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If you’re looking for a small car that can do just about anything, the Volkswagen Golf R is a great choice. The Golf R is the brand’s hot hatch that’s been available in the U.S. since 2002. Its all-wheel drive architecture, potent engine, and sporty nature make it fun to drive on a track and on the street, but it can also do well in the snow.

Truth be told, I’ve been eyeing a clean 2013 Volkswagen Golf R in my area for sale on Facebook Marketplace. The little two-door hatch that’s covered in beautiful Rising Blue paint catches my eye every time I scroll through the ads. It’s set at a good price, too, but the only issue is the 162,000 miles on its odometer.

That made me wonder whether buying a high-mileage Golf R is worth the risk or if it is better to run away.

Is buying a high-mileage used Volkswagen Golf R worth the gamble?

A rear view of the 2013 Volkswagen Golf R hot hatchback
2013 Volkswagen Golf R | Volkswagen

Yes, buying a high-mileage used Volkswagen Golf R can be worth the gamble as long as any maintenance and repair items are addressed. Although Volkswagens have a certain stigma for being unreliable, it’s worth noting that they are cars like any other, which means that maintenance is key.

That also means that keeping your right foot in control is important. In my case, the VW Golf R that I’ve been infatuated with is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter engine that produces 256 hp and is connected to a six-speed manual transmission. Honestly, it would be tough to keep the gas pedal off the floor, especially since it puts power to all four wheels via the brand’s 4Motion system.

But I digress. After sifting through owner reviews and message boards about high-mileage Golf Rs, the consensus is clear. If you take care of the hot hatch, it will take care of you.

That is to say that there are plenty of satisfied owners on singing the car’s praise. Some called it “fun to drive and perfect for my needs,” while another owner said, “One minute, you’re loading up the family in a surprisingly roomy hatch, and the next, you’re tearing up the canyon roads going faster than you probably should.”

That sums up the goodness of the Golf R. However, it doesn’t mean the hot hatch is not without its problems.

Volkswagen Golf R: common problems

The turbocharged engine in the 2013 Volkswagen Golf R
2013 Volkswagen Golf R | Volkswagen

Many enthusiasts think that a Volkswagen Golf R could leave them stranded on the side of the road right after purchasing it. They could be wrong. Many Golf R owners on popular forums like reported having some minor issues with their hot hatch. Some common Volkswagen Golf R problems include:

  • Faulty window switches
  • Battery replacement
  • Clutch replacement (manual transmission)
  • A few interior cosmetic issues
  • Low DSG fluid levels (automatic only)

Those issues look pretty minor in the grand scheme of things, but it’s easy to understand why. If they are left untreated, they can get worse – especially if it’s something like a clutch. Other owners reported no issues despite having logged many years and miles on their cars.

However, many of these owners are enthusiasts who keep up with the car’s needed maintenance and repairs.

Am I going to buy the Golf R I’ve been looking at?

A front interior view of the 2013 Volkswagen Golf R
2013 Volkswagen Golf R | Volkswagen

Ultimately, no. It’s hard to replace my trusty Honda S2000, and not because it’s reliable. It’s mainly because I know that no other car can replace the driving thrill it gives me – including an all-wheel drive Golf R with nearly 300 hp. It is very tempting, though.

For anyone looking to purchase a used Volkswagen Golf R, I would advise having the hot hatch checked out by a qualified mechanic first. Try visiting one familiar with Volkswagen and Audi models. Although some Golf R owners have reported good things, no used car is the same. You never know what issues could be lurking.

That said, be brave but smart when buying a used Golf R. If it’s in good running shape, you’ll have a very fun car to drive every day.