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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, my name is Krista and I'm new to this website. Currently, I am not a beetle owner but am considering getting one. I have a 2000 Ford Escort ZX2 that has transmission issues so I've been searching for a new car and have found myself wanting a beetle really bad. I've been asking around about them and so far the reviews are mixed. Some people have told me New Beetles are junk and break down all the time and others have told me they are reliable and will run forever. Since all of you are experienced with these cars, I was hoping I could get some honest pros and cons about them? I'm a full time college student from central Wisconsin and this year, I will be commuting 45 minutes back and forth from home to school. I need a car that can handle well in the winter, has good gas mileage, and is safe. Do you think a Beetle is right for me?

Also, I have found 1999 Beetle with 97,000 miles for $3,000. Is that a fair price? Are there any Beetle specific questions I should ask before purchasing?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks! :D
 

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Worry less, drive more
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--I would find a honest and knowledgeable VW mechanic (not a dealer) and have them look it over thoroughly before I bought any used VW.

--Manual transmission! More reliable, more fun (IMO!) and easier to drive in snow/ice.

--Beetles drive great in the snow/ice as long as your tires are good (not necessarily studded) and you know how to drive in snow/ice.

--Beetles are very safe

--Preventative maintenance! I use an app on my phone to keep track of tire rotations, oil changes, timing belt, filters, etc. My VW mechanic is very picky about oil, especially for TDIs and I trust his judgement.
 

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Items to check off hand.

-Timing belt/water pump, was it done.
-General maintenence records. (Oil changes, etc)
-Junction box on top of battery for corrosion/melting.
-HVAC controls work (Hot/cold, and vent/floor/defrost.
-That both locking tabs for the headlights are present, they tend to break off.
-If it's an automatic, it will be a gamble. If shifting is delayed/slipping/rough stay away. Many start having issues over 100k.
-No check engine/warning lights
-Allow it to idle for awhile with AC on to ensure the cooling fans kick on, and that it does not overheat.
 

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I'll add another thing to check: that the alarm (as indicated by the blinking LED near the driver door lock pin) turns on and off when the door lock is operated with the key in the lock. The sensors inside the door latch often fail. Also be sure you get at least 2 operational keys with the car or you'll be looking at hundreds of dollars (most likely) if you lose the last one.

Living in Rochester NY I wouldn't characterize the New Beetle as good in the snow, and we get about 100 inches a year of it here. The tires are too wide and it rides too low to be very good. It is OK for slippery roads, just not with a visible snow cover.

I also own a Pontiac Vibe which is a Toyota Corolla with at different body style, so what I say applies to the Toyota as well. Compared to the Beetle the Vibe is: far easier to work on for diy, requires less maintenance, is more reliable, has a more powerful engine, gets better gas mileage, has more cargo space and is generally a lot cheaper to own. They are both about equal for comfort and handling (they use exactly the same tire size). The Beetle has ... well, its a Beetle.

With the New Beetle you really need to own it as second car so you can take it offline as the maintenance issues come up. I would recommend against it if it is an only car that you must rely on for your transportation.
 

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5/23/10 <3
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With the New Beetle you really need to own it as second car so you can take it offline as the maintenance issues come up. I would recommend against it if it is an only car that you must rely on for your transportation.
I disagree. My '99 was my only car. I only had issues with it twice where I needed another car (and once was my fault because I busted the oil pan) and I had the car for 6 1/2 years (and it was my college car through undergrad and grad school). The only time where our spare car really came in handy was when my car was totaled :( The biggest thing is finding a good mechanic. Ours can knock most stuff out in a day. They did my timing belt job in a few hours...dropped it off the night before, it was done by lunch the next day.


I imagine, since you are saying your current car has transmission issues, that its an auto and you would be looking for another? If you want an auto, I would stay away from VWs. Or at least get a newer one. The O1M that comes in Beetles is terrible. It has a pretty high failure rate. So if you are having trans problems now, you will likely be repeating it.

As for good in the snow, I don't know. I never drove mine in the snow...and we get a lot more ice here in NC where it doesn't matter what car you have, you aren't driving in it. It is a pretty low car though, so I wouldn't think its the ideal winter car by any means.

Safety...they are safe. My parents got me my '99 after they saw a 'vert at a dealer that had flipped several times and all passengers (there were 4) walked away. Mine protected me very well in my accident. I was hit nearly head on (I swerved, so she hit me in my front drivers wheel and the car when down the side of mine before I spun) and I walked away with minor injuries. Really, all my injuries were from the airbag. You could see the structural bar in the door, but inside the car, things looked normal. I was really impressed. Axle was ripped out of the trans, both airbags deployed, subframe was all kinds of messed up, but my car definitely took the hit well and allowed me to walk away. I bought another VW of course :cool:

Mileage, they aren't the best, but they aren't bad. I got around 22 city/30 highway in my 2.0 5-speed. Autos will be lower.


It really depends on maintenance really as to if the car will last awhile. Both past maintenance and if you keep up on maintenance. If you have a limited budget, I would look into something else and get a Beetle later on. Maintenance is very important for a VW. They can last a very long time, but not without regular (and correct) maintenance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the info everyone. So it seems that the consensus is to stay away from them? That's really a bummer because I really want one. However, I don't need a car that's going to leave me stranded on the side of the highway. I will more than likely reconsider, but I just have a couple more questions...

1. I was told that the difference between the "German way of thinking" and the "American way of thinking" is that German cars are built to last forever as long as you maintain them and give them TLC, but American cars are built to have shorter lives but withstand neglect. I have no qualms about having a car that I have to take good care of. One of the things that intrigued me about the Beetle in the first place is that I want to have a car I can care for and be proud of. So by frequent maintenance do you mean getting a tune up every 3,000 miles? Or do they require something more frequent than that?

2. In the five years I've had it, my escort gave me a fair amount of issues so I'm no stranger to frequent repairs. However, I know because they are a foreign vehicle repairs are much more expensive than say a Ford. Is the cost difference really as bad a people make it seem? Will owning a VW really double your mechanic bill? Are certain parts hard to get?

Thanks again everyone for helping me out.
 

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A lot depends on the engine/transmission as far as maintenance costs. Autos are failure prone and cost a decent bit to replace. 5-speeds require little maintenance and are very cheap to keep up with. A 2.0L is very basic and pretty bullet proof. Its not as picky as some of the other engines and there is no turbo to worry about and you can run regular 87 fuel. A 1.8T has a turbo, needs premium fuel, synthetic oil, so maintenance can be a bit more. A TDI is a diesel, so you have the increased fuel prices to pay (but the fuel economy is better). Its got the turbo as well, and you need to be sure to use the right oil (synthetic, and the right spec as well).

Timing belts are a huge deal. They need to replaced at the right intervals (I tend to follow 6 years or 60k, whichever comes first). A failed belt means damage to the head, as they are all interference engines.

My Beetle was my college car, but I lived on campus. It did see some bigger highway drives a few times a month (visiting my parents 90 miles away, and boyfriend 120 miles away) and held up well. It was a 2.0 5-speed and really required little maintenance for the most part. It was a '99 though and once it hit around 10-11 years old, I did have some stuff go, but that was more because of its age and any car would have problems just from regular wear and tear. My husband had a Honda for a good portion of the time I owned my Beetle and the Honda was definitely less troublesome and cheaper to keep up with (the only failure my husband had that wasn't regular wear [brakes, etc.] was an O2 sensor). It was a year newer but a lot more miles than my car. Meanwhile, I had a wheel bearing go out, O2 sensor fail, cat fail, shift linkage fail, and I'm sure a number of other things that I can't remember.


I love VWs and I loved my New Beetle. We have 3 cars right now and all are VWs. But I'm also a realist. They aren't for everyone. I got very lucky with my car. It was an early Beetle 2.0...they are typically more full of problems being the second model year of the car, and the 2.0 is known to drink oil (mine never did). You have to be ready to spend money on maintenance and stay on top of it. Lots of things depend on age just as much as mileage, so just because the mileage may not be there for something, doesn't mean it shouldn't be tended to (timing belt is a biggie on that).

I've never had an American made car so I can't comment on cost of repairs. But I do know from buying a few parts for my parents Chevy Astros that VWs do tend to be more pricey.

You need to find a good mechanic. We have a really great one here who we've been taking our cars to for 5-6 years now.
 

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Yeah, a 2.0 5 speed will run forever without much effort.
Oil changes every 3k for regular oil, or 5k for synthetic.
Tune up every 30-40k (spark plugs, air, and fuel filter mostly, like $50 in parts) real easy to replace stuff
And timing belt and water pump every 60-80k. Transmission oil change too if you're picky.

In your price range, this will be the best bet for a first/cheap to maintain vw.
 

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I have a 1999 2.0l 5 speed as primary car! I do about 150 miles a day for work! Car always been good to me! Left me stranded once, but wich car won't? as far as reliability, only thing I ever did since I have it (1 years and a half, 50k miles, i drive a lot) is timing belt, oil changes, and couple of sensor! I personnaly say that if you get the car inspected by a good vw mechanic and have a friend that can do minor work on a car! There is no problem in having a beetle as first! getting 35mpg too, i like it!

as far as winter, yes the beetle is pretty low, tires are pretty wide but, living in canada with lots snow you learn that tire size can change, So my winter tires are 185/65r16 it cuts through the snow like a charm. My car is also lowered and as for now no problem in snow!!

One thing I can promise you! If you buy a beetle in good shape, you will love it!!


Sent from AutoGuide.com Free App
 

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I have to agree with Ven. If the one you are looking at is in good shape, and has been maintained, then go get it!

My 02 turbo is my only vehicle. I drive it every day, and use it for everything. You find ways to get things home. For me, I have a roof rack. ;)

The New Beetle is so much fun, it should be illegal! :D
 

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I have had a few out of the ordinary repairs but most were under $100 or covered by the warranty. Plus my mechanic has saved me a lot compared to the dealer. I had stock tires and wheels until this past March and now am running slightly wider tires with a 17 inch wheel. I also use an aluminum skid plate to protect the low oil pan (stock height). My commute is 70 miles round trip, mostly highway. The Beetle does just as good or better than the other cars on the road even with all season tires. Of course I prefer plowed roads but I can get through unplowed residential areas if the snow isn't much deeper than 12 inches. I call it my own little snow plow. If I get stuck I turn the ESP off so I can move around better. Would I buy a used VW? If I had all or most of maintenance records and my mechanic said it was a good buy, yes!
 

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98 TDI 5 Speed

I have had my Beetle for about a year and a half. I bought it used from a Russian guy who didn't speak english, so I knew nothing about the car other than a short test drive. Since then I have put 20K on the car mostly trouble free. I recently replaced the oil pan (my fault), wiper motor (my fault), intercooler (my fault), and the clutch (173K on the car at clutch replacement). I am impressed with the car but I would have been worried if I had found this site when I was looking at buying a Beetle. IF the car drives good and you can afford to take a mechanical risk, $3K sounds like a good price. Mine was about that when I bought it.
 

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I think it depends on the previous owner, my '98 was crazy, all sorts of issues. My '05 has almost 100,000 miles since i bought it in '07. 30 miles round trip to work every day, several trips from fl to nc, 19,000 miles my first yr of ownership. My mom drives it now, about 88 miles a day. It is a 2.0 auto, that had the valve body replaced under warranty by vw at 73,000 and a rust spot repaired by vw on the roof last fall. My daily driver is an '06 tdi 5-speed, 30 miles to work a day, 38-40 mpg, 44-47 on long highway trips.

I wouldn't drive anything else :D. The '05 & '06 are primary cars, not backups.

Make sure the timing belt/water pump has been changed. My '98 left me stranded at 9 yrs old, 64,000 miles. Replaced the one on my '05 at 60,000. As far as oil, my '05 has had synthetic oil every 10,000 miles, it has 105,000 now. Make sure if it is a 2.0 the spark plugs have also been changed, did the '05 at 80,000.
 

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Btw, my first experience with snow was about 6-12" in nc in my '05. I had never seen snow until moving to nc. The beetle handles well in any weather as long as you drive smartly. I had the '06 slide on an icy road last winter, remembered to turn into the spin and it was okay. They do well on our 1/4 mile clay/gravel driveway, we had to tow my dad's ford contour up the driveway after a snow storm a couple years ago, but the beetle was fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks so much for the info everyone! My father in law is going to teach me to drive stick this week. I'll see how it goes. I've always wanted to learn and this would be a great time to do it. If I can't seem to get a hang of it, well then I guess I'll be looking for a different car.

Thanks again!
 

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Another thing I will mention - the VW 5-speed is the easiest manual to learn and drive. My 16yo niece had the hang of it before the end of my Moms road. It will become second nature in no time. :)
 

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We've only had our NBC for a few weeks but since buying it I've talked to a lot of NB owners and haven't found a single one who doesn't love their car (or in a couple of cases wished they still had theirs). Without exception I've found that Beetle owners here in the Pacific Northwest love their cars and love to tell you about them and how much they love them. The consensus is overwhelmingly that they are reliable and that when repairs are needed they're not serious, just things like the door latch/switch assembly. One guy told me that finding mechanics with experience on them used to be a problem but that they've been around long enough now that he can go to almost any shop and they're familiar with them. A lot of people also say to buy an extended warranty/service program. I decided to take it to the dealer for it's 80,000 mile checkup and got a clean bill of health, plus got the great news that there was almost a year of extended warranty left on it that transferred to us when we bought it. The up side of the extended warranty being on it is that if there had ever been warranty repairs they'd know about them and there had never been. Puts my mind at ease that it's not a lemon. The other thing everyone tells me is "don't slam the doors". They close very easy so are easy to slam and that contributes to the messed up electrical parts of the latch inside the door.
 

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I agree with most of the posts. I bought my 2004 NB Convertible new in December 2003. While it does have very low milage very little has gone wrong in 10 years. (The flaps that raise and lower when the roof retracts is a problem. Also needed a rear window regulator. If you are not considering a convertible, you will not have either problem).

I have a 5 speed Turbo. No engine problems at all. I only use synthetic oil (Castrol Syntec 0-30) which meets VW's rigorous oil specifications.

The car is not rugged and must be treated with care. If you find an owner who can document regular maintenance, the car drives well and is well priced you should consider it. You need to be able to check the oil level on a regular basis.

The car is fun to drive but if mistreated or neglected, repairs and parts can be expensive.

I hope that helps & good luck!!
 

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Thanks so much for the info everyone! My father in law is going to teach me to drive stick this week. I'll see how it goes. I've always wanted to learn and this would be a great time to do it. If I can't seem to get a hang of it, well then I guess I'll be looking for a different car.

Thanks again!
I commend you on learning to drive a stick. The effort in learning is very much worth it, and far outweighs the headaches and big costs of auto trans. repair and replacement. It kinda frustrates me when I witness future beetle owners hell bent on buying an auto transmission beetle, knowing they've gotten advice to stay away from the 01M auto trans. All are adults here, so all we can do is advise. We're to help either way:). For me, money is too valuable to throw away, especially when you can avoid the costs. Mad props to you.

Most excellent advice you've been given, and to echo most of the comments, including my own, make sure the car was well maintained and get you one with a manual trans and you'll be in good shape.

Whatever you do, stay tuned to this very forum. Even with the best of deals, every new beetle purchased is now a used car. Wear and tear is part of every car & VW is no exception. The org is a goldmine of information to aid you in quick repairs and saving the most cash possible.

again props to you for going into your purchase with a level head.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
UPDATE: I've been on the beetle search and also battling learning stick at the same time. I'm grasping the concept pretty quickly but still need some practice as the car I'm looking for will be my daily driver.

I called around and talked to local VW mechanics and got a lot of great advice. They too told me to stay away from automatics and gave me a general idea on VW parts costs as compared to what I'm use to with my Ford. It's certainly higher but nothing my husband and I can't manage when need be. They also told me that when buying used, I should just figure in timing belt and water pump replacement right into my budget (unless of course it was done recently).

I did look at a couple 2.0L 5 speed beetles so far (a '99 and '98) that were listed in my price range, but I didn't purchase either. The owner of the '99 couldn't seem to tell me anything about the maintenance history and had no idea what had been repaired/replaced/serviced in the time he had it because his buddy did all the work on it. The '98 seemed great at first. Brand new water pump and timing belt, but the car had been driven by the owners daughter for the last two years and they finally decided to sell it because (i his words) "she sucked at driving stick." :\ For fear of a clutch replacement, I walked away.

So the search still continues, but hopefully soon I'll be posting pictures of my new Beetle. In the mean time, I found a copy of the New Beetle service manual so my husband and I will be doing some homework. :)

Thanks again for all the help and great advice.
 
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