1998 Volkswagen Golf SE 1.6 from UK and Ireland


Nice car - shame it's so unreliable


Catalytic Converter Failed - 2 months after purchase.

Gearbox Failure.

Intermittent Power Failure (problem with the ignition system apparently)

Central Locking stopped working.

Radio packed up.

Rear washer leak fused the electrics in the tailgate.

Faulty relays - kept on draining the battery.

Brakes binding.

Broken interior lights.

Catalytic Converter Failed (again - after 2 years and no VW didn't think was unusual)

General Comments:

I bought the Golf after owning several VW Golfs and Polos in the past - all of which I had been very happy with.

Initial impressions were of a car, which was not ever-so-exciting to drive - but against that was a very relaxing, comfortable car to run around in - with an beautifully finished interior and a feel that this was definitely a cut above your run of the mill family hatchback.

Three years on - those comments still stand - but oh VW - whatever happened to the reliability...?

The list above is not comprehensive - but gives you some idea of what went wrong with the car. Most problems were just tedious electrical problems like the temperamental central locking, duff stereo and the car's voracious appetite for light bulbs (a brake light would last for about 3 months on average before burning out).

The more serious problems were an intermittent loss of power that would leave you spluttering to a halt in the middle of the road - the clutch and gearbox failure - and the fact it needed two replacement catalysts (£700 each) in 2 years an 20,000 miles motoring.

Mine was an early Mk4 - so maybe it was particularly bad - but it was dealing with the VW dealers, which was the most depressing thing about owning this car.

Fixing even minor faults seemed to be a real effort for them and indeed some faults were apparently just too difficult to fix. There was a problem with the battery going flat if you left the car for a few days - replaced the battery to no avail - so the dealer investigated and reported that there was probably a faulty relay draining the power. Unfortunately they didn't know which specific relay was faulty - so their "solution" was that I should make sure I used the car more than once every three days. They charged me £75 labour for diagnosing that.

Ultimately it got to the stage where I dreaded going out in the car for fear of what was going to go wrong next.

However - I did manage to solve all of the problems at one stroke. I sold it and bought a Toyota.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 11th April, 2006

1998 Volkswagen Golf from North America


Handles great while everything falls off of it


Trunk lock mechanism has never worked.

Cam head (?) replaced at 20,000.

Interior cloth on shifter and emergency break quickly deteriorated.

All side panels have fallen off.

Locks on all doors have broken off.

Back plastic panel holding up license plate has fallen off.

Plastic parts on the radio broke off while trying to fish out a tape that got stuck.

New clutch at 80,000 miles Dealer quoted $1000, fixed at $350 elsewhere.

Transmission cracked about a week after purchase.

Reverse has ALWAYS made a bad noise.

Locking mechanism sometimes locks on its own.

Sometimes locking mechanism fails- won't lock or unlock.

Air conditioning broke (some kind of pump?) at 80,000, dealer quoted me at $1700. Probably not the value of the car.

I always keep my back seats down for large loads, and the black fabric protecting the back of the seats has come off and is now exposing the yellow foam underneath.

The dials on the radio rarely work- if you try to turn the volume down, it goes up, and vice versa.

I am extremely embarrassed to have anyone in my car because of all of the aforementioned problems.

General Comments:

While the golf handles well and gets great mileage, I would absolutely NEVER purchase another VW.

Everything has been glued to the car, and is now falling off.

These cars are not put together well.

I have had problems with this car since the day I bought it, and dealerships have not been helpful.

The dealerships always use scare tactics to try to get me to get things fixed that don't need it, they don't fix the things they say they have (and have charged me an arm and a leg for.

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

Review Date: 1st March, 2006

3rd Mar 2006, 00:31

No, it makes a strange rotating sound while it is reversing, not while putting it in to reverse. Kind of like "chug chug chug..." There is no grinding sound, but it's definitely not a sound that a car should make when backing up. Also, it consistantly makes this sound, even when I initially turn the car on and reverse is the first action I take. But thanks for assuming it's my driving.

It has something to do with the faulty repair of the cracked transmission from a few years ago.