1990 Volkswagen Golf Problems

RepairPal has identified the most common problems with the 1990 Volkswagen Golf as reported by actual vehicle owners. We'll tell you what the problem is and what it'll take to fix it.

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Known Problems

Shifting issues due to internal problems in high mileage automatic transmissions can be difficult to resolve without transmission replacement.

Reverse gear failures and noise in the manual transmission models are common.

Heater core leaks are common in this model, more so if the wrong anti-freeze/coolant is used in the cooling system.

Ignition wire breakdown is common, resulting in misfires.

An engine coolant leak may develop, most commonly from the water pump. The valve cover gasket is also prone to leaking engine oil.


Head gasket failure is common on higher mileage vehicles.

Extensive transmission damage can occur in some of the automatic transmission models when the transmission oil cooler fails and allows coolant to mix with the automatic transmission fluid.

To ensure longevity of the engine, our technicians recommend to follow the maintenance schedule for the timing belt.

Cars using biofuel typically have problems with injection pump failures; symptoms can include a "no start" condition or external pump leaks.

Electrical issues that are difficult to diagnose—and sometimes intermittent—are typically due to ground wiring issues. The most troublesome ground locations are under the battery or at the engine.

Glow plug failure is common and results in extended crank time when the engine is cold.