1989 Volkswagen Jetta GL 1.8 SOHC from North America

Summary:

A fun, reliable, and economical car that keeps growing on me

Faults:

Struts/shocks, ball joints, water pump, alternator, heater blower, o-ring in the in-tank pump sending unit, odometer, A/C. Basically things that you would expect to wear out in a 20+ year-old, 150k+ mile car.

The engine drinks a little oil, but still runs well.

General Comments:

I bought the car for $600, knowing it needed some work (the prior owner had neglected it). It did, but the parts have been very cheap, and it's easy to work on. The odometer was broken when I got it, and I'm pretty sure the car has a lot more miles than indicated. I get between 31 and 39MPG on the highway at 60mph, depending on the time of year.

It handles well, and is very reliable (just watch out for that o-ring in the in-tank fuel pump spring-loaded sending part -- if you hear whining, this is one thing that is often overlooked). It responds well to general maintenance (especially keeping the throttle body and idle air control valve clean).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd March, 2015

1989 Volkswagen Jetta Carat from North America

Summary:

Absolutely incredible!

Faults:

I have no complaints - this car has been fantastic!

General Comments:

The body is still in great shape - it has never even needed painting. I would venture to say that it is the best car I have ever owned or will ever own.

Mechanically, most of the work done on it has been maintenance.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd June, 2013

1989 Volkswagen Jetta Carat from North America

Summary:

Served us well, and is fondly remembered

Faults:

Air intake issue caused the car to lose speed on the highway. Had it checked by two mechanics who couldn't figure the problem. Took the car in to a VW dealership and the mechanic knew exactly what the problem was right away, $150 fixed it.

Solenoid problem - starter motor was installed too close to the engine, causing the car to refuse to start after driving it in hot weather. We learned to deal with this by keeping a piece of stereo wire in the car, and making a connection between the battery and the starter. Not ideal, but it worked...

Always had issues with the door handles, locks, trunk lock. In the end we had one door that would open on both sides. Heat was either all or nothing.

General Comments:

We bought this car at 10 years old, and put almost nothing into repairs over eight years - our kids were babies and we had no money to fix the car. All we did in that time was replace the exhaust system (after 6-7 years), brake pads, fluids (sporadically) and one power window motor (the most expensive fix we did, costing over $400). Never had a single problem with the engine, transmission, gaskets - nothing major, despite our abuse. We always enjoyed driving it - it felt so solid and responsive.

We still have fond memories of that car, and would buy another if it weren't for the cheap door handles and locks - too annoying, and a safety issue with kids.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 23rd April, 2009

1989 Volkswagen Jetta GL 1.8 from North America

Summary:

Solid car, lots of character, but keep up on maintenance!

Faults:

When I acquired the car it was in good running condition. I had found it in the paper, sold for 1200 dollars, from an elderly person, who hardly drove it... I jumped on a car for 1200 and only 36,000 miles!...

I soon learned that they were all original parts, which needed replacing. It ran well for a while but then started to overheat. As a result: New head gasket, bolts, spark plugs, thermometer, wires, hoses fluid change, (which is imperative on Volkswagens, keep up on maintenance)... chapped me 1,000. And it was worth it.

General Comments:

Had the car for two years now and runs brilliant! Interior looks untouched, manual sunroof never leaks, only bother is air conditioning stopped working a while ago. Needs freon I bet.

When you buy an older Volkswagen, you must keep on the maintenence. I was lucky and found a lesser driven car. So it's original engineering for German driving can still be experienced. Seats are Benz-like without leather.

Being a notchback, the car has some body lean, but grips and handles like a true german engineered car. My previous car was a '93 Benz 190 series and my Jetta handled just as well, but the ride was a bit more bumpy than a Benz.

Only note: No airbags and an annoying seatbelt arrangement. The airbags on my Mercedes made me walk away from a head-on collision to Silverado. They're essential.

Also the 89 Jetta can only start when your seatbelt is plugged into the shoulder strap on the door. You can't start the car without the seatbelt fastened. And it makes it hard to enter and exit the car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th September, 2008