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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I'm not yet an owner of any VW vehicles but I am currently considering a 2003 Jetta GLI, Manual. Let me immediately confess to you all that, YES, I am here to humbly beg for your expertise. Let me explain why.
As I note in my profile, I am not a car expert but I do take great interest in my cars. I have had a few in the past and I always end up learning as much as I possibly can about them and usually their lineages too. Historically this has happened after I acquired each car because I have never had the freedom to shop and browse when it came time to get a new car. This time is a bit different in that respect. And so my experience brings me here, because I know the forums contain a wealth of knowledge and honesty that simply cannot be matched anywhere else. Here is where the real experts reside. And so if you would like to contribute, I greatly appreciate it. And if not, let this thread peacefully fade away with the rest of the forgotten souls like the Baha Men, Cuba Gooding Jr. and the E.T. Atari video game.

Here is my situation:
I was recently hit while driving, rolled my suv down the highway, and totaled my car. I now have the money and a rental for the time being, so I'm shopping around. To be clear, I'm not necessarily looking for a car to last me the next 10 years. Next February my fianceé and I will be moving to Europe for 2-3 years. What I need is a car that will last me till then, at which point I expect I will likely sell it (but depending on how much I like whatever car I get, I may leave it with a friend/relative to maintain).
There are, of course, countless cars that could satisfy the needs of less than 12 months but I would like to be comfortable driving; mainly reliability but I also don't want to hate my car whenever I get in it. And I must admit there is also a good bit of curiosity with regards to Volkswagen. I have never owned or even driven one, but have always been intrigued.

The Jetta I am looking at and hopefully test driving in the next few days, is a 2003 GLI with a standard transmission. It has 131k miles and looks very clean and well maintained from the photos. I haven't yet seen it in person. The owner says he bought it new and his kids drove it for several years. I'm also told the water pump and timing belt were recently don't professionally. The only thing that worries me is that he is asking $4900 for it and the KBB lists the highest price in my area at a little over $3700. Of course I know KBB isn't the official authority but a difference of $1200 is pretty significant. And of course, he may be asking high just to be able to negotiate down to the actual selling price. But something still leaves me skeptical.

Finally, since I'm sure many of you are ready to move on to a thread of actual SUBSTANCE, let me try to get to my questions.
Would you consider VWs in general or this model specifically to be reliable cars, or do they present a high number of reliability issues?
Do you think that asking price is in any way justifiable?
How well do VW's/Jettas/MK4s hold their value?
Do they have a typical life expectancy (mileage), even well maintained?
What else would you check on the car to help decide to buy or not? *other than what is in the buyers guides, that I have most certainly read and printed*

If you have even read this far down, I thank you.
If you have anything to contribute, I thank you.
And to everyone else: well I suppose you'll never know, will you..
But thanks anyway.

I would have written a shorter post but I did not have the time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
It has a VR6.
It looks to be in excellent condition, but I haven't seen it in person yet. He said the bumpers are imperfect but absolutely nothing major. The interior looks nice, again from pictures. I know this is a big generalization but it's located in a nice area. I'm hoping that means the owner hasn't been neglecting maintenance because of money problems. It is also listed as being garage kept.
 

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it concerns me that he said the timing belt has been done but the VR motor has a timing chain, a timing chain is a lot more intensive then a timing belt and much more expensive, it also should have been done at 100k, based of that alone that would be a big red flag for me, and it also being the VR would make it not have the brushed interior and all those other goodies, I think the KBB value is a starting point I think 4.5K may be fair, given the timing chain has been replaced and there is receipts to prove it
 

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as far as that link, i drive that car, that one has more miles but it looks pretty clean from the photo's. They say the timing chain and all that should have been done at 100k. you really need to hear the motor, if its rattling a bunch and making a ton of noise then things probably arent ok and hasnt been maintained. ive put 30k miles on mine in 3 years, its been in the shop for repairs it absolutely needed 2 times. I broke the power steering housing, and the pully at runs all the **** snaped off. i think those two were just freak occurrences as i have not read of it happening to a lot of people. I would go for the 03 if comparing the 2, often times i wish i had six gears.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Carfax suggests it is worth additional $1000 because of history and single owner. Does anyone take those into legitimate consideration? I can say the interior is very nice. I'm having the dealer it has been serviced at send me its service history shortly.
 

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not your typical air ride
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Carfax suggests it is worth additional $1000 because of history and single owner. Does anyone take those into legitimate consideration? I can say the interior is very nice. I'm having the dealer it has been serviced at send me its service history shortly.
no especially not carfax. That **** is a joke. i smashed one of my prior GTIs front end in, 12k of damage and it never made it onto the carfax. To the VW dealership i traded it to, it was a single owner spotless car with no accidents AND THEY DID THE REPAIRS. My brother just sold a flawless all leather passat wagon, 1.8t tiptronic with 120k a couple days ago for 3.5k. one owner, great service record (and thats a wagon worth more than a sedan). This is the average price the B5, mk4 platform goes for over 100k. Past 100k, over 10 years old, the cleanliness of the car means nothing to dealerships (typically, there are outliers). I am apart of a very large car flipping community so I typically i find myself on the more harsh side but to solidify my point. At that price I would 100% lose money on that car. Id offer 3. Take 3.5, flip for 4.2, take 4. NONE of which are even over the actual asking price ha
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
better motor, better body, better price. Still a little high, but not by much. I personally think thats the better platform to go with. But i'm pro wagon. And most on this site will tend to lean VR motor even though you might see better gas mileage from a manual 1.8T.
Forgive my ignorance, how is the motor better?
 

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the VR is a single head 6 cylinder. its a VW flagship motor between power and economy. Great sound too. Stronger motor than the 1.8T but more expensive to modify. Both are good for maintenance but the 1.8T is more economic. If you want a grocery getter with decent fuel economy; 1.8T motor. If youve accepted your role in life as a monotonous drone but still cant bring yourself to be embarrassed by a 4 cylinder focus and still need that 6 cylinder growl; the VR.
 

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Where in FL, Deguz? JAX? I'm down in-between Daytona and Orlando. I don't know why but in THIS area people are asking ALL the money for Jettas. Easily $500-$2000 over book. Not that they are GETTING that kind of money. Even parts cars/fixers are advertised for $1200! :eek:

And wagons are bringing a premium. The other day, I looked at a rough 2002 2.0 wagon needing an auto. tranny (no reverse--common) in what I'd call "fair" condition and the seller wouldn't go lower than $1200--I offered $1000 only because it had a new head gasket and other work and engine ran good with no codes. Even though we didn't come to an agreement, he was a decent guy to talk with and had a ton of info (and parts) to offer. We spoke for at least a half-hour. Volks folks are rather decent people for the most part... :)

Having a car with a 5-speed I know I'd go for the 6-speed car given a choice. And leather interior over cloth. Some like the 12v VR6 over the 24v version which the 2003 probably has--I couldn't advise about either. A GLI should hold its value well.

I have a stock 1.8t/M5 and it took a bit of work to get the check engine light to stay off (ie: fixed all the engine issues: vacuum leaks, coil packs, etc.) but I like it. Runs good and pulls nice at 2000-3000rpm which is about 95% of the driving I do. It goes 80mph and beyond effortlessly, straight and true. And I'm not embarrassed to own it... ;) It is somewhat of a sleeper--I delight in surprising the "tuner" boyz and their slammed Civics with fart cans. :cool:

Whatever you buy, be sure to take it for a drive on the highway, if you can. Any looseness or wandering will need to be addressed.

Bohan is correct about the 6-cyl mileage... It may be hard to accept that the old man in the Crown Vic that just passed you is getting better mileage! ;) As it is, I only get about 26mpg average with my 1.8t...but then again, I tend to keep my foot in it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Jacksonville area. I have been surprised to see what people are asking for Jettas as well. And there seems to be a large volume of them popping up for sale in the area.

And I bought the GLX. To tell you the truth, I had purchased it before I posted asking for input. I wanted to allow for as much blunt honesty as possible. I'm hoping I got at least a fair deal (please don't ask) but I know that it wasn't a totally emotionless decision. I'm enjoying driving it so far and I guess you'll be seeing me around here regularly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Update:
Returned the GLX. Took a definite hit but it wasn't worth keeping. It turned out to need quite a bit of work done. One example, the fuel filter and lines were being held together with duct tape. I'd like to put a word of caution out on the car but I'm not sure how. I joined Cars.com but there is no way to leave a comment directly on a listing. I have an inspection/estimate from the dealer and would be happy to share it with anyone who looks at the car but just not sure about how to go about it.
Anyway, thanks for your input.
 

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Update:
Returned the GLX. Took a definite hit but it wasn't worth keeping. It turned out to need quite a bit of work done. One example, the fuel filter and lines were being held together with duct tape. I'd like to put a word of caution out on the car but I'm not sure how. I joined Cars.com but there is no way to leave a comment directly on a listing. I have an inspection/estimate from the dealer and would be happy to share it with anyone who looks at the car but just not sure about how to go about it.
Anyway, thanks for your input.
This is why im astonished at the mk4 market. It totally blows my mind that any non special addition mk4 (20th anv. GTI, 05.5 GLI or r32) should go for a cent more than 5k. They were sold in huge numbers and owned by a huge range of people making proper maintenance very hit or miss. In the normal car market, this absolutely degrades the total value of the car. civics, accords, carollas, camrys, and alot of the mk4/b5 line carry this stigma. 2000-2004 mk4s are LEGALLY HISTORIC in several states. I flip mk4/B5s monthly and i have a lot of experience with the many issues these cars on the market have. I have seen so many skipped teeth timing blow outs, electrical nightmares, trashed transmissions, and leaking heads to last a lifetime. The value of mk4s NEEDS to drop and clearly it hasnt reached FLA. Drive down to MD, ive got tons of em. and not a single one is over 3500$. A lot of my buds rip out the motors and make more money off scrap metal and motor sale to early model swaps. Seriously, my buddy and i have 2 VRs sitting on concrete right now that after mostly parting out the rest of the cars, well make more money.
 
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