2014, May - Jun
New Beetle milestone: Though this 1999 model has shown it's flaws over 15 years and 90,000 miles, it's been a blast to drive
By Don Capestrain
May 25 marks the 15th anniversary of my family's New Beetle ownership experience. It was on that day in 1999 that we took delivery of a brand new red GLS model from Kempthorn Volkswagen in Canton, Ohio. How the time has flown! I wish I could say the car was as perfect today as the day we brought it home from the dealership, but alas it now has many flaws. With only 90,000 miles logged, most of the issues are cosmetic, but it has a few mechanical maladies as well.
But wait; please don't think I'm disappointed! The car has been very enjoyable, fun and satisfying to own. It rides and handles as solidly and comfortably as the day we brought it home, with its smooth-running 2-liter engine still eager to power the car to imprudent speeds. I still enjoy looking at it, too. Despite its supposed lack of macho, I find the styling superior to the current Beetle, with cleaner, simpler lines that better connect it with its ancestor. It's still my daily driver too, not (yet) relegated to being a "kids car" for one of my daughters (both now college students)!
Mechanically, very few issues have arisen over the life of the car. In 15 years, it has only failed to start once (due to a dead battery caused by a defective CD changer). One check-engine light incident required a dealer repair to install new vacuum hoses. Both rear brake calipers and the ignition coil were recently replaced.
The parking brake cables stretched and were also replaced. A few years back, the catalytic converter core began rattling inside the case. This was actually a common problem that caused VW to extend the catalytic converter warranty to 10 years or 100,000 miles. Although I was under the mileage, I was over 10 years and was not covered.
I installed an aftermarket unit at a much lower cost but now have a louder exhaust. The resonator between the catalytic converter and the muffler rusted away and was also replaced. As a preventive measure, I replaced the timing belt and water pump at 85,000 miles. I did this job myself and found it far easier than I expected.
Two mechanical issues remain. The air-conditioning stopped working last summer. The diagnosis is a leaking condenser and accumulator. The repair cost estimate is high because of the need to remove the entire front of the car to gain access. I may try this repair myself (!). The second issue is the clutch. Although it is not slipping, it has significant chatter that seems to get worse as the ambient temperature rises. Oil on the clutch lining perhaps? I've not yet decided when that will be addressed, or who will do the addressing!
There you have it. Fifteen years of ownership in a little more than 500 words. But perhaps the best summary is even shorter: 15 years later, I still love our New Beetle! VWCA
Don Capestrain | firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Don Capestrain's New Beetle Beat column appeared in the Autoist for nearly 10 years, starting in the spring of 2000.
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:
* RACING STRIPES: At Chicago, VW boosts its association with Andretti Motorsports.
* CONVENTION 2014: For the late-comers, this is you last chance to join the big show.
* 2015 JETTA: New and improved models go center-stage.
* BOOK REVIEW: The Dune Buggy Handbook covers U. S. and U.K. models since 1964.
* BOOK REVIEW: Automotive Bodywork and Rust Repair will put you on the right track.
PLUS OUR REGULAR COLUMNS AND FEATURES:
* Driver's Seat - VW news & views by Cliff Leppke
* Frontdriver - Richard G. Van Treuren
* VolksWoman - Lois Grace
* Small Talk - VW and Audi news - quickly
* Retro Autoist - From the archives
* Parting Shot - Photo feature
* VW Toon-ups - Cartoon feature by Tom Janiszewski
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The scam was on as early as 2008, when this Candy White Jetta TDI Clean Diesel model, embellished with green plant matter, was rolled out. In case anyone had a doubt, VW added the wording "Not a concept car."
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VW CEO Mattias Mueller was in the hot glare of media lights at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, providing the company's latest response to the diesel emissions scandal.
Jan-Feb | 2016
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VW remains embroiled in a high-stakes game involving government agencies and hundreds of thousands of owners of diesel models. The company's car on the road of Life has taken a big detour.
Nov-Dec | 2015
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The news in September was beyond belief for many VW and TDI enthusiasts: Volkswagen executives admitted that the company intentionally produced cars that violated clean-air laws.
Sep-Oct | 2015
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1969 Beetle gets a second chance to adorn the silver screen
Crew members working on the film "The Good Blonde" prepare for a shot on the California coast involving a 1969 Beetle owned by VWCA member and correspondent Lois Grace.
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Mar-Apr | 2015
It's Show Time!
The Northeast Illinois Volkswagen Association has an activity-packed weekend planned for the 60th VWCA Convention in suburban Chicago.
Jan-Feb | 2015
Jack Pavie of suburban Philadelphia had to wait several months to get his 1975 Rabbit diesel, one of three models he enjoyed in the '70s and '80s.
Nov-Dec | 2014
Golf Lessons: Three new models charge up hatchback lineup
The scene at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, Va., where Cliff Leppke and other media members ran the 2015 Volkswagens through their paces.
Sep-Oct | 2014
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A morning commute for a 2012 Golf TDI has become a test on how high the fuel mileage will end up. It hit a high mark in July.
In the VWCA's 59 years of Conventions, the setting in Hudson, Mich. was unique. Just ask VWCA's Tom Janiszewski, the guy driving the orange 1974 Camper.
May 25 marks the 15th anniversary of my family's New Beetle ownership experience. It was on that day in 1999 that we took delivery of a brand new red GLS model from Kempthorn Volkswagen in Canton, Ohio.
Mar-Apr | 2014
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There's a saying that everything old is new again, and since the New Beetle's production debut in 1998, that has been the car's underlying theme.
Jan-Feb | 2014
Back At The Ranch
At northern California getaway, Vernon and his family found plenty of ways to enjoy life