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How reliable is the Volkswagen Golf VI?

In general, the Golf VI’s reliability is above average for all cars, but only average for cars of the same size. On top of that, repairs are often more costly than for those in similarly sized alternatives.

There are a few well-known issues in the Golf VI to watch out for that affect all versions. For instance, all models can seem to lose power on acceleration, possibly accompanied by an engine malfunction light. Looks serious, but is often caused by nothing more than a poor connection between the wiring harness and the throttle pedal. And, as on many cars of a certain age, watch out for rattling or banging over bad roads through the suspension, as that may mean that the anti-roll bar link rods have failed and need replacement to pass the next NCT.

If you’re testing a car with the seven-speed DSG transmission and there’s a grinding noise from the front, it’s best to walk away, as they are known to terminally fail, while the smaller TSI petrol engines can develop an erratic idle due to carbon build-up in their throttle bodies. These can be cleaned out by a good mechanic, but it’s not a small job. Other ECU (electronic control unit - the engine’s brain, essentially) issues on those cars may lead to a knocking noise under the bonnet during hot weather or a high-pitched noise from the high-pressure fuel pump. Both these things can usually be cleared by plugging the car into a diagnostic computer, but may require reprogramming of the ECU.

Finally, on all the diesel Golf VIs, watch out for coolant leaks from the radiator, or a coolant level warning light, as their radiators can be easily damaged by poor fitting of the fan behind.

In terms of recalls that affect the Golf VI sold in Ireland, in 2018 it was identified that many Volkswagens (including the Golf) manufactured between March and July 2011 were fitted with a dodgy starter motor. The technical defect is described as ‘a spring in the starter motor's magnetic switch was incorrectly installed’ and the risk as ‘the starter motor may overheat, which could lead to a fire breaking out in the vehicle.’

As with all recalls, get the registration number and, if possible, the VIN, of any car you are looking at to check with Volkswagen Ireland if the recall work has been done. It should be free to do, but it’s still worth knowing ahead of time what is required.

If you've owned a Golf VI, we'd love to hear from you about its reliability and running costs. Send us a message via the contact form on this page with as much detail as you can. We may publish the information here, accompanied by your first name if you provide it. Thank you.

Next section: When should I service my VW Golf VI?

Engine and range options for the Volkswagen Golf VI
How reliable is the Volkswagen Golf VI?
When should I service my VW Golf VI?
Can I fit child seats and a buggy in the VW Golf VI?
Alternatives to the Volkswagen Golf VI

Last updated on April 30, 2020