1988 Volkswagen Fox GL 4-door 1.8L 4 cylinder from North America


The most reliable car I've ever owned.


Other than a couple of sets of tires and the usual scheduled replacements:

Thermo switch replaced at 40,000 miles.

Other than that, nothing ever broke!

General Comments:

Paid $8,300 for the car in 1988, my first brand new car. Assembled in Brazil. Had great fit and finish. Felt solid as a rock. Small and easy to wash and wax.

Pretty good gas mileage - not great, but it was a 4-speed with no OD.

Bought the factory shop manual and kept it in the very large glove box.

This car never broke down on me. The above-mentioned thermo switch didn't cause the car to be undriveable (I just had to turn on the AC to get the cooling fan to run at high speed when the coolant got hot in traffic), and was replaced by me for about 30 dollars.

Brake pads were an easy change on all 4 corners, one wheel at a time, using only the scissors jack, a cotter pin hook, a pair of locking pliers, and a micrometer to check disc thickness. Took about 45 minutes to do the whole brake job (rotors looked great, uniform thickness and well within spec). Tightened down the lugs on the last wheel, and had a cold beer.

This little gem took me halfway across the USA more than a few times, at speeds up to 90mph on the interstate (radar detector on). It tracked like a slot car and never complained.

It was underpowered if you ever had 4 adults on the seats, but with one or two, power was adequate.

A great car for the owner that doesn't want any surprises. If I could find one in mint condition, I might just buy it for old times' sake, probably the wagon this time for cargo space.

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

Review Date: 28th July, 2006

1988 Volkswagen Fox 2dr coupe 1.8L from North America


Great car, good on gas, reliable


Dead battery (car had been standing for over 8 months)

Ignition wires were worn and one of them kept arcing against the oil dipstick, making the car run horribly.

General Comments:

I got this car for free when my truck had a vehicle inspection on it and I needed time to fix it. When the lady gave it to me she said it hadn't moved for over 8 months and she'd been paying insurance/gas on it and she's sick of it and wants it gone.

My friend and I showed up with his truck and a set of jumper cables and started the Fox up on first try. Turns out all that was wrong with the car was a dead battery. We went straight down to the parts store, picked up a battery for 70 dollars CDN and I had myself a Fox that ran smooth, had an immaculate interior and a near-perfect exterior. (one rust spot from an accident, that I sanded, primered and painted in 45 minutes. nobody could tell it was ever hit).

I drove it for several months before giving it to my girlfriend, it never gave us any trouble, except the time one of the worn ignition wires arced against the dipstick. New wires, cap, rotor, and plugs and the thing ran like a champ. Gas mileage was incredible!!! The thing just barely sipped 87 unleaded... fun car, too, pretty peppy for a little thing. I threw some mags on it for a while (also got for free), she was great in the snow too. No real complaints.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 6th May, 2006

1988 Volkswagen Fox GL wagon 1.8L from North America


More fun than a Camry of the same vintage, but without the reliability


Exhaust manifold gasket.

Plugged mufflers, which were discovered after the above gasket was fixed.

Strut mounts, repeatedly.

Clutch started slipping, it was the original, slipped at 140k.

Fuel pump relay, repeatedly.

Fuel system hoses.

Fuel pressure regulator.

General Comments:

The Fox, most of which you're now going to find in the post-150k range, is a wonderful car if you're someone who likes cars. However, since these are in the realm of the $500 to $1000 car, it should be noted that the Fox will break your heart if you're used to the reliability of an old Toyota or Honda.

The Pros: for a cheap econobox car, it handles like a go-cart.

It has loads of character, especially the rare wagon model, which is what I had.

As others have mentioned, the drivetrain is bulletproof. My clutch only went because of abuse, the rest of the drivetrain, CVs included, was original.

The interior is surprisingly roomy, functional and very comfortable.

We treated ours like an offroad vehicle - that is, it went on lots of dirt-road camping trips with the dogs.

It is easy to fix yourself, and parts, as long as you can find them, are cheap.

You can buy it for $500 then turn around and sell it 4 years later for the same price!

The Cons: It is terribly unreliable. Every time I took it in for an oil change, there was something else to fix. It stranded me a few times, most notably when the fuel lines rotted away and all the fuel ran out, and also when the fuel pump relay fried. Twice.

The front suspension had a notorious design flaw with the strut mounts. Fix 'em all you want, they'll beat themselves loose in a month and you'll be rattling around again. Not a safety issue, though.

You can't take it to jippy lube for an oil change, they have no idea what to make of the strange front-wheel-drive perpendicular engine layout, and once drained my trans oil instead.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st September, 2004