Volkswagen launched nearly a decade ago as ‘the people’s car’ – a car that every German could afford. Its most iconic car – the Volkswagen beetle – inspired the Porsche 911 brand, which is perhaps too expensive for the average person. Volkswagen, however, has retained its ‘people’s car’ element, with a sprinkling of luxury giving it a unique place in the car market.
Volkswagen’s aren’t expensive to maintain. They cost between $400 to $700 to repair per year. Over a decade, Volkswagen owners spend less than $8,000 on car maintenance. The parts for various Volkswagen models are cheap and readily accessible.
Below, I’ll explain why Volkswagens are reliable and whether their spare parts are expensive. I will also reveal whether they’re costly to fix, give you an average scheduled maintenance cost, and as a bonus, tell you how to buy a used Volkswagen.
The 2015 emissions scandal severely dented Volkswagen’s image and sparked a misconception that Volkswagen’s cars were unreliable. Understandably, Volkswagen sales dipped following the scandal, but the car manufacturer has steadied the ship somewhat.
Volkswagen’s are reliable cars. The Consumer Reports ranking placed it at number 24 out of the 26 most reliable 2021 vehicles it ranked. Volkswagen beat Tesla by seven points and Lincoln by a massive 28 points.
Some people may view 24 out of 26 as a poor rating, but it’s not. Out of the 26 cars ranked, Volkswagen arguably gives you more value for money.
For instance, per Consumer Reports, Porsche ranks at number nine on its list. That’s pretty impressive, but Porsche’s are expensive to buy.
Mazda ranks first, but Mazdas are fundamentally basic cars, despite their stunning looks. Therefore, to be higher up the list, you have to be basic or expensive.
Volkswagen is neither of those. It’s relatively cheap and offers several of the luxuries present in high-end cars. Overall, 24 out of 26 is quite a good score for Volkswagen.
A vehicle’s reliability is influenced by the owner’s maintenance culture. If you fail to take the car for scheduled service, your vehicle will wear out faster.
But you still might end up blaming the car for your mistakes.
Volkswagen makes it easier for you to maintain your car by offering the first two scheduled services free of charge. The first of two ‘Carefree Maintenance’ service sessions come after one year or the first 10,000 miles (16093.44 km).
The second comes after two years or 20,000 miles (32186.88 km). Volkswagen’s limited warranty extends to four years or 50,000 miles (80467.2 km).
The 3-year or 36,000-mile (57936.38 km) warranty eclipses what competitors such as Toyota and Ford offer. Volkswagen previously offered a six-year or 72,000-mile (115872.77 km) warranty, but per a VW spokesperson, the extra-long warranty gave the perception that Volkswagen’s were expensive to maintain.
If you feel that the four-year warranty isn’t enough, you can pay for an extended warranty. It’ll force you to dig deeper into your pocket but give you peace of mind about your purchase.
Volkswagen offers such long warranties because of the quality of its manufacturing process. The company employs strict testing to guarantee the quality of its vehicles.
Another advantage for Volkswagen is that reliability faults tend to be mild. On average, Volkswagens spend less than three hours per year getting repaired.
A test of Volkswagen’s reliability is its low rate of depreciation. Reliable cars tend to depreciate slower than unreliable cars.
Comparable cars in the Ford or Vauxhall range depreciate faster than Volkswagens. The flip side is that Volkswagens cost more than Fords of the same age, but that’s because they’ve retained most of their value.
Overall, Volkswagens are reliable vehicles.
The cars score well in reputable reliability tests—furthermore, the manufacturer has taken steps to instill public confidence in its products.
Volkswagens’ ability to retain value speaks to their reliability.
The myth that Volkswagens were expensive to maintain partly stemmed from the fact that, before, you had to import some Volkswagen parts from Mexico or Germany. Thankfully, that struggle has been relegated to the past.
Volkswagen parts aren’t expensive. The car manufacturer sold over nine million cars in 2020 and has close to 700 dealerships in the United States. Therefore, parts are quickly and cheaply accessible.
An advantage for Volkswagen is that you don’t need to visit a Volkswagen dealership to get your car fixed. A Volkswagen-certified mechanic from an independent repair shop can work on your vehicle.
The advantage of an independent repair shop is they sell genuine parts cheaper than most dealerships. Also, mechanics in independent shops tend to be more experienced.
They also offer more specialized care compared to mechanics at dealerships.
On the whole, Volkswagen parts aren’t expensive. The cost of spares is relatively low, especially when it comes to scheduled maintenance.
Of course, the bill will increase if the repair job involves an accident. However, your insurance will likely cover the cost.
Are Volkswagens Expensive to Fix?
In the past, Volkswagen had gained a reputation for being difficult and expensive to fix. However, they’ve slowly and surely shed that reputation.
Volkswagens aren’t expensive to fix. The latest data indicates that the cost of a Volkswagen repair per year is about $400. It also suggests that Volkswagens rarely inconvenience their owners financially.
That, coupled with the fact that Volkswagens spend less than three hours per year getting fixed, makes Volkswagen cheap and convenient to repair.
The 2016 data from Your Mechanic put decade-long maintenance costs for a Volkswagen at $7,800. Given the car’s price and the luxury it gives you, $7,800 in ten years is a bargain.
Therefore, if you bought a 2016 model car today, the car’s maintenance cost in ten years will be somewhere around $7,800.
Volkswagen scheduled maintenance costs range from $400 to $700 per year, depending on the car model.
Scheduled maintenance usually involves changing the oil and replacing parts that wear out regularly.
As previously mentioned, for the first two years, Volkswagen will cover scheduled maintenance costs for free. However, as with other car manufacturers, there are some repairs that they won’t cover. Such repairs include:
- Damage caused by driver negligence.
- Damage caused by unauthorized modifications.
- Damage aggravated by driver negligence.
- Damage caused by improper fueling.
It would be wise of you to consider taking up an extended warranty for your Volkswagen. Extended warranties help reduce maintenance costs after the warranty period elapses.
After Volkswagen’s warranty period ends or you cross the mile limit, you’ll have to pay maintenance costs. When the warranty expires, a fair few car parts will have started to wear and will soon need repair.
Extended warranties shoulder most of the weight of maintenance costs depending on the nature of your plan. For instance, a head gasket worth $1,200 will cost you $0 to $100.
The initial payment might seem excessive, but you’ll reap the benefits of foresight if your Volkswagen needs a costly repair job.
The maintenance costs generally increase with the cost of the Volkswagen model. The cheaper the model, the cheaper the maintenance costs.
However, the Volkswagen CC presented a curious exception to this rule as its low purchase price didn’t match its high maintenance costs. Despite it being a good car, Volkswagen discontinued the CC. Its high maintenance costs drove down sales when the car company as a whole was struggling to sell its vehicles.
You may remember a couple of misconceptions written above about Volkswagen repair and maintenance. Regardless, let’s recap:
- You need to import Volkswagen parts.
- Volkswagens are expensive to maintain.
Volkswagen has shed these misconceptions, but it has been powerless to prevent other fallacies from cropping up.
Here are a couple of misconceptions about Volkswagen maintenance that we’ll proceed to debunk:
The internet has turned us into DIY experts. DIY projects help save money and are fun to undertake, but I’d advise you not to repair your Volkswagen on your own.
Leave Volkswagen repair and maintenance to the experts.
Even with the best instruction guide, there’s a real risk of injuring yourself. The desire to save money shouldn’t outweigh the need for self-preservation.
Also, remember that a car warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by user negligence. In trying to repair or maintain your car, you might aggravate a problem, giving a dealership sufficient reason to decline to cover the repair cost.
You’ll be surprised to find that, at times, independent garages offer better and often cheaper repair and maintenance compared to dealerships.
Independent maintenance shops that specialize in European car models will repair and maintain your car. Moreover, they offer genuine manufacturer items at a fraction of the cost.
However, steer clear of technicians with little or no experience with Volkswagens. They may end up damaging your vehicle further.
To be on the safe side, ensure that the technician fixing your car is Volkswagen-certified. If they are, relax; your vehicle is in good hands.
If not, take your car elsewhere. Head to the dealership if you can’t find an independent Volkswagen-certified technician.
While I’ve covered and debunked the most popular myths regarding Volkswagen repair, the internet still has plenty of myths that you need to avoid.
For any questions about Volkswagen repair or maintenance, contact credible sources or, better yet, your local dealership.
What to Check When Buying a Used Volkswagen
I’ve raved on and on about Volkswagens depreciating slowly due to their high reliability. However, as previously stated, reliability hinges a lot on the owner’s maintenance practices.
Therefore, a Volkswagen that’s maintained regularly will likely be more valuable than one that’s ill-maintained.
To get the best used Volkswagen, take note of the following:
Service or maintenance records should be the first thing you ask for from a Volkswagen seller. They’ll help you determine whether the seller has taken good care of the car.
Missing records are a huge red flag for any prospective buyer.
Compare the records with the information provided in the car’s manual. If the maintenance records are up to scratch, the chances are that you’ll get a good car.
Inconsistent repair patterns should have you running for the hills or, if you’re a risk-taker, negotiating for a drop in purchase price.
The service records will also show you whether the repair items used met manufacturer standards.
Speed and adrenaline enthusiasts love modifying Volkswagens. I bet that you’ve come across many modified Golf GTI.
Modifications can improve a car, but you should take great care when buying a modified Volkswagen. Remember that the warranty doesn’t cover damage caused by after-market car modifications.
Purchasing a modified Volkswagen is a real gamble. Some suggest that you should walk away from an extensively modified VW.
In the early 2000s, mechanics couldn’t pick up diagnostic codes from Jetta and Passats. They had to diagnose the cars’ problems using intuition.
The issue has long been fixed, and any diagnostic scanner will bring forth any problem it discovers in your car. The scan is cheap but very important.
It’ll help reveal any underlying issue that the seller might not know about or might be hiding.
But generally, given the millions of sales that Volkswagen achieves, you’ll get a good used Volkswagen if you search carefully.
Take note of the above tips, and you’ll drive home with an excellent second-hand Volkswagen.
Volkswagens aren’t expensive to maintain.
One glance at the rankings might have you dismissing Volkswagen, but a deeper look at the figures will reveal that it’s cheap to maintain.
Volkswagen parts are cheap, and so are the repair and maintenance costs. However, consider investing in extended warranties to shield yourself from unexpected expenses.
In addition, it’s worth gambling on used Volkswagens, but take caution and check on service records before breaking the bank for one.