It would take an immense amount of effort to prove that VW was not telling the truth in their latest Super Bowl commercial.

First you would have to pool registration data from dozens of different countries within the US, EU, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

That’s one tall order. To even make that remotely possible, you would have to get the data from the various states within those countries. Quite a few of them would likely have a hard time even coming up with data that is easily downloadable.

As for verification of mileage? Good luck with that! Even in the U.S. of A., not all states require emission and registration checks that verify the mileage.

So let’s remove probability altogether from VW’s Superbowl proclamation, and deal with the cold hard facts related to the wholesale side of this business.

What we have discovered after studying the long-term reliability of trade-ins throughout the United States, is that VW represents the slimey brown stuff above this engine (courtesy of when it comes to long-term reliability.

For starters, major VW brands in the USA (Audi and VW) have garnered the 2nd and 3rd lowest ratios for those vehicles that have made it to the 18 year mark. Click here for the results of 300,000+ vehicles currently logged in this study.

Volkswagen also has the lowest percentage of trade-ins with over 180k out of any major automaker in the study as well.

Finally, let me offer you an alternative shortcut if you don’t want to believe the data. Feel free to visit and see how much it cost to replace various VW engines and transmissions. Call your neighborhood parts store and see how much more it cost to replace the hoses, alternators, and starters on a VW versus say, a Chevy or Toyota.

Hell, I recently bought a 2003 Volkswagen Passat W8 with no issues for only $100 more than a stripper 2005 Ford Taurus with the same mileage that functioned as a rental car special, and had vinyl falling off the front door panels.

Because for most of the last 15 years, VW has cheaped out on quality parts like a broke Chinese construction company cheaps out on quality concrete. The mothership may blame Inaki Lopez and his minions for that turn in quality. But the truth? The absolute truth?

VW doesn’t care. They have screwed their consumer base for the sole pursuit of short-term profits here in North America for a very long time and are finally, by the grace of God, paying for those sins. Their cheaped out latest offerings in the United States continue to do them no favors, and I’m willing to bet that the “We’re #1 at over 100k!” remark will not resonate in a marketplace where 200k has already become yesterday’s 100k.

Steven, Thank you for this counterpoint to the endless VW hype (and arrogance). I hope many a family vacation dollar is saved by people considering this.

I’ve owned 30+ cars in 40+ years of driving. Not one has been a VW. So, I guess I don’t have an opinion on VWs. Oh wait, I guess I do.

Agreed. VW, and to a lesser extend Subaru sell on a huge perception – that does not match their reality*

Our normally aspirated Subie Impreza 250K trouble free miles- our VW’s: constant problems until sold!

Only VW I ever liked was the CC and as it’s too small for me to be comfortable in we have nothing more to talk about.

Of the roughly 10 or so people I know who now own (just one of those) or have owned VWs, only one has professed a satisfactory experience, and word had it that she was into S&M.

I laughed when I saw that ad. Perhaps they meant to place an asterisk next to that claim.. A BIG asterisk. No, I would not recommend VW or anything German for that matter (though I own a BMW bike- that’s a diff story though). High maintenance costs and frequent repair visits should more or less be a thing of the past when speaking of middle-of-the-road family haulers. I’ve seen enough from friends and family that owned VWs. Some had luck better than others but overall, I can’t see the argument for them.

– “Because for most of the last 15 years, VW has cheaped out on quality parts like a broke Chinese construction company cheaps out on quality concrete.”

Ain’t that the truth. It’s not just the rear hatch lock release and plastic seat adjustment knobs, either. The worst part comes when VW goes into denial mode on items like coil packs, transmissions or high pressure fuel pumps.

If you are unfortunate enough to be holding the keys to any Vee Dub or Auto Union creation when the clock strikes 100k, you have either spent a small fortune to get that turd to that mileage past its warranty, or are about to get one hell of a nasty surprise when some cheaply underengineered component of an expensive ABS, turbocharger, climate control, or 4WD system suddenly grenades and starts off a chain reaction that turns a 12k trade-in into 400 bucks/ton of scrap metal.

A TDi from the early 2000’s or older, sure. Anything newer, nope. I cringe whenever I hear the term DSG…

Those had problems too. I forget what exactly but they were pretty serious. VW only recently fixed its engine problems; aside from the 2.Slow, the 2.5 5 and the VR6 pretty much all their engines are garbage, requiring post-purchase re-engineering to make reliable. That said my wife drives an MKV Rabbit and knock on wood hasn’t had any problems yet. If the Japanese could appropriate VW’s design flair and knack for performance VW would be rendered useless. Mazda is close but not quite there yet.

It had lifetime transmission fluid. Lifetime was about 50k miles for the factory-fresh ones, so there was nothing special about the fluid. Rebuilds didn’t need transmission fluid changes either, because they lasted 2k-5k miles.

You might say that I’m only one guy who had a bad experience, but I had around 5 of these gearboxes over the year I owned my 2001 VW Jetta, so I feel like I had a statistically significant sample under my hood.

On the 2nd to last transmission replacement, the shop got sloppy and forgot to torque down the lower control arm bolts. My front wheels went pidgeon toed after I finished 6 hours on the Interstate. I was damn lucky that night. I mean really lucky, and I married the girl I was driving to see that night.

I drive a Toyota now. It’s a minivan, on account of all of the getting lucky, if you know what I mean. And you do.

DON’T BUY ANY VW PRODUCT! Said after owning: Jetta, Westphalia (2), Golf and the aircooled oldies. Don’t listen to the fanboys! VW is the Yugo of the last 4 decades!

I certainly think that VW has made some pretty shitty decisions in terms of reliability and interior materials, they still offer the best drive out of any lower end car manufacturer. And as far as reliability goes, I wouldn’t say they are any worse than BMW or Mercedes- even if you keep up with maintenance on them, they certainly don’t have the margin of error the Japanese have, but they don’t just blow up all over the place. Hell, I’m probably a masochist for buying a VW anyway- even changing the air filter or getting the battery out of my B5.5 Passat was a pain in the ass, but it’s worth it once you get it out on the road.

I think it will be interesting to see where they go in the next few years here in the US- it certainly seems like they have a much more cohesive lineup in Europe, but I’m sure we can count on getting fleeced on any interesting. Who knows if VW will survive as a brand here- it does seem like they have kind of lost their brand identity- are they the inexpensive euro-chic cars as they used to be, or are they just plain cheap? I think they would do well keeping slightly upmarket to Honda and Toyota, but what do I know?

With a recommendation like that, I’m NEVER touching a BMW or Mercedes. Just in case something falls off. Like the transmissions in my Jetta.

With a Merc or a BMW, you will pull the part off, look at it, and wonder “Why did they do it that way? Is it a German thing?” Big expensive complicated parts wear out or break, and it’s expensive to replace them.

With a VW, you’ll wonder “Why did they do it that way? Aren’t they SUPPOSED to be Germans?” Simple, industry normal designs get mangled in the desire to manufacture it as cheaply as possible, and worst of all, VM has habitually module-ized assemblies for the last decade, so you are replacing the entire sub-system instead of just the broken part.

I think the biggest concern, however, is that when a BMW or Mercedes breaks, it’s usually not the power train. When the VW goes south, you can’t even drive it and ignore the blinking light.

And that’s the dilemma, kyleck. Reliability aside, since when does a Corolla or Civic drive like a Jetta? You have to go one size up to get a similar, and still not the same, quality of driving experience with German cars.

Miatas cannot be compared to Jettas, jeff. They are different cars doing different things There are many terrific cars out there, but it doesn’t mean a Jetta competes with every single one of them. That was my point, and it seems to get lost on people beating on VW. Yeah, it’s terrible. But what’a a former Jetta owner who doesn’t want to go up or down on size to do?

Civic Si is a sports car, not a sporty-ish sedan. And many people find the Civic too ‘light’ for highway duty. it’s a terrific car for sure… just doesn’t appeal to the same kind of drivers.

Maximum lulz… when I saw that commerical, the VERY FIRST thought that went through my head is “everyone at TTAC who’s watching this game is likely spitting beer through their nose.”

> come see how many of our engineers have wings… yea none cuz our cars don’t make it to 100k…

You are correct. My Mk1 Scirocco didn’t make it to 250k. My Mk2 GTI didn’t make it to 624k. And of my current VWs, my Mk3 Jetta will never make it to 425k. And my Mk4 Jetta 1.8T doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of making it to 252k.

The US spec MkIV Jetta was notorious for automatic transmission problems. A former co-worker had the gas tank fall out of the car while she was driving it on a 98 Jetta in 2009. I don’t have too many other VW related points beyond those.

Same with my 350k gli, my 250k jetta 2dr, my various friends multi hundred k VW’s. You can’t find a used VW without 100k+ on it around here. In our climate, an a1, a2, or a3 vw outlasted the Japanese competition by a decade easily. The ’02 Golf TDI I bought new is pushing 200k, I ran into the current owner recently. Still looks great. My best friend bought his third TDI last year after putting 250k on each of the previous two. Utterly horrible cars, obviously.

I can’t remember the mileage on your recently purchased W-8, but it appears that it would be the perfect TTAC “test platform”. Start driving it everyday, take it on a few longer runs, etc. and let us know how it’s performing. I would enjoy seeing regular installments of the “W-8 Update”. I remember looking at one in the dealership several years ago and trying to figure out how Volkswagen thought a $40,000 Passat made sense.

Sadly, I can’t think of a single VW product I’d recommend. Maybe a Jetta TDI sportwagen, but only with a manual and only during the warranty period.

Steve’s penultimate paragraph says it all. Not only have the cars been rubbish, but they’ve done nothing to rein in some of their more larcenous dealers. I can’t think of a company that deserves to fail more in the North American marketplace than VW.

I think our 2001 Passat GLX wagon is probably better built overall than the newer stuff, but it still fried its coils (around 100,000 miles or so) and needed the entire front end completely rebuilt at about 120,000 miles. Now at just over 160,000 miles the heat basically doesn’t work at all. Mechanics can’t figure it out – replaced the heating core and also the head gasket, and still no heat.

But here’s the thing: it is still a beautiful car. Drives like new, leather has held up well, no corrosion to speak of. Mark me up as “conflicted”. I couldn’t see myself buying a US-market Passat with the dumbed down suspension and all. But a TDI Golf wagon? Maybe.

How often was the cooling system serviced throughout its lifetime? Was the correct coolant used? Is it bled properly? Has the thermostat been verified to be functioning properly? These are prone to cooling system clogging especially when not maintained. I think you need a new mechanic.

^ If its not pink Its not VAG/Porsche Coolant, and it will definitely gum up your whole coolant system.

It’s called VAG G-12 Coolant which is red or pink in color. It is STRONGLY recommended that G-12 is NOT to be mixed with ANY other type of coolant, otherwise the chemical reaction will turn the coolant to a gel-like substance that clogs up the coolant passages.

Yeah. The thing that’s astonishing to me is the plastic water pump impeller. I’m not sure why they would make it out of polymer. Do other manufacturers make their impellers out of polymer? Just seems chinzy.

Back in the early 2000s a lot of my colleagues were buying Jettas and having all kinds of maintenance horror stories. VW lost a lot of customers with those Jettas. And I took a look at my buddies’ new Passat. My 2004 Passat is waaaayy nicer. I don’t think they’re going to succeed with US spec cars.

Thermostat housings, the impellers, and all the other plastic non silicone bits always went around the time of the timing belt. Luckily my 2001 S4 has a junkyard A6 2.7t in it with an Aluminum Thermostat housing so thats one less issue :). But yea plastic thermostats, water pumps, intakes etc. just save too much money to pass up for a modern engine manufacturer.

It’s not just VW. Water pump, thermostat housing, and part of the radiator were all plastic on my E36 BMW, as well as other models. Incredibly dumb.

My mom used to drive a 1999 Passat and didn’t have any problems with it, but she bought it in what is probably the most reliable configuration, V-6 with a manual, rather than the 1.8T with an automatic that made up most of the sales. She also got rid of it at somewhere around 80,000 miles when she bought her A4 that needed to have most of its steering system replaced under warranty, but has otherwise not had too may problems.

My friend’s family had a 2003 Jetta Wagon with the 2.0L 8 valve engine and a stick shift, very basic car besides power windows and locks, A/C, and cruise control. From what I understand it has treated them pretty well. Another friend had a MKV Jetta with the 2.5 I-5 and a stick. Those are the two that I know of that haven’t had significant issues. Then again I think both had less than 100k at the time so it’s not as big of an accomplishment. When I was shopping I test drove a totally stripped out stick shift 2.0 8 valve MK6 (total slug of a car), I figured it’d be a decent bet on reliability given the anecdotal experiences of my friends.

I now own one of the new 1.8T cars, and at 700 miles so far so good! Of course that’s not saying anything. Haven’t seen the Superbowl ad so I’ll have to look it up. I like my Jetta Sportwagen (with DSG) at 22000 miles. I hope it lasts me 10 years or more as my old TDIs have. I will find out in 8 more years.

I thought it was truth in advertising. The idea of VW being a paragon of reliability struck me as being in the same category of probability as winged engineers farting rainbows.

That’s the guy who took trunks and trunks of important confidential papers with him when he left GM (Fiat, Ford…?) for VW, isn’t it?

The most FUBAR thing about the whole situation is that apparently nothing happened — neither he nor VW suffered any sanctions, AFAIK; he’s still there and has earned millions, and the VW Group benefited from the data he stole for years and years (though it’s all old hat by now, I assume).

1. The mini “Darth Vader super bowl ad of a few years ago was nearly, if not, the greatest super bowl ad in history.

3. The photo above reminds me of the only time I have ever seen sludge buildup like that, and that was on my parents’ 1970 225 Duster. It wasn’t running well, I didn’t have time to tear it apart, so I took it to our mechanic.

When I stopped by the next afternoon, he had the valve cover off, and deliberately held off fixing the car until he could show me what the issue was.

The sludge was so bad, the valve train was 100% buried in black sludge! He cleaned it out, replaced the valve cover, changed the oil several times and it ran like new!

The problem was that they drove the car very short distances infrequently, so the motor never reached operating temperature! I made sure I drove it on the highway every week or so, and mom finally had to get rid of the car five years later due to the floor disappearing because of rust.

The sludge in that picture wasn’t due to a lack of driving – it was due to a lack of regular oil changes. I would wager that the oil was never changed in that engine – based on the severe buildup.

Yuck, how stupid can you get? I’m not a VW apologist, as you well know, but Vws are hardly as bad as some seem to believe. Some have problems, others don’t. Maybe slightly more problems than some Japanese, but I know what I’d rather drive for 100k miles. In my case it wouldn’t be a VW or a Toyota, but forced to choose, VW it is.

Maybe the problem here is that some expect the company to do everything for free for years on end, sice it was taken care of by the dealer. Others seem to want to do nothing for 100l miles and nothing go wrong. Maybe Toyotas can do that, though I doubt it.

Toyota MR2, Mazda Miata, Subaru BRZ: now you have 3 fun alternatives to VW, and all of them more reliable!

I thought the Toyota 4Runner owner who bought the vehicle new and didn’t change the oil in 27,000 miles when I met her (because, as she said, “you don’t need to on Toyotas”) was as crazy an owner as I’d ever come across, but this is an elevated level of baths!t crazy.

Wonder how come Germans have a reputation as tightwads? That crack out of the way, when someone with juice decides that it’s financially prudent to make quality cars, they just might take over the word.

For VW to say that they have the most 100K cars, I say big deal. 100K is the new 50K. I currently have a 2012 GTI and while driving it is a real pleasure, its maintenance and long-term durablity are questionable. VW simply uses too much really cheap plastics in their cars and the items that aren’t plastic are overly complicataed. My engine has 3 timing chains(!) PLUS a separate toothed rubber belt to drive the (plastic) water pump. VW might make it to 100K but 200K is a totally different matter. Toyota and Honda will whip their rear-ends on that mark.

“VW simply uses too much really cheap plastics in their cars and the items that aren’t plastic are overly complicated…”

You want complicated? Watch the retractable hard top operate on an EOS! That was the sole reason we decided NOT to buy one almost two years ago! Scared us both half to death with all the things possible to go wrong with the top alone.

The same reason why I LEASED a vw 2012 EOS for my wife- nice car, quiet for a convertible, but as soon as the Lease is up -GONE! As far as quality is concerned, I have had 1 issue – they had to replace the mechanism on the power driver seat button when it would no longer move the seat.

My senior pastor bought a 2010 Eos this fall with 25k on it. She loves it so far. But I’ve had that same thought about the repair costs.

Exactly! 100k is a no-brainer for any car these days unless you opt for a Tata or something from Russia. 100k was a benchmark even back in the 70’s.

Complicated like their dipstick with plastic guides that will all break off and fall into the oil pan? Then the plastic opening that holds the dipstick breaks off too? And there’s the plastic PCV that’s in their n-th revision. The plastic rubber that rips and leaks on the diverter valve. I think someone mentioned the cracked plastic coil pack casing already.

The non-plastic bits like the flat tapper cam follower that disintegrates into the top end? Or that subframe where the bolts literally undo themselves causing it to shift.

Yeah, like the ABS module that fails, and you can take it to the dealer and get it done for $600+, or take it out yourself and send it to this small company in Minnesota or North dakota that fixes them, for $250. I did this on my A4 and am eagerly waiting for the Bosch ABS module on my Passat to give up the ghost. I’m just going to get my wife a damm 4runner and be done with it.

Just did this very thing last week. 2012 CC w/25k miles. in the shop 5 times, twice via roll back since it was not safe to drive. Now have a 2014 4Runner in the driveway and waiting for VW dealership to call and tell me the CC is drive-able to the Toyota dealership that took it in trade sight unseen at a premium. So long VW and good riddance.

The coil packs on the shared 1.8 liter in early 2000s VWs and Audis were literally an inevitable ticking time bomb, that detonated early on with uncanny certainty, and led to many people stranded on the sides of byways and highways, waiting for a flatbed or tow truck.

^VAG still has issues with coil on plug ignitions even on new 2.0T models. The older (2.7t and 1.8t) coils had the Ignition Control Module (ICM) separated from the actual coil, but the coil itself was very reliable because the ICM was always a failure point because it was so sensitive to heat changes.

Now (2003+) the ICM is integrated on the coil if I remember correctly so the issues Audi had with the ICM was transferred to each individual coil. (2013 GTIs are already on their second coil pack revision because there were a couple in for misfires when I used to work at my old shop)

2006 4Runner 4wd, V8. 270,000 miles, other than normal maintenance I’ve replaced the tailgate control module which was under warranty.

1998 4Runner with 280K miles here, They just won’t die, I see models like mine everyday around here in Ky. Ran synthetic oil since the first oil change.

I’m a bit of a car-guy and was asked after church about six years ago, about which cars to buy new – and which to avoid. I stated they should avoid GM and Chrysler because they’ll be going out of business (and they sort of did), and avoid VW and Audi because they will murder you for money as soon as the warrantee is out (plus you’ll be on an unfortunate first-name basis with the dealer service manager until that time). The congregant came up to me in the parking lot a few years later, entirely shocked that “my” prediction about GM and Chrysler were “spot on”. Suffice to say I’ve been reading TTAC for a long time….

I wouldn’t send an enemy to buy a VW or Audi. Thanks be to God, I don’t think I have any enemies, but you get the idea, I’m sure.

In fact I probably would avoid advising anyone to buy anything German. I learned my lesson on a VW back in the late 1970’s – never bought another. I learned my lesson on a BMW “collector car / toy” and never will buy another. My best pal, who’d lived in Germany and who loves German cars, got burned really badly on one of the US built Mercedes SUV’s – and he’s never going back either.

It’s quite shocking that companies and cars do not change at all over 30+ years. But since Zackman’s 1970 Duster had a sludge problem, that must mean that the new Grand Cherokee is also a piece of crap. Right?

Talk with Honda/Toyota owners and they will often tell you how unreliable brand X was and so now they are life long Camcord fans. I can’t really blame them if I had the kind of problems they speak of I would never buy that brand again.

I watched the Super Bowl with a room full of car salesmen, and we all laughed hysterically at that ad. So laughable. We all assume when we see a vw pull up that the check engine light is going to be on, and we make trade offers on the assumption that the car is going to cost a fortune to recondition for the lot and as it sits waiting for a buyer it will continue to deteriorate.

…every volkswagen or audi myself, family, friends, or coworkers have bought over the past fifteen years has degenerated into a falling-apart basket case of absurdly overpriced maintenace, without exception…the only people i’ve personally known to walk away with positive experiences (read: anything other than never-again-stay-away evangelism) are those who replace their vehicles every two years and thus build in the cost of making their cars someone else’s problem…

A friend of mine swears by Audi’s. He’s on his 6th one. He thinks they are the best cars on the planet. But when you dig a little deeper i find that he’s kept each one only 3 years and never owned one out of warranty.

Our neighbour’s A3 just had it’s 1.8t engine replaced at 115,000kms (sludge). The car ran for about 3 days on the new engine and then had a no-start condition (which I’m sure was a tech’s fault, not the car). They touted German cars as long as I knew them, but are definitely now part of the stay-away evangelists you speak of now.

I can kind of see why people eat obscene repair bills on Audis, as when they actually do work they are sweet cars. What I don’t really get is why someone would buy a VW, where the repairs are probably 1.5 to 2 times the cost of a Japanese car, but the car itself is no better. Paying Mercedes level money to put a new transmission in a stripper cloth seat Passat just seems ludicrous to me.

One frustrating problem individuals have with cars that require premature repairs is it’s hard to get the repair done right locally. Sometimes the local tech’s mistake shows up in a few days and sometimes the mistake shows up in a few years. Either way, repairs almost always cost more time and money than originally budgeted.

Well, I won’t defend the reliability of German cars, but there are lots of areas and reasons why one appreciates a German machine. For example, they are sturdy. When you drive one on the highway, as a recent reviewer found out (I think it was John Kucek’s A3 reviews a while ago), that they handle better than Japanese sports cars. VW/Audis for example, all have a full metal inner door (remove the trim to examine), while all (except for some Mazdas) Japanese comparable cars have hollow inner doors. Not that this makes a huge difference in safety, but it does for the sound of the speakers, as a complete inner door without a gaping hole in it allows the speaker to have a full baffle, and thus much fuller sound and bass (without a sub, that is), and as well as giving an assuring solid thunk when you close the doors. A lot of components are thick and chunky (like door hinges, wires, even the ECU is rather large compared to Japanese cars). VAG engines are usually overbuilt (compared to Japanese ones anyway), not that this prevents them from having issues, but their TDIs, the 2.slow and 2.5 engines are all very solid. Their MANUAL transmissions are very decent. I wouldn’t touch their automatics for what it is worth. One of those failed on me 2 years into a new VW.

Having said that, where they over-engineer (subjectively “over” compared to say, the Japanese and the Koreans) they seem to do well, like a few engines, transmissions, and a sturdy subframe and body. In other areas like reliability, it doesn’t seem like VAG has ever put enough testing time into anything, at least for the North American market and usage scenario.

I know for a fact that their older and simpler machines are dead reliable, as they are still being used for Taxis and fleet services in developing worlds like China, where VAG has a significant market share, and the machines are occasionally re-purchased by VAG to exhibit or study since they drove for more than 1 million kilometers on the odometer.

My interpretation is that, modern VAG vehicles are not simple enough for North American maintenance habits, and not tested enough in North American climates. I would venture to guess that they don’t learn enough about each generation of cars in terms of reliability before pushing out the new generation/mark, whereas the Japanese tend to do very well in this area, but in contrast, seems a little reactive.

My Prius is way more complicated than any Volkswagen. North American mechanics handle it just fine, and it’s outlasted the Jetta I used to own many times over.

We owned the Jetta for a year. My wife (first) and I have had our Prius for nearly ten years. The Prius still has had fewer mechanic visits and fewer dollars spent on maintenance.

Well, you are comparing a hybrid to non-hybrid cars. You could say the same about your hybrid vs. a lot of other brand of cars. The comparison doesn’t yield a lot of insight. The Prius was also a highly invested research model of Toyota. The money poured and effort invested into that particular model of car to develop it to market is probably beyond what most passenger cars sees. Toyota’s success of hybrid cars depended on the success of the Prius, while the Jetta is a cut-cost VAG model meant to please the taste of North Americans.

What I mean is that VAG largely chose to spend on technology making them seemingly more complicated and necessarily less tested (in a lot of cases). If you look at their new line of vehicles with the excellently reviewed 1.8T, 2.0T and new TDI engines that are more efficient, warm up much quicker (due to the closely coupled turbo and coolant core), you can’t help but to wonder how expensive and what kind of failures these motors will sustain. In retrospect in 10 years, you’d be left asking the same question if VAG was less reliable, but that is the cost of their version of progress, I think.

As for North American mechanics handling VAG vehicles just “fine”, let me remind you that the typical North American dealer (where I suppose most in-warranty repairs and maintenance are done) for VAG is highly dreaded for work on their own cars by owners. I had terrible stories of my own on this. Anything from reusing TTY bolts so the engine mount breaks to using inferior oil for turbo charged cars, and even simple body paint jobs.

Lastly, try to see all the different aspects of something instead of just painting it win/lose or black/white. I already said that VAG probably isn’t the benchmark for reliability in North America, but you do have to give others credit where it is due. One wrong may sour your experience, but it doesn’t detract from the things that they are doing right.

As Honda recently said, they benchmarked their new Fit after the VW Polo, for the very same reasons that there are things VAG does extremely well, that others can learn from, if they are humble.

Unfortunately North American Mechanics cannot handle vw, audi, and porsche products. I had the privilege of working at a very respected independent Audi and Porsche repair/tuning shop during my first three years at college and everything (literally everything) has to be strictly OEM and torqued exactly to spec while keeping up to date on all current TSBs, or you get many unforeseen problems with related components or the part you just replaced.

The shop owner would say in his thick German accent “Never call me a mechanic, they are monkeys, I am a technician”

Really? “Over-engineered”? I think there’s a good chance they might sign your paycheck.Also “Vag”… Please knock it off if you aren’t on daytime lady television.

Of course, in some ways, for example, build. Have you compared the subframe for example in a Volkswagen Group (VAG, old acronym) vehicle to say, a Japanese or Korean equivalent ? Try that with a Golf and a Civic/Impreza/Elantra/etc. Everything is beefier. The bushings used to be much larger than the Japanese and Korean stuff, until they both just recently added more thickness (Koreans particularly). The control arms are single piece and are much sturdier. Read a few reviews of Subarus and see how they add a bracing piece of additional control arm since the system they designed for the Impreza turned out chintzy. The doors, like I said, are the only ones in this size of cars other than Ford and Mazda (not sure about the new Mazda 3s) to actually use a full inner metal sheet. Have you checked the weldings on Japanese/Korean cars ? VAG started using full laser-welds a long time ago, while my Acura outside is still full of visible tack welds, and the rear doors still clunk hollowly when I close them.

If Mr Lang won’t do it himself I’ll put in a plug for his website (from which the linked graphs above originate):

I would never recommend a VW/Audi to anyone. If you buy a new one under warranty, you will suffer incredibly steep depreciation. If you buy a used one and don’t know how to diagnose and fix your own car, you are going to have to stomach some very expensive repairs.

This is not a VW/Audi issue though. Look at any used Benz or BMW. These cars don’t hold up incredibly well and their poor resale values show it.

Look at a 6-8 year old Benz E-Class with about 100k miles on it. I see these often at the auctions. These cars look beat. Their interiors look worn. There is usually a leak or two, and at least a few electrical items don’t work. The check engine light is always on, and usually something else too like an airbag or ABS light. I would ignore this kind of stuff on a 10-year old Hyundai, but we are talking about Mercedes, the company that thinks of itself as the standard of the world…

Jettas and Golf depreciation seems to be about average, while not Honda level, it’s not domestic fleet level either. TDI depreciation is effectively nil.

If you have 12 grand, a 6 grand B5 Audi S4 is the best car you can get for the money :P. As long as you follow Audi’s very specific maintenance guidelines and have a competent VAG technician that looks over the engine at every oil change, they are very reliable cars. They definitely cost 2 grand a year to keep on the road, but in my opinion (for S model Audis at least) they are worth it. Nothing is better in bad conditions than Quattro and Older Audis (before B6 or B7) interior quality is pretty damn impressive.

While I’m not disagreeing with the material part of your post (that being if you meticulously care for Audis that they are extremely satisfying and wonderful in poor weather), if it were strictly bad conditions I was worried about (as opposed to upscale handling and driving dynamics), wouldn’t a Subaru Legacy more than hold it’s own?

My car did well this morning in the 6+ inches of snow/ice on my driveway and side road. I just made sure snow mode was on.

And “nothing better in bad conditions” is only true if your only options are Audi Quattro vs. FWD Pontiac.

CoreyDL, I’m not saying that it is the only option. I should have specified for more spirited driving.If it was raining, snowing, or bad road, I would take an RS4 vs an M3 but if it was a track day brah I would go for an M3. It is all about the environment that you are in.

Audi spends alot of R&D on Quattro (Haldex on transverse models) and they put it into almost every model they make. Comparable Lexus and BMW modles cannot have a similar system to Quattro because their engines are not in the proper location. Therefore they cannot have the same torsen system that Audi uses and continues to use because the inherent advantage of the AWD setup outweighs the nose heaviness of an engine hanging over the front of the axles

Quattro is their trump card in their high performance models and driving fast in an S model or RS model in bad conditions is most likely going to better experience than a comparable BMW x/M or AMG car would provide.

“inherent advantage of the AWD setup outweighs the nose heaviness of an engine hanging over the front of the axles ”

You are aware that all the AWD models we’re discussing have their engine at the front, in the same location. The AWD does NOT outweigh the nose heaviness. At all.

I think you should look more into the engineering limitations before you compare the AWD systems. There is a reason Audi Engines are over the Front axles. BMW are rear wheel drive based so it would be not be cost effective to move the engine in front of the axles to have a similar AWD system because you would have to change the whole front subframe and wheel base.

Not my point. Your assertion that handling in AWD Audis is totally different because the engine is 2.5″ further forward than in other vehicles is incorrect.

I never brought up handling (qualitative), if anything I was discussing the physical abilities for the drivetrain/powertrain to provide grip (quantitative). Very specific differences.

Based on the fact that you only think there is only a 2.5 inch difference and that it does not make a difference on grip (quantitative) or handling (qualitative) means that you have neither looked into the powertrain and drivetrain designs from each manufacturer or thought about the dynamics/statics/defbods involved (a car can be thought as a simple lever with two fulcrums).

Unfortunately I have only driven Audis in bad weather and never have driven a Subaru (want to get an 04-05 STI though) and I’m not a transmission . I know the two are comparable in bad conditions and they use similar awd layouts but I believe the tech used within each system it is different.

Although I can’t speak for Subarus, Audis longitudinal AWD is torsen based which relies heavily on mechanical torque spliting (and vectoring on new models) and is very good at delivering the proper torque to each wheel/axle in low grip conditions even on the older 1990’s Audi Quattro models.

Fair enough. My two best friends both own S5s (one has a V8, the other has a V6 convertible, both black, both gorgeous) and while they handle absolutely phenomenally, I haven’t driven either in bad weather. I’m kinda waiting to see how they both hold up over time.

Aquineas, the 4.2 (even though has issues with DI valve sludge and Timing Chain replacement) has been a pretty reliable engine. Unfortunately the 3.0T is too new to tell. The 3.0T is very capable of being reliably (relative) tuned to very impressive horsepower numbers with a simple stage 3 pulley kit and sound incredible with an AWE Tuning Exhaust.

However when I was reading the self study manual I was offput by the rube goldberg approach to the timing chains inside the new 3.0T so I would definitely recommend very strict oil service maintenance on that engine and the new 4.0T as well.

Regardless both are good engines and its just really HP (4.2) vs Torque (3.0T). But an APR supercharger kit on the 4.2 can settle that issue really quick :P.

You sound like a 16 year old with no car who watches way too many Saturday “bolt-on parts commercials masquerading as TV shows.” Good luck with your first car.

Also trash talking AWE Tuning, APR, and 034 Motorsports means you know very little with regards to Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen products. They have world class engineers, racing teams, fabricators, and technical centers.

Wait, where’s the adamant rebuttal from the apologists? The ones that offer such nuggets of wisdom along the lines of: “these cars just require more rigorous adherence to scheduled maintenance” or “you can’t just drive VWs (insert BMW, Audi, etc) like a beige Toyota (insert brand of choice) appliance and skimp on upkeep”. The argument always shifts. Suddenly a car is even more of a soulless appliance *because* it’s rock-solid reliable?

I’m much more impressed by engineering that results in a long-term reliable car than one that is unnecessarily overcomplicated and unreliable as a result.

And not to dabble in too much hyperbole, but I have two friends that have VWs and are still making payments on them. Without any prodding, they both are very adamant that they can’t wait to get rid of their cars. Basic stuff fails quite a bit for both of them. You could easily insert any number of brands with that small of sample size, including the ones I’m prone to liking, but it is striking to me that of all my friends/family/coworkers, I’ve never heard anyone else curse their cars as much or profess how much they loathe their car.

I am an apologist in that I have first-hand experience with a dreaded MKIV Jetta, rather than anecdotes from friends. Would I recommend one to my grandma? No. But I would hesitate on an old Toyota that didn’t have maintenance records as well. I do not believe in broad generalizing across an entire brand. A base Golf is a different beast than a Touareg or whatever. Every car has its issues, but there is a huge difference between a $100 MAF sensor at 80k miles and a $4000 air suspension.

My sister neglected to change the timing belt on her Geo Prism, a rebadged Toyota Corolla. The timing belt broke, leaving her stranded, but the car ran fine after the timing belt was replaced. This was possible because some engineer in Japan chose to design the engine with clearance between valves and pistons when the timing belt fails to accommodate neglect by consumers. The equivalent German engineer would have stubbornly insisted on more valve lift, insisting that customers MUST follow the maintenance schedule.

I had an ’85 VW Jetta GL with a 1.8 liter engine. It had a non-interference engine, just like your Geo. There are tradeoffs to such an engine in terms of combustion chamber shape and high-rpm air flow.

I used to take my VW and the Audis that followed it to an independent specialist. One thing I remember is that they’d built special testing jigs for making sure new parts from Germany worked before they put them on the customers’ cars. Four years after my car was built, VW was still shipping defective radiator caps that caused blown heater cores. Shameful.

Actually, not all Japanese cars have non-interference design. A lot of Honda engines are not. Although, I thinks this thread scared me off of 2015 GTI Mark whatever I have been planning on buying.

my old1992 jetta had similar engine design. new engines are designed differently with very tight clearances to meet emission standarts and get more hp and fuel economy thua broken belt on any new japanese car engine as well as german will result in engine damage. Please inform yourself about engine design before generalizing about german engineers.

My 92-year-old father-in-law still has his 2000 Mk4 Jetta, with no major repairs (though admittedly low mileage). My wife has her 2004 Mk4 GTI, with less than $1000 spent on non-wear items to date.

That said, I’m not going to start arguing against Steven Lang’s rant, not worth my time. If you want to keep your car 200K miles (how many people do, really?) it may be one answer, more moderate-term reliability stats can be found in publications like CR and

CR called out the ad as well

@ vtecJustKickedInYoYeah,Hey thanks,because you spouting a bunch of cowplop that looked like you barfed up some alphabet soup was an education for everyone.

As far as I’m concerned, the national football championship took place a month ago and Auburn did their best, but FSU rightfully came out on top. As far as the overpaid crybabies on TV last night (and the advertisers who perpetuate professional spectator spots idiocy), I can’t opine. If it weren’t for the NFL, college athletes wouldn’t try as hard, and so on.

I was just driving home last night in a driving rainstorm with the family in the wife’s 2001.5 V6 4Motion Passat GLX. Apart from a handful of additional options offered for the W8 to justify the $40k price tag, this car is fundamentally the same as your W8. And despite the occasional hassles, I still love the car. I can’t say I’d buy it again if given the chance, but I don’t regret owning it. With my eyes closed, it’s as quiet and composed as an E-Class Mercedes for a fraction of the price. It’s never had a true service outage, just a handful of times where one problem (crappy, leaky heater core hoses) caused another one (battery short and low coolant, two separate incidents).

I still maintain that for someone with adequate DIY time or with a third car, VW cars are good options with solid running gear. You just have to overlook some crappy wiring harnesses, brittle plastics that don’t age well, and random design flaws under the guise of “good engineering” (eg, tight clearances underhood don’t make for easy work).

My daily driver is a ’98 Passat (FWD, 5MT V6) that’s still fun and sporty, pushing 150k miles. Never left me stranded. Some of the credit is that the first 7-8 years, I babied the car and overdid the maintenance. Today, just not worth it — it’s getting traded or sold in the next 6 months. And as you know better than anyone, once a car hits a certain age, it’s just not worth killing yourself for years over the difference between $2,000 (KBB good) and $2,500 (KBB excellent).

For the longest time I saw a mint V8 Phaeton with 63,000km on the ODO that was at the VW dealership used car lot going for only $39,000 CAD. That car must have sat there for the entire year. Guess nobody fell for the hook line sinker.

There are about half a dozen of us VW/Audi drivers at work. We all like driving them and we all have good experience with reliability and 3 of them are nearing 100,000 miles. I’d recomend Audi to any one as long as you can afford the maintanence.

On the other hand my Silverado has been unreliable but maintenance is cheap. Pick your poison or buy a Toyota.

I’d recommend a classic Austin Mini for anyone who could afford the maintenance… or an Alfa Romeo!

That’s hilarious Freddy.Thanks for polling those people who work with you,and taking down their odometer readings.I’m going to go buy one right now.This is as believable as an e-mail from Pakistan telling me I won the lottery.You rock dude.

I laughed pretty hard at the commercial. I thought well if you go back to the 1930s, include diesel, and all sales to worldwide markets it might be true. But then again you could apply the same logic to Ford, Chrysler, or GM’s brands and by virtue of them being twenty to thirty years older with possibly more volume, one of them might win out.

I sort of get the impression that VW isn’t entirely unlike Chrysler – the more you want one of their cars, the more troubleprone it’ll be (but the blander stuff will last forever). But then, this might be driven by classifieds where MkIII Golfs/Jettas are second only to Civics for common mid-90’s econoboxes. And those numbers (and the MkIVs) might be skewed by an owner group who doesn’t know when to call it quits (the anti-Cavalier, if you will).

Personally, I’m not sure I’d ever recommend a VW. If you need a recommendation, it’s the wrong car for you, and should only be bought by someone who’s done the research, knows the coming issues, and has decided they’re willing to take the plunge anyhow. I still need to experience it for myself though. I’m sort of hoping a plain 2.5L Jetta SportWagen with the stick has too few things to really go wrong while not being totally watered down (plus, as one of the few stick wagons left, and one with a funky exhaust note at that, I’m intrigued).

For those dependent on professional work, a big wake-up call is seeing a similar repair bill for a Golf as an Audi A3; or for a Passat vs an Audi Allroad. With so many shared components, a lot of the work is the exact same thing (at the same labor rate and parts costs).

That’s why so much of the anger is directed at VW, less at Audi. Everything else the same, people buying $50k Audis tend to expect some big bills down the road. The $20k VW buyer, not so much.

‘Big repair bills’, like a $100 MAF sensor? $600 timing belt? Those prices always seemed reasonable to me. Stay away from dealers.

Roughly 2x the price of most other V6 drivers I know. Trust me, I’ve been on the VW train for 20 years :D

At least I’m stubbornly willing to try and do as much of my own work as possible, whether or not I’m all that good at it. Just one of those experiences (good and bad, I suppose), I need to try myself.

Or maybe it’s what 1)VW serves up to its American clientele and 2)what Americans actually do to their VWs.

Volkswagen needs to get whacked upside the head with a clue-by-four and start making their offerings with the same relative quality and reliability as, say, a Toyota Corolla.

The rest of the world outside America thinks Land Rovers, Renaults, Citroens and Peugeots are fairly reliable, too.

OK wait, never mind. The Land Rover is the new Shiny European Snobmobile for the wealthy and wannebe wealthy of the USA, isn’t it?

But seriously, though, John – you are right. (I love “clue-by-four” by the way – good one). VW has needed to get their stuff together in regards to reliability since the air cooled beetle was being passed by all the new Japanese imports in the early 1970’s.

I know, I made the one-time mistake of buying a 1971 VW 411 once, when I was in the military and have nary a nickle extra to rub against a penny. The automatic transmission grenaded and I ended up making car payments on a car sitting in the junk-yard.

Never again I said, and nothing I’ve seen in the next 35 plus years has caused me to second-guess that one.

I chalk VW’s European reputation up to having to compete more directly with Citroen and Fiat, while in most of the world they have to compete with Honda and Toyota.

It’s all relative, and it’s all about your usage. If I wanted to keep a car for 5 years, drive it once a day at 120mph in moderate temperatures (30-80 degrees F) on very smooth roads, VW makes a great car for the money.

I just recently launched my 18 month old C-Class in to the “certified” market for something that I could actually count on starting in the morning. As an engineer with years of experience in both the classroom and real life, I’d give German engineers a C- as best. Fit and finish – superb. Reliability?

I don’t trust CPO anymore. I’ve found several CPO 2013 Pathfinders with CarFax reports that document transmission replacements before 10K. That doesn’t deserve to be certified.

I’ve voted on this subject here plenty of times, but the answer is no, I wouldn’t recommend a VW.

Repeat VW/Audi owners effectively join a cult. They spend lots of money, time, and trouble keeping their cars running, but ignore all that because of how wonderful the cars are to drive. Or something.

Wheel bearings, clogged TDI manifolds, abundant electrical problems, oil consumption, brake issues – pick your poison, because you’ll eventually taste it if you own a VW.

Note: my comments are based on personal ownership experience, combined with that of several other people in my life.

I love my ’04 Passat 1.8T M/T Wagon (now with 130k), and you’ll pry it’s keys from my cold, dead, hands, but I’ve never confused it with a Camry of the same vintage.

That said, nothing VW sells now excites me, and I have no idea why anyone would think a single product in their current lineup, save some of the Golf variants, would be a compelling purchase. If you need some decent daily-driver sportiness, there are alternatives that are as good as or better, and certainly more reliable.

My senior pastor, my boss, has a 2000 Bug with the 2.slow and 185k on it. She now has a 2010 Eos. I hope that it lasts for a while for her… But I am glad I don’t have the repair costs of either car!

People should preface their comments by stating which of the subject products they’ve owned themselves. If the answer is “0”, unless you’re a professional mechanic, there’s no need to comment.

Comments based on “my uncle’s friend’s wife’s neighbor’s VW was nothing but trouble” are not very helpful. . .

Your first assertion is that we as a car-buying public (you know, the ones spending our hard-earned cash) should pay no attention to word-of-mouth. Your second assertion is that folks aren’t qualified to comment if they’re not a professional mechanic (ignoring other people who have a lot of experience in the car business). I disagree with both of your assertions. I don’t think it’s wise to ignore the experience of others when spending one’s money. But hey, maybe that’s how you run your finances.

I can’t agree with you. I haven’t owned a VW. I was very tempted into buying a GTI two cars ago. But I’ve known enough people with problems to stay away. Why not learn from the experience of others?

Because the people who had problems are a self-selecting bunch who are vocal about it, which skews your perception, and isn’t a useful data point.

I don’t know that I agree. If it’s friends, family, or friends of family (or vice versa), I’ve found both positive and negative opinions on cars fairly reliable. To me it seems that some of it depends on how far removed you are from the info. On the other hand, should you trust some guy on a message board? Maybe, maybe not. I’ve gotten some valuable info on message boards that helped me when dealing with my dealer. But in VWs case, there sure is a lot of smoke for there not to be a fire. When I see a litany of posts about how bulletproof and utterly reliable VWs are, then I’ll consider spending my money. Until then, they’ve got a long way to go in my book to recover from them attempting to deny oil-sludge claims back in the early 2000s. And FWIW Toyota did the exact same thing (ie, seek to disqualify people that I personally know from entitled warranty repairs) to their 3.0 V6 engine..

Gotta separate the wheat from the chaff. Not all of the engines had sludging issues (it was only the 1.8T, mostly on the Passat because of a small oil reservoir). The more useful info would be what VWs your friends/relatives/etc had and what the problems were. ‘Reliability’ can mean a lot of different things to different people.

It’s not a matter of them being vocal – it’s me keeping my eyes open. This group is primarily composed of co-workers, who I would see ever day. It was the Jetta owners and my Golf-driving roommate who needed to bum rides. I never saw drivers of American or Japanese cars behaving the same way.

Isn’t the jury still out on cars from the past 5 years or so? There’s just not enough data. Anyway, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend a new one, especially the Golf/Sportwagen. As for older, I’d stick with more basic Golfs and Jettas that were well taken care of or low enough mileage to head off a serious problem, which mostly means changing the ‘lifetime’ transmission fluid. The other issues (coil packs, MAF sensors) are cheap enough to fix/diy and not that big big of a deal. I see plenty of them on the road so I assume they are doing ok for a lot of people. I would not recommend an older Passat with its difficult maintenance and engine sludge.

It’s a piece of junk. If it wasn’t for the fact that I do all the work myself on it, it would of probably been junked by now. The entire car has been physically falling apart for awhile, and the troubles; engine, electrical, emissions, started to plague the car before the 100k mark was even met. Before she met me, it got to the point she bought the service manual herself and started to do her own work because she just couldn’t keep affording to pay people to fix all the small BS that went wrong with that car.

I drive it to work everyday, because it’s there and gets good mileage. Once something major goes, that’s going to be it, and if it doesn’t get the car down the road, it doesn’t get fixed anymore; I’ve given up trying to keep up with all the things falling apart on that car.

We called BS on the superbowl ad. Obviously, we won’t ever buy another VW product again, and I’ve personally talked one person out of doing the same.

Exactly. Despite our two Passats at home (98 and 01), I always tell people “They’re still running because of our work, not because they’re trouble free. Don’t buy one unless you REALLY want one AND you’re a competent DIYer.”

I’ve gained so much embedded knowledge about these cars over the years — and depreciation is so low now — it’s almost stupid to get rid of them. Most regular problems have been fixed, so there’s not much new to go wrong.

My ’04 passat has started to leak oil (I think), and it seems a bit time consuming to do this job yourself, but within the grasp on a competent DIY’er. Anyone have any thoughts on how easy this job is?

Not too bad at all. The cam chain tensioner is 90% of the work and, IMO, rarely the culprit — I’d honestly skip it. I broke the loaner tool trying to compress the tensioner and had to call it quits.

However, both VCGs and the PCV system on the V6 can be done in an afternoon with moderate skills, some guts, some creative socket extensions, and a set of stubby wrenches (some VC nuts are hard to reach; get ready for busted knuckles).

But your results may vary — on my ’98, problem was solved on the first try (VCG’s only). On my wife’s the oil smell started back 6 months later. That could possibly be due to switching to 0-weight oil, which can seep out more readily, but I’m preparing to do the job for the third time total.

The person who I know to have the worst car ownership experience I’ve ever come across was a good friend from college with exactly the same car as yours.

Within 24 months, and I swear that I am understating things, if anything, his car spent a minimum of 200 days at the dealership for repairs and replacement of parts under warranty, and probably 1/2 the electrical components had been replaced (many several times over), the transmission had been replaced twice, the front axle had fallen off the car while he was driving it, the radiator had been replaced along with the brake linings, and a whole lost of things I’ve forgotten about had been repaired or replaced.

VW refused to replace his car despite his many pleas. He finally bought a Civic, parked the Jetta across the street from the dealership (on an empty parcel of land owned by his grandfather, who ironically was the one who sold the land to the VW dealership in the 1st place!) signs having giant lemons on them and an itemized list of all parts replaced and problems experienced in the front window (neatly typed out), and left it there until the dealership pressured VW N.A. To buy the car back as a gesture of “goodwill” (which took over three months).

Until recently my ’04 Jetta TDI has been very reliable with the only repair being a Radiator fan replacement and minimal maintenance.

A few months back, around 115,000 miles, my check engine light came on. I was able to diagnose this to a leaking turbo actuator, which should be no big deal to replace.

However, VW does not sell this part. They sell a complete turbo, $1300 if I remember correctly. Once gaskets and labor is added if would be close to $2000 repair on a car that is worth maybe twice that…

I was able to find a TDI specialist who could fit an aftermarket actuator. Since it was not a straight replacement he had to make some mounting hardware and also reprogram the ecu as the new part did not have a sensor.

Because of this I would not recommend buying VW. Also find an independent local TDI specialist and stay away from the VW dealers for service.

As far as your last line goes, you’re striking from the list almost all compact cars up until 2005 or so.

Nope.I have a 03 Mazda.105,000’s the interval recommended.I’ll probably change it before then though.It’s low mileage but I’m not much of a gambler,so even at about 65k,it’s getting old at that age.I checked it about 5k ago and it looked nearly new.

GM Ecotec 4 cylinder engines used timimg chains since 2003. The timing chain is good for the life of the engine.

for what it’s worth, my wife’s 2006 A3 has about 110k on it and has been as issue free as any other car we’ve ever owned. It’s certainly been more reliable (so far) than her previous 1994 Civic (GASP!) which made it 12 years and 130k miles before I got tired of chasing down spat-out clutch plates and distributors. The various A4’s we’ve gone though have been good, but I openly note that my 2011 spat out it’s coil packs at 40k miles. Best vehicle I’ve owned to-date has been my 2002 Tacoma with 160k miles on it. I’m sure it’s run forever, but there’s not a lot of frame left. Toyota really screwed the pooch in the galvanizing kettle on those frames. Thanks, toyota!

My ’09 A3 has yet to require a single repair of any kind. And at almost the 5-year mark, my maintenance costs have been well under $1k in total, including the DSG fluid change. I grew up in the car business and at one point had four (Euro and Asian) new car franchises of my own but this Audi has been the most reliable, least service-intensive vehicle I’ve ever had. It’s just another data point, but either I’m extraordinarily lucky or they’re building them better.

FWIW, prior to the A3 I had two new Tacomas. The last one-a 2000 that I kept for 9 years–was very reliable, however with less than 100k miles on it Toyota Canada bought it back from me because the frame had rotted. They paid a fair price, but it would make me think twice about another Taco.

2008 A3, 49K. Very happy with it. One DSG recall for metatronic unit replacement that significantly smoothed out lower gear shifts. New battery at four years. Replaced the dipstick at five years because the plastic grip loop became brittle and cracked. One coil started to go south on me at 20K, but replaced under warantee. Minor gripe: One of the biggest Audi dealers in SOCAL had to wait several days to receive a new coil. I couldn’t believe they didn’t stock it, considering how many 2.0T cars they sold/serviced.

Trim and finish have held up well, with the exception of the front seatback rear panel adhesives failing ($0.50 fix). Generally quite happy with the three service departments I’ve used (CA, RI and VA), no sense of upselling or excess labor other than the occasional offer of a full detail.

More importantly, my wife still loves it, and she is the Goldilocks of car shopping. Unless it starts self destructing, Audi will be our first stop when it’s time to replace it.

9 oil changes, 5 oil filter changes, 1 manual transmission fluid change, 1 air filter, 1 cabin air filter, several sets of wiper blade inserts, 1 new set of Goodyear Viva tires from walmart, 1 set of steel wheels (junkyard) and a set of Kelly snow tires to mount on those wheels. 1 recall for some wire re-routing to reduce the risk of their corrosion.

Huh? 0-60 in about 9 seconds, not setting the world on fire, but peppy enough to keep up with any sort of traffic. 36 mpg in all city driving is pretty sweet too (41-43 on highway).

Haha nah. I guess they -seem- very very slow because of how people who have Fits drive them? I’ve been part of a few very dangerous highway entrance situations because a Fit driver wants to enter at 45mph. Since according to you they DO have time to get it to 60 (if flooring it), they must want higher mpg while sacrificing lower accident probability.

Excellent point. I completely understand. Much as we love our Audi, car #2 is a 13.5 yr old, 100K Acura RSX-S. Until recently, nothing but routine maintenance, one battery and a couple of oxygen sensor replacements (left front caliper seized last year, did full front caliper/rotor/line replacements).

It is utterly bulletproof. I barely drive it (mass transit commute these days), but it costs essentially nothing to own. One day/month of a rental would cost more.

OTOH, I had one spectacularly good Acura parts experience last year, but the rest of over 20yrs of dealing with Acura service departments has been a mixed bag, at best.

Just to play both sides of the fence, I often cite my 2010 Jetta sportwagen TDI as the reason why I hate anything with the VW logo with the fire of a thousand suns and I wouldn’t urinate on one of them to put out the inevitable electrical fire.

Bought a used 1996 Passat TDI (manual, no sunroof) in 1999 with 95,000 km on it; sold it in 2005 with 462,000 km on it.

Bought a then-new 2006 Jetta TDI (manual) to replace it; sold that with just short of 430,000 km on it.

I really can’t complain about my experiences with VW. BUT – and it’s a big but. Stay the heck away from any VW with an automatic transmission (US market = bad news). Also stay the heck away from any VR6. The VR6/auto tranny/sunroof combination probably accounted for most of that generation of Passat sales (1993 – 1997) in the US market. Bad, bad news. If the transmission didn’t get you, the engine probably would, and if that didn’t, the sunroof would drive you bonkers. Most European sales would have been either TDI or 4-cylinder (2.slow) and certainly manual transmission.

I am also staying away from 2009-onward TDI engines due to the excessively complicated emission control and fuel injection systems.

I don’t like the current vehicles VW offers in the US market … too bland. Consequently, I’m no longer a VW owner, although my dad has a 2011 Golf TDI.

The only reason to stay away from the autos (at least in the smaller engines) is because of the ‘lifetime’ gimmick (which they finally stopped about 5 years ago). Get a low enough mileage one, change the fluid, and I think they’re fine.

But then, there were those of us who suffered from the dreaded “self-machining (manual) transmissions”. Mine was way back, on a ’84 Mk I GTi, that I dearly loved and was pretty reliable otherwise. But VW had already cheaped out by replacing the circlips that held the pinion bearing shaft with some sort of rivet that was supposed to hold the shaft in place. Wrongo–eventually the shaft wore a hole in the case, which led to gearbox oil leakage onto the clutch assembly and a failing clutch liner as well. A used transmission turned out to be a cheaper alternative to a new case etc., but the replacement didn’t shift as well. The car finally went to a relative who wrecked it, but that one little part replacement to shave a few bucks was one of those early signs (to me) of the path that’s the focus of this article.

The 02O manual transmission affected by that problem is long gone, and that issue didn’t affect the 02A or 02J 5-speeds or any of the 6-speeds. TDI engine was never connected to an O2O.

Volkswagen has been known to have their PR people post fake raves regarding their products on blogs- which is why a red flag goes up, whenever I read “My VW went (amazing miles) and never broke down.”

Lets put it this way, just last week I voted with my money. I was considering a GLI but just couldn’t bring myself to buy a VW.

Having said that, here goes another bit of anecdotal evidence. Two Jettas, one Mex, one German. No real issues other than tires, shocks and brakes. No bizarre problems. German car higher quality plastics and rubber. One Passat. VR6 was nice, ran 160k, sold and still occasionally seen around. Two diesel Rabbits, back in the day-each ran 200k and was sold when body rot became scary. Anvils, compared to my Common Rail TDi. One A1 Scirocco-reliable with a Callaway turbo, clearly needed TLC because of the turbosystem, but ran no problems until it ate a retreaded truck tire on the highway and crashed out. Other than keeping the Callaway system happy, no issues, and accepted the extra 50 hp. A2 Recaro Package GTi. Reliable up to about 100k, at which point the only problem was that any 16v specific part was triple the price of any “normal” Golf part. Sold to a guy who showed up in a Corrado mit G-Lader. (this one was also wanted by a local musician, but I didn’t sell to him because this ONE was the maintence pig VW of which the others speak, and G-Lader guy would not be calling me on the phone later.) My current VW is a German Built Diesel, with 45k, which hasn’t seen the dealer except for oil changes-I have never had the current turbo gas cars, or any “US Market” VW, so can’t opine.

How useful do you think it is to say “so and so brand is unreliable”? Instead of “so and so model is unreliable in this way”. A base MKIV Golf, while having parts that cost a little more than say, a Civic, is a far cry from a Phaeton or Passat W8 in terms of dependability, especially at high mileage. Consumer Reports does this to sell magazines and it drives me crazy. I honestly don’t care about the average reliability of a brand, as I do not buy entire fleets of cars at one time. I care about the one model I am interested in. I know the neterati don’t like hearing it, but there should always be these caveats when discussing this issue instead of the hyperbolic broad generalizing that tends to occur.

Reliabiity is largely the result of engineering, design, parts quality and the oversight of the assembly process.

Yes, but there are ALWAYS caveats. My point is saying “VWs are unreliable” isn’t a useful statement. Unreliable in what way? What parts are unreliable? What models do those occur on? That’s the only kind of information I find useful, instead of the broad statements.

Reliability surveys show VWs are generally below average, which means that stuff breaks at a higher rate. Exactly what breaks more can vary from model to model, but that’s useful information to have if reliability is a priority.

Based on recent data from CR and they are nowhere near as atrocious as Steven Lang’s post makes them out to be.

JD Power gives VW in general and the Jetta in particular a dependabiity score of two stars out of five.

JD Power says VW has 40% more problems than industry average (2013 study of 3-year-old vehicles). 25% more than Nissan or Infiniti.

P.S. JD Power also says that apart from Lexus, Porsche is clearly the next-most reliable car in America. Do you agree with that, too, Pch?

I don’t currently have a CR subscription nor have I read it recently, so I can’t comment on its report. JD Power is a credible source that provides the stuff gratis, hence my cite. In some respects, it’s better than CR, and it is worthy of consideration.

True Delta has small sample sizes which give it a much higher margin of error, although I wouldn’t ignore it.

If I am not mistaken, JD Power doesn’t adjust for mileage. As Porsches are often more lightly used than the norm, their four star ratings don’t surprise me, as mileage and repair needs do correlate.

This is a fair point. Take a MKIV base Jetta for example. If you have the 2.0L engine, manual trans, manual windows, etc. then you have very little to go wrong. You may have to replace a MAF or coil pack but that’s pretty much it.

Also, as others have noted, this base level is probably the most common version in Europe. That is why the Germans think a VW is reliable – they don’t have to deal with the electronics.

Even surveys in Europe don’t necessarily help VW. For example, the most recent WhatCar? survey in the UK ranked Honda at the top, and VW in 21st place out of 38.

What’s worse, CR and other outlets will use the model NAME to predict the future…even if the model is completely redesigned and shares none of the same parts.

PLATFORM and ENGINE are king, those are far more important than brand. Although in VW’s case, brand is (or was) a pretty reliable indicator. But even within the brand, a B5 W8 4motion automatic is going to be 100x more likely to have expensive problems than a Mark IV 2.0 Golf 5MT.

Some companies do a better job than others. The engineering process doesn’t start with a clean slate whenever a new model is developed.

If you had two potential candidates for a job, and one had a solid reputation while the other one has a history of being a screw-up, then I doubt that you would presume that both of them are equally good.

This is true to an extent, but I also don’t think it’s useful to cite cars from 1997 or whatever when talking about cars released today. We just won’t know until that data comes in. Suggesting anything else is a logical fallacy.

What about the pastor’s 1970s VW? Doesn’t that pretty much doom the entire brand for eternity, to burning in the hellfire?

The sadist in me is mindful of the fact that VAG personnel are certainly reading these comments. Du kanst mich einmal. And even if you did, I’d do everything I could to talk someone out of buying a VW.

2011 GTI, flawless through 35,000 sometimes hard miles. Friend has a 2004 Jetta with 130,000 miles on it and going strong. Not saying there’s no validity to your claim but also keep in mind that VW owners tend to be younger and broker, so they don’t maintain like some other makes might and beat the snot out of them.

It also don’t help that VW is one of THOSE car makers who gives free 10,000 mile oil changes. Owners rely on this, thinking that’s the proper interval. It ain’t. I change mine every 5k.

“younger and broker” can be applied to any mass-market car maker (toyota, Honda, chevy, dodge, etc) , even more so once these cars enter the used car market.

I’ve dealt first hand with a number of early-mid 90s accord that had less than savvy owners, those cars are incredible at withstanding neglect and remaining intact and driveable, and all of the accessories still functioning (power windows, a/c, etc) None of them had a transmission fluid change, or a timely oil change for that matter. Steve even had an article about the 90-93 accords as being the most durable beaters ever: link

A lot of GM cars are also remarkably resilient, the difference being they go about it in a less dignified fashion. That is, the interior might be falling apart in chunks and half the accessories don’t work, but the engine/transmission keep hanging on. Mr. Lang can confirm this I bet with the sheer number of “cockroach” cavaliers he deals with.

newer VWs and Audis simply don’t have that baked in in my opinion. My brother’s friend did have a very ragged ’96 A4 that had spent some time on its’ roof at some point. 5spd, 2.8 SOHC 12V v6. Climate control didn’t work, interior was starting to fall apart, but the 160k mile engine purred after a t-belt and water pump change and new O2 sensors. Key point being that the engine was the dirt simple non-turbo engine, and manual transmission. The one area of durability where the Germans excel in is rust proofing, there’s no denying that (except w210, w220, w163 mercedes)

6 years ago my wife said she wanted an Audi. I told her it wouldn’t last very long. She said I coulnd’t know that. I said I’d dump 30 rounds through it’s engine within a week of it showing up. She was leaving a Passat she bought “new” before we met. Only thing worse than the crap parts and engineering was the dealership. My recomendations regarding VAG have not changed.

I like some VW models, but my research on more than one car there over the years told me to stay away. So I did.

That said, the 180K mile at trade-in number might not be a great indicator, as Jags and Minis are not always daily drivers.

As far as the repair cost thing goes, people need to stop going to dealers. I have no idea why a dealer repair estimate always gets cited to back up the cost argument.

Two direct experiences: 1. A friend owned a 1985 or 1986 GTI that was indestructible, had great fuel economy, sporty handling, and had great interior space efficiency. I don’t think he did much besides regular oil changes. Towing a big trailer over the Sierra Nevada and the Rockies – done multiple times.

2. 2003 Passat 1.8T 2WD wagon with Auto: Purchased in 2006 for $14,000 with 30K miles, sold in 2012 with 86K miles for $5800. Generally reliable. Got great mileage. This was our family car with three children from birth to age 6. The back seat would fit three car seats without impinging on front seat space. Enough luggage space for 2-3 day trips. But the car had way too many parts. The simplest repair or maintenance task required removing way too many items. I mangled the ABS sensor ring changing a drive axle boot (need to do this every 60K) and no one in the US sells just the sensor ring – I got it from England for $13. I would estimate the car had 50% more parts than a similar mass market car. Drove well and was very comfortable, but a nightmare to repair.

I’m genuinely surprised my neighbor’s MKIV Jetta TDI (owned at least since they moved in in 2004, probably before that) hasn’t fallen to pieces. Especially since they had two MKIV TDI Jettas when they moved in…clearly the one that went away forever suffered from some typically German maladies.

I’d say it’s more-so fanaticism on behalf of the owners who will bend over backwards to lovingly maintain their TDIs themselves, and having a willingness to shell out for a new turbo like a poster above ($2000 supposedly). Enthusiasm for a certain make/model of car with a desirable drivetrain knows no monetary or sane bounds. Same with the old diesel mercedes, they’re not actually practical/reliable cars in the Corolla sense of the word. They require DIY fettling, but are unique and durable rides when sorted.

I’d put money on the older pre- common rail VWs outlasting the new particulate-filter equipped models just due to the relative lack of complexity. A friend with a 2010 TDI sportwagen has some sort of no-start issue on his not 3 months after buying it new. This guy got rid of his little ’96 stick shift civic DX that gave him 150k+ miles of trouble free service while averaging 38mpg on his commute to work in order to buy this latest and greatest feat of “German Engineering.”

I dunno, the old diesels seem to run for at least a little while even if poorly maintained. Someone I go to college with has a beater MkIII Jetta TDI with a sooty bumper (obvious sign of poor maintenance) that still somehow refuses to die.

Why not ask? From my experience it’s a bit more dispositive than assumptions but has been known to relegate “facts” to the dust bin. Of course, you can decide whether that’s an asset or liability.

Now that I think about it, they probably traded it in for their first Tahoe. Which then was traded in for a second Tahoe.

Yes, I would recommend a VW to someone, but only if they were buying new, and I knew they were a person of financial means. For an affluent family, who desire compact sportiness and mobility around town, VW is hard to beat. The turbocharged GTI, Golf, Jetta, and Beetle are hard to beat for initial quality and fun driving. However, the buyer should know that the car must be depreciated over five years with virtually no residual value. It’s basically a $25K-$30K disposable pleasure.

However, I think you’ve characterized their US strategy incorrectly. Yes, they push for cheapness, but the dollar hasn’t been moving in their favor. VW basically get worthless US paper for every car they sell. Since the profits can’t be repatriated, it stands to reason that VW would turn their profits into direct-investment in the US market. However, they can’t boost investment in the US unless their volume rises. As everyone is well-aware, VW are pushing for significantly more volume in the United States.

The pic of the timing chain and coagulated oil doesn’t say anything about VW engineering without an analysis.

It says the oil was seldom changed on the vehicle (based on the amount of sludge buildup, my money is on the oil was NEVER changed).

It’s got me a little worried, though. My five year old VAG 2.0T with 49K has been serviced and oil level maintained religiously, but I’ve started to notice some residue around the filler cap. It’s nothing I’ve ever seen on the most beaterific Toyotas/Hondas I’ve owned, which have always had factory-pristine valvetrains no matter the shape of the car.

I had a co-worker with a 2009 A4 with the 2.0 TFSI and 60k miles that started to consume 1 quart of oil every 500 miles. Apparently there’s a TSB for a modified crankcase breather and some changes to the ECU that control it. Apparently it is a fairly common occurrence, I’d keep an eye on oil use. Dealer covered the full cost as a good will deal since he had serviced it exclusively through them. I don’t know if that would have any relation to some sludge forming on the oil cap, I doubt it.

I have a 11 Tdi sports wagon with80 k on it, this is our 4th vw/ audi and the most part no major issues , I have always had an auto , no issues, I had to replace a fuel pump on my Tdi wagon , out of warranty VW paid for it no issues, all were bought new and maintained outside of the dealer, by local indies. I have had several accords , several fords , a few others, all in all my Vw and Audi owner ship have been very positive, maybe I am just lucky but I tend to do what the owners book says to do when it says to do it.

My personal experience with recent VW’s tells me that they have improved a lot. I bought a new Rabbit with the 2.5 five cylinder and tiptronic auto for my daughter in 08. It now has 90,000 miles and has never had an issue or needed a repair of any kind. Also have a 12 sportwagon tdi. Same story, no problems or repairs. They are both built like little tanks, handle better, and are more resistant to crosswinds than any Japanese or Korean car ever made. My daughter likes it so much that she named her Rabbit Tank Bunny.

Wow is that picture real! That looks like lard and not oil. Advertising is the pursuit of convincing people of something. Toyota pushes “styling and performance” when everyone knows that is their biggest downfall. VW pushes longevity/reliability when that is their achilles heel.

The Japanese use engineers to assess the longevity and reliability of their vehicles – the Europeans use you.

The time and money Japanese companies spend on longevity and reliability, the Europeans spend on design, interiors, handling, door lines, door handle feel and ergonomics, among other things. People usually find European cars easier to ‘want’, and Japanese cars easier to ‘keep’. There are many reasons most of us don’t end up marrying pornstars and supermodels…

I don’t understand what the problem is. Car manufacturers don’t build cars with someone looking for a bargain second hand buy in the future in mind. They build them so they can sell them new. How many people (in the real, not TTAC world) buy a new car and expect to run it to 100, 200,000 miles? Answer: Almost no-one. If you want basic transportation buy a Toyota and keep it until it dies.

I’ve owned a B5 Audi A4 Turbo Quattro Avant which I bought as a demonstrator. The engine died on a trip once and it got towed (can’t remember what the problem was) but then had no further problems with it. I’ve had a Mk IV Golf GTI which was totally reliable and my wife now drives a ’12 Polo GTI (twin charger engine) which has had a software upgrade for the DSG 7 speed during a service but is a spectacular little 180hp hatch.

Then again I’ve had an E90 BMW (no problems at all) and aren’t they supposed to be totally unreliable too?

New car buyers don’t expect to have to throw their car away after 5 years, they usually expect to get some of their money back selling it to it’s second owner. Or at least that was the truth in the past.

“I don’t understand what the problem is. Car manufacturers don’t build cars with someone looking for a bargain second hand buy in the future in mind. They build them so they can sell them new. How many people (in the real, not TTAC world) buy a new car and expect to run it to 100, 200,000 miles? Answer: Almost no-one. If you want basic transportation buy a Toyota and keep it until it dies.”

You just contradicted yourself, as longevity in service is why many people buy their Toyotas. This statement also shows your ignorance as I assure you OEMs do care about reselling their used cars. Mfg’s captive finance arms own a good deal of them and they need to be able to get good money out of them at the auction when the leases end.

If I had to guess I would say you’re the type of buyer who is perfectly happy spending X amount of a dollars per month in perpetuity. You are not alone but there are many of us who won’t get value for our money in such a scheme.

It was a ’77 Audi 100 that was such a POS that it drove my grandfather to buy a Toyota and he never looked back.

Once you’re adopted a corporate decision to be pro-Japanese mainstream brand appliance AND you’ve decided you want to be an “enthusiast” site, you’ve kinda painted yourselves into a corner, no?

I’ve never had a co-worker tell me to follow him outside, because he just HAD to show me his new…silver Camry LE.

What I’m talking about is most enthusiasts don’t want to hear about how wonderful Corollas and four-cylinder Accords are…because it’s tough to get enthused about them. So you’re driving away your target audience.

What I’m talking about is TTAC has a very clear narrative line across most of its contributors – Japan good, German bad.

In TTAC’s defense the writers clearly blaze their own trail with brand preference and car evaluation. As I posted below I believe Mr. Lang has a buying pattern (quick turn around, quick profit, small window to evaluate each purchase, selection of only very used cars) that predisposes him to only care for cars that satisfy those criteria. It basically leaves anything more complicated than necessary in the weeds, and, until recently, “more complicated than necessary” has been VW’s mantra in the US. This practice has basically been a disaster from a PR point of view, unless you are a driving enthusiast. In that case VW (and Mazda) have basically been the only consistently interesting and thrilling FWD cars on the market for quite some time.

It’s not the case anymore though, so I wonder what his opinion would be of new cars. VW/Mazda is not the only high subjective quality choice, but the competitors have closed that gap by adopting all of the technology that had been bringing VW’s scores low over the years. Also, I would say enthusiast car shoppers deserve better advice than this. “Avoid X brand” is the kind of crap I throw at the truly indifferent and unknowledgeable person. It’s helpful if you’re the type to see a limited selection of cars and just want the orange one or something, without any consideration of drivetrain or platform.

I have a friend who’s family has owned three Honda V-6’s, all with the 20k mile transmission lifetime problem. He basically mirrors the anti-VW sentiment you see here and is basically committing to a lifetime of fewer good car choices as a result. It’s hard to respect that.

2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP 2004 Mercedes C240 4Matic 2003 VW Passat W8 2002 BMW 525i 2002 VW Beetle TDI 1995 BMW 540i

Why don’t people want those 5-Series? I figured you’d get people in there who don’t know what they are doing, snap those fancy Germanic mobiles right up. The rest of the list I can understand.

As a VW hater, I hate having to defend VW, but I hate them because they are boring as F***,and not because they are hilariously unreliable like a BMW. They generally seem well built, and use decent materials in the interiors, compared to other European cars like Opel and Ford. That may have changed a bit in the later years, partially to give Audi a more ‘upmarket’ feel, partially to try to get into the American market. Cars in the US are dirt cheap. Especially those made in America. And Americans seem to have a totally different view on servicing a car than what we have in Europe. Partially because of old pushrod V8’s , more because of 20-30 years of Toyota/Honda dominance in the market, in the US cars seem to be given the absolute minimum of mechanical attention, before being cast away cheaply after 2-5 years. In Europe cars can often live pampered and sheltered lives, at least the first 5 years, because we have had a huge used car market that expects us to sell perfectly nice used cars,without too much depreciation. (except in Britain, used cars cost nothing over there) This is also one of the reasons American cars (including a lot of Toyota and Honda models) aren’t very popular in Europe. Because their interiors feel cheap,they offer less driver feedback, they seem hastily assembled, and, even if they are reliable, they are not as easy to service as they are designed to be thrown away when they are ‘worn out’.(to a larger degree than European cars) I may be overly generalizing a bit, but I didn’t want to make the post too long…

Z While I agree with alot of what you say the 2-5 year thing is a little off the average american car is more like 11 years old. Also at least here in the states it much easier and cheaper to fix american and Japanese model cars than European. I think the real difference is Americans will keep driving a car as long as it keeps moving. I drive crap because its what I can afford. I can tell you from experience that you can ignore a lot of problems on a US car or Honda Toyota and keep getting to work. The European cars don’t work like that. My current car has numerous parts that should have been replaced 50k miles ago but some how it keeps going to work 60 miles round trip every day. My VW would have required a tow long ago. I think the real success for reliability in the mind of americans is how cheaply a car can make it to 150k miles plus this dosent matter as much for luxury cars any more but it is a big deal for the mainstream models.

Yeah, I ment the first owner of the car only keeps it 2 to 5 years. The car can offcourse keep running in a miserable state forever if it’s a CamCord or an old V8. The part of ignoring a lot of problems in America is also something that is not so easy to do in Europe, with regular inspections (every other year here in Norway) to make sure the cars are still safe. And with used car prices here (which have been rising in the US too, so I think it’s almost equal soon ) people tend to keep up their older cars too, because they still have much resale value, even when they are 10-15 years old, if they are in good condition.

“We’re #1 at over 100k!” remark will not resonate in a marketplace where 200k has already become yesterday’s 100k.

This…absolutely this. 100K miles is nothing today and I think that even for the uninitiated, bored, wheeled appliance buying consumer, the we have the most cars with 100K miles is a kind of, “so what,” fact.

Hey, ANY car can make it to 100K miles – how much do you want to invest in repairs to get there. That’s the bigger story.

I also agree. I have 107k on my 05 Impala. Still drives just fine, thank you. I got it with just under 37k on it, so I know how the car has felt for a while. My goal is 200k from it, if not more. So far it’s been fairly reliable, and as of the last year, not much besides oil changes.

Anecdotal, but I still bump into people , mostly online, telling me about how their Audis and BMWs are very reliable, saying stuff like ‘my 2012 3-series hasn’t had one problems since I bought it’ and ‘my 2011 A4 has been running perfect ever since new’. Read into it whatever you like ;)

I’d rather hear from the original owner that keeps the car for a long time. Who knows what sort of abuse previous owners may have subjected the vehicle to if you’re buying it used.

While we’re on the subject of anecdotes, my buddy’s 2011 S4 is now 3.5 years and 45k miles old. I believe he’s had four repair trips for minor issues but nothing that would have been a big deal to repair or tolerate off-warranty. Except maybe the xenon headlight leveling problem that caused one to stick in an upward position, though I suspect I’d just take it apart and set it at a permanent, slightly low position if it had failed out of warranty for me. Still, more problems than I’d expect of a newish car.

I saw no mention this far in the blog of the 67 Beetle or Microbus… why live in the 21st century? You can find a better car from the 60s if you look hard enough.

In the last 15 years VW has grown to be very close to the world’s largest, most successful, most profitable auto company. Not by the number of vehicles sold, but by some measures of revenue, profits, total assets, market capitalization VW is already the world’s largest auto manufacturer. How have they grown to sell on the order of 10 million vehicles/year while continuing such profitable growth in revenue and profits?

Steering wheel was off to the left 5 degrees from the factory with only 21km, dealer says that’s normal which ended up getting a service advisor fired after complaining to VW, realignment out of pocket. The 6 disc CD Changer started to eat CDs, replaced it with RNS-MFD2 Sat-Nav out of pocket. Rear shock blew and started to leak, dealer says that’s normal wear and tear, replaced springs and shocks with Eibach Pro-Kit out of pocket. The small radiator fan stopped working, replaced w/ warranty. The large radiator fan doesn’t seem to stop immediately when the car turns off as it ages, warranty won’t replace it since the fan turns. Went thru a few PCV recalls to the point almost blew the head gasket before the last recall replacement. Airbag light constantly comes on for the driver seat, recall on the wiring couldn’t fix it, keep turning light off with VAGCOM every few weeks. Diverter Valve leaked and replaced with a revised one without rubber diaphragm out of pocket. Power door locks failed and replaced w/ warranty. Cabin fan started to make high pitch noise and replaced out of pocket. Dipstick plastic guides all broke off one day and went into the oil pan, replaced out of pocket. A/C pressure sensor leaked and replaced out of pocket. Rear spoiler LED center brake light failed and replaced with new spoiler twice under 10 year warranty. HPFP cam follower lost diamond coating and have spring pressure marks replaced out of pocket (10 year 190,000km warranty only when the engine fails needing a rebuild and a tow to the dealer). Power lumber on driver side failed and replaced w/ warranty. Brake pads making noise after 48,000km with plenty of life left, replaced out of pocket. Stock Dunlop SP Sport 01 A/S tires seem to lose air quite often, no problems once replaced with same size and load rating Yokohama S-Drives. Sometimes the car would not start without 2 to 3 tries, coil packs replaced under recall and same thing twice a year. Subframe shifting constantly when turning the steering wheel with loud popping noises, no fix from VW and bought an aftermarket collar kit that couldn’t fix it, warranty only replaced suspension bushings which couldn’t fix it either. DSG sometimes would skip gears on both upshifts and downshifts as it cannot seem to change driveshafts from time to time, keep reseting DSG with VAG-COM every 3 months, out of warranty at this point and wallet has dried up.

Car traded in at 84,000km after 6.5 years of miserable ownership even when it still looked like new with glossy paint. Now back into debt with a new ugly Toyobaru all thanks to German Engineering.

If it’s any consolidation with going Japanese, our 1998 Camry LE’s total sum of problems in 16 years would have stopped before you got to the radiator fan.

I’ve heard good things about the new Volkswagens. This is surprising; I’ve even heard they’re fun to drive. But hey, 100K isn’t that high; CarMax sells cars with up to 130K.

My dad really liked the Tiguan, but since it used Premium, we didn’t get one. After reading this, that may have been for the better. It would have been an S with the sunroof, meaning not many options.

I actually had two VAG products make it over 200k: a ’95 “Hencho en Mexico” GTI VR6 (sold at 205k) and a B5 A4 1.8 quattro (sold at 235k). The problems with the GTI were more nuisances: window regulators, really shoddy interior quality (hard plastic everywhere, loose door panels, broken seat adjusters, many rattles and sqeaks), and a coil pack that constantly cracked and needed patching with epoxy (in lieu of replacement at ~$300). The VR6, at least for me, was mechanically sound. It seemed like the rest of the car fell apart around it.

The A4 was more of a mixed bag. The thing ate rear wheel bearings (only about 20-25k out of each one). I also had 3 out of 4 window regulators fail and the heater core clogged up with gunk despite doing cooling system flushes every other year. The ABS controller crapped out twice. I never had the sludge issue like the motor you pictured (thank God) and the coil pack problems came after I bought mine. Nonetheless, I got 230k+ miles out of it, so I’m hard pressed to complain too much.

Would I recommend another one? Hard to say. It looks like Audi has gotten their act together as far as quality goes the last few years. I’d consider the S5 if I could swing it. I’m not sure I’d recommend a VW yet though. The huge problems due to cost cutting in the early 00s really turned me off on the brand and I’d like to see how the new Americanized Passat holds up over time. I think the VW brand is at a crossroads in more ways than one and it could go either way: really good or really bad. I’m staying tuned for now.

Our GTI, too, was full of rattles and hard plastics. The worst in that regard of the four GTIs we have owned (’86, ’90, ’95 and ’04). No significant mechanical problems on ours, either, but I never really enjoyed driving it even though the power was better than the ’86. Sold in 2004 at 9 years old.

As I recall, the A4 didn’t go through any wheel bearings or window regulators. Front suspension bushings went squeaky twice until Audi got those right, but covered by warranty/goodwill. No engine or gearbox problems for mine. Sold at 7 years old, also in 2004.

I know what you’re saying. I’m sure I wouldn’t have enjoyed the GTI much at all if it hadn’t had the VR6. That tended to make you overlook the cheapness of the interior. The handling left something to be desired with it being so front heavy, but it was fun around town and it gobbled up highway miles effortlessly.

I think the situation is different in the US from much of the rest of the world. In markets like Aus/NZ VW is a near premium brand with great diesel power trains and strong product like Mk 6/7 Golf, Polo, and even Tiguan. These products appeal in these markets which focus on smaller size cars. The vehicles are built and finished well (checked out a Mk7 Golf GTI lately?) and they can charge a modest premium. Remember in these markers Audi / Mercedes / BMW are expensive (>$100K local currency)

In the US the brand does not have a premium position and is actively chasing volume with decontented US models like the Jetta and Passat whilst their small cars and SUVs aren’t in the sweet spot for US consumers.

If you want ‘Euro’ driving character, get a Focus or Fiesta. VW’s use image of being ‘imported’ to get yuppies to burn their cash. Then, when they are older, they run to Asian makes.

Rinse and repeat on next generation of kids that “dont want to drive what my parents drove” until they pile up debt from repairs.

The first time I drove a Focus rental I couldn’t believe how great it steered and handled. Pity about the awful interior and fussy controls.

VW has been “cheaping out” for a LONG time. My son’s Jetta had insane electrical problems: my bro’s Transporter broke constantly; the diesel Golf cracked its head- need I say more? Now we drive Subies!

Steven: are Euro VW’s built better than U.S. VW’s? Cos TG and the Euro press always RAVE about how wonderful VW products are!

There are differences, because the American market is much more competitive on price, and also., journalists rarely have to pay to keep the car running for 5 years…

There is one VW I would have no problem recommending, even used. The Routan. Say what you will, Chrysler builds a pretty solid minivan.

“Volkswagen has the most vehicles on the road with over a hundred thousand miles. That’s the power of German engineering.”* ** ***

*”road” is defined as “automobile recycling center” **Mileage includes, naturally, all miles accumulated during towing to the dealership service center. ***The B&B are invited to post their suggestions of small print for this line.

Guten Tag from the German side of things. This ad obviously got lost in translation, clearly it should actually say ‘Every time a Volkswagen hits 100.000 miles, a German engineer gets the shits.’

Interesting notion, VW (as a group) having the most 100k+ cars on the road. At least in Europe, they dominate the market with their brands. Skoda is especially strong, as they are positioned to be offering the most for your Euros. Also, VW Group over here is very strong in fleet sales, because a lot of HR policy-makers are choosing VW/Skoda/Audi models to provide (benefit) company cars for their workers. Why? Because they know shit about cars. They just see all the VW brands all around, and – convinced they are making the best choice – make policy. This way, the EU car market is simply flooded with VW (diesel) crap. Where I work, leased company cars get replaced after ~100k miles (or 4 years, but the two usually coincide). Then they go to the secondhand market, and these are still going to be considered as smart buys, being diesels, and well-maintained. They have very good resale value (contrary to the US perhaps) and now most people actually buy a diesel VW Group car just so they can be sure their vehicle will still retain a lot of its value a couple of years. This is also true for secondhand buyers! Obviously they are not interested in driving experience :)

My point is, that VW Group is (apparently) overrepresented in Europe, and a lot of their cars are used as company cars (=usually higher-than-average mileage).

Plus, there’s China where VW was one of the earliest Western carmaker to enter the market and still they are one of the strongest players there. I believe the number we see in the Superbowl ad reflects this fact too.

Edit: Now that I think about it, the data available on the traditional markets of Asian carmakers is somewhat … insufficient. If car usage would be properly audited/tracked in some of the large population areas (India, Indonesia, etc), VW would not be in the position they say they are in today.

2004 1.8t Passat wagon w/ manual, AWD and sunroof. 206,000 miles. I wouldn’t call it rouble free but no horror stories. Only let me down once when the fuel pump failed. There were some early issues with coil packs but nothing fatal or prohibitively expensive. All of the suspension is original, as is 95% of the exhaust system. This vehicle drives rock solid at all speeds and in all conditions but, as others have noted above, VW has nothing of interest to me right now. I’m ready to double down on German vehicles and go BMW.

It seems like the dialog has died down a little on this one, but I would like to share my experience and observations after living on both sides of the Atlantic.

When I lived stateside, I was a total Toyota fan. I had older Toyotas (88 and 96 corollas and 98 Sienna) that could not be stopped. I had an ’88 corolla that was rusted away but everything still worked at 19 years old, including the cruise control. The Sienna had 180k and went like a champ. One of my colleagues at work bought a brand new Passat 2.0T in 2006. It seems like once a month he was making a trip to the dealership.

When I moved to Europe a few years ago, I was really surprised about the good reputation of VW. . It took me some time to understand their popularity. Here are my observations:

The notorious years that really hurt VW in the US seems to be around the introduction of the gen IV cars. I.E. Passat IV, Golf IV etc. The notorious motor is the 1.8T. Over here it seems the most common motors were 1.6 NA, 1.8 NA, and a few 2.0 NA. I have only seen a very few 1.8T’s and never seen an automatic transmission on a Gen IV Passat or Golf (although I guess they exist:).

I should also add the overall equipment spec here is much lower. This naturally will lead to less electronic issues.

In many European countries the initial purchase price of cars is very high due to taxes. Because of this it is expected/hoped that a car should last a very long TIME. The cost of maintenance/repairs is relatively low when compared with purchase price. And in general, cars are not driven as long distances as in the US. So what does that mean? Most cars seem not to die due to high mileage/mechanical issues but to rust. I must say that VW/Audi has generally had much better rustproofing than their Japanese counterparts.

I need to add that the EU Control/MOT/TUV is also responsible for putting an early death to cars that suffer from rust. If you are not familiar the “EU Control/MOT/TUV” is an extremely intensive inspection that is required every two years on all passenger cars. If a car has structural rust (which includes channel rust on unibody cars) it fails the inspection. This means that structural rust must be repaired (i.e. welded in new metal, primed, painted, $$) within approximately 60 days after inspection or your license plate is taken and the car possibly impounded.

I think this is why Honda has not really gained the reputation here that they deserve. The quickly rusting vehicles of the 80s and early 90s hindered their longevity and therefore resale value etc.

My neighbor has a 1993 Camry, 2,2litre, 5 speed. It has about 135k miles. It was professionally undercoated at a specialty workshop when new (and I think again later) and meticulously maintained by its first two owners. Therefore the lack of rust. Last year it gets a leak in the heater core. This part is available in Europe only through the Toyota dealer. The price: $600. The cost of a new heater core locally for a similar year Passat: $70. It seems also that there is a much larger aftermarket network here for vw/audi compared to other brands.

One last observation is that Toyota appears to have some reliability issues with diesel engines in recent years. The diesel market is extremely important here and vw/audi was very early with direct injection diesel technology and they seem to reign in this market.

Anyway, these are mostly just my observations, but the longer I am here the more it seems to make sense.

Hi guys. I’m reading mostly bad comments about VW, so i decided to share my experience. 1st. The picture of the engine–thats what happens usually when 10W30 or 5W30 conventional oil is put in turbocharged engine instead of full synthetic as specified in the user manual and changed at 6-8k miles interwals. Turbo engines at boost run at higher temperatures and use oil to cool down turbocharger that can spin at up to 150k rpm at full boost. Someones failure to comply with recommended maintenance is not a manufacturers fault in any way. people want fast performing cars yet they put the cheapest lubricants expecting to save money. 2nd. I had many VW here and in europe and except 1 they were all very reliable. 1988 VW jetta sold 15 years old and 370000km ,manual trans…regular maintenance (biggest repair-clutch replacement), spark plugs, oil filters etc. 1995 VW golf, sold 10 y.o and 245000 km, manual trans, no engine problems…regular maintenance brakes oil etc(some exterior trim had to be reglued)no rust whatsoever and thats living in Montreal, Canada with long winter and lots of salt. 2004 mazda 3 GT- sold in 2008 at 180000km , mechanically sound but started to rust being 3 y.o and dealer didnt want to fix it. Very expensive to fix (suspension components at 200$ a shock and 600$ front brake job, 300$ front wheel bearing etc) 2003 VW new Beatle TDi presently at 275000km bought used and put 65000km since purchase. Nothing but oil change and filters(60$ each time) and rear bearing (at 160$ including labor at my mechanic). The car starts every day, interior looks like new and NO RUST….CONStantly getting 5-6 L/100km (even less on highway, around 4,5 at 60mph). I use it as every day beater and expect it to go for another 100-200K km without any major repairs(only timing belt should be changed along with waterpump and tensioner every 100K km at cost of 500$ including labor) Parts are readily available and most of the maintenance can be performed without seeing a mechanic. I also have 2007 GTI with 120k km thats the car I had issues but only after modifying it(performance tune etc). VW replaced HPFP and engine top due to cam follower failure (3000$) at no cost to me and guaranteed my engine 10 years 200000km, all that at no cost to me. The car is a blast to drive summer or winter and gets very good mileage having 275Hp and close to 300Tq at wheels. When I was shopping for GTI I tried civic SI (cheap interior, have to rev to 5000 rpm to get any torque and hp-not very practical in the city, very bad sound insulation, only 500$ less having same options as GTI but having less hp and similar fuel consumption). Then I tried mazdaspeed 3— 1500$ more expensive with similar options as GTI, faster than gti ,worst fuel consumption by 20%, bad sound insulation, torque steer when pressing gas. Also on mazda forums you can read about blown engines and failed turbochargers on mazdaspeed 3 due to bad internal design and internals not being strong enough. with 500$ tune I have my GTI being almost as fast but not worrying about blowing my engine. MINI Cooper- smaller, less HP by a lot, a lot more expensive to buy and maintain. For me my GTI is a perfect mix of performance comfort space in one package.

To conclude- stripped down new jetta has similar options choices as corolla, can be as reliable, has more interior space, very cheap yet people still complain. Have you been inside toyota lately or driven one-it’s an appliance and is designed to be one with no technology in it to keep it reliable to max. VW is not catering for that group of buyers. Just to recall you a famous sudden acceleration problems with toyota vehicules.. and them proudly advertizing 5 new collision prevention features now built in every toyota–brake overide of trothle responce – my 2003 beetle has it already and germans had it in their cars before 2000. So building the cheapest possible mechanically( old technology) cars is good and noone complaints about toyota putting 15 y.o engine design in corolla, but 2.0 l vw engine is old because it’s vw and unreliable although it’s been proven reliable and fuel efficient. So people please be objective in your remarks before deeming one brand as bad unreliable etc.

Oh come on its so fun to read about the corolla and the vw engine that is in their cars and because you can have discussions about them.

My VW experience is a bit dated but based on recent reading anything VW after the 90s should only be daily driven with a full warranty and road side assistance plan. I’m comfortable recommending air-cooled Beetles and mid 70s to mid 80s A1/A2 water cooled cars as fun cars because they are basically reliable and easy to work on, although I would avoid Westmoreland Rabbits.

I drove my ’99 GTI VR6 for 253,000 miles with very few problems – coil pack, wheel bearings..It was fun. I also changed my own oil (Mobil 1) and did all my own maintenance. The biggest difference between that car and the regular asian appliance mobile (also owned a Mazda) has been echoed many times above — I looked forward to *driving* the GTI even though it was not the best balanced. The ‘power adders’ under the hood made up for it..

It’s amazing the amount of unbridled hate on this board for VW, and with the exception of a few posts, a general lack of international perspective when it comes to VW. They are a real powerhouse folks with seemingly endless resources…I sense there are many here who simply don’t like that fact.

I think you are grossly overgeneralizing, and I think it’s due to your car buying habits (and also understandable.) You buy cars after a limited look over and have to account for a risk profile on each car, you also are presented with what is available trim level wise, and aren’t targeted at a specific car like an actual customer would be. On top of it all you are at an auction, where problems go to become other people’s problems. Just like journalists that review cars based on just a few days of exposure have an artificial perspective on the vehicles you have to account for the experience your own buying habits are going to set you up for.

On the one hand you are right, but are ignoring the trade off VW was offering in the 90’s and 00’s. They probably saw their developed euro tech as an asset not a liability and were the first to really offer tiptronic auto shifting, turbocharging, direct injection and dual clutch transmissions across most of their lineup. Needless to say the risk profile of new tech in the auto industry is better suited to the premium price points, where we have always lauded it and accepted it in the United States. Now though, now they aren’t doing anything their competitors aren’t, and it sure looks like everyone else is sucking on the same exact lemons (ha) getting direct injection and DSG across their lineups.

For my part I recommend cars to people based on the drivetrain and what they expect. Settled middle upper income person coming off a nice car. No problem recommending a turbo/DI motor from any make, or a DSG. Someone looking for a reliable commuter and graduating from a pedestrian vehicle? Get a NA motor and a low tech trim level, basically from any brand with the handling and style you like. Overgeneralizing like you are doing here means you aren’t giving the best advice you could be in the context of a group like the B&B.

Couldn’t agree more. Audi has always been very advanced in engine design and drivetrain design (what other company had a mass produced small displacement turbocharged engine with five valves per cylinder in the late 90s). But Audis are expensive cars to own and the people that are the first to complain about the reliability generally had either: I bad/incompetent technician, did not do proper/preventative maintenance, or cannot afford to maintain them. However, I would not recommend every VAG product but they definitely have the most innovative and exciting powertrain/drivetrain options out over any other manufacturer.

Really wanted a used MK VI GTI since they first appeared in the US, but couldn’t afford one. Test drove a new white one with a 6M and “Khartoum” 18″ black wheels – just a gorgeous car that exceeded every expectation. But even used, those cars command a premium, and I’m poor.

Would love to have the power of the 2.0t and the utility of the four doors, but I don’t think I’ve given up anything handling or economy-wise with my RSX. Also, I’m finding reliability to be an endearing quality that enhances the quality of my relationship with the car over time (first Honda product after a long line of Fords).

Sorry for missing commas. I just wrote about my personal experience with VW products and it was a pleasant one. As for the sludge anyone can just google toyota sludge and find out about toyota settlement affecting 4,7 million cars that had oil sludge due to poor engine design. Toyota was trying to hide and deny and put a blame on the owners and bad maintenance on their part.

Except for the fact it didn’t affect 4.7 million cars and many of those owners said they were changing their oil at 10,000+ miles, far too long.

Most were changing oil at 7500miles as per manual. the problem was due to poor pcv design that diidn’t allow oil to cool sufficiently and thus clogging oil drainage in the engine and destroying it. toyota fixed the problem by redesigning pcv shortening oil change interval in user manuals only after the settlement. So the most reliable auto brand was selling cars with known engine design flaw for many years….Interesting…..

If japanese were the only automakers in the world, at a rate they add technology to their cars we’d be still driving 80’s era cars. No DI engine for toyota in 2014!!!…maybe in next generation corollas. In my experience bad dealer service departments is what creates bad image for VW. Instead of diagnosing and fixing a problem they just throw parts at you and charge you double the price. I bought some parts at VW dealership with a help of my friend who worked there. It cost me half of I would pay if I was a regular client and even at that price they(dealership) were still making a profit. Technicians are poorly trained , mostly hired after completing mechanics cources to save money on salaries and benefits. VW should adress this issue first, their cars are fairly reliable…..

Toyota has DI, their ZR engine lineup more specifically:

IMO Japanese manufacturers are much better at customer handling (at least on a large scale) and recalls. VAG has serious issues with their 7-speed dry DSG box, offered on all their markets, but for some reason, only some markets see a recall. They make use of European fragmentation (ie. they treat all countries over here as separate markets) and have not announced a proper (EU-wide) recall on these crapboxes yet. I know because I drive one and whenever I read about a recall announced for the 7-speed DSG (China, Australia, etc), I call the local VAG service to see if they offer it. They don’t.

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Japanese on the other hand are usually very thorough with their recalls. If shit hits the fan, they don’t try to hide it, but fix it ASAP.

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