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I remember a time when a Volkswagen was, like Toyota is now, an insurance policy against maintenance woes. I owned three Beetles and a Rabbit over my course of ownership with VW; the Beetles performed very well with nothing more than the usual maintenance. I bought the Rabbit new in 1975; first model year, and it was not nearly as high in quality as the 1969 Beetle it replaced.
My question is whether VW has actually declined in reliabiltiy compared to Toyota. This is addressed to you folks who might also own a VW. My partner has a 2002 Jetta TDI with about 65k on it and has almost no problems . We sometimes get into "who's the coolest environmentally" car rivalry: he is making his own bio diesel and I am driving a super low emission hybrid. I was seriously considering buying a Jetta because, well, you can buy one rather than wait for one. I think others folks on the waiting list might also be considering an alternative. Feedback from VW owners might help even if this is a prejudiced chat line.
Bob
 

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Years ago my dad and I were in his MG 1100. He liked the front wheel drive but not the quality and indicated that if someone made a front wheel drive car with VW quality it would be great.

Later we both owned Audi's when they were part of VW and VW had not yet gone front wheel drive. The quality may have been better than the MG 1100 but it was far from what we expected from VW.

In 1980, I bought my first "Toy-auto" for my wife and we were the family pioneer. Later I compared the repair tickets over the first year or so of ownership. Soon my father and brother had Toyotas. The Prius I have on order will be the 6th Toyota I have bought.

I think I came across something in the last month or so that the Consumers Report reliablility survey now places European cars behind American cars in quality. (Japan is still at the top.)
 

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Writing as someone who has never owned a VW, the impression I get from posters in the automotive newsgroups is that VW quality has declined markedly, especially in their Diesels. But those forums suffer from selection effects and small number statistics, so results from repair report surveys (Consumer Reports, etc.) are probably much more reliable.
 

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Hi Bob. I cannot comment on VW, but I am curious about two things:

1. What is involved in making bio-diesel at home? Does your partner just filter used french-fry oil, or is he making it from scratch?

2. I know that particulate emissions are high with regular diesel, as well as NOx from the high combustion temperatures. Does bio-diesel solve those problems?

I certainly think that bio-diesel is an area that deserves attention as a renewable source of energy.
 

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RE

If you check in the recent Consumer Reports, ALL European vehicles seem to lag behind in reliability. Most noticible was MB and BMW's. I've owned both in the past and they were great but they seem to be behind the Oriental offerings and very little above the USA vehicles.
 

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No comparison

I'm a Bug freak, so I know a lot about VW in general. If you want the honest truth it is this: VW only made one truly reliable vehicle ever, and that's the old VW Bug (Sedan, Convertible, Super-beetle) - before they went to fuel-injection etc. The VW Bus was, unfortunately, based on the same drive-train as the Bug, and even though they tried to beef it up a little, it just couldn't handle the extra weight and wind-resistance. So, the Bus was never anywhere close to the Bug in reliability. They may be lovable for other reasons, but that's another story. The old bugs, now, I've had three, and they have without exception been the most durable and reliable vehicles I've ever owned, it's why I came to love them. It helps that they have something like, oh, 3 moving parts :) Assuming it never sees salt (which it won't) or an accident (hope not)), I fully expect my current (last?) bug (1968) to function for *another* 36 years without major problems.

The current VWs all have serious reliability problems. Bio-diesel may be a great idea for some, but the diesel engine in those puppies *requires* that the timing-belt be changed every 40k. My guess is that VW is using the same timing gears/belts/chains as they do in their gas engines, and that these components don't hold up well to the diesel engine. Most diesels run a little rougher than gasoline engines, which is harder on certain components, and is one of the reasons my (ancient) Diesel suburban chews through alternators at about triple the rate of a gas-powered suburban.

I expect that any fuel-savings you get with the Diesel engine will be offset by the added expense of that timing belt replacement, which isn't cheap.

My Sister and my brother-in-law just got a used Diesel Jetta specifically to run on Bio-Diesel when possible. I hope they do OK with it, but I'm expecting the usual VW issues. Look it up in the Consumer Reports Used Car Guide. Also, note the horrible resale value of any modern VW when it is even a few years old...

Also, it is turning out that Diesel emissions are really nasty. The particulate matter is just as bad (or worse) than the chemical junk coming out of gas engines. I only use my suburban for true "truck stuff", so I don't feel bad about having a diesel, but I wouldn't want to run one every day because of the pollution issues.
 

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Re: No comparison

Panjandrum said:
... Assuming it never sees salt (which it won't) or an accident (hope not)), I fully expect my current (last?) bug (1968) to function for *another* 36 years without major problems...
Drive it carefully, though. The classic VW Bug is a coffin on wheels. They stopped making it because its safety record was so deplorable.
 

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Howdy all,

I, too, went from VW to Toyota in my car history : Had a 61 beattle, 69 Van, 71 Superbeattle,VW-411, 74 Van and finally a 75 Rabbit. The 61 through 71 models were very realible, but reliability started going down hill beginning with the VW-411 - the final straw was the 75 gas Rabbit, which was horrible (muffler replacements every 3K miles, failing CV joints, and valve problems all before the car had 25K miles on it!). The 74 Van had fuel injection problems (primarily due to electrical problems : engine compartment control relays that looked like they were made as a science fair project).

I then bought nothing but Toyota's ever since and never looked back, starting with the Corona and going to Tercel, Silica, 4-Runner and now the ultimate - the Prius!!! These vehicles were so reliable I never had to take any of them to a dealer for any maintenence -just change the oil and lube myself. I still have the '86/4-Runner with 160K trouble-free miles on it!!

cheers, klatu
 

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New VW's are a major disappointment

I have a 2001 VW Jetta and I cannot wait to get rid of the thing and get into my Prius. It's been nothing but trouble. The thing burns oil like it is going out of style, and VW that it is within spec for this car to burn a liter of oil every 1,000 miles. Come again? Since they recommend oil changes every 5,000 miles, the thing is basically out of oil by the time you take the vehicle in for an oil change. I guess that's one way to cut down on disposal costs, burn it into the air instead. Besides the oil burning problem, there are so many troubled nuances, interior cloth/dash that doesn't hold up. plastic clips holding on the front bumper that if you pull too far over a parking curb that break, leaving the front end hanging, down, etc.

Do yourself a favor and stay far far away from the Jetta's at least. My friend has a Passat and she hasn't had too many problems.....check out http://www.myvwlemon.com for some more opinions.....
 

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Re: No comparison

Daniel said:
Panjandrum said:
... Assuming it never sees salt (which it won't) or an accident (hope not)), I fully expect my current (last?) bug (1968) to function for *another* 36 years without major problems...
Drive it carefully, though. The classic VW Bug is a coffin on wheels. They stopped making it because its safety record was so deplorable.
Um.....oh, really? So that's why they finally closed their "original Bug" line in Mexico just a couple months ago? Yes, they still made the "original Beetle" in Mexico up until just recently. An amazing history.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... beet12.xml
 

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Welcome all!

Well, I have a Y2K VW Golf TDi could answer your questions.

The TDi up to year 2002 had to have their timing belts changed every 60,000 miles for the 5 speeds and 40k miles for the automatics.
From 2003 on the recomended interval for both is 100k miles.
Average price for the service at the dealers is between $500 and $800 bucks. Doing it yourself if you can can be done for a $200 or so for the parts and about that much for the special tools. To set the timing one needs a Vag-Com with runs around $250. So if you plan on keeping the car for a long time doing it yourself pays off.
Other than timing belts maintenance is no more or less than a regular car with extended oil changes at 10k miles and then the regular intervals for air and fuel filters.
There have been some problems with turbo's but mostly that is only for cars that have been modded or pushed hard consistly. Gassers have had problems with coil packs and gassers and diesels have had MAF's go out on a regular basis. Both have finally been addressed by VW.
My biggest gripes have been for the "smaller" stuff like rear brakes that wear out before 40k miles. (I replaced mine with aftermarket parts and haven't had any more problems.) Interior parts breaking like the glove box and rear seat latches. VW also had a "silent" recall on the window regulators that were breaking right and left.
I'm not even going to get into the legions of reports about lousy dealer service. My first and only visit they put the wrong oil in the car and I haven't been back since.

Well, enough negative.

VW's are very solid feeling cars that drive excellent for small cars. TDi's are capable of amazing mileage also, especially if they have stick shifts. The performance of TDi's can be bumped up considerable with chips, tuning boxes, and/or new injectors. But as far as I'm concerned the more hot-rodding you do the less reliable they are. They can be relatively inexpensively repaired if you can work on them yourselves. But forget it if you take'em to the dealer.

As for biodiesel - I used it for a while but ran into some drivability issues when I ran it at higher mixes. Hard starting when cold and a lack of power out on the road especially. I liked very much how much it quieted the engine I like how it is a home grown product but lately it is running over $3 bucks a gallon in my area so I have quit using it.
Processed biodiesel made from soybeans, not waste oils, burns very cleanly. Waste oils that have not been processed into biodiesel do not burn as cleanly and need to be heated otherwise they will will clog up the injectors and the injection pump big time.
Lots of information here.....www.biodiesel.org

One thing I will say is that I am not into the "them-verses-us" balogna that goes on at various web sites when certain types get the attitude that their choice has been the only choice and will go to great lengths at trying to prove that one way or another.

As far as I'm concerned the more fuel-efficent cars on the market the better, no matter what type of propulsion they are.
 

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Re: No comparison

BIF said:
Daniel said:
Panjandrum said:
... Assuming it never sees salt (which it won't) or an accident (hope not)), I fully expect my current (last?) bug (1968) to function for *another* 36 years without major problems...
Drive it carefully, though. The classic VW Bug is a coffin on wheels. They stopped making it because its safety record was so deplorable.
Um.....oh, really? So that's why they finally closed their "original Bug" line in Mexico just a couple months ago? Yes, they still made the "original Beetle" in Mexico up until just recently. An amazing history.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... beet12.xml
Yes, I lived in Mexico for some time. They have very different attitudes down there, and it's evident in their driving style and many aspects of their life. They seem to believe that if it's your time to go, nothing can save you, and if it's not your time, nothing can hurt you. I've seen open excavations in the sidewalk with no barrier. If someone fell in and sued, the judge would throw the case out of court and ask why you weren't looking where you were going. If someone is killed in a VW Bug and their family sued, the judge would say the fellow knew it was an unsafe car, it was his own choice to drive it, nobody was at fault but him! You can see people hanging on the outside of busses by their fingers and toes. I've seen children playing on the outside of the railing of a balcony while their parents looked on.

Mexicans know the VW Bug is a death trap. "Un ataud andando" (a moving coffin) is how my Mexican friends generally described it. But it's also cheap to buy and maintain, and in a poor country people cannot afford to demand safe cars.
 

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Confusing Bus and Bug

Daniel, you are, at least to some extent, confusing the safety of the Bug and the Bus. It is the BUS that is known as a total death-trap: There is literally nothing but some very tinny sheet-metal and a totally worthless bumper between "you" and "whatever you hit with the front of the Bus". The Bug isn't anywhere close to that bad. That isn't saying it is nearly as good as a modern vehicle with all the safety features, it isn't. In fact, the 68' and prior could be caused to roll under extreme handling situations (much like the Corvair). But, you had to really TRY hard to do that (not like the corvair which did it much more easily until GM fixed the design). Starting in 69 VW also fixed this in the bug. The rollover issue isn't a bad as it sounds though because the bug is so light that the roofs handle it very well, they don't generally get the crushed-roof syndrome that even many modern cars get when rolled-over.

Prius roll-over story: My wife fell asleep in our original (2002) prius and managed to have a "low velocity, low impact rollover" when she slid sideways off a road and into a soft yard - the air-bags didn't even deploy! But the car ended the affair upside down and the roof was definitely starting to buckle. That's a little worrying, what if it had been a serious rollover? I don't think the Prius roof would have held up to it.

I will say however, that you still don't want to rear-end anyone/anything with a bug - they are know for crushing enough to pin your legs pretty badly because the weight of the engine is behind you instead of in front.
 

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My understanding is that the Bug is prone to getting crushed in an accident, crushing the occupants inside. If the Bus is worse, (and I believe you) that's a separate issue. I was not even aware that the Bug would roll over. That's yet another issue.
 

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Das jetta.

I have a 2000 Jetta 1.8T, and I feel qualified to go on for a bit about VW cars, and the plusses and minuses of.

First of all, let's start with the bad. I've had my window regulators fail twice now. I've also had my brake sensor switch (turns the brake lights on when you hit the brakes) fail. Both of which have been adressed by recalls, and happen on both gassers and diesels.

I've also had the dreaded coil pack issue, but that was fixed before I noticed any problems with it. I've had 3 MAF failures and one temperature sensor failure, which was a pain in the ass since they crippled the car and took it off the road for a few days each time.

When I got the car, I had a 3.2 mile commute to work each way. So 24/30 mpg was pretty darn good in that situation. I could drive all week to work, and drive down to philly one night for some partying (35 miles each way) and still have 2/3 of a tank of gas for the next week. If not more. :)

I also got the 17" wheels and the sport suspension. Again, given the driving I was doing each way, it was great. All twisty back roads... lots of opportunity to hang on corners and let the turbo spool. For it's price, you can't find a better handling car than the Jetta. :)

But I now drive 32 miles each way to work, and that sport suspension and the 17" wheels (1 rim, 2 tires claimed by potholes) are a detriment. The suspension alone is driving me to consider a chriropractor. :) And I just can't handle the "major repair every 8 months" routine.

I will miss the handling and brakes. I know the prius won't handle or brake as well as the Jetta, that's a given. I am looking forward to the improved reliability, milage, and the knowledge that I'm driving a much "cleaner" car.

Just my .02
 
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