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    Thread: Prospective VW Rabbit owner - QUALMS

    1. 05-20-2012 04:27 AM #1
      I had the opportunity to test-drive a very well-kept, low-mileage, 2009 Rabbit 2dr hatchback a few days ago which is being sold at a remarkable price. It was my first time driving a VW, and first time driving a German car.

      And what can I say, I was VERY IMPRESSED---by the build quality, the crisp handling, comfortable ride, thoughtful features, simple yet elegant and classy style both inside and out, and the general "solid" feel of the whole car.

      HOWEVER, the only reason I restrained myself from forking over the money and buying iton the spot---was because I have all these lingering questions/doubts about:

      1. VW long-term reliability: not so much the engine itself but everything else except the engine. I keep reading about how expensive it is to maintain VWs due to silly little stuff going bad like door locks, window motors, etc. Especially when compared to the likes of Honda and Toyota.

      2. VW service & parts cost: since VW is not nearly as common in the US as Europe, do you really pay an arm and a leg at the dealer for routine maintenance, let alone periodical repairs?

      3. The Rabbit is rated at 21city/30hwy by the EPA. Could such a quite conservative and light-footed driver like myself hope to ever surpass those numbers by say, 3-5mpg?

      4. Resale value: is it really difficult to find buyers willing to pay a fair price for this car used, due to #1, 2, & 3 above?


      Please share your personal (or anecdotal) experiences with the upkeep of this beautiful-looking car. I am hoping that you all will be able to talk me out of buying a boring 'ole Civic or Corolla or Hyundai Accent, please! I really want to, and I know that I'll be happier than a pig in s**t for the next 23K miles...but the 23K miles after that, and the one after that?
      Last edited by Edster92; 05-20-2012 at 06:17 PM.

    2. Senior Member feels_road's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 05:47 AM #2
      Consumer Report rates the 2.5 Golf/Rabbit higher in reliability than the average Honda or Toyota.

    3. Member mhjett's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 09:47 AM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by Edster92 View Post
      1. VW long-term reliability: not so much the engine itself but everything else except the engine. I keep reading about how expensive it is to maintain VWs due to silly little stuff going bad like door locks, window motors, etc. Especially when compared to the likes of Honda and Toyota. The 2.5 is a very reliable engine and has no real problem areas except for timing chain stretch on certain '05.5-'06 cars (the later engines have a different engine code and the problem seems to be isolated to early engines. So the engine should be very solid. I have a friend with almost 170k miles on her '08 Rabbit 5-MT. Everything else on the mkV cars has also been pretty solid overall, especially compared with the prior generation - gone are the window regulator, brake light switch, etc. problems of the mkIV. Overall, the later mkV cars with the 2.5L are consistently rated average or (for the Rabbit) above-average in reliability.

      2. VW service & parts cost: since VW is not nearly as common in the US as Europe, do you really pay an arm and a leg at the dealer for routine maintenance, let alone periodical repairs? VW dealers are no more than other makes. Parts are easy to get online if you DIY. Otherwise, there are good independent German and/or VW shops in most areas, which are probably a better bet than the dealer.

      3. The Rabbit is rated at 21city/30hwy by the EPA. Could such a quite conservative and light-footed driver like myself hope to ever surpass those numbers by say, 3-5mpg? My car is a 6-speed auto and I get about 22 city, low 30s highway. With a manual you'd easily exceed that highway figure; city probably not, the 2.5 is known for being rather thirsty in the city.

      4. Resale value: is it really difficult to find buyers willing to pay a fair price for this car used, due to #1, 2, & 3 above? These cars actually have higher than average resale.
      I bought an '08 Jetta SE 2.5l last August and did quite a bit of research on these cars. See my comments above.
      2008 VW Jetta SE 2.5 [current]
      1995 VW Jetta GLX VR6 [07.2003 - 03.2012]

    4. 05-20-2012 03:03 PM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by Crob View Post

      3. is impossible. It's a German car, they don't like to be driven conservatively.


      I wonder if my driving style would really change if I owned this car...have always had sluggish 4-bangers.

    5. 05-20-2012 03:26 PM #5
      Quote Originally Posted by feels_road View Post
      Consumer Report rates the 2.5 Golf/Rabbit higher in reliability than the average Honda or Toyota.
      Yes it does put the G/R on its list of 12 Reliable Used Small Cars: "The Golf has long been an unusually solid, well-finished and precise-handling little hatchback but a car with a long history of iffy reliability, some years good and others poor.The Golf was redesigned and given the old Rabbit nameplate for 2007 and supplied with a responsive but rather thirsty 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine. We found its handling agile and secure and the ride fairly comfortable. The Golf name returned with the impressive 2010 redesign, which made the Golf an excellent car all around, both practical to own and fun to drive."

      The one I'm looking at is 2009, so just missed the last redesign...I hope that 2009 was indeed one of those "good years!"

    6. Member kraut_pauer79's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 04:38 PM #6
      I worked at a VW dealer for a few years when the MKV's hit the pavement, I can tell you those 2.5 Rabbits are some of the best cars VW has built in a long time when it comes to being solid and low-maintenance. Biggest annoyances: bad peeling issues with some interior switches, particularly the radio buttons and window switches. But the stock radios are garbage in these cars anyway, if you buy the car invest in a good aftermarket stereo ASAP. And of course a lot of people would like a few more MPG from these cars, but the mileage is by no means horrible, and the 2.5 engine is a very, very good powerplant for everyday driving. You will like the torque, smoothness and sound.

      These threads usually descend into hordes of commentators who love to crap on the 2.5 engine for a variety of reasons, but they're wrong. If you like the car, I wouldn't hesitate at all to buy it.
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    7. Geriatric Member BRealistic's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 04:43 PM #7
      Quote Originally Posted by feels_road View Post
      Consumer Report rates the 2.5 Golf/Rabbit higher in reliability than the average Honda or Toyota.
      Considering all Consumer Reports ratings are based on how they relate to their respective class/age group, I am not sure how such a statement could ever be supported with facts since CR does not give out its hard data.
      “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”

    8. Member Arju's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 05:13 PM #8
      I had a first year MKV Rabbit with a manual. I do miss that car sometimes. It has a great amount of torque making it quite driveable. Practical and quiet inside I was content.

      My car was totalled after only a year but I had no complaints over 20,000km.

      To avoid another car payment I switched to an MKIV, that's the generation that earned VW a bad reputation. I really liked my MKIV but it had it's share of problems in comparison.
      Previous in Chronological Order: 2012 VW Golf TDI Highline 6MT | 2003 VW Jetta 1.8T GLS 5MT | 2007 VW Rabbit 2.5 5MT | 1997 Honda CRV 4AT

    9. Member czykvw's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 05:30 PM #9
      I know 2 girls that are total air heads that have rabbits. Both bought used with low mileage. They beat the crap out of them. Pretty sure they dont do oil changes on time either. Its been 3-5yrs now, no problems, no nothing. Which makes me love the mk5 2.5. Only thing is some of the interior parts are peeling, stock radio sucks. Other than that its a great car. The only thing that im curious about is how are the automatic transmission in these things... ?

    10. Member 71DubBugBug's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 05:40 PM #10
      09 ones should not have the chain stretching problem anymore

      our 2.5l jetta has 118k miles on it. change the oil at 5k, and the trans service when its recommended, and you will be good

      car still feels as solid as when we got it, i know ours is a jetta, but similar to rabbit

      ours is a 6 speed auto.
      its amazing on the highway, cruising at 90 and you are a tad below 3k revs.

    11. 05-20-2012 05:43 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by mhjett View Post
      I bought an '08 Jetta SE 2.5l last August and did quite a bit of research on these cars. See my comments above.
      Thanks for the detailed answers! The main reason for my concern about maintenance and reliability is that I am mechanically clueless, so DIY repair is not an option for me and I dread being at the mercy of mechanics, esp. mechanics at a dealership. Am used to paying maybe $15 tops for oil changes (I bring in my own oil, always synthetic) not $70 or $80 like I've read about some VW owners paying at the dealer. Luckily the Rabbit needs oil changes only every 10K miles, lol.

    12. 05-20-2012 06:09 PM #12
      Quote Originally Posted by kraut_pauer79 View Post
      Biggest annoyances: bad peeling issues with some interior switches, particularly the radio buttons and window switches.
      Those sound like aesthetic problems rather than functional ones; I can live with aesthetic problems. Will have to restrain myself from upgrading the stereo though, being a recovering audiophile!

      I guess what I would kill for is a car with the Rabbit's style, build quality and ride but with the put-in-oil-and-gas-and-drive no-maintenance ease of a Civic and Corolla.

      If such a vehicle exists, I probably couldn't afford it anyhow...lol

    13. 05-20-2012 06:11 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by czykvw View Post
      I know 2 girls that are total air heads that have rabbits. Both bought used with low mileage. They beat the crap out of them. Pretty sure they dont do oil changes on time either. Its been 3-5yrs now, no problems, no nothing. Which makes me love the mk5 2.5. Only thing is some of the interior parts are peeling, stock radio sucks. Other than that its a great car. The only thing that im curious about is how are the automatic transmission in these things... ?
      That's very reassuring! Since I'm very diligent with periodic maintenance, and the particular Rabbit I was looking at is a stick shift.

    14. 05-20-2012 06:14 PM #14
      Quote Originally Posted by 71DubBugBug View Post
      09 ones should not have the chain stretching problem anymore

      our 2.5l jetta has 118k miles on it. change the oil at 5k, and the trans service when its recommended, and you will be good

      car still feels as solid as when we got it, i know ours is a jetta, but similar to rabbit

      ours is a 6 speed auto.
      its amazing on the highway, cruising at 90 and you are a tad below 3k revs.
      Am curious, what year is your Jetta?

      And when you say "cruising at 90" you mean kph not mph, right? I rarely go above 70mph on the freeway unless am passing somebody that's driving even slower than I am.

      So part of me wonders if the Rabbit's performance ability would simply go to waste, with my geriatric driving style.

    15. Member 10Ten's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 06:16 PM #15
      almost everyone here who owns German is a car enthusiast of some variety, so most of us know we are paying a premium price for entry to some fun. what you get for it are among the things on your short list including driving fun, safety, etc. so, pay to play. anyone here can choose a basic Japanese appliance car, but many here chose German anyway, knowing some of these points may be true:
      1. and 2. come with the territory of owning a German car.

      3. is impossible.

      4. Probably, Americans prefer Toyota's and Honda's if they're buying old cars.
      function/form

    16. Member techmonkey's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 06:41 PM #16
      '10 Golf owner (re-skinned Rabbit) here who primarily owned Honda/Subaru/Mazda before. Coming up on two years and currently have 33K on the odometer. My thoughts in random order:

      - My car has been problem free so far, but I'd expect as much for a car that is still pretty new. I comb the 2.5 Tech, Golf MK6, and Rabbit owners forums, and the late model Rabbits and new Golfs seem to be very solid cars. Early Rabbits had timing chain issues, but the 08+ Rabbits seem to have been effectively updated and don't seem to have that issue.

      - Gas milage is largely dictated buy your right foot. I believe my Golf has the same gearing as the last model Rabbit. My driving habits vary with my moods, but I tend to get ~24-26 MPG mixed and ~32 MPG highway. 2011+ Golfs changed gearing a bit to sacrifice some acceleration for fuel efficiency.

      - Service is expensive. Oil changes run me between $80-90. My 40K will be here within a few months. I originally read that my 5-spd Golf should run about $400. Someone else getting pricing said they were quoted closer to $600 from multiple dealerships.

      Overall, I'm quite happy with the car despite the greater expense. Though time will be the true test of reliability and cost of ownership. I'm still a bit leery of the post-warranty experience.
      Quote Originally Posted by B3passatBMX View Post
      I would have grabbed a brick and thrown it directly at him. Immediately diffusing the situation.

    17. Member Rabbit_2.5's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 06:52 PM #17
      I've had my '07 Rabbit for a little over 3 years now. Bought it with 21K on the clock, it now has 82K. It has been 60,000 miles of modifications and hard driving without a hitch. I've only had 2 problems, 1 being peeling window switches and 2 being the auto up/down power windows stopped working. Both issues were covered under warranty. Some of the earlier 2.5's have timing chain issues but if you maintain it regularly you wont have a problem. This is my first VW and have absolutely no regrets!
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    18. 05-20-2012 06:52 PM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by techmonkey View Post
      '10 Golf owner (re-skinned Rabbit) here who primarily owned Honda/Subaru/Mazda before. Coming up on two years and currently have 33K on the odometer. My thoughts in random order:

      - My car has been problem free so far, but I'd expect as much for a car that is still pretty new. I comb the 2.5 Tech, Golf MK6, and Rabbit owners forums, and the late model Rabbits and new Golfs seem to be very solid cars. Early Rabbits had timing chain issues, but the 08+ Rabbits seem to have been effectively updated and don't seem to have that issue.

      - Gas milage is largely dictated buy your right foot. I believe my Golf has the same gearing as the last model Rabbit. My driving habits vary with my moods, but I tend to get ~24-26 MPG mixed and ~32 MPG highway. 2011+ Golfs changed gearing a bit to sacrifice some acceleration for fuel efficiency.

      - Service is expensive. Oil changes run me between $80-90. My 40K will be here within a few months. I originally read that my 5-spd Golf should run about $400. Someone else getting pricing said they were quoted closer to $600 from multiple dealerships.

      Overall, I'm quite happy with the car despite the greater expense. Though time will be the true test of reliability and cost of ownership. I'm still a bit leery of the post-warranty experience.
      OK, so the two primary lessons I'm getting is:

      1. Drive conservatively (which I already do) if you want half-decent gas mileage. I guess conservative driving in this car would net about the same mileage as 18-year-old driving in a Civic.

      2. This is not the kind of car you want to put +20K miles on per year, for the sake of regular maintenance/service costs as well as any actual repairs.

      Will have to think long and hard about #2...I average less than 10K a year but might be sharing it for a few months with my wife.

    19. 05-20-2012 06:54 PM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Rabbit_2.5 View Post
      Some of the earlier 2.5's have timing chain issues but if you maintain it regularly you wont have a problem.
      For some reason I had the impression this is mainly on the A/T models...am I wrong?

    20. Member techmonkey's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 06:55 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by 10Ten View Post
      almost everyone here who owns German is a car enthusiast of some variety, so most of us know we are paying a premium price for entry to some fun. what you get for it are among the things on your short list including driving fun, safety, etc. so, pay to play. anyone here can choose a basic Japanese appliance car, but many here chose German anyway, knowing some of these points may be true:
      There are plenty of "Japanese appliances" with a high fun/safety factor equal to or slightly better than their European counterparts. Biased statement is....
      Quote Originally Posted by B3passatBMX View Post
      I would have grabbed a brick and thrown it directly at him. Immediately diffusing the situation.

    21. Member Rabbit_2.5's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 06:56 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Edster92 View Post
      For some reason I had the impression this is mainly on the A/T models...am I wrong?
      Nope all 05-07 models can be affected. They changed the chain design in 2008 so later models haven't had any issues
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    22. Member techmonkey's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 07:04 PM #22
      Quote Originally Posted by Edster92 View Post
      OK, so the two primary lessons I'm getting is:

      1. Drive conservatively (which I already do) if you want half-decent gas mileage. I guess conservative driving in this car would net about the same mileage as 18-year-old driving in a Civic.

      2. This is not the kind of car you want to put +20K miles on per year, for the sake of regular maintenance/service costs as well as any actual repairs.

      Will have to think long and hard about #2...I average less than 10K a year but might be sharing it for a few months with my wife.
      The numbers I mentioned were middle of the road. Generally, I don't think twice about giving it the beans. Honestly, I think the complaints about fuel efficiency are overhyped, as I think much of the dislike for the 2.5 is. Then again, I'm also the sort of person to look at an RX-8 and it's ~15MPG and think "I could manage.".
      Quote Originally Posted by B3passatBMX View Post
      I would have grabbed a brick and thrown it directly at him. Immediately diffusing the situation.

    23. 05-20-2012 07:09 PM #23
      According to Consumer Reports' detailed reliability charts for the 2009 Rabbit, the only area that scored lower than 4 out of 5 was the Fuel System...it got a 2. Same with the 2008 model. Improved in the 2010 and later models.

      So has anyone had any trouble with their fuel systems?

      I guess the CR reliability ratings are not quite an exact science, OTOH...
      Last edited by Edster92; 05-20-2012 at 07:11 PM.

    24. Member urbancynic's Avatar
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      05-20-2012 07:16 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by Edster92 View Post
      OK, so the two primary lessons I'm getting is:

      1. Drive conservatively (which I already do) if you want half-decent gas mileage. I guess conservative driving in this car would net about the same mileage as 18-year-old driving in a Civic.

      2. This is not the kind of car you want to put +20K miles on per year, for the sake of regular maintenance/service costs as well as any actual repairs.

      Will have to think long and hard about #2...I average less than 10K a year but might be sharing it for a few months with my wife.
      The wife had an 07 rabbit before getting her mini. On highway drives she got mid 30's. Around town she saw 23-26mpg. Hers was auto.

      During her 3 years of owning it she never had any issues at all. Only reason she got rid of it was because she wanted a mini.

      The 40k service runs about 500 at the dealer. It runs 350 at an independent vw shop. I did it for her myself because it is a really easy service to do. My local dealer runs a deal where they do oil for 30 on them. But the other dealers don't do that around here. They charge more because of the oil they use. You can definitely get it cheaper than 80-90 though. I used to do it for her for about 30 in supplies. Again, it was easy.

      The 2.5 is a fantastic engine reliability wise.
      Current: 2013 GLI Autobahn
      Previous: 84 Jetta, 00 Jetta TDI, 04 Frontier, 05 Tacoma, 01 Jetta, 05 GTI, 85 Jetta, 06 Tacoma, 81 Rabbit, 81 Rabbit, 86 GTI, 86 325e, 89 GLI, 99 Jetta, 73 Stupid Beetle, 89 GTI 16V, 92 Jetta, 74 F250, 86 325es, 77 MGB, 73 C10, 06 MCS, 11 Silverado, 13 Silverado

    25. 05-20-2012 10:15 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by urbancynic View Post

      The 40k service runs about 500 at the dealer. It runs 350 at an independent vw shop. I did it for her myself because it is a really easy service to do. My local dealer runs a deal where they do oil for 30 on them. But the other dealers don't do that around here. They charge more because of the oil they use. You can definitely get it cheaper than 80-90 though. I used to do it for her for about 30 in supplies. Again, it was easy.

      The 2.5 is a fantastic engine reliability wise.
      Sounds like you have a fair amount of mechanical skills. I'm envious!

      ok, so this car I'm looking at is at 23K and the owner said the oil was changed at 20K, which means I have oil changes at 30K, 50K, 60K, 70K, 90K and 100K plus ajor service at 40K and again at 80K, is that right? That would be $480 in oil changes and maybe $1200 in major services, so figure in $1680 in total to get to 100K which would presumably take me 4 to 8 years...hmm, I guess it's not so bad if spread out like that. Assuming nothing else needs repairing of course...

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