2002 Volkswagen Golf GT TDI 130 1.9 turbo diesel from UK and Ireland

Summary:

How this manufacturer has a reputation for quality and reliability is a mystery to me!

Faults:

Clutch and flywheel.

Front window clips.

Water pump.

Numerous problems with the heater and cooling.

Thermostat.

Injector wiring loom.

Turbo problems (limp mode).

Fuel computer digital display, doesn't work in hot weather.

Interior fan.

Window wiper linkage and motor (front).

Wiper motor (rear).

Brake pedal sensor.

Central locking.

Front armrest snapped.

Wear and tear items not listed such as ball joints, discs and pads, tyres etc.

General Comments:

Absolute terrible vehicle. I decided to try moving from reliable Japanese cars I had owned previously, and give Volkswagen a chance, having heard good things about them (in hindsight heard these positives from "non car people"). I thought Germany had a reputation for good solid reliable engineering, and was quite taken in by the figures... 50 MPG in a 130 BHP car with lots of torque... very appealing.

The car is an absolute disaster area, and it's not a case I bought a lemon; every fault it has had, I have researched, and they are all well known common faults, caused by very bad design. Shame on you VW engineers, you are a disgrace to your profession.

The positives about the car... I think the look and image is quite okay, the handling is reasonably "safe", the brakes are strong, and the interior would be a nice place to be, if you could enjoy it and not worry what the next fault is that it will present to you.

Now the negatives...

Clutch and flywheel... I can accept wear and tear on a clutch... but a flywheel? A flywheel is meant to be a solid piece of metal, however VW see it fit to make it a more complex part... and apparently this is to do with the delivery of the massive torque... that is nonsense, surely there are lots of cars new and old, with even more torque, and they don't require such a flimsy flywheel. Poor engineering, designed to fail in order for VW get more of your money.

Window clips... plastic... other manufacturers use metal... the result, open the window, slam your door shut, the clips will break. This then requires an expensive replacement from VW, and the replacements are metal? VW... why not fit metal ones in the first place, the answer is of course poor engineering, and to force your customers to spend more money.

Cooling system, such a delicate engine that you can't even add normal water, it has to be special VW water at a cost comparable with diesel. The effect of not using special water... the system corrodes, the water pump with its plastic impeller breaks due to all the sludge, and the water in the engine boils as it isn't circulating. You will have no idea this is happening as the temperature sensor is situated where the engine is not so hot, so your temp needle looks fine. The first you will know is no heat from the interior heating. You could end up with a head gasket problem, ruined engine, or a blocked heater matrix... which again thanks to the most awesome engineers at VW, is a dashboard out job.

Injector wiring loom... when this fails the car runs as though it's not on all cylinders, which can be mistaken for an injector fault. This is an expensive part, it is basically wiring... and again VW engineers see it fit to put this electrical wiring actually inside the engine (???) where it is hot and oily, and hard to access.

Turbo... this goes into limp mode for fun, and does it under different conditions and loads, sometimes behaving, sometimes not... making it very hard to diagnose. Check this on Google, there is a wealth of information out there about this problem, and a great many causes, most of them quite expensive. Do the same search for any other manufacturer and there is nowhere near the same number of search results; this in itself tells us what a poor job VW have done. Buy a VW TDI, then try and trade it in; pretty much the first question will be does it go into limp mode?

Wipers... linkage seized up, motor burnt out, a common fault. Apparently the design allows water to penetrate, and the linkage is made from a material which corrodes and is prone to seize... again VW engineers, shame on you.

It is such a shame that there are so many faults with this car, as it had the potential to live up to all the hype of reliability.

My suggestion if anyone from VW is reading this... pay Honda some money to send over some proper engineers to test your vehicles, before releasing such shoddy products on an unsuspecting public.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 30th September, 2014

1st Oct 2014, 18:45

Those cars were not the best they ever made - but as for the flywheel: get used to it. Almost all cars now (are there any that don't?) have dual-mass flywheels, which until they came out, I've never heard of flywheels being replaced at all.

Normal water? Don't you put coolant in it? You will corrode them if you use normal water without the coolant in any car these days, and you must use phosphate-free coolant (even Shell has it) diluted with water in proportion.

But yeah - all the other bits are certainly a very bad example of the sum of the parts being bad because of the parts themselves.

2002 Volkswagen Golf 4Motion V6 2.8 from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

Great performance for the price, with comfort to boot

Faults:

Clutch cable broke - plastic bracket connecting the cable to the pedal gave up the will to live.

Corrosion issue on spark plugs (misfiring and lacking power) - I suspect the "engine clean" at the previous service was the cause of this. New plugs resolved the issue.

External temperature is currently erratic, and clearly wrong. Showing between 4 and -18 degrees when it is 10-20 degrees outside. Annoying but no issue; occurred after a flat battery (left the lights on).

Electrics are sometimes a little annoying. The doors lock when they shouldn't, and the alarm can go off for no reason sometimes.

General Comments:

Very good performance for the size and being 4 wheel drive. It is a little thirsty for the size. Handling is OK, does roll a little in corners, but you would have to be an idiot to lose control - it has plenty of grip.

Comfortable and good cruising car. Excellent lower end torque, perhaps slightly lacking at the top end. 3rd gear starts are not that difficult. Seating position and the steering wheel are very comfortable.

I have found servicing costs quite reasonable, and apart from one service where they stuffed up, the dealer servicing has been very good.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th April, 2013