (gah). The trim panel by the door was replaced and scratch-free, but all was not well. I checked the cargo area and found multiple pieces of bright yellow masking tape marking all the panel scratches I’d identified in photos. Remember the assurance that my pictures were viewed, understood, and they were prepared to replace the damaged panels? They weren’t, they hadn’t, and they didn’t. Those two weeks of waiting for a part to arrive were indeed for a part and not the necessary parts. The Golf would’ve been in there another week or two, or three, presumably, as it waited for all the parts they should’ve ordered after receiving the photos, but didn’t.

As I sat in the passenger seat to grab the registration and other papers I’d left in in the glove box, I had this overwhelming feeling of relief. That very warm feeling you get when you can say “This isn’t my problem anymore.” I snapped a couple of pictures for the memories and then said goodbye to Volkswagen. They kindly dropped me off at home so I didn’t have to grab an Uber, though it took about 15 or 20 minutes to find the dealer’s driver, who was elsewhere.

The Golf’s already listed for sale, at an ask of $26,000. No pictures, because the inside isn’t finished! That’d mean a $3,500 profit assuming it sells at ask. I already paid for a synthetic oil change, and it didn’t need much cleanup aside from a wash and vacuum. The CarFax details all the headliner issues it’s had, which I wonder what effect that might have on any potential buyer’s decision. Maybe they’ll see these articles! Probably not though, the Golf’s about as clean as possible. In general, it’s already a unicorn if one desires an interior other than black. One interesting point of note: The dealer’s site does not provide the CarFax for this vehicle in particular, not the case with other Sportwagens they have. Hmm.

And there you have it. For the first time since 2011, your author’s without a secondary vehicle. The Golf was the latest in a string since way back: ’97 Impreza wagon, ’93 DeVille, ’03 Tahoe, ’12 Outback. The GS isn’t going anywhere and is due for an oil change. I learned a lesson here, and that lesson is I’ve not the patience for dealing with even a fairly simple modern Volkswagen product. Until next time.

[Images: Corey Lewis / The Truth About Cars, Volkswagen, CarFax, VAuto]

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44 Comments on “Where Your Author Ultimately Decides to Give Up Golf (Part III)...”

  • avatar

    That’s what I saw while sitting in the service waiting area at the VW dealer I go to. I’m blown away – $26,000 for a 2 model year old discontinued model with very low miles. I just got an offer from that VW dealer that is more than what I paid for it, but I don’t have a second car, and as you wrote, this is not the best of times to buy new and expect a deal!

    And I’m sure the CarFax for the Golf is going to make for an interesting read!

    If I was in Corey’s shoes, I’d take the Golf money, put it in some type of short-term investment for 6-12 months (the interest rate won’t be good, but interest is interest in the end), and then get something fun with it. By that time, hopefully prices will have gone back to normal. I recall that he’s not an MX-5 fan, but for a second car for those warm spring evenings, it doesn’t get much better than that.

  • avatar

    “your author’s without a secondary vehicle.”

    I went from a peak of 5 cars to just 1 car and 1 motorcycle today. It’s been fine.

    I still keep an eye out for rare or clean Panthers, 3800s, attractive Jaguars or Rainiers but I’m not going to add more than one car.

  • avatar

    Nice! We bought a 2021 Hyundai Tuscon SEL in February of this year and paid $22,600 OUT THE DOOR (includes sales tax, etc,) as the dealer was clearing the inventory of a mess of Tuscon’s they could not sell last year. Window sticker is $28,060.

    A few days ago, I received a letter from the dealer saying they would buy it back for $24,500. I checked Kelley Blue Book and that offer is right in line with a trade in estimate for the car with 5,000 miles on it. Hard to believe. I’m not selling as we need the car.

    • 0 avatar

      The auto transport trucks aren’t rolling. I passed a Ford dealer today that had less than 10% of their normal stock on their lot. There are mighty slim pickin’s for the folks looking for a new Ford.

  • avatar

    I feel your pain. 2019 Mercedes GLC, 6800 miles in two years. Going in for its third visit to get the A/C to work properly. I live in Los Angeles, where it is routinely about 100 degrees at this time of year. May I also add that my GLC is black with black interior and black headliner. It never gets cool in the interior but the dealer says “no faults detected”. Grrrrrrrr. I am ready to entertain offers for sale and then close out the lease early.

  • avatar

    I figured something had gone Bad Wrong here, but selling the car made sense given the situation. Guess you’ll just have to deal with having a Lexus as your only car. The struggle is SO real…

    “I had this overwhelming feeling of relief. That very warm feeling you get when you can say “This isn’t my problem anymore.”

    Yep, had that feeling myself about 30 days ago when I walked away from my old Audi – the difference being the issues that were about to hit were going to be very, very expensive. The car began going through oil and coolant, even after having the water pumps replaced – that meant either bad head gaskets or piston rings.

    No bueno. Made a few bucks off the sale. Best of luck to whoever buys it.

    • 0 avatar

      This statement spoke right to me…

      As I sat in the passenger seat to grab the registration and other papers I’d left in in the glove box, I had this overwhelming feeling of relief. That very warm feeling you get when you can say “This isn’t my problem anymore.”

      Couldn’t agree more. My wife and I had a 2018 Escape that was purchased new and it had to be the biggest POS. Every six months I was going to the dealer for something else.

      Only difference was I was in the driver seat when I took the sigh of relief once the dealer took the plates off.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve done that before with an Audi, sold it on as I had a feeling of impending doom.

      I was wrong in that instance, and the car still exists in DD service today.

      • 0 avatar

        I think we both got out at the right time.

        In my case, I knew the doom on my Audi WAS impending. The car was eating coolant, which meant 1) the water pumps were bad (which they were), 2) the head gaskets were bad, or 3) the piston rings were bad…or 1), 2) and 3). The Audi shop I took it to recommended replacing the water pumps first to see if that fixed it. It didn’t. Then it began going through oil, which points to piston rings.

        Yeah…buh-bye. When I bought the car, I bought it cheap, and figured about four or five grand for repairs/upkeep/wear items. I was pretty close, as it turns out.

        The A3 was a blast to drive, but it was a troublesome companion. Not coincidentally, I dumped that car a couple of months after I dumped a troublesome human companion. Now I have a car AND a woman that aren’t causing me daily agita.


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    In my opinion, CarFax is a joke. I’ve shared here before, but when my 12 Leaf endured $4000 worth of crash repairs (including welding the frame) in 2014, it was listed with a clean CarFax at a used car dealer when the lease was up.

    The repair was performed by a Nissan-authorized shop and managed by the dealer, but never reported to CarFax.

    I notified the used car dealer of the discrepancy, but they didn’t reply. I’m sure they weren’t very interested in adding more stink to a hard-to-sell car.

    Anyway – good move, Corey. It’s a shame that so many VW stories end badly.

    • 0 avatar
      CKNSLS Sierra SLT

      SCE to AUX-
      What would be your motivation in taking the time to inform the car dealer of the CarFax discrepancy? Especially-a negative one?

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Good question. It was my first time taking notice of CarFax, and I was just curious as to what the dealer’s response would be. I’m sure dealers would rather not know the truth.

        The car was leased and returned at the same Nissan dealer, after which it went to auction and got picked up by a used car dealer 3 states away. The depreciation was shocking (75%), even accounting for the discounted price after the Federal EV subsidy.

        It was basically a good car, but those early Leafs were radioactive to Nissan dealers.

        • 0 avatar

          “those early Leafs were radioactive to Nissan dealers.”

          Looking back, including both of our experiences with them, I’m convinced that pre-2013 cars were beta testers. They made so many changes to the cars during that period.

          • 0 avatar

            @mcs, this is what happens when engineering realities meet the force of Carlos Ghosn’s will and his Jedi-level persuasiveness. [It is said that people would walk out of meetings wondering what they had just signed up for and how it happened.]


            See the global sales table here – 2010-2012 model sales were relatively low:

            The heat pump introduced in 2013MY was a relative game-changer.

    • 0 avatar

      We had a Volvo that was rear ended. Damage was limited to just a new bumper, handled by insurance with no issues. When we sold the car I told the dealer, but they didn’t care at all because the CarFax came back “clean”. Maybe they were just going to wholesale it, regardless it proved to me that CarFax doesn’t hold all the answers.

    • 0 avatar

      Got to remember that CarFax only knows what the government records say or what the dealer taps into the computer.

      If the dealer was doing crash repairs and not documenting it properly, that’s a crap dealer.

      • 0 avatar

        When I bought my 2004 Mazda 6, it had a clean CarFax; in fact it stated that the car was purchased in Michigan and shipped to Hawaii, where its (military?) first owner apparently had it until it was shipped back to Michigan and the Infiniti dealer where I found it. For routine servicing, the engine shroud was removed–revealing markings on the cam cover underneath stating that it was a LKQ engine. Needless to say, there was no mention of an engine replacement in the car’s history.

    • 0 avatar
      pale ghost

      A clean Carfax doesn’t mean there is no problem and does not give you useful information. . But if Carfax shows issues, that is valuable information.

      While browsing through Autotrader I found a dealer in Arizona who had a large inventory of extremely low mileage cars. Each listing had a complementary CARFAX. Almost all the cars had branded titles – lemon buybacks. The seller’s descriptions did not mention the branded titles.

      Most makes were represented but VW had 2x the listings of the runner up Nissan. The service histories made me feel bad for the owners realizing what a PITA the experience had to be.

      Thanks Cory. Every once in a while I think about getting a VW. All I need to do is reread your saga and that will knock some sense into my head.

  • avatar

    Sounds like a totally reasonable outcome.

    I know I’ve mentioned before that getting offers above $28k on my six-year-old, 60k-mile Highlander Hybrid makes it awfully tempting to go down to just one car until the market softens. But a Bolt, with little space and very slow L3 charging. just won’t do for summer road trips. So nothing’s happening yet.

  • avatar

    Smart move by the GM to remove the headache for all parties involved by buying the Golf. Now the dealer can dump it for a nice profit on some other person who won’t know or care about its history or what is likely to be considered inconsequential scratches and smudges.

  • avatar

    This might relate somehow:

    Credit to the dealership general manager who (eventually) recognized a problem* and dealt with it.

    *Problem Customer in this case [not at first, but reached that point]

    The Truth About Customers: Some customers have Unrealistic Expectations around certain aspects of new vehicle ownership. (OEM’s encourage this thinking to some extent, but many adults have learned to see through this.) [Further, some people expect Perfection when it comes to Anyone But Themselves, but let’s not make this personal.]

    Corey and Lexus are a better fit than Corey and VW.

    Yes yes, some of Corey’s complaints were perfectly legitimate. (The B&B have an amazing ability to step over major points to pick at minutiae – lol.)

    Backing up from this case – in general, some customers Just Aren’t Worth It (some start out that way, some relationships eventually reach that point). Look at GM’s stock price right now and their product portfolio right now and the [mostly] very conscious choices they have made and the customers they have (purposely) lost [and will not miss].

    • 0 avatar

      I can see what you mean. I don’t think Corey was a particularly good match with this vehicle. At the base of it all, the VW had a small and fixable problem [those tabs that caused water back up), which got exacerbated by dealer lack of experience and motivation to deal with it properly in a way that satisfied a clearly exacting customer. But… that does not take away from the Golf’s positives. The enthusiast approach here would have been to dump THIS Golf and procure another clean one… but used as to avoid the dealer, and with the tabs corrected to avoid the water disaster this time around. Instead we got the story we all knew by heart already… that Golf’s are finicky, and that its dealers are more bad than good.

    • 0 avatar

      “Further, some people expect Perfection when it comes to Anyone But Themselves, but let’s not make this personal.”

      “The B&B have an amazing ability to step over major points to pick at minutiae”

      First, Physician heal thyself.

      Second, I disagree with your assessment. There is no excuse for half-a$$sed workmanship like this. If I got a suit tailored and it came back with half the buttons missing no one would consider that acceptable. If I paid someone to paint my house and they scratched up my fascia and soffits with their ladders in the process no one would consider that acceptable. Why should a car dealer get a pass and a paragraph about “unrealistic customer expectations”? All Corey wanted was a nonleaking sunroof and an interior that didn’t have screwdriver gouges in it.

      “Yes yes, some of Corey’s complaints were perfectly legitimate.”

      So which of his complaints were not legitimate?

      • 0 avatar

        All his complaints were legit. Would I have gotten rid of the car? If I had a super-clean Lexus GS as my other ride, and could have made a few bucks getting rid of it, absolutely. If it was my only car, I’d have hung on to it. Repairs were done and the car had low miles and a ton of warranty left.

        But YMMV, as they say.

  • avatar

    “The only people who should be buying into the scarce (used or new), overpriced car market are those who absolutely must have a new(er) car.”

    This. At least you were in the position where you didn’t need to replace the vehicle.

  • avatar

    Corey, you have mentioned before some of the details you appreciated about VW. [For example, I thought the seat attachment to the rails and not the floor was elegant, useful and generally brilliant (if they even still do it that way).] I think ‘what I will miss about VW’ could be an interesting post.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Corey you made the correct decision. Just wait till the market cools off.

  • avatar

    I’ve been researching replacements for my 13-year-old Infiniti G37S coupe. The Infiniti is so good that its replacement will have big shoes (tires?) to fill. One of the candidates has been a Golf R. After your experiences, not any more.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Mazda dealer has sent me 4 or 5 offers for my Mazda 6. The latest came Friday. 2018 Mazda 6 GTR for 24.5 plus 1k toward a new Mazda. Thinking about a 2021 carbon edition.

  • avatar

    “the Golf’s about as clean as possible. In general, it’s already a unicorn if one desires an interior other than black.”

    You were the Chosen One! It was said that you would destroy the VAG, not join them!

    / Episode III: Revenge of [the] Wolfsburg

  • avatar

    Thanks Corey for an interesting read and sharing this with us.

    What amazes me is that the dealer would even attempt the installation of a new headliner in-house. That seems like a very specialized thing that they would not be called on to do very often (maybe, in another world) and that it would be sent out to people who do this regularly, not the service department staff.

    Cleaning out sunroof drains sure, but not this.

    I had a 1977 gasoline Rabbit in college. Great fun. First and last one. Everything attached to it was very cut rate cheapo.

    Best of luck with your next adventure!

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