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Looking at buying a 2001 Beetle with 90K miles, turbo, automatic.I'm new to VW's, but not DIY working on cars. This needs to be a very reliable car for my daughter driving long distances at night alone, so I'll take input on how reliable you think this model usually is. Unreliable but fun is OK for me, but not for my daughter :)

So, I need to know what to check on this model/year that's sort of Beetle specific and/or what's expensive to fix that might be an issue at purchase.

I've seen some threads mentioning the water pump. What's the expected replacement interval on the pump, and how big a job is it to do DIY? Any way to assess at purchase ?

How about the transmission? I saw some posts indicating the auto transmission was not very good, but I don't like to make assumptions from a couple opinions. Are the auto tranny's trouble? Any way to tell if you have a good one or bad? Should there have been some maintenance done on it along the way? How expensive are the repairs when needed?

Any other pointers or advice appreciated.

Thanks,
 

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Not sure what to tell you, we bought our 2003 convertible new and it has been hands down the absolute worst car I have ever owned.

At 70k miles, oil pick up clogged even with Mobile One synthetic every 5k miles, 6 speed valve body ate itself up, but luckily no trans damage, thermostat failed, air pump pipes broke, plastic check valves failed, center exhaust hanger welds broken (easy fix with 2 hose clamps), seat belt buckles caused air bag light error just to name a few. The good news is none of these problems caused breakdown or to be stranded.

Now that being said, if I take away all the convertible/window related problems, here is what I will tell you.

If you but the car, you NEED to do the following.

Pull the oil pan, clean it out and replace the oil pickup and dipstick tube. This is only about $40 worth of parts. Less than 2 hours if you can quickly clean the pan.
Replace the metal coolant pipe that runs along the frame rail to the back of the engine compartment for the turbo.
Likely the transmission valve body will need to be reworked. Not a hard job, you just need to pay attention to details.
Replace the timing belt, belt tensioner, idler, water pump, thermostat.

If you had to pay someone to do all the work, these cars are not worth it. If you can DIY, most things are not too bad, sometimes a bit tricky, parts are not too expensive.

I purchase the Blauparts timing belt, water pump kit with serpentine & idler for about $250. This had everything to include antifreeze, thermostat, bolt etc.

Also hit Amazon or ebay and purchase a VAG405 scan tool. Will not give real time data, but will give airbag info and clear airbag errors and also is supposed to give ABS codes as well.

I think I got mine for $37!

Something to leave in the trunk and teach your daughter how to operate.
 

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Hmmm... sounds more like a car I'd drive than one I'd want my daughter to be relying on remotely.

Anyone else?
 

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Looking at buying a 2001 Beetle with 90K miles, turbo, automatic.I'm new to VW's, but not DIY working on cars. This needs to be a very reliable car for my daughter driving long distances at night alone, so I'll take input on how reliable you think this model usually is. Unreliable but fun is OK for me, but not for my daughter :)

So, I need to know what to check on this model/year that's sort of Beetle specific and/or what's expensive to fix that might be an issue at purchase.

I've seen some threads mentioning the water pump. What's the expected replacement interval on the pump, and how big a job is it to do DIY? Any way to assess at purchase ?

How about the transmission? I saw some posts indicating the auto transmission was not very good, but I don't like to make assumptions from a couple opinions. Are the auto tranny's trouble? Any way to tell if you have a good one or bad? Should there have been some maintenance done on it along the way? How expensive are the repairs when needed?

Any other pointers or advice appreciated.

Thanks,
Don't buy a 2001 Automatic. You will have more problems with that transmission. It's the worst ever transmission made by VW and if it goes out expect to pay $5000-7000 for a rebuilt replacement. Personally, I would never purchase a early beetle with an Automatic especially the notrious to fail 01M 4speed automatic. At the very least you will soon need to replace the valve body and transmission harness which if a shop does that will cost you about $1700 bucks.
So think very carefully if you want that sort of headaches and expenses.
Also at this stage the timing belt and water pump service needs to be performed. Actually, it is overdue but most people put it off and get rid of the car before they have to go through that expense. Dealership will charge you about 1500 bucks for that service but an independent VW shop will charge between $750 and $900 for that service so shop around.
Also Beetle's are HIGH Maintenance and you better like to tinker and due things yourself or that cute little car will Nickel and Dime you.. no wait hundreds and thousand you to death. ;)

If you have you heart set on a Beetle especially around 1998-2005 then I would suggest you get one with a Manual transmission. The later 6 speed automatics were better but by no means perfect. The 5 Speed Manual is the better choice for durability and longgevity. If you must get one with an Automatic get a 2004+ Beetle with the 6 speed Tiptronic transmission. They did put them in some Convertibles starting in 2003 but I believe the regular Beetle's didn't get them until 2004. Better yet if you can afford it get one 2006 or later. They did improve on the technology and also came up with their VW staple engine the 2.5 Five Cylinder which is less maintenance per say than the older 1.8 or 2.0 engines. It's pretty peppy and doesn't have a timing belt but a chain which lasts a lot longer. It doesn't get great gas mileage but it's about on par with the 1.8 liter engine of the car you are looking at now with a lot less headaches.

So think twice about that purchase. If you are looking for a more reliable car in that era look elsewhere because this beetle will need a lot of TLC to keep it running and you will need to be willing to do the work or pay someone to do it for you.

Good Luck in whatever you decide!
 

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I agree with the above...If you are a do it yourself person there are ways of keeping it up and keeping expenses a little more reasonable; but these cars are like some teenage girls...high maintenance. Especially problematic with the automatic. My Iggy is a 2001 1.8 turbo with a 4 speed automatic so I am basically doomed according to the rules of beetlehood :). Apparently the 1.8 turbo engine turns out to be the one most in danger of complete destruction if the timing belt goes and is the harder of the '01 engines to work on too because it's a lot more cramped under the hood and things have less clearance/are harder to get to. Plus I have that combined with the problematic 4 speed auto tranny :). Dooooomed I tell you...dooooooooomed (here's hoping I can beat the odds). Google a you tube video on how to change the timing belt/water pump, it is deffo not an easy do it yourself job (it involves removing a motor mount). I want to do this to my beetle myself and always loved working on my own cars before they become so full of computers. I am afraid to take this on myself and my mechanic who was born and trained in Germany to fix German cars said that he hates doing them too. He says new beetle timing belts are a real pain and even as a professional it is difficult to get it lined up just right the first time. I will be paying to have him do it for me.

He actually told me when I said I wanted to find a reliable car that won't need a lot of maintenance that I should get a Japanese car...lol (and he loves loves loves his German cars, he just knows how high maintenance they all are and how expensive the maintenance is). I broke the rule of not going German when I got my beetle. I live in fear of major problems; but so far she has been good to me (knock on wood since I've only had her 3 months).

In closing I will say that I love...I MEAN LOVE...my car and it is the most fun car I've ever driven in my entire 30 years of driving. From the sound of what you are looking for though, it would be more suitable for you...not so much for your daughter unless you are prepared to get a newer model beetle and pay a pretty good price to keep the TLC flowing to it by a mechanic that is familiar with them and good at working on them (going by you saying she is not a do it yourself person).

I feel like such a traitor right now...please don't tell Iggy I said any of this, OK?
 

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Turbo cars can be awesome IF they've been looked after. Check all the servicing has been done, on time and with the right parts. If they've skimped on service or let the oil run low you're setting yourself up for a world of hurt. I know lots of people over here with them though and treated right they can last as long as any other engine. You just have to watch over them a little more.

Also I don't understand why people would want what can be a decent performance engine with an auto. But if you just have to have the dreaded thing then be prepared to save up for a new transmission. Or do yourself a favour, learn how to use your left foot and shift gears yourself. It will last longer, get better gas mileage and you can enjoy the performance better.
 

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Wife's 01 1.8T mechanic
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Here's my advice. Don't buy it. This auto trans is widely known as one of the worst that has been made. IF you do buy it, you need to do a water pump, timing belt and tensioner immediately if there is no record of it. Also, plan on regular annoying maintenance issues. Coolant fittings, fuses, aux water pumps, switches, rear brakes, and check engine lights are in your future. If you do your own work, you'll be ok. If you take your cars to a garage, say "fix it" and pay the bills, this will not make you a happy car owner. Speaking as someone who takes care of an 01 1.8T Sport NB.
 

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I agree with the above...If you are a do it yourself person there are ways of keeping it up and keeping expenses a little more reasonable; but these cars are like some teenage girls...high maintenance. Especially problematic with the automatic. My Iggy is a 2001 1.8 turbo with a 4 speed automatic so I am basically doomed according to the rules of beetlehood :). Apparently the 1.8 turbo engine turns out to be the one most in danger of complete destruction if the timing belt goes and is the harder of the '01 engines to work on too because it's a lot more cramped under the hood and things have less clearance/are harder to get to. Plus I have that combined with the problematic 4 speed auto tranny :). Dooooomed I tell you...dooooooooomed (here's hoping I can beat the odds). Google a you tube video on how to change the timing belt/water pump, it is deffo not an easy do it yourself job (it involves removing a motor mount). I want to do this to my beetle myself and always loved working on my own cars before they become so full of computers. I am afraid to take this on myself and my mechanic who was born and trained in Germany to fix German cars said that he hates doing them too. He says new beetle timing belts are a real pain and even as a professional it is difficult to get it lined up just right the first time. I will be paying to have him do it for me.

He actually told me when I said I wanted to find a reliable car that won't need a lot of maintenance that I should get a Japanese car...lol (and he loves loves loves his German cars, he just knows how high maintenance they all are and how expensive the maintenance is). I broke the rule of not going German when I got my beetle. I live in fear of major problems; but so far she has been good to me (knock on wood since I've only had her 3 months).

In closing I will say that I love...I MEAN LOVE...my car and it is the most fun car I've ever driven in my entire 30 years of driving. From the sound of what you are looking for though, it would be more suitable for you...not so much for your daughter unless you are prepared to get a newer model beetle and pay a pretty good price to keep the TLC flowing to it by a mechanic that is familiar with them and good at working on them (going by you saying she is not a do it yourself person).

I feel like such a traitor right now...please don't tell Iggy I said any of this, OK?
Iggy's Mom, you have an Automatic. :calvin: YIKES, yes you are DOOOOOMED :D
But I bet you had the transmission fluid and filter changed to avoid expensive Valve Body failure. If people just changed the fluid around 60k and then every 40k miles on these transmission the damage to the valve body could many times be avoided but VW deemed the fluid a lifetime fill which is a good strategy to keep them busy with repairs. ;) If you haven't changed your fluid I would suggest you do so and hopefully you won't be Dooomed for a little while longer ;)

The Timing Belt service on these vehicles isn't really that hard to do. It is just time consuming especially if you don't have a lift or air tools. It took me almost 3 days to do it myself but a mechanic friend that I know here in INdy takes no more than 4 hours to do the job. He charges a flat rate of $400 dollars if you provide the parts which includes changing the Thermostat which most places charge $150 bucks extra to do it. Anyway, Good Luck and I hope you get the 1.8 Humming for a long time to come. The O1m tranny will be another story. ;)
 

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Unfortunately changing the transmission fluid will not really make the valve bodies last much longer.

The problem was the valve body is aluminum and the spool valves were hard anodized and with the PWM control of the valve and solenoids the valves just moved too much and they basically ate the inside of the softer aluminum valve body for lunch.

My 09G 6 speed warranty was extended to 7 years/100k miles for the valve body as there were SO many problems. Mine was done by about 60k miles.

Have the valve body reworked and it is running fine again.

I am hopeful the over sized spool valves the shops are using in reamed valve bodies are not a hard as the originals?? Time will tell.
 

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Unfortunately changing the transmission fluid will not really make the valve bodies last much longer.

The problem was the valve body is aluminum and the spool valves were hard anodized and with the PWM control of the valve and solenoids the valves just moved too much and they basically ate the inside of the softer aluminum valve body for lunch.

My 09G 6 speed warranty was extended to 7 years/100k miles for the valve body as there were SO many problems. Mine was done by about 60k miles.

Have the valve body reworked and it is running fine again.

I am hopeful the over sized spool valves the shops are using in reamed valve bodies are not a hard as the originals?? Time will tell.
So you are saying just to leave the Mud like substance in the transmission? :rolleyes: Sure, changing the fluid once the valve body is toast won't repair it but if there are no symptoms and the fluid is changed on a regular basis it would more than likely prevent the valve body from failing in the first place.
 

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Jay
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Get a stick shift

I have a 2003 stick and a 2001 stick shift. Both have performed well with minor cosmetic issues. I purchased both cars for my daughters for them to learn to drive stick shift. The biggest reason I purchased sticks is the use of cell phones these days...They have to pay attention to shifting and keeps their hands off their phones. Just a thought. Good luck. I am pleased with both of my purchases and I also drive a 2012 Jetta TDI. Happy with the mileage and the durability of my VW's :)
 

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Iggy's Mom, you have an Automatic. :calvin: YIKES, yes you are DOOOOOMED :D
But I bet you had the transmission fluid and filter changed to avoid expensive Valve Body failure. If people just changed the fluid around 60k and then every 40k miles on these transmission the damage to the valve body could many times be avoided but VW deemed the fluid a lifetime fill which is a good strategy to keep them busy with repairs. ;) If you haven't changed your fluid I would suggest you do so and hopefully you won't be Dooomed for a little while longer ;)

The Timing Belt service on these vehicles isn't really that hard to do. It is just time consuming especially if you don't have a lift or air tools. It took me almost 3 days to do it myself but a mechanic friend that I know here in INdy takes no more than 4 hours to do the job. He charges a flat rate of $400 dollars if you provide the parts which includes changing the Thermostat which most places charge $150 bucks extra to do it. Anyway, Good Luck and I hope you get the 1.8 Humming for a long time to come. The O1m tranny will be another story. ;)
I know...I know...:scared: I didn't find out until after I had it that it was a ticking time bomb :detonate:

My mechanic has already said that that is something we need to do though. My tranny is perfect for now too so I should be able to get it done in time.
 

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So you are saying just to leave the Mud like substance in the transmission? :rolleyes: Sure, changing the fluid once the valve body is toast won't repair it but if there are no symptoms and the fluid is changed on a regular basis it would more than likely prevent the valve body from failing in the first place.
I am not saying not to change the trans fluid, BUT you need to fully understand what most of the problems are with the valve body design and materials and have VERY little to do with fluid condition. The valve body failures are not fluid related. Matter of fact most fluid related failures are prematurely worn clutches due to heat related fluid break down.

I had absolutely no "mud" in my trans at 70k. Very little metal on the magnets and only the slight discoloration on the pan from the typical trans fluid and very minor sediment. I would have not had my valve body reworked if the trans pan was full of material and metal.

LISTEN TO THIS CAREFULLY.

The majority of VW valve bodies wear out not due to lack of fluid changes but a CRAPPY design. The actual valve body is a very soft aluminum and the spool valves in the transmission were much harder than the valve body. If VW/Porsche or whom every designed the transmission correctly they would have either sleeved the valve bodies where the spool valves were installed and/or done something to harden the valve body aluminum and used valves/final finishing that was not harder than the valve body.

In a perfect world there would be no significant wear in the valve body even at 150k miles or greater, but to have valve bodies crapping out in 50k miles under normal driving, this is a crap design. The fact that VW even extended the warranty coverage on many of the valve bodies for 7 years/100k says they knew the screwed up.

Also from all the problems in the forums and all the trans shops that offer valve body rebuilds, it is quite clear the valve bodies were and are still junk even if they are reworked.

This idea of "lifetime" any fluid is total garbage. But I can assure you that changing your trans fluid on a VW even every 25k miles will not squeak more than maybe 5k miles of a original valve body. I doubt many valve bodies are lasting more than 100k without issues anyway. It is possibly that later years had better/different designs, I have not looked into it, but I would bet that issues were not addressed before the 2006-2007 model year.

Also the driving conditions under which ANY automatic transmission is subjected to will impact the overall lifespan. It has FAR less to do with total accumulated mileage and FAR more to do with how many gear changes the transmission happens to make over its lifetime.

Unfortunately where I live my cars probably shift over 1k+ times a day easily as compared to someone that may live is a more rural setting, so my valve body and clutch packs get a much greater work out than other cars.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all the info guys. Looks like this is the wrong car at the wrong time. Maybe I'll get her one later after I teach her to drive a manual and we can work into a newer car. If this was for me, I might bite on the possible work, but it's not.

Thanks again,
 

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Ya know. I bought my beetle in May with the assumption that its a bullet proof car. And i would not go back and change that. I have a cel on, possibly a bad rear wheel bearing. Amongst over things, but i love my car. I was shocked to find out how failure prone these round beauties are.
And i trust it to get me to North Carolina this spring. I must be crazy. :)
But you have to do Whats in your daughters best interest. :)
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Ya know. I bought my beetle in May with the assumption that its a bullet proof car. And i would not go back and change that. I have a cel on, possibly a bad rear wheel bearing. Amongst over things, but i love my car. I was shocked to find out how failure prone these round beauties are.
And i trust it to get me to North Carolina this spring. I must be crazy. :)
But you have to do Whats in your daughters best interest. :)
Suggest you buy this and keep it in the trunk.

Amazon.com: Hot MaxScan VAG405 Code Reader OBD2 EOBD CAN BUS VW Audi: Car Electronics

Only down side is this one does not read real time data, but does a lot of other things to include Airbag & ABS.

At least you can figure out how serious an issue is and if you can still drive the car.
 

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Thanks for all the info guys. Looks like this is the wrong car at the wrong time. Maybe I'll get her one later after I teach her to drive a manual and we can work into a newer car. If this was for me, I might bite on the possible work, but it's not.

Thanks again,
Or get her one that is 2006 or newer. Those Beetle's have a lot less issues. The 2.5 5cylinder engine with timing chain and 6 speed Tiptronic Automatic has a lot less problems and requires a lot less maintenance then Beetle's of previous years. So if she likes Beetle's and you don't want some of the major headaches associated with them then just get a 2006+ Beetle and then she won't have to learn how to drive a stick. ;)
 
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