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Hello all,

I apologize for the length of this post; I have several questions about a car that I am considering purchasing. I have done a significant amount of research into this purchase, but still have some unanswered questions. I also apologize if this is in the wrong forum of this messageboard--I am a NooB (to this board AND to dubs in general)

A little background on myself is necessary for accurate responses.

I currently, and have my entire life, resided in Colorado. As such, my ("spirited") driving tendencies have focused less on straight line acceleration, and more on hard cornering (with the CO mountains, who could resist?). I also need to be able to drive on snow and ice; FWD is obviously better for this than RWD, although, this comes with the sacrifice of cornering ability on dry pavement.

I have (at my young age) owned a plethora of cars already, including a highly modified 1989 Mazda RX-7 (N/A), 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1995 Chevrolet Cavalier (yuck!), and my current car, 1994 Mazda MX-6. I've also driven several friend's cars, including a 1988 Nissan 300ZX(turbo)(BPU engine mods, stock suspension), 1994 VW Corrado SLC (VR6)(suspension/brake mods, stock engine/exhaust/intake), 1999 Saab 93 (turbo)(stock), 2000 Subaru 2.5RS (suspension and mild engine mods). 1999 Chevrolet Firebird(V6)(stock). 1988 Ford Mustang LX (5.0 V8) (intake/exhaust)

Obviously, I'm no stranger to sport-oriented vehicles, both RWD and FWD (and AWD).

I am now considering the purchase of my friend's mkIII (1997) Jetta GLX. I feel that a sedan more suits my current needs in a vehicle than a 2-seater, or a 2+2 coupe. I need cargo space, and the ability to drive my girlfriend and a friend or two around fairly comfortably. I also demand having a decent amount of power under my foot and the ability to stop quickly if I need to. I love mountain driving, spirited or not, so good handling is a must as well.

Reliability is also, of course, a big issue. I don't mind working on vehicles, but I'd prefer not to all that often. I'm not a mechanic, though I can turn a wrench...

Some info about the car:
1997 VW Jetta GLX:
Miles: 58,006
Color: Black
Transaxle: 5-speed manual
Windows: 95% dark on all rear glass, 28% (barely legal) on front glass, 0% on windshield.
Tranny, clutch, and flywheel all replaced less than 3000 miles ago due to a disagreement with a curb because of a slippery surface--covered by insurance and repairs done by a reputable body shop.
Stereo: Stock system, alpine amp and two (don't remember the brand) subwoofers.
Interior: Tan leather, good condition--no rips, light wear on driver's seat. Carpets clean. Power windows, locks, heated seats, manual adjust seats.
Exterior: Paint in good condition, no significant door dings, typical for a 6-year old car. Stock wheels.
Mods: Neuspeed CAI, headers, stock catalytic, cat-back and hi-flow muffler. Monroe OEM replacement shocks. Everything else stock.
Known problems: Driver airbag not working--missing a 'clock spring'. Driver's side rear window regulator is broken, $150part to replace, labor--expensive. Active recall--something about the rear pass. wheel exploding if driven at high speed under low pressure (DUH!) and causing a fuel tank explosion--hasn't been serviced yet.

On to my questions:

How well do Jettas REALLY handle? I know it'll be no RX-7 or MR2 or M3, but, for comparison's sake, would it be able to hang with my friend's Corrado (assuming equal driver skill/courage, and equal modifications)? I read that they pull 0.8G on the skidpad in stock form, which is a far cry from a stock RX-7 at 0.89G (stock), but still pretty good, especially for a FWD(nose-heavy) sedan.

How well do they STOP? How well do their brakes last? Is there any brake fade under repeated heavy use? Do the rotors warp easily?

Would it handle well enough for me to be able to be competitive in AutoX? (I know that driver skill is the largest player in AutoX.)

How reliable are they? Every car needs maintenance, obviously, but some cars are more prone to certain problems than others. What common problems do happen, and what should I look for in my pre-purchase inspection?

Is the VR6 an interference or non-interference style engine (meaning, if the timing belt goes, will the pistons continue their motion and hit the valves forcing a total scrap/rebuild[interference], or will I just be stranded[non])? On that note, what's the maintenance schedule on the timing belt? 60,000? 100,000?

EPA stats for the VR6 engine say 19-24 MPG, is this pretty accurate, is this about what most people get?

What kind of fuel does the VR6 take? Will regular 85 work, or do I need 87/91 octane?
What kind of oil does it use? I've been told that dubs MUST use a 'special VW oil' (or they'll blow up)though I can't imagine what would be so special about it....does that just mean it has to use fully synthetic, or what?

What would you consider a fair price for this Jetta?

If you can think of anything else to tell me about this car (how much you love it(and why), what you hate about it, etc. etc...)

I've been told that dubs are VERY mechanically reliable, but "it's all the small crap" (like power windows, locks, etc) that goes quickly...any truth to that?

Thank you for reading my novel
and your help on this. Any, and all replies are appreciated. I don't like jumping into cars without 'testing the waters' thoroughly first (I did that once [this time, w/ the MX] and got BURNED
....)

---13.0.0.0.0
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by 13.0.0.0.0:

Would it handle well enough for me to be able to be competitive in AutoX? (I know that driver skill is the largest player in AutoX.)

On that note, what's the maintenance schedule on the timing belt? 60,000? 100,000?

EPA stats for the VR6 engine say 19-24 MPG, is this pretty accurate, is this about what most people get?

What kind of fuel does the VR6 take? Will regular 85 work, or do I need 87/91 octane?

What kind of oil does it use? I've been told that dubs MUST use a 'special VW oil' (or they'll blow up)though I can't imagine what would be so special about it....does that just mean it has to use fully synthetic, or what?

I've been told that dubs are VERY mechanically reliable, but "it's all the small crap" (like power windows, locks, etc) that goes quickly...any truth to that?

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

with the right suspension mods (sway bars, sport suspension, tires...) I think it would handle quite well in autoX

timing belt is to be changed every 60k miles.

19-24 mpg is about right. I was getting somewhere between that in my 96 jetta gl (2.0)

As PA only has 87,91,93, 95....I would stick to 87.

Dont know about the oil being specific, but coolant is. G11 for mk3s(I think) is specially for vws. its a "lifetime" fluid.

and dubs are mechanically reliable. but their electronics...they need to work on them. vw are known for electrical problems.

hope this helps. best.
 

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What kinds of electrical problems are we talking about?

RX-7s are also notorious for stupid electrical problems too (i.e. all my interior lights(except gauges) would flash on and off every time the car encountered ANY sort of slight vibration... among other stuff).

Anything else on Jettas particularily prone to breakage?

What would a fair price range be for a car like this? (Just so I have an idea of how far down I can reasonably try to talk him...)
 
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