RexSeven UltraDork
June 3, 2013 6:53 p.m.

My thesaurus is running out of synonyms for "learn me..." Anyways, I'm doing research into cars to replace my busted-ass Eclipse (although given last winter's Snowpocalpse I'm also thinking a truck might not be such a bad option). I'm looking specifically into small hatchbacks and wagons that handle well in the snow with snow tires, have decent gas mileage, and are not total wet blankets to drive. My budget is about $3,000.

I've come across a Craigslist ad for a 4th generation VW Jetta wagon with a stick shift and what I assume is the base model engine going by the crank windows. I'm leery about the reliability of late 90s-early 2000s VWs but I see plenty of Jettas still roaming the streets of New England. I know very little about the Jetta aside from the wagons all being built in Germany. What does GRM have to say about these cars? Also, any VW forums that aren't like the VWVortex (of suck)?

Jaynen Dork
June 3, 2013 7:27 p.m.

TDIclub has good info all around but engine wise will of course focus on the diesels.

General "stuff" wise with roll up windows and a manual trans I don't know of many gotchas

June 3, 2013 7:32 p.m.

Run like hell.

ValuePack SuperDork
June 3, 2013 7:39 p.m.

I hated my MK4 Golf with a burning passion, but that's a tale told best over beer.

Buy the cleanest 5 speed '93+ Corolla wagon you can find and be done with it, it won't suck less.

June 3, 2013 7:51 p.m.

No effing way... unless it's a TDI. At that price point, you won't find one though. They have stupid resale value and can go for 3x that with 200,000+ miles on them.

<<<< Former MK4 Jetta owner. I chose poorly.

ditchdigger SuperDork
June 3, 2013 7:53 p.m.

My 2003 1.8t 5spd wagon was the best VW I have ever had and had absolutely zero of the issues that A4's are famous for. The A5 Rabbit that replaced it was terrible and the 01 GTI that replaced the Rabbit is the worst. Perhaps it was something about being built in Germany instead of Mexico. That car was flawless. I kick myself every day for trading it in.

Jaynen Dork
June 3, 2013 8:00 p.m.

Guess I am lucky to have only owned a TDI lol. It's the car that everytime I think of an excuse to replace it logic comes back and there is no way to justify it

June 3, 2013 8:08 p.m.

If its a 2.0, they all burn oil. All of them. Not really a huge deal, but eventually you have to tear the motor apart and replace piston rings. But that's not until well over 200k.Hoping the previous owner kept an eye on oil level. Good fuel economy, seats fold almost all the way down, huge cargo space, decent wagon!

Crank windows and such are great, less stuff to break.

ebonyandivory HalfDork
June 3, 2013 8:25 p.m.

Ahem... Protege5... Cough cough...

SlickDizzy UberDork
June 3, 2013 8:28 p.m.

Skip it unless it's a TDI.

JtspellS Dork
June 3, 2013 8:34 p.m.

RexSeven UltraDork
June 3, 2013 8:52 p.m.

Scratch the Jetta from the list, then. The DSM was bad enough reliability-wise, I don't want a repeat of that experience.

The Protege and 'Rolla wagons were already on my radar.

JtspellS Dork
June 3, 2013 9:01 p.m.

SilverBlack

I Love mine for what it is

vwcorvette Dork
June 3, 2013 9:04 p.m.

My 02 Wagon (1.8t with tiptronic) has taken me some time to get to a point where I've overcome the short cuts the factory took to save money. Switchgear can be a problem if you man-handle things. The tip-tronic is a fine transmission if you ignore the factory and actually change the fluid in it every 40 thousand miles or so. I swapped out all 9 solenoids in the valve body as well as changed the fluid last summer when it started acting up and it is fine now. I've replaced the shocks with Bilstein touring, the strut mounts, the brake pads have been upgraded with performance friction pads, just did the t-belt, tensioner, water pump, etc. Runs very well and has never stranded me (if you don't count the time I ran it into a soccer ball sized hunk of ice on Lake Champlain while time trialling and smashed the oil pan!). And it's for sale right in you price range! If you want to chat about it call me(George)--eight,oh,two989sixone87. We just got an Astro van so this car can go and I can get a Mk4 Golf 2door 5 speed.

kanaric
kanaric Reader
June 4, 2013 2:12 a.m.

MK4s are the worst and they also are the butt of all jokes on vwvortex it seems, lol

Enyar HalfDork
June 4, 2013 8:16 a.m.

I found my mom's TDI for $2k, so it is definitely do able. It seems like the MKIV is the butt of all jokes, and some of them are reasonable but it's not like the thing will just combust into a pile of ashes. Sure it has it's quirks but there is a how-to for everything out there that breaks. My mom, my sister and I have all been satisfied with our TDI purchases, even if they aren't the most reliable.

docwyte HalfDork
June 4, 2013 9:31 a.m.

I seem to always fight a losing battle on this board as far as VAG products go.

This is really simple. If you buy a VAG product that hasn't been maintained and been abused, it WILL abuse you. Plain and simple, these aren't Honda's/Toyota's, you have to maintain them.

If you get one from someone who maintained the car and has the records to prove it, it'll be an awesome car for you.

I've put 100's of thousands of miles on various VW/Audi's with no issues outside of normal maintenance.

You're buying the seller as much as the car here, remember that and you'll be fine.

clutchsmoke HalfDork
June 4, 2013 11:34 a.m.

RWD Turbo Volvo Wagon. I got 24-26 mpg with mine. The rear seats fold completely flat and they are super comfortable. And if you load it up with stuff it won't feel as slow with the turbo torque.

Or Honda Accord wagon. You could probably find a decent one for $3k.

June 6, 2013 12:08 a.m.
kanaric wrote: MK4s are the worst and they also are the butt of all jokes on vwvortex it seems, lol

I find that anything on the vortex has no credibility. I would say that the car is a decent purchase based solely on the fact that the Vortex says it sucks.

But in all honesty, I am surprised by all the mk4 hate. They are certainly not my favorite body style appearance wise, but I see a lot of them at work, and they seem to be consistently decent, reliable vehicles.

And the Mazda 2.3s burn just as much oil as the VW 2.0s.

Travis_K UltraDork
June 6, 2013 12:35 a.m.
vwcorvette wrote: Runs very well and has never stranded me (if you don't count the time I ran it into a soccer ball sized hunk of ice on Lake Champlain while time trialling and smashed the oil pan!).

That is not an uncommon problem with those, but there are a number of places that make skid plates for them.

kanaric
kanaric Reader
June 6, 2013 3:00 a.m.
anjaloveshervw wrote:
kanaric wrote: MK4s are the worst and they also are the butt of all jokes on vwvortex it seems, lol

I find that anything on the vortex has no credibility. I would say that the car is a decent purchase based solely on the fact that the Vortex says it sucks.

But in all honesty, I am surprised by all the mk4 hate. They are certainly not my favorite body style appearance wise, but I see a lot of them at work, and they seem to be consistently decent, reliable vehicles.

And the Mazda 2.3s burn just as much oil as the VW 2.0s.

IDK, Vwvortex seems to love any car with a VW logo on it other than this car. They think the Corrado and the VR6 are the two best things ever made. Yet they hate the MK4.

Ian F PowerDork
June 6, 2013 6:42 a.m.
docwyte wrote: I seem to always fight a losing battle on this board as far as VAG products go. This is really simple. If you buy a VAG product that hasn't been maintained and been abused, it WILL abuse you. Plain and simple, these aren't Honda's/Toyota's, you have to maintain them. If you get one from someone who maintained the car and has the records to prove it, it'll be an awesome car for you. I've put 100's of thousands of miles on various VW/Audi's with no issues outside of normal maintenance. You're buying the seller as much as the car here, remember that and you'll be fine.

Agreed. This was also one of the big reasons I bought my car new back in 2003 rather than looking for a used one. Having owned the car since new I know who has done 100% of the work on it (me, myself & I).

Everyone says how "durable" Honda products are, but I replaced more non-wear items on my '91 Integra in less time and miles than my Jetta: LR caliper, radiator, HVAC components were broken when i traded it in and the door windows wouldn't seal properly despite several dealer attempts to fix it. I loved that car and it ran well enough, but it lacked a bit in overall reliability.

RossD PowerDork
June 6, 2013 9:06 a.m.
JtspellS wrote:

That just lets you know the engine is running. Like going through a preflight check list.

  1. Engine? CHECK!
noddaz HalfDork
June 6, 2013 9:15 a.m.

A guy I work with has a MKIV VR6 with 309,000 and counting... Sure it has had a few issues. But part of those problems was the people he had working on it... Overall it has been a good car for him...

ross2004 New Reader
June 6, 2013 9:20 a.m.

I'm at 183k miles on my '01 VR6 and here's the list of things I've replaced aside from normal preventative maintenance: water pump, battery. That's it. My dad bought it at 60k, I took over around 120k. He can't recall ever replacing the brake pads...Yeah it's got the MKIV squeaks, but it runs like the day we got it and doesn't burn a drop of oil. I'd drive it across the country at 29 MPG and not think twice about it.

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