1st Jun 2009, 18:40

Please Help! We purchased a 96 Trek for our 16 year old son last year with 150,000 miles on it. Great car except for it constantly stalling in the rain or when it's wet out. He drives 30 miles every day, each way to prep school and has had to pull over numerous times during horrible snow storms and rainy weather because the car keeps stalling. This is very dangerous and everywhere we bring it nobody knows what the heck is wrong with it. Can anyone out there tell me what it might be?


Stranded in New Hampshire.

23rd Jul 2009, 18:54

My daughter was given a 1996 Jetta as a present. In the last three months we have spent more than $2,000 in repairs. Since she's still in school and therefore has no job, buying a new car is not an option. In other words, we have spent more on it than we could ever get back.

It still has no air conditioning -- and she lives in an area that often has temperatures of more than 110 degrees. Just today, after having spent $400 on it last week, the back window came down and won't come up. As we fear for her safety, I guess we'll just have to borrow from our pension fund to pay for another repair. We are going broke putting money into this money pit. DO NOT EVERY BUY A VW. I say, only buy a Honda or a Toyota -- you can't go wrong.

7th Sep 2009, 19:07

To anyone having trouble with 90's Jetta's stalling/not starting in the rain!

I have had the same problem for two years until one rainy day it refused to start. You can fix the problem with some research and a little bit of handiwork. The most common problem with these cars (as with mine) is a short in the electrical system. One way to spot the short is when the car is stalled (or not starting because of the wet weather), have someone start your car while watching the main electrical parts. If you see a blue or yellow spark and the engine turns over without starting, then there is a crack in the system. I had problems with the coil pack and the distributor cap, both of which were replaced easily. If you can see a blue spark but cannot make fixes on the spot, I would definitely recommend buying a tube of dielectric grease and applying to the spot where the engine is sparking. Dielectric grease will just prevent electricity from leaving the circuit and should provide a quick fix if you can find the crack.

30th Dec 2009, 14:36

OK, to all those people who are crying about this car, I don't think any one has spent more than me; I bought the car for $4700 and spent about $8000 fixing stuff and problems on it. My big one was the transmission. You people need to have the fluid and filter replaced every 50,000 miles.

Also I hear lot of you out there saying that your car stalls in the rain, or whatever; all you need is a new tune up. Trust me, I had the same problem, you need new spark plugs, spark plug wires, rotors and caps, and distributor cap, and it will work like a champ.

1st Apr 2010, 14:48

I bought my Jetta 96 GL two years ago and have made many minor repairs, but this stalling issue had me stumped for a while, but it turned out to be the ignition coil ($120); make sure you buy the right one though.

5th May 2010, 02:19

Just bought my 96 Jetta with 130k, and so far no major problems.

Sunroof/moonroof doesn't work, but the motor seems to be working when I push the button.

Handles like a champ on the road, especially on the twisty hills; it feels glued.

Interior is worn and feels a little cheap, but it's the base model.

So far I've spent $400 on an oil change (5w30 synthetic) and tune up (cap and rotor, plugs, cables, air and fuel filters).

Overall I haven't owned it long enough to know its quirks, but I strongly recommend investing on a Chilton's manual or something equivalent to save $$ on stuff you can do yourself.

I was disappointed not to be getting power windows, but after hearing of all the problems everyone was having with theirs, I'm glad mine's not power.

I also got the cat plate rattle noise, but it's off and on.

Oh yeah, and the 5 speed is awesome so that saves money on tranny repair. I recommend buying it only if you can drive stick, and don't mind roll down windows.

What else? Oh yeah, get a black one like mine, it just looks cooler that way.

19th Jul 2010, 21:39

Hi, I have a 1996 Jetta Trek LE.

A friend replaced the distributor and the cap. When it starts it backfires like crazy and wants to stall. I was wondering if anyone new how the wires go on the distributor cap? I know the firing order for the pistons and spark plugs is 1,3,4,2. I just need to find how they go on the cap in order.

Thanks for any help given.

20th Jul 2010, 09:05

If it's running, then the wires are in the right order. The problem you're having is the ignition timing.

To set the ignition timing you will need a timing light. Attach the timing light to the battery terminals (red is positive, black is negative) and put the spark plug wire connector on the cylinder 1 spark plug wire. This is just how you set up the timing light.

First, remove the cylinder 1 spark plug and manually turn over the engine until cylinder 1 is on the compression stroke (you will know this has happened because a puff of air will come out of the spark plug hole). Once cylinder 1 is on compression, put the spark plug back.

You need to rotate the distributor itself, so loosen the holding bracket on the distributor.

With the engine running, rotate the distributor back and forth with the timing light pointing at the crankshaft pulley. When the car is timed correctly, the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley should line up with the correct degree mark on the timing cover and the car should run smoothly and quietly. When this is achieved, tighten the distributor bracket to keep the distributor in place and you're done!

Although I have to say, by the sound of it, this may be more than you can handle. I would recommend bringing it to a trusted mechanic.

16th Feb 2012, 19:18

I have a 96 Jetta GLS. It has 75000 miles on it.

I got it from my parents, who had it for 10 years before they gave it to me. They got a tune up on everything, and it got a new transmission about 6 years ago. My dad says it maybe has 25000 miles on it since being replaced.

So after I got it, the check engine light came on. I got the codes checked; it was random misfire and cylinder 2 misfire, so I replaced the spark plugs, and it drove fine.

I don't know anything about cars at all, and I can't figure out what the problem is. When I'm driving, it has barely any power, and occasionally has a harder time shifting into gear. While I'm driving, the RPMs drop a lot randomly, and I have a hard time going back up, especially on hills or the freeway.

I've been nervous to drive it, but don't have much money for expensive mechanics, so does anyone have suggestions on what the root problem may be, so I can get a cheaper fix?