1996 Volkswagen Jetta 1.6 gas


Not with a ten foot pole, unless you plan to impale it!


Multiple services starting at $600 each.

Oil is $18/L, flushing the sealed transmission once a year is a nightmare. An oil change is over $250!!

Timing belt replaced... precautionary measure.

All the trim has fallen off the car.

New windshield wiper tank

Leaking oil; new head gaskets, plugs, wires, etc once a year.

Practically every sensor on the car has been changed

Door lock system failed (can't even get in the trunk!)

Alarm system failed (went off when it wanted, couldn't be shut off.)

New exhaust, 100% replaced from head to tailpipe.

Transmission rebuilt

Brakes replaced

New CVs, joints

Windshield wiper switch malfunction: can't be shut off, comes on when it wants... only way to control is pull the fuse.

Temperature gauge stays on

Air conditioning works, but heater no longer pushes air. (Core is toast.)

Driver's side seat is collapsing. Seat belt won't retract.

General Comments:

EGAD. Where to start?

My husband bought this car USED from a dealership in Vancouver. No warranty, high mileage, but he said the car looked MINT. Black, shiny, clean. He paid $6900 CAD, which I thought was outrageous, considering the mileage. He liked the look of the car and the way it handled, so there was no convincing him otherwise. Did I mention that it was black and shiny?

He drove it home from the ferry, and it seemed okay. In the morning, he got up to drive the car to work (a one-hour drive), and I got a phone call a few hours later: "Hi honey...I'm stuck here. The tranny blew out of the car. Don't tell me you told me so, okay?"

That pretty much says it all.

Transmission rebuild-- (I don't even know how much it cost. He wouldn't tell me because I'd warned him not to buy the car in the first place. Dealership told him to sit and spin, and he already had a $6900 loan plus tax tied to the purchase. Throw it away, pay the loan and walk? Not feasible.)

A week later it needed a complete exhaust system, front and back. (It fell off on the highway.) Over $1000

Financing on the vehicle went up to ten grand, so I could do the math and guess how much the transmission cost.

In late 2003...he washed the car thoroughly, trying to get oil off the block after it blew a seal and leaked badly. Car wouldn't start afterwards: $900 service involved replacement of several sensors, wires, plugs, etc. By now I've lost count of the number of times this car has been towed.

Gauges, sensors and miscellaneous electrical components continue to fail in the vehicle: if it weren't so freaking expensive to replace these things, I'd describe it as a nickel and dime activity. However, not ONE of these "minor" things have cost under $200 to replace after calculating parts and labor. The windshield wiper issue is my favorite insanity so far: the garage refused to replace the part despite the fact that he'd brought the replacement part with him. Why? Well, they might inadvertently set off the airbag taking the steering column apart! THEN you'll REALLY have a big ole nasty mess to deal with!

The VW dealership here is one of the WORST anywhere. It offers the poorest service we've ever encountered, and we hear it from everyone who owns one of these cars: part of the bad experience is the run around you can expect from the local service center, which happens to be one of ONLY two places within 300 miles that will even touch the car. Flushing the transmission at the dealership: $600. At the competition: $560.

The car has become more gutless and sluggish every year. With almost 300K on it, this might be expected. Ironically, it continues to survive the daily long-distance accumulation of mileage; it leaks, the gauges don't work and it looks like a piece of crap now that the trim has fallen off and the seats have begun to collapse, but my husband hopes he'll get another 200K out of it.

He might... if he spends another 10K maintaining it!

The last time I drove it, the wipers wouldn't shut off. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I had no idea which fuse he usually pulls to shut them off. The car handles well, corners tightly and sticks to the road, but I can't say much more from a positive perspective. I have refrained from saying "I told you so!" over the years, but it's mostly because he's already suffered so much behind the wheel of this vehicle.

I seriously doubt we'll ever own another VW.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 7th February, 2008

23rd Feb 2008, 20:13

You need to CUT YOUR LOSSES and sell the Jetta NOW. Don't think that you can get on top of the repairs. You can't it's going to break down no matter what you do.

Buy a 1992 or earlier VW and it will run forever. But buy ANY VW built after 1992 and your buying junk that will break down left and right.

It's Honda for me from now on. VW lost my loyalty.

1996 Volkswagen Jetta Trek GL 2.0L 4 cylinder. Gasoline


Good joyride for the money


Car was misfiring - Spark plugs replaced (165xxx)

Car wouldn't Start, electric motor didn't turn engine over. - blown key starter, inexpensive after the problem was found, over $500 in time and repairs before problem (158xxx)

Head gasket was blown when car was purchased, easy repair (144xxx)

Full brake replacement, rear drums cracked, Over $1500


Both front and rear taillights and blinkers needed to be replaced excessively frequently, suspected electrical failure somewhere, but not worth investigating.

Clutch was wearing, but did not have opportunity to replace.

Some suspension components gave way causing total destruction of car. Keep your springs and shocks in good condition. (183xxx)

Reverse gear would not hold in place (fell out of gear at over ~5mph) (178xxx)

Motor/lock were broken at purchase making the process of opening the trunk just that, a process. Fixed for under $100 (144xxx)

General Comments:

The car is pretty sporty at lower speeds. When at above 80-90mph the steering is relatively steady, but not very responsive. At low speeds and RPMs around mid 4000 car was extremely responsive. Fun to drive. Handles well if you can deal with the body roll.

The interior is nice, I had gray/black leather interior.

The front seats were remarkably comfortable. Back seats were somewhat cramped for someone of my height (6'2") but fine for people under 5'11". The sunroof made the car feel much larger/nicer on interior when open.

Sound system, (non-premium) was pretty much pathetic. The sound insulation on the left A pillar (vertical pillar in front of passenger side door) was damaged at purchase. The wind noise from that at 80 required the sound system to crackle to keep up.

Although, I really like the strength of the antennae on the car, I could catch stations on the radio when other cars couldn't.

The trunk was remarkably big. Could fit a lot of stuff in there. Also it was extremely handy to be able to fold back seats down (snowboards/skis, lots of luggage.) You could also use that area for a place to sleep if you really needed to (road trip, tired, don't want to spend money on hotels). Trunk needs a light though.

Overall, if you like the styling, and you aren't a race car driver it's a good car. Relatively expensive to maintain, but if you treat it well it will treat you well and you won't have to replace too many parts. It's a shame mine got totaled.

Absolutely love the engine sound for a four-banger.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 3rd February, 2008