The Volkswagen Jetta is a tasteful compact sedan that was first introduced for the 1980 model year.
It’s very refined for its class and boasts great gas mileage, a roomy cabin and sleek styling.
If you’re interested in buying one you might be wondering about its average lifespan.
We’ll cover that in this article, read on to find out…
Table of Contents
Here is the short answer to how long the Volkswagen Jetta lasts:
The Volkswagen Jetta is a robust, reliable car that can last between 200,000 – 250,000 miles with proper maintenance. Based on an annual mileage of 15,000 miles, you can expect the VW Jetta to provide 13 to 17 years of service before breaking down or requiring uneconomical repairs
How Many Miles Can You Expect from a Volkswagen Jetta?
A Volkswagen Jetta that’s been regularly maintained and well looked after should have no issues hitting high numbers.
Throughout the many years that the Jetta has been on the market, it’s proven itself to be a long-lasting vehicle that’s extremely durable.
Some owners have even made it past the 300,000-mile mark on the original engine and transmission and you can find plenty of high mileage anecdotes across owner forums.
Its longevity becomes more evident when looking up older models on used car websites, such as Car Gurus where there are many high mileage examples.
Although some Jettas seem to go on forever the average one will last around 200,000 – 250,000 miles before major components may need replacing or the cost of repairs outweigh the cost of the vehicle.
The quality of materials and design play a big part in the longevity of any vehicle, ultimately though how long your Jetta lasts will come down to a few key factors at ownership level, primarily:
- Following the manufacturers reccomemended maintenance schedules
- Adopting smooth, conservative driving habits
- Carrying out routine checks such as fluid levels and tire pressures
The VW Jetta comes with a 4 year / 50,000 miles basic warranty and 4 year / 50,000 mile powertrain warranty
Do Volkswagen Jettas Rust Easily?
The Volkswagen Jetta is not known to rust easily nor does it have a reputation for excessive or premature rusting although some degree of surface rust is expected within 5-10 years of normal use. VW uses various corrosion protection methods during manufacturing to help prevent rust.
As long as car bodies continue to be made from sheet steel, and road surfaces have small stones and grit, it is not possible to prevent rust entirely. These stones damage the paint while driving, thereby creating points of attack for water and road salt.
If you live in a state where roads are heavily salted during the winter, a region with high humidity or near the coast where salt air is prevalent, rust will be much more of a concern.
For those living in drier states, rust will be much less of a problem however paint fading will be more common.
Tips to protect your VW Jetta from rust:
- Regularly wash and dry your car: This includes its underside (especially during the winter) to remove the salt, dirt and grime that causes rust. We recommend having a detail shop wash everything underneath at the end of each winter.
- Repair paint damage and scratches: Exposed metal will oxidize. If it’s beyond a DIY fix, speak to your local body repair shop.
- Garage: Store your VW in a garage to protect it from harsh weather and bird droppings.
- Waxing: Wax your car twice a year. Not only will this give your Jetta a nice shine, it also gives it a protective coating against rust.
- Rustproofing: If you’re planning on keeping your VW Jetta for a very long time, you might want to consider a rustproofing treatment; popular choices are Krown and Rust Check.
- Ceramic Coating: A popular choice for those who want to add an extra layer of protection to the paint job.
New VW’s come with a noteworthy 7-year/100,000-mile corrosion warranty. Older VW’s came with a 12-year corrosion warranty.
What is High Mileage for a Volkswagen Jetta?
A VW Jetta with 120,000 miles on the odometer is considered high mileage. Most parts will have acquired some degree of wear and tear which can reduce the car’s reliability and increase maintenance costs. However, you should not base any decision purely on mileage alone.
Purchasing a Jetta with over 120,000 miles won’t necessarily equate to a sour outcome.
A well-looked-after Jetta with 120,000 miles might be a better choice than one with 80,000 miles that had lots of owners and led a rough life or was previously a hire car.
If you’re buying a used Jetta consider the following:
- Maintenance history. Check that the car was properly serviced and the owner can provide proof of this.
- Get a second opinion. Take it to an independent auto repair shop or at have it inspected by a mechanic you trust.
- Check the CarFax. This doesn’t guarantee anything but it will help provide a clearer picture of wear-and-tear. Ensure it has minimal damage if any. Review the information to make sure if something happened, it wasn’t transmission related or mechanical.
- Number of previous owners. As a general rule, less is better. More owners usually means more wear-and-tear. If one family owned it and drove the full mileage and serviced the car, then you can almost guarantee they took good care of it throughout their ownership.
- Examine the interior. The condition of the interior tells the story of how well the car was maintained and cared for. Does the steering wheel, pedals, or shifter look suspiciously new? If so theres a good chance that the car was very heavily used, and those parts were just replaced before sale.
- Inspect engine for obvious leaks and obvious damage. If the engine looks immaculately clean it means it was washed. The question is why? Most likely to hide oil leaks and similar nasty problems.
- Check the car’s VIN and get a full history report. Was it a taxi or rental car? Recalls? How many owners? Real mileage? Stolen? Any accidents? If you’re buying a used VW, always check the VIN – you never know what the car has been through.
- Check for rust. Rust is a problem that will spread. Some dishonest salesmen cover up the rust with a bit of paint or some stickers. It’s always a good idea to look under the car.
If you’re planning on keeping the car for a long time, you should evaluate whether the short-term savings outweigh spending a bit extra on something more reliable.
How Long Does the Volkswagen Jetta Last Compared to its Similar Car Models?
In this section, we’ll compare the Jetta to some of its closest rivals.
J.D. Power scores are given for the latest models.
Volkswagen Jetta vs. Toyota Corolla
The Corolla is a fuel-efficient, affordable, safety-minded compact car from Japanese automaker Toyota.
The Toyota Corolla is highly durable and can last 250,000 – 300,000 miles or 17 – 20 years. On average it is expected to last longer than a Jetta.
- RepairPal gave the Corolla a slightly higher reliability rating of 4.5/5 compared to the Jetta’s rating of 4/5.
- The average annual repair cost for the Toyota Corolla is only $362 which is a couple hundred dollars lower than the Jetta’s average of $609.
- Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the Corolla a reliability rating of 4.4/5 vs. the Jetta’s score of 4.1/5.
- J.D. Power gave the Corolla a score of 85/100 for Quality and Reliability which outpoints the Jetta’s score of 76/100.
The Corolla is the slightly more reliable of the two and cheaper to maintain although the Jetta outperforms in horsepower, torque, and fuel economy and the base model comes with a cheaper MSRP.
Volkswagen Jetta vs. Honda Civic
The Honda Civic is one of the most popular sedans of all time thanks to its affordable price and fun driving characteristics.
The Honda Civic has a great track record for reliability and can last 250,000 – 300,000 miles or 17 – 20 years with proper maintenance.
- RepairPal gave the Civic a slightly higher reliability rating of 4.5/5 compared to the Jetta’s rating of 4/5.
- The average annual repair cost for the Honda Civic is only $368 which is a couple hundred dollars lower than the Jetta’s average of $609.
- Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the Civic a reliability rating of 4.7/5 vs. the Jetta’s score of 4.1/5.
- J.D. Power gave the Civic a score of 82/100 for Quality and Reliability which is higher than Jetta’s score of 76/100.
When it comes to reliability and resale value the Civic is a tough sedan to beat however the Jetta isn’t far behind.
Both cars are excellent options and we’d advise taking both for a test drive before making any big decisions.
Volkswagen Jetta vs. Audi A4
The A4 costs almost double the price of the Jetta but is on another level when it comes to technology, refinement and luxury.
The Audi A4 is expected to last 200,000 – 250,000 miles which is on par with the Jetta.
- RepairPal gave the Audi A4 a reliability rating of 3.5/5 which is lower than the Jetta’s rating of 4/5.
- The average annual repair cost for the Audi A4 is $925 which is much higher than the Jetta’s yearly average of $609.
- Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the Audi A4 a reliability rating of 4.7/5 vs. the Jetta’s score of 4.1/5.
- J.D. Power gave the A4 a score of 74/100 for Quality and Reliability while the Jetta got 76/100.
The Audi A4 has a more powerful engine, is much more luxurious and comes with lots more tech goodies – but this all comes at a cost.
|Volkswagen Jetta||Toyota Corolla||Honda Civic||Audi A4|
|Annual Repair Cost||$609||$362||$368||3.5/5|
|KBB Consumer Rating||4.1/5||4.4/5||4.7/5||4.7/5|
|J.D. Power Rating||76/100||85/100||82/100||74/100|
|Lifespan (miles)||200k – 250k||250k – 300k||250k – 300k||200k – 250k|
Is the Volkswagen Jetta Reliable?
The VW Jetta has received respectable reliability scores from the major auto review sites. It’s not the most reliable car in the compact car segment however it is one of the more reliable vehicles on the road.
If you keep up to date with maintenance then generally speaking repairs should be fairly minor and breakdowns will be a rare occurrence.
Jetta’s are built on a widely used, tried and true platform so production and manufacturing issues are going to be minimal.
They also use very robust engines that have in some instances gone past 300,000 miles.
Here are some data points to further demonstrate the Volkswagen Jetta’s reliability:
- RepairPal gave the Jetta an above average reliability rating of 4/5 which is in line with other sedans in its category.
- RepairPal gave the Volkswagen brand an overall reliability rating of 3.5/5.
- Kelley Blue Book’s consumer rating index gave the Jetta a very good reliability rating of 4.1/5.
- J.D. Power gave the Jetta a Quality and Reliability rating of 76/100 which is higher than the average compact sedan gets.
- J.D. Power also ranked the 2020 Jetta in 5th place overall, placing it above popular rivals like the Corolla and Mazda 3
You may also be interested in our article: Where Are VW Jetta’s Made?
Reliability Compared to Other Cars
|Toyota Corolla||4.5 / 5.0|
|Kia Forte||4.5 / 5.0|
|Honda Civic||4.5 / 5.0|
|Toyota Matrix||4.5 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet Cobalt||4.5 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Elantra GT||4.5 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Elantra||4.5 / 5.0|
|Mazda3||4.0 / 5.0|
|Ford C-Max||4.0 / 5.0|
|Kia Forte Koup||4.0 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Elantra Coupe||4.0 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet HHR||4.0 / 5.0|
|Nissan Sentra||4.0 / 5.0|
|Buick Verano||4.0 / 5.0|
|Dodge Caliber||4.0 / 5.0|
|Dodge Avenger||4.0 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet Cruze Limited||4.0 / 5.0|
|Hyundai Veloster||4.0 / 5.0|
|Mitsubishi Eclipse||4.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Jetta||4.0 / 5.0|
|Mazda5||4.0 / 5.0|
|Nissan 370Z||4.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Beetle||4.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Golf||4.0 / 5.0|
|Chevrolet Cruze||4.0 / 5.0|
|Ford Focus||4.0 / 5.0|
|Dodge Dart||4.0 / 5.0|
|Mitsubishi Lancer||3.5 / 5.0|
|Chrysler PT Cruiser||3.5 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Golf SportWagen||3.5 / 5.0|
|Subaru WRX||3.5 / 5.0|
|Subaru Impreza||3.5 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen GTI||3.0 / 5.0|
|Volkswagen Eos||3.0 / 5.0|
|Subaru WRX STI||2.5 / 5.0|
|Avg. Compact Car||4.0|
The Best and Worst Years for the Volkswagen Jetta
In this section we’ll look at the best and worst years for the Jetta.
Worst Model Year
According to data from Car Complaints and Car Problem Zoo, the 2009 VW Jetta is the worst model year due to the large number of severe complaints it received, high repair costs and amount of problems showing up at lower mileages. This model received most of its complaints due to engine failure and brake problems.
The 2009 model received a large number of complaints about ABS Module Failure – this occurred at around 98,500 miles and cost an average of $2,320 to replace.
It also received complaints about engine cooling issues and there were reports of engines dangerously overheating some of which caught fire.
Some of the less serious problems were related to electrical problems.
Consumer Reports gave the 2009 model a poor reliability verdict of 2/5.
Other model years with high numbers of complaints such as 2006 and 2010 received most of their complaints for less serious issues such as interior accessory problems.
Best Model Year
The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta is the best model year so far considering the minimal number of complaints it’s logged on the CarComplaints and Car Problem Zoo websites.
The 2018 model was relatively unchanged from previous model years ahead of a full redesign for the 2019 model year.
Another top pick is the 2022 Jetta which received a mild makeover, a new 158-hp 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder engine and comes standard with:
- Automatic emergency braking
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
Model Year and Number of Complaints
Here is the total number of complaints and problems reported for every Jetta model year from the CarComplaints and Car Problem Zoo websites since the year 2000.
|Model Year||No. of Complaints|
|No. of Problems|
Car Problem Zoo
|2009 (Worst Year)||100||1092|
What About Recalls for These Models?
The Volkswagen Jetta has had a total of 138 recall campaigns since 2000.
You can check if your Volkswagen Jetta has been subjected to a recall campaign by entering your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on Volkswagen’s recall site or the NHTSA recall database.
It is important to note that recalls are manufacturing faults repaired at no charge to the consumer.
Here is the total number of recall campaigns for every model year of the Volkswagen Jetta:
- 2021: 3
- 2020: 3
- 2019: 7
- 2018: 3
- 2017: 7
- 2016: 5
- 2015: 9
- 2014: 7
- 2013: 8
- 2012: 9
- 2011: 11
- 2010: 6
- 2009: 7
- 2008: 6
- 2007: 6
- 2006: 6
- 2005: 7
- 2004: 5
- 2003: 4
- 2002: 7
- 2001: 7
- 2000: 5
Please also read our article: VW Jetta in Snow & Winter Driving
Volkswagen Jetta Model Year List
Here are all the generations and model years of the Volkswagen Jetta that were sold in the U.S.
- 1980 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1981 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1982 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1983 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1984 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1985 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1986 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1987 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1988 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1989 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1990 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1991 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1992 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1993 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1994 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1995 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1996 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1997 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1998 Volkswagen Jetta
- 1999 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2000 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2001 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2002 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2003 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2004 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2005 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2006 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2007 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2008 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2009 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2010 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2012 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2013 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2014 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2015 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2016 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2017 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2018 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2019 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2020 Volkswagen Jetta
- 2021 Volkswagen Jetta
Are Volkswagen Jettas Expensive to Maintain?
The Volkswagen Jetta is a dependable vehicle which means maintenance and ownership costs will be very affordable.
You may have heard that VWs are more expensive to repair than their domestic competitors. While the parts may at times cost more due to them being imported, overall, the cost of maintaining a VW is relatively comparable to any other car.
According to RepairPal:
The VW Jetta will cost an average of $609 per year in repair and maintenance. This is slightly higher than the average of $526 for other compact sedans, but also slightly lower than the average for all vehicles in different segments which is estimated at $652.
According to CarEdge:
A VW Jetta will run you roughly $5,622 in upkeep during its first 10 years. This is cheaper than the average maintenance and repair costs for all popular sedans by $1,217.
|Model||Avg. Annual |
|Frequency of |
|Probability of |
|Hyundai Elantra GT||$397||0.3||9%|
|Kia Forte Koup||$469||0.3||11%|
|Hyundai Elantra Coupe||$497||0.4||9%|
|Chevrolet Cruze Limited||$498||0.4||11%|
|Chrysler PT Cruiser||$641||0.2||14%|
|Volkswagen Golf SportWagen||$606||0.8||11%|
|Subaru WRX STI||$758||0.5||21%|
|Avg. Compact Car||$526||0.3||11%|
How Long Do the Brakes Last?
Volkswagen Jetta brake pads will typically last between 30,000 – 70,000 miles. This depends greatly on your style of driving and the traffic conditions you normally drive in.
- You can expect your brakes to wear out much faster if you frequently stop and accelerate in rush-hour traffic
- Brake pad replacement, which includes parts and labor, can cost roughly $150 – $300 per axle.
- Full and complete stops from a high speed are the #1 cause of premature brake pad wear.
- A sporty driving style will lead to faster deterioration of brakes, a slow and steady style will help them last longer.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do VW Passat’s Last?
How Long Do the Tires Last?
VW Jetta tires usually last around 40,000 to 50,000 miles or 3 to 5 years. However, they can wear out much sooner. This is dependent on various factors such as driving habits, climate, and road conditions.
- Rotate tires every 5,000 miles to ensure even wear.
- Check your tire pressure every few weeks to make sure they’re at the correct tire pressure.
- Have a mechanic or tire shop check your wheel alignment every 6 months.
You should measure your tire tread depth once a month – this can be done by placing a penny into your tire’s tread groove with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If all of Lincoln’s head is visible, your tire tread depth is under 2/32 inch therefore it’s time to get some new tires (be sure to check your tires in multiple locations).
How Long Do Volkswagen Jetta Engines Last?
The Volkswagen Jetta engine is expected to last between 200,000 and 250,000 miles on average providing it is properly maintained.
- The 2022 Jetta uses a 158-hp 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
- Previously it used a 147-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
How Long Do Volkswagen Jetta Batteries Last?
The VW Jetta’s battery usually lasts between 3 – 5 years. A vehicle’s battery life varies depending on many different factors such as climate, driving habits, and battery type, among many others.
- Keep your battery tightly fastened: The vibrations of your car can loosen the connections, potentially resulting in short circuits and internal damage.
- Limit short rides: Quick car rides prevent the battery from fully charging.
- Storage: Keep your Volkswagen stored indoors to protect it from extreme changes in temperature.
- Control Corrosion: Clean the terminals (toothbrush dipped in baking soda and water mixture) and keep them free from build-up.
How Long Do the Spark Plugs Last?
Volkswagen recommends changing the Jetta’s spark plugs every 40,000 miles or every 4 years. On the 1.4-liter turbocharged engines, VW recommends changing the spark plugs every 80,000 miles or every 6 years, whichever comes first.
Spark plugs are usually inspected every time you take your car for routine maintenance.
Signs of a fouled spark plug include:
- Reduced gas mileage
- Lack of acceleration
- Rough idling
- Hard starts
- Engine misfires
What About Insurance Costs?
The average cost of full comprehensive coverage for a Volkswagen Jetta is $1,656 per year or around $138 per month.
In comparison, its rivals in the compact segment cost an average of $1,521 per year, which is $135 cheaper.
Insurance costs can vary from person to person; be sure to shop around to find the best possible deal for your VW Jetta.
You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Chevy Cruze Last?
Tips to Prolong the Life of Your Volkswagen Jetta
- Adopt smooth driving habits: don’t floor the gas pedal or slam on the brakes, as this will cause even more wear and tear.
- Change your Jettas oil regularly. This ensures the engine and all its components remain properly lubricated.
- Only take your Jetta for repair and maintenance at places that are certified to work on VWs. Dealership alternatives are often muc cheaper.
- Keep up to date with factory-recommended maintenance.
- Use quality parts and fluids.
- Keep on top of repairs to prevent them from developing into larger problems.
- Regularly wash your VW Jetta to remove dirt and grime to protect the paint and undercarriage from rust developing.
- Check your Jettas engine oil, coolant, brake, and transmission fluid levels and top them up when required.
- Keep your Jettas stored in a garage to help protect it from the elements.
- Read the owner’s manual to learn the location of important components, what your Jettas needs and what quantity, and to understand the symbols and dashboard warning lights.
- Combine errands so you’re not driving your vehicle more than is required. Lots of short trips can be hard on your Jetta since the engine won’t be given enough time to properly warm up and get everything flowing properly.