Golf not only became the most popular model in its class, but even gave this class its name. Well, the Golf of the fifth generation and in general made a small revolution. Today, many people want this car: its platform is still quite modern, it looks good, and it drives perfectly well. True, sometimes it breaks down.

I do not get tired of repeating that the letters "ZZZ" in VIN has nothing to do with galvanizing, and galvanizing itself is not a mythical way to prevent rust in principle, but only one of the elements of multi-level anticorrosion protection. Besides advantages, galvanizing has at least one major disadvantage: poor adhesion of the primer to the metal. As a consequence, cars with "real" galvanizing often suffer from paint coating peeling over a large area even with minor damage.

Yes, the Golf V is perfectly galvanized - almost all body elements are made of galvanized sheet. The car is also painted very well, and all vulnerable places are covered with plastic as much as possible. But now the first cars of this series are more than fifteen years old, and the youngest ones are ten years old. And to hope that strong corrosion in Golf does not happen, is as naive as to look for a virgin in a house of tolerance. There are simply no chances: the body has a lot of problem places, each of which should be checked for condition and possibilities of "treatment".

First of all, you should pay attention to the area between the front fender and the sill. Dirt accumulates there behind the locker, and corrosion works its way along the sill, along the fender and up the body pillar. The sill is prone to sandblasting, and the paint starts to fly off in chunks at the slightest mechanical damage. While the cars were new, there were those who did not paint such damage for months, counting on galvanizing and not knowing how it works. And zinc on the panels is prone to run out, after which the sills successfully rot. Yes, and just the accumulation of dirt and moisture inside the sill and behind the molding will eventually destroy it. Therefore, the coating should be renewed, and rust centers should be eliminated.

The edges of the arches and the joints of fenders and bumpers are also usually conspicuous. Ice frozen in the cracks, loose plastic clips of bumper mounts, dirt and vibrations gradually weaken the paintwork on these parts, and rust gradually climbs out. Rear door corrosion is a traditional problem of all hatchbacks and station wagons, which has not escaped the Golf V. It is not as severe as in the predecessor, but still small traces are present on almost any car.

The edge of the roof and the hood are places that are traditionally prone to corrosion. In case of Golf, the matter is complicated by the fact that in case of mechanical damage the paint tears off in large pieces, and for some reason the roof rusts quickly enough. The hood sometimes rusts not along the edge, but from the inside, at the joints of the reinforcement, on the side edges. And not necessarily replaced during repair, but also original.

The revolutionary design of doors with a removable outer metal panel allows to reduce the cost of repairs for minor damages that do not affect the door frame, and the price of car assembly. But the outer panel turned out to be thin and fragile: the bolts in the front and bottom parts are easily bent due to ice and snow between the door and the sill or fender. And the panels are not resistant to mechanical damage: they are easily crumpled and scratched. The junction of the outer panel and the frame may be favored by corrosion, which will gradually sharpen the door from the inside. But I repeat: repair is relatively inexpensive.

And also look at the door molding, from under which often looks noticeable corrosion. From underneath, usually everything is very decent. If the car was not beaten, not "bathed" and not put every winter in a snowdrift, the Golf will give a head start to much younger "Japanese".

It is only worth assessing the condition of subframes and suspension elements. There are also cars that have tried to conquer off-road: scratched spars, torn off plastic underbody protection, lockers and so on. In such cases, often nothing can save. Headlights of Golf are delicate, sandblast easily, and lens reflectors burn out. Aluminum brackets of mirrors can corrode, and door handles can fade.

Traditionally for cars on this base door seals have a limited resource, and in the absence of care they often lose tightness, worsening comfort. Special lubricants and timely replacement help here. Without additional care, the seals last an average of five to eight years.

Fading chrome, black door pillar covers, broken bumper mounts and falling out of their elements are also common: age is already making itself felt. Sometimes you may encounter breakages of power windows and door locks. It is not rare, but it is not a compulsive problem.

Interior

Even in the simplest configurations, the Golf V has soft plastic and good materials in the interior. And the salons of expensive ones are able to impress even those who do not get out of limousines. But... yes, age is ruthless to everything. Something may squeak, something may break because of careless handling. You can also find traces of "upgrades" and remodeling. Handles, glove box cover, numerous decorative plugs and covers, rear cup holder and even floor gas pedal fall into the risk zone. The pedal breaks away from the base when snow accumulates underneath it.

The leather of a steering wheel usually keeps well up to mileage over 200 thousand, though it begins to shine unnaturally. And at the same time the driver with rings on fingers can tear it just for several tens of thousands of mileage. Fabric seats are not afraid of anything, except burning out of heating mats. But the side parts of "all-leather" seats suffer a lot. In addition, they often tear and simply quickly become worn out.

The climate systems in the car are quite different, from fully manual to dual-zone automatic climate control. Wear of the system fan can be expected when the mileage exceeds 200 thousand. Cleaning and lubrication usually help, good thing is that the front panel is disassembled, and half of the construction is available behind the glove compartment. Valeo motors can fail even at mileage of two times less, but here as luck would have it. And the soft-start system can add troubles in diagnostics: it is not a good idea to simply check the motor by supplying power directly.

There are quite a lot of automatic climate control systems. Systems before 2007 and after differ in a number of details, so a simple "upgrade" of the first edition cars with a climate panel from the Golf VI is fraught with failures of the recirculation system due to changes in the scheme of operation of the flaps. Therefore, such things as expansion of the temperature range and automatic recirculation by sensor will require a little more work than replacement of the climate block itself. At least - replacement of the shaft 1K1 820 303 D. And most often also changes in wiring. But the problems they have in common, the wear of gearmotors of the flap drives and failures of the control unit. Characteristic crackling indicates, most likely, that the gearbox will have to be replaced. Well and failures of control units are sometimes cured with the help of a scanner, and sometimes you will have to fix/change the unit. Control units up to 2007 have a delicate coating of buttons and purely visually can look worn out, but in work they are more reliable than more intelligent later ones.

But most of all, attempts of various improvements made artisanally harm the interior. Replacements of blocks, new non-standard firmware, all sorts of replacements RCD 300-310 on RNS, installation of Chinese head units, alarms, covers, new armrests, overlays, panels, ventilation nozzles and everything else. Usually the work is not done very professionally, and reinforcement work ends up using abnormal fasteners, the appearance of excessive gaps and other troubles.

Electrics and electronics

Advanced electrical circuitry and relatively budget-friendly design have their consequences. Complex wiring is afraid of vibration, insulation failure and corrosion. And trivial problems with door wiring can have far-reaching consequences due to the high degree of integration of the units. In general, be prepared for the fact that in case of what you need an electrician you will need an expensive and knowledgeable car on this platform "from and to".

There are also breakdowns of actuators. Especially in the first, oldest Golfs. Fortunately, self-diagnostics here is at a good level, but it is better not to approach the car without VCDS . And to indiscriminately activate everything, use the services of non-professionals and "recipes" read on the Internet is often fraught with a long search for problems and equipment repairs.

Brakes, suspensions and steering

There are no claims to the braking system, especially for low-power versions. But due to age, it is already necessary to monitor the condition of tubes and hoses. Failures of ABS block are rare, sensors also fail rarely. Resource of original elements is more than high, but it is difficult to find a ten-year VW, serviced with original components. But the choice of Chinese and European brands is excellent. And the resource will depend on how much was paid for spare parts.

Suspensions are quite traditional for these days: McPherson in the front and multi-lever at the rear. Usually, by the mileage of 100 thousand, serious repair of the rear suspension is required. Stabilizer struts in the front suspension need regular replacement. At the back, everything depends on how heavy passengers you carry.

Steering on the fifth Golf is electric power steering, and the rack is ZF of the first generation. It is not sinful with early failures. After 200-250 thousand the probability of torque sensor failure increases, but it has been learned to restore by re-soldering the loop. Otherwise, the mechanism turned out to be reliable, not prone to knocks and resistant to traditional errors in handling the steering. Still, it is afraid of leaks, especially of the right gland, electronics failures, water getting into the connectors and stray craftsmen getting into the control units with their unwashed hands.

Gearboxes

The PQ35 platform allows all-wheel drive, and the Golf R and the Golf Variant Syncro had it. But regular Golfs, including the GTI, do without it. Four-wheel drive cars are very rare. Against the background of hundreds of thousands of cars with front-wheel drive their share is not noticeable at all. But just in case we inform that all-wheel drive here is switchable, with Haldex clutch. It is not differed by any special problems. The clutch Haldex 2, used on the fifth generation, has a hydraulic pump with drive from the cardan shaft and electronic control. Relatively high load on the hydraulics requires regular oil changes, but at the same time most of the breakdowns are relatively simple, and failures are usually manifested not as a failure of the drive, but precisely as its inclusion at an inopportune moment.

Transmissions of front-wheel drive cars are simple and reliable. With minimal maintenance, all assemblies operate for decades. With powerful motors, the resource of joints is somewhat limited, but this is not too pressing a problem. Five-speed manual transmissions of 0AF and 0A4 series are used with gasoline atmospheric motors with a volume of up to 1.6 liters. The life of these gearboxes is highly dependent on the style of operation and maintenance.

Prolonged slipping, especially in winter, can damage the differential. Bearing and synchronizer failures are also not uncommon, especially when the mileage exceeds 200 thousand kilometers. In general, when buying a car, the box should be checked well. At least - check the condition of oil and listen to the control on a hoist. The possibility of small and not so small breakdowns in "five-speed gearboxes" is greater. Six-stage gearboxes 02Q, 0AJ and 02S are noticeably more reliable than "five-speed", but they mostly get torque motors. And if 122-horsepower 1,4 TSI and two-liter atmospheric motors they withstand with reserve, then they cope with the torque for 250 Nm not so well.

Here, too, the differential falls into the zone of risk, and bearings mainly suffer on cars with diesel engines. With them the boxes have two-mass flywheels, which have a very modest resource. It is necessary to keep an eye on knocking at start and movement on low revolutions well: there can be a lot of damages from the collapsed flywheel, and it is possible to diagnose a breakdown with a guarantee only by removing a clutch and checking backlashes. Fortunately, these parts have already been mastered in repair.

Since the Golf V is usually found with a 1.6 liter engine, the most favorite automatic transmission is the Aisin TF61SC, aka 09G. The same box can also be found with atmospheric two-liter motors. On the Golf V this box is very much overheated due to the use of a standard scheme with a heat exchanger, so with mileage over a hundred thousand without oil change, extremely unpleasant surprises are possible. On the other hand, with calm drivers who do not neglect oil changes at least once every 60 thousand kilometers, the life of the box even without modification of the cooling system will be long, and typical faults are inexpensive.

Box problems are not related to engine power, but to driving style. The degree of oil contamination depends mainly on temperature and the amount of acceleration with the floating locking RDT. The gearbox has a hard time with those drivers who like to squeeze the last strength out of the 1.6-liter engine, and those who operate the car in long traffic jams in city mode. In quiet modes of driving on the highway, the temperature of oil even with a not very successful thermostat in the system does not exceed one hundred degrees.  By the way, it is very easy to remove the thermostat. It is located in the pipe that runs above the automatic transmission, next to the gear selector. This procedure takes about 10 minutes maximum, and the effect is quite significant: the temperature is reduced by 10-20 degrees on average, ATF does not overheat in long traffic jams, and the temperature does not rise above 115-120 degrees almost never. Working on dirty oil greatly wears out the capricious hydroblock and affects its housing. Over the years, the heat exchanger begins to work worse and worse. This makes it harder for the mechanics to work, accelerates its wear and tear and contaminates the oil.

The box is considered reliable, but in practice it really shows the resource only when a number of conditions and modifications are performed. Most owners have a problem-free resource is within 100-150 thousand kilometers, further the box will require repair. However, there is a chance to do relatively inexpensive.

DSG pre-selective gearboxes are much less common on the Golf V. With 1.4 TSI motors - mainly DQ200, and the very first series 0AM. And therefore, the most problematic. The same gearbox was put with 1.6 FSI and on diesel engines with a volume of 1.6 liters. I can only say that these boxes turned out to be extremely unsuccessful: they required modification of almost all the most important components, from the mechanical part to mechatronics and clutch unit, but the potential of the design was good. As a result of modernizations, the main shortcomings were corrected, but later, by 2012-2013. And at the moment DSG on Golf V are mostly modernized, except that the list of changes is strictly individual and, most likely, will be a mystery at the time of buying the car. Taking into account qualitative diagnostics of this type of automatic transmission, you should not completely refuse to buy, but the risks are definitely present, and they are high. And the price of repairs is often comparable to the price of the car, up to 30-50% of its value, so unpleasant surprises are possible.

On the other hand, now there is available repair by "bypass technologies": the practice of restoration of not only mechanical part, but also mechatronics and dual-mass flywheels has been accumulated. And clutches are not cheap, but not as much as in the early days of the box.

Stronger preselective boxes DSG series DQ250 and DQ500 with clutches in an oil bath are rare: either on sporty versions of GTI, Golf R or R32, or with the most powerful 1.4 TSI with a double supercharger, well, and paired with diesel two-liter engines. Initially, their design was stronger and had fewer trouble spots, though potentially more vulnerable - these robots have a constantly running mechanical oil pump, and the mechatronic works with oil that can have magnetic wear products in it.

The DQ250 had an external filter on the box around the end of the Golf V's production run, noticeably improving reliability. With earlier versions, you just have to change the oil as often as possible or put the filter in the break in the cooling system. It is also unsuccessful here: with the same heat exchanger as in the Aisin automatic transmission, and with the same unfortunate thermostat.

These series of controls withstand well the rigorous style of operation, they have a good safety margin in general and basic repairs are relatively budgetary. But on older designs with mileage more than 150 thousand almost necessarily require replacement of dual-mass flywheel and a set of clutches-friction. Quite often the oil seal of the clutch set leaks, and the differential fails.

The mechanical part of the transmission can also fail. In addition to fairly early wear of the secondary shaft bearings and the shaft of odd gears, over time the shift forks break. If the oil has not been changed in time, the oil pump also wears out early.

Seven-speed DQ500, which was not officially put on the car, but with which you can nevertheless find it. It has a much more stable resource and can pass for 300 thousand without special problems. But the set of troubles is common, and it depends on the load. And just on cars with this automatic transmission the load is usually high.

Engines

Comparatively low quality of plastic and rubber products in combination with the widespread use of quick-release couplings on age machines creates prerequisites for leaks and numerous replacements of not so cheap tubes, hoses and adapters. Volkswagen motors are also characterized by overly complex crankcase ventilation systems, which sometimes cause unnecessary trouble.

The motor lineup of the VW Golf V is quite wide. Classics of the genre - it is, of course, eight-valve motors EA113/827 with a volume of 1.6 liters at 102 hp series BGU/BSE/BSF. These are the simplest and most popular engines for this car.

The second most popular are atmospheric motors with a volume of 1.4 liters of BCA/BUD series. The design is very interesting, but useless. The motor has shown itself well on lighter cars, but it is hard for it to cope with Golf V.

Various variants of EA111 1.4 TSI and 1.6 FSI engines are also found, but less frequently. And even rarer are atmospheric engines 2.0 FSI EA113/827 series AXW/BLR and supercharged variants TSI of the same family series AXX/BWA/BPY/CAWB. There are quite a lot of cars with 2.5 BGP/BGQ motors in the USA, but we don't have them. A severe exotic is the VR6 3.2 BUB motor on the Golf R32.

Diesel motors are represented by eight-valve versions of 1.9 and 2.0 liter motors with pump-jets of a dozen series (for example, BJB/BKC and BKD/BMM/CBDB). There is even a single 75 hp non-inflated two-liter diesel and "diesel GTI" - a version of the 2.0 motor with a 16-valve cylinder-head in a maximally boosted version.

Why more than half of the cars on our market are equipped with 1.6 8V engines? Yes, because it is the simplest, most reliable and yet quite powerful engine. Yes, its 102 h.p. is difficult to reach - the engine is reluctant to spin, as well as all eight-valve engines, but it is tractive and economical.

In the city it is not necessary to complain about lack of traction even with automatic transmission. And also it is very and very reliable. First of all, due to simplicity. This motor belongs to the EA113/827 family, but unlike twenty-valve motors with the volume of 1,8 and 2,0 liters, it is extremely simplified. The block of the motor is aluminum, cast iron liners, the simplest belt timing without phase adjusters. There is no complicated intake, not even EGR.

There are slightly more minor flaws. The plastic intake manifold is prone to cracking in several places, seals have typical shrinkage points. The thermostat is not very durable, high-voltage wires are very thermally stressed and have a short life. But all this is inexpensively eliminated, spare parts are cheap and widely available. And you can repair the motor in any service.

It is not so difficult to find a car with mileage over 300 thousand and without overhaul - you only have to dig carefully in the blocks in search of rolled-up mileage.  There are unique copies with mileage over 500 thousand and not yet bored block and original cylinder-head.

Two-liter motors also belong to the EA113/827 series, but they have only the block, oil pump design and part of the attachments in common with the 1.6-liter motor. The first generation of FSI/TFSI Volkswagen engines turned out to be very promising in terms of tuning, but there were enough problems with them in operation.

But their fuel equipment is equally capricious. On these engines not immediately optimized the angles of work of direct injection injectors, which caused a strong erosion of oil on one of the cylinder walls in the warm-up mode and hindered the winter start of the engine.

The timing with phase-regulator-tensioner on the chain drive of the intake camshaft is quite reliable, but the original regulator is expensive, and at mileage over 200 thousand is capricious. In addition, the long oil channel up to it at loss of tightness of the check valve is emptied during the idle time of the machine, which in combination with wear of the chain, shoes, spring and seals of the tensioner-regulator can even lead to a slip of the chain.

Early engines used a hydraulic belt tensioner, which is also expensive and has a limited service life. If it is changed infrequently, the belt tension weakens and oil from the tensioner gets on the belt.  In later versions of the engine, the tensioner is mechanical and quite reliable.

Wear and tear of the fuel injector rod and cam of its drive also leads to significant costs. But the tuning possibilities of the supercharged two-liter motor overlap all its shortcomings: 230 hp can be removed from it on the stock "iron", and the potential of the block when replacing the turbine allows you to pull out 300-350 hp with a solid resource. So, the motor appeared for sports application much more demanded than its successor of EA888 series.

But atmospheric engines with almost the same complexity of construction have no advantages in the form of high power. To justify the complex design, a number of childhood diseases and unsuccessful piston group they simply have nothing.  However, much depends on the engine version. AXW and AXX engines are noticeably more troublesome than later versions. The number of changes in the design of the later motors is quite large, and in general they are more reliable. But note again: most likely, the finicky series of engines have either already been replaced or upgraded to newer versions. Especially since cars with such motors are usually owned by fans of the model and brand, who maintain them carefully.

Atmospheric engines with a displacement of 1.4 liters belong to the EA111 series. But for many it will be a shock to see their timing: unlike the very famous EA111 1.4 TSI and 1.6 FSI/1.6 MPI 16V, these engines have a belt timing. And with two belts, one driving the intake camshaft and the other driving the exhaust camshaft from it. Now for motors are available all necessary for overhaul liners and piston groups of repair sizes, and in general they can be repaired perfectly. However, these engines have a little more reasons for repair than usual.

Despite the fact that the piston group is not coked and before wear serves 250-300 thousand kilometers, sometimes clogs too dense oil intake net, which damages the oil pump and scuffs the liners. Usually both crankshaft and connecting rods suffer. And after that the repairability is often really zero.

Another source of headaches for owners is a tricky timing mechanism with two belts. The main belt is not too thick, but it withstands its 60 or even 90 thousand kilometers. But the small belt has a bad habit to delaminate and tear at the slightest exceeding of the replacement interval, oil ingress, overheating and other typical situations in our operation. It is susceptible to contamination, changes in part geometry, and just plain wear and tear. Plus it's pretty thin and doesn't handle load well. On age engines it is necessary to watch it carefully: it tries to split along, and its remnants can wind up on the main timing belt pulley, which will definitely lead to bent valves. And besides, this engine is a bit noisy. And roller tappets do not have a very long life, if possible, it is worth to replace them with a set of a later version, if there is extraneous noise.

Motors EA111 of later generation with chain-driven timing are familiar to all fans of the brand. From the point of view of technology and economy the motors are excellent, with power they are also good (especially since there were variants with double supercharging - with a compressor and a turbine). But there are a lot of disadvantages.

The most obvious one is an unsuccessful chain timing with a short chain life, prone to jumping at the slightest chain loosening, with a very unsuccessful tensioner design, which is not fixed by a ratchet.  Besides, the pistons, which in 122-horsepower versions of 1,4 TSI motors hold more or less well, in more powerful ones burn out because of the slightest violation of the fuel system, wear and contamination of the supercharger system.

Atmospheric 1.6-liter engines of this family also showed themselves not very well. They have the same problems with the chain, and the direct injection was not set up very well: early versions started badly. The wear of the piston group was significant due to the unsuccessful design of the piston, the liners wear quite intensively, and there is often an increased oil appetite.

Now the motors of this series are well mastered in repair. Variants with new front cover, tensioner and chain are safe enough, and spare parts for them are inexpensive.  But, as with many other units of Golf V, everything depends on how much the engine has been "upgraded". However, in any case, 1,6-liter eight-valve will be much more reliable. About American five-cylinder motors with a volume of 2.5 liters we can say only that they are very reliable.

Diesel motors are not very common, and they are mostly eight-valve motors with pump-jets. The motors are not bad, but their camshafts are not very robust, power is not very much, and pump-jets are expensive and rather capricious. The only 16-valve two-liter diesel engine with pump-jets is extremely rare, and it is good: the cylinder-head there is "crystal", it cracks by itself, and at the slightest violation of fuel equipment or use of high-sulfur diesel fuel or additive - just necessarily.

Conclusions

Golf V is still an interesting car. It is a pity only that the choice of normal motors and boxes, with which the cost of operation of the car remains within reasonable limits, is very limited. Although in general, the choice is also small: more than half of the offer - cars with "optimal" 1.6-liter engine. And it is necessary not to forget that Golf V is a complicated and not cheap machine, though it is made qualitatively, and being in good condition the owner will please. Fortunately, there are a lot of offers on the market, so you will surely find something to your liking.