Used VW Golf/Polo Inspection

Hi guys, i'm planning to buy a used VW Polo/Golf but not really sure what to check, test drive and such yes but i know nothing under the hood. Did a quick Google and some VW dealer do Used Car Check but i'm not quite sure is that better than independent mechanic…

My budget is around 10-16k, ACT/South NSW/Sydney area.

Thanks heaps :)


  • +1

    Do a PPSR check and there are plenty of places that will do a pre-purchase inspection & report for you.

  • +4

    Having a polo (2012 that I got from auction) … it's the standard stuff …

    check for:
    - leaks
    - under the oil cap (if there's white / milky stuff, the head's probably gone)
    - check km's (they pretty much need a new timing belt / water pump at the 80-120k mark ~ 1200$)
    - check the gaps between panels (if it's too close or too far, it's been in a crash - very hard to re-align perfectly)
    - look in the engine bay, there's a square with circles on each corner, if these are out of shape, the chassis has been bent)
    - check the a/c works (new a/c compressor is quite expensive, dealers will say "it just needs a regas")
    - if it's diesel, that's a whole different range of issues, remember, diesel is great, but designed for long drives)

    besides that, they're a really simple car and pretty solid

    • -1

      Wow, you were game. Most common issue with VW are the gearboxes. Can't really test them pre-auction.

      • +1

        Yeah, it was hail damage from interstate, looked like a girl owned it (going by the number of hair ties in there) …

        Hail damage is really well covered by the grey colour, ended up with a 2012 polo with 84,000kms on it for $4300, then spent 1200$ on the timing belt and water pump … very nice little car for 5500$

      • Most common issue with VW are the gearboxes

        I think that is the case for the auto gearboxes. The dreaded DSG ! Manual OK.

  • That DCT is gonna give you the biggest headaches.

    • If I remember correctly, anything after 2012 (or whatever year it was they went to a wet clutch) should be fine (although not necessarily problem-free).

      (Any models that have the dry clutch should be avoided completely).

      • All the 1.4TSI and smaller engines have the dry clutches, you need to look at 1.8TSI and up for the wet clutch. Oh except the Golf 8 which now has a slush box here in Aus.

  • +2

    For euro cars - give either an independent or VW service centre a ring and find out what the next five years of service costs are expected to be. Often people sell them as they know there is an expensive service coming up.

  • Go onto vw enthusiast forums and have a read on which mechanics they use in your state then get it inspected by them.

  • +1

    Dont risk it. The base models still have dry clutches and are still a time bomb waiting to explode. The top of the line sports models may have the wet clutches which are more reliable.

    I know of 4 golfs of my close relatives that have all required the gear boxes rebuilt (either clutches or mechanical controller). My own work Golf Wagon is 3 yrs old and only has 60k on it and the clutch is already slipping in 1st, 3rd and 5th. It's a great car with good ride and excellent economy, but I'm so glad I don't own it and I pity the next person who think they are buying a reliable ex lease vehicle.

  • +2

    Pre 2015 DSG is problematic.
    Pre 2012 electrical gremlins.
    118TSI engine, run dont walk away from, this is one of the worst engines made and appear in a lot of VW cars.

    Honestly Id look at Hyundai/Kia cars for that budget. Kia Picanto GT in a manual, would be a fun buzzbox and probably still with warranty.

    • I'm looking around 2016+ though, coming from Hyundai accent with bad experience so i'm trying to stay away from them. Can't drive manual (entitled gen z haha) and i'll share the car with my partner so just automatic.

  • +2

    Yep, I looked at it, saw it had VW badges, failed it on that alone, didn't bother continuing with the inspection after that.

  • +1

    Don't get dry clutch DSG.
    Don't buy a 118tsi.
    Diesels are tops.

  • -2

    ~10k ~10yr old Euro?

    Please…just don't. Buy a Toyota or Hyundai.

    • Saw this one coming haha, yes i've been trying to find as well. If you knoww any Toyota/Honda 2016+ with CarPlay/Android Auto pls let me know.

      • -1

        Get something like this and go 3rd for CarPlay or just live without.

        • Erm yes of course i know you could just replace the head unit (i did that with the old car as well), but afaik 3rd head unit means no more factory fitted rev cam and other features. I would rather have it already than spend more time retrofitting it with something else.

          • @KanTakahashi: you can harnesses which plug straight in for the camera as well as the steering wheel controls. (I did that with a cx9)

  • +1

    If you have time get a $10 bluetooth OBDII scanner off ebay and scan the car on inspection.

    It'll come up with any errors and you can google the codes to check how much it'll cost.

    • Solid piece of advice. Scan it after the test drive though. If fault codes have been cleared, you want to give the car time to pick them up again.

  • As others have said, the dry clutch transmission (DQ200) doesn’t have a good reliability track record - very well documented online. Probably worth going for something Japanese/Korean in that price range and retrofitting CarPlay/AA.

    • If anyone knows how to, replace the bosch transmission control module should fix it.

      • +1

        Changing a control module won't fix a fried clutch.

        • Not the clutch, but the root cause for clutch being fried. Replace it with a different clutches controller.

          • @keyboardwarrior: The root cause is people driving it like an automatic, when it's not, and using dry clutches instead of wet. No fixing that.

            • @brendanm: A friend of mine done it to his VWs, fixed. The nodules controls engage/disengage the clutch…

              Reversing up a steep driveway significant shortens life of the clutch…

              it's not an 'auto' is nothing short of mere BS… A reason for fools… Auto is an auto for an average consumer.

              • @keyboardwarrior: It's not an auto. Educate yourself. It's not designed to slip like people are used to with an auto.

                • @brendanm: A friend of mine done it to his VWs, fixed. The nodules controls engage/disengage the clutch…

                  Reversing up a steep driveway significant shortens life of the clutch…

                  it's not an 'auto' is nothing short of mere BS… A reason for fools… Auto is an auto for an average consumer.

                  Imagine a dealer explains to a layman… Oh btw, this is an auto, but a dry clutch, dont run it like a wet kitty.

                  • @keyboardwarrior:

                    Oh btw, this is auto, but a dry clutch, dont run it like a wet kitty

                    Wtf are you on about.

  • Sorry, but as soon as you said that you were looking at a Volkswagen Golf/Polo, it made me think of this video of a man and his son buying a Volkswagen from an old lady :)

  • -1

    get japanese, less headaches.

    i have a lexus now, and i use to have benz, bmw, and audi. everything is a pain in the butt with the german cars, and their reliability sucks. when something goes wrong, and it will, it cost a fortune to fix.

  • +1

    These vehicles were plagued with transmission issues… potentially losing you 1,000s.

    Get on Utube, look up what to look for when buying a car… etc…

    Also, these sellers are masters at distraction… you need to look the part; confident, self assured, tough, three day growth, smell of whiskey, and a "take no shit" attitude.

    There are too many variables to cite now, in inspecting, just look the part, don't talk… don't respond, just do your job. The seller will use all the tricks to distract you from the "defects"… - take no shit!

  • +1

    If it is the 7 speed auto, reverse it up an incline and take off slowly around a 90 degree right or left hand bend. All of those should make the gearbox stutter if the clutches are in a bad way. If it is jerky, stay away.

Login or Join to leave a comment