VW GTI: buy lower mileage, or higher mileage w/warranty?

Technically a “reliability” question …

This afternoon, a little old lady ran her Caddy through a red light right into my beloved Mazda Protege5. Perhaps some auto retail therapy will ease my back spasms.

As an impecunious author, I can’t spring for Wolfsburg’s latest, so I’ve narrowed it down to two 2007 examples of my dream car, the VW GTI - both are 4-cylinder Turbo w/DSG.

Car61 has 61,000 miles, and is a VW “certified pre-owned car” with 2year/24K VW limited warranty.
Car32 has only 32,000 miles on it, and complete dealer maintenance records, but is out of warranty. And he’s asking $2500 more than the Car61 cost.
(Options differ, and Car61 is 2500 miles farther from home, but my main concern is VW’s spotty reliability - and the associated costs.)

Should I choose the lower mileage car, or the cheaper higher mileage car with the warranty? Which will be more fun / which more pain?


[Edited the descriptions for clarity. The higher mileage car is far away, is a one owner trade in, and has the warranty.]

The one you should be is the one that is in the best condition, which is usually the one that has received proper maintenance. Too bad there is no way to really know.

I’d pass on both unless one or both has a manual transmission. VW auto transmissions are prone to failure. If you buy one with an auto transmission get the fluid changed our immediately. VW claims lifetime auto trans fluid, and a lifetime is about 60K miles and then the trans reaches the “failure” zone.

Going 2,500 miles to get a more expensive car site unseen seems a big extra expense. Perhaps you have friends or family in that area that would help with the logistics and reduce the costs. If not, shipping charges and plane fare could just push it out of reach.

I’d focus on the local car.

Car 1, if forced to choose between the two.

However, do not buy it until you test drive a Mazda 3.

Uncle Turbo brings up a good point…What transmission are we talkin about here…VW NOW…has some fancy pants transmissions…Dual Clutch ? Auto…Manual…or whatever flavor they have now…

What year GTi are talking about? …I have a 20th Anniversary with a 6sp manual…simple, fast, uncomplicated & rare actually…

Let us know

2500 miles from you? I would eliminate that car immediately. Also . . you should speculate about just why someone would “get rid of” a car at only 31,000 . . … or for that matter 62,000 miles. I wouldn’t. So there has to be a reason both cars were traded-in. I can’t speak to VWs so-called lousy reliability record of late, maybe someone here can speak to that if they are/were VW owners. But let me ask you about your Jap Mazda . . . was it reliable? Good mpg? Comfortable? Keep you relatively safe in your accident? D’ya know where I’m going here? Go check out the new Mazdas. Rocketman

Rocketman, I work at a dealership and have seen people trade card in at 10-15k for the same car, sometimes even the same color so no one knows they got a new car. Why??? Because they can. I gave ip trying to figure some people out a long time ago. Bottom line is Im going to say Most people don’t drive cars till the wheels fall off.

I know what you mean ragtop . . . my Dad used to trade his station wagons in (the 1960s through early 1980s minivan of its time) every two years, regardless of mileage or condition. I bet that I drove more station wagons growing up than anyone I know. Go figure. Rocketman

Both cars have the DSG automatic transmission. The 2007 GTI won some “Car of the Year” price, but obviously I don’t want to replace a transmission down the line.

Car 2 (lower mileage) has complete maintenance records - he’s selling (he says) because he has to leave the country. It’s plausible - this is an international area.

I sorta like the idea of flying cross-country and driving Car 1 back. It was a trade in, and the dealer (unusually) gets excellent reviews on Yelp.

I drove a Mazda 3 with much anticipation a few years ago. The power steering had way too much assist for my taste - I felt completely disconnected from the car. (And I’m hardly an expert driver.) And the appearance is a bit over the top for me, though that’s less true of the 2008/2009 that I can afford. I like “understated,” which is exactly what the GTI provides.

I guess I’m wondering how GTI reliability might be better than VW reliability as a whole, and how miles 30-60K matter on a relatively old car.


I would rule out Car 2 immediately (very little is worth flying 2500 miles across the country for) and go for Car 1. Save the $2500 for future repairs. Keep in mind that the DSG transmission is very expensive to change the fluid, let alone replace or repair. See if you can talk the dealer down a bit in price and put that money directly into the $2500 maintenance fund. And get that DSG fluid changed immediately if it hasn’t. I’d love a GTI, but I would be very hesitant to buy a used one with a DSG, regardless of mileage.

Unless you are buying a classic car I would not travel more than 100 miles for a used car. My range has been 50 miles for many years and even then I have regretted the trip more than I like to admit. When I have gotten there to see the car, I have found all sorts of problems with these “perfect” used cars.