1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 2.0 8v from North America




General wear & tear including oil, brake pads, tires, filters, spark plugs. Maintenance performed by myself.

AC condenser was punctured by a rock and needed to be replaced around 35,000mi. Maintenance performed by a local German-oriented mechanic (not dealer). Saved literally hundreds of dollars by avoiding the dealership. AC works great to this day.

Exhaust pipe running from catalytic converter to mid-muffler completely corroded and separated from catalytic converter. This occurred around 50,000mi. I was able to temporarily fix it with some exhaust clamps. The temporary fix held up for months. Eventually I replaced the entire exhaust system from catalytic converter back with a full stainless steel system from Techtonics Tuning.

Front driver's side wheel bearing started to wear at 60,000mi. It caused a very annoying grinding noise that increased in pitch as speed increased. The noise was unnoticeable at low speeds, but very annoying at highway speeds. Bearing was replaced for under $100 by an independent VW mechanic. Most dealers will charge well over $300 for this procedure.

Around the same time as the front wheel bearing started having problems, one of my rear bearings also started acting up. I attribute this to either contamination of axle grease or incorrect reassembly of rear drums / bearings during an annual state inspection. Car was inspected at a local muffler chain instead of a typical VW mechanic. (Rear drums must be removed to inspect rear brake shoes for our state inspection. Bearings must be repacked with grease and can only be reassembled one way when reinstalling drum.) Symptoms were similar to my front bearing problems. Note to self: do not take VWs to generic muffler chain stores.

At 69,000mi I needed a rear wheel cylinder (brake component) and front lower ball joints (suspension component) in order to pass inspection. Maintenance performed by myself. I replaced both rear wheel cylinders at the same time, and while I had the brakes apart I also replaced the shoes. Replaced front tie rods along with the required ball joints because I needed to have the car aligned anyways.

Major expected future maintenance:

Clutch, probably before 100,000mi.

Timing belt / accessory belts, definitely before 100,000mi.

Brake rotors, I do not know if they've ever been replaced and will buy new ones before my next inspection.

Suspension, before 100,000mi.

By keeping up with this maintenance my Jetta will continue to drive like it did at 10,000mi.

General Comments:

The Jetta handles great, is comfortable and has plenty of trunk space. The 2.0L engine is not the most powerful out there, but it has an excellent torque curve and is very drivable, especially at highway speeds.

I get over 30MPG highway and average about 27MPG. I do not drive my car slowly, I push it hard and it always meets the challenge.

You may have noticed a trend regarding mechanics: find a local independent mechanic who knows VWs. Avoid generic chain stores, they are accustomed to working on domestics. The dealership will overcharge you and may not accurately diagnose your problems the first time.

The 2.0 is a well designed engine and as long as you keep up with routine maintenance it will last to 200,000mi easily.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th November, 2004

11th Nov 2004, 15:26

Actually, it's "Fahrvergnugen" (from das Fahrvergnugen, literally, "driving pleasure" which this Jetta does not seem to be providing to you)

Anyway, VW of America had already dumped that slogan years before your Jetta was built, replacing it with the "Drivers Wanted" ad campaign.

15th Nov 2004, 23:40

Sorry about the spelling error... my Jetta provides me with plenty of Fahrvergnugen. Its easy to work on and very fun to drive.

4th Jan 2007, 19:13

My Jetta has 180,000 miles and has never had the clutch replaced, thankfully. It would be nice if my car made it to 200,000 miles, but honestly I don't think I want this car for another 10,000 miles. She has been a good car (when nothing is broken) for my parents and now me, but she's getting old.

1997 Volkswagen Jetta GLS from North America


Still has a lot of life left in her


I have had a lot of the problems already mentioned.

I do have to unlock the car doors prior to opening the trunk or the alarm will go off. Yes, it is very embarrassing.

Today the brake light came on even though the emergency brake was not on. Then the windshield wipers would not work nor would the lights work.

I too have had to replace each and every window regulator.

The side knobs to move the seat have also broken.

I think the coolant is leaking the light has come on twice in the past 3 weeks or so.

The check engine light always comes on and goes off although there is nothing wrong with the engine. I am told that they are faulty O2 sensors.

Also had the problem with the trim. It falls off. Even with the strongest glue the trim still peels off. It makes the car look shabby.

General Comments:

Despite these problems I still like my car!

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

Review Date: 29th October, 2004

14th Mar 2006, 10:03

O2 sensor not H2O your car dosent need water to make the gas burn it need oxygen.

9th Sep 2009, 17:13

I could have written this exact same comment about my 97 Jetta GLS!