Author Topic: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?  (Read 6814 times)

EvenKeeled

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Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« on: October 12, 2014, 06:45:35 PM »
Hi, all. I'm pretty new here--been reading lots in the blog and forum.

My first big decision to help reduce costs is the car thing. I could keep driving my 2001 VW Golf 1.8T four-door with 117k miles. Or sell it and buy a car with better milage and reliability record. Like a Scion xA or Toyota Matrix or Honda Fit.

I like my VW (solid, good handling, nice features, lots of air bags, etc.) so I could keep it a bunch more years. But I'm worried I'm heading into the milage where it will start needing more and more money put into it. Consumer Reports give it a lousy rating for reliability.

If I do replace it, it feels weird to buy a car with almost the same, or even a couple more, miles on it. How much better will that car be if it's so old? And is the devil you know better than the one you don't?

I'd love to hear you're take on this. Thanks!

matchewed

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2014, 08:38:03 AM »
It's a math question. How much is your current car costing you? How much would a replacement cost? Add all the variables in, maintenance, gas, property tax...etc. Compare the two. You have your answer.

Forcus

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2014, 10:23:59 AM »
I'm generally not a fan of VW's for the reliability standpoint but I've also lost lots of $$ by trying to "idealize" my car situation. If the car isn't worth that much (say, $3-4k), I'd just keep it until it pukes up something major like an engine or transmission. Even a car needing one of those has some marginal value ($1k-1.5k). It could dump a major component tomorrow, or at 200k, hard to know. Of course if it right now has 10 moderate things wrong with it, then it might make more sense to just get rid of it because that kind of stuff on Germans adds up quick.

I have seen the first generation Honda Fit's getting really cheap though, 6-7k and under 100k miles. I am not a huge Honda fan but even I can put aside the fugly looks (my opinion) for that kind of value prop.

EvenKeeled

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2014, 11:59:43 AM »
Thanks for the input, guys.

I haven't recorded the current milage I'm getting with the Golf (working on it), but at http://www.fueleconomy.gov the combined milage is 24 mpg. Versus 29 for a 2006 Matrix.

I'm around 8,000 miles per year, so if gas is $4.20 (premium) for the VW and $4.00 for the Toyota  that comes out to:

VW: $1,400/yr and Toyota: $1,103/yr = $297/yr difference.

I don't know what the difference in maintenance would be, but figure the VW will be some hundreds more over the next ten years. Accurate, huh?

If I drive it till it "pukes" an engine or transmission, then I'll have to buy a "new" car pretty darn quick. Not my preferred style, and not a good way to get a good price.

Soooooo, I can save $300 a year on gas, stop worrying about if and when the VW will start really acting up (it already has a "check engine" light that keeps coming back on after mechanic can't see anything wrong and resets it), and buy a Japanese car.

Damn, I'm indecisive!

Forcus

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2014, 12:10:18 PM »
If I drive it till it "pukes" an engine or transmission, then I'll have to buy a "new" car pretty darn quick. Not my preferred style, and not a good way to get a good price.

Well, you could rent until you found something, but I see what you are saying. Full disclosure, I have backup cars and we really only need 1 car so when one dies, it's no big deal. My viewpoint might be a little different than someone with "just" one car.

Quote
Soooooo, I can save $300 a year on gas, stop worrying about if and when the VW will start really acting up (it already has a "check engine" light that keeps coming back on after mechanic can't see anything wrong and resets it), and buy a Japanese car.

It sounds like you have your mind made up. The gas mileage is an issue as well as reliability, won't deny that. To be honest, I value peace of mind over saving a middling amount of money so I don't disagree with your thinking. I also have a love /  hate for the Germans. Full disclosure again.

EvenKeeled

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2014, 01:04:22 PM »
If I drive it till it "pukes" an engine or transmission, then I'll have to buy a "new" car pretty darn quick. Not my preferred style, and not a good way to get a good price.

Well, you could rent until you found something, but I see what you are saying. Full disclosure, I have backup cars and we really only need 1 car so when one dies, it's no big deal. My viewpoint might be a little different than someone with "just" one car.

Quote
Soooooo, I can save $300 a year on gas, stop worrying about if and when the VW will start really acting up (it already has a "check engine" light that keeps coming back on after mechanic can't see anything wrong and resets it), and buy a Japanese car.

It sounds like you have your mind made up. The gas mileage is an issue as well as reliability, won't deny that. To be honest, I value peace of mind over saving a middling amount of money so I don't disagree with your thinking. I also have a love /  hate for the Germans. Full disclosure again.
Forcus--Thank you for the follow up. I actually love the German feel of this VW, which is why I bought it slightly used back in 2002. I kind of dread the light-weight feel and poor drive feel I expect from a used Japanese car (I had them before this car).

But I'm wanting to move toward optimization, as MMM call it. So, I'm going to answer some craigslist ads to test drive several cars and see how I feel then.

Forcus

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2014, 08:54:14 AM »
Not to throw a wrench in it but you might try a 2012-14 Focus. In my opinion has that buttoned down Germanic feel that a Golf / Jetta does. Enough power to get it done, torque to get away from stoplights, and decent MPG. And at least in my opinion better reliability than a VW. I've seen them from 10-14k very frequently.

Eric

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2014, 12:11:36 PM »
If you only drive 8K miles per year, how are you so dependent on the car?  Can't you bike or bus or train or walk or bum a ride from a friend/coworker for the time it would take you to replace it?  I'd "dance with who brought you" for as long as possible.

EvenKeeled

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2014, 01:32:06 PM »
Forcus--I'm generally leery of American cars, and those sound too new for what I'm trying to do, but I'll take a look just to see. Thanks for the ideas.

Eric--That might be a good experiment to make do without a car for the time it would take me to find and buy another one. But I think I'd rather have the luxury of time when it comes to finding what I want. Based on some time on craigslist recently, it might take me a few weeks or more. Thanks for the different take on it.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2014, 02:52:44 PM »
I have a 2004 VW Golf TDI with just over 118K miles on it, and it still feels young to me. I am 100% with you on the "feel" of the VW. But you know, I also have that darned check engine light that no one can figure out. I drive about 8000 miles per year as well. I have been saving up to have cash on hand to buy a "new" car when the time comes, but I am planning on getting at least 200K miles out of this car. If it craps out on me, I can get by with a bike in a pinch, so I am not worried. 
« Last Edit: October 14, 2014, 06:23:54 PM by hoodedfalcon »

EvenKeeled

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2014, 05:23:22 PM »
hoodefalcon--Now you're making me think I should keep it till 200K! The difference in gas is about $260/yr now, about $222 if get down to 6,000 miles/yr as I'm planning for next year.

At 8,000 miles we've got ten years left. At 6,000 miles, over 13.5 years. Wow.

One other factor is: you've got to get that check engine light to stay off for a certain number of days to pass smog. Or at least I do. Not sure about diesel engines.

I think I'll keep my fun VW till at least next May when it's time to get it smogged. Thanks all!

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2014, 09:28:07 PM »
That car is known as the MKIV, and it's also generally known as one of the worst money sponges in recent VW history for feeling like a great car, but constantly sucking money out of you to keep it running right.  I've never owned one, but I've put a couple thousand miles on a Golf 1.8T of that MKIV generation that a friend of mine had.  Nice cars when they're running well, but I wouldn't count on one for the long haul.

You mention the Toyota Matrix.  I will throw this out here as a suggestion: Pontiac Vibe.  It's the exact same car, but they generally sell at a steep discount compared to the Toyota version since everyone thinks you'll never be able to get it repaired since there's no more Pontiac.  Reality is that any independent shop that knows what they're doing can work on and get parts for the Vibe all day long because it's really just a Toyota Matrix.  I saw one recently on Craigslist work its way down to just $2700 before I saw the ad finally vanish, apparently selling at that point.  No way do I ever see the Toyota version ever get that cheap.  Perception.  Use it to your advantage.  :)

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2014, 06:54:31 AM »
That car is known as the MKIV, and it's also generally known as one of the worst money sponges in recent VW history for feeling like a great car, but constantly sucking money out of you to keep it running right.  I've never owned one, but I've put a couple thousand miles on a Golf 1.8T of that MKIV generation that a friend of mine had.  Nice cars when they're running well, but I wouldn't count on one for the long haul.

You mention the Toyota Matrix.  I will throw this out here as a suggestion: Pontiac Vibe.  It's the exact same car, but they generally sell at a steep discount compared to the Toyota version since everyone thinks you'll never be able to get it repaired since there's no more Pontiac.  Reality is that any independent shop that knows what they're doing can work on and get parts for the Vibe all day long because it's really just a Toyota Matrix.  I saw one recently on Craigslist work its way down to just $2700 before I saw the ad finally vanish, apparently selling at that point.  No way do I ever see the Toyota version ever get that cheap.  Perception.  Use it to your advantage.  :)

I don't know what MKIV stands for. Mine has not been a money sponge at all. I had the timing belt/water pump service at around 100K and the mass air flow sensor replaced (few hundred bucks), but that is it, in over 10 years of ownership. Hell, I probably get the oil changed about once ever 10-12 months. Maybe it's the diesel that makes mine so low maintenance. Is 10 years the long haul? 15 years? I am not OP, but I don't see the point in replacing a car that is running well because it *might* crap out at some point in the future.

Forcus

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2014, 08:37:29 AM »
I think your mileage will vary. I have had 3 water-cooled VW's, an '86 Jetta Wolfsburg, another '86 Jetta, and the wife's 01 Bug and some experience with other, newer VW's.

I drove the Wolfsburg for a couple years. Even though it had 140k miles and just a plain old 8V 4 cylinder, it started every time. I didn't have any problems with door handles like a lot of people do, never did any suspension or brake work even though it was majorly lowered. I would say that my one data point for 80's VW's compared to 80's domestics left a favorable impression. But I could have been lucky - I got all the paperwork since new with the Jetta so it obviously had been well cared for. The other '86 I don't really mention because I never drove it extensively.

The Bug was something of a different story. I must have put 20 headlight bulbs in the thing (and the dealer wanted $60 each....  ha!) until I tried an extra ground wire and voila, no more problems. Poor VW design, undersized wiring. The headlight housing was an extremely poor design, with an overly complicated plastic retaining mechanism that was mostly inaccessible. I had to destroy one of the headlights to get it out. The engine suffered from various misfires and maladies although I traced this down to spark plug wires that would mysteriously come loose (and I used factory replacement parts). The bracket that holds the upper intake manifold cracked (how, I don't know) and it was impossible, from my judgment, to get to without major work. The interior had this soft vinyl coating on the plastic pieces... which apparently would develop leprecy with age. The seats used some kind of fabric that would water stain if you looked at it wrong. Of course most of these did not affect driveability or reliability but they were things I considered unacceptable in a modern car and also examples of the nickel and dimeing that I had heard about with VW cars.

Additionally the local dealer is a douche so I had to become the chief mechanic for VW's in our household. And on newer ones some of that stuff is impossible to diagnose without the fancy VAG tool (ha... not even making that name up).

This is of course my limited experience and anecdotal. I know people with newer VW's that have never had a problem (or if they have, they are too embarrassed or proud to admit). Also if the nickel and dime things don't concern you, then your frustration might be far less than someone OCD like me. Just my $.02.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2014, 08:48:28 AM »
What Forcus posted is common.  MKIV means "Mark 4", as in the 4th generation platform for the Golf/Jetta.  They were infamous for goofy electrical issues like Forcus mentioned as well as bad window regulators, coilpacks, MAF failures, DV (diverter valve; part of the turbo system) failures, and a bunch of random "little stuff".

List of common MKIV Golf/Jetta problems and how to resolve

If the OPs has been pretty solid, then it's one of the lucky ones and I wouldn't be in a big hurry to ditch it.  Like milk that hasn't spoiled yet, there's no reason to throw it away if it's still working for you.

EvenKeeled

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2014, 11:35:45 PM »
What Forcus posted is common.  MKIV means "Mark 4", as in the 4th generation platform for the Golf/Jetta.  They were infamous for goofy electrical issues like Forcus mentioned as well as bad window regulators, coilpacks, MAF failures, DV (diverter valve; part of the turbo system) failures, and a bunch of random "little stuff".

List of common MKIV Golf/Jetta problems and how to resolve

If the OPs has been pretty solid, then it's one of the lucky ones and I wouldn't be in a big hurry to ditch it.  Like milk that hasn't spoiled yet, there's no reason to throw it away if it's still working for you.
That's an interesting link, thanks! I had done some googling around to read about my car's reliability record and hadn't seen that site before.

Actually, I had $2,000 of work done a little over a year ago (timing belt and water pump, then camshaft tensioner and valve cover gasket). I've been trying to "get my money's worth" out of those expenses since then.

Also, it has faulty alarms for leaving the lights on and leaving the keys in the ignition, the car alarm sometimes goes off when it's not supposed to (rarely), and occasionally it loses power for a few seconds while driving on the highway (been doing that last one for quite a while, though very infrequently). So, I guess if I put it all together, it does have a bunch of problems.

As it happens, just since I started this topic I've had a little trouble starting the Golf twice in a week. Hmmm. I think I might not keep it too long given that development, and the info I'm getting here.

Forcus

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2014, 09:39:23 AM »
So, I guess if I put it all together, it does have a bunch of problems.

I think it's something in the plastics they use in the VW interiors. They gas out chemicals that promote denial for all your automotive issues, lol.

I wouldn't make a decision based on your sunk costs. I would make a decision based on estimated future costs. Also consider whether you have to fix those issues to get it sold or if you can sell as is. If you can sell as is, with full disclosure for $3k, or fix all the issues for $2k but still only get $4k, then obviously it makes sense to sell as is.

If you are fairly sure that fixing those issues will give you 30-50k more miles of driving bliss, I wouldn't necessarily get rid of it. If it's going to be a recurring question mark I would seriously consider getting out of it and in to something that you won't have to worry about, like what you outlined before.

FYI, not that it's a huge issue, the cars you listed (if I remember right, Pontiac Vibe / Toyota Matrix, Scion xA, Yaris?) all have aftermarket suspension parts to fix their (in some models) soft suspension and make them feel more German.

peace

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2014, 01:05:15 PM »
My 2005 Golf has been lighting up the check engine and losing power for a few seconds on the highway for at least a year. The VW mechanic and his computer couldn't figure out the light. After a time, I noticed that the power loss occurred only when the gas tank was less than a quarter full. Talked to the mechanic the next time the light came on. We replaced the gas cap and that fixed both problems.

EvenKeeled

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2014, 01:19:52 PM »
Forcus - Thanks for the tip on after market suspension for a Matrix (my current top idea for my next car).

peace - Hey, that's interesting. I'll see if my gas is low if that power loss happens again.

RWD

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2014, 08:51:20 PM »
I think it's something in the plastics they use in the VW interiors. They gas out chemicals that promote denial for all your automotive issues, lol.

Hmmmm...
http://carbuying.jalopnik.com/that-new-car-smell-might-be-killing-you-wip-1639564423

Cromacster

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2014, 09:19:17 PM »
I feel you are just trying to complicate things or you just want a new car.  I feel this falls into the proven business thought that it is always cheaper to keep an existing customer than to find a new one.

you already have a car, that you plan to drive a relatively small amount per year.  You have shown that the fuel economy for your possible choices is not going to be enough to justify the payback.  All cars have maintenance.  Generally, if you learned how to do basic maintenance on your own car you can avoid most of the cost associated with this.

My feelings, drive it till it dies.  Rationalizing why it would be better to buy a new car is just that, rationalizing.

Forcus

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2014, 10:53:22 AM »
I feel you are just trying to complicate things or you just want a new car.

[humor]Apparently you've never owned a VW out of warranty (just kidding)[/humor]. I think you are right for as little as $200 / yr difference in fuel. That could easily be eaten up by an unexpected repair on the unknown quantity (cheap used car) vs. the known quantity (well maintained but high mile VW).

The savings would have to be significantly more for me to make a switch (or, the unquantifiable discomfort from worrying about problems adds up to making it worthwhile).

OP: Other options to consider, 2011-13 Fiesta or Focus sedan and hatchbacks. Just took a look today and you can find Fiesta's around 10k. I know you shy away from domestics but the Focus and Fiesta are as much of a world car as you can get. Built in many factories around the world. Watch some Russian bad driving videos, lots of Focii can be seen (not usually driving badly).

Scandium

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2014, 11:15:41 AM »
Thanks for the input, guys.

I haven't recorded the current milage I'm getting with the Golf (working on it), but at http://www.fueleconomy.gov the combined milage is 24 mpg. Versus 29 for a 2006 Matrix.

I'm around 8,000 miles per year, so if gas is $4.20 (premium) for the VW and $4.00 for the Toyota  that comes out to:

VW: $1,400/yr and Toyota: $1,103/yr = $297/yr difference.

I don't know what the difference in maintenance would be, but figure the VW will be some hundreds more over the next ten years. Accurate, huh?

If I drive it till it "pukes" an engine or transmission, then I'll have to buy a "new" car pretty darn quick. Not my preferred style, and not a good way to get a good price.

Soooooo, I can save $300 a year on gas, stop worrying about if and when the VW will start really acting up (it already has a "check engine" light that keeps coming back on after mechanic can't see anything wrong and resets it), and buy a Japanese car.

Damn, I'm indecisive!
Why are you filling premium? I drove a turbo volvo for while that called for premium but I never bothered, didn't see any difference. I tried tracking milage with both but don't remember finding any difference there either. I looked around the web and didn't find a compelling reason to spend the extra money.
Btw I just filled up for $3.06 the other day, but that's east coast..

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Sell 2001 VW Golf 1.8T? How old car should I replace it with?
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2014, 11:50:26 AM »
Why are you filling premium? I drove a turbo volvo for while that called for premium but I never bothered, didn't see any difference.

This is a very well discussed topic.  Head over to vwvortex.com some time, or do some internet research.  The VW 1.8T from that era specified 91 octane and although it can pull out timing when you use lower octane, it is not recommended.  They can be fussy engines when you run them with non-standard oil or fuel.  Also search "1.8T sludge" for LOLs about running oil that is different from manufacturer specification.

Some modern turbo cars, especially those with direct injection, are specified for use with as low as 87 octane.  If the manufacturer specifies it, you're fine.  Also some cars can get away with low octane more easily than others.  For the old VW 1.8T in particular with high mileage, I would avoid using less than 91 octane.  Then when you look for a new car, pick one that specifies that it is designed for 87 octane.  Otherwise you're rolling the dice, similar to driving with low tire pressure, or driving 11,000 miles between oil changes.  Sure, maybe everything will be OK, but in general the long-term odds are not in your favor when you operate outside the recommendations.