Watch Out For These Issues When Considering a Jetta.
Hello people of the internet. I'm Nico and today I will be going over the issues I have run into with the Mk4 Jetta.
I'm back with yet another article about a VW and it's probably not going to be the last. I know that in my last article I wrote that the Jetta was a good first car and I do still stand by that but there are definitely some things to watch out for if you are looking to buy one as a daily driver. Now, I don't know how common any of these issues are, they are just what I experienced.
Firstly, there has been an issue with the gear lever itself. Occasionally it won't go into first or reverse gear, though that hasn't happened to me since some of the components in the gear level mechanism were replaced. More specifically, the plastic pieces within the gear lever used to protect the metal bits from wearing each other down had broken and were rather ingeniously replaced with short sections of a small garden hose (yes that is seriously what the OEM pieces have been replaced with). So far it has been working mostly flawlessly, though admittedly the action of shifting feels a bit rubbery, not sure what exactly caused that but I'm very definitely sure it wasn't the rubber garden hose. The only time it doesn't work quite as well is when it's freezing cold outside and causes the rubber to get very hard. It will still shift fine it just doesn't go into gear quite as easily as it normally does. Just something to consider before you go replacing more plastic bits with a rubber hose.
I can't get get the boot up so here's the gear lever. Just imagine what it looks like underneath.
The second issue I had was a pretty major one though I don't think it is a particularly common one. Regardless of how common it is, I had to deal with it, it being a broken steering rack. I actually noticed it several months before I replaced it and had I known exactly what was wrong when I first noticed I would have pulled over immediately. But, as I didn't know what the issue was I continued to daily drive it to and from school as if nothing was wrong, with the exception of the moments when the car just randomly started drifting towards the side of the road or oncoming traffic without driver input. Needless to say I needed some fresh clothes afterwards. Eventually I got around to replacing it with the help of my dad, which I needed because it was no easy task. I won't go through the whole process but it did involve removing the subframe to get it out. Ever since I replaced the subframe it has steered flawlessly (Thankfully) so now I don't have to deal with any brown streaks from the terrifying moments when I couldn't steer.
The subframe along with what you can see of the steering rack.
The final issue I had was a rather obnoxious coolant leak. It started off very slowly so I just kept filling it up every now and again whenever the coolant level started to go too low. As time went on I had to fill up more and more frequently, it got to the point where I was filling up every day but I'll get to that. At this point I was carrying a bottle of distilled water in my car just so that I could make it across town safely and not risk my engine overheating. Eventually I had enough of regularly filling up the coolant and decided to fix the problem. Maybe not surprisingly, I wasn't able to find the source of the leak at first. Kind of annoying how you can only find it after an hour of poking around in the engine bay under the blistering sun. Anyway, after I found the culprit, which was this small plastic piece on the side of the engine block with several hoses leading out of it (Pictured below). There was a small crack that had developed on the underside of it, presumably just from being in use for some 20 years on a car with well over 120,000 miles. Frankly it wasn't really surprising that it had developed and especially that it had developed there, where all the coolant is flowing through and goes in multiple directions. The job of replacing it was fairly easy too as far as car maintenance goes. I just had to detach the hoses and then undo some screws (that were somewhat difficult to get at admittedly) to get the broken piece out and then it was just the process in reverse to get the fresh replacement part in. I'm glad to say that I still haven't had any issues with the coolant. In fact, it hasn't even gone down at all since that old part was replaced and now the Jetta is running strong...for now.
The coolant piece is in the middle with all the hoses coming out.
That's all the major issues I've had with the car. Obviously, there have been times where the car wouldn't start because of a old battery or a broken fuse which I didn't feel was worth writing about. It's another old car with a lot of miles so there's bound to be some issues. The severity and exact issues can be different but those are the issues I had. What are some issues you've had with your car? If you have an old Jetta, did you have similar issues? Comment Below!
Thank you for reading, assuming you made it this far, I have one more VW article to post and then I should have something new. Good luck, Godspeed, and may the Force be with you.