1996 Volkswagen Golf from North America


Be awre of the automatic transmission!


Transmission can't shift well at gear 2 and above recently and this will caused me $4500 at the dealer!

For this car, the transmision is sealed so each time when I come to the service shop, my mechanic can't check the transmission fluid for me. So as a result the check engine light on and I was told there is a big problem.

Dealer keep telling or warning me that the sealed transmission means don't touch and only they can check them otherwise I'll ruine the transmission! And other transmission shop won't even like to look at this type of transmission. Since $4500 is enough to buy another Golf the same year, so I decide to buy transmission fluid from the dealer and ask a mechanic to change it based on their experience. The result is good. Even though the problem is still there, but I can make the transmission shift by changing D/D3.

General Comments:

It's a so so car. I try this car just tired not to be a loyal Japanese car customer. It looks like I'll need to switch back to Toyota after this car finally died. The engine is super strong. It feels like you can pump sand into it!

I think if you are considering this type of car with sealed transmission. You'll need to be aware of the following things before you buy it.

1. Cold start and switch the transmission to each position, if it takes time for the transmission to move then you'll need to be cautions.

2. Running at low speed and give it a complete stop and see if the the transmisison is still on the right gear. If not then you may need to take the risk like me.

3. To make the running cost low, buy parts like transmisison fluid from dealer and ask a mechanic to do it for you. Don't afraid that you'll ruin the car, you can buy a same car if you let the dealer do whatever they think.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 27th June, 2006

1996 Volkswagen Golf GTi 2.0 from North America


It has held up and remains reliable


Normal wear and tear items, mostly:

That *&^! exhaust shield on the header pipe rattles at 2500-2800 rpm!

Replaced rear shocks.

Replaced after-market clutch cable.

General Comments:

We obtained this car from my friend's mother who drove it a couple of miles each day to the train station in New Jersey, and that is about it. (Her husband, who is a BMW mechanic, replaced the timing belt before we took ownership.) Now, we use the car to commute the 4-mile round trip to the office, but not every day. Thus the low miles.

The car remains in a carport, so we have not noticed the common complaint about body moldings falling off.

We immediately jettisoned the non-adjustable stock clutch cable, which we feared was contributing to premature wear of the clutch. The after-market clutch cable lasted almost five years before it failed a couple of months ago. We replaced it with a similar one.

The biggest issue with this car is that crazy heat shield on the header pipes. Since we got the car in 2001, we have had the shield spot-welded every six months or so, due to the poor design that causes it to produce an extremely annoying harmonic at 2800 rpm. Now we are totally fed up and will likely just have someone remove the damned thing and re-wrap the header pipe with heat tape.

The car is not the quickest of the lot (my 1972 Datsun 510 is actually a bit perkier), but it is comfortable on long trips and gets good gas mileage. Even though it is now 10 years old, it doesn't look dorky to me, at all... the design has aged quite well.

Overall, the car has performed fine. We will likely keep it until it hits 100k miles, which should be around 2011 or so!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th February, 2006

11th Feb 2007, 11:00

Question about that exhaust shield. My 96 Golf is perfect apart from the issue you also seem to be having. Any insight as to how that annoying rattling could be fixed?