Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

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Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby Sags » Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:54 pm

Finally starting a job making decent money this spring and one of my first priorities is to get a good daily driver vehicle and retire the Rodeo to off-road, camping and towing use only.

I want something with good fuel economy, and am a big fan of diesels, so the first thing I am considering is a small VW with the TDI engine like a Jetta or Golf. It wouldn't be a brand new one, probably a 5-8 yr old one would fit my budget.

I know those engines can get 50+ mpg so that is excellent, but I've also heard that VWs in general can be sometimes unreliable and a PITA to work on. I usually discount these kinds of anecdotal stories though since I have no firsthand experience with VWs at all, and I know that some vehicles/engines get a bad rep just because ignorant people don't take care of them (ie not checking oil regularly in an Isuzu 3.2L)

So any VW TDI owners or experts that can give me some feedback?
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Re: Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby bigpoppax2 » Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:33 pm

120,000 trouble free miles on my wifes 2001 Diesel Bug (5 speed).

Only maintenance that has been done:
Timing belt, water pump, and new timing belt rollers at 80,000 (the newer kits will go 100,000 between changes)
Brake pads
Oil changes every 10,000 (book says to go 7500)
On my third set of tires.

I love the car, has good power gets about 46-48 mpg and handles well.

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Re: Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby Sags » Thu Apr 05, 2012 9:54 pm

Thanks Joe,

I'm not a fan of the body style of the Beetle, but that's the same drivetrain you can get in the Jetta is it not?
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Re: Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby JoeIsuzu » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:49 am

Sags wrote:I usually discount these kinds of anecdotal stories though since I have no firsthand experience with VWs at all...

All we can give you here is more anecdotal stories.

The engines themselves are pretty solid, they have great performance, and have great reputations. But everything else about the cars is still VW. My experience is, all the electricals will drive you crazy. And replacement parts get very expensive.

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Re: Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby Sags » Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:40 pm

JoeIsuzu wrote:
Sags wrote:I usually discount these kinds of anecdotal stories though since I have no firsthand experience with VWs at all...

All we can give you here is more anecdotal stories.

Jack


Yes, but my thinking is that folks here are more mechanically inclined. What I meant by anecdotal stories was stories told from a position of complete ignorance. You know the people who will say "Brand A sucks because my buddy had one and it broke down on him on a road trip." But never can give you any details as to why, was it a mechanical failure, OEM part failure, aftermarket part failure, design flaw or just poor maintenance and/or operator error?

For example, I know a guy who swears all Subarus are terrible and break down because his left him stranded. That is all he tells people. But the rest of the story is this: He was driving on a Forest Service back road when he thumped the oil pan on a rock, he kept driving out to the pavement and all the way into town 50 miles away, ignoring of the low oil pressure warning light and temp gauge along the way. I met him in town and he told me that he was worried because his car had a little tick, I was thinking a lifter tick but when he started it I about died :lol: :lol: :lol: his "little tick" was a gigantic knock of a piston/con rod trying to eat the cylinder and head :lol: :lol: . Anyway the idiot still tried to drive it back to camp and make it about a mile before it all exploded in a cloud of smoke. I stopped to help, checked his dipstick and found it to be bone dry and nearly red hot, that's when I started asking questions and got the rest of the story. Point is he now tells people Suburas suck, when really he only has himself to blame.

Anyway, back on topic. I've heard that before that VW parts can be more expensive, but that's true of all European brands in the US. But with a 50 mpg diesel I think that is more then compensated for.

If only there where a Japanese or American manufacturer who sold a small diesel car in the US... I'd be all over that before I could spell VW. :(
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Re: Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby bigpoppax2 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:43 pm

Who cares if the parts are more expensive if you never need them? I've got 120,000 and have not needed anything I couldn't buy at Advance or Autozone.

It's hard to argue with an engine that needs a timing belt and water pump every 100,000 miles as it's only maintenance, other than oil changes.

Let the naysayers naysay. I love mine, and will be keeping it for a long time.

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Re: Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby spork » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:30 pm

I've got a 2003 Beetle TDI and average about 45mpg. I got it at 100k miles just after the timing belt change/water pump, and I've got 178k miles, other than the oil change every 10k miles and the timing belt at 100k I've replaced the alternator, the pulley on the front spun off and I figured it was about time to replace the alternator since I had about 150k to just replace it. I also replaced the oil pan but that wasn't VW's fault :roll: I smacked a 8" rock going about 60mph and cracked it. I've replaced the left headlight once and the left twice. I also replaced the tensioner and serpentine belt around 170k.

Overall I've been happy with it. The issues have been minor and I've fixed everything in my driveway. I wish there was a little more room around the engine but you learn the tricks fast to get access to various parts.
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Re: Feedback on Volkwagon TDI vehicles.

Postby N law » Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:55 pm

I come from a VW background and while I have never owned a diesel (yet!), I know quite a few that own diesels. My brother owned a 2001 or 2002 Jetta TDI and you could accidentally start out in 3rd gear without hardly noticing it. The shifting was SMOOOOOOOTH. The only downside is that it can be wiped out by 3 small (<6") trees. I think if you keep up the maintenance, you won't experience anything that will take you off the road sooner than any other good mileage car. I do recall my brother's Jetta (and every other Jetta from that body style) having a problem with stupid ---- like the mystery springs that fall out from under the passenger seat but didn't affect anything or the rear ashtray that would explode into 3 pieces if anyone sat back there (or if they didnt!).

As for new ones, the Jettas and Golfs and beetles are all fun and sporty, but if you compare prices between all of them and then throw the Passat in there, you can get a whole lot more car (size and luxury) with the Passat for the same price or close. And the Passats are built in the US (actually about 6 miles from here!).

If you want, I can ask some of the local mechanics that I am friends with about their thoughts on them. Come to thing of it, we have a vendor signed up for our upcoming show who only works on the diesels; I'll ask him if you can wait a week or two.
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