I replaced the thermostat and radiator fan at 67,000 miles, just after I bought it, because the check engine light code stated that I needed that repair. This light came on a week after I bought the car. These repairs cost me $900. The CEL was back on two days later. Apparently I needed a new O2 sensor. I changed that.
The light came on a few days later. I started having issues with the car overheating. Soon after this started, I was on the freeway, and the car overheated and the oil pressure lamp came on. It began running extremely rough. Fortunately I was able to get off the freeway and park. The thermostat housing had blown out completely. I had it towed to my trusted mechanic, who revealed to me that someone had put an additive in the cooling system to seal a leak, which had ultimately caused the system to clog up, build pressure, and thus the thermostat housing blew apart. After all of the repairs there, which include replacing the master head, gaskets, timing belt and water pump (again), a couple of sensors, a radiator flush and an oil change, I was out $1,400.
I put my car on craig's list in a desperate attempt to sell it. No luck, because the CEL came back on and that turned potential buyers off. This all happened in October. It's December now, and the car has been running well (minus another water pump, because the one that was installed in October was defective and the seal leaked).
I changed my own oil yesterday, and when I was done, I started the car to move it out of the garage, only to find that none of the gears engaged. I could shift into a gear (e.g. "reverse" - the reverse lights come on, but the car does not go into gear) but it doesn't go anywhere unless I rev it to about 2000 RPMs. At that point it starts to roll, but very slowly. What the heck?
I don't mind the crayon smell. I love the sound system and the excellent gas mileage. It's comfortable for me to sit in and drive, and I'm a tall guy (6'4"). However, I'm really disappointed by the latest problem, and the frequency with which each problem has occurred.
I previously had a '97 Dodge Stratus. I had that car for a decade, and put over 200K on it before the computer died. Never had any major engine problems. Never had a single transmission problem. There were some standard repairs that it required, but nothing like what I've experienced with this '01 Jetta.