2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI: Love/Hate

Living in a major U.S. city, I don't tend to pay much attention to the availability of diesel fuel. When I hopped into the 2010 Volkswagen Golf TDI hatchback I was worried I'd struggle to find a place to fill up, but I was glad to see diesel was more widely available — at least in Chicago — than I thought it would be. I even found one station where diesel was cheaper than regular gas! Unfortunately, trying to track down diesel fuel was the least of my problems with this car.

Love: Modern diesel engine
My main exposure to diesel cars prior to their recent reappearance in the U.S. was the sound of my neighbor's early '90s Mercedes-Benz chug-chug-chugging up the driveway. You could hear that thing from a block away. There's none of that clatter with the Golf TDI. The car sounds slightly different than one with a gas engine, but it's no louder than a gas-powered car; it's not even noticeable if you don't know to listen for it. This compact hatchback also has quite a bit of zip, even though the engine only makes 140 horsepower. This is one of those times you have to pay attention to torque figures. Its 236 pounds-feet of torque is about 8 pounds-feet shy of a 2010 Subaru Impreza WRX. I expected the excellent fuel economy from the Golf TDI, but the way it moved through traffic with gusto was news to me.


Hate: Automatic transmission in stop-and-go traffic
My problem with the Golf TDI is the same issue I experienced with the 2011 Ford Fiesta. Both cars have a dual-clutch automatic transmission, which made stop-and-go traffic painful. On stretches of open road the gear transitions were seamless, but on the congested interstate the Golf would lurch and stutter forward when I pressed the accelerator at low speeds. Maybe using the paddle shifters would alleviate some of this, but I can't imagine I'd want to bother with those in the middle of a traffic jam. The gas-powered Golf has a more traditional six-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is standard on the TDI, but for city driving an automatic is preferred. The dual-clutch transmission improves fuel economy by 1 mpg highway to 30/42 mpg city/highway, but I hope it gets a little more refined before it starts showing up in even more cars.


Chris Winter

I had to laugh at the transmissiion complaint...sorry. that would be the least of your worries should you choose to own a TDI. The reliability will quickly make any other problem seem insignificant. That or the service from the dealer (or lack thereof). Or maybe the abyssmal resale value. I am sure VW is pleased to see your only problem with the car was a jerky tranny. The insinuation is that other than that the car is a great deal. The truth is that the money you save on fuel well never cover the upkeep. I have spent $12,000 in the last 5 years on my 2001 Jetta. I love diesels but the moment someone besides VW offers one (can't afford BMWor MB) I will never look back. VW needs to spend less on cool ads and more on addressing reliability.

mike h

Wasnt there a recent recall regarding the Dual Clutch tranny and stalling problems? I too had a VW(02 Passat) and it had 10 recalls and counting when I traded it in after 8 years


i still like my 2010 golf tdi, and i don't recognize the transmission problem you're referring to in stop-and-go traffic.

i have no complaints so far. instead, i recommend the car to any who will listen.


I've found the stalling/lurching becomes a non-issue in stop and go traffic if you switch the gear selector to "S" or Sport.


TDI engines are very good for fuel economy, but not very reliable, compared to the gas engines.


I too have the (Shark Blue) 2010 VW Golf. I haven't experience any issues with the DSG transmission. I think it is one of the best features of the car. I have already put 17k miles on mine in the last 4 month. I barley if not ever notice the transmission switching from gear to gear in any kind of driving. And really like the styling they put in this car. I decided to get this instead of the 2010 Jetta TDI. I have to tell you that this car is so much fun to drive, and don't understand why it's not a bigger seller here in the states. I think you have to test drive one of these cars to really know how well this car drives and rides.


@Chris Winter:
It's really important to remember when and why Volkswagen has/had made good or bad cars. I am a huge VW fan (I've owned a total of 9 VW vehicles, currently driving a Wolfsburg Edition 1987 Jetta GLi 16v), but I'll be the first to tell you that just about anything VW made from 1992-2005 was pretty much garbage. The reason: Moving the manufacturing of the Jetta & Golf (w/VIN numbers starting with "3VW") to Pueblo, Mexico (and others, including some GTI models, to Brazil) with poor quality control.

I can almost guarantee this is why you hate your 2001 Jetta - I've owned 4 non-German VW's and I'd rate each somewhere between "decent" (2008 Jetta SE) and "horrible nightmare!" (1998 GTI VR6). The Mk5 Rabbit models (2006-2009) & Mk6 Golf models (2010+) (and some of the old, Mk2 Wolfsburg Edition cars, all with VIN numbers beginning with "WVW") are assembled in Wolfsburg, Germany, and there is a MASSIVE difference.

My Wolfsburg GLi (and the other Mk2 Wolfsburg Jettas I've owned) is/were made in Wolfsburg Germany, not the "so-called" Wolfsburg Editions between 1998 an now that are made in Mexico - and you can tell the difference (my car's got close to 200,000 miles on it and is now 23 years old, and still running nicely).

I guess what I'm saying is that it's not a fair comparison to pit a quality-plagued series of cars against new series from a far better manufacturing facility.

I'm extremely happy to have just purchased a 2011 Golf TDI which is back to being completely assembled in Germany (including the TDI Engine & 6-speed STD Transmission), and have a TON of confidence that I'll be driving that one for what could be 23 years too.


Wait till you get your whole fuel system blown. $10000 worth of damages and from what I hear:
a lot of people are not even getting covered by warranty. Loved the car till this happened after 5k miles. Reliability: 0! Thank you but this confirms low reliability vw had over the past 2 decades and it still continues!!!


I own a 2010 sportwagen with the DSG trans and like it much better than the 2009 Infiniti 7spd. I have NEVER experienced what you described. I have'nt had any issues with the car but I hear of stories like Meto shared. I dunno. My last two cars were Japanese and I had issues with them. The Infiniti G37 would jerk badly if you had to do any quick braking on the hwy.- like it was coming unbolted from the car. They never did find anything wrong. My VW is a quality car. I am just a little uneasy about the stories I hear about the Bosch fuel pump/injector system.


With a Cruze diesel coming soon, there's no reason to look at a VW TDI and live with their horrible reliability. GM has sold more diesel cars than any other automaker. No one even comes close, and the Cruze will have much better reliability than VW.


I have a 2011 golf tdi and am experiencing the same problems. it doesn't always happen, but often enough that I'm taking it to the dealer tomorrow to have it checked. I've had the car 2 months and 3000 miles on it.

Sebastian Slowik

These days you'd have to either be a total idiot or smoking hash to buy a Volkswagen let alone a diesel. Not only are Volkswagens infamously unreliable, but why would anybody pay around $24k for a diesel if you can buy a Toyota Prius with much better fuel economy for the same money? No wonder VW is the hippies choice of car, you'd have to be a hard drugs to even consider a Volkswagen.


@ Zack: The cruze is a joke, in fact I think they are made in Korea by Daewoo if I remember correctly. What a joke for a U.S. car maker.


@ Sebastian: Are you kidding?! You must be the one on hard drugs. The Prius has had mass recalls and complaints already. Not to mention how gay they look. hahaha, and It's a freaking Toyota. Only junky Brazilian or mexican made VW's are unreliable, REAL German ones are infamously RELIABLE. Especially the older diesels. Most true VW fans would only buy a German one, unless they had no choice maybe.


@ Austin: FYI The Cruze is built in the US. Ohio to be specific. What experence do you have with the Cruze?

Sebastian Slowik

AWW is Austin the hippie mad that I insulted his hippie mobile? Here's some more statistics for you. The Prius also has faster acceleration and more interior room and gets better gas mileage than a diesel Golf. I don't know how long you've been around, but in the 80's VW was making such garbage that they were thrown out of the American market for about 4 years. If that doesn't spell garbage, I don't know what does.

Sebastian Slowik

By the way Austin, all of the 80's model VW's were made in Germany. Can you show me a German VW today? It seems that either they're made in Mexico or have Hungarian made engines with constant sludge problems. These problems, however are nothing compared to the garbage that VW was making in Germany in the 80's and 90's that caused VW to fail on the American market. Hopefully you don't own a VW because I'll likely see you stranded on the side of the road somewhere.

Todd Packer

The new golf tdi is made in Germany by the way, and I can absolutely doubt a prius has a faster acceleration than a standard 2.5l golf OR the 2.0 tdi, lulz. Also, the issues with the recent gold tdi were specific cases, and were lemons. Most new 1st generation models from all car companies will have some type of problems. So yes, the new gold tdi is definitely reliable, and are rated to go up to 300,000 miles with proper maintenance!

Todd Packer

Also, to comment on the poster's problem with the DSG tranny...
Because of the high amount of torque in the tdi, that stuttering will happen if you quickly switch from braking to accelerating, if you go ease into accelerating and braking, you will have none of the problems you wrote about.


I have 2001 Jetta 1.8T 5 spd man. Body assembled in Mexico, Engine from Austria and tranny from Brz. So far its fine, 146k miles


I came across this site just looking up things about my 2011 TDI Golf. I wanted to verify what Todd said about the tranny stuttering if you try to gun it off the brake too quickly. If you pay attention after letting off the brake you can feel the tranny properly engage.

As for the people saying VW is unreliable... I personally have always owned a Chevy and the only VW I've seen on the side of the road in the D.C. Metro area in the last... 10 years were the 70's bugs and vans... They are old.. I forgive them.

I've been very satisfied with my VW TDI Golf so far and I spent weeks researching the Prius, Golf TDI, and various other cars that were "Fuel Economical" under $32. I test drove a Prius, Golf TDI, and Chevy volt. The Prius performance wise was not even close to the Golf. The Volt was a huge let down for me (being a Chevy owner for so long). It came down to the Prius and the Golf for me and I chose the Golf because the Prius did NOT get better fuel economy for me in my three day test drive than the Golf. Not to mention the Prius was still $31k and the Toyota dealer refused to budge off the price.

My golf was a $27k package that they knocked down to $23k. Toyota only offered me $10k for my truck and VW gave me the $20k KBB value of my truck.

The car has been great and the customer service of my chosen dealership (not all VW dealerships were this great) was great. I've actually enjoyed the customer service so much I've gotten to know the sales rep and a few of the service guys personally.

It's unfortunate that so many people on this post feel the need to make claims of unreliability of the car without providing solid backing. The one link provided sent you to a place where ONLY bad reviews are listed. That would be known as biased. If there are 3 million reviews and 10% are negative and you only show the negative that doesn't make the product bad. It makes the information provider ignorant.


A prius.....anyone who recommnends a prius over a golf has no business commenting on car buying.

Most boring, lifeless, unexciting car you could ever drive....not faster, more nimble, more comfortable, or more anything than almost any car you compare it to. Only folks who got suckered into the whole "pay more for less because it's green!" trend buy a prius.


the golf tdi is a questionable buy at the moment though....NHTSA has an open investigation due to high amount of TDI fuel pump failures occuring on 2009-2010 vehicles with CR diesel engines....and their is a class action lawsuit against VW and Bosch by customers that have experienced this issue.....blaming the HPFP as a poor design that will fail before it should and grenade the entire fuel system....this may not be the diesel engine that lasts 300,000....getting a repair bill of $10,000 after the warranty runs out is a real possibility....of course, it's being said that only about %1 of the tdi's built have had this problem so it's still worth the risk over having to drive a prius everyday.


Too many anecdotes.


Bought a 2012 Golf TDI in Aug. Aside from the minor recall issue regarding injector hose insulators, we have over 5,000 miles and no trouble. Averaging about 40 mpg city/hwy. mix. On the highway, well over 50 mpg. Try achieving that in your Prius. Love the car and it's not a cookie cutter Toyota. Most comfortable auto seats I've ever sat in. Car is as tight as a drum. We're thinking of buying a second one for my wife. Never stalled the manual transmission anywhere.


2010 Highway driven 58k, transmission failure, and that is on back order from germany with no ETA. The dealer also has no loaner capabilities so they say. Other than this, the car has been great - good fuel economy and comfortable.


Sorry to hear about the transmission Larry. Was it the automatic or manual ?


I have owned six VWs since 1961. In more recent times I owned a 1998 V6 Passat which had a long list of warranty issues but was nevertheless reliable and comfortable. I still own a five year old 2.5 TDI Touareg which also had a huge list of poor finish issues (put together in the Czech Republic)However, it has been a fantatic vehicle and utterly reliable with100k on the clock. In June 2011 we bougt a TDI Golf (made in Germany). My wife and I absolutely love this car and it is by far the best VW I've ever had the pleasure to own and drive. Having said that, I can rarely drive it because I can't get the wife out of it. After 12K we have not had a single issue with it and certainly have not encoutered any of the problem suffered by other owners. I think the trick with Diesel VWs is to get the best fuel you can buy and have it serviced regularly using only VW recommened products; in particular the oil. Find a good dealer and pay a bit more that the back-yarder. It's worth the long term savings and heartache.


I have a 2010 Golf TDI with 30,000 miles. Not a single problem, other than a 30 min recall repair to dampen the injector lines. It runs like a clock and is so much more car than the Prius, which I drove before buying the Golf. The 6 speed manual is smooth and in stop and go traffic the large amount of torque lets me roll with minor use of clutch and accelerator. The local dealer's service department is trash. I am glad I didn't support them by buying it in town.


I own a 2010 VW Golf Tdi and currently live in Italy. I drove the car back and forth between Germany and Italy every weekend last year which is 1100 miles round trip. I had one problem where it broke down and had to be towed to a dealer. The injector cable harness had a wire break and it stopped the car. I thought that the engine blew when it happened because I had a large bang and then it stopped. The car was returned to me and has not had a problem since. I do think that the standard transmission would have been the better choice. I have over 40k on the Golf now and the more I drive it the more I love it. I average just over 40Mpg but since I drive fast and normally cruise at 120Mph I rarely get better than 40Mpg. The only problem I have it that there is a limiter to the top end at 120Mph which I will be having removed as soon as I get a chance to drive to a Shop in Austria that specializes in programming VWs. I will drive this car for about 3 years or 100k miles and then replace it with another Tdi.

Phil C

My 2003 Golf TDI has 289,000 miles and counting, I get 550-620 miles per tank and have few issues. This car has saved me huge $$ and still hauls ass!


Had the fortune of renting a Golf Plus 1.2L gas/turbo drive w 7 speed DSG in Switzerland for a month. Incredible gas milage and very fast acceleration. I wanted a TDI but they told me this was better. It was! Going up steep switchback mountain roads w the DGS is unlike anything I've ever experienced(I live in BC, Canada). Had BMWs on my tail with man/trans who couldn't keep up because they couldn't change gears like the DGS can. Always drove Nippon cars before. Next one will be German. Love the 7 speed DSG. Why not offered in NAmerica?

Dirty Diesel

Sebastian, Im not a hippie or a devout VW fan by any means. What I can say though is I'd like to tell you about my Brazilian made 2003 Golf TDI. Its only got 200k on it so far with only replacement parts thus far being brakes, tires, struts, a fuel pump, and two timing belts (including water pump as part of that maintenace). A co worker of mine used to tease the hell out of me for driving what he referred to as my dirty little Fahrvergnugen until he began to realize it was approaching 200000 miles and still getting 48 to 50 mpg. Being the Toyota fan he is, he bought a Prius to compete with my TDI. Well long story short, two Priuses later, he is back in a good old fashioned Camry again getting 25 mpg, while my VW continues to run and run. Oh yeah, and with no batteries to replace. I'm all for hybrid technology and better mpg, but I don't know if the proven long term reliability is there yet. Maybe I got lucky...but my VW is hands down by far the most efficient and reliable car I have ever owned thus far. Hey, I'd be willing to try a diesel Chevy Cruz....but don't hold your breath. I'll believe GM only when I see it in showrooms.


I have a tdi 2011 Golf station wagon with the sun roof since Nov 2010. I drive the car everyday to/from work in Vancouver Canada; 35,000 km on the car now.
The fuel consumption is great, I average 750 km per a tank of 50 liter diesel in mostly city driving. In general, happy with the car and the driving dynamics. The car had one recall that was fixed by the dealer smoothly.
The sunroof leaked once that was fixed under the warrenty. Just recently the automatic door lock of one the doors is not working properly, which should be fixed by the dealer next week.
I still believe the car is reliable, any comments?
Any hard data on the long time reliability?


My 2011 TDI just started consuming ethylene glycol (antifreeze). Not a good sign. Usually indicative of a bad head gasket, warped head, cracked head, nothing but trouble


2011 golf TDI with 30k miles, manual tranmission. No issues, love the car. I plan to keep it for 500k+ miles. It replaced a 71' superbeetle.


@ davidbradly. With the VW's it's more likely the heat exchanger leaking into your oil. Needs to be take care of immediately or it will cause damage.


I owned a 1999 Jetta TDI. I purchased the car new and it was the most unreliability vehicle I have ever owned. First, the mpg was a disappointment. Second the car had some many electric problems I finally sold it after 1 year.

I tried to get VW to stand the vehicle, no luck. What I learned is that VW is a bad company. The do not stand by its vehicles.

I wish I could buy a Golf, I really like the size, hatch, etc. But after how VW would not stand by its vehicle - - I have to take my money and go to Honda.



@Mike It sounds like you may have gone to a crummy dealer and for that I am sorry. I work for a VW dealership in VA, and my experience with VW has been fantastic. VW really is devoted to their customers and absolutely stands by their product. Not too long ago we had a service customer with a 14 year old Jetta with over 300k on it and the headliner was starting to fall. Well, it was not kept in great condition and it's an older car with high miles, so obviously stuff like that starts to fall apart eventually, BUT VW had a recall on that model over a decade ago, so they fixed his headliner for free without issue. I have also seen them step up and fix problems customers have had out of warranty that they shouldn't have had. And most recently, I saw VW pay to replace carpeting in a Jetta because the customer "didn't like how it looked". No lie.

Not all vehicles are perfect, and you will find that with any manufacturer, but VW absolutely stands by their product. If there is truly something wrong with it and it's their fault, they'll fix it for you.

As for the problem with diesel engines, it's not so much a product issue as a diesel fuel issue. Unfortunately diesel fuel is not as reliable in parts of the US as it is in Europe, so you really need to be careful about the quality of diesel fuel that you use (and don't put anything in your car's engine that your manufacturer says you shouldn't, this is true of any vehicle).

I can't tell you how many people I've come across that have diesel VWs from the late 90s/early 00s that have 400-500k on their vehicles and they're still driving just as good as when they first purchased it. You won't find that quality in a Prius.


@Mike As for electrical issues... I've read about people having this issue, but I've only ever met one person that had an electrical issue with their Beetle. And it was a problem that was caused by her boyfriend being stupid and screwing with her car. I'm not saying electrical issues don't happen, I just haven't seen it.


I just prefer the Prius. I don't have to put up with the slow diesel acceleration and the stink.


2010 Golf TDI 6 speed manual. 50K miles and not a single problem. I have a heavy foot and mpg falls between 38 in the winter and 44 in the summer.


As for acceleration I am not sure why people would have an issue. As long as you are in the correct gear for the torque curve the passing power or ability to exit a turn is great. The Prius owner on here has never driven a TDI.

Rich G

I have found this thread very interesting. Being an auto tech for 30 years and having owned 2 vw,s and 2 audis I can say most repairs and broken parts I have seen have been due to abuse. These cars require a gentle hand. If you are looking for maximum reliability buy japanese. If you asked me a month ago about my wifes 2011 golf tdi I would have told you it was the best car I ever owned. We have put 82k on this car. Recently it has been rattling on cold start I think it needs a dual mass flywheel, needless to say I am pretty disgusted. This car was never abused, meticulusly maintained , made in west Germany and I don't think I will be buying another vw product. Call me a faggot but I think I will be looking at Priuses. The germans are so crazy with engineering they lost the trees for the forest.


You are right to dump the diesel. The fuel is now 30 percent more expensive than gasoline. You'll be much better off with prius, which the epa rates at 50 mpg average, 47 percent better than tdi's mediocre 34 mpg average.


To Sebastian: maybe you were in an LSD time warp when your Prius was faster than a TDI... Pretty sure a personal pace lawn mower is faster than those piles of trash. Also, research how detrimental the mining process is to extract the crap the Prius battery is made of.

And to the poster re: the fuel system issue, don't pump GAS into it and that issue won't happen. I've got a 2011 with 60k+ miles and zero issues.


Golf is not in the same class as prius. Golf is a smaller car. Prius is mid size, and has more interior volume than audi a6, and gets 50 percent better mileage than tdi, using regular gas that costs a buck a gallon less than diesel fuel. Golf tdi is so slow they have to turbo charge it so it can get out of its own way. Thats why golf tdis sales are dismal compared to the three million priuses that are on the road. The 2010 golf tdi has 236 pound feet of torque at 1750 rpm, while the 2009 prius has 295 pound feet of torque at zero rpm from its electric motor. As sebastian pointed out, that adds up to the tdi eating prius's dust at the stoplight.


Have owned a 2010 Golf TDI for 4 years and 65k miles. One recall, 2 free fixes (collapsed vacuum hose, exhaust diverter), Beats any and all Prius IF you know how to drive/shift. I am extremely hard on the car, on my third set of tires already. My only complaints are I want more power. Also the first gen bluetooth is kind of lame. Oil changes are kind of pricy. Not a spot of rust yet and I am in north east ohio, the rust belt. You will play the gas station game on hard but stops are about 600 miles infrequent. I average about 32-42 mpg. Handles nice but with a lot of tire noise. In summation I want a WRX STI unlimited.


Have a 2003 tdi 300000km and a great car, had a 98 gt jetta no issues had to retired because the floor rotted out


Prius are good cars if you don't go over 70 mph on interstate or never want to drive through the mountains. The TDI is much better at high speed ..we owned a Prius,it was a pop can in the wind and it whined like a weed eater at 80 mph on interstate. Not to mention I get just about the exact economy at that speed with the TDI except the TDI is quiet and handles well. One thing for sure a Prius would never keep up with the TDI in the mountains!

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