VW Jetta years to avoid — most common problems
Identify the VW Jetta models you should steer clear of for a hassle-free driving experience.
Volkswagen Jettas are best known for their spacious cabin, easy-to-use controls, and excellent fuel economy. The Germans vehicle is durable and affordable with an engaging ride quality.
Not all VW Jettas rank well on the reliability and driver satisfaction scale. That is why you need to be careful when buying one and ensure you do your research well to know the right model. This article reveals the VW Jetta years to avoid and which ones are worth your money.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
Most common VW Jetta problems
Jetta is one of Volkswagen’s most popular models thanks to its impressive handling and attractive style. However, like other vehicles, it has a crop of problems that are common to it. Knowing these possible issues on time would help you better plan your maintenance schedule to suit the vehicle.
Below are the most common problems you can expect from the VW Jetta.
Jettas with automatic transmissions suffer the most from this issue. Drivers reported that the vehicle jerks when shifting from the second to third gear. There were also reports of a slipping transmission when driving at 35 to 50 miles per hour. For severe cases, replacing the valve body did little to salvage the situation, causing drivers to replace the entire transmission.
Jetta models of 1990 to 2012 and 2016 are most notorious for having this issue.
Smelling HVAC vents
Many drivers have reported a musty odor from the HVAC system after being in the vehicle for at least 2 hours. The issue is common in many 1993, 2003, and 2005 to 2017 Jetta models.
To eliminate the issue, you need to use the right cleaner for the heater case and check the drain system for debris. If it persists, you would need your mechanic to run a full diagnostic test on the system to know why the smell is there and how to get rid of it.
Some Jetta drivers complained of squeaking doors and chopping paint. It was a more severe problem for those driving the 2017 model, which had the problem as a recurring issue. Even after replacing the door hinge multiple times, it would still develop the squeaking problem.
Defective window regulator
Many drivers of the Jetta have had to replace their windows regulators due to malfunctions. Because of this problem, the power windows often got stuck. Some fortunate drivers got only one defective windows regulator, while others had to change three or all four. The cost of replacing a windows regulator costs about $200 plus labor.
Defective ABS module
Some drivers gave reports of steering difficulties, malfunctioning speedometer, slow acceleration, and beeping noises indicative of a defective anti-braking system module. Due to this issue, there have been cases of the Jetta rear-ending other vehicles. The model to avoid specifically for this issue is the 2009 Jetta. So, if you are wondering “why is the ABS light on“, you now know it could be due to a defective module in certain Jetta model years.
Volkswagen had to issue a recall for the 2009 to 2010 Jettas so they could rectify the issue as it was a safety problem. It caused drivers to lose control of their vehicles, increasing the chances of crashes and accidents. The ABS control module software got an update that allowed it to upgrade itself to improve safety and eliminate the issue.
Many Jetta drivers complained of a stuck clutch pedal, making it difficult to engage gears. A burning smell from under the hood usually accompanied this issue. What was most annoying was that the problem usually occurred while the vehicle was still brand new. This issue also included the clutch pedal being stuck due to improper pressure in the hydraulic system, and some clutch slipping symptoms.
2005 Jettas were most notorious for developing this problem—replacing the clutch costs between $500 and $1,500, including labor.
The transmission oil cooler on most Jettas is faulty and causes the coolant to mix with the transmission fluid. The resulting mixture causes the transmission to seize as the oil meant to lubricate its metal parts is not functioning correctly due to reduced viscosity. You should avoid the 1990-1992, 2000-2002, 2006, 2008, and 2015 models if you wish to have a higher chance of preventing this problem.
Electrical issues on the Jetta mainly affect the air conditioning settings, heating ventilation, door locks, wipers, and cruise control system. The 1990 to 2014 models have quite a number of these issues. Therefore, if you own any of these models, you should attempt preventive maintenance to keep some of these issues at bay and save yourself some inconvenience and stress.
Oil and coolant leaks
Oil and coolant leaks are common problems for Jettas because their valve cover gasket and water pump often get defective. Drivers of many of the 1990 to 2008 VW Jetta redesigns complain of hearing hissing sounds from under the hood, sometimes accompanied by coolant pouring out from the engine, especially near the passenger side.
To fix this issue, drivers had to replace their water pump or valve cover gasket. Buying the replacements from aftermarket markets cost $200 tops, including labor.
Some Jettas’ ignition coils, wires, and spark plugs are prone to failing at any time. 1996-2002, 2004-2006, and 2008-2014 models are the most affected by this issue.
It caused blue smoke to leave the exhaust, loss of power, and an illuminated check engine warning light. The engines also sometimes shook and sputtered when accelerated.
Which VW Jetta years to avoid?
When buying a VW Jetta, you must pay close attention to its reliability rating. Not all Jettas deliver on their promise with an adequate amount of safety.
Naturally, you would avoid the first three generations of Jettas except if you are a car collector looking for a vintage vehicle. But despite the innovations in the more recent models, there are some you should avoid, so you get good value for your money. Here are the VW Jetta years you should avoid.
Fifth-generation Jetta (2006, 2009-2010 model years)
The 2006 Jetta model had the most complaints, making it the one you should avoid at all costs. It suffered from transmission problems quite early, together with a bunch of other issues that caused the check engine light to be illuminated for long periods. Often, the transmission had to be replaced, costing drivers up to $4,000 in repairs.
The 2009 model closely follows the 2006 model for Jettas to avoid. It had several brake failure reports, all linked to the malfunctioning ABS module. There were so many severe cases of this brake failure which led to multiple accidents, the national traffic safety association (NHTSA) had to step in and issue a recall for the daily ABS module.
Following the 2009 model, the 2010 Jetta seems harmless at first glance. Its most common issue was its malfunctioning stereo system which often died and cost about $600. Since it did not impact drivability, many drivers don’t think much of it.
However, the model suffered from other problems like engine stalling, pump failure, poor acceleration, and constant check engine warning lights. These problems made its performance below what is expected from the Jetta, causing drivers to avoid it.
Sixth-generation Jetta (2012-2013 model years)
While the 2012 model does not have as many issues as the other problematic models, its reliability is not enough to grant it a place with the safe-to-drive models. It is notorious for its misfiring engine and faulty automatic transmission. Many drivers have had to replace the entire transmission, which is a pretty expensive venture.
Following in the footsteps of the 2012 model, the 2013 Jetta was even less reliable and came with many problems. Its engine was known to stall as early as 68,000 miles. It also delivered poor performance and often plagued drivers with fuel pump failure.
Seventh-generation Jetta (2019 model year)
Despite the comfort and ease the 2019 Jetta provides, it is far from being regarded as reliable. Many drivers complained about the integrity of the model’s body, pointing out many problems such as loose bolts, improper seals, faulty trunks, and so on.
In addition, the transmission continually gave a loud grinding noise which dealers often told drivers that it was normal, much to their annoyance. It is best to avoid this model despite its good qualities, as its aesthetic problems render it inconvenient after a few years.
Best VW Jetta years
The VW Jetta will serve you well if you know which model to buy. Here are the best VW Jetta models you should keep an eye out for.
- 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2017 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2020 Volkswagen Jetta
These models incorporate the right amount of ease and style, making the Jetta a superb vehicle. The 2020 model is ranked the best as it gives you all the benefits of driving the Jetta with a more modern style.
Is the VW Jetta worth buying?
If you are looking for an affordable, spacious vehicle with superb performance, the VW Jetta is a viable option. You only have to ensure that you do not get any of its most problematic models, so you do not incur inconveniences instead of value.
However, it might not be a good idea if you are looking to buy the Jetta as an investment. They do not have a high enough resale value though they last up to 200,000 miles on average.
Which year is Jetta most reliable?
The most reliable Jetta is the 2020 model. It has fewer problems and delivers excellent performance while still offering what Volkswagen is generally known for – quality and style.
What year Jetta has transmission problems?
It would be best if you endeavored to stay clear of the 2006 Jetta as it has transmission problems and many other issues. It is the worst Jetta you can find in the entire lineup.
Are Jettas expensive to repair?
Generally, Jettas are not expensive to repair. They are simply affordable, except if you own any of the models that are notorious for developing severe issues.
Are Volkswagen Jettas good cars?
Volkswagen Jettas are good cars that deliver excellent value for their price. You only have to ensure that you do not get any of its models that have a track record of being less reliable.