Used Volkswagen Golf IV (1997-2003). Buyer's Guide

In the plebiscite for the European Car of the Year 1998, it took second place, over the years it has not lost its popularity, and the unquestionable favor of Poles for the German compact car continues to this day. Of course, we are talking about the Volkswagen Golf IV, which debuted in 1997. As the compact market was gaining momentum at that time, the German manufacturer began to look for new solutions and strategies that would allow the model to stand out above its rivals.

One of the pillars was to be a new quality characterizing Volkswagen products. It was manifested by fully galvanized body, for which the manufacturer gave as much as 12 years of warranty, which from the point of view of time makes it easier to recognize post-accident copies. The equipment was also important - as standard there were 2 airbags, ABS or a steering column adjustable in two planes, but e.g. the central lock required an extra charge. The options also included automatic air conditioning.

The Golf IV also debuted with a new 4-wheel drive system (4Motion), electronic stability control ESC, 6-speed manual transmission and emergency brake assist. In addition, the Golf IV set a new stylistic trend for the rest of the brand's models.

The fourth generation of one of the most popular compact cars was made in 4 versions:

The most popular was the hatchback, but it does not shine with usable properties. The cabin is spacious only in the front part, and passengers in the second row, especially the taller ones, may complain about the lack of space. The trunk could also be bigger - it has 330 liters. This value is reduced to just 275 liters in the case of cars with 4Motion drive.

The station wagon with a 460-litre boot fares better in this area. In the case of the Bora, we have 455 liters, and in the convertible - 270 liters. For clarity, it should be added that the open version was in fact only a slightly modified third generation Golf, which means its close technical relationship with the predecessor of the "four".

The cockpit can still be considered an example of ergonomics, but the quality of the materials used for finishing was not the best, so the materials on the seats and side panels or the iconography on the buttons and levers quickly wore out. Thanks to this, however, it is easy to recognize a possible attempt to cover up high mileage, which, by the way, does not make much of an impression on the Golf IV.



Used Volkswagen Golf IV (1997-2003) Buyer's Guide


In fact, there is no unit in the Golf IV that should be steered clear of. For lovers of strong sensations, 1.8 T, 2.3 and 2.8 engines are reserved, as well as 3.2 in the R32, but finding the latter is not easy. We should also be prepared for higher operating costs of the most powerful variants. Interestingly, the GTI appeared with numerous units - from 1.8 125 hp and 2.0 115 hp, through 110 hp 1.9 TDI, to 180 hp 1.8 T or 2.3 VR5.

While the durability of the legendary 1.9 TDI unit is undeniable, it was the one that suffered the most. High mileage and inadequate service mean that the turbocharger, dual mass flywheel or unit injector may fail. In copies before 2001, the timing belt sometimes broke prematurely, so it is better not to delay its possible replacement. The flowmeter is also at risk of failure. Despite everything, the Golf IV ranks very favorably among diesel competitors.

If we want to opt for a diesel engine, the 1.9 SDI will be a better choice - it is simpler and can withstand higher mileage. However, in this case we will have to accept very poor dynamics (17 s to 100 km / h), which will be partly compensated by low fuel consumption (4.5-5.5 l / 100 km).

A much more reliable choice, however, will be a petrol engine. The most durable units include the 1.6 in both the 8V and 16V versions. Both motors perfectly tolerate LPG, and one of the few problems is dirty throttle. Compared to them, the 1.6 FSI fares slightly worse, which is distinguished primarily by direct injection. It is more expensive to operate, it is difficult to install a gas system, and in addition, it struggles with carbon deposits in the cylinder head.

Very good in terms of reliability is also 1.4 (although it does not provide satisfactory dynamics) and 2.0. The latter is considered armored, although it struggles with oil consumption. More powerful 1.8 units and its variants with a turbocharger are also considered durable, although greater technical advancement exposes us to higher expenses in the event of a breakdown. With a mileage of 200-300 thousand. there may be problems with valve clearance compensators. It is not recommended to install LPG in them, although with proper installation and regular servicing, nothing should worry us.


It is difficult to talk about failures in the Volkswagen Golf IV that would effectively immobilize the car. Most of them are minor faults, which we can often deal with even ourselves. What's more, even in the event of a more serious failure, the spare parts market is plentiful, and the prices of individual components or regeneration services will not make us dizzy.

Although Volkswagen protected the Golf against rust, in cars from the beginning of production there was corrosion on the chassis elements. With age, there were also problems with the electrics due to the corrosion of the wires - the switches of the electric windows or the light switch may refuse to obey. The air-conditioning compressor, the jamming inserts in the door locks and the water pump were also not the most durable.

vOLKSWAGEN GOLF IV - What is the market like?

There is no shortage of Volkswagen Golfs of the 4th generation on the secondary market - this is evidenced by nearly 600 advertisements on one of the advertising portals. Models with a gasoline engine predominate, accounting for as much as 67 percent. offers. The popularity of the hatchback is also evidenced by the fact that only every fifth car sold is a station wagon.

The cheapest copies start from approx. 2 thousand. PLN, but usually these are used models, with poor equipment, basic unit or high mileage, although the latter criterion should not be decisive. Cars with over 300,000 miles km are not uncommon (18% of advertisements). Finding a well-kept and attractive copy for 5-6 thousand. PLN should not be a problem, but if we are looking for a version with more attractive engines or richer equipment, we should be prepared to spend 8-10 thousand. zloty. Of course, this does not apply to the top version of the R32 - a well-kept copy will cost at least 50-60 thousand. zloty.

What do the owners say?

More than 1,100 drivers rated the Volkswagen Golf IV at the AutoCentrum, of which 73 percent were satisfied. would buy this car again. The average of the ratings is decent and amounts to 3.98. User benefits include: engines, ergonomics, chassis or brake system, and indicate the electrical system, bodywork or suspension as the source of faults.