2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T


A failed affair with a beautiful loser


I can't help, but think of title of Leonard Cohen's most famous novel when I look at my car: Beautiful Loser.

Truthfully, the 21 months that I've owned this car has proven to be a real comedy of errors, in which VW has cast me as the comic foil... or should I say faulty coil?

Let's see, of the 21 months I've owned the car, it's been in the shop for over 3 months. The problems included:

-All 4 ignition coils required replacement, which was accomplished on 3 separate occasions, as they refused to replace all 4 coils at the same time. I cannot describe the dread I felt the first two times I drove the recently repaired car off the VW lot, knowing that it would only be a matter of time (days, weeks, months?) before the remaining coils would fail. My rental and loaner cars during the protracted repairs (1 week to 1 1/2 months), would vary in quality from a mid 90's sunfire, to a late 90's Beetle. Neither replacement were reasonable replacements for a $31K Canadian vehicle.

-Over the past 12 months, the following has also required repairs: Passenger side brake light replaced, armrest door latch replaced, emergency brake cable replaced, washing fluid pump seal replaced.

-Now at 41,000Km, I've been told that my clutch is burned out. I've driven standard cars for 14 years (including a 90 VW Golf, a 94 VW Jetta GLS, and a 2000 BMW 328 - company car while in the UK), and have never burned out a clutch. Typically I would expect to see a clutch replaced on a standard car at over 150,000-200,000 km, not at under 50,000 km. According to VW, this is due to driver error and wear and tear, and hence is not covered by the warranty. Sadly, it took me less than 2 minutes to search Google and see that many, many 2002 VW 1.8T Jetta owners are experiencing the same early problem with the clutches at similar mileage. This is a $1371.00 Canadian repair, that I have to foot the bill for, as VW is refusing to acknowledge this problem. This, with the $300.00 service bill at 30,000 KM, has knocked up my operational cost for the 3 year lease by at least $1600.00, or pushing $2000 if you include all the oil changes, etc. This in total, pushes the average monthly cost to operate the vehicle up by $50-60 per month over the course of the lease, assuming I have no further problems (which is again, highly unlikely, given it's high occurence of other defects: windows falling, air sensor failing, etc...)

General Comments:

VW is making it very difficult for me to continue my love affair with their automobiles. I have been an avid VW advocate for over a decade, and appreciate the design asthetic and performance of my 2002 jetta... when it's running. It cannot match the performance or build quality of my last car, but it's not in the same price category. In it's range, it's should be a well equiped competitor (comparable to the new Altima, which is also very nice).

I cannot comment as to whether VW's customer service has always been this terrible, as I've never had to use it before. All things considered, I highly doubt I will purchase another VW again. At one point I was considering handing my car in at the end of the lease, and moving onto the Audi A4, but now that I know they share so many parts, I shudder to think of the quality issues I'd find in that car. To be frank, it embarasses me that my frustration has driven me to posting my complaints on the internet. But at the same time, I feel VW should be embarassed that their typical demographic customer, me and my ilk, are so flabbergasted at their poorly scripted, inflexible and non-accountable VW customer support system, that the only recourse is whinge loudly in internet forums. I mean, I shouldn't have to fight tooth and nail with the manufacturing of "the people's wagon" in order to get them to recognize their shortcomings.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 14th August, 2003

31st May 2004, 17:21

I also had problems with Jetta not shifting out of park. VW claimed to have fixed the problem through a brake light recall. Less than two weeks later, I was told my vehicle was unsafe to drive. VW has had my vehicle for over 10 days and replaced the master cylinder and a sensor and still has not completely fixed the problem.

2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T


Fun, fun, Fun, get teptronic!


Sunroof headliner fell out within first month.

Coil packs (2) malfunctioned and took one month to replace due to shortage of parts.

Other coil packs malfunctioned and air conditioner blowers were clogged? Dealer fixed this.

General Comments:

Although car has been a pain with the engine coil packs, my dealer Russell VW in Baltimore has been nothing more than amazing in replacing parts and offering support, especially in loaning the sweet beetle to me for the month of December 02.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 8th August, 2003