1990 Volkswagen Jetta from North America


Mechanically sturdy car with an electrical fault


Water pump leaked at 125,000 Km.

Radio packed up at 110,000 Km.

Real problem started at 140,000 Km, when the engine goes silent for no reason during a trip. But starts again with the first crank after bringing the car to a stop. Dealer changed the external fuel pump and the problem still exists. I tried Volkswagen Germany, Canada, and the local dealer with no results.

General Comments:

If not for the stall, this car is excellent. It runs smoothly and starts with the first kick at minus 15 Celsius.

When it stalls for no reason my heart aches.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 26th January, 2002

26th Feb 2002, 13:22

Hey, I have the exact same problem as you, except it usually starts itself up, mine otherwise is an excellent car, please do let me know what you come up with, somebody else said something about air flow sensors. I have replaced a computer, cap and rotor and spark plug wires, O2 sensor and it still does it.

1990 Volkswagen Jetta 1.8L 4 cylinder from North America


Overall, it is a fine German-built car


I replaced the catalitic converter when I bought the car for emissions tests.

I also needed to get new brakes.

My oil stick needed to be replaced because oil splashed on the engine.

My parking brake doesn't work well. If the car may roll on a steep hill.

My exterior plastic pieces fall off.

My antenna was falling off.

General Comments:

Besides from the problems that I had, they were very minor and inexpensive.

I got into an accident and the car only cost me $100 to fix (Canadian).

The car has been very quick, the shifter is nice.

However, I wish that the seat moved further forward because I am small and it is hard to reach the pedals.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th November, 2001

1990 Volkswagen Jetta GL Wolfsburg 1.8 8-valve gasoline from North America


A poorly-built poor design to be avoided at all costs


Transmission failed five times.

Air conditioning failed repeatedly.

Stereo failed repeatedly.

Seats came loose on their mountings numerous times.

Starter and alternator both failed (separately).

Fuel injection computer went wrong once.

Battery cables corroded.

Numerous miscellaneous electrical faults (short circuits, faulty wires, corroded connections even though we don't live in a corrosive environment).

Horn would beep of its own accord.

Random failure to start.

Transmission interlock failed, would not permit key to be turned to the "Start" position.

Exhaust system hangers failed regularly.

Constant rough idle; no real fix.

General Comments:

NEVER AGAIN. Consumer Reports heaped glowing praise upon the 1990 Jetta, saying it "exuded quality" lacking in other cars in its class. NOT. This car was an unreliable piece of rubbish right from the start. See above for specific problems; I'm sure I've left many out due to memory blockout of such a bitter experience.

Dealer service was consistent... consistently *rotten*, that is. A "We don't care" attitude and "We'll get around to it when we get around to it" timeline, coupled with a tendency to create new problems in the process of trying (and often failing) to fix old ones got old VERY quickly.

The door-mounted shoulder belts (US-spec) are horrendously dangerous... shame on VW for installing this joke of a "safety" system.

VW supporters, when hearing this tale of woe, have launched into jeremiads about "Oh, you must've got a Mexican-built car; you don't want one of those, the Mexicans can't build cars, you want to have a German-built one...", etc. Wrong on both counts! Not only was our Jetta German-built, but we replaced it (HALLELUJAH!) in 1995 with a Mexican-built 1992 Chrysler LeBaron that had 70,000 miles at the time of purchase and is still giving sterling daily service, now with 140,000 miles.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 24th October, 2001

30th Nov 2001, 19:49

OK... The Jetta was a piece of junk you say, and you bought a Chrysler LeBaron??? Oh you'll see what a piece of work that car is... One of the biggest crap cars ever...

16th Jan 2002, 00:44

One thing to remember is that a Volkswagen has high reliability when it comes to the Turbo Diesel matched up with the 5 speed transmission. My 1990 Jetta works great with little problems but with minor repairs only. I can handle that. My previous 1989 Jetta was a "Gas Digifant" with an automatic transmission. What a mistake that was. It became very frustrating. Volkswagens are for drivers as Volkswagen always said but they didn't mention that you should have a 5 speed with the non digifant 1.8 gas motor or the Diesel. (too many sensors and the starter always burned out prematurely due to the starter mounted right above the exhaust manifold on the automatic transmissions only. Heat raises and burns out coils.) My 1990 Turbo Diesel starts in cold weather without being plugged in which is unusual plus this car drives unbelievable with lots of power. It blew my 1989 Jetta 105 hp digifant away with smoother running of course. I sign off for now. My next addition will be problems I had with my 1989 Jetta GL 1.8 gas digifant with the automatic transmissions. My advice is if you buy an older Jetta or Golf, get the non digifant gas 1.8 or the Diesel linked up to the 5 speed. This way your headaches will be relieved by more than 75%.

Take care eveyone.