Which will be more reliable?

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Apr 7, 2011
Ankeny, IA
So many of you know that I picked up a 2003 VW Jetta back in July with the 1.8t motor and 5 speed automatic. Needless to say, it has not been a pleasant experience. Since purchase I've replaced the following:

2 Coolant hoses
2 vacuum lines
02 Sensor
Radio (Old one shorted out)

And the following things still need to be done:

Transmission solenoids
MAF Sensor (possibly)
All interior door handles
Speakers (They decided to blow a week after buying the car)
Timing belt and all that ****

So, to make a long story short, I would like to stop spending $80-$100 everytime the thing needs a hose and move on to something 4x4. What I'm looking at is a 2000 Grand Cherokee that I could more then likely do a pretty even trade for. 125K, 4.0L I6 42RE 4 speed transmission. Limited package. In the long run, which vehicle would be more reliable? I'm not talking just the little things, but motor and tranny too. Thanks!
The tough thing with vehicles this age is that how reliable they will be is dependent on how they were taken care of. I love my Jeep, but when I first bought it the thing nickle and dimed me to death. I later found out it was never maintained. Once I got the bugs straightened out (mainly the cooling system) it has been flawless since.

The V8 Grand Cherokees for that year range ('99-'04) have a stronger transmission. If maintained that Jeep you mentioned can be reliable, it really depends on condition and service history. I can tell you one thing, and that is the Jeep will be much easier to work on and parts are much cheaper. My sister's 2001 Jetta was a huge pain to work on.
A lot of what your asking is very much dependent upon the previous onwer(s) and how they managed to take care of it. An old mechanic I use to work for (part time as a kid changing oil and other low risk jobs) always said...."How you treat it the first 100k shows in the next 100k."

The I6, if taken care of, is a really good engine. I don't know about the trans. Jeep doesn't exactly instill confidence in me if I'm buying used at 125k. I would look more for a 4Runner or CRV, RAV4, etc... Smaller than the Jeep but your coming from a Jetta.....
You will be just putting the money you hope to save into the gas tank; this depends on miles driven obviously.

If you want a reliable car, start off by buying one that is known for it.
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The Jeep is at the bottom of all of the reliability ratings. They are prone to electrical issues. The key switch is famous for thinking you are trying to steal the car and it will not allow you to start the car. This problem is difficult to nail down because it happens intermitantly.
Those jeeps are good vehicles if maintained. They are at the bottom of the reliability ratings but I do not put a lot of stock in those reports. I would much rather have the Jeep than a Ford explorer or a Chevy blazer. Jmo.
You're buying a used vehicle, it's going to need maintenance.

A 14 year old Jeep is going to need maintenance. Expect to have to replace hoses, MAP sensors, TPS Sensors, O2 sensors, get the idea.

Then you get into hubs, CV joints, etc.

If you don't want maintenance you buy new and get a warranty.
Besides reliability, what are your goals for this vehicle?

What kind of a budget are you on?

Is the Jetta paid off?

From what I see, the Jetta really doesn't have that many things wrong with it so far. Timing belt is unavoidable maintenance, vacuum lines and hoses aren't that big of a deal, one O2 sensor is cheap and the stereo/speakers is an option to repair. They won't stop your from going to work.

So really, you bought a used car that needed regular scheduled maintenance, some hoses and a sensor- pretty darned common if you ask me.

If these simple things bother you, then you won't find happiness in a model year 2000 Jeep. You will need to set your sights much newer.

If the Jetta is paid off, then consider keeping it. I'm afraid you'll end up going backwards money wise if you dump it and buy something else, because even if you can get out of it what you paid (plus the money you've got in repairs), you can't really plan on that unless you got an exceptionally good deal on it. So you'll likely lose money on the deal, then dump more on another purchase and start the repair process over again, which will put you squarely back where you were at but minus a few thousand dollars.

This forum really is a great place as there is a wealth of info and some very savvy people here- use it to your advantage. We have a couple exceptional VW guys/mechs here who are pretty much always willing to help- if you run into more problems in the future, they very well may be willing/able to to help you.
broken record here: a Jeep of that vintage is not going to be trouble-free although parts SHOULD be cheaper than a VW. ditto on the "gas pig". My 2002 Jeep Liberty was trouble-free until the last two months: currently its apart for head gasket leak. $$$
I think its going to be a wash going from what you spent/replaced on a jetta to a NEW TO YOU Jeep.

Used cars all need some type of work. You not picking a nearly trouble free car like a civic/corolla. Yea those need timing belts and repairs too but they seem to get by w/o much work generally.

VW's wont get by on deferred maintenance, that's pretty is 100% true. I've worked on VW and there is a difference between people who enjoy and hate their cars mainly based on how they deal with problems with the car. But there is also the normal 10% that had junk cars to no matter what they do.

I can only speak for VW because i was heavy into VW and doing work. Coilpacks, timing belt, leaking coolant flanges, bad window regulators,vacuum lines, PCV elbow, evap sensors and secondary air pumps are things that normally need to be addressed.

I'm sure someone can run down a list equal or longer with the Jeep you mentioned. The 4.0L straight is a good motor, not sure on the trans. I know many prefer the normal Cherokees VS the Grand Cherokees.

VWVortex has great information on repairs and etc but its clouded with a bunch of trolls that ruin it EVERY time for me.
Sounds like you are going to trade one headache for another.

Do some internet searches on reliability in the year and features you want in a vehicle. Then go out and find one that has a good maintenance record.

Pretty simple really.
The Jeep's engine will be reliable, but it will nit-pick you on small things like the cooling system and some other things. I wouldn't hesitate to own one but the gas mileage will not be good.
Originally Posted By: Nate1979
Comparing reliability of a VW to a Jeep. LOL.

A stick of dynamite vs. a hand grenade.
You want to get rid of an old VW because it's nickle and diming you, and you think the solution is a 14 year old Jeep?
That Jeep has had 14 years to be neglected. Not to mention, whatever hasn't been replaced is now 14 years old and has pretty much reached the age it was designed to last to. That Jeep may be more reliable than the VW, and it may very well be worse. I have seen plenty of Grand Cherokees from that generation that were nickel & dime vehicles.
Most people here would have told you to pass on the VW and most of us would also tell you to pass on the Jeep.
If you have or want to buy something older with some miles on it, there are better choices than either.
Maybe just chalk the VW up to experience and move on to a more reliable and cheaper to maintain product from any number of Asian and American makes.
There are also some good Euro cars, but you have to know what you're buying.
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