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Buy or Bye-Bye 2010 VW TDI Golf

Having a time making the decision to buy a 2010 TDI Golf (50k miles)…am driving 75 mile round trip commute and love the gas mileage of the car – but am not up to date on new Diesel engines especially VWs…I’d appreciate your suggestions to buy or say bye-bye!

I really don’t know anything about VW diesels, but I’ll point out that my wife has had a BMW diesel for a few years now and we have no regrets about buying it.

The 2010 TDI (and the rest of the Jetta TDI years) are ‘average’ at Consumer Reports, with ‘fuel system’ the one significant trouble area. Pretty good. But do you have ready access to diesel? And to a VW diesel mechanic, just in case?

Do not expect it to be exceptionally reliable or long lived compared to a gas version. But if all this is OK with you, AND IT PASSES A THOROUGH PRE-PURCHASE INSPECTION, then sure.

Before you conclude that a VW TDI is what you want, go to and take a look around in their fuel mileage forum to get a good idea of the fuel mileage that you might expect. Then investigate oil change cost using the recommended special oil and fuel filter change cost and frequency. Investigate diesel fuel cost and history, if you can, compared to 87 octane gasoline. If you live in a very cold winter area and park outside, a TDI diesel will start but a gasoline engine will start easier. A compact gasoline fueled car of a size similar to a Golf will compare quite well overall in driving expense.

Another car you may want to look at is the Chevy Cruze Eco (42 MPG highway on regular gas) or the Mazda 3 Skyactiv (~40 MPG highway on regular) Both would likely be cheaper to maintain and use less expensive fuel. However, the TDI could be the right car for you.

You could probably buy a new Cruze for the price of the used VW. People don’t seem to pencil out the economics when buying a car, only what they want. I’ll just about guarantee in the end the Cruze would be cheaper per mile than the VW. Even the gas Cruze would almost certainly be cheaper per mile to drive than the VW. Or wait till spring, the Cruze is supposedly coming here with a diesel. I rented one recently in England and was very impressed.

You can also see real mileage reports here:

Automatic versions get about the EPA estimate while manual versions seem to be about 4 MPG better. EPA estimates are about the same for either transmission option.

One of the most recent issues of Cons Reports gave good marks to the VW TDI engine as I recall. Better marks I think than the VW gasoline engines.

VW TDIs are overpriced. Very expensive new, and with the cult following they don’t depreciate as much as other cars. They drive wonderfully and feel almost like entry-level luxury cars, though, so if money isn’t your top concern, I’d go for it. Get a manual TDI, though, the DSG automatics require expensive routine maintenance.

But if money is a top concern, I would do what others suggest and get a lightly used Chevy Cruze, Ford Focus, Chevy Sonic turbo, or Ford Fiesta (if you fit). They will do ~40mpg highway, are cheaper to repair, don’t require diesel which is running 50-60 cents more per gallon where I live. They also have nice interiors, quiet rides, and decent handling, which used to be traditional VW-only traits in the compact car world.