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1989 VW Golf - Worth it?

I have the opportunity to buy an 1989 VW Golf. The car has been offered to me for $500 and it seems like a solid car. The girl selling it says it was a gift from the grandpa and she is selling it because she says she can't drive stick. Anyways, the car has 250,000 miles on it. What are common problem areas in VW Golfs of this era? What are the features of the Wolfsburg edition? I am taking a look at it on Monday. My theory is that if the engine seizes or something happens to it, I can get the same amount of $$ back if I re sell it whole or for parts. Here is the link:

http://inlandempire.craigslist.org/cto/1014881065.html
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Matt
'76 Porsche 911 with '78 3.0 SC engine
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:12 PM
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What would you need out of the car? But even with those kinda miles it shouldn't be too bad if the body/trans is solid. Those motors aren't super fast but pretty bullet proof and fairly easy to work on. Jake(Notfarnow) can tell you more but for that price id hit it.
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Sidney J.
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Old 02-14-2009, 10:20 PM
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Old 02-14-2009, 11:01 PM
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If you look at the first picture of the car you can see that the right front fender is a different shade then the rest of the car. I would say that the front was resprayed. Not sure if VW place vehicle stickers on all the sheet metal part of a car like BMW, but if they do, check to see that the stickers match with the VIN.
Old 02-15-2009, 07:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruf-porsche View Post
If you look at the first picture of the car you can see that the right front fender is a different shade then the rest of the car. I would say that the front was resprayed. Not sure if VW place vehicle stickers on all the sheet metal part of a car like BMW, but if they do, check to see that the stickers match with the VIN.
Good point, for your 500 bucks you should get a car that's never been hit.

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Old 02-15-2009, 10:35 AM
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Really good reliable little cars, good on fuel, and powerful enough that they are still somewhat fun to drive. However with that sort of milage, you may see some larger failures. If the motor still sounds good, and doesnt smoke much, trans shifts good, etc,, should be a good buy. Parts are easy to come by, and you could probably buy a used motor for 500 or less if you had to. If there are no service records, I would at least throw a timing belt on it .
I had a bunch of these cars over the years as beater/ winter cars and they all treated me real good.
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:15 AM
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Biggest problem I had on my 87 was body rust due to winter road salt, but in CA you might not see that. Also, in the 10 years I drove the car, I've had four or five CV boots replaced. Joints were fine, but the boots had continuously failed.
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Old 02-15-2009, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
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Good point, for your 500 bucks you should get a car that's never been hit.

whether you're buying a 500 beater or a 50,000 exotic car, you want a SAFE car.
Old 02-15-2009, 11:34 AM
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We bought my son a 91 Jetta Wolfsburg the PO had put a later 2.0 crossflow swap motor in. Nice car now with lot's of usable power. For 500 if it's otherwise nice shape and you don't mind fixing it up over time I'd go for it. If the engine dies you can do the conversion cheap and then have a nice little 130 hp motor in a very light car. Tons of aftermarket support for these older VW's.
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Old 02-15-2009, 01:33 PM
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Good cars but in my experience they all burn oil after so many miles. I wouldn't buy it unless you're prepared to fix whatever and never get it back a penny... Not that the 911 is any kind of investment
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Old 02-15-2009, 10:19 PM
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I don't think this is am investment toe car. This is a $500 that you drive until it can't be saved and then you junk it out. I would be afraid if it burned some oil either
Old 02-16-2009, 05:11 AM
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i had a couple of the mk II GTi's...fun little cars to drive around, and with a large aftermarket following as well.

www.vwvortex.com
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:34 PM
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Thank you for the information. I ended up buying the car yesterday and it is a cool little car. I paid $300, which I thought was a steal. It will need some work and that's for sure. It is only firing on 3 cylinders (not sure why - the RPMs rapidly fluctuate when I put the car in neutral and it will die about 80% of the time if I don't have my foot on the gas). That is the worst problem and other than that, the rear brake lights are out, it needs new tires, a couple of misc interior parts, and a new oil sensor since the red light on the dash randomly comes on and buzzes at me. It is a neat car and fun to drive for sure. Any suggestions on where to start with checking which cylinder is not firing?

Thanks,

Matt
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Old 02-17-2009, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
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Any suggestions on where to start with checking which cylinder is not firing?

Thanks,

Matt
Remove spark plug wires one at a time and re-attach. When you find the one that doesn't deteriorate the idle further, that's it.

I had a Mk II GTI for years, great car..

Last edited by tcar; 02-17-2009 at 01:17 PM..
Old 02-17-2009, 01:13 PM
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One of the big problems with these cars [and many other VW's] revolves around the heater core. These were made by a French company, and the core is always filled with coolant on these. Which simply means that it sees a lot of hot-cold cycles, and will eventually fail. If you don't know when it was changed last, then you will be doing yourself a BIG favor if you pull the dash apart and change it out.

The VW 020 transmission that was fitted in the Mk1 GTI's and the second generation Scirocco has a problem in which rivets on the final drive gear will actually work their way out...and machine a hole in the transmission case. I think that this was remedied by the time the '89's were built, but it would be good to search VWVortex to find out.

If the car has wide tires and seems kind of loud....change the wheel bearings. CV joint boots and rack boots are common fail items too.

Finally, the Mexican built cars had all sorts of quality control problems. Bad paint, bad accessories...figure on many small problems with this car.

-Put some anti-roll bars on that car: 22 mm at the front, and 25 or 28 mm on the rear, and you will TRANSFORM the handling! The car I owned prior to my 928 was a Corrado SLC, which had the same chassis as your Golf, though a slightly different suspension. I put bars on the Corrado and it was amazing how that car handled!

Good luck-

N
Old 02-17-2009, 01:29 PM
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Quote:
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One of the big problems with these cars [and many other VW's] revolves around the heater core.
My '88 GTi had a recall on the heater core, I suspect this one might as well? Of course I didn't find out about the recall until it had blown, broke the head gasket, warped the aluminum head and cost me $1500 to fix. VW dealer wouldn't reimburse me since I had the work done at an independent shop. But they installed a new heater core! Yay...

I still love that car even though it's long long gone.
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Old 02-17-2009, 02:03 PM
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drive it like you stole it, then sell it.
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Old 02-17-2009, 05:01 PM
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Thank you for all the information. I found the cylinder that is not working and it does get spark since there is a spark going to it. If the rest of the cylinders are working, that probably means they are getting air, so the fuel injector on that fourth cylinder may be plugged. Anyway, I am taking it to the shop tomorrow to have them look it over since I don't have the tools or the workbench to work on it here in college. I will update when I get it back.
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Old 02-18-2009, 12:13 AM
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