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The Ups and Downs of VW Ownership

by Jon Harris 4 years ago in product review

Sometimes it's good; other times... well, if you own a Volkswagen, you already know some of this.

If you've ever been car shopping and have asked a friend what type of car you should look for, you've probably got an answer like, "get a Honda or Toyota, and whatever you, do stay away from Volkswagen," or maybe you've just heard horror stories about European cars in general. Either way, I have some history and insight I'll throw out there.

If you like cars, there has probably been a moment where you step back and think, where did this all start? I've done it quite a few times. But I can remember the first time a buddy showed me an old air-cooled bug that was on the ground scraping the pan; I knew I wanted to have one of these cars one day, and I started loving VWs that day. Since then, I've owned four and helped work on or build I don't know how many others, but the passion to try and create something different is there every time I grab a wrench and start a new project.

Now, let's start with the ups of my beloved VW. I challenge you to find a more well-built car for the price point out there on the market. From simple things like the way to door closes—always a nice solid thunk, not a hollow sound you get from some other cars. The way the leather is actually somewhat soft and not rubbery. The feel of the steering wheel—nice, chunky, solid, not flimsy. Not to mention, the sound of a VR6 has to be one of the best exhaust notes for any car, ever. My old 300,000 mile 16V at 5,000 rpm just screamed and made you forget the rest of the world for that moment in time. The sound of the turbo spool through the intake, followed by the greatest noise ever—the diverter valve—all things that make me love my car every time I got out to drive. The looks you get from people walking by when your car is touching the ground. Those are the little joys that make the bad worth it. Now, those sorts of things are all great if you're a car person. In all honesty, if you don't enjoy cars or enjoy the little things that make your car special, you might be one of those that hate a VW. And of course, there are going to be bad eggs in every bunch, but for the most part, I've never had a big problem with build quality or anything along those lines.

Now for those downs, and I'll be honest, there can be a few. First off, repairs can be quite expensive if you aren't able to work on your car yourself. A lot of shops won't work on VWs or any European cars in general, really, due to specialty tools and complexity of some of the systems in the cars. Even if you can work on your own car, getting parts can be a little pain. I've had to wait weeks to get parts from VW or had to deal with trying to use cheaper parts. And with the cheaper parts, three or four of them won't work because your car is picky. If you worry about fuel cost, a lot of the engines will require a premium fuel, so there's a lot more cost there. Also, any new VW is going to require a synthetic oil for oil changes, so there's another added cost of maintenance. Little stupid things like the finish on the radio buttons will wear off over time, and the headliner will start sagging on you just, well, because it always happens. But if you stay on top of your maintenance, I've never had issues with the engine and drivetrain. And I like to think that's probably more important than the radio buttons.

Where It All Started for Me

Hard to tell, but this is my first VW. My first 2002 GTI that I wrecked and flipped into a ditch when I was 19. I was going over 100 mph and went off the road. I walked away with maybe a dime-sized bruise on my left shoulder. Since that day, I've loved VW and will probably only own them from here on out. So, for all the little issues that come along, I say well worth it.

In the End

At the end of the day, so much of driving cars and especially modifying and building cars comes down to preference. I've spent a majority of the past 10+ years going to VW oriented shows, having VW oriented friends, and basically just being around, working on, and building VWs. A lot of my life revolves around building cars, photographing cars, talking about cars, and, well, looking at cars of just all kinds. Always do what you love; I happen to love my VWs.

product review

Jon Harris

Just you know another car builder, love my VW's and all well built cars. I always try and build cars and car parts that are different and new. Craft beer lover and baseball fan.

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Jon Harris
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