2013 VW Bug

33K on it. Clean history. Is this a good car for the next 5 years or am I better off putting 12K in another used car? If so suggestions.


For whatever reason, the Beetle has had a spotty reliability history, while the mechanically-similar Golf has been ‘better than average’ most all years, according to Consumer Reports. Given that the Golf is more practical, too, that’s what I’d get of the two.

“Clean history” implies to me that you have a Carfax report regarding this car, and that it presents no red flags. Unfortunately, the omissions of relevant information (as well as the presence incorrect information) on those reports makes them of little value.

With a used car, excellent maintenance is paramount.
Can you verify through hard copies of maintenance invoices that the car has had its oil changed on the specified schedule and with the correct European-spec motor oil?
While 33k is not a lot of miles, lax attention to oil changes could have led to an accumulation of sludge in that engine, and that could lead to expensive problems for the next owner.

Thanks to both of you for the information. I will look for hard copies and also look into a Golf.

CarFax lies can only provide iinformation that is sent to them. If a full maintenance history is available from one or more dealers for the Beetle and it looks good, it could be a reliable car for you.

What about mis-reported information?
Carfax might report a perfect maintenance record, but that might not be correct.
A couple of members of this forum have experienced Carfax misinformation, such as ok4450, whose car was listed by Carfax as “stolen” even though it was sitting in his driveway.

That is why I would only rely on hard copies of maintenance records, rather than the overly-hyped Carfax reports.

Be sure to read what Consumer Reports says about this as a used car reliability-wise before writing any checks. Some of the Beetles it seems, depends on the year and the options, have proven a tad problematic for the owners. Not saying it’s a no-go, just be aware of what others are saying, folks who own or have owned it.

It’s not as reliable as most Asian models of similar size and price, but nothing looks like it. If you’ve always wanted a Beetle, you may be willing to put up with its inadequacies, but if what you want is reliable, reasonably priced transportation, you can do better with any number of models from Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Hyundai, Kia, Scion, etc.

Thanks a lot for all the input.

Pick up a Consumer Reports Used Car Buyers’ Guide at the local bookstore. That’ll provide a lot of good comparative reliability data and other data far beyond what could be listed here. And IMHO it’s the most unbiased database available.

That as a guide, plus a good thorough checkup before buying anything, will go a long way toward enhancing your odds of getting a reliable used car.

Ignore CarFax. Their data is way too inaccurate to be useful.

If you’re near a large city, you might have a Hertz or Avis (or other) rental car sales lot nearby. They should have a fair number of cars at around that price, usually about three years old (like that one). They often have more than average miles, but are maintained properly (ask for records). I like that channel because the prices are generally fixed (no haggling) and most will let you take the car home for a day as an extended test. That gives you the opportunity to have it checked over by your own mechanic and get a good chance to try out the seats and see how well you fit. All their cars tend to be equipped at a fairly basic level, do don’t bother going if you want a lot of options. Also, they generally have their inventory online (as do many dealers), so you can see if there is anything that interests you without making a trip.

For 12k, you might look into a left over 2014 model year Ford Fiesta. It would only have test drive miles on it, and you could probably get one for just a little bit more than 12k. You’d also have a full factory warranty on it

Great advice from everyone. I’ve found a rental 2013 Golf with 45k on it. Seems very nice. I drove it today. It’s VW Certified for wat that’s worth. Thoughts on this?

Mark, that’s an excellent suggestion. I’ve always felt that the used rental cars on sale by the big name rental agencies are a far better bet than a comparable aged used car on the open market. People that get rid of new cars after two or three years more often than not do so because there’s a chronic problem… or was an accident. Rental agencies’ motives are totally different. The overwhelming bulk of the cars they’re selling are being sold to rotate their stock to have the newest cars with the latest features available for their customers to rent. The overwhelming bulk of them have absolutely nothing wrong with them. Selling their cars after two or three years is simply a part of their business model.

I’d check the CR ratings, but if the ratings are good it sounds like a good choice. NOTE: I’m totally unfamiliar with the reliability of Golfs, but fortunately Consumer Reports isn’t.

Consumer Reports has liked most recent Golfs and Jettas well enough. They do very well on their road tests and are typically average in reliability, some even a bit better. That seems to be the general rule with German cars. The simplest models can be reasonable bets, but as they get more complex reliability plummets. The Golf is still not as reliable in the long term as the better Asian cars, but while still fairly new it does all right. If I was looking for a car I expected to keep for a decade or more I’d buy something else, but for a five year fling, a Golf would be fun. We had a previous generation Jetta lent to us for a couple of years and did enjoy our time together.

The 2013 Golf with the 2.5L engine and auto is estimated to cost $4700 for maintenance and $1000 for repairs in the first 5 years. A similar Mazda3 is estimated at $3800 for maintenance and $900 for repairs over 5 years. The difference is just 10% for repairs, and I would be more concerned about maintenance costs. You can look up this data in the True Cost To Own feature here:

You can also check a 2010 model to see estimates for older cars of the same model. The data are estimates, but I think the maintenance is pretty accurate.

I’d like to update everyone that has shared their expertise and time. I ended up purchasing a 2011 Mazda CX-7 with 40K on it for $13.5K. I’m happy with it.

Always nice to meet a fellow CX-7 owner. Did you get the turbo or non-turbo motor?

Non-turbo. Any tips for the vehicle?

Follow Mazda’s maintenance schedule to the letter, except change the transmission fluid ever 30,000 to 40,000 miles. It will last a long, long time.