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Used Volkswagen Golf review: 2013 to 2019 (Mk7) - Reliability and common problems

The general perception of Golfs is that they are very reliable, but the Mk7 rather lets the side down

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The arrival of the Mk7 Golf brought a drop-off in customer satisfaction in our Driver Power survey due to some reliability issues but owners did praise the assured handling, easy-to-use technology, practicality and low running costs. 

How reliable is the Mk7 Golf?

The Golf has built a solid reputation for itself across the generations but the Mk7 car doesn't have quite the clean reliability record of its predessesors. At least the issues that can occur tend to be easily fixed. The importance of a full service history is often stated in used car buying guides; with the Golf Mk7 it’s crucial.

Are there any common problems or things to look out for?

Common issues with the Mk7 relate to glitches and failures with the automatic gearbox, leaking dampers, headlight failure, faults with the electric handbrake, broken timing chains on some petrol engines, and malfunctions with the optional adaptive cruise control. The wiper on the driver's side can smear the windscreen but upgrading the blades usually fixes the problem.

What about recalls?

The Mk7 Golf has been subject to a number of recalls, some for quite serious safety problems, but it’s important to point out that often these affected only a small number of cars. On the whole, Volkswagen was quick to fix the issues and consequently many owners were equally swift to forgive being let down by their car. It also means that any recall works should have been sorted out by now, but before buying check that they have been.

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The recalls list includes problems with the airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners, substandard front brake discs, disintegrating rear wheel hub carriers, defective front wheel bearing housings, weak welds on rear headrests, fuel leaks, faulty child locks and more. 

The Mk7 Golf was not affected by the recall in March 2016 triggered by the 'Dieselgate' emissions scandal. This was for the Mk6 Golf with the EA189 engine but the 2.0-litre diesel in the Mk7 is the EA288 unit.

What do owners think?

The fact that in 2014 the Golf Mk7 placed 18th in our Driver Power owner satisfaction survey but by 2021 had slumped to 73rd position tells you a lot about the VW hatchback’s reliability as it has aged.

At the time, the inclusion of an electronic parking brake was controversial on this Golf. It has proven reliable but owners seem divided on the subject. It was certainly a sign of things to come with manual parking brakes now a rare sight on new cars.

Tell us about your car in the Driver Power survey...

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