1997 Volkswagen Golf GL 4 cylinder from North America


More than my moneys-worth


In general, I've had mostly minor cosmetic problems:

Power steering pump leaked ~70,000 miles. Replaced by dealer with a rebuilt used part, OK ever since.

Seat crank handles keep breaking off, presumably when kicked by back-seat passengers.

Driver side, then passenger side door locks have both fallen out.

Wires that connect driver's side door lock to rest of doors (for power door system) and alarm system fatigued around 100,000 miles.

Minor unidentified leak into trunk door in heavy rain. Not into trunk, but into the door itself. Weird.

The trim on my Golf (and most 97 VWs, I think) fell off once on each door around 60,000. I glued it back on using 3M weather stripping adhesive. So far so good!

General Comments:

Overall, I've been very very happy with my '97 Golf. I have been conscientious with maintenance; I get synthetic oil changes every 5,000 miles (which I think has been worth it so far).

It's been very reliable, fuel efficient, and most of the wearing parts on the car have lasted longer than I would have expected (e.g. battery, brakes, clutch, exhaust system, belts, coolant system, air conditioning, moon-roof motor).

I have had no problems thus far with the clutch, belts, AC, and moon-roof.

I had the exhaust system (after the catalytic converter) replaced at 120,000 miles. Battery was replaced around the same time.

Performance-wise, the car is fine. It's not meant to be a crazy-fast sports car, but I think it handles very well for a car in it's class. It has a lot of pickup for a 4-cylinder engine.

The trunk holds a lot of stuff, especially with the seats folded down. I can fit bikes, snowboards, even an entire small kayak, easily in the car.

The finish on the car is slightly dull after 7 years, but I haven't taken good care of the outside (it needs to be waxed, badly). I have noticed no rust spots, though.

I have put A LOT of miles on this car and it has been very good to me. I plan to drive this car until it becomes unreliable, but after 135,000 miles that hasn't happened yet.

However, reading reviews of more recent VW cars has made me concerned with the newer models. I think I will wait until the reviews clear up before buying another VW.

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

Review Date: 23rd August, 2004

4th Mar 2008, 23:11

Identical problems: Door molding falling off all doors - about $50 to glue back on, so not a huge deal... just looks tacky for a while; and yes, all 1997's in Seattle seem to also be missing at least one molding ($100 for total replacement... come on people pay the money - the car looks like junk without it). My lock system is on the fritz, and I currently have my car's alarm engaged, but all door unlocked - I don't look forward to finding out what will happen tomorrow. The locks have been touchy for a long time - I have to manually lock all door except the driver's side, despite it being a system built to lock all with a turn of key. Valve cover gasket, and flange something or other (in addition to some hoses) went out (around $500 because of labor. Parts are only around $50, so if you've got time/know-how you can save), but that is it for problems from 2003-2008 at 112k. Very happy. Just hope I can get back into it.

1997 Volkswagen Golf CL 1,8L from North America


Makes me smile whenever I drive it!


Starter replaced at 90 000 km.

Constantly leaks coolant liquid, despite having been repaired recently. As it is now summer, I keep a close eye on it.

Door moldings keep falling off (I've given up on fixing them).

I've had the electrical components (fans, windshield wipers) fail on me on two separate occasions. I don't know why, but restarting the engine fixed the problem.

I've replaced three mufflers and am beginning to have serious rust problems, but this is due to tough Quebec winters (they go heavy on the salt).

General Comments:

I love my Golf, but I will not buy another Volkswagen product. I almost traded it in for a 2003 CL, but was turned off by the apparent lack of quality. I figured I was better off by keeping it.

It handles really well and is dependable and fun to drive. I love how I feel driving it. It is the perfect size for zipping in and out of city traffic.

Fuel consumption is very good (mine is gas-powered).

I gave up going to the dealer after being treated poorly. I now have it serviced at independent shops and have no complaints.

I've been wanting to change cars for awhile now, but I can't find anything that even comes close to making me want to trade in my Golf. All in all, it's a great little car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th June, 2004

30th Jun 2004, 21:05

When I wrote this comment, I was sure I would get the yellow smiley face. Therefore, my opening comment looks a little silly next to a blue sad face!

My car is a blast to drive, cheap to run and dependable. Would I recommend it to anyone? Probably, as long as they get a base model with very few options (all I have is key-less entry). The more options you add on a Volkswagen, the more chances there are of something breaking.

21st Mar 2010, 19:08

My Golf is amazing despite about 2500% in 2.5 years of repairs (starter, muffler, timing belt, coolant pump, windshield wiper, brakes, crackhead breaking window and stealing iPod). Great on gas, great handling and style!