1988 Volkswagen Jetta GL 1.8L SOHC 8v I-4 from North America


A slow, small, unreliable and costly car to own


The head gasket blew at 131,000 miles.

New CV joints at 133,000 miles.

Exhaust completely fell off at 130,500 miles.

Oil leak since the day I bought it. (I didn't know until I saw oil under it the day after I'd bought it.)

Cooling problems galore.

Interior is in perfect shape, clean and still looking new, the one I truly respect about VW is that they made high quality interiors in the vehicles.

All electrical shorted out at 130,750 miles.

Many more problems to mention...

General Comments:

My Volkswagen Jetta has been the most unreliable, hard to fix car I have ever owned. I have owned it since April 2002, and have had nothing but problems with it. The man I bought it from was the original owner and used it to commute to work. I've calculated the amount of time it takes for something to break on this Jetta, and it seems that about every two weeks, something has broken on it and these repairs tend to be extremely spendy. I will never own another Volkswagen as long as I live.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 21st January, 2003

13th Apr 2003, 07:32

I understand how disappointed you are, but was the car in good shape when you bought it? I think the person you acquired your car from sold it because it had many problems and also because he did not take care of the car. I suggest you give Volkswagen another try. peace.

2nd Nov 2004, 12:59

Ditto to the comment above. I once heard somewhere that "A well maintained VW is 10 times better than a well maintained Honda, but a neglected VW is 10 times worse than a neglected Honda." If you bought your Jetta neglected, you probably should have anticipated some of these issues that you're seeing with your car, and the fault lies with the previous owner, not with the car. I can assure you that, when properly maintained/tuned, these VWs are great cars.

Also, certain items you're mentioning (such as the CV joints failing) are common VW issues that aren't hard/too costly to fix. Also, take a look at the mileage on your car - 133000 miles is by no means a "new" car.

Give VW a second chance, or at least look at your current Jetta differently (assuming you still have it).

1988 Volkswagen Jetta TDI turbo diesel from North America


A well made, economical, reliable and fun to drive car


At about 40,000 miles I had to replace the battery.

Now, at 96,000 miles the check engine light has come on.

General Comments:

This car has been almost completely maintenance free.

It still has the original exhaust system, the original clutch and two of the four original tires.

It has required no tuneups, because it's a diesel.

I have never changed the air filter and I think that's why the check engine light has come on.

This is my fourth diesel car. By far the peppiest, it is as fast as most gasoline powered cars.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th November, 2002

4th Jul 2004, 01:43

Peppiest? Um, the car has 52 horsepower, a Chevette will beat it.

9th Apr 2005, 14:36

Horse power with diesels is misleading if this one is turbocharged very few cars can outrun it on the highway I own 2 of them 86 and 91.

1988 Volkswagen Jetta Base 4 Door 1.8 Gas from North America


A reliable, trouble free second car!


Front seat wore down badly.

Major oil leak at 220,000 kilometers.

Transmission downshifted roughly.

Replaced CV Boots at 180,000 kilometers.

General Comments:

This was the best car I've ever owned! It had gobs of personality and was cheap to run.

The Jetta takes the corners with complete confidence, with minimal body lean. The steering is quick and precise, and the ride is firm, but quiet. It still drives like new.

The dash was simple, but very well designed. You never had to look away from the road to fiddle with the heat knobs or the radio dials.

The 1.8 liter 4 cylinder had plenty of low end grunt and was extremely reliable. I never had to put a cent into any major engine repairs. The transmission downshifted roughly, though.

I loved this car and regret ever selling it. If you need a reliable fun to drive second car, buy a Volkswagen Jetta! They hold their value well and will provide you with a trouble free ownership experience.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th August, 2002

1988 Volkswagen Jetta GL 1.8 liter 115hp from North America


Great value, good first car


Needed new muffler and exhaust system when I first bought the car.

Needed new rear brake cylinders.

Power steering reservoir was cracked.

New spark plug wires needed.

Driver's side front wheel bearings needed to be replaced.

General Comments:

Very reliable and economic car.

Handling is terrific, and acceleration is up to par with the specifications.

Tends to be a bit loud, and lack of air conditioning isn't pleasant.

Bought it for $450, put about $900 into it over the past year, hasn't let me down yet.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th June, 2002

1988 Volkswagen Jetta 1.3 from UK and Ireland


Like all Volkswagens, EXCELLENT!


When I first got the car it hadn't been serviced for 2-3 years at all! I had been driving it for about 5 months before I even realised this! Despite this all that needed doing was:

New rotor arm.

New rocker cover gasket.

New oil filter + oil change.

New front brake pads.

Faulty temperature sender unit.

General Comments:

Wow! This was easily THE most reliable car I have ever had!

The car was a 1.3 litre and really could have done with power-steering, but it was still nice to drive and it felt very safe. Another minus point was the fact that it was only equipped with a four speed gearbox, but it still could do over a 100mph!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st October, 2001

24th Jun 2003, 16:35

I loved what you had to say about your car! I have been reading a lot of the reviews though, and it seems no one likes the fact that their older Jetta's (1985-88) don't have power-steering! - Do all the Jetta's that are "older" not come with power-steering? Thought maybe you would know...


6th Dec 2004, 09:52

I had an '87 and an '88 Jetta, and they both had power steering. They both had the 1.8 liter engine though.

1988 Volkswagen Jetta TX 1.6 from UK and Ireland


An excellent buy


Drive shaft CV joints.

Washer pump.


General Comments:

An all round excellent car (as long as you have power steering).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th August, 2000