VW Golf GTI MKV
Part one: Introducing our latest auction purchase – a £2690 108,000-miler – and making a preliminary job checklist.
We had a shortlist of two cars for the next GSF Car Parts-sponsored project: a Volvo C30 or a Volkswagen Golf. There are more Golfs around, of course, so the next question was which one: a regular 1.6 FSI or a GTI? Having recently covered an Audi A3 TDI, we were keen to do a petrol this time. The GTI is a very popular and desirable model, but which to choose?
The GTI has been around for years and the MKI and MKII are too old and too pricey these days. While the MKIII is verging on classic status, the MKIV certainly isn’t and that model is pretty old now and we’d already covered one as a project. The MKVI was too new and too expensive, so a MKV it had to be.
We looked at doing a DSG version – VW’S clever six-speed direct-shift gearbox that engages one gear while still in another. There was a debate over whether to go for a three- or fivedoor model, but we wanted one with cloth trim, as the MKV reintroduced the famous tartan seat trim of the 1976 originals.
We spent some time skimming through the up-and-coming auction lists looking for fast Golfs. We spotted a silver five-door DSG at BCA in Nottingham– it looked clean enough and had sensible miles. However, there was another one due through on the same day, with no photos or description of condition – it would only be graded the day before the sale. In Tornado Red (a colour that VW introduced in 1987 to replace Mars Red), this three-door, six-speed manual GTI was showing 108,000 miles with no service history and scant other information. Was it a hanging wreck like so many of these are now?
The day before the sale, some photos materialised and it looked OK for our purposes: clean and bright, cloth trim, wheels not too bad and a condition report that flagged up some dashboard warning lights. Sounded ideal for us!
On the day of the sale, we cruised down to BCA’S Nottingham branch, located the red Golf and… well, it was OK. Looking around the rows of cars in an auction hall reveals how neglected most decade-old cars are. From 10 feet away, this Golf seemed all but immaculate. However, all four alloys looked as though they’d been used for kerb target practice and all four were shod with budget Chinese tyres – albeit very recently, as they still have lots of tread. We’ll try these in the wet and pass judgement, because if they’re decent enough we’ll just roll with them for now.
Being 11 years and more than 100,000 miles old, the VW had the usual stonechips and marks around it, but the big question was whether the front wings were rusty. This is a big problem on VAG cars now. The driver’s side wing was perfect – had it already been replaced? – and the passenger wing seemed fine on initial inspection, but a closer look revealed the usual bubbling forming on the top of the arch lip.
There was also a mark on the rear passenger arch that looked like badly touched-in lacquer peel and there was neglected stonechip rust on the offside rear arch – both of those will be dealt with on a warm, sunny day, as Halfords do a rattle can in Tornado Red and you can blow it in up to the arch crease for a decent DIY fix.
A look underneath showed that the underside was clean and dry. The rear VW badge was starting to look a bit sore and there were a couple of chips in the front screen, but it looked straight enough down the sides and, all-in-all, we felt it could be a goer.
Once the auction fired up, the cars were going through at a rate of knots. After looking at the condition report, editor Martyn Knowles agreed to go for it if the car fired up and sounded OK. Three standard Golfs went through the hall before the GTI and they were making strong money – a 2006 1.6 FSI five-door in silver for £2000 before fees? That’s full retail, isn’t it?
So the guy with the keys strode up to the GTI and we opened the bonnet. The oil level was fine and the oil was clean, while the antifreeze level was up to the mark. The engine fired up and sounded good. We noted there were two warning lights illuminated: one for the electronic
power control (EPC) and the other for traction control. The driver’s seat bolster that had looked tatty in the photos was actually fine. The guy driving the car through the hall confirmed that the clutch was biting nice and low. The two-owner GTI edged its way forward.
We were in luck, with the warning lights seemingly putting off traders. We won the auction for £2690.80 including fees, which is a lot less than the £4000+ these go for on Auto Trader.
Once paid, it was time to get the keys and to store it away until work could start. There was no service book, just a rather tatty handbook pack. On the plus side, both keys worked and the clutch felt fine.
Driving out of Nottingham on the A612, then north on the A6097, we noticed that the EPC light had gone out, but the traction light was still illuminated. Nevertheless, the suspension and brakes were working, as was the radio, and the aircon was blowing ice-cold air.
There were no rattles or squeaks, no brake judder or clonking top mounts. The EPC light did flash back on before we got to our destination and the car went into ‘limp-home’ mode. After dipping the clutch and restarting the engine, the light went out and stayed out. Initial diagnosis revealed a fault code for the throttle pedal switch, so we’ll have to investigate further.
The EPC light was illuminated at one point but went out after a while. However, the traction control light stayed on. A ‘Service now!’ command is visible on our 108,473 mile GTI.
The nearside front wing is just starting to show signs of corrosion breaking the paint.
Blistered paint is visible on the offside lower rear quarter. A DIY repair could sort this.
The GTI engine reaches 60mph from a standstill in 7.0 seconds. GTIS with the DSG transmission are quicker by 0.3 seconds.
“There’s oil in this engine”, declares Andrew Everett.
Back at Andrew’s garage, his Clarke hand-held scan tool was used to talk with the VW ECU.
We prefer these tartan cloth seats over the leather usually found on other MKV GTIS.
All four alloys are badly scuffed – we’ll probably get them professionally repaired.
‘P2138’ was our second fault code. We cleared both codes to see if they returned. They didn’t, but ‘P0441’ was pending. The traction control light remains illuminated.
Our first fault found was ‘P0441 – Evaporative Emission System Incorrect Purge Flow’. We’ll first look at the carbon canister area for signs of leaks or split pipes.