1997 Volkswagen Jetta GL 2.0 from North America


Not worth what you pay for


The side mouldings are held on with cheap glue. So far, two have fallen off and had to be replaced.

The transmission began to shift improperly at about 100,000 miles. This problem was fixed by resetting the computer.

The latest problem is the poor gas mileage of the car. When I first purchased the car, I averaged about 23 miles to the gallon. That number has dropped to about 17. I am told this may be because of faulty sensors, since the car was recently tuned up (new air filter, oil, etc.)

Also, after about 45 minutes of driving, the water temperature begins to rise. Not to the point of overheating, but almost to about 3/4 of the way on the temp. gauge.

General Comments:

This is a good car for occasional driving over short decisions.

But this vehicle lacks the quality and dependability for long, daily commutes.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 10th August, 2006

29th Sep 2006, 23:28

I think that you're right about the O2 sensor. I was getting about 30mpg commuting to work (about 27 miles each way). The O2 sensor went bad, the check engine light came on and my mileage dropped to 20 mpg. I replaced the sensor, and my mpg went back to 30mpg. I like the car, and I'm getting another since my daughter took it to school with her. I let her have it because it has been so reliable.

1st Dec 2006, 12:43

I agree with the previous post. Probably an O2 sensor. I took mine on a road trip around Lake Michigan last summer and the O2 took the big one on the first day. Fuel consumption went from 31 mpg fully loaded to 26 to 24 to a worst economy of 22 mpg at one point. Signs of bad O2 sensors include smelly exhaust (like rotten eggs), and black sooty deposits around the exhaust. I replaced the sensor on a hoist and it fixed the problem imediately. I got 42mpg on a 2 hour trip later that week. As for the overheating problem, I'm clueless. Possibly check the thermostat (or replace) as it may be stuck closed or partially so. Hey. Goodluck.

22nd Aug 2009, 00:36

Over-heating could be a water pump issue or a good flushing of the radiator. However, words of advice you change the water pump do the timing belt at the same time. Believe me, it will save you hassle in the long run if you haven't already changed it.

1997 Volkswagen Jetta GT 2.0 from North America


I love this car, and would definitely buy another one


Nothing has gone wrong with the car yet.

General Comments:

This car is a cheap, sporty car that is awesome in my opinion. The feel and handling of this car is great, and so is the styling and performance too. I would definitely buy another VW Jetta, except maybe a GLX, but Volkswagen is the way to go!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th August, 2006

7th Aug 2006, 22:28

Amen to that.

1997 Volkswagen Jetta Trek 2.0 from North America


Fun reliable transportation


Original exhaust lasted five years.

Brakes replaced around 750000 miles.

Cruise control stopped working when car was 3-4 years old.

Axle fell out of car (only time car had to be towed)

Trunk lock doesn't work.

Radiator lasted till around 110,0000 miles.

General Comments:

For a car that is only spec'd at 115 horsepower at the flywheel it is very snappy.

Of course I must mention the huge trunk.

Even after 8 years it's still a joy to drive.

And the undercoating that was used from the factory has held up great against New England salty winter roads.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 4th May, 2006

6th Sep 2006, 10:49

I'm sure you meant 75,000 miles for brake replacement NOT 750,000!


1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLS from North America


You made me love you and then you slowly tore me down


A/C broke within 8 months of purchase, fixed under warranty (purchased used from VW dealership)

A/C broke again at 85K.

Trim started to peel off at 50K. Was told that I couldn't purchase new trim in the same color as my car, so I opted to have it reattached with glue or tape at a body shop. Every summer the trim falls off. This year I finally gave up and am leaving it off, despite being told by my mechanic that doing so can cause problems - there are holes in the door underneat the trim that are exposed when the trim is gone, rain can get into the door and who knows what will happen. I just don't care any more.

I had to replace the regulator on a rear window at 70K. I had to replace the regulator AND motor on the driver's window soon after. The other rear window is broken (but at least it's broken in the up position, so I don't care). The passenger's window is still working, but makes funky noises so I don't ever open it more than a crack - I'm counting on it breaking any time now. This is this most ridiculously unnecessary expense - the regulator part alone costs over $200, plus labor. It's awful.

Serpentine belt and another belt had to be replaced at 65K.

Temperature warning light started coming on at 60K. Had to replace coolant reservoir as it was leaking. Also there was a problem with the temperature gauge (it is a separate area in the coolant reservoir and coolant wasn't getting into that area, so the gauge always thought we were low on coolant).

Windshield washer fluid reservoir cracked at 65K - I patched this myself and haven't had a problem since.

Every time the battery is disconnected and reconnected it causes some kind of glitch in the idle. Several times I have had to return the car to the mechanic because the rpms start dipping very low, 300-400, while braking, and the car will shudder and threaten to quit. When this has happened after having the car repaired somewhere other than my usual VW-expert mechanic, the mechanics usually drive the car around the parking lot a few times and tell me nothing's wrong. I have to insist they take it around the block to get them to believe me about the idling problem. (This probably has something to do with me being female.)

At 70K noticed the gear shift was wobbly and in danger of popping out of gear as I was driving. I thought it was going to turn out my clutch was blown, but fortunately it was only a tiny piece in the gearshift itself that needed replacing to tighten it up.

Paint peeling off rear bumper at 85K.

Good luck getting it repaired anywhere other than the super expensive dealership. A lot of neighborhood mechanics won't even work on VWs at all. I was lucky to find a VW specialist in my city (albeit way across town) that is knowledgeable, honest, and reasonably priced (compared to the dealership).

General Comments:

This was my first car that I picked out myself (as in, not a hand-me-down). I loved the way it looked and still think Jettas are quite sharp looking. I have to commend it on several points:

Handling is fantastic. I can corner like nobody's business and snap U-turns where even smaller cars would require a 3 point turn.

I live in a hilly area and was told when I moved here to expect to kill my clutch sooner rather than later. On the contrary I'm almost at 100K and the clutch is still going strong (knock on wood).

Truly a super fun car to drive, gets pretty good power for a 4-cylinder.

I have the original sound system, speakers included, and it actually sounds great. I've had several people be amazed that it's the factory speakers.

Overall, the problems I've had with this car have been frustrating and I've probably spent more on it than I would have with a similar Japanese car. I think, from reading the other reviews on here, that 1997 was a bad year for the Jetta. I wouldn't absolutely rule out buying another VW in the future, but I'm shopping right now for something more reliable - a Honda or a Toyota probably.

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

Review Date: 15th April, 2006

13th Sep 2006, 17:28

I'm the original poster and now, six months later (Sept. 06) I wanted to add a postscript. I just got rid of this Jetta. Since I wrote the review in April 06, I have had to replace yet another broken window regulator/motor, had to replace the ignition switch and entire ignition column (leaving me with two keys - the original for the doors and a new one for the ignition), and the last straw was the A/C compressor, which had already been replaced twice, crapping out again.

Rather than fork over another $1000+, I bought myself a nice, new, Japanese car.