So you're not one who favours buying a new car, but prefers scouring the used car markets instead. There is some logic to this thinking. Why buy a brand new Perodua Myvi when you can get a used VW Jetta for around the same money, or less?
To build a case for this, let's take a look at the VW Jetta, as prices of these cars have dropped to a very attractive price point. What is the catch? Well, you, the shopper will need to do your homework, that's the catch.
To help you with your research, we have enlisted the advice of some actual VW Jetta owners, and also the good people at VAGTechnik. Therefore, these insights are as real-world as they come. Let's get into it.
Common problems - Engine
The Jetta came initially came with a twincharged 1.4 TSI engine packing 160 PS and 240 Nm. One common issue with this powertrain is cracked pistons, so do a compression test if you're serious about buying a unit with this engine. Overhauling this engine would cost in the range of RM 5,000 to 8,000, depending on the severity, according to VAGTechnik.
Whilst it's unlikely everything will fail at the same time, other engine-related items that warrant attention are;
Common VW Jetta engine-related problems
Radiator fan motor
Timing chain cover gasket
All prices quoted are inclusive of labour from VAGTechnik.
The newer turbocharged 1.4 TSI engine (150 PS, 250 Nm) on facelift 2016 models doesn't suffer from the piston cracking issue. The rest of the wear and tear items listed above do apply for this engine as well, albeit not as pronounced as they're relatively new.
Common problems - Transmission
Straight up, the most commonly discussed problem is the mechatronic unit found in the dual-clutch DQ200 transmission. Therefore, do make sure that the maintenance history of the transmission checks out. Otherwise, you're looking at a mechatronic replacement. VAGTechnik quotes RM 2,300 with labour.
If you test drive a Jetta, you'd want to pay attention to the clutch also. Make sure there's no slippage when accelerating hard. Clutch replacement costs around RM 2,650 with labour.
Last year, Volkswagen Passenger Cars Malaysia (VPCM) did issue a recall relating to this gearbox’s hydraulic pressure accumulator. Best to look at cars that have gone for the recall campaign.
Servicing and maintenance
A regular oil change would cost in the region of RM 300 - 400, depending on the type of oil you choose. VAGTechnik also recommends a DSG oil change every 30,000kms. Typically, this would cost around RM 200 all in.
Being a model that has been around since 2011, there will be wear and tear parts on the older models. So, do look out for some of the items listed on the table below.
Common VW Jetta wear & tear items
Bottoms out easily, leaking
AC condenser + cooling coil
AC loses cooling performance
Coolant tank sensor
Temperature warning light
Wheel speed sensor
ESP/ABS warning light
Reduced braking performance
Which variant is the one to go for, and how much?
Early pre-facelift models mostly came in one trim, with a few special editions here and there (Jetta Sport, Jetta Club, Jetta Allstar, mostly all cosmetic enhancements), but the twincharged 1.4 TSI drivetrain was the same across the board. Market prices hover from RM 30,000 > 45,000. The major update came in 2016 when the Jetta received a facelift (which came in 3 trims).
Major revisions in the facelift included a new turbocharged 1.4 TSI engine, bi-xenon headlamps, keyless entry and ignition, plus interior and exterior cosmetic revisions. I'd recommend the facelift models (especially the Highline) as these have enhanced equipment and features. Bear in mind that these command a premium, obviously. A budget of RM 60,000 > 80,000 will put one in your garage.
Having said that, personally I feel the twincharged 1.4 TSI engine feels more zingy and sweet. So, if you're looking at a pre-facelift model, comb carefully and thoroughly (we usually advocate you deal with private sellers). Early pre-facelift CBU cars also came with paddle-shifters, which was subsequently removed in CKD models.
If possible, keep a lookout for unmodified cars. The Jetta having a forced-induction engine, means that many previous owners would have tuned the car for more power, possibly affecting reliability in the process. Best to go with an unmolested unit.
What's important to remember when buying a car like the VW Jetta is, go in with your eyes open. Don't get taken in by remarks by other people who haven't owned one. Ask around, do some reasearch, and find out for yourself. If you have done your homework, you'll most probably land yourself a car that's punchy, comfortable, and refined. For RM 30,000 to 45,000, why not?
Jason's foremost passion is all things automotive, where he spent his formative working years as a Product Planner and Trainer. An Advanced Driving Instructor by training and an all-round enthusiast, Jason loves going into intricate details about driving dynamics. Will drive anything with 4 wheels and a steering.