1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 2.0 V from North America




Head gasket blew at 76000 miles, which was only two months after the car was purchased.

Wheel bearings in both rear wheels have gone twice. The second time, I was driving over the Delaware Memorial Bridge during rush hour traffic when the rear brakes went. I pulled over as soon as I could, and saw smoke pouring out of the rear end of the car. Apparently, the wheel bearings had gone again. The friction had burnt holes in the brake lines and ruined the brake pads and rotors.

Brake pads and rotors have been replaced three times.

A/C system has broken three times.

Headlights, taillights and brake lights go out all the time.

The transmission went, and was replaced with a brand new one, but still has continuing problems.

Power windows have broken four times.

The power locks will not work.

Several reoccurring problems with the computer/electrical.

Cooling fan has been replaced.

Unacceptable rust damage underneath, caused the muffler to fall off, and catalytic converter needs to be replaced soon because of this damage.

Problems with the coolant system- antifreeze leaks, sensor has failed three times.

General Comments:

I thought that I just got unlucky with this car, but once I met more people with '96 and '97 models and found out that they too have had many problems, I started to think otherwise. After investing close to $10,000, I will never purchase a Volkswagen again.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 22nd July, 2005

1997 Volkswagen Jetta GT 2.0 inline 4 from North America


Cheap, dependable, easy to maintain, but not so great performance


The muffler was replaced shortly before I bought the car due to holes caused by rust.

The engine warning light and others on the display seem to have a mind of their own, coming on and off periodically with no reason.

The right rear brake light leaked and had to be repaired.

The trim piece on the driver's side door has begin to come off.

General Comments:

I don't know why this model is considered a "GT" because I haven't experienced any GT performance.

Gas mileage has been good (high twenties).

So far has been easy to maintain with no major problems. Overall a quality car that has been dependable with just some minor problems that can probably be accounted for by the car's age.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th July, 2005

1997 Volkswagen Jetta GT from North America


Looks cool, but isn't.


All the panels have fallen off and been glued back on twice. Dealer would not pay to have this fixed, even though it was a manufacturer problem.

Left fog light went out and costs $500 to fix.

Transmission has a mind of its own - engine revs super high. Sometimes the car will "jolt" at the first stop and then start of the day. It's like it has a mind of its own.

When I come to a fast stop, the engine sometimes dies.

Makes me feel like I'm driving a go-cart.

The tires are very difficult to replace, get air into, check the air pressure.

The cup holders only hold 12 ounce cans up front.

The lighter no longer works.

The alarm system broke from the driver side (only works from the passenger side now).

The trunk leaks water when it rains.

The ashtray and cupholder in the back are broken.

There is nowhere to rest your arms when you are driving on a long trip.

Still, it has yet to leave me stranded somewhere.

The antenna is rusting.

Glove compartment is ridiculously small.

General Comments:

This car was built with shoddy parts.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th July, 2005

1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLS from North America


Great car to drive if you don't mind things that fall off or fall apart


Sunroof stopped working twice. Both times fixed under warranty.

Trunk lock broke 3 times. Twice fixed under warranty, once at my cost. It would not open with the key and when it did the alarm went off.

Both seat adjustment knobs fell off.

Passenger sun visor fell off. Haven't replaced it yet. A new one is about $75 +.

Front driver side window motor went out right after 2yr/24,000 warranty ended. Just in process of fixing now. Estimates have come in for about $400-500+ for parts and labor.

All remaining three windows have had the regulator replaced twice.

Cigarette lighter stopped working. Don't smoke so never fixed while under warranty, Should have had fixed--now I can't charge my phone.

All door trim fell off.

Driver seat sank on one side.

After complaining that the car was not shifting properly while it was in for scheduled maintenance twice and told twice "that is how this car shifts" the transmission went out and was fixed under warranty.

A/C went out about 105,000 miles.

Coolant is leaking.

Now won't start--probably starter, but not confirmed or fixed yet.

The stereo had to be removed to be reset after the battery was disconnected due to the anti-theft feature. It would not come out because it was installed wrong. They had to break a couple pieced of the dash/stereo housing to get it out to retrive the serial number to get the code to reset it.

General Comments:

I've spent more money on this car than all others combined.

Handles well. Most of the problems have had to do with the workmanship of the car. I looked into the lemon law early on, but it covers the mechanical aspects of the car not electric windows that regularly break, etc.

Will never buy a Volkswagen again after this experience.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 20th May, 2005

11th Sep 2005, 04:00

We have had similar problems with our 97 Jetta GLX- interior and exterior parts that simply fall off, window regulators out on four windows in four years, door latches seize during colder months (not just the lock, the entire latch), etc. We have been trapped inside our vehicle with only one working window and four doors that won't open. VW should have recalled the doors and windows!

2nd Mar 2006, 08:12

Read the second person's comments. Couldn't agree more. My problems were the same as your's. Further had to replace the automatic transmission. Love the look of the car, but won't buy another.

27th Sep 2006, 17:01

1996 Jetta GLS have very poor window motors and window regulators. I've had to replace all of them at least once and some twice.

These problems started occurring after warranty expired too to make matters worse.

Also, I've had to replace the ignition switch which gave me a new key and required all the door locks to have to be re-keyed.

Recently, the entire electrical system is started to act a little weird e.g., car alarm goes off unexpectedly etc.

27th Nov 2006, 10:41

I had all the same problems - cannot open the door at all in cold weather, all the trim has fallen off numerous times, rear windows no longer open, in addition to needing a new compressor for the a/c.

BUT, after sitting a year outside in a southern California parking lot, the car started up immediately and with a few minor checks - tires, belts, hoses, etc. - drove me across the country to Louisiana (in August).

5th Aug 2008, 16:46

I've had a lot of the same issues with my 97 jetta GLS. The sun roof does not work, only the driver window works, AC went out, and the car currently doesn't start, the starter clicks but that's about it.

15th Dec 2010, 07:48

Man, I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one with these problems.

On my Jetta, the motor is in good condition now pushing 107.xxx miles, but just recently when it gets cold (I assume it's why), my driver's door and passenger's won't open at all.

Could someone please enlighten me how to fix that please!