2004 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 1.8T from North America


Good design, poor quality


I bought this car at the beginning of the summer. The first hot day, I tried the AC--no cold air. A seal was broken on the compressor which allowed all refrigerant to leak out of the system. The dealer replaced the seal and recharged the system, but had no explanation as to how the seal broke. A manufacturing defect was his best guess.

A 1000 miles or so later, the power brakes failed as I was pulling into a gas station. I had to stand on the brake pedal to finally get the car to roll to a stop. Luckily, no car or person was in front of me at the time. When the car came to a stop, I noticed the engine was revving high and then almost stalling over and over. I managed to get the car home and had it towed to the dealer the next day. It turns out a vacuum line leading to the intake manifold "fell off." In addition to causing the engine problem, this line apparently plays a role in providing boost to the power brakes. The dealer re-attached this line, but again had no explanation as to how this fitting came apart. Another manufacturing defect? Was this line damaged during the AC repair? I don't know and never will.

My latest problem is poor gas mileage. I have been tracking this since I bought the car, and I have consistently seen between 18 and 20 mpg (the car is rated at 22/29 city/hwy). I do not drive fast. My commute to work is about half city and half highway driving. For comparison sake, I get about 17 mpg in my SUV and got about 24 mpg in a recently rented Chevy Malibu (V6) over the same route. The dealer initially said this could be due to the fact that the car is new and needs to run through its "break in period." I have my doubts. I have over 3500 miles on the car now and have seen no improvement in mileage. I plan to ask the dealer to investigate now that the car has a few more miles on it. We will see....

General Comments:

The car's ergonomics are great. It's one of the more comfortable cars I've driven, and you get a lot of great feature for the price. However, my confidence in the quality and reliability of the car is at an all time low. Caveat emptor!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 23rd August, 2004

2nd Sep 2004, 09:50

I have a 1994 Jetta and a 1997 Jetta as well as a 1998 (turbo diesel) New Beetle. Both Jetta's have the 4 cylinder gasoline engines. It would have been easy for a vacuum line to have been dislodged during the air conditioning service. This would account for the lack of power (vacuum) assisted brakes. It could also contribute to your poor gas mileage.

Don't give up on the mileage problem. The 1994 Jetta we have was doing the same thing until we had a chance to take it out on the highway, after some repairs, and give it a good "highway run".

I'd highly recommend that you get yourself a good digital tire pressure gauge from Radio Shack or an auto parts store. I try and check the tires regularly since tire pressure has a dramatice impact on mileage (and safety). On more than one occasion, the dealer has delivered our cars with less than 20 psi in the tires. The recommended tire pressures for both for both of our Jettas is on a sticker located on the door sill of the passenger side rear door.

2004 Volkswagen Jetta GLS 2.0L from North America


Great first car for a college student, very reliable and cheap to maintain!


Nothing so far except I lost 2 of the lug-nut covers on the alloy wheels, but the dealer replaced them for free right away when I needed them, I don't think that it is a problem with the car, probably kids stealing them from me...

General Comments:

This is a GREAT little-big car. I can't get over the size of the trunk as well as the handling and the response I get from people when they see it. I added the chrome exhaust-tips for a little more finished look, since the exhaust before looked pretty wimpy. Sunroof is great, heated seats cool. The velour seats are nice, but attract a lot of lint and hair!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th July, 2004

20th Oct 2004, 20:25

I live in a small town in North Ga. I am looking for a car with great millage. I'm afraid to buy a Jetta Deisel used because the mechanics here say they are hard to work on and the nearest dealer is 60 miles away. 55 miles per gallon is inticing, but a 38 miles per gallon Corolla with cheap replaceable parts is my best bet. If I could buy new with warranty I would go for the vw. thanks Mickey.

12th Jan 2005, 21:52

True, it was a decent review. But a great first car that I could AFFORD during college would have been, like, a Chevy Nova.

Most college kids are dead broke with only enough money to buy 1) beer 2) Ramen noodles and 3) weed.


18th Mar 2005, 22:02

You must realize that not all college students are broke. I am a 20-year-old, full-time student, I have two part-time jobs, I am involved in many extra-curricular activities and I just purchased a brand new 2005 Jetta GLS (low interest rate, no co-signer, own insurance policy). Just because some of us are young and in college doesn't mean that we are irresponsible, naive, broke individuals.

Thank you for your time.

25th Apr 2005, 14:22

I agree that not all college students are broke. I am going to college in California and have a Jetta GLS that is awesome. Everything is holding up fine... Besides the minor problems... College students deserve nice things as well. Give us a break!