Don’t do it.
The MK4 was released between 1997-2003
The VW Golf has copped a hiding from us the past few weeks and its potentially about to get worse. The MK4 is the car in question this time. We argue that this was probably the best Golf ever produced, but before you all run out and go a buy a MK 4 we need to clarify a few things. The first is, the the MK4 was a decent car when it was released. Its now pushing 20 years old, its gone through those rebellious drug taking, adolescent years and now its washed up, living in a caravan somewhere with three kids to unknown fathers.
Time has not been kind the to the MK4 Golf and whilst you can land one for a couple of grand these days, they are now a very problematic car. At the date of release they were decent but were also produced around the time where components that previously had to be cast from alloy could now be produced from plastic. This model and the MK3 were the start of VW’s transition into engine components resembling Duplo.
Brian O’Conner would have trouble “busting the welds on the intake” on a VW Golf. Putting aside the fact the the Fast and Furious quote is just as mechanically accurate as Mr Clinton claiming he didn’t know what a gobby was, the golf introduced plastic manifolds around the time of the release of the MK4 and as such they had plastic inlet manifolds and many coolant components were also made of plastic. FYI plastic engine parts are a bad idea.
Cost cutting production of plastic engine components allowed vehicle manufactures to make more profit, profit they promptly spend on developing methods to cheat emission laws. Unfortunately the cost cutting plastic components have failed the test of time and cars produced with copious amounts of plastic are now having major issues, and unfortunately the MK4 is one such victim.
Overall these Golf are just getting too old. Some vehicles last 20 years with decent maintenance, the Golf doesn’t. Its very clever on VW’s part, they want it to die when its more then five years old, they want you to buy a new one.
Often we are asked if one of these is found with low kilometres is it worth it? The answer is still no. The plastic rots regardless of weather its driving or sitting in the garage. If anything a car with plastic cooling system components that hasn’t been driven will present with more cooling system leaks after driving it for a bit than one that has higher kilometres on it and has been regularly serviced. If you must own a Golf, we advise looking at the MK5.