Subaru Forester or Volkswagen Jetta Diesel

adamfilip

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2003
840
1
burlington, Ontario canada
Im having a tough time deciding on a used car

I have about 9000 dollars (cdn) to play with
I have looked around and found two vehicles but i cant really decide
which one i like more or shall i say want more

Vehicle #1

1999 Subaru Forester
Silver
5 Speed , 2.5L Boxer 4 cyl
203,000 km (aprox 121k miles)
very good condition

Vehicle #2

2000 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sedan
Black
5 speed, 1.9L 4 cyl Diesel
230,000 km (aprox 140k miles)
a few small scratches and minor wear

both vehicles are about the same price

Insurance for both is pretty equal

I love the Jetta for its styling, Fuel Economy
But hate it for its bad rep for unreliability

I love the Forester for its All wheel Drive, Practicality
and Solid Reliability (from past expereince with subarus)

The Jetta would prob cost half as much to fuel up
but if i need to get it repaired more often well that savings in fuel with
be negated by the cost and frustration of repairs

My Family has had subarus for over 20 years. they have been great vehicles and if i got a forester it could be easily and cheaply maintained by my dad.

The Jetta is a nice change . from having subarus all my life

My Fiancee prefers the jetta from a style aspect

What is your opinion? what should i do
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
Pass on the TDi if you cannot get an accurate account of when the timing belt, and water pump were replaced -- along with a couple of the things like the timing belt tensioner/roller.

The timing pump and the tensioner aren't always on the timing belt change list, but the can both let go at about that mileage and take out the head (would need rebuilt head replacement after that)

If the timing belt, tensioner, and water pump were replaced... soot in the intake would probably need to be cleaned out -- car should pull strong as long as the intake isn't clogged.

Which would get you a nice running car... that runs like new.

As long as you take care and change the Timing belt and keep and eye on the tensioner and water pump -- there's no reason that the engine shouldn't give you another 150k miles.

Of course you probably end up with an electrical gremlin or two (bad grounds) and a blown MAF along the way.

Both the MAF and intake sooting make for a pathetic running vehicle.

---

Not too troublesome a vehicle if you don't mind a little DIY to get decent fuel mileage, but with the high sulfer in the fuel in North America -- we get soot in diesels or sulfer caked parts in gas vehicles (clogged fuel pumps or sensors in some gas vehicles.)

So it's not just this diesels, gas cars come to NA and get eaten alive by sulfer.

---

Actually no bigger a deal than the Subaru to take care of (except the timing belt) -- but different, and something that you need to get used to.
 

applefan

macrumors regular
Feb 3, 2003
172
1
No. Cal.
Real Dilema

You've got your choice narrowed down to two great cars. I like them both, but the only VW I've owned was a 76 Bug. However, I recently bought a 98 Forester similar to your prospect, except green and automatic. I'm a little disappointed with the fuel economy (avg 21 mpg, mostly city driving, but I expected more) but I am very satisfied otherwise. It is very durable and feels bigger and heavier than it really is.

Either way, I think you'll get a good car.
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
2,702
2
Get the Suburu based on reliability.

Consumer Reports Lists the forester on the reliable/good bets for used cars, but doesn't list a single VW.


edit: previous reliability is not a guarantee of future reliability, but......
The one on the left is VW Jetta and the right is Sub Forester
 

Attachments

gwuMACaddict

macrumors 68040
Apr 21, 2003
3,124
0
washington dc
stubeef is right on. i have heard nothing but absolutely horrible accounts of VW reliability from my friends. VW's are popular cars for college kids/city dwellars because they are reasonably inexpensive, packed with fun features, and small... but they break down constantly.

my friends who own subarus love them
 

mpw

Guest
Jun 18, 2004
6,364
1
I'd go Subaru. There's plenty of positives(durability, reliability etc.) and the only negative is fuel economy.
 

iBook

macrumors regular
May 3, 2004
208
0
On a tugboat
Friends don't let friends buy Volkswagen. Current quality numbers speak for themselves. VW ranks as among the highest in problems per 100 vehicles.

I owned a Volkswagen once. Once.

Won't be fooled again. The company does not stand behind its products and will not act as an advocate for the customer when confronted by nonsense from its dealers. :mad:
 

pseudobrit

macrumors 68040
Jul 23, 2002
3,418
4
Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
The TDI is the younger of the two, mileage-wise. That plug is good for at least 300,000 miles if kept by the book.

Buy it if you have a good, honest, competent mechanic. I have two.

I love my TDI; I hate the dealers and I hate VWoA.

If you don't have a good private mechanic available, and you're going to rely on a dealership for service, by all means buy the Boobaroo. I'll never buy a new VW again, but I will buy VW nonetheless.
 

RBMaraman

macrumors 65816
Jul 25, 2002
1,210
13
Louisville, KY
gwuMACaddict said:
stubeef is right on. i have heard nothing but absolutely horrible accounts of VW reliability from my friends. VW's are popular cars for college kids/city dwellars because they are reasonably inexpensive, packed with fun features, and small... but they break down constantly.
VW's are great vehicles, as long as you maintain them properly (like you should ANY car). If you take it in for maintenance very 5000 miles (approx. cost is $45) like VW recommends, then you will have no problems. I have a 2001 VW Passat 1.8T, and it beats the crap out of my old Toyota Camry. I love my Passat, and I've been extremly impressed with its reliability, especially since all you hear is VW horror stories.

Also, VW service centers are rated #1 of any dealer. Why? Because VW punishes its dealers if customers rate them badly, so dealers and service centers work extra hard to keep their customers happy. If a dealer gets a bad customer rating, VW cuts the amount of new vehicles the dealer gets.

As for Subaru, I only know of one person who has one. If you go with the Subaru, get an automatic. My friend has a 2003 Subaru Forester and he's on his fifth clutch.
 

blackfox

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2003
1,208
4,026
PDX
adamflip, since many people have offered their opinions based on relative reliability, I will take a different tact:

- Does the extra space of the Subaru appeal to you? Would it be useful?
- The AWD of the Subaru will probably be useful in inclement weather, which I assume you see up in Ontario. Not that it should be a major concern, but AWD is a pricey repair, should something go wrong.
- Do you drive a lot? Commute etc. The fuel savings of the Jetta would add up under these conditions.

Other than this, I find SB's and pseudobrit's comments to be thoughtful regarding the VW.

As for the Subaru, they are fine cars, and you are used to them. As anecdotal evidence, however, a good friend of mine is on her 3rd Outback model, and for her, once her cars reached about 150K, she started having major problems (transmission, drivetrain etc). nevertheless, she kept buying them.

You couldn't find a nice honda in that price range?
 

parrothead

macrumors 6502a
Sep 24, 2003
642
0
Edmonds, WA
AhmedFaisal said:
Well, I am a Jetta owner and I can tell you this, a Jetta is not a car for people who buy cheap oil and discounted regular gas at CostCo. They are not built that way. So if you are that kind of person, I agree, a Jetta is not your car. If you do the regular maintenance of your Jetta, give it good high quality full synthetic motor oil and fill it up with supreme gas from a good supplier like Shell or Chevron your Jetta runs like a charm for years and years. If a car is just a tool for you and you don't want to be bothered with caring for it, DON'T buy a Jetta, or any German car for that matter, you will be disappointed. If a car is like a family member for you and you treat it with care and love, then a Jetta is a great buy and you will have lots of fun.
Regards,

Ahmed
Filling a car with supreme gas that is engineered to take regular is a big waste of money. I have seen report after report saying that people who do this are doing it for the wrong reason. The only reason to buy supreme is if the car manufacturer recommends it.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
We have fuel that sucks in the US, many cars are built to use low-sulfur fuel -- and bringing them to the US causes problems.

Fuel pump and fuel tank sensor problems in gas vehicles.

And soot buildup in diesels with an EGR valve.

So one fuel doesn't suck any worse than another, they all suck.

---

Many times all the raw gasoline for all the stations in a city will come from the same place, it's the additives that are added when the tanker fills up that make for a difference between Texaco, Unocal, Joe Blow's Gas station, etc.
 

iDM

macrumors 6502a
Granted this is a really old thread but I had a question involving a Subaru I am about to buy next week. I heard someone mention off the cuff when I was test driving it that the WRX that I will be purchasing needs a higher octane. It is a '03 Impreza WRX manual sedan.

My question is since I am buying it used(has 25,089 miles on it now) how bad would it have been if the original owner did not use that octane level. I will put exactly what octane is asked for it but since I have never met the previous owner I am a little worried he may not have been privy to the higher octane need. (Why am I of that opinion well because I have never bought a car before and I am thinking of every damn scenario possible)

My other question involves a warranty. I'm hoping all of you, a completely unbiased(as in not an immediate member of my family) can help me decide on a warranty. The car as stated has 25k on it. But it was purchased in Jan of '03 so the 3yr, 36K warranty is over. Subaru has in addition a 5 year, 60k powertrain (flywheel, cylinders, exhaust manifold, transmission, etc.) warranty that is transferable and still covers this car(I called and gave the vin to Subaru CS.) It also has the lifetime emissions warranty and rust perforation warranty, but I am wondering about the dealers warranty(A Chevy dealer). It costs $1300 and covers 5yrs or 60k. I have zero intention of paying full price and I am going to try my damnedest to get it included in the price of the car. What would all of you suggest? Pay 500 for the warranty, 0, don't bother trying to get it or what? Be brutally honest, my father the king of frugal wouldn't buy a warranty if the product was already broken, and my brother would buy a warranty on anything that moves so neither provide any sound advice.

P.S. I have beat myself up about ever mundane detail with this car. Checked carfax, searched with a fine tooth comb over the entire body, asked the dealer to fill in a small chip INSIDE the engine compartment, checked the fluids(to determine if it was dropped off by someone who cares), and my last wish is to take it to an outside mechanic with no relationship to the dealer I am buying from. The gearbox felt solid much more so than the newer '04 I drove that felt sloppy and hard to find a gear in. My brother who holds the world record for pessimism is telling me to keep a grand in my account and to plan on a new clutch soon and has me worried that I'll be purchasing a car with a need for a new clutch. He has been burned on 3 previous car purchases, 2 needed clutches right away(5.0 mustangs), his third and newest car('03 Grand Cherokee) has a few defects that showed up a couple months after buying and are not covered under his $3000 extended warranty.

I should also mention I am the first in my family to be buying a Japanese car which according to my dad is the rough equivalent of defecting to a communist country and taking up arms against him.(He actually half kidding say I don't want it parked in my driveway) So if this car has even the slightest malfunction guess who is going to be the first to say, "Shoulda never bought a damn Japanese car."

Anyway thanks for any info you can provide. Feel free to shoot me some concerns about used Subarus or whatever. (I also narrowed it down to a used Jetta Turbo and Subaru Impreza, but after reading a couple years of horrible Jetta Turbo ratings for used cars and nothing but the highest rating for used Imprezas my mind was made up)

Edit: Sorry I had intention of making the P.S. longer than the actually question.
 

Chip NoVaMac

macrumors G3
Dec 25, 2003
8,889
25
Northern Virginia
gwuMACaddict said:
stubeef is right on. i have heard nothing but absolutely horrible accounts of VW reliability from my friends. VW's are popular cars for college kids/city dwellars because they are reasonably inexpensive, packed with fun features, and small... but they break down constantly.

my friends who own subarus love them
I had '99 New Beetle, and can say first hand the VW quality is crap. I now have a Subaru Baja, been trouble free since 2003 (knocks wood).
 

iGary

Guest
May 26, 2004
19,583
0
Randy's House
My mother's Forrester has been pretty reliable. It blew a radiator, but that coul dbe from road debris - whatever.

I am not much on Subarus in general (no offense, Chip), but they are solid little tanks.
 

cyberddot

macrumors 6502
Jul 4, 2003
400
2
in a forest
I had a 1967 VW Beetle in the 80's, modified as a baja-style, it ran great and was easy to work on -- I pulled the engine as a 17year old several times to modify.
I have a 2003 TDI Jetta wagon (built in Germany, not Mexico <--- this makes a difference), it has 60k miles on it, has had regular service, can still get me 800 miles on a 14+gallon tank (filled to the neck), and it burns biodiesel without any modification. :cool:

I bought it over a Subaru because the Jetta was listed as an ULEM or Ultra Light Emmission Vehicle, which was a better rating than a Subaru Outback's LEM, and because the VW sticker was correct about my 90hp engine -- I can get 52+mpg.
 

geese

macrumors 6502a
Oct 23, 2003
525
0
London, UK
AhmedFaisal said:
You are aware that Regular Gas in Europe has 91 Octane right?
Ahmed
Are you sure? Regular Unleaded in UK is 95 octane. It might be 91 on the continent.

My 2 pence: my dads 98' VW Passat has been absolutly solid and a dream to run, apart from a faulty door lock once. VWs tend to be really well built cars, I cant think why US VWs get a bad rep- that Mexican factory must be a bit crap.
 

AliensAreFuzzy

macrumors 68000
May 30, 2004
1,561
0
Madison, WI
I'd go with the Subaru. We have 2 of them. One a 1995 Outback Impreza (121k Miles), the only thing we've had wrong with it is a broken temperature gauge. And the other a 2002 Outback (50k Miles), no problems yet.
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
13,521
2,557
Sod off
A friend of mine has a Subaru WRX, and has beaten the hell out of it for years...it has been pretty reliable. My Aunt has a late 90's Outback that has been problematic; It blew a head gasket at 80k miles and has had electrical problems galore.

I have heard, but can't prove, that the new Golf (which is made in Germany) is significantly more reliable and better built than the Jetta (which is made in Mexico or Brazil). my dad bought a brand-new Jetta in 1988 and it was a lemon - the worst car ever in terms of reliability. Personally I would not be afraid to buy a new German-built Mk.V Golf GTI though.

Overall Subarus are considered to be a little more reliable, but personally I think the two companies are close enough in reliability that you should be more worried about

1. The condition and service history of the two cars in particular you are looking at.

2. Which one you prefer from a style/performance perspective.

Then buy based on that.
 

adroit

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2005
271
132
Victoria, BC
Good choices by the way.... for both cars.

I think it really depends on what you are going to use the car for. I find that the Forrester is quite big for city driving but if you are going to do a lot of camping etc, it might be worth it.

The fuel economy on the Jetta is wonderful I just fuel up our 1991 MK2 Jetta last night and it was 48.5L/647km (7.5L/100km) and that was for half-half city/highway. The TDI probably would do better than that and you will probably save hundrends of dollars on gas every year.

Neither car has glarring reliability problems and the TDI is pretty bullet proof compare to the rest of the VW lineup apart from some minor problems which pop up now and then. Keep in mind that if the Forrester does break it is going to be much more expensive to fix a boxer.

We're thinking of getting the new WRX (I'm just not sold on the front end yet, may be we'll wait for next year model and hope that they'll change it) ....so subarus are definately on the list.
 

Lord Blackadder

macrumors G5
May 7, 2004
13,521
2,557
Sod off
adroit said:
We're thinking of getting the new WRX (I'm just not sold on the front end yet, may be we'll wait for next year model and hope that they'll change it) ....so subarus are definately on the list.
Believe me, nobody has ever bought a WRX because it was a pretty car (it's hideous) - they buy it because it will outrun a Mustang GT on the straight but still turn corners.
 

adroit

macrumors 6502
Sep 28, 2005
271
132
Victoria, BC
Lord Blackadder said:
Believe me, nobody has ever bought a WRX because it was a pretty car (it's hideous) - they buy it because it will outrun a Mustang GT on the straight but still turn corners.
I think the 2002-2003 and 1998 and earlier models are pretty sexy. I just don't like the alfa-romeo front end in this year's model.

You're right though... it's all about the 300-400+hp (with the control chip off) in a light car with 4WD :D