1996 Volkswagen Jetta Trek 4 cylinder. 115 hp from North America


If you can afford the high maintenance, it's a good low-mileage commuter vehicle


Front and rear brakes replaced (twice).

Front rotors and calipers replaced.

Exhaust system replaced.

Moulding keeps falling off.

Factory tires too small for good handling.

Check Engine light on constantly.

Replaced all lights on system within one year period; there seems to be a problem with the fuses.

General Comments:

Overall, this car isn't bad - but far from great.

This car, however, is a very expensive car to maintain. I've followed nearly all the scheduled maintenance suggestions, including checkups, oil changes, etc. But, when a problem occurs, don't expect a cheap fix, especially if you own a newer model.

I use this car heavily (over 30K miles per year) and have encountered numerous problems, most of which incurred large amounts of cash (relatively) to fix. I'm talking $500 US or more per incident.

My check engine light has been on for several weeks. The factory service codes indicate a problem with the idle, yet two separate service technicians couldn't find an actual problem. One was rated as a top performer by AAA. Apparently I'm just going to have to live with this problem for a while.

Recently the rotors and calipers deteriorated, causing another costly fix ($555 US). Luckily, I no longer have payments on this vehicle, but I'd suggest you keep putting money in a savings account for future repairs.

But, in comparison to almost any American-made four cylinder vehicle, this car should last twice as long.

Overall performance is all right, but not spectacular. Don't expect to beat any traffic to the next stop light with this vehicle. At 115 horsepower, this car will probably have a top speed of 110-115, but not much "get up and go." The factory installed tires (195s) are too small for higher speed driving (e.g., Interstates), but the vehicle can accomodate a larger size - I run with 205s in the good weathered months, but switch to 195s in the winter.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 13th August, 2002

2nd Oct 2002, 17:38

This is a completely true, as my "Check Engine" light has been on for 5 months.

-Trek Owner.

15th Jul 2004, 07:01

Also, I agree with that. My check engine light comes on and off randomly, and most of the time, they find nothing wrong at ALL with the car.

But I love my Jetta.

24th Jul 2005, 01:08

I also had a problem with the check engine light, but luckily I know someone who was a journeyman mechanic for Volkswagen. After spending some time trying to figure out the reason the check engine light is on, he finally had the light reset. That did the trick. The light has not been on for over a year. My Jetta has over 106,000 miles and I have not had any major problems.

18th Jul 2008, 14:31

My check engine light hasn't came on my Jetta Trek yet, but yesterday I was driving down the road and I felt really hot antifreeze on my foot.. yep the heater core busted, so I'm going to go fix it myself for about 60 bucks... dealership wants 600 bucks for it; I was like no way.

9th Jun 2009, 11:40

I love my 1996 Jetta Trek. Bought it with 70,000 miles and now it has 195,000 miles! I had to replace exhaust from the cat. cont. back and the O2 sensors. Put on new tires and maintained it with regular oil changes. It does hate humidity and the rain. Chugs along for awhile but all and all I love this car. I am wondering if I should sell it with such high mileage but my commute is only 3mi each way! I am afraid to give it up and take a chance with another car, new problems. What do you think?

1996 Volkswagen Jetta GL 1.9 turbo diesel from North America


My little diesel with a heart of gold


A skilled foot on the clutch is required to avoid a 'bucking' sensation when engaging gears.

The driver's wiper arm loosened enough to collide with the passenger's wiper.

The power door locks are stiff, and have begun to squeak when going down.

The coolant reservoir mysteriously emptied itself once, setting off the temperature light.

The silver paint on my plastic wheel covers is chipping badly.

My cruise control switch sometimes does not engage.

General Comments:

My car looks and rides like a new little black Mercedes.

The turbo diesel lacks spunk at the starting line, but will happily overtake slower vehicles at highway speeds without shifting from overdrive.

The air conditioning is ice cold, and cools my black interior with haste.

The factory 'premium' cassette stereo is impressive.

My cloth interior is immaculate, but seriously lacks without a sunroof despite the white headliner.

I can achieve close to 900 kilometres of combined driving on a tank of fuel.

At highway speeds, I often feel that a sixth gear is needed to reduce cabin noise and curiously high engine revolutions per minute.

The cabin is spacious, and the controls are well organized.

This little car is tight and as straight as an arrow.

I look forward to driving my car, and being seen in it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th August, 2002