Back in the mid-1970s, Volkswagen came up with a small and affordable 4-door hatchback named the VW Golf. Ever since then, the Golf has managed to be one of the best sold entry-level premium cars in the world. The very first VW Golf models were basic, bare, and minimal while the latest Mk7 and Mk8 Golf models are premium cars.
The VW Golf has always been known as a car that is cheap to maintain and one that does not need to be babied as some of its more expensive German rivals do. However, throughout the years the Golf has continuously been upgraded and it now rivals the likes of the Audi A3, the Mercedes Benz A-Class, and the BMW 1-Series.
As a whole, the Golf has proved itself to be reliable, but some generations are indeed better than others. The most common VW Golf issues are engine misfiring and rattling, suspension issues, transmission issues, issues with the turbocharger, and various issues associated with oil leaks.
None of these should discourage you from considering the Golf as your next purchase as it is a really great package. The VW Golf offers many different generations, engines, trims, and even body style variations which is not something you can say for most hatchbacks.
VW Golf – Engine misfiring and rattling issues
Almost all VW Golf models are known to experience various engine-related issues that are typically being manifested through engine rattling and misfiring. The engine ignition coils tend to break often and need to be replaced if you want to maintain your engine’s overall health. Luckily, these are easy to come by which means that they are not all that expensive.
The camshaft-driven high-pressure fuel pump is also a well-documented VW Golf issue that typically manifests itself through loud and situation engine rattling. These can sometimes fail every 20,000 miles which is not something you want, especially because the fuel pump is not typically an expendable part in most cars.
VW Golf – Suspension issues
The VW Golf is also known to experience issues with the front anti-roll bar bushes which need to be replaced whenever you hear squeaking and rattling noises coming from the front. Older VW Golf models are known to suffer from problematic rear axles which are known to cause grinding noises after a while.
Older VW Golfs are also known for increased levels of corrosion that typically attack all the suspension components which cause the car to slowly start sagging. These need to be replaced asap as they are known to completely shatter if they get too corroded.
VW Golf – Transmission issues
Early VW Golf models are known for long-lasting manual transmission that seems to be able to last forever. However, newer manuals are known to be more expendable, especially if you are not careful with them. Running on low gearbox oil is typically known to cause all sorts of transmission-related issues such as not being able to select a gear.
Newer automatics seem to be decent as a whole, especially the DSG units. Older automatics are known to suffer chain issues that make the gearbox utterly sluggish and sometimes even completely unresponsive.
VW Golf – Turbocharger issues
The VW Golf has embraced forced induction early on which means that even older VW Golf models come with a turbocharger. The sad part is that even some newer VW Golf models like the Mk7 GTI are known to experience all sorts of turbocharger issues which can sometimes lead to a complete failure.
Luckily, VW noticed the problem early on and it was fixed, but there are still quite a few Mk7 GTI models out there with turbocharger issues. Older Golf models also sometimes suffer turbocharger issues, especially GTI and R models.
VW Golf – Oil leaks
Oil leaks are a typical German car issue that tends to occur primarily on higher mileage cars, but some Golf examples are even known to suffer from oil leaks relatively early on. One of the reasons why that is because the Golf typically uses a plastic oil pan which tends to degrade after a while and starts causing leaks.
Some Golf models use plastic hoses and expendable seals that also degrade and cause oil leaks from various locations. Be sure to check the underfloor of the VW Golf you are interested in as they are known to leave oil puddles wherever they go.
Which VW Golf model is the most reliable?
The most reliable VW Golf is the Mk7.5 or the Mk7 post-facelift model. These have entered production in late 2016 and early 2017 and they do look different when compared to pre-facelift models. The 7.5 Golf inherits many features from its older pre-facelift brother, but it also managed to solve many of the issues that plagued the pre-facelift model.
Some say that the Mk2 Golf is indestructible which is more or less true, but mostly because it is such a bare car that there aren’t many things that can go wrong anyway.
Which VW Golf model is the least reliable?
According to many online sources, the Mk5 Golf and the Mk6 Golf models seem to be the ones with the highest amount of issues reported. However, it’s not entirely true that these are unreliable because they can also be really reliable if they are taken care of adequately.
The new Mk8 Golf has only recently been released so it’s not possible to already rate it for long-term reliability, but initial reports seem to place it somewhere in the middle.
Is the VW Golf 8 a good car?
The brand-new 8th generation of the Golf called the Golf 8 has been subjected to lots of criticism because many journalists deem it to be of lesser quality when compared to the Golf 7.5. This is 100% true in certain areas such as the quality of materials, but the Golf 8 makes up for it with amazing engines and a really tech-oriented interior.
The Golf 8 is extremely dependent on the options you go for which means that it can both feel like a luxury car and a cheap car. All in all, the VW 8 is still a good car, but under the surface, it is not a quality jump from the 7.5.