It’s tax season,and as we knew when I sold my old Jeep Cherokee a while back* that when this time came,we would be looking for and buying a vehicle to replace it. Knowing that it was to be releasd/deposited (our refund) by today,I began pre-shopping last week,having looked at several vehicles within a 150 mile radius.
We decided (well…I decided,but the Wife agreed :P ) that we were interested in a Volkswagen of some sort. We’ve owned several VW’s over the years of our marriage (since 1992),several old air-cooled Bugs from the 60’s and 70’s,an ’83 Sport Truck,’84 Golf GTi,and a really nice (as well as modded and reasonably quick) ’90 Passat come to mind,with the last VW we had owned being a resto’d ’69 Beetle back in the days that the Boy was a new-born babe (he will be 13 in a couple of months–so it’s been a while). I kind-of wanted/liked the idea of a New Beetle,but other than that they share lots of chassis and parts with the modern Golf’s,I didn’t know much about them.
We went as far as 147 miles south into North Carolina to look at Beetles (that one ,despite what the dealer had told us to get us on his lot,was nothing but junk…the Boy and I made that trip and enjoyed the day,but I’m sure glad that I borrowed my Dad’s Toyota Prius hybrid for that trip and averaged 47.9mpg’s for the wasted mileage,LOL! The FJ would have averaged around 14.5mpg’s of premium unleaded :P ),but we weren’t really finding the right car,nothing reached out and grabbed my sleeve and said “pick me” until Wednesday (as in,2 days ago). Note that we also looked at afew Jettas (including a Jetta wagon that I liked),and several Passats as well. Wednesday,we bought a Beetle,however.
When the Boy and I took my Dad’s Prius back to him,we rolled on down to a semi-local dealership that had it posted on autotrader.com that was only 20-25 miles from home. It looked good on the ad,and after talking with a salesman over the phone,I thought it worth a trip to see. We didn’t have our refund at that point,so I called up my friends at Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union (shameless advertising plug yes,LOL,but they have always treated us well,and I’m a loyal customer :) ) and borrowed the money for it,with 48 low monthly instalments**–the Boy,BTW,has figured out that he will be 17 years old and potential holder of a valid driver’s license by that time should we just sit back and pay those as they come,LOL! :P (he REALLY likes the car ;) ).
It’s a 2004 Beetle convertible Turbo (equipped with the 1.8L turbo engine shared with AUDI and a 5 speed manual tranny),nicely optioned with heated mirrors and (also heated) leather seating in good condition,power everything,the “Monsoon” upgraded sound system (does not compare to the awesome FJAMMER system in the FJ Cruiser though,LOL),has nice 16″ (factory) aluminum wheels,and when we test drove it for over an hour (on a wide variety of roads/conditions,including several stops to walk around and look at everything) it rode,drove,and ran very well for an 11 year old car (this is not my first owned turbocharged car,but I am always leary about used turbo cars). Zippy and with plenty of power to move along,though stock it’s not a “hotrod”,LOL,it’s no threat to a stock Toyota Camry V6,at the drag strip,LOL,but it is surprisingly peppy/torquey.
Issues that the dealer either did not share with us–more accurately,lied to me outright face to face when I asked questions about specific areas…the top does not work. At least,the motorized part that powers the top down and back up does not. It was cold Wednesday,so not wanting to put the top down,I asked them up front how it worked,and they outright lied to my face and told me that it did***.
When we bought it,it was just the Boy and I there,so we had to leave it,and have my parents drive me back to pick it up. When we got back to get it,the right rear tire was completely flat (which means a leak,and that when I called and told them I was coming to look at it,they aired it up and said nothing),so we ran to a service staion and bought a can of Fix-A-Flat and aired it up enough to limp back to that station (which was only 1/2 mile away,thankfully). It started fine,but when we drove it a few hundred yards up to the road to pull out,the engine died (note: I had ran it very low on fuel/gas during the test drive,and was sitting uphill),and took 10-15 minutes to get it to restart,but at that point,there were several warning lights then on (Check Engine,EPS,coolant…). The engine died on us twice while driving home–both times while having the clutch in (engine slowing to idle speed) while slowing at a stop light,and when I got it home,it flat-out would not start until early yesterday morning.
I did manage to get it started and drove it to a local VW new car dealership with shop as well yesterday,where they plugged it into their diagnostic computer,fortunately it only pulled one fault-code on it,the crankshaft position sensor. I bought one of those today,and have hopes to install it tomorrow.
This has nothing to do with the dishonest dealer,nor is it a fault of this specific Beetle,but I have found that no one makes a receiver hitch that will fit on a turbo convertible model New Beetle,so I won’t be using it to slide my bike rack in and haul bikes that way :o :( ,also,a quick call to my favored local bike shop and extensive search on his part found that no rack manufacturer that he is aware of specifies any “hang-off-the-back” racks will work on it either…in short,I won’t be hauling any bikes,at any time,anywhere with this car–it’s no different than what has been having only the FJ for the Wife and I,but as she is shiftless when it comes to driving manual transmission cars (and has no desire to ever learn),any time I wish to load up and ride bikes anywhere besides around the (trailer) park,I have to use the FJ….no overnight bike trips,it looks like :(
We do really like the little car,and look forward to fixing it’s minor issues,and I will enjoy doing the minor body repairs/bodywork it needs over the pretty-weather months to have i tresprayed next year’s Spring. I will update on how goes it when/if I can get the sensor installed over the weekend (and shoot some fresh pics when I can get it cleaned/washed). Pics…
*Sold to pay closing costs on a house purchase that we wound up not buying after-all
**With the down payment I paid,payments are under $50 per month at a low interest rate–we will pay this off early,most likely the middle of next year.
***I have met a semi-local new friend on newbeetle.org/forums who upon seeing the pics I posted recognized th ecar and said “Hey,we looked at/test drove that same car at that dealership (I had not mentioned the dealer’s name,he knew where I’d bought it)! Ultimately,we wound up buying a lower miles older hardtop after discovering that the convertible top didn’t work and that they hadn’t mentioned it to us until we tried it/asked….they offered it to us for $500 less to purchase the parts,but would not fix it”. Note that in their pics,which are the pics I’ve posted here (as I haven’t shot any pics of it yet of my own),the top is down. They would manually lower the top,but the car cannot safely/legally be driven as such because it cannot be fastened/held/latched/locked in poistion with the powered parts not working. When I asked,they told me “yeah,top works fine!”