As you’re getting to know by now, I love some high-mileage warriors. My 2012 Smart Fortwo has 175,000 hard-earned miles, and save for my manual Passat W8 , every Volkswagen I own has more than 200,000 miles. Usually, high mileage means rust and failing parts, but one car refuses to give me any problems at all. My 355,000-mile 2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen can’t be bothered to break or rust out.
During the summer I found myself desperately wanting a Volkswagen diesel wagon to replace the Passat TDI I sold earlier in the year. I had cash in hand, but my normal Marketplace and Craigslist searches turned up nothing. That’s when I spotted this beautiful 2012 Jetta TDI Sportwagen with a DSG for $3,500. It was more than I wanted to spend but far less than the next cheapest Sportwagen by a few thousand dollars. I couldn’t believe it wasn’t a scam. But then I clicked on the ad. This car has 350,000 miles!
At first I thought “hard no” but then I thought again. It’s a diesel, and a well cared-for diesel can go practically forever. Aside from a few dings, the car looked mint, so I went and looked at it. The car looked even better in person, and best yet, it was a single-owner car with piles of service records. Just look at the interior of this Jetta.
I couldn’t find a single crack or wrinkle in the seat materials. And while this interior may date back to the MkV Jetta, it’s still a nice place to be. I asked the seller how he drove this car so much without even a scratching the interior plastics. He smiled and said he took good care of the car. He sure did!
On the test drive it ran like something with a third of the miles. Honestly, I was (and still am) baffled at how a 2012 car could be driven this far so quickly and be so clean. I managed to negotiate the price to under $3,000. It’s been a love story ever since.
The car now has about 355,000 miles and it continues to be one of the best vehicles I own. Not everything is perfect: there’s rust that should be taken care of on the hatch.
Worst-case scenario, I’ll find another hatch at a junkyard and keep loving this car. I even want to keep it mostly stock with my only mods being some Audi wheels that I have in storage and some nicer headlights.
It amazes me that despite having the highest miles of any vehicle I own, it’s also one of the most reliable. The Jetta doesn’t even have a Check Engine light or leak oil. I’d hop in it and drive across the country without a second thought. Prior to writing this, I hadn’t even opened the hood (bad, I know). But here it is in all its dusty glory. I definitely need to clean this up.
The service records indicate it had the Dieselgate fix done 60,000 miles ago, and it hasn’t been back to the dealership for anything but routine service since. In fact, from what I can see, this car has had nothing but normal wear items and a dual-mass flywheel replaced over its life. Is this somehow the most reliable Volkswagen on the planet? It’s not like I baby it, either. This car’s been above 100 miles per hour a few times in my ownership and for the past 2,000 miles even averaged 45 miles per gallon.
The driving experience is surprisingly good, too. This car can actually keep up with some legitimately sporty cars, and it feels planted going through curves at speed. It doesn’t have the slot-car handling of my Audi TT, but I am impressed. I have no idea why it continues to work and even score good fuel economy doing it, but I don’t plan on jinxing it.
If my good fortune continues I plan on taking this car as close to a million miles as possible. I’m not used to this. When will something break?