"A great car to drive, but unless you are prepared to fix some things yourself, it could get expensive. The AC system is a reliability nighmare. I have replaced almost every component at least once. The evaporator has failed twice, which involves removing the entire dash to replace. Virtually no one will do this except the dealer. Last time I checked , they wanted over $1800. The ABS controller is notorious for failing. Yes the brakes will still work, but.. dealer wants almost $1000 just for the part, plus the labor to install. Mine has failed TWICE. The Heater Core blew out after 11 years, maybe that is to be expected. The ENTIRE dash needs to be removed in order to replace... count on $1500+ to fix. The engine has been very reliable, no problems after 11 years and 100K miles... just spark plugs and oil changes. Valve cover gasket is due for replacement. Coolant hoses will need to be replaced about every 5 years and they are not cheap, aftermarket silicon hoses are a better choice. The hoses at the back of the engine go first as they are over the exhaust pipes. Exhaust system is still solid, and I am still on the original clutch. Outer CV joints and front wheel bearings needed replacing at 10 years, but that is to be expected. Door moldings have a tendency to fall off, but aftermarket adhesive fixes that. Interior trim (mine is leather) has lasted extremely well, even with dogs riding in the car. I love the car, its styling and performance, but unless you are handy at car repair and finding parts at the junk yard or online, paying for the dealer to fix some things will cost you."
"Bought the car new in '96. The best thing I can say about the car is that it runs well after 264,000 miles. It still gets 30+ mpg regardless of how I drive it.
The electronic gadgets started dying off around 150K miles. No more cruise control, automatic cabin lights when the door is opened, or alarms when the lights are left on. However, the A/C still works and the heater can still roast me out of the car if set to high. With that many miles, most of the broken items are not worth fixing.
I've replaced the starter, fixed a couple water leaks, and performed general maintenance. That's about it. Nothing major has ever gone wrong... hope I didn't just jink it."
"Ive only had this car for 3 months and i will never go to another car. Bought it for 1200 and its been reliable ever since. yeah i had to do some maintenance but it has 197,000 miles. changed oil cooler gasket, struts, and all filters."
"I bought this Jetta new in 1999 right off the truck. (This is a 99A model, based on the 98 body style).
I loved this car for a couple of years. Then the power windows started to have problems. At first it was only the driver's window, but slowly over time it was impossible to raise or lower any of the windows consistently. In the end I quit driving this car because I couldn't guarantee that the windows would stay up while parked.
I have taken this car to the dealer three times for repair, but the repair never lasted. Apparently many Jettas have this problem with the windows.
Even in the end, the Jetta handled like a dream. The 2.0L engine 5-speed manual has better pick-up than you might expect, and it is a blast to drive.
My advice: Don't totally dismiss the Jetta, as it could be a great car, but roll down ALL the windows several times before you buy!"
Pros: "super fun to drive, reliable, great mileage & cute"
Cons: "little things breake"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I am the original owner and I love it! It is super reliable. The only down side it that I broke the vent and then the sun roof went out, later the cup holder broke, but as far as being reliable, this car is awesome! Never brakes down. I am reaching 230K and only once I had to change the clutch/transmission. No major jobs needed aside form that. I hate to get rid of it, because it's so confortable and plush inside."
"I owned one for a year until recently being rear ended at high speed and survived so quite good rear impact protection. Replacement parts are very expensive so avoid the dealers and try ebay or auto yards.
Expect the electrics to fail like the windows, cruise control, dashboard lights (I replaced mine with some led's spots).
The AC needed occasional filling (buy refil cans at auto stores) but was ice cold.
If you get a good one then they're great, if you ever need to take it to the dealer then it will be very epensive."
"I bought this car as a broke college student, I paid cash so I got a good deal. There were a few cosmetic problems with the car but as soon as I turned it on for the test drive I fell in love. The engine was very smooth and two years later still functions very well.
The only major issue that I have with this car is the cheap plastic parts. The driver's side pull handle (interior) has came off. When I was trying to repair another part of my car the plastic clips broke off creating another issue. The headliner is sagging.
With all that said, I still love my car and defend it when anyone laughs... It runs better than many cars driving on the roads!"
Pros: "gas mileage, performance upgrades, parts are easy"
Cons: "no speedo to go over 140mph :)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"ive owned this car for 2 yrs now got it not running and electrical problems (sitting for yrs in the woods) cleaned it all up oil change replaced real box replaced clutch and put about 5gs into the motor and trans and this thing is fast. my speedo goes to 140 and it can pass that and my gps confirms it. i live in washington but travel to southern cal and back 1time a month and does great no problems at all i average 38mpg on premium fuel and couple mods and just cruising 70. if you swap to a 89 jetta tranny it helps alot if you wanna know what you need to do for the swap just ask"
"99 VR6 5-speed manual. THE WORST VEHICLE I HAVE EVER OWNED!!! I had 4 alternators, 6 batteries, nearly EVERYTHING replaced (02 sensors twice, catalytic converter and STILL wouldn't pass smog). I was towed SO MANY TIMES that multiple tow companies in the area knew me by name. Visits to shop were never less than $800. MAJOR ELECTRICAL ISSUES. It was attractive and fun to drive but-DO NOT PURCHASE A VR6- the dealer told me they discontinued this after 1999!!!!!!!!!"
"Just terrible, window tracks/motors broken on 3/4 of my windows shortly after I bought it. One electrical problem after another. Expensive to maintain due to frequent trips to the mechanic. I will never own another VW and will discourage anyone I know from purchasing another one. Garbage craftsmanship and no desire on VWs part to change their poor product. Extremely dissatisfied."
"I own a 98' Jetta and I love the supreme handling and performance. The brakes are very good (even the rear drum type) and road grip is awsome. The A/C is very cold & Heat is very hot. A/C had to be replaced when car reached 9yrs. old. That still not bad. Power windows on left side stop working after 7yrs. Now over 162k miles with no other problems. It's the most reliable car on the road; it requires little to no maintenance and engine never burns oil. I recommend this car to evceryone who loves to drive!"
"I bought this Jetta used from the dealer, without knowing anything about the previous owner. I have owned it now for 5.5 years and put over 100k miles on it. It's about to turn 200k miles and is still running strong. I haven't had any major work done it, besides the timing belt - and I only just had that done for the first time last year. I have done most of the maintenance on it myself with the help of a Haynes manual. You can order spare parts on Ebay. The dealer is pricey for sure. It's really not that hard to work on it yourself. I am in the market for another Jetta once I drive this one into the ground. With love and maintenance, I'm hoping for another 100K!"
"Bought this car new and at 231,000 miles I can say without a doubt it's one of the best cars you can buy period. Planning to buy another one when this quits in another 10 or 15 years! If you're even slightly considering it, buy it. Immediately."
"well first off I had a wolfsburg jetta Mark 3, had electrical problems and returned it and found my car that I've had now for almost 2 years. All I can say is that this car is pretty much my friend. It hasnt let me down, always starts up first try and overall is just a great car. I get a lot of comments like what year and when I say a 1996, people almost look at me and dont belive me. With my Jetta just running over 104k the other day, I know that this car will last for a long long time. I bought mine from a one owner that had it for 16 or 17 years and took pretty good care of it. The body was repainted Tornado red, and I'm not sure what the original color was but I've also had people at car shows saying this is one of the best looking Tornado Red Jetta's they've ever seen. Also the only negitive thing I can think of for the car is some of the maintence can be spendy, but the positive to that too, is that the engine atleast the 2.0 4 cyl engine is quite easy to work on, and has a lot of space too. Overall fun to drive, expecailly when you have a 5 speed, and throw in some other mods, such as lowering springs or racing struts to take hard turns. Overall great car, fun to learn how to drive in!"
"Bought cheap from a local repair shop as a loaner. Cleaned it up, redid the aftermarket sound, replaced the oil pressure sensor ($6.) as it was leaking and am now very pleased. 130k miles and going good. Had a rebuilt clutch and a used transmission before I got it. Changed the oil with mobil 1 and no leaks! very happy with my first car. Easy and cheap to fix if anything goes bad."
"My 2nd Jetta and 3rd VW. Bought my Tornado Red 1998 Jetta GLS 5-speed brand new and still have it 11 years later. Until the A/C pump went out on it around 135,000 miles, it never needed a major repair - just minor stuff. My son now drives the car and loves the thing - he put a loud muffler on it, changed the stereo, and put a sub in the trunk - it's now the perfect teenager car. Has 150,000 miles on it and is, at last, starting to show signs of being worn out. I hate to get rid of it; it still has great pep and is just plain fun to drive; there's nothing like slammin' a gear shift and zipping thru traffic. If you take care of this car and maintain it properly, it will last for many years and many miles."
Pros: "Gas efficient, fun to drive, reliable, affordable,"
Cons: "Cup holders awkwardly placed, headlights"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have a 1998 Jetta and it is the most reliable vehicle that I have ever owned. I got it at 90k and it now has 127k, and I have had no serious maintenance issues. Only 1 minor issue, one air hose had a small leak and the check engine light came on but it is cheap to repair. Prior to ownership of the 1998 Jetta, I had a 1997 Toyota Camry with 125k and the performance of Camry pales in comparison to my Jetta. Superior turn radius and handling, and you won't feel like your driving a tin can. The GL model takes a little while to speed up on the freeway. All Volkswagen cars are designed to have the headlights on ALL the time the car is turned on, you can't turn it off, so you will have to replace the bulbs more frequently than other cars. Excellent gas mileage. Its the most reliable and sturdy car I have owned."
"I purchased the 1998 TDi while in post grad school for basic, fuel efficient transportation. I still use it today as a second vehicle as it drives nicely and last summer achieved 54 mpg on a trip to the coast. Not many cars today can match that. Other than a few cosmetic problems (it IS 12 yrs old), it is still a good car requiring little maintenance. I wish they would use the TDi in a minivan for my wife."
"The 98' VR6 Jetta GLX is the best car I ever owned. 316,000 miles gonna get to 500,000 Superb reliable, handles great, tracks straighter than many new cars from Chevys, and other assorted junk from GM, or Ford. At 316,000 it feels great on the highway, handles great. If it ain't German, it ain't a car. Leather sport seats no back aches I drive 6 hours a day many times, and the seats are still supportive, and comfortable after all this time. 27+ MPG on the highway at times, it's even hit 30 MPG on long steady cruising!!! on a car with 316,000 miles!! What dope buys hybrids, complicated nonsense? And this is a gas VR6!"
Pros: "great price, fun to drive, sold car, good size"
Cons: "AC does not work"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I had this car 4 years ago. I have done some work but nothing was major. I have been traveling all the way from LA to SF 2 every month and I can relay on it. The only thing everyone has this car has a problem with is the AC. mine does not work and most of the car like it at that age with the same situation. I wish there is a way to take care of this."
"Maybe the newer ones are better but mine left such a bad taste in my mouth that I'll never buy another VW. I should have done better research before buying my car, but apparently between 1998 and 2001, VW used some of the worst transmissions they could find (mine was a 99). I bought mine used with 55K miles and within 10k miles of owning it, I was having serious transmission issues. I never had to replace it or have it rebuilt, but that was because I didn't have the money - it was very nerve-racking taking it on any type of roadtrip. I would put it in drive and press the gas and the engine would rev up - not moving - then screech the tires and take off. I had the tranny worked on a few times, although it was never totally fixed. Lot's of other small issues, too: the inside door handle ripped off one time when I tried to close my door, 2 power windows stopped working (a couple hundo each to fix) the wipers stopped working, and lot's $500-1000 jobs under the hood in 5 years of ownership. I finally just traded it. Good riddance."
"I bought my '97 Jetta GLS about a year ago and have loved it ever since. Motor is sound, no ticks or knocks, 5spd tranny shifts smooth as butter, never had any major mechanical problems with it. The only thing I've replaced is the exhaust because the car sat for about a year before I bought it, and I live in a damp climate. This little car has all the bells and whistles while still being reliable. My only suggestion is to use a heavier oil, it seems to like it more. (10W-40 vs. 10W-30) I would recommend a Jetta to anyone!"
"This car is fun to drive and has more power than most people know what to do with. It has run well and reliably for over the ten years I've owned it. A few minor things such as power windows that break every 5 years and sketchy side trim that fell off. I fixed each of these minor headaches for less than $100, so emphasis on 'minor'. Overall, I am a fairly satisfied Jetta driver."
"Windows have major problems, plan on replacing some if not all of your window lifters in the future, along with any plastic pieces on the car, they break and fall off like the car is a toy. Other than that the structure of the car is good performance is good and reliable."