Are Volkswagens Reliable? A Complete Breakdown

in Reliability
volkswagen steering wheel

Since the days of the old Beetle, this German-made vehicle has taken the world by storm. From war vehicles to the symbol of peace and love, the car brand has seen it all, making a name for itself throughout its time on the market.

If you’re wondering, “are Volkswagens reliable?” we’ve got the scoop below. We’ll look at the brand and spotlight the best (and worst) that the brand has to offer to help you decide if they are the right choice.


The CoPilot app is the smartest way to buy a Volkswagen. Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll send you a curated list of the best used Volkswagen listings in your area - no more scrolling through hundreds of listings looking for hidden gems. 

Are Volkswagens Reliable?

Volkswagen has made its way out of Germany for years now and is sold all across the globe. On average, the company is said to pump out 11 million cars annually, which speaks very loudly of their reliability. Volkswagen placed around 22 out of 29 spots in the reliability rankings, which surprised us. Where did the ranking come from, and who’s got them beat? Let’s take a look. 

A Look at the Engine

Through the years, Volkswagen has evolved from a sturdy diesel car to something more for everyday use. When they first came out, the Volkswagen engine was placed in military vehicles, making them strong, sturdy, and durable. Nowadays, the 888 1.8L is one of the most reliable engines. 

It’s said that, with proper maintenance, the Volkswagen can last more than 100,000 miles. With the 1.8L engine, it can get that and more. Compared to other engines, it could get the same power as some 5-cylinder 2.5L engines. Plus, one of Volkswagen’s best features is its gas mileage, getting 17% more than the competition.


The CoPilot car shopping app is the smartest way to buy a car. Get a curated list of the best cars for sale in your area, as well as notifications if a similar vehicle is listed nearby at a lower price. CoPilot is the smartest way to shop for used cars. 

Most Reliable Volkswagens

There is a long list of Volkswagen models perfect for all kinds of buyers. The most popular among them all are the Beetle and the VW Golf. Since the more recent release of the Beetle with a diesel engine, the reliability has increased even more, with many consumers loving the long-lasting engine and the long-term enjoyment. 

Now that things are evolving in the world of cars and the things that power them, Volkswagen is hard at work producing hybrid and electric vehicles. Some of their top models, like the Golf, already have a full-electrical set to hit the market soon, along with many others that will take the durability and costs down more than just a few notches. As far as other models that make it on the list of the most reliable Volkswagens, potential buyers should keep an eye on the following: 

Volkswagen Golf

The top-rated Volkswagen Golf is also one of the more reliable VW models. With a reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0, as per RepairPal, the Golf has an above-average rating on the reliability scale.

If you own a VW Golf, you can expect to pay around $630 annually for unscheduled repair costs. Another factor that adds to the Golf’s reliability is its frequency of repairs at 0.3 times per year.

Volkswagen Passat

The Volkswagen Passat also offers solid reliability. According to RepairPal, the Passat has a reliability score of 4.0 out of 5.0, earning an Above Average rating. This is a good score for VW since this segment is full of reliable models like the Accord and Camry.

Owning a Passat means you’ll likely spend $639 for yearly repairs and maintenance. Plus, you’ll probably visit the shop 0.4 times a year for unscheduled repairs.

Volkswagen Jetta

The Jetta is another reliable, compact car from Volkswagen. RepairPal gave the Jetta a solid score of 4.0 out of 5.0 – another Above Average reliability rating.

The annual ownership cost of the Jetta is $609, which includes repairs and maintenance. With an average of 0.3 visits per year, you can keep your Jetta on the road longer.

Issues with Volkswagen

So, are Volkswagens reliable? When looking at all the positives, it’s easy to answer “yes.” Still, there is no perfect car out there, and VW, like other vehicles on the road, has its issues. When it comes to VW, some of the most reported problems include the following: 

The Check Engine Light

One complaint surfaced back in 2013, where Jetta drivers reported their check engine light issues. Instead of working properly to tell drivers of a problem, the light would come on and stay on. It was said to be a wiring issue and has since been fixed. 


In some models, drivers reported an oil leakage that would appear anywhere from 70,000 to 90,000 miles. While most of this has faded in recent years, it is still something that drivers should keep in mind before purchasing a used VW. 

Airbag Light

Many cars start to act up when they get to 100,000 miles. That is the case with VW, though the issue was due to some electrical short. Drivers reported that their airbag light would come on and stay on, even though there was no issue when they took it in to get checked.


Because the car buying experience is so stressful, it’s helpful to go into the dealership with information ahead of time. Therefore, we’ve curated a list of the 10 most reliable American cars so you can approach the process from a place of empowerment.


One of the most significant issues came when the Jetta was reported to have issues with transmission. Though that could be costly, this was mainly reported with high mileage models, usually going over 150,000. If you decide to buy used, make sure that you try and keep it under 100,000 miles. 


Another issue reported throughout the reign of Volkswagen is leaking coolant. It was said that the pump connecting the coolant and the motor would wear down after a certain number of miles, causing the coolant to leak. Coolant hoses are not too expensive to replace, but they could cause further damage to the car and engine if left to leak. 

Power Windows

After 90,000 miles, some Jetta drivers claimed they had power windows issues. This happens in many cars, as 100,000+ indicates that you might need to start shopping around for a new vehicle.

Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

The anti-lock braking system (ABS) is designed to help maintain traction between the wheels and the road. Many Volkswagen models, including the Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan, have problematic ABS modules that tend to fail. The ABS has a central electronic control unit (ECU) responsible for controlling and monitoring the system. Once the control module fails, the ABS will throw some lights, which are concerning while you’re on the road. What made this issue worse is that the repairs to replace the module can be expensive.

Ignition Coils

According to CC, Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Tiguan owners, their vehicles have a long history of ignition coil failure. Volkswagen’s coil-on-plug ignition coil system had plenty of problems, making the car hard to start or suddenly losing power on the road. Many VW drivers have found themselves in the middle of nowhere with stalled-out engines and no brakes or steering. Backfires and engine fires are also potential symptoms of this issue. Volkswagen had to issue a Customer Satisfaction Campaign which was enough to solve the problem and prevent a recall.


Different tints block different levels of UV light and in the long run can prevent sun damage to your skin and eyes, but how much does it cost to tint car windows? We’ve got the answer.

Are Volkswagens Reliable: Final Thoughts

Volkswagens have been around for a long time, changing and adapting to fit everyday drivers. Though there have been issues here and there, for the most part, they are reliable. Most problems start to appear once there are many miles on the car, something other car brands can’t say. 

Overall, Volkswagen is an excellent choice for a car, as it’s reliable, affordable, and won’t leave drivers going to a mechanic repeatedly. It’s been a solid choice for many years and many more years to come.

FAQs: Volkswagen Reliability

Q: What are the most reliable Volkswagen models?

A: Over the years, the Volkswagen Golf, Passat, and Jetta have consistently earned accolades for their dependability. Critics and drivers alike have praised these vehicles for their solid build, fuel-efficient engines, and maintenance costs that tend to fall below the norm.

Q: What common issues do Volkswagens face?

A: Volkswagen owners commonly report issues such as check engine lights, oil leaks, malfunctioning airbag lights, transmission issues, coolant leaks, and power window malfunctions. It is important to note that many of these problems are typically found in older models and have already been addressed in newer versions.

Q: Are older Volkswagen models reliable?

A: Older Volkswagen models, particularly those from the early 2000s and late 1990s, have a reputation for reliability. However, potential buyers should be aware of common age-related issues such as wear and tear on mechanical parts and electrical systems.

Q: How does Volkswagen’s reliability compare to other brands?

A: Volkswagen’s rank on the reliability scale is comfortably moderate. Specific Volkswagen models shine with exceptional reliability, holding their own against renowned stalwarts like Honda and Toyota. However, a few models from the Volkswagen lineup do encounter a higher frequency of issues.

Get a Curated List of the Best Used Cars Near You

The CoPilot car shopping app is the easiest way to buy a car. Tell us what you’re looking for, and we’ll search the inventories of every dealership in your area to make you a personalized list of the best car listings in your area.

Only looking for newer models? CoPilot Compare is the search engine for nearly-new cars. Only see cars five years or newer with low mileage — CoPilot Compare is the best way to find off-lease, early trade-in, and CPO cars.

The best part? CoPilot is built using the same technology that dealerships use to buy and sell their inventories, so we have more info on each vehicle than competitors. CoPilot doesn’t work with dealerships, so there are no sponsored posts or other shady practices — just the most info on the best cars. Check out our About Us page to see how CoPilot works.