Monday, May 08, 2006

On Jettas

I know I've had a lot to say about my car as of late, but GOSH it's infuriating, so I have a few more things to say about it (and will probably have a few more in the coming days), so please bare with me here. I need to vent.

We've decided to get the car fixed. In fact, I'm bringing it to the mechanic tomorrow morning and am crossing my fingers that I'll have it back by the weekend. I often wonder how I survived in the days before I turned 16; I've become so dependent on my car, the biggest pain in the butt of it breaking down isn't necessarily how much it'll affect my wallet, but the fact that I won't have my car. Undoubtedly, though, I'm not extremely happy about having to take money away from the wedding to fix the most unusual of problems. I have to disrupt the lives of one of my coworkers to make them drive out of their way to come pick me up at the mechanic after I drop it off tomorrow morning, Matt's going to pick me up after work, and then he'll carpool until I get the Jetta back so I can take his truck to work everyday (Boy do I love him - he's so selfless...and I need the truck more since I can't carpool as NONE of my coworkers live in our part of town).

I felt like a worried mother listing off the irksome symptoms of her sick child. They pretty much know me by name at the mechanics. Next they'll know the sound of my voice, I'm sure. "Problems with the Jetta again, huh?" Well, I'm hoping after this bout of throwing money at it, it'll hang in there until we trade it in and it becomes someone else's problem.

I remember the first time I drove that damn car, how much I loved it, how my butt started to get hot and I discovered to my delight that the car had heated seats. I loved everything about it - the sleek black body (not nearly as boxy as the older models), the cute antenna sprouting out the back like a little tail, the moon roof, the leather interior, the heated seats. We'd looked at Jettas at so many other dealerships, I was absolutely sick to death of car shopping and salesmen. When my boss mentioned to me that one of her friends worked at a dealership and they had a 2000 VW Jetta sitting on their lot, I was down there checking it out within 20 minutes. And I fell in love with it before I even drove it because I'm superficial and it was beautiful. I couldn't believe my ears when he told me the price - $2,000 less than every other 2000 Jetta we'd looked at and this one had LEATHER INTERIOR. The test drive sold it; I just couldn't take it home till I finished some paperwork and got approved for financing.

I remember that same night taking Matt by the lot to show him the car. It was late so there were no salesman hanging around, but there it was, parked it the front lot with a big orange "SOLD" sign hanging from the rearview mirror. I was giddy. I remember taking Matt to the dealership that weekend so that he could test drive it; I remember the day I brought in my down payment and got to take the car home. I think of all those memories of the car - like it were the birth of a child - and it breaks my heart that, looks be damned, it's just a piece of shit. With leather interior. LOL.

I was reading through my old posts about the Jetta on my old blog and it made me laugh (albeit out of the ability to relate and not so much out of humor) to find someone had recently left their "Jetta story" in my comments. It seems that everyone who's ever owned one has their own story of problems they withstood and while it may seem easy to argue that ALL cars experience their share of problems at some point or another, there is nothing quite like the kinds of problems that befall the Jettas. I have yet to meet a Jetta owner that doesn't have a complaint about the car - I imagine if the car were to morph into a human, it would be a drop dead gorgeous high maintenance hypochondriac bitch.

It seems appropriate that I paid about $2000 less than the Kelly Blue Book value of the car because that's about the same amount of money I've put into repairs of the car in the last year (and that's NOT including the regular maintenance I've had done, i.e., oil changes, fixing burnt out headlights, getting new tires). Here's a list of what's ailing my car this go round:
  1. The coolant is leaking. AGAIN. The FIRST time I brought my car in (for the misfiring cylinder), I had a coolant leak fixed. The SECOND time I brought my car in because it wouldn't start, I had a coolant leak fixed. Now, again, that awful little red coolant light blinks and beeps at me every time I start the car and in intervals of about every 5 minutes thereafter. I topped it off and that got the beeping and flashing light to stop for about a week, but it's back at it again.
  2. The engine fans are possessed. They continue to run for 5 - 10 minutes after I shut the car off, every single time. The interesting thing is that the car is not overheating and the fans go on even if I don't start the engine - if I just turn on the accessories to, say, roll up my windows, the engine fans will start running like mad. They're overworking. Fabulous.
  3. And, as aforementioned, the air conditioning is not working, which apparently is the least of my problems...

I asked the mechanic if they could all be related - it certainly SOUNDS like they should all somehow be playing a part in the malfunctioning of each other - and he said probably not. To him, they sounded like 3 pretty unrelated problems. Exasperating, but not at all surprising - NONE of my cars problems have ever been related.

Ultimately it was decided that the best thing to do would be to get it fixed - it will be worth more as a trade-in, I'll have air conditioning for the summer. I was thinking we could just hold off until after the wedding and get it fixed then; it sounded a little crazy to be getting the air conditioning fixed in September when I no longer needed it, and surely we could've survived the whole summer, but it was the other two problems that were the determining factors in bringing the car in instead of waiting on it. Actually, we were driving home the other night after seeing M:iIII (which I thoroughly enjoyed, by the way) and my coolant alarm started beeping at me and it was Matt who decided we had to cut into the wedding fund. His exact words were, "If you don't take this piece of shit in to get it fixed, I'm going to take a bat to it." Of course, my smart ass response was, "Only if I can have a few swings at it, too!"

I was reading an article at ConsumerReports.org about used car buying - pointers on getting the best car for the best price - and one of the tips it provided was "not to fall in love with a particular model." Oops. I've always fallen in love with a model - that's how I do my car shopping - I buy my cars for purely cosmetic reasons. I wanted a Toyota Tacoma - so my first car was a Toyota Tacoma. I wanted a VW Jetta - so I shopped for a VW Jetta (and only a VW Jetta - I was insulted when it was suggested by a salesman that I buy a Taurus instead). The Tacoma was incredible - I can't say enough good things about that truck, and if you want a reliable, well-built car, truly, Toyota is the route to take. When I bought the Jetta, I sold the Tacoma to Matt and even though it's become a little rickety in the transformation to a work truck (with all those dirt roads, it's only natural that the belts would start to squeal a little), it's still going strong at 130,000 miles. My Jetta - 5 years and 30,000 miles newer - is no competition in reliability to this truck. The truck has been to the shop less in the last 8 years than the Jetta was in just 2005.

Admittedly, I've also already made a pretty firm decision in the purchase of my next car, the A4. But that's just how I shop for cars - much like I shop for groceries, I go in with a list and get what I came for. However, I have learned from the errors I made in the purchase of my Jetta. I got a membership to ConsumerReports.org and have extensively researched the dependability of the Audi A4 (and have come to the decision that it would be foolish to buy anything older than a 2004). This car has to last us at least 5 years (or until we can afford our Mercedes - I have expensive taste), so it's important that we purchase something that won't end up costing us thousands of dollars in repairs. I'm not totally attached to the A4 just yet - I really like the Mazda6 and the Toyota Corolla and if we purchased one of those, we'd be able to buy a 2007 instead of getting a used car, and I must admit that I have somewhat of a soft spot for the new Toyota Yaris (the sedan. I hate hatchbacks) - but I do have a tendency to point out every single Audi A4 we see on the street and I have been known to make sexually lewd comments when one passes us on the freeway (that really cracks Matt up).

Well, we'll see. In my mind I'm already driving something else. I have to wait 8 months before I can finally rid myself of this nightmare (I'm fully convinced that "nightmare" is synonymous with "Jetta"), but hopefully we'll be able to go 8 months without any further problems (let's cross our fingers, right? So far the record for "longest time out of the shop" with the Jetta is 6 months). I'll update again when I find out the diagnosis...

12 Comments:

Blogger Courtney said...

Man I am sorry to hear about all those problems. I agree Audi's are beautiful cars. Anyway, good luck with the diagnosis.

5/08/2006 8:04 PM

 
Blogger Household6 said...

Sadly, some cars come off the line as a lemon. We literraly just junked our 2001 Toyota. Apparently the entire line had valve leakage problems. We've gone through 3 cat. converters and last week the engine started rocking so hard, we knew a piston was gone. Sucks to have put more money into a car than its currently worth so we junked it.

5/09/2006 12:12 AM

 
Anonymous Liz said...

A friend of mine has a new black A4 and that thing is sexy as hell.

I've had horrible luck with cars in the past, which is why I bought a brand-new Honda Accord coupe 2 years ago. I'm a horrible mother to that car and I beat that thing to shit, but it is the most amazing piece of automotive work I've ever known. I swear on everything holy, I will likely always drive a Honda. If the husband wants something else, he's going to have to go buy it himself.

Good luck with the mechanics; I'll be wishing you luck all day long.

5/09/2006 5:34 AM

 
Blogger Karen said...

My sister has a 2004 Jetta, and it's NOTHING but problems. Her coolant is also leaking, again. For like the 15th time. She can't stand it, my parents are kicking themselves they bought it, and everyone's ready to trade it in. She got into a small accident. And by small I mean she wasn't driving more than 5mph, and the Jetta CRUMBLED. She bent the entire frame and did over $7000 worth of damage.

Needless to say, she hates her Jetta too.

I hope the A4 treats you better. I have a friend with one and she LOVES it. It has close to 100,000 on it and it's still going strong.

5/09/2006 1:15 PM

 
Blogger mouse said...

I stumbled across your site while googling "jetta coolant leak" - and I have to say, I feel much better knowing I'm not the only one who fell in love with the Jetta and is kicking herself for all the shit it puts me through!

I have an '03 and in the past 10 months it's been to the mechanic 5 times... three times for coolant-related issues. And it's going back later this week.

I'm ready for my next car-- a 350z-- too bad I can't afford it yet!

6/11/2006 1:14 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a 2000 Jetta also and it has been a nightmare sexy little thing but breaks down if you look at it sideways I am convinced that Jetta is German for Lemon Good luck with your future auto purchases, I am going back to Chevy for good!

DCRENO

1/04/2007 1:29 PM

 
Anonymous courtney said...

Damn, i didnt realize these coolant leaks were so popular, I guess I am not alone. I did though buy a new car just yesterday, 2007 Honda CR-V, and i must say i am in love! Now it is time to fix the jetta and sell it, i hope i get more than the trade in value ($3300)!

3/23/2007 12:10 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2000 jetta owner here with history of coolant leak problems. Taken 4 times for repair for different leaks.... It is a POS and can't wait to get rid of it.

4/04/2007 6:53 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, have a 2000 Jetta GLS V6 with 175,000+ miles on it and began to have coolant problems a few months ago. The mechanic can't find the leak. So, good to know I'm not alone. I'm going to need a new car, but despite any problems with this car - I love her and I don't want to get rid of her. She has been a good car and she still looks great! I embrace the "drop dead gorgeous high maintenance hypochondriac bitch" title.

10/17/2007 4:25 PM

 
Blogger neyuq10 said...

I have a 2000 GLX VR6 with 71,000 miles and cannot begin to tell you about the irritating coolant problems. In the past 5 years, I've replaced the clutch, rear brakes, and timing belt. Now they want $400 parts&labor to replace the thermostat housing and gasket because the "seals" are failing to do just that- keep the damn coolant in the tank! God.

Best of luck with the A4, they're great. For me however, I'll just have to stick it out. Like you, I really fell hard for the Jetta back in highschool and shopped for one exclusively. I start medical school in August, so I really won't be able to afford another car for at least another 5 or 6 years.

Now, to be honest, I really love my car. Maybe more than I should. That beautiful engine has never been anything but a thrill to drive. It doesn't like to be baby-ied, so I push it kind of hard. But this last insult really stings. I don't have much spare income, since I'll be moving away from roomates and in an apartment by myself in a couple months.

So, this will be my last VW. Also, for the rest of my life I've learned to ALWAYS buy the extended warranty.

Oh well, at least there are other people out there with the same issues, which I didn't know until today.

4/11/2008 1:51 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that sucks. I fell hard in love with my 2000 jetta gls. Got an awsome deal on her. The service engine light popped on in a week of driving, its been problems ever since.(80,000 miles). Coolant rivers down my driveway, mass airflow sensor, and some dumbass "secondary air injection system" problem...This WILL be my last Jetta.

4/26/2008 9:42 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son has a 2003 Jetta, nothing but problems. I've owned a few VW's. I love the looks and driving characteristics. All well maintained by dealers. However, we will NEVER buy another VW. I challenge anyone to debate me about the poor quality of these cars. They are plagued with electrical, suspension, coolant, AC, interior... you name it, every part of the car has some quality issue. You are forced to purchase a Ford or Asian car.

if you don't agree chuckp@starstream.net

9/20/2011 10:12 AM

 

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