Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Is 12 year old VW Jetta worth buying or will it be deteriorating too fast from here on?

Hello! My friend is selling his car that is in great shape…but I am weary of buying a 12 car? At the same time, I do need a cheap car to use for 1-2 times a week only. Are VW Jettas able to survive for many more years?

Thank you!!

The biggest major problem with the Jetta’s is the automatic transmissions are more likely to fail and need rebuilding or replacement than the average 12 year old car. This is a $2000 repair. If the price is cheap enough and you can document the car was well maintained and cared for, it might work out for you.

It is a 12 year old car, therefore you have to have some money in your budget for repairs. $1000 a year for repairs would not be spent one year, but the next year you might spend $2000. I’d suggest you have $1000 for repairs per year. If you can’t afford that, then you can’t afford the car.

I see these vehicles as nothing but money pits from here on out. Enough said.

Whether it survives or not is a function of how well it was cared for over the last 12 years. Is your friend the original owner? How many miles are there on it? When was the last time the timing belt was changed? The number of miles and the number of years are important.

At this age, care over its lifetime is much more important than the manufacturer.

Thank you all - it is 70,000 miles and the timing belt was just changed. My friend is the second owner - bought it in 2006. Thank you!!

@Ruchei, before you buy, consider whether your friend has had any problems with the car. Are you sure? Are there any maintenance and repair receipts? How often was the oil changed? It should have been at least once per year since the mileage is so low. If you can objectively (not because your friend says so) convince yourself that the car is in excellent shape, it sounds like a good bet.

Most people on this board will say that buying/selling vehicles between friends isn’t recommended if you value your friendship much.

@bscar2, that’s why I suggested double checking that everything was OK with the car.

I don’t think it is possible to predict everything that might go wrong with a car. In 1955, my dad purchased a 1954 Buick from a couple that were friends of the family. This was the newest car he was able to purchase after WW II. The Buick was immaculate and had been meticulously maintained. It had 25,000 miles on the odometer, but most of the miles were for extensive road trips. The original owner had purchased the Buick for his retirement car, but after a year of retirement, his company called him back to work to go to Australia to set up a plant. He was not only furnished a new car in Austalia, but when he returned to the states 2 years later was given a new car. This was his reason for selling the 1954 Buick. At any rate, our family hadn’t owned the Buick 3 days. We went for a ride and the car just stopped. A friendly farmer towed us to a garage in a small community. The mechanic diagnosed the problem as a bad fuel pump. My brother and I were sworn to secrecy to never let my dad’s friends know about the problem because he didn’t want them to feel bad. Eight years later, I bought that Buick from my dad and ran it to 160,000 miles. Neither the head nor pan were ever off the engine. It was a wonderful car and was on the streets 2 years after I sold it.
On the other hand, I had a 1993 Oldsmobile 88 that I sold to a colleague in 2003. I had maintained the car meticulously. This colleague bugged me about the car, but treated me as if I were a used car salesman. I offered it to him at the wholesale price in the book and he kept trying to beat me down. I finally told him to take it or leave it. He bought the car. After he had the car for three months, he had to replace the master cylinder. I had replaced the master cylinder 2 years before I sold the car, but apparently that replacement wore out. At any rate, after having to replace the master cylinder, this colleague went around telling people that I sold him a lemon. He drove the car for a year and sold it for what he paid me for the car. This is the last time I’ll sell a car to an acquaintance.

@Triedaq, any time we interact with people it gives them the opportunity to show who they really are. You gave your colleague a chance to show who he was, and Jerk was writ large all over him in the end. I’m sure that people that knew you and him were aware of that already.

OP should seek out the Consumer Reports Guide to Used Cars. Most any bookstore or library will have it. Some VW make/models/years as I recall are rated quite reliable, others no so much. The VW diesels seem to get pretty good reliablility ratings. For a 12 year old car, you’d want one rated well above average for reliability if repair and maintenance expense and confidence it will be available to use when you need it is important. 8-12 years is the car age where design shortcuts – which were made to decrease manufacturing cost of the new car – can begin to result in major $$ repairs for the used car owner. OP: look up the particular car you are interested in. & Use that info as part of your decision. Best of luck.

Any car that’s 12 yo, regardless of mileage, is bound to be problematic going forward. Doesn’t matter from friend or from a dealer, or craigslist. I agree with @Uncle Turbo.

Check the condition of plugs/compressiom, air filter, muffler hangers, engine mounts. brakes, Hoses in good condition. Battery in less than 3 years old and of good quality. Does the Jetta have its rabbit starts and great handling? Tires good?