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The Volkswagen Jetta has been taking on compact cars like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic for over 25 years. However, not every model is a fun tuner car or a dependable daily driver. Check out four of the used Volkswagen model’s past model years from the last 11 years that you might want to rethink, like the 2012, 2013, and 2016 Jetta.

Which Volkswagen Jetta model years have the most problems?

The 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2018 Jetta model years are the only versions that earned a spot on Consumer Reports’ list of “Used Vehicles to Avoid Buying.” Moreover, these four model years have documented owner complaints with the NHTSA about clutch, electrical, and engine problems.  

Is Volkswagen Jetta 2012 a good car?

The 2012 Volkswagen Jetta isn’t unreliable, but it has 100 NHTSA complaints for engine issues, like rough idle and vehicle speed control problems. Moreover, the used Jetta has 138 complaints of electrical system faults, like starting problems and ignition issues, at as little as 57,685 miles. 

A used 2012 Volkswagen Jetta shows off its white paintwork and rear-end styling.
2012 Jetta | Volkswagen Group

Is the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta a reliable car?

Like the 2012 model before it, the 2013 Volkswagen Jetta has over 100 reports with the NHTSA of engine problems. Specifically, owners report stalls and rough operation in their 2.5L engines. Fortunately, no official reports cite an engine replacement; fixes include replacement sensors, like oxygen or crankshaft position units.  

A 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid drives next to a large building.
2013 Jetta | Volkswagen Group

How long can a 2016 Jetta last?

A 2016 VW Jetta could last 200,000 miles or more with proper care and maintenance. However, 39 NHTSA complaints cite engine issues that could affect drivers at as little as 30,387 miles. For instance, drivers could face the frustrations of faulty Electronic Power Control (EPC) lights and excessive oil consumption.  

Does the 2018 Jetta have problems?

The 2018 Jetta has fewer significant issues than its successor, the 2019 model. However, owners still report infrequent drivetrain issues, like unreliable gear selection between drive and reverse and excessive noisiness.  

What year Jetta has transmission problems?

While the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta made CR’s list of used cars to avoid, the 2019 model has a much greater number of owner-reported complaints. Specifically, the 2019 Jetta has 45 reports of transmission issues, including loud grinding and leaks, per Car Complaints

On the other hand, the 2018 model has just one NHTSA complaint about engine issues and none for transmission faults. 

Should you avoid these used Volkswagen Jetta model years?

Although the 2012, 2013, 2016, and 2018 Volkswagen Jetta models made a list of unreliable used cars, the models aren’t necessarily money pits. For instance, the 2012 model earned a 3.5 out of 5.0 from J.D. Power for overall reliability, which puts it on par with competitors. However, other models, like the 2021 Jetta, offer a less-problematic experience.


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