What You Should Consider Before Paying for the German Automaker’s Vehicles
Used cars, including Volkswagen cars, can be a smart purchase. Used vehicles don’t depreciate as rapidly as new ones, for starters, and they tend to be more affordable in terms of purchase price.
And if you’re looking for German engineering in a vehicle, Volkswagen can be a great choice for you, as long as you do your homework and research. The very same could be said for any used car, so while we’re focusing on Volkswagen here, you can apply most of these tips to any used car-buying experience.
Common Used VW Problems
Don’t let an automaker’s common issues convince you to avoid the brand altogether. In fact, if you completed an internet search for “used cars near me” and refused to look at any vehicle from any automaker with a reputation for certain issues, you’d be left with zero options!
But that doesn’t mean you should be unprepared for the potential issues. Be aware of them as you look at used cars, and keep them in mind as you compare your viable options.
For example, Volkswagen cars can be more costly to repair – but that’s generally because people opt for brand-new parts when secondhand is more affordable and just as good, or because they take their car back to a Volkswagen dealer for every little thing – and dealership shops are notorious for being more expensive.
However, Volkswagen vehicles do tend to have issues with rust, particularly older models. Their cooling systems require G12 or G13 coolant and can be finicking otherwise. And ignition switches, window regulators, and heater cores can have problems. However, these are insignificant in the grand scheme of car ownership, especially when other brands have a documented history of problems like total transmission failure.
General Tips for Evaluating a Used Car
Before agreeing to purchase any used car, you’ll want to take a careful look at it, both inside and out.
- Get a full history report of the vehicle. You might know this by the name “Carfax.” Compare the VIN on the report to the VIN on the vehicle, and read through the report carefully. It will tell you how many owners the vehicle has had, how many miles should be on the odometer, and whether it’s been in any collisions or if it’s been totaled. The report can even detail some maintenance. If a used car salesperson refuses to let you see the history report, walk away!
- Examine the exterior for rust. This is especially important if you live in a climate where it snows heavily, and your roads department puts salt or de-icer down, or if you live in a coastal environment, with salty air. You should even look under the vehicle, which is prone to rusting.
- Check the engine. Pop open the hood and take a look at the engine. If it’s been recently washed, it could be an attempt to hide oil leaks or other issues. If there are parts you have questions about, ask the salesperson.
- Look at every part of the car’s interior. You can tell how lovingly a car was maintained by the condition of the interior. If each aspect is evenly worn, but quite clean, it was likely a car that someone took care of. However, if certain parts look brand new, while others don’t, it might be an indication that the new-looking parts were replaced because they were heavily used.
- Check the Kelley Blue Book value before you look.
Before making an appointment to test drive a used car, compare the dealership’s asking price to the Kelley Blue Book value of the vehicle. A price that’s much higher or much lower than the KBB value is a red flag.
Models to Consider
An obvious question might be, “How will I have time to evaluate all the used cars for sale near me?” The answer is to figure out the type of vehicle that will best serve you, and only look at those. Volkswagen makes vehicles of all sizes and styles, so you’re sure to find one that suits your lifestyle.
If you’re looking for a small, economical car, the Volkswagen Jetta or Volkswagen Golf could be a good fit. The Golf has a hatchback that’s perfect if you haul larger items, while the Jetta’s classic style appeals to most everyone. Both have room for a few passengers and are fuel efficient. If a larger sedan is more your speed, the Passat is a smart choice, too.
If you need a moderately-sized SUV, the Volkswagen Tiguan is well-designed with plenty of passenger room in the front and rear rows, with supportive seats, and thoughtful arrangement of dials and gauges on the dash. It’s plenty nimble for highway driving, especially one with a turbocharged engine.
And if you need even more cargo room or passenger room, the Touareg or the even-larger Atlas are viable options for you. The Touareg is still classified as a midsize crossover, but it’s 188-inch length makes it a fair amount larger than the size of the crossovers that usually come to mind when we hear that descriptor.
Finding a Used Volkswagen
If you live in the Midwest, you’ll find lots of used cars in Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbus, Omaha, Des Moines, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and other major cities. It’s a cinch to find a used Volkswagen that you love, so don’t be put off by the stress of car shopping.
Head into the task with a positive attitude and a firm list of needs and wants, and you’ll come out of the process with a new-to-you vehicle that you’ll enjoy driving for the next several years.