99 VW Jetta

I just inherited a VW Jetta, 1999. It seems to be in ok condition considering the age. I am asking if there are specific areas that are know to be problematic in this car that I should pay extra attention to? Are there some nuances that owners have discovered? I don’t have ready access to CR . I am hoping some VW mechanics or owners could chime in and share their experiences. Thanks!

Older VW’s have a bad reputation for quality. I hope yours was properly maintained during it’s lifetime. I would suggest taking it to a good independent VW mechanic and having it thoroughly inspected. Just be prepared for some maintenance issues. If you’re lucky…you may be able to keep the car on the road.

This is a case for paying about $100.00 to a VW dealer for an inspection. They will give you a list of things that might need attention and some that might be needed now. If a timing belt is recommended some times the inspection fee will be waived if you have them do the work. Check Kelly Blue Book for the value of the vehicle to help decide how much money you would be willing to spend on it.

There are lots of independent shops that work on if not specialize in VWs. Why use a dealer when an indy shop will probably be cheaper and do as good a job?

Gates, which makes replacement timing belts, recommends your Jetta’s belt be replaced every 60,000 miles. If you do not have a receipt for that being done within that interval, have it done. It is an interference engine which will be damaged if the belt breaks.


OK. Can anyone comment on how difficult a timing belt replacement is on this engine?

Also the gates document supplied by MG McAnick (thanks by the way) lists two belts for the 99 Jetta. There is an old style and a new style. It is unclear if they both or only one with work with a specific engine. Can anyone comment?



Can anyone comment on how difficult a timing belt replacement is on this engine?
I don't necessarily have the answer to this question but you need to state which engine you have.

It is a 2.0L. 8 valve gas engine.

I see from some on line searches that some of the timing belt kits for this car include the belt , belt tensioner, & Idler pulley. Some add a water pump and thermostat with related gaskets and hardware to the kit. Depends on how much you want to do.

According to Blaurparts, they say VW recommends a 105,000 mile change interval for the 2.0L 8 valve engine. Based on their experience they recommend a 75k mile change interval. Their kit uses a Gates timing belt, which they say is what the factory uses. They have a pretty in depth website on this topic.

See more here:


Again, comments on the level of difficulty on the job is appreciated.

Are you asking about the timing belt change because you plan to do it ? If so have you ever done one before ? If you have it done you have recourse if something goes wrong, you mess it up and you will spend more money than the car is worth.

I haven’t done the job, but you definitely want the complete timing belt kit with water pump, thermostat and gaskets

I’m a pro, and in my experience, Gates makes pretty good rubber products . . . belts and hoses

For many auto manufacturers, Gates is/was the OEM for those kinds of parts

It’s the 4 cylinder 2.0 gasoline engine, right? Make sure all the recalls have been done. I see recalls for O2 sensor software and the sensor itself, the B-pillar trim, brake light switch, filler neck, others for the B-pillar. Beyond recalls there’s probably some customer interest items. VW should be able to provide that list since you don’t have access to CR. For some reason VW audio systems are a common complaint here, so I expect there’s some recommended fixes associated with that.

Edit: re timing belt replacement

It’s probably similar to the same job on my 4 cylinder transverse-engine Corolla. Which means it is a pretty big job. Not something a typical driveway oil-change diy’er should attempt on their own. Requires a method to hold the engine up while you remove the front mount, usually that’s some kind of engine support bridge and/or a floor jack. You can probably get a look-see at the existing belt condition just by removing the top timing cover.

thanks to all who commented. I have no fear of doing the job myself based on what I have learned so far. I understand the recourse stuff. In a perfect world yes, that would be a greater consideration. I currently don’t have a relationship with a repair shop… so there is that potential BS factor in dealing with a shop call back and getting them to admit to full liability. If I do it myself I can take my time and if I screw up, I will know it and take responsibility. No time extra time lost, less stressful and minimal money spent.

Thanks for the recall info. Is there a reliable source on line to search by VIN for recalls?

Vehicle manufactures sites have recall information by VIN, here is a link to VW;


You can also search safercar.gov for recalls. That is the NHTSA site for recalls and complaints. There is a big yellow but to on the right to begin a search by VIN.