Here’s How My High-Mile, Ridiculously Cheap Volkswagen Touareg Is Handling A 4,200-Mile Road Trip

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

I recently purchased the cheapest running and driving Volkswagen Touareg on Facebook Marketplace in Chicago to pick up my Honda Beat in Washington state. Somehow, this high-mileage luxury SUV not just made it home, but all the way across the country. But this journey wasn’t totally free of speed bumps.

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My Honda Beat landed in Washington and I had two choices for getting it home. I could have done the boring thing and hired some hauler to deliver it to my door, or I could pick it up in person and meet the awesome guy responsible for making my JDM dream come true. Like David Tracy, I wanted a nice ride for the long journey. But unlike my colleague, I decided to do the trip in a vehicle that wasn’t even guaranteed to make it home from buying it.

This high-mileage 2005 Volkswagen Touareg is proving to be a reliable and comfortable highway bomber despite its low purchase price of only $1,700.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

The Touareg needed a few fixes prior to a journey like this. Its rear end was damaged from a crash, it had garbage tires, the transmission occasionally slammed during gear changes and it didn’t even have a tow hitch receiver.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

Fitting the tow hitch was the easiest part of the process. It bolts right into the holes for the rear bumper beam. The installation was so quick and so easy that I couldn’t believe that it could actually tow anything like the weight it’s advertised to. But this is the exact place the factory hitch mounts to and it actually works.

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Fixing the body damage was also surprisingly easy thanks to the alarming number of dead Touaregs being parted out on Facebook Marketplace. While I wasn’t able to get parts from a Touareg of the exact color as mine, I got a clean tailgate, taillights and rear bumper from one that was seemingly only a single shade of gray off from mine.

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Thankfully, the structure damage from the crash is limited to this area.

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I didn’t have enough time to fix all of the damage, so I installed the bumper and the lights. Check out the transformation!

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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Unfortunately, not everything went so smooth. One of the Touareg’s trash tires decided that holding air was too hard of a job. I thought that this was no big deal until I found out that not a single tire shop in a 100-mile radius had the Touareg’s tire size in stock. This forced me to be stuck in Minnesota for a day, waiting for the nearest shop to get in a set of shiny tires to fit my 20-inch wheels.

Illustration for article titled Here’s How My High-Mile, Ridiculously Cheap Volkswagen Touareg Is Handling A 4,200-Mile Road Trip
Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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That setback was annoying enough, but then the electrical gremlins started teasing me. During a fuel stop I noticed that I didn’t have any brake lights out back. I spent the better part of a day tracing through the Touareg’s wiring system and my trailer light wiring to see what I did wrong, but I found nothing wrong.

Just to amuse myself, I decided to change the bulbs. Somehow, every bulb in the back of my Touareg figured out how to die at roughly the same time. The new bulbs continue to work great.

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The oil pressure warning chimed once during a mountain climb. Pressure reads good and the light never returned, so hopefully it was just my Volkswagen being a Volkswagen.

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Thankfully, the Touareg appears to be out of surprises. It’s driven all the way to Seattle, Washington, from my home in Illinois without any real fuss. The tires were my fault for not planning ahead and the taillights, well, I’m still not sure what happened there.

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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Still, this is a vehicle that I had only driven for about 100 miles prior to this trip and I had no idea if it was going to make it. The fact that’s it’s gotten this far without so much as triggering a check engine light is legitimately bewildering.

But it’s driving great and even manages to get decent fuel economy, too. This is a cheap Volkswagen that somehow isn’t a money pit.

Staff Writer at Jalopnik and learning pilot. Smart Fortwo (x4), Honda Beat, Suzuki Every, AmTran Bus, VW Jetta TDI (x2), VW Touareg, Audi TT, Buell Lightning, Triumph Tiger, Genuine Stella...

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BrianGriffin makes bad decisions

All of the lights burning out makes me think power surge of some type. Strange that no fuses were blown. What makes a VW, a VW...