My last van's 1.9 PD TDi ate a turbo every 40,000 miles.
I ran a MkII Polo a MkII Golf and a Corrado 1.8 16v in the late eighties and early 90s and my brother ran a MKI and MkII Golf GTIs. All were reliable over large mileages (though I do remember my brother having trouble with breaks) and all were still well screwed together when we sold them. A MK5 Passat 1,9TDI I had lost an engine very early in its life (only a few weeks old) due to an oil pump failure but other than ran faultlessly for two years and 70,000 miles. That said,I've been lucky enough to own, or run as company cars, lots of other makes over similar milages without any troubles. Rather than asking readers for anicdotes look at JD Powers surveys and sites like Honest John for a more reliable overview.
VAG are probably no worst than most other makes in this regard, but not as good as your typical Jap car...
My Golf has been more reliable than my previous two Toyotas.
funny this thread should come up as my 1.8T passat is just going in to have an engine management light looked at (again). I can offer some insight into VAG reliability from personal experience and friends in the motor trade. Avoid anything with DSG thats out of warranty, or the tip-tronic gear box. 1.9 TDI is usually good, but can suffer injector problems. 2.0 diesels can be problematic. I know of one trader who wont touch any VAG cars now, as Passats in particular are horrendous for warranty claims! My previous car, a 1.9TDI A3 suffered a whole host of niggling problems from new, including broken dual mass flywheel, camshaft sensor, two broken springs, CD player giving up, most of it repaired under warranty and I serviced it on the dot every time, so dont listen to those who say that if you service it on time, nothing can go wrong -sorry
My advice? If you buy VAG, buy a Skoda as they seem better screwed together and pick a basic engine, steeting clear of any DSG type gismos!!
That said, my honest opinion is that modern cars are too complex and largely rubbish when they age as there is too much to go wrong. VAG are probably no worst than most other makes in this regard, but not as good as your typical Jap car...
You can only really go by large sample statistics and I think J D Power and Consumer Reports in US (different specs though) suggest that VW Audi are average to OK on reliability now but Toyota variants and Honda's do better. I've had VW Beetle 1963-1967 (utterly reliable but clutch went early), Golf Mk 1 1100, Jetta Mk 1 1.6 (top end overhaul at 40,000+), Jetta Mk 2 1.6 (twice), Polo Mk 2 breadvan 1.2, Golf Mk 3 1.8, Golf Mk 4 l.6, Audi A4 Avant TDi 1.9, now Golf Mk 6 1.4 TSi DSG. Most of them bought new and covered up to 50,000 miles plus over 5-8 years. No niggling faults and generally solid and reliable (interiors, paint work, clutches, tyres and exhausts lasted well).
Beware the diesels... The 2.0 can be a hassle. EGR valves, Turbos etc... The 1.9 is rough but stronger
This is true (experience-based opinion). In fact, to be fair to the old direct injection 1.9 TDi, it's brilliant. 175-odd thousand miles in an Octavia 1.9 TDi, and no mechanical issues at all. Suspension was utterly knackered though...
One relative had a good experience with an A3 so bought another one, diesel with DPF. The filter has had massive problems and the dealer refused to honour the warranty, eventually he got rid of the car after just a few months, not sure whether he got any of his money back.
the 2.0 petrol motor is poor also.
Certainly is! Mine was leaking coolant, even after the cambelt change, I got rid of it soon after.. 67,000 miles and just under 5 years was enough (and it had been leaking coolant for a good year).
Otherwise the A3 I had was a nice place to be, even though the driving experience was dull and lifeless. You could do hours behind the wheel and still feel fresh at the end.
Have a 2008 1.9 diesel Golf 50K so far no issues, have a freind with a 1.9 TDI Golf now done 200K with only brake pads and discs needing changing other than scheduled servicing.
As with any other car, keep it serviced on time and it will look after you.....
Changed from Toyota to VW as got fed up with Toyotas niggly faults and tacky plastics, havent looked back since.
Beware the diesels... The 2.0 can be a hassle. EGR valves, Turbos etc... The 1.9 is rough but stronger - the 2.0 petrol motor is poor also.
Bring back steel wheels.