2003 GTI with noticeable thumping in front end / steering wheel shimmy



I’m looking at buying a very clean 2003 GTI with only 45K miles. I test drove it. The engine, transmission, brakes, etc all felt fine. However, there is a noticeable, but not super hard or loud, thumping coming from the front end. And if you take your hands off the steering wheel, you can see it shimmy slightly as it’s obviously picking up the vibration from the thumping. As I said, it was there, but It wasn’t terrible, and when I took the car on the highway and got up to speed, the thumping seemed to fade somewhat.

I called it to the dealer’s attention. He said his service guys would go through the car, figure out what was wrong and fix it. I’m just trying to get an idea as what it might be from any of you folks, so that I might have a better chance of knowing whether or not the dealer is being on the level with me when they tell me what they found/fixed.




Could be as simple as a tire needing to be balanced, a tire with damage, maybe a bent rim, or it could be a worn or damaged suspension component. Don’t go further until they fix it and tell you what it was. There are plenty of non-thumping cars out there!


Used cars are like buses. Another one will come along in a few minutes.
If there is ANY question about the condition of a used car, walk away.

And, no matter what the dealership tells you about the car’s condition and its prior maintenance, you need to do 2 things:

Request documentation of its maintenance. (In my opinion, buying a car without maintenance records is just asking for trouble)
Have a mechanic of your choice inspect the vehicle. If the selling dealer balks, walk away!
(If the vehicle is a foreign make, use a mechanic who normally works on a lot of foreign-make vehicles, as he will be more aware of the unique quirks of that make.)


It SOUNDS like a defective tire, the beginnings of a tread separation.


Tell him to call you AFTER his service guys go through the car, figure out what’s wrong, and fix it…and if you’re still interested you’ll stop by.

Then walk away and keep looking.