Tee shot in the bunker

Golf own­ers got away to a good start. Then came gear­box woes

Herald Sun - Motoring - - USED CAR -


Volk­swa­gen launched a large range of Golf vari­ants here, with a car for ev­ery­one, from ba­sic trans­port to siz­zling sport­sters such as the GTi and R mod­els. We’ll fo­cus on the most pop­u­lar ver­sions, the reg­u­lar hatch­backs.

The sixth-gen­er­a­tion Golf ar­rived in 2009 as more of an up­date than a new model. The pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion was ex­pen­sive to build, the maker said, so pro­duc­ing Mk VI aimed to make the Golf more prof­itable while adding re­fine­ment and re­li­a­bil­ity.

There was much to like about the Mk VI five-door: pleas­ant styling, a roomy, func­tional cabin and good road man­ners.

Buy­ers flock­ing to the com­pany’s show­rooms chose from three main mod­els, the 90TSI Trend­line and the 118TSI Com­fort­line petrol mod­els, and the 103TDI Com­fort­line diesel.

The des­ig­na­tions iden­ti­fied the re­spec­tive power out­puts of the four-cylin­der en­gines.

In the base 90TSI, the 1.4litre turbo de­liv­ered 90kW/200Nm, the 118TSI range-top­per with 1.4-litre (118kW/240Nm) was su­per­charged and tur­bocharged for flex­ile per­for­mance. The 103TDI with a 2.0-litre turbo diesel (103kW/320Nm) aimed for fuel econ­omy.

Trans­mis­sion op­tions were a six-speed man­ual and DSG auto, pre­ferred by most buy­ers — seven-speed­ers backed the petrol en­gines and the diesels got a six-speed version.

Apart from the pres­tige of own­ing a Euro brand the Golf ’s main ap­peal was its on-road dy­nam­ics. It han­dled beau­ti­fully, cor­nered as if on rails and was gen­er­ally a great driv­ing car.


The test of a car is not how it stacks up in the show­room but in terms of own­er­ship. Golf Mk VI has been less than sat­is­fac­tory on most counts on that front.

Feed­back from own­ers mainly com­prises tales of woe. Dodgy electrics, un­re­li­able elec­tron­ics and prob­lem­atic DSGs have tar­nished VW’s im­age for them.

The au­to­matic gear­box ail­ments have led to fail­ure of the clutch packs and in many cases en­tire trans­mis­sions had to be re­placed.

(Buy­ers of Mk VII Golfs have ex­pe­ri­enced lit­tle trou­ble, suggest­ing ei­ther VW has fixed the is­sues plagu­ing the ear­lier model or that the later cars haven’t been on the road long enough to de­velop prob­lems.)

Any­one eye­ing a Golf with the DSG should have it checked by a VW spe­cial­ist to try to iden­tify any prob­lems. It may be pru­dent to go for a man­ual.

VW vol­un­tar­ily re­called cars with the DSG gear­box, so take a po­ten­tial pur­chase to a dealer and check whether it had the re­call work done.

VW en­gines are also known to use oil, some more than oth­ers. Check with the seller as to the oil consumption.

Own­ers know it’s wise to check the oil reg­u­larly and top it up as needed. It’s bet­ter to do that than have the en­gine run dry and seize.


Vir­ginia T: I bought a 90TSI in 2011. It was go­ing to be my for­ever car but I sold it three weeks ago and I’m no longer a VW fan. It started act­ing funny in 2013. The EC and en­gine lights came on, I had no turbo and it put it­self into limp mode. A dealer did a soft­ware up­date but could not guar­an­tee it wouldn’t hap­pen again. It did, twice. I rang VW and was told I would have to pay $160 an hour to do a di­ag­nos­tic test as it was out of war­ranty. There was no guar­an­tee the fault would be found. I was con­cerned about be­ing run over by a large truck while limp­ing along the free­way. It had done 29,000km.

Andreas Mol: For an en­gi­neer who mi­grated from Ger­many, own­ing not one but two Golfs was a truly hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence. I knew that on av­er­age ev­ery fourth Golf will spend its life be­ing fixed but I hoped for the best. First ma­jor de­fect: gear­box ka­put! Both my Golfs used huge amounts of oil, suf­fered from dodgy electrics and mis­guided elec­tron­ics. I bought the sec­ond Golf, a diesel, for fuel econ­omy and en­vi­rofriend­li­ness — both claims re­vealed as bla­tant lies. Golf does not live up to the myth of a “good, durable, well put­to­gether Ger­man ma­chine”.

Chris Lawrence: I bought my Golf with 13,000km on the clock and I have just had the 60,000km ser­vice. It is the best car I’ve ever owned. I’m a boomer and not rusted on brand wise. The diesel and DSG combo is bril­liant, un­like those rub­ber-band CVTs. It sticks to the road and has torque to spare. I’ll buy an­other for sure.

Michael Cemm: I count my­self as a car nut. When seek­ing an eco­nom­i­cal diesel with some load space and bit of “dif­fer­ence” back in 2011 for my 100km daily com­mute, I bought a 2.0-litre TDI Com­fort­line with six-speed DSG and Sportspack. Af­ter four years and 115,000km, I’d put the car high on my “best cars owned” list. It’s com­fort­able, han­dles well and is eco­nom­i­cal. Down­sides are it’s ex­pen­sive to ser­vice, the head­lights are lousy and the paint seems prone to chip­ping.

David Cole: For the first six months my 2009 TSI auto was bril­liant but the fol­low­ing six years have been a night­mare. It’s had two en­gines, two clutches and a gear­box, plus other on­go­ing is­sues, like the en­gine paus­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, a tick­ing noise on ac­cel­er­a­tion fol­lowed by black ex­haust. In my view it’s a lemon. Worse still is VW’s at­ti­tude, which I be­lieve is shame­ful and lack­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity and em­pa­thy.


Driv­ing a Euro­pean car is ap­peal­ing but be aware of the trou­bles af­fect­ing the Golf.

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