What should I look for in a used Volkswagen Golf hatchback?
Volkswagen had largely sorted out the most expensive of its DSG automatic gearbox problems before this generation of Golf was launched, but there are still some early cars for which problems have been reported, so make sure the gearbox changes smoothly and there are no signs of temperamental behaviour.
Timing chains fitted to petrol engines have been known to snap prematurely; this can cause significant engine damage but is often mitigated by having the car serviced on time. This means a full service history is critical.
Faults with the navigation and entertainment system, as well as other electrical niggles, have been reported on some models, so it’s worth checking that all the electrics work as they should.
Three recalls have been issued on this generation's Golf, the most serious of which affected 303 cars and required wheel bearing housings to be checked and, if necessary, replaced, since some were found to crack. As always, it’s worth checking on the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency website and asking whether any recalls relevant to the car you’re planning to buy have been carried out.
What are the most common problems with a used Volkswagen Golf hatchback?
GTI models can suffer from high oil consumption, so it’s important to keep checking the oil level on these, even between services. If the level gets too low, it can cause damage to the engine or timing chain.
Examples fitted with automatic cruise control (ie cruise control that senses the distance from the car in front) can suffer from problems whereby the system gets confused and slams on the brakes. Often, there’s little that can be done to solve this, although the system can be recalibrated – but, beware, it's not a cheap job.
Is a used Volkswagen Golf hatchback reliable?
There are quite a few reports of reliability and quality issues, and expensive repairs, floating around. However, in our most recent reliability survey, the Golf finished midway in the table of family cars, with a respectable score of 75%. Most issues centred on non-engine electrics, but nearly all problems were fixed within a week and under warranty.
Volkswagen as a brand finished in 22nd place out of 32 manufactuers in our study.