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VW Relability and maintenance Cost

Ask the People Who Own One:

2015 - 2018 Volkswagen Golf / GTI
jwats612

I\\\'ve owned nothing but Japanese cars for many years, but am considering a new GOLF Sportwagon.

The car seems wonderful, but I am concerned about reliability and long term cost. I keep my cars a long time.

My Other choice would be an Outback.

Am I right to be concerned?>

Any tips or advice? Thanks

John

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Response from Member938

4:07 pm January 9, 2017

I've had my GTI for a while and really enjoy it.
Reliability has been a slight issue - mostly small annoyances rather than show-stoppers.

Parts (at the dealer) are expensive (but so are Japanese parts) but there are a host of VW specialists around who can do the work at a lower cost, if required.

Some DIY work seems to take longer than on other cars, but they tend to be over-engineered. so that may be the cause.

The car is the best "driver's car" I have owned - it is responsive, handles amazingly and is just an all-round performer, yet you can carry the kids and the groceries around and still get great mileage.

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Response from zxr77q

4:15 pm January 9, 2017

I've had my 2017 GTI for 6-7 weeks, so I can't really speak toward it's reliability. I will say that there is nothing I dislike about the car.

My previous car was a 2010 Jetta TDI. (VW bought it back and the GTI is it's replacement.) Before that, all of my cars were Japanese. I was determined to return to Japanese makes after the TDI scandal, but VW gave me a really good deal on the GTI and the fact is, despite the scandal, I love VW cars.

In nearly 7 years with the Jetta, I can recall only 2 repairs outside of normal maintenance: an O2 sensor and a part in the steering wheel related to the airbag system. The car never failed to start and never broke down. It had nearly 97K on it at the time of the buyback.

Good luck with your decision.

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Response from Dnslater

4:35 pm January 9, 2017

My wife and I drove nothing but Honda/Acura's for 20 years (85 Civic Si, 99 Integra GS-R, 1999 CR-V, 2006 Civic Hybrid, 2006 Odyssey, 2012 Odyssey, etc...) and I am now on my second VW. My first was a 2013 Sportwagen TDI, which I loved. I sold it back because of the diesel scandal. Put 65,000 miles on it without issues. My replacement was a 15' GTI, which is on the same excellent MQB platform that the Golf Wagon sits on. A couple of things........

VW has come a long way in reliability in the past decade, but I still wouldn't put them with Honda. You have to be a little more involved with maintenance. Make sure you follow recommended service intervals exactly and make sure you only use fluids that meet VW's criteria. Many VW/Audi reliability issues arise when Toyota/Honda owners buy them and think they can use any old transmission fluid, or extend the fluid change intervals like they did their Japanese cars...... They can be very reliable if properly maintained though. Doing things yourself helps and I have found them easier to work on than Honda's. Hood has struts. Oil filter is on top of the engine, battery is in this nice felt lined box, etc....

I like to drive and like well made cars, so I really enjoy modern VW's and don't mind needing to be a little more particular about maintenance, as the trade off is a better driving experience and a very high quality interior.

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Response from danlisahall

4:39 pm January 9, 2017

John: I feel your decision anxiety.After driving4 decades ofdriving trouble free Hondas & Subarus (I did have one A4 for 4 trouble free years), I too read the volumes of horror stories from multiple websites about VW / Audi products including the Golfs. However I also saw a modest number of people who drove their VW products for 100,000+ miles with minimal problems. My overall impression was that VW products tend to have more issues the 1st 6 months of owership & then after 5 years. Overall VW/Audi's reliability issues seem to be improving the last few years, while Honda & Subaru have declinded some. Butonly time will tell about the long term.

After much research I took a "risk" on reliabliltiy & ditched my Honda Fit for a 2017 GolfWolfsberg. The Golf & Fit are very similar in exterior / interior dimensions but the Golf is like a Fit on Steriods when it comes to comfort & preformance; much more get up & go withan amazingly compliant, comfortable suspension.

We also have owned two Outbacks, 2012 & 2015.TheOBs have been great carsfor us and we love the Eyesight feature of our 2015. Comparing the OB to the Golf I believe you will find the Outback to have more room for passengers & cargo, be quite comfortable,reliable, and capable of getting slightly more than 30 mpgwhen driven carefully onthe highway.On the other hand the Golf Sportwagen will be more of a driver's car, have atighter cockpit & be capable of better mpg. One other thing is that we have found ingress &egressmoderatelyeasier in the OB - larger door openings & interor.

Both the Golf Sportwagon are great cars, but there are significant differences. Tough choice, depends on your priorities & how risk adverse you are.


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Response from Member573

4:53 pm January 9, 2017

Response from Member573

5:04 pm January 9, 2017

I've only had my 2015 GTI for a few weeks now (it replaced my much loved 2011 TDI which VW bought back due to the emissions scandal) so it's too soon to say but my last car (2011 TDI) was flawless, never a problem. I've had similar experiences with my many other VW's (I've owned quite a few over the past 30+ years) and the only one that gave me problems was my 2002 GTI which seemed to be cursed.

My 2015 GTI, like all the others (Golf, GTI, Jetta, GTI, Jetta, Passat, GTI, TDI, etc...) feels like it's carved from a single block of steel. Everything is bolted together with precision and the materials are of high quality. The performance and drivability are on par with cars costing much more and I expect that it will give me many years of great service and driving enjoyment.

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Response from Member1478

5:31 pm January 9, 2017

In January 2015 we bought a used 2012 Golf for my youngest daughter (after she wrecked the 1993 Honda Accord which had been in the family since new). She's now in college and still driving the car two years later, and while she doesn't put many miles on it, it has had zero issues in that time period. I would have no qualms buying another VW, unless there were some well-publicized issue with say a dud model/engine. You might check out some VW-related forums in that regard; I know she has the 2.5l 5-cylinder engine in her Golf, which might have been discontinued by now.

I'm driving a 9-year-old Jeep Patriot and haven't had any real issues with it either, and it's supposed to be one of the least reliable cars on the road; so maybe we're just gentler than most on cars. So if you're the type who tends to lose track on maintenance items, I might think the Subaru would be a little more forgiving on that front.

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Response from Member3609

6:07 pm January 9, 2017

John,

I'll pretty much echo what others have said - your concerns are valid, but VW has come a long ways in the last decade in reliability and build quality. The MQB platform underpinning the Golf 7 is spectacular. The cars are extremely well-built, whether coming from Mexico (as our '15 Golf TDI) or Wolfsburg (my '16 Golf R). Fuel economy is excellent, and handling will be far superior to the japanese competition. Both of our cars have been dead-nuts reliable and trouble-free.

Here is an excellent long-term review of a '15 GTI, a very close relative to the Sportwagen you're considering. This should help ease your reliability fears. Also, if you're planning on keeping the car a long time, I would suggest purchasing an extended warranty when you buy the car. The pricing is quite negotiable - don't take the first price they throw at you! Bargain it down as low as they will go, which is probably 30-40% below the "list" price. Good luck!

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/2015-volkswagen-gti-long-term-road-test-wrap-up-review

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Response from PRGustavson

8:45 pm January 9, 2017

We have a 2012 Golf TDI which we bought at a very good price in November 2015 (shortly after the TDI scandal). I'm not planning on trading the car in, but will take the significant amount of money VW is offering in restitution. Of course, we may change our minds, but this car has been fantastic.

Having read the responses above, which are very informative, I would agree. One thing that is often brought up is the cost of VW routine maintenance. VW is often criticised for having expensive maintenance costs. I read an interesting report on a VW blog site (HumbleMechanic, I think) that stated even though VW is listed lower in rankings of maintenance costs, in reality over the course of a year the costs are only $20 to $30 more for a VW than a comparable Japanese car for the same maintenance.

It seems to me all automobile companies extend many maintenance intervals so that they look good. In fact, some maintenance items should be done more frequently, especially if you want to keep your car a long time.

I enjoy doing all my own maintenance on all four of our current cars. I just prefer knowing that it was done well with high quality parts. I'm meticulous and do most things a little bit early.

Right now we have two VW's, a Jetta we've owned for 6 years, and the Golf for a little over a year. Neither has had a significant issue. (The Jetta did have a very minor issue that was covered by VW related to a vent flap motor.) Over the years we've had three other VW's and an Audi. We "retired" one of the VW's and the Audi because they got really old before they got over 180,000 miles. (We don't drive far each year.) Another one of the VW's we owned in Europe and sold when we returned to the States, and the other we outgrew as our family size increased.

I haven't experience unreliability with any of our VW's. We really like driving them. I've never driven a Suburu. Perhaps I should just to compare. But, that's my two cents on your decision. It's dinner time!


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Response from Ken

9:55 pm January 9, 2017

Hi John--I had a '13 GTI (previous generation) which was reasonably realiable. Currently have a '17 Golf R, too soon to tell on reliability. But I would by no means trust my anecdote, or anyone else's anecdote. I'd trust systematically gathered data with a large sample size like that here on TrueDelta and also Consumer Reports.

Based on that kind of data, buying a VW is a bit risky compared to a Subaru Outback. I considered other more reliable brands before choosing my two recent VWs, but ended up with the cars I did because for me other factors trumped reliability. But I bought them with a realistic expectation that they are unlikely to be as troube-free as many Japanese brands (or even some US brands).

I think it is all about playing the odds--even Yugo probably turned out a few solid cars by some freak accident, and Toyota makes the occasional lemon. To quote Dirty Harry: "Do you feel lucky....? :)

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Response from Dnslater

7:19 am January 10, 2017

Regarding maintenance costs, be aware that the DSG transmission has an expensive fluid change ($500+) every 40,000 miles. Not easy to do yourself. If you buy a used one nearing this interval, factor this in.

The upside is the transmission is fantastic. It has lightning quick shifts and the manual function works well. The Subaru's have a CVT, which was not exactly a joy in my wife's 14' Impreza.

Disclaimer: I'm not sure if the Golf Sportwagen has the Dual Clutch DSG or a standard auto with torque converter. The TDI's always came with the DSG.

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Response from Bob R

8:53 pm January 10, 2017

The least reliable car I have ever owned was my '96 Jetta. One of the best is my '09 VW Rabbit S (Golf). Over the last 20 years, we have owned 4 VWs, 2 Hondas, 2 Toyotas, a Nissan, a Mazda and a Jeep (we have several drivers in the family). I don't know how they will hold up to high miles, but the '09 now has over 105K miles on it, and still has the original front brakes and clutch. In fact, the only money we have spent on it beyond preventive maintenance was to replace the A/C compressor and the headliner (both known problems with the '06-'09 Golfs). My '06 Scion xB (Toyota) has not been driven as hard, has 130K miles on it and is due for its 2nd clutch and 3rd set of front brakes. It also ate a set of front wheel bearings, and has had two windshields fail (large and thin, cracks easily). And the rear trim below the Scion's bumper was amputated by a chunk of ice that fell off another car during its first winter in snow country. So overall repair costs have been comparable between the Toyota and the VW, as were their purchase prices. My '15 Golf TDI has been a good, solid car. It has had no more early problems than my '00 and '02 Hondas did. Our '13 Jetta has been about as good. It's too soon to tell how those two will hold up, though. The only cars we have kept over 120K miles so far have been the Hondas and the Scion. The '11 Nissan was nothing to write home about, a bit more troublesome than the Hondas, Toyotas or recent VWs.

I guess what I am trying to say is that most non high-performance modern cars are pretty reliable, and they don't tend to require major repairs in the first 100K miles of ownership. That includes Golf-platform VWs made since at least 2006. There don't seem to be many known common, expensive problems with the last three generations of Golfs. Nothing like the Ford small-car automatic transmissions, for example (or the ones in '99-'06 Honda Odysseys, for that matter). I have my suspicions (born in the 1990s) that they may nickle and dime you more than Honda/Toyota/Mazda/Subarus when they get old, but no personal experience to base that on aside from my '96 VW lemon.

Preventive maintenance on the VWs is more expensive than it is on the other cars. Perhaps $100/year more than my Scion. They take special oil, so oil changes are more expensive but less frequent. And you really should take it to a shop thatknows VWs, as they are quite different to work on compared to American and Asian cars. At least you won't be bitten by the cost of maintaining a DSG transmission, because the Sportwagen comes with either a conventional automatic (Japanese, as I recall) or a 5-speed manual.

When I look at the first 105K miles on my '02 Honda Accord, '06 Scion/Toyota xB, and '09 VW Rabbit/Golf, the VW's overall cost of maintenance and repairs falls in the middle. I had feared it would be much worse when I bought it, but it has been a pleasant surprise. That left me feeling good enough about Golf-based cars to purchase the '15 VW for myself and the '13 for my daughter. I would have considered that to be way too much risk 10 years ago, but VWs seem to have improved quite a bit over the last 15 years.

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