The 100,000-mile mark is a significant milestone for many car owners. I’m almost uncertain why that’s still true today. Even though the cars I grew up driving didn’t even have an odometer that counted past 99,999 miles, the majority of modern cars are capable of lasting far past that, especially with good care. Could it be that most of today’s car owners are too fickle to keep a car for long before moving on to something else? I’ve never had that problem. I kept my first new car, a 1988 Sentra, for eleven years and 120,000 miles. I could have kept it much longer, but it was a boring and gutless base model, which is why I’ve endeavored to make subsequent cars more interesting. I kept my 1998 Jetta TDI for 20 years and 445,000 miles. I loved that car, but it succumbed to hidden life-ending rust in key structural areas, a common problem with Mk3s. That was a blessing because I might not be in a GTI today if my Mk3 had endured.
I’ve already shared a list of issues that my GTI had suffered by its three-year anniversary. I will restate that nearly all of my issues were a result of hard use and, perhaps, some abuse. With the exception of the cabin blower failure, I’d say that the issues were either self-inflicted, petty, or both. That didn’t stop VW haters from trolling my three-year video to tell me how perfect their Asian cars have been or how Volkswagens are renowned for their “poor quality.” On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been scolded by people who apparently think GTIs are as precious as McLarens and need to be babied. HAHA! But that’s okay. Engagement, good or bad, benefits my channel. In this case, that was the video that unexpectedly pushed me over the coveted 1000-subscriber mark. I can handle a little criticism; and I’m mature enough to just keep scrolling. 😉 Anyway, I’ve had no problems with the car since that video.
What “abuse” has my car seen over its 100,000 miles? Let me frame it this way: I’ve been told that the GTI is a performance car that should be used for only for sports driving. Some frown at using the car for road trips because it runs-up the odometer. I’ve also been told that I should get a “beater” to use as a commuter, the suggestion being that a GTI is above commuter duties. And, because I use the GTI and a small trailer for utility duty, I’ve been told many, many times that I should get a pickup truck.
For me, “sports driving” usually comes unexpectedly. I hate being in the “wrong car” when an opportunity to have some fun presents itself. I’d rather be in the “right car” all the time, including on a road trip where I might find an opportunity to do some interesting driving. If I were to get a beater for commuting, then I might be in an older car with unknown history that could be less reliable than my GTI. And that doesn’t even mention that I’d have the expense of maintaining another car. Regardless, I bought my GTI to DRIVE, not to be a pretty driveway queen. And why would I want the full-time penalty of owning a pickup truck when I would need just a fraction of its carrying capacity only a few times a year? Considering all of that, I tend to make any car I own my “EVERYTHING CAR.”
And the GTI is a great “Everything Car!” Obviously, it is an excellent sport-driving car; but it’s also a compromise car. Let’s face it: The GTI is not an exotic sports car. But it IS a great compromise between performance, practicality, and utility. That is what I appreciate most about my GTI. As a commuter, it gets good fuel economy when driven sensibly. I manage around 30 mpg during the week, even though I speed far too often. And 35 mpg is an easy feat on the highway, especially at the speed limit. As a hatchback, it offers great utility by being able to swallow large objects into its cargo area. The combination of highway fuel economy and cargo capacity is much of what makes the GTI a great choice for road trips. Finally, if you know me and how I use my cars, then you know that I don’t balk at coupling a small trailer when I need to move larger or dirty cargo. The GTI handles my usual sub-1000-pound loads just fine.
Some say I should choose a truck or SUV for cargo capacity. Show me a truck or SUV that accelerates and handles like a tuned GTI, gets over 30 mpg, and costs less than $30,000. I’d consider such an truck/SUV, if one existed. There ARE more comfortable cars for road trips, too. But then I’d be in the “wrong car” if I suddenly decided that I want to do some sport driving. BTW, is there a “right car” that can match the GTI’s fuel economy, performance, and price, a car that truly is a better choice without being the same car with a different badge on its grille? Again, the GTI is a fantastic compromise between the three points. And I “need a pickup truck?” Please! A GTI has a payload capacity of ~1000 lbs. If I’m alone in the car and need to take a load of trash or brush to the dump, the most common use for my trailer, I hardly can see justification for having a pickup truck to “save” my car from moving the amount of weight that it was designed to move. Ironically, I often see pickup trucks with small utility trailers behind them. Apparently, a lot of pickup truck owners don’t use them for utility, either. 😉
Back to my YouTube haters who say I’d be wise to get rid of the car at 100,000 miles: How long should I keep my GTI? Five years? Ten years? At my current rate of driving, my GTI may have over 150,000 miles at the five-year mark and 300,000 miles at ten years. It’s tough to say whether my current driving schedule will last, especially if I opt to add another vehicle to my stable (which WON’T be a pickup truck). Regardless, I think my GTI will be my favorite for years to come. Replacing rubber components at some point and the eventual intake cleaning are a given. This is true of nearly any modern car. Only time will tell if the car’s various electronics bits or the engine bay’s plastic will last. If my twenty-year history with my 1998 Jetta TDI is any indicator, I think my GTI still has plenty of miles left in it. See the companion video to this article here.
Drive More, Worry Less…