2003 Volkswagen GTI 2 door hatchback 1.8 turbo from North America


Love the car, look forward to buying another one when this one finally wears out


Radio went out at 50k miles.

PCV hose system had deteriorated from battery acid.

ECM had to be reprogrammed.

Secondary electric water pump had to be replaced.

General Comments:

Love the car. Has plenty of room for me being 6'8. Performance is remarkable for a 1.8 turbo. Car handles and brakes extremely well. Still holding up looks almost like new.

Radio went out quit working after warranty replaced with aftermarket Kenwood.

Vent on battery let acid blow out on to lower PVC and secondary air pump system around 71k miles. Parts cost $300 replaced be me.

ECM had to be reprogrammed under warranty because was causing hesitation. VW had a new update for the ECM.

Secondary electric water pump for the turbo started leaking, part cost $100 replaced by me.

Other than these few small things, I have kept the maintenance up as per the book. Except I change the oil every 3k miles with good full synthetic brand. Which should be used in all turbo engines. There are always parts that are going to fail or wear out on any brand of car you buy.

Hate to hear others having all these problems, but as a certified mechanic I see that most of the problems are from the owners the way they drive and abuse the cars. Plus they skimp on the maintenance and use the cheapest parts available. I still have the original brakes that are only at half wear, So I should get at least 100k out of them. But at 80k miles I am going to replace the timing belt, which should be done on all cars with a belt around this mileage before they break which is from normal wear.

My experience has been great; far better than I have had from any American made car. Quality on mine has been worth the price paid when bought.

Also love the 5 speed Tip-tronic trans in it, just wish they had the six speed that they have now so gas millage would be a little better.

Also how many are running the premium gas that you should be using for turbo charged cars? I see most at gas stations using the cheapest one they can get, which will cause problems.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd November, 2009

23rd Nov 2009, 11:56

It is refreshing to read a positive review of a Volkswagen.

My first car was a VW, and I've owned a total of 10. Most were delightful cars. I've moved on to another make, but have always considered myself a VW enthusiast. I have been concerned with the reliability issues I've read about lately.

Thanks for the informative review.

18th Oct 2010, 20:50

Hi, my name is Tyler and I'm a 17 year old looking for a first car. The GTI has been a strong leader in the various cars I've been looking in to, and I found one of this year in my price bracket with 80k km on it, (50,000 miles).

I loved your review, and I am wondering if you could tell me what to look/what has been replaced when buying a used 2003 1.8T manual GTI. Thanks!

2003 Volkswagen GTI 1.8 turbo from North America


This car has been a nightmare


Transmission solenoid valve replaced.

Replaced rear hatch piston.

Replaced complete antenna assembly, still bad radio reception.

Rattle under dashboard. 3 times to fix the problem.

Water pump replaced.

Thermostat replaced.

Both head lamps replaced.

Ignition coils replaced.

Front wheel hub replaced, lug nut stripped at assembly.

Broken boot, steering fluid leaked out.

Drivers side seat belt assembly replaced twice, replaced wrong the first time.

Rust protector leaked out of both doors.

Gas gage did not work replaced something in gas tank.

All problem happened between new and 40,000 miles.

Since then catalytic converter, MAF sensor, another water pump and now ASR light comes on and locks up transmission.

Transmission now needs fluid temperature sensor and engine torque signal.

General Comments:

This car was a lemon right from the start.

The dealer service dept. would or could not diagnose the transmission problem, and suggested many non related repairs.

I had to go to an independent VW specialist that was honest with me about the transmission.

I called VW customer service and they gave me the run around because the car has 87,500 miles on it.

A brand new car should be problem free with normal service that I always had done.

I am going to have to trade in the car for something else after recently spending almost $3000.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 4th June, 2009